Dirty protest at Justice Minister’s HQ
A protest over prison conditions in Maghaberry prison has seen horse manure thrown at the Belfast headquarters of the Alliance Party.
A number of PSNI police were also covered in animal excrement during the protest by Republican Network for Unity (RNU) at the party offices of Alliance leader and the Six-County ‘Justice Minister’ David Ford.
Two men were detained by the PSNI following the incident and charged with various offences.
Republican prisoners in Maghaberry have been on protest since May 2011 over what they say is a failure by the prison authorities to implement an agreement reached the previous August.
The agreement was meant to see an end to strip-searching in the prison.
Proposals to find an alternative method to body searches using technology similar to scanning machines at airports have yet to deliver tangible results.
The RNU has held previous protests at the Alliance party office in University Street in Belfast.
A spokesman for RNU said: “This action was taken to remind David Ford that 49 republican prisoners are suffering the serious effects of a ‘dirty protest’, living in excrement filled cells and being forced to inhale toxic fumes in cells which are hosed down with deep cleansing chemicals.
“RNU will not allow middle class Belfast (and the Alliance party in particular) to ignore the fact that more than 40 Republican prisoners are currently forced to live in deplorable conditions, in defiance of archaic strip searching practices.
“David Ford - the Human Rights hypocrite - cannot be allowed prevaricate and play games with scanning machines while our POWs suffer daily.
“We demand an immediate end to strip searching of all Republican POWs and the full implementation of the August agreement.”
On Wednesday evening, around 50 eirigi members and supporters in Belfast held a candlelight vigil at the site of the former RUC barracks at Andersonstown to commemorate the end of the 1981 Hunger Strike.
Members of the PSNI drove slowly past in what organisers said was “a blatant attempt at intimidation”.
Speaking after the vigil, eirigi representative Padraic Mac Coitir said, the hunger strike, in which ten men died, was a turning point in the long struggle against British occupation and it continued to inspire those struggling against injustice across the world.
“Today in Maghaberry prison, men are on a no-wash protest for demands that are even less than what the H-Block men were demanding, but to date the prison administration and those in Stormont refuse to move,” he said.
“It is hoped that the intransigence shown will not lead to another fateful hunger strike.”