By Anne Cadwallader
BELFAST – The sister of Joe Doherty, the former IRA man who spent almost nine years without charge in U.S. jails, says she wants the world to know that her brother is getting nothing from the peace process and is being unfairly treated.
Anne Doherty, whose brother is serving a recommended 30 years in jail, has reiterated calls for him to be freed – at least on parole temporarily.
She says the time he spent in U.S. jails fighting extradition should be taken into account when deciding parole. Life sentence prisoners are only eligible after serving 10 years.
Doherty said she wanted Unionists to know that Nationalist prisoners were not getting preferential treatment, citing the release of convicted loyalist killer Michael Stone.
Doherty, from the New Lodge area of North Belfast, has been in the Maze Jail outside Belfast since he was deported from New York in 1992. He was arrested there in 1983 after escaping from Belfast’s Crumlin Road jail in 1981.
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Two days later, he was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment, in absentia, for the murder of SAS Captain Herbert Westmacott, who died as his unit stormed a house where an IRA gang had been surrounded.
“I had to visit him for nine years in the States and it was no holiday camp,” Anne Doherty said. “To me, 17 years ago was the last time I saw my brother. It seems like forever. I am not asking for him to be released, just to come home for a few days.”