[Sinn Fein]

8 March 2001

Sinn Fein concern over arrest of Basque youth organisation's national executive

Sinn Fein's youth wing has expressed its ``deep concern'' at the arrest by Spanish police of the entire national committee of the Basque pro-independence youth organisation, Haika.

Haika is the largest youth organisation in the Basque Country and, with over 3,000 members, has widespread support.

The Ógra Shinn Fein National Organiser, Carrickmacross Councillor Matt Carthy, has called for the immediate release of the 15 Basque youth leaders held by Spanish police.  Cllr Carthy said:

``The arrest of the entire national committee of Haika is a clear attempt by the Spanish Government to cripple the organisation.

``It is incredible that, in a European Union member state, the leadership of a youth political organisation can be rounded up in the dead of night and brought far from their homes to Madrid.  This is undoubtedly a case of political harassment and intimidation.

``Ógra Shinn Fein is calling for the immediate release of all those young people who have been detained. We would also like to send our solidarity to these young people and their families and friends.''

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