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Maghaberry Update

(1 of 2)

PRO POW's, Maghaberry Gaol, Aontroim

A chairde, a chomrádaithe beannachtaí chugaibh go léir.

I would like to thank the editorial board of the Blanket for giving us this opportunity to contribute and for allowing us a voice which is being denied elsewhere. We send greetings to our comrades in all other gaols at home and abroad. (An Phoblacht Abú)

There are many issues which affect republican prisoners post 'Good Friday Agreement'. As a direct result of that agreement, Political Status that was fought and dearly paid for was ended by the British Government. They along with the NIO and the Prison Service say they no longer recognise POW status. This is a blatant falsehood borne out by the fact that they go to extreme lengths to keep us apart from each other. So 'it's back to the future' for Republican prisoners- the battle continues- our first goal being 'Segregation'.

Segregation for Republican prisoners is probably the most important and imperative issue facing us at the minute. In the past month alone there have been eight 'death threats' (that we know about) from Loyalist prisoners against Republicans, two actual assaults and many insults and confrontations. The prison authorities perpetuate such an environment by ensuring republicans are spread very thinly throughout the gaol- we are never allowed to be in the ascendancy. A typical example is a wing of 24 prisoner-no more than 2 republicans are placed on the wing while there can be up to10 or 11 loyalists on the same wing. The rest of the numbers are made up with criminals and many of these can be loyalist in outlook. So you can see the scenario. Not only would republicans need eyes in the back of their heads and nerves of steel every time we come out of our cells but our guardian angels would need to be on 24 hour alert as well.

As we continue to point out the very real danger of a fatality looms large everyday. The procrastinating of the British Gov., NIO and the Prison Service left us with no alternative but to raise the tempo of our struggle for segregation. As a result of action taken the prison service reacted by 'locking down' the gaol for 5 days, a number of prisoners were assaulted by screws in the course of cell searches and nearly 200 prisoners were strip-searched. One political prisoner from South Down, who was assaulted, was himself charged with petty offences that were fabricated against him in an attempt by screws to counteract his claim of assault.

Most other prisoners were prevented from removing 'legal papers' from cells during searches or to be present during searches (which is in contravention of their own law lords ruling) No doubt the screws had a good read at our private 'legal papers' uninterrupted. Prisoners were then refused exercise, visits, legal hearings, such as 'remand legal visits' or phone-calls, or letters to or form the gaol.

All in all the whole five days showed up the prison service for what it is, an oppressive vindictive arm of the British Government used to try to break the resolve and spirit of Republican POW's in particular and the Republican Struggle in general. However, as Republican prisoners in the past, we will not be criminalised- we are asking for nothing more than we are entitled to as prisoners of war.

As yet the Prison Service and the British government have refused to move on the issue. We believe the current political situation on the outside has a lot to do with this refusal. In short, the 'coalition of the willing' (British Gov., Sinn Fein leadership, SDLP,Unionists) and other quislings cannot afford to have an official admittance that there are still Republican Prisoners of War, it would not sit cosy with their media friendly image of normalisation of the North.

British judges' blatant sectarianism in relation to Bail hearings has become more and more apparent in the past year. In a recent case a well-known UDA leader, caught in possession of a loaded small arm and loose rounds for another weapon, was promptly given bail. The only concern the judge had was the loose rounds and the fact they did not fit the said gun. No thought for the poor sod who was going to get the rounds that weren't loose. Since 1998 few republican prisoners have received bail while countless loyalists are granted it despite the severity of the charge against them. Perhaps some investigative journalist from those highly independent newspapers or TV programmes would like to enlighten us as to the reasons. Don't hold your breath!









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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



Follow the path of the unsafe, independent thinker. Expose your ideas to the dangers of controversy. Speak your mind and fear less the label of 'crackpot' than the stigma of conformity. And on issues that seem important to you, stand up and be counted at any cost.
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Index: Current Articles

14 April 2003


Other Articles From This Issue:


Maghaberry Update


"We Won The Peace, Now Let's Win The War"

PRO, POWs, Maghaberry


"In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash"

Paul Fitzsimmons


Killer Peaceniks
Henry McDonald


Hillsborough and the Anglo-American Agreement to Wage War
Anthony McIntyre


An English View of the 'Ra
Eamonn McCann


In the Swim with Two Boys
Seaghan O Murchu


A Better World Without Him

Anthony McIntyre


Arrogant Propaganda
Paul de Rooij


11 April 2003


Critique of the Anti War Movement

Liam O'Ruairc


A Diversion from the Task
Eoin O'Broin


Bush and Blair Summon the Irish Contras...
Anthony McIntyre


Not Firm Ground But Wet Sand: Prevaricating for Peace

Paul Fitzsimmons


Irish Leaders Miss Chance to Speak Out Against War
Eamon Lynch


London Update


Baghdad: First They Cheered and Then They...
Anthony McIntyre


America's Dual Mission

M. Shahid Alam


War: It Already Started
Paul de Rooij


Lacking Credibility
Bert Ward




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