Tories choose Hallowe'en horror
Tories choose Hallowe'en horror

Michael Howard is set to claim leadership of the the British Conservative Party after a majority of the party's MPs pledged support for the former British Home Secretary.

With apparent pledges from 89 MPs, the refusal of party veteran Kenneth Clarke to contest the leadership has ensured that Mr Howard is likely to win control of the party without even a parliamentary party contest.

Howard has has shown extreme contempt for northern nationalists and the people of Ireland as a whole.

In 1993, in a bizarre ruling, he excluded Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams from Britain.

In July 1995, Sinn Fein's Mitchel McLaughlin described Mr Howard's track record in advancing peace in Ireland as ``nothing short of disgraceful''.

But he is mostlyl remembered for outraging public sentiment with a decision as British Home Secretary to lock up miscarriage of justice victim Roisin McAliskey in a high-security prison when she was ill and pregnant.

Ms McAliskey was arrested in 1996 under an extradition warrant from Germany in connection with a bomb attack on the British army barracks at Osnabruck.

Despite concerns for her health and that of her unborn child and reports of her maltreatment in English jails, Howard resisted an international campaign to secure bail until the Tories were put out of government.

Mr Howard was also criticised after his decision to release on license British paratrooper Lee Clegg. Clegg had received a life sentence after being convicted of the murder of teenager Karen Reilly. He was allowed to return to his regiment - a move which provoked widespread rioting across Belfast and in Derry.

Over the years, Mr Howard came under continuous criticism for his ``negative influence on Irish policy'' particularly in relation to the conditions for Irish prisoners in British jails.

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© 2003 Irish Republican News