The Blanket

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Security lapse endangers republican prisoner's life
Officer Commanding Republican Prisoners of War meets Secretary of State Paul Murphy

Martin Mulholland, Irish Republican Prisoners Welfare Association (IRPWA)

Security lapse endangers republican prisoner's life, May 30 2003

A remarkable lapse in security could have had disastrous consequences for republican prisoner John Connolly in Maghaberry gaol last night. During lock up a prison warden neglected to secure the cell of a prominent loyalist, who then proceeded to roam the landing all night. The security lapse was not discovered until 6am the following morning. Connolly was kept awake by sectarian taunts and threats shouted through his cell door all night but the consequences could have been much more severe. John Connolly is the only republican prisoner on this wing, which he shares with eleven loyalists. Had the loyalist prisoner been able to surprise the screw on night duty he would have had access to all the keys for the wing leaving Connolly at the mercy of loyalist prisoners. Connolly, as O/C of the IRA prisoners in the gaol is probably the most high profile republican prisoner in Maghaberry and he has been warned on numerous occasions about death threats against him and his family.

This incident highlights the folly of keeping republican and loyalist prisoners together in the general prison population. It is clear given the number of assaults on republican prisoners that the prison authorities are unwilling or unable to protect them and while we accept that the screws cannot be everywhere at once we do expect them to lock people up at night. If the prison wardens spent less time taunting and assaulting republican POW's and concentrated on the simple tasks then this would not have happened.

The IRPWA call for immediate segregation of all republican prisoners as a first step in the restoration of political status.

Officer Commanding Republican Prisoners of War meets Secretary of State Paul Murphy, May 27, 2003

Today in the education wing of Maghaberry gaol, the OC Oglaigh Na hEireann prisoners John Connolly came face to face with the secretary of state for Northern Ireland Paul Murphy. Despite a large entourage of NIO officials, Prison Officials and body guards Mr Connolly was able to approach Mr Murphy and introduce himself as the OC of the republican prisoners. There was an attempt made by the prison officials to prevent any contact but the Secretary of State indicated that he was prepared to speak with the OC.

Mr Connolly then outlined the position of the republican prisoners in the gaol and told of the litany of abuse from Loyalist prisoners as well as prison officials. Connolly then went on to demand segregation from loyalists and the restoration of political status on behalf of the republican POW's.

Mr Murphy indicated that there was movement on the issues that had been raised and was thanked by John Connolly for his time and interest when it was apparent that officials did not want the exchange to take place.

The IRPWA reiterate John Connolly's demands and would urge the NIO to segregate republican prisoners immediately. Paul Murphy's indication that moves are afoot are a cause for some optimism but while officials talk the likelihood of another serious assault or a death increases.

We ask the British Government to bear in mind what has happened in the past when indications of movement were not followed up by action and when hopes were raised only to be dashed.



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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



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Index: Current Articles

30 May 2003


Other Articles From This Issue:


Andersonstown News Moves to Censor The Blanket
Anthony McIntyre


Security Lapse Endangers Republican Prisoner

Martin Mulholland


Britain's Dirty War in Ireland

Irish Republican Information Bureau (IRIB)


Story with rusty British blade has Irish adherents
Adam O'Toole


Wishful Thinking

Liam Clarke


Shade of 1984
Kathryn Johnston


Stop Attacks on Bus Drivers

Sean Smyth


Spooks are not so easy to spring from their closets

Eamon McCann


23 May 2003


Lynch Pins
Eamon McCann


Send in the Sandbag
Anthony McIntyre


Trial By Media

British Irish Rights Watch


We Love the Andytout News Information Minister
Comical Livvy


The Letters page has been updated.




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