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Tuesday, March 10, 1998 Published at 07:55 GMT


IRA suspect 'too ill' to be extradited
image: [ Roisin McAliskey denies any part in the attack ]
Roisin McAliskey denies any part in the attack

Home Office Minister Mike O'Brien discusses the decision on BBC Radio 4's The World Tonight (1'07")
The Home Secretary Jack Straw has decided that suspected IRA bomber Roisin McAliskey will not be extradited to Germany.

A spokesman for Mr Straw said medical evidence showed it would be "unjust and oppressive" for Ms McAliskey to be extradited.

[ image: Ms McAliskey was too ill to attend some hearings]
Ms McAliskey was too ill to attend some hearings
But his decision was attacked by Unionist and Opposition MPs who said it was "politically motivated" and linked to the Northern Ireland peace process.

The Shadow Home Secretary, Sir Brian Mawhinney, said the decision was linked to the "appeasement" of Sinn Fein and called it "surprising".

Ulster Unionist MP William Ross says the Home Secretary has gone too far (20")
William Ross, an Ulster Unionist MP, demanded that Mr Straw make a statement to the House of Commons explaining the decision.

Ms McAliskey was arrested 16 months ago after the German authorities said she was a suspect in a mortar attack on a British army barracks in Osnabruck in June 1996.

The 26-year-old denies being one of four members of an IRA unit that rented a cottage near the barracks before the attack.
The Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary, Andrew Mackay: "A bad day for British justice" (0'59")

She gave birth to a daughter, Loinnir, 10 months ago during the extradition proceedings.

Mr Straw intervened in the case after magistrates in London ordered Ms McAliskey's extradition in January.

[ image: Protesters on both sides of the Irish Sea opposed the extradition]
Protesters on both sides of the Irish Sea opposed the extradition
She was granted bail on condition she stayed at the Maudsley Hospital in south London and consented to future medical and psychiatric reports. A surety of £100,000 also had to be put up.

She stayed at the hospital while being treated for post traumatic stress disorder.

Ms McAliskey's mother, the former Mid-Ulster MP and Roman Catholic civil rights campaigner Bernadette McAliskey, said she was "relieved and delighted" by Mr Straw's decision.

She added: "We can now concentrate on getting her well again."

[ image: Gareth Peirce: her client
Gareth Peirce: her client "could not believe" the news
Ms McAliskey's lawyer, Gareth Peirce, also defended the decision. She said in the view of doctors who had examined her, her client had a "serious mental illness" and Mr Straw was "morally, factually and legally entirely correct."
Ms McAliskey's lawyer, Gareth Peirce, says the decision was "entirely correct" (1'05")

During the extradition hearings Ms McAliskey's lawyers argued she would suffer serious damage to her mental health if she was sent to Germany.

They also said there was a lack of evidence against her.

Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness: "Decision taken on medical grounds" (4'21'')
The Irish Foreign Minister, David Andrews, raised her plight with the Northern Ireland Secretary, Mo Mowlam.

Mr Andrews said the decision was " in the wider interests of peace" and would "give heart" to those working for a settlement.

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