Northern Ireland

Republican prisoners’ group delegation visits European Parliament in Brussels

IRPWA delegation included man whose bail was varied to allow him to travel

Members of the IRPWA delegation with MEPs Clare Daly and Mick Wallace
Members of the IRPWA delegation with MEPs Clare Daly and Mick Wallace

A delegation from a republican prisoners group has met members of the European Parliament during a visit to Brussels.

The Irish Republican Prisoners Welfare Association (IRPWA) delegation travelled to the Belgian capital last week.

During the visit IRPWA members ‘showcased’ a recently released documentary titled Under Surveillance: Stories of State Harassment.

The short film, which features several people including Saoradh chair Stephen Murney and Derry republican Paddy Gallagher, focuses on state actions on both sides of the border.

Last month Mr Gallagher, who has been returned for trial on charges linked to an unnotified dissident republican parade in Derry last April, was granted a bail variation to take part in the Brussels trip.

In a statement the IRPWA said “a number of bilateral meetings were held before MEPs, and representatives” from Ireland, France, Spain, Catalonia, the Basque Country and Estonia.

Meetings were also held with Irish MEPs Mick Wallace and Clare Daly, who hosted the visit.

“We were interested to hear from them because throughout my work in the European Parliament, and indeed in the Dail, we have taken a keen interest in cases where people are accused or charged with crimes against the state,” Ms Daly said.

“These are cases where there can be an abuse of human rights, and miscarriages of justice, as we know well from Irish history.”

The independent socialist said the “representatives provided very compelling testimony from both north and south of how state forces have targeted them in a campaign of harassment, which involves family members undermining the right to a family life”.

The IRPWA claims that members of the delegation were detained by Belgian authorities as they entered or left the country, while a taxi used by Dublin based members was stopped by gardai after they returned home.