Germany launched a new bid today to have the daughter of an ex-MP extradited to stand trial over an IRA bomb attack on a British Army base.
Roisin McAliskey, aged 35, appeared before Belfast Recorder’s Court after being detained at her home in Coalisland, Co Tyrone, on a European arrest warrant.
A lawyer for the German authorities said she was wanted for alleged attempted murder over a mortar strike on the Osnabruck Barracks in June 1996.
As the suspect’s mother, the former Mid-Ulster MP and Catholic civil rights campaigner Bernadette McAliskey, listened from the public gallery, the court was told how the warrant was issued last October.
It is the second time Germany has attempted to have Roisin McAliskey extradited over the attack, carried out before the IRA declared its second ceasefire and which injured no-one but caused extensive damage to the base.
In 1998 the then British Home Secretary Jack Straw decided she was too ill to be taken. McAliskey, a mother of two, had been pregnant at the time and, during a drawn-out process, was later said to be suffering from post-natal depression.
German legal chiefs had urged the British Government to take control of the prosecution but they later ruled there was not enough evidence for her to stand trial in the UK.
The latest attempt began after police officers, including detectives from the Extradition and International Mutual Assistance Unit, made the arrest early today.
During the short hearing to confirm McAliskey’s identity, her lawyer, Barry Macdonald QC, confirmed she was not consenting to the extradition.
He also questioned why it had taken until now to launch the arrest warrant.
Mr Macdonald said: “There’s obviously been a substantial delay in the prosecution of this matter.
“It may be appropriate for the requesting party in these unusual circumstances to explain why there has been such a delay in issuing this warrant.”
Stephen Ritchie, for the German State, accepted there was an issue around the passage of time and also told the court he would not be opposing bail.
After the Belfast Recorder, Judge Tom Burgess, confirmed that the alleged offences could be considered for extradition, he released Ms McAliskey on bail.
She was also ordered to report to a police station once a week and, even though the court was told she has no passport, to hand over any such document obtained in the future.
Ms McAliskey and her mother left court flanked by friends without making any comment. She will appear again for the extradition hearing on June 6.
Outside the court, Martin McGuinness, the Sinn Féin MP for Mid-Ulster, urged the German authorities to drop their extradition proceedings.
He said: “Over 10 years ago these matters had a more than adequate hearing in a succession of British courts.
“The arrest this morning of Roisin on the foot of an extradition request from German prosecutors will be seen by many as petty and vindictive.”
Mr McGuinness, Deputy First Minister at the new Northern power-sharing Assembly, insisted she has always maintained her innocence.
He added: “Roisin McAliskey is the mother of two young children and she has lived openly in her home town in the 10 years since her release from prison in England the last time the German authorities threatened to have her extradited.
“The German authorities should take note of the tremendous progress we have achieved in Ireland in the course of recent years and immediately drop the demand for Roisin’s extradition and allow her to return home immediately to her young family.”