Written Answers. - Northern Ireland Issues.

Gay Mitchell

Question:

24 Mr. G. Mitchell asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will make a statement on the detention of three Irish citizens in Columbia, allegedly for suspected terrorist offences. [15007/02]

My Department continues to maintain close contact with the Colombian authorities on the three Irish citizens currently detained there. Since their arrest, my Department has been active in providing consular assistance to them with a view to ensuring that they are held in safe and secure accommodation, that they have reasonable living conditions and that they have adequate access to their legal representatives. These concerns have been raised with the Colombian authorities through diplomatic channels. In addition, I have written and spoken to the Colombian Foreign Minister on a number of occasions to reiterate these concerns and to request that the case be expedited to the greatest degree possible. Consular officials from our Embassy in Mexico have visited the men several times and my Department has maintained close contacts with representatives of their families in Ireland.

In addition, the Taoiseach, in his recent meeting with President Pastrana, emphasised the importance of ensuring a fair trial, security for the men, and access to them for their families. I will keep the situation of the three men under close review and my Department will continue to provide every possible consular assistance to them.