Letter: IRA suspect and her baby

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The Independent Online
IRA suspect and her baby

Sir: In Irish politics it is never wise to create victims or martyrs. Roisin McAliskey is in poor health, in prison, and with child. The harsh treatment given to her by the British prison service has already brought protests from the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs and an inquiry by Members of the European Parliament.

British authorities have stated that she will not be chained to a bed while giving birth, but there has been no promise that mother and child will not be separated afterwards if both survive. At present the intention is to force a separation on grounds of "security". The separation would be unjust, quite apart from the obvious inhumanity, because the child is innocent and the mother has been proved guilty of no crime.

Separation would also be foolish. The birth is due in May when tension increases as the marching season in Northern Ireland draws near. The weakness of the United Kingdom authorities in their handling of trouble at Drumcree and elsewhere last July has ensured that this summer the maintenance of law and order in what is alleged to be an integral part of the realm will be even more difficult than usual. Matters should not be made worse by gratuitous ill-treatment of an incarcerated woman and her child.


Church Enstone, Oxfordshire