The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent
Brutality in Maghaberry extends to visitors
Press Release
Martin Mulholland, IRPWA • 11 August 2003

The brutality against republicans that is common place in Maghaberry gaol was yesterday used against prisoner's relatives and friends. In an almost unprecedented incident three young men from the Tyrone area were set upon by the prison riot squad after asking to see the governor, following an attempt to stop one of their number from entering the visiting area.

A sniffer dog halted at two of the men indicating that they could not progress into the main area for visits; other members of the visiting party then made a complaint to the prison staff asking to see the governor and were told that the governor didn't want to see them. The men told prison staff that they would not leave the area until they had met the governor to complain about the use of the dog to prevent visits with republican prisoners, at which point they were told f*** you and f*** the republican prisoners; the prison officer then hit a panic button and seconds later the riot squad arrived and moved everyone from the area and proceeded to assault the young men.

The power to the gaol was turned off and the members of the riot squad shouted to the prison officer to turn off the cameras. All throughout the incident, the riot squad repeatedly laughed and joked that it was a good job that the cameras were turned off. The men were then taken to a different part of the gaol were they were assaulted further and told that they had no rights. One of the men was called "Fenian scum" while another was told that there were 200 loyalists at the gate who would "tear him apart like dogs". The police were called to escort the men of the premises, and after an ordeal lasting a number of hours, all three men were released.

The prison authorities must answer serious questions about this incident. Firstly the use of a sniffer dog against visitors that continually stops at people going to visit republican prisoners. On a number of occasions when this has happened visitors have asked the prison officers to call for the police in order to be searched and if necessary have a drugs test to prove that they are not carrying drugs, the prison authorities have always refused. Why? And why is the dog guided on a lead instead of being allowed to walk freely to where it senses drugs? The reason is obvious; the dog is being used to prevent visits.

Secondly what right has the prison to assault and detain any visitor? Visitors are free citizens and are entitled to their rights as citizens, it is clear that the prison service view the friend and relatives as guilty. It is also an attempt to intimidate them in order to stop them coming to visit thus putting even more pressure on the prisoners to end their protest.

The IRPWA call for an immediate enquiry into this incident. The prison service are denying the incident took place in the same way they denied that Derry republican Seamus Doherty was forced to share a cell with loyalist and British agent Mo Courtney and that the protesting prisoners were beaten and hosed down in their cells. The prison service appear to be acting above the law in some sort of Orwellian nether world where truth and justice are expendable and any means can be used to preserve the status quo and crush dissent. The truth is that the prison service is another weapon in the war against republicanism in Ireland just as sure as the special criminal court in Dublin serves the same purpose. The Good Friday agreement promised equality for all, it is clear that this equality extends only to those who accept without question the nature of the state and are prepared to stay silent and live in a society more like a Latin American dictatorship than a modern democracy.

End the Criminalisation of Republican Prisoners and their families. Segregation Now, Restore Political Status.




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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.
- George Bernard Shaw

Index: Current Articles

11 August 2003


Other Articles From This Issue:


Revenge, Not Justice
Anthony McIntyre


Statement of Michael McKevitt


Brutality in Maghaberry Extends to Visitors

Martin Mulholland, IRPWA


Federal Prisoner Becomes University Professor
Stephen C. Richards


What is the New School of Convict Criminology?
Jeffery Ian Ross and Stephen C. Richards


Intellectuals and the Cold War
John Harrington


Kevin Lynch Commemoration Speech
Jimmy Bradley


Neo-Liberal Nicaragua: Neo Banana Republic
Toni Solo


5 August 2003


Spooks, Spies and Spoofers
Anthony McIntyre


Doing Something Right
Aine Fox


The Ideas of Frantz Fanon

Liam O Ruairc


Terrorism and Civil Society as Instruments of US Policy in Cuba
Philip Agee


The Letters Page has been updated.




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