By Ray O’Hanlon and Patrick Markey
The ex-convict accused of raping two Irish students at gunpoint more than two months ago in New Hampshire is now fighting attempts to extradite him back from Belgium to the United States, where he will face sexual assault and kidnapping charges, officials said.
Steven Gordon is being held in custody in Brussels on an arrest warrant charging he kidnapped and raped to Irish students in Portsmouth, N.H., in late July. After the alleged attack, investigators say, Gordon fled the country and made his way to Belgium, where he turned himself in to officials at the American Embassy in Brussels.
New Hampshire officials had initially expected Gordon to waive his rights to an extradition hearing, according to a spokeswoman for the Portsmouth County District Attorney office. Gordon has now retained an attorney and plans to fight extradition proceedings in Brussels, officials said.
Gordon, who’s 28, is allegedly to have approached the two women near a Portsmouth beach and forced them into a rented car at gunpoint in the early hours of Saturday July 18. After driving them to a desolate area near a graveyard, he sexually assaulted both of the women, police said. The victims, both in their 20s, had been working in America for the summer.
Gordon had just been released from jail after serving a prison sentence for sexual assault. He is also wanted for questioning in connection with another rape and a string of robberies in the area, police said.
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Big turnout for O’Hare
Some of Washington’s biggest political hitters turned out last week to greet Rita O’Hare, Sinn Féin’s newly appointed representative to the United States.
Sen. Edward Kennedy and Reps. Ben Gilman, Bill Pascrell, Mike McNulty, Maurice Hinchey and Dennis Kucinich were among the faces at a reception for O’Hare at the Rayburn House Office Building.
"The role of America, of Irish America and of the administration continues to be vital," O’Hare told a reception crowd in excess of 150.
"America’s involvement brought a concentration and an urgency for a resolution into a situation that some had dismissed as intractable. It reinforced the Irish dimension necessary to a way out of conflict and brought an evenhandedness into the process that brought the real cause of the conflict into the spotlight of international opinion. We need that involvement to continue," O’Hare said.
North ‘Marketing Roadshow’ kicks off
The urgent need for economic investment in Northern Ireland to underpin the peace process is being stressed in the U.S. and Canada over the coming days by a delegation of politicians and investment boosters gathered under the collective banner of the "North American Marketing Campaign Roadshow."
Led by Northern Secretary of State Mo Mowlam and Britain’s chancellor of the exchequer, Gordon Brown, the roadshow is being billed as an opportunity for American companies to hear firsthand that Northern Ireland is a safe place to invest, even as other parts of the world sink into an economic slump.
The roadshow, under the banner theme "Northern Ireland — Time for your Business," also includes Northern Ireland’s First Minister David Trimble of the UUP, Deputy First Minister Seamus Mallon of the SDLP, Alan Gillespie, chairman of the Northern Ireland Industrial Development Board and North economy minister Adam Ingram.
The roadshow is being officially launched today at the Sheraton New York Hotel on Seventh Avenue in Manhattan. Cities on the roadshow itinerary in addition to New York are Philadelphia, Boston, Denver, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Chicago, Dallas, Atlanta, Seattle, San Jose and Toronto.
Dana at Fordham
Irish presidential candidate Dana Rosemary Scallon is to address Fordham University’s Institute of Irish Studies on Wednesday, Oct. 14. The candidate and onetime Eurovision Song Contest winner will discuss democracy and politics in Ireland and the Irish media’s treatment of social issues. She will also talk about her experiences as a candidate for the Irish presidency. For details call (212) 636-7013