The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

Relatives of Republican Prisoners

On Wednesday, December 18th, a small contingent of relatives of Republican prisoners and their supporters delivered a letter to the Secretary of State, Paul Murphy.

Orlaith Dillion

Mr Paul Murphy
Hillsborough Castle
County Down

18 December 2002
Dear Mr Murphy

Relatives and friends are here today protesting against the ongoing human rights abuses in Maghaberry Jail. It is with regret that the Director of Prisons, Mr Peter Russell, did not acknowledge our request for a meeting to discuss the relevant issues affecting us and our loved ones held in Maghaberry.

We have lobbied politicians and have sought to highlight the appalling conditions in Maghaberry Jail. We are outraged at the Junior Minister, Jane Kennedy, response on 31st October to a letter she received from Mark Durkan MLA which outlined our concerns.

Ms Kennedy states there is no evidence to support the allegation that loyalist prisoners are constantly attacking republican prisoners.

Perhaps the Northern Ireland Prison Service (NIPS) and Ms Kennedy would explain why the security of those prisoners who received death threats were not protected in any shape or form despite the fact that the NIPS have a duty of care under Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights. We are aware that ammunition was found recently in the prison and Governor Maguire stated in response to the find that it was almost impossible to prevent this. He further indicated that small items can be smuggled comparatively easily into the prison. Can you, Mr Murphy and the NIPS guarantee the safety of our loved ones? We don’t think so.

We view the use of a sniffer dog as an outright abuse of our human rights and dignity by the NIPS. Many of us have been offered closed visits, which we refuse; closed visits are inhumane and are a step down from the video link. This was a result of the dog handler singling us out by tugging the dog lead while the dog appraised us and then stops at the individual and sits which is supposed to indicate that the individual involved is a drug carrier. It would be laughable if the situation was not so repulsive. It is an outrageous farcical situation. Indeed the NIPS annual report published July 2002 highlighted that there were 346 drug finds in the prison. We would like to add that there were no drugs found on republican prisoners.

This latest revelation quite clearly proves the NIPS claims that the drug dog has proven to be the most effective weapon to prevent smuggling of drugs is nonsense. The NIPS own evidence suggests the contrary. Also we have witnessed drugs being found after people have passed the drug dog without incident.

Mr Murphy we ask you is this atrocious prison system to be part of the “new Ireland” that is much talked about in the current political climate? Is this what the future holds? We ask you to intervene immediately and end this deplorable practice which targets mostly women and children. We also ask you to intervene to put measures in place that will house our beloved ones in a safe environment that will protect their lives before it is too late.

Yours Sincerely,

Orlaith Dillon
Spokesperson for Relatives of Republican Prisoners




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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love.
- Hamilton Wright Mabie

Index: Current Articles

19 December 2002


Other Articles From This Issue:


Take It With A Pinch Of Salt
Tom Luby


Victory 2016 plus 40 - Remember to Read the Small Print

Anthony McIntyre


The Men of No Property
Liam O Ruairc


Relatives of Republican Prisoners
Orlaith Dillion


Dirty Politics
Carrie Twomey


Henry McDonald, “Irish Anti-Semitism” and the Zionist Roadshow
Brian Kelly


Arrests in London of Turkish Hunger Strike supporters


15 December 2002


Arrests in London of Turkish Hunger Strike supporters


The Beast is Back
Henry McDonald


Christmas in the "Holy Land"
Margaret Quinn


The Theocractic Threat to Secular Freedom

Anthony McIntyre




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