Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 13 July 2014

Bernadette battles for daughter

Former MP says Roisin McAliskey will 'roll up and die' if she's extradited

Bernadette McAliskey (pictured) gave evidence on behalf of her daughter Roisin at yesterday's extradition hearing

Former MP Bernadette McAliskey told a court yesterday that her daughter Roisin would "roll up in a ball and die" if forced to stand trial for an IRA attack in Germany.

Mrs McAliskey said her daughter (35) still suffered from the trauma of seeing the UDA gun attack that nearly killed her parents at their home in Coalisland in 1981.

Formal extradition proceedings began in Belfast Recorder's Court yesterday, more than 11 years after the IRA attack she is accused of taking part in.

German prosecutors want Roisin McAliskey to stand trial for a 1996 mortar attack on a British Army barracks in Osnabrück.

Roisin McAliskey, who was freed on bail after being arrested last May, did not attend yesterday's hearing, but her mother gave evidence on her behalf.

"My daughter will never walk up the steps of a plane to go to Germany, ever, ever," said Mrs McAliskey, who was Mid Ulster MP as Bernadette Devlin.

Fighting back tears, Mrs McAliskey said: "If she is forcibly taken there she will not co-operate. She will roll up in a ball and die and I can't stop her doing that."

Mrs McAliskey said Roisin was aged nine when loyalist gunmen tried to kill her and her husband. "She was the eldest of the three children and suffered the most traumatic effect," she said.

"She had an over-riding fear they would come back. She kept having panic attacks and often went to bed with her clothes on, maybe out of fear she should have to get up quickly.

"I don't think I have been able to have a rational conversation with my daughter since then."

The hearing is the second attempt to extradite her - the German authorities already having failed to get her handed over or tried in the UK.

German federal prosecutors argue that they can link her to the flat where they say the mortars were assembled.

Paul Maguire QC, appearing on behalf of the German authorities, said three mortars, each containing 150lbs of explosives, were fired at Quebec Barracks just after 7pm on June 28, 1996, which was during the period the IRA had dropped its ceasefire.

The Germans say there is evidence Ms McAliskey was "Beth" - a woman staying in the flat where the IRA unit put the mortar launching platform onto a Ford Transit van.

Mr Maguire said the Germans have declared that her fingerprints were found at the flat. They also contend that handwriting evidence also links her to the flat.

He said one occupant of the flat has already been successfully prosecuted for the IRA attack.

Five or more people were believed to be in the active service unit and one woman was in the vicinity of the attack who "may or may not have been the defendant".

Mr Maguire said that it is believed two women were among the flat's occupants.

Germany first requested Ms McAliskey's extradition in 1996, but in March 1998, the then Home Secretary Jack Straw refused on medical grounds.

The German government then asked to try Ms McAliskey in Britain, but the Crown Prosecution Services refused.

A new extradition warrant was delivered last year, but was not acted upon by the PSNI until May this year.

Edward Fitzgerald QC, appearing for Ms McAliskey, argued that it would be " oppressive" to extradite her after the passage of time and the previous British refusal to extradite her or try her in the UK.

The case continues.

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