There has been a deterioration in the conditions for republican political prisoners held at Maghaberry prison in County Armagh after prisoners were left without heat and food for two days in a row last weekend.
Power was finally restored to the republican wings and other parts of the prison by Monday, but the Republican Network for Unity described the situation as “stark”.
At one point, a republican prisoner was handed two loaves of bread and a block of cheese with the suggestion that it should feed a wing of the prison.
The RNU’s prisoner support group, Cogus, said the manner in which prisoners were denied meals and subjected to freezing temperatures was unacceptable.
The partner of one prisoner said she has been told the prison was “absolutely freezing” and that one 71-year-old prisoner was “shivering with his coat on as his only source of heat”.
“It is an absolute disgrace that these men are having to endure this treatment in the middle of winter in this day and age,” she said.
Prison officials blamed the situation on a breakdown of the electricity system at the prison. Requests for further information were refused with warders denying any knowledge of the situation.
“While it is normal for the incarceration system to treat prisoners with sub-human standards, the Cogús prisoners have made it clear to their representatives on the outside that they will not passively tolerate such a deterioration of conditions indefinitely,” the organisation said in a statement.
“We would ask the public to make representation to the Maghaberry system and demand explanations as to why prisoners are being treated in this way.”
Cogus spokesperson Martin Óg Meehan credited the involvement of independent republican councillor, Angela Nelson and Pat Ramsay of the SDLP, for helping to resolve the situation.