the media furore over Ciaran Mc Laughlins parole
protest this week I feel compelled to raise some questions
that they have ignored, whether by accident or design.
Perhaps the most pertinent one is why Ciaran was forced
into the situation where he felt such action necessary.
Why did the NIO and the prison authorities single
him out for such harsh treatment? It is the norm for
prisoners to be granted 72hrs parole in the case of
a close family bereavement.
Ciaran is the head of a family who have endured the
long and distressing terminal illness of baby Kyle,
the authorities prevented him being present when Kyle
died and added insult to injury by not allowing him
adequate time to grieve with and comfort his family
after the funeral. Surely the question being asked
should not be about his delay in going back but rather
why he wasnt given longer parole in the first
Whilst Ciarans was an individual decision, the
media reaction to it has in many ways vindicated it.
Would the fact that he was granted only 12hrs parole
even have been mentioned in the press if he hadnt
taken the action he did? His protest was designed
to highlight the discriminatory treatment he was receiving
and in that he was very successful.
Claims made by some of the media that the hoax alerts
in Derry on the day of the funeral were related to
Ciarans protest are completely without foundation.
In many cases these actually prevented mourners attending
the funeral service and in others made them late,
myself being one of those affected. It must be stated
that throughout Monday many efforts were made by various
people to have Ciarans parole extended but alas
all pleas fell on deaf ears. His action certainly
wasnt planned and seems to have been taken only
after all other avenues were exhausted. It came as
a surprise to many of us.
Lets get one thing very clear - this man did
not dishonour his parole - he returned to gaol of
his own free will having made his point. He knew only
too well the consequences of his actions and that
he would face further punishment on his return but
he was prepared to take that hardship to make his
protest. Since his return he has been brought before
the governor and charged with being unlawfully
at large. At the hearing he was surrounded by
the prison riot squad, surely totally unnecessary
intimidation. He was refused any sort of legal representation.
He is currently awaiting adjudication,
where punishment will be handed out at the whim of
the governor-hardly justice.
There is no justifiable reason for his action to affect
parole for other Republican prisoners-this man made
a protest he did not abscond. The NIO cannot have
it both ways, on the one hand they state that all
prisoners are treated as individuals and in the next
breath we have the likes of Ken Maginnis calling for
parole to Republican prisoners to be stopped altogether
because of this mans protest. If these men are
to be recognised as a group for punishment to be meted
out, then they are entitled to be treated and recognised
as a group in all matters.
The only question to be asked here is, if parole is
supposed to be granted on humanitarian grounds why
was this man singled out for such cruel and inhumane
treatment? The security issue cannot be used as he
had returned to prison on two previous occasions without
delay - his treatment smacks of vindictiveness.
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