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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent
Conditions at Maghaberry Worsen

 

Letter on Behalf of the Relatives, Lorraine Corr

Situation in Maghaberry out -of-control.
(IRPWA Press Release, 1 July 2003)

Situation in Maghaberry continues to deteriorate.
(IRPWA Press Release, 30 June 2003)

July 2, 2003

The situation in Maghaberry Gaol has now escalated drastically and we, as relatives of republican prisoners, would ask that segregation is immediately introduced in an effort to resolve this situation before it gets even worse. We have been trying to draw attention for months to the serious abuse of human rights that is taking place in Maghaberry as a result of the conditions our loved ones and all prisoners are being held in. The situation we dreaded has now come to pass and we will be holding a picket and protest outside Dundonald House Belfast tomorrow, Wednesday 2nd July at 3.00pm to voice our anger and show our solidarity with the prisoners.

The prisoners have been on another ‘lock-down’ under Rule 7, since Friday evening which means that prison rules have been suspended. There has been no contact with our family members since then, visits have been cancelled until further notice once again and even Legal visits have not taken place. This is the third time this year and the second since the beginning of June, that there has been a prolonged ‘lock-down’ under Rule 7 in the prison and each time the treatment of republican prisoners in particular, is abusive, degrading and inhumane. It is also extremely difficult for family members who are not kept informed and don’t know when they will be able to see or communicate with their loved ones again.

We have been told by Paul Pearse, solicitor at Kevin Winters office, that as a result of the abuse of their rights, prisoners have now wrecked their cells and that some have smeared excrement on their cell walls. A prison governor, Dave Kennedy confirmed that this is the situation today and as a result of the continued refusal to allow legal visits, a judicial review will be launched by solicitors tomorrow on behalf of the prisoners. We are asking the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission and British Irish Rights Watch to investigate the situation in Maghaberry.

It is essential that the Northern Ireland office stop its policy of inhumane and degrading treatment and that as a first step, segregation of republican prisoners is introduced immediately. We call on the Irish Government and the leaders of all political parties, North, South and elsewhere, to raise this issue with Paul Murphy, Secretary of State. More importantly, we call on all human rights groups, community and ex-prisoner organisations to remember prison struggles of the past and to support the basic demands of current political prisoners.

I would ask you all to support the picket and protest tomorrow, Wednesday 2nd July at Dundonald House at 3.00pm to show all the politicians and the Northern Ireland Office that the abuse of republican prisoners will never be accepted.

Thanking you in advance for your help.

Situation in Maghaberry out -of-control.
(IRPWA Press Release, 1 July 2003)

The situation in Maghaberry is becoming more serious by the hour. A phone call just received from a solicitor who was refused access to his client indicated that all republican prisoners on remand are to be locked up indefinitely due to an incident on Sunday night in which their cells were destroyed in a protest. This means that since Sunday night these prisoners have been kept in cells with broken toilets and smashed sinks, one can only imagine the conditions these men are being forced to endure. This is an attempt to punish the men for the shortcomings of the prison service and their ill-conceived policy of forced integration.

In a separate development ten homes belonging to members of the IRPWA and the 32 County Sovereignty Movement were raided this morning and computers and documents removed. The raids began at 7.35 am and took place at homes and premises all across the city. At present one man is in custody.

These events are a blatant attempt to increase pressure on the men inside and their supporters on the outside. Just as republicans have resisted criminalisation throughout our history so too will we. It is clear that the prison authorities and the NIO are attempting to raise the ante in this protest, the IRPWA call on all concerned republicans, socialists, democrats and progressive thinkers to support the POW's in this their hour of need.

Situation in Maghaberry continues to deteriorate.
(IRPWA Press Release, 30 June 2003)

Maghaberry gaol has been described as extremely tense tonight by the O/C of the IRA prisoners John Connolly. In a phone call from the gaol Connolly outlined the events leading up to and following the roof top protest on friday night (27th). At six o'clock on Friday the republican prisoners were informed that they were going to be doubled up with loyalists because of overcrowding. In the days preceding the roof top protest two republican prisoners were assaulted and put in the punishment blocks for refusing to share cells with loyalists and criminals. Tony Friel and Seamus Doherty, both from Derry refused to share stating that they were political prisoners and as such should not be treated as criminals. The actions of the prison authorities were obviously designed to cause aggrivation and ill feeling amongst the prisoners and to let them know that they were still going to be treated as common criminals. At seven o'clock the prison was said to have erupted and a number of prisoners gained access to the roof to protest.

At this time a bonfire was lit in the sentenced wings of the prison and consequently the republican prisoners were locked up all weekend. Three republican prisoners refused food during this three day lock up, John Connolly, Conor Casey and Ciaran Mac laughlin stated that they would not eat if they were going to be fed like animals through a cell door. All contact with the outside world was cut off with visits, phone calls and legal visits cancelled. Last night (Sun 29th) prisoners on the remand wings were involved in wrecking their cells in protest at conditions and prison policy. The prison authorities reacted by sending in the riot squad to beat up catholic and republican prisoners. Prison officials then asked Connolly if he could have the protests called off and were told that under no circumstances would republicans share cells with loyalists and criminals and that they demanded segregation and restoration of political status. Connolly also pointed out that if overcrowding was indeed the problem that the republican prisoners would be happy to go to the H-Blocks of long kesh as there is plenty of room there.

The IRPWA call on the prison authorities and the NIO to see sense and segregate republican prisoners immediately. The chaos in the prison is a direct result of Britain's attempt to criminalize all those who do not agree with the Good Friday Agreement. It is evident that since the Agreement there have been increased levels of polarisation within the communities and it is ludicrous to try and force political enemies to live together in such a
confined space, it is a recipe for disaster.

RESTORE POLITICAL STATUS NOW.

 



 

 

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Index: Current Articles



3 July 2003

 

Other Articles From This Issue:

 

Protest at Dundonald House
Anthony McIntyre

 

Dundonald House Protest (Photos)
Carrie Twomey

 

Conditions at Maghaberry Worsen

Lorraine Corr, relative; and statements from the IRPWA

 

Letters from Republican Prisoners
Rory O'More and Martin Brogan

 

30 June 2003

 

Bad News is No News in a World Where Sinn Fein Rules
Eamon Lynch

 

A Secret History Gets Told in Galway
Anthony McIntyre

 

The Legacy of Pedro Albizu Campos and Irish Republicanism

Aoife Rivera Serrano

 

Picking Up the Pieces
Cadogan Group

 

When Science Outpaces Law

John Harrington

 

 

 

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