eirigi spokesperson Breandan Mac Cionnaith has called for the immediate release of Belfast republican Terry McCafferty, who is currently languishing in a prison in the North.
McCafferty, from the New Lodge area of north Belfast, was detained at Belfast International Airport last month on his arrival home from his honeymoon and informed that the British secretary of state had “revoked his licence”.
Released from prison just weeks earlier after serving half of a 12-year political sentence, the father-of-five was due to spend his first Christmas with his family in six years. Instead, he spent it locked up in Maghaberry Prison near Lisburn.
Terry’s wife, Martine, explained events at the airport: “We handed over our passports at the desk and this cop came over and took Terry into a room,” she said.
“Two cops came over and told me his licence was being revoked and that he was being brought to Antrim holding centre. Then another two came over and, when I asked them why, they said, ‘The Secretary of State revoked it’.
Martine continued: “We still don’t know why this is happening, no-one will give us answers. I know Terry is gutted about this, I’m disgusted with it. He’s there for no reason at all. This would have been our first Christmas in six years and he was looking forward to it. I came home from the airport alone and all the kids were waiting up for him to come home and I had to tell them he was back in prison.”
Terry now faces the prospect of spending another two years in prison and protests have taken place around Ireland on his behalf.
Mac Cionnaith said: “What happened to Terry was a sheer act of vindictiveness on the part of the British secretary of state and his political police - Terry should have spent Christmas with his children and his wife, not back in Maghaberry.
“A key part of British policy in Ireland clearly remains based upon repression against republicans and the maintenance of the means to do so.
“What the British government is doing here is akin to internment, they have yet again suspended their own legal process in order to lock up a republican.
“Terry’s arrest was wrong and clearly politically motivated - he should be released immediately.”
* On Wednesday, the Gasyard Centre in Derry saw a public event that outlined the historical context of internment as a state weapon and explore the use of ‘special powers’ to effectively intern selected individuals, such as in the recent Terry McCafferty case.
Tony Catney of the Republican Network for Unity was among the speakers at the event, organised as part of the annual Bloody Sunday commemoration in the city.