[Sinn Fein]

25th April 2000

Sinister Agenda behind Prison Transfer

Sinn Fein Ard Chomhairle member Martin Ferris has this evening expressed his outrage at the transfer of republican prisoners from Castlerea to Portlaoise jail. ``He said that the decision for the transfer was based on unfounded allegations and a complete distortion of the truth, and defied logic.''

Cllr. Ferris said:

``Throughout the day there was considerable mis-reporting in relation to events which followed a minor incident in Castlerea prison at the weekend. Those with a vested interest took this event and combined it with a string of unfounded allegations. And on the back of these bogus claims the government have acted unjustly and in bad faith and transferred republican prisoners from Castlerea to Portlaoise jail.

``Earlier this evening the Sinn Fein Prisoners Department corrected the mis-reporting of the facts. Perhaps the most sinister of the claims was in relation to a passport which was found. What was not said was that the passport belonged to one of the prisoners and had in fact been returned to him by a Garda Detective from Limerick only a few weeks beforehand and remains in his possession this evening.

``The fact that the government acted on the basis of mis-reported and inaccurate information rather than on the basis of the actual truth is deeply concerning. Republicans are outraged at the train of events this evening and are asking who and what is behind this decision.

``There is an increasing suspicion amongst many republicans that there is an agenda being pursued by certain elements which seems to have the objective of causing real difficulties at this sensitive time in the peace process. We have to ask are they trying to undermine efforts to resolve the current crisis.

``We are raising this matter with the government tonight.''

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