The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent
Civil Rights Vets on Prison Situation
October 5th Association • 13.12.03

The Derry-based October Fifth Association, which is composed of 1968 civil rights veterans and supporters, has expressed grave concern that the Northern Ireland Prisons Service is continuing to house Republicans alongside convicted members of loyalist death squads. The group has been publicly active on the issue of prisoners' rights, and the need for segregation, over this past few years.

It's honorary secretary, Mr. Fionnbarra Ó Dochartaigh expressed "outrage" at the fact that a young republican prisoner, from Strabane, was attacked in Hydebank Young Offenders Centre on December 7th. The attack involved six other inmates at the centre, which is located outsider Belfast.

The Co. Tyrone prisoner is known to be 17 year-old Joseph Barr. Mr. O Dochartaigh, an author and historian, claims that "the youth was in his cell when the loyalist youths attempted to hang him; luckily they were disturbed before any serious damage was done".

Mr. O Dochartaigh, a co-founder of the civil rights association (NICRA) in 1967, stated, "It is publicly known that another body, the Irish Republican Prisoners' Welfare Association, have consistently called for James Barr's transfer to the republican wing in Maghaberry where he will be safe from attack. However, the association has been told that this is against the European convention of human rights for children because of his age. This is an insane situation where someone's life is put on the line, whereas the original drafters of the EU legislation had the protection of children in mind. Has this to be spelt out to the NIO and Prison Service, or have we to await another coffin being carried beyond the walls, lookout towers and barbed wire, before commonsense prevails?

He continued, "We had believed that this had all been sorted out in September, after a long campaign for separation apparently was successful. Many prominent clergy, politicians, human rights and civil liberties groups expended much effort and time in pursuit of a safer environment for all prisoners, political or otherwise. The Northern Ireland Prison Service knows full well the implications of leaving a single republican prisoner surrounded by hostile loyalists and criminals and we call on them to provide security for Joseph Barr until he leaves the institution.

Mr. Ó Dochartaigh, however, welcomed the fact that Joseph Barr turns 18 at the end of December, but added, "so any procrastination on his transfer could be viewed as a reckless act of omission or dare one harbour the notion, as a deliberate attempt to endanger his life further."

The civil rights veterans' group is also concerned for the welfare of female prisoners. Its hon. Secretary said: "All concerned with what is happening in the jails should be wary of attempts to move two women prisoners from Maghaberry to Hydebank. The two republican women have stated their intention of staying put and we demand they receive adequate protection and amenities rather than the 23 hour lock up they are currently forced to endure."

An angry Mr. Ó Dochartaigh told journalists yesterday, "As a civil rights group we are concerned at the plight of all prisoners, and wish our views to be known because many fine people across the Six Counties have, like us, believed that separation had been granted in the form of the Steel Report a few months ago. We believe that it would be a pity if after a protracted prison struggle, a 'no wash' protest, has concluded, another is embarked upon for the same basic principles that the government have, supposedly, already conceded."




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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



All censorships exist to prevent any one from challenging current conceptions and existing institutions. All progress is initiated by challenging current conceptions, and executed by supplanting existing institutions. Consequently the first condition of progress is the removal of censorships.
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Index: Current Articles

13 December 2003


Other Articles From This Issue:


The Right Road to Power
Anthony McIntyre


University Challenge

Seaghán Ó Murchú


Money Talks
Mick Hall


Bloody Sunday Inquiry
Liam O Comain


Stalemate for the GFA
Paul Mallon


The GFA and Other Fairystories
Proinsias O'Loinsaigh


Dies IRAe
Ruth Dudley Edwards


Conversion of Constantine
Terry O'Neill


Republican Prisoner Attacked in Hydebank YOC



Civil Rights Veterans on Prison Situation
October 5th Association


8 December 2003


Electing to Disagree
Brendan O'Neill


The GFA Revisited

Gerry Ruddy


The Problem With the Kurds
Pedram Moallemian


Even Northern Ireland Has Global Responsibilties
Anthony McIntyre


Rafah Today: The Tent
Mohammed Omer




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