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