-- Justice et injustices --
Publié le 9/08/07 14:04 -- mis à jour le 00/00/00 00:00
The Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin say that they are facilitating consular access, Noel Maguire, currently imprisoned in England, but bizarrely add that the question of repatriation is not down to them.
The news came in a reply to Celtic League Secretary General, Rhisiart Tal-e-bot, who had written to Minister Dermot Ahern urging that steps be taken to ensure that Mr Maguire was repatriated to Ireland to complete his sentence. The Department however have neatly sidestepped this issue by averring that the Minister «does not have a role in the processing of applications for prisoner transfer under the European Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons». Decisions on prisoner transfers they point out are a function of the Department for Justice, Equality and Law Reform.
The Celtic League will of course now pursue the issue with the Justice Department. However given the contention of the Department of Foreign Affairs that they are assisting Mr Maguire with consular facilities it is alarming that they appear to have abrogated any responsibility on the repatriation issue and have failed to press their colleagues in the Justice Department to facilitate a transfer.
Rhisiart Tal-e-bot made clear in his earlier communication to Dermot Ahern (see link below) that the Celtic League was aware of the psychological and physical strain that Noel Maguire was under following a vicious knife attack earlier this year by fellow prisoners. We said that his future well-being would be improved if he was moved to a prison closer to his family members. Surely if Mr Maguire is getting as good a service from the Irish Embassy in London as Ahern's Department contends these facts should have been communicated back to the Minister. If they were why has the Department not taken action?
«Our Ref: A1070160
Dear Mr Tal-e-bot
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Dermot Ahern, TD, has asked me to thank you for your letter of June 25th 2007 regarding the repatriation of Mr Noel Maguire and to reply to you on his behalf.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs does not have a role in the processing of applications for prisoner transfer under the European Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons or the Transfer of Sentenced Persons Act, 1995. Decisions on prison transfers are a matter for the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform.
However, you may also wish to note the following. Given the responsibility of the minister for Foreign Affairs for the provision of consular assistance to Irish citizens outside the State, this Department has maintained direct contact with Mr Maguire throughout the period of his imprisonment. In this context, Mr Maguire has received regular visits from an officer of this department based at our Embassy in London and will continue to so if he so wishes. The content of communications between Mr Maguire and the Embassy is personal and confidential but the Embassy will continue to follow up in an appropriate manner on any requests for consular assistance which may be made by Mr Maguire during his detention in the British prison system.
I hope this clarifies the situation somewhat.
See earlier Celtic News items at:
J B Moffatt Director of Information Celtic League