Irish wrong to imprison campaigning writer

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From: Michael McGowan, Former MEP and member of the Human Rights Committee of the European Parliament, Town Street, Chapel Allerton, Leeds.

THE visit of the wife of the President of Ireland, Sabina Higgins, to see her friend the Irish writer Margaretta D’Arcy in Limerick Prison is an act of affection and solidarity which will be welcomed by those who have long been concerned about the presence of the US listening base at Menwith Hill in the Yorkshire Dales.

Margaretta D’Arcy is serving 
a three-month prison sentence 
in Ireland for her protests at the US military use of Shannon airport after being arrested at her home in Galway last week and taken by Gardai to Limerick prison.

The decision to lock her up in prison makes no sense, is heavy handed, lacks compassion, and is in danger of damaging Ireland’s reputation as a defender of human rights and a resource for peace in the world.

It is difficult to believe she is a threat to security or that to lock her away in prison is in the public interest.

Ireland is highly respected for its work with UN peace forces and as an upholder of the principles of human rights and its work across the globe in conflict zones and in some of the poorest countries in the world. I would expect that the release from prison of a 79-year-old distinguished Irish writer who has been diagnosed with cancer would command the widest support and respect both in Yorkshire, Ireland, and internationally.

Margaretta D’Arcy is the widow of John Arden, author of Sergeant Musgrave’s Dance, who was born in Barnsley and educated at Sedbergh School in Cumbria.