Sinn Féin MLA Pat Sheehan has welcomed the decision by the French government that it will start moving Basque prisoners to jails close to the Basque Country.

Pat Sheehan said:

“I welcome the announcement by Youssef Badr, the French Justice Ministry spokesperson that the French authorities will start moving Basque prisoners in France to jails close to the Basque Country.

“If confirmed then this is a step in the right direction, a first necessary step on the path to early release.

“This is a step that would end the unnecessary additional punishment to their relatives who have been travelling hundreds of miles just to visit them.

“We urge the Spanish Government to pursue the same path and withdraw its current dispersal policy in relation to Basque prisoners and start a process of repatriation as a first step for an early release process.

“This would be an important confidence building measure and could be a first step to the governments engaging in dialogue with the representatives of all the Basque people.”