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Irish doctors and politicians plan mission to free medics held in Bahrain

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A group of Irish doctors and politicians is planning to fly out to Bahrain next week to demand the release of Irish-trained medics who were arrested during pro-democracy demonstrations in the middle east country.

The captive doctors and nurses -- three of whom were trained in the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) -- could face execution if convicted. A total of 47 doctors and nurses remain in custody.

"It's quite extraordinary for doctors to be arrested in any country," Fianna Fail Senator Averil Power told the Herald. "These doctors were arrested for doing their jobs."

"The families haven't been able to talk to those in detention. It was two months after they were arrested before they had access to legal counsel."

Senator Power has signed up to leave on July 12, along with MEP Marian Harkin, former minister for foreign affairs David Andrews and representatives from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO).

Power was persuaded to join the group after being shown the extent of the situation by orthopaedic surgeon Professor Damien McCormack, who is one of several doctors to have criticized the RCSI for failing to condemn the detentions.

"As a member of the Oireachtas it might provide the group with some form of safety -- the group can say that a member of the Irish parliament is travelling with them," she explained.

The RCSI's silence on the issue had been condemned by many doctors, some of whom have resigned in protest from the organization.

"I don't understand their silence," said Power. "Doctors have a moral responsibility to act."

However, the RCSI may have been concerned that speaking out could endanger its staff and students in Bahrain.
 

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