Irish Republican News · May 15, 2007
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Prison protest suspended

Republican prisoners held in Maghaberry jail have agreed to suspend their 10-month long protest.

According to a statement by the O/C of the Continuity IRA prisoners at the jail, the protest was intended to end a prison regime “which seeks to criminalise those who continue to struggle for Ireland’s Freedom”.

Representatives of the prisoners have held meetings with various organisations including the hierarchy of the Catholic Church. During these meetings the Church representatives, including Archibishop Sean Brady, appealed to the prisoners to suspend their protest in order to allow them to enter discussions on the prisoners’ behalf.

“Whilst the PoWs demanded direct talks between their O/C and the Brits it was then decided not to escalate the protest,” the statement reads.

“The decision to suspend the current phase of protest was taken after the leadership of Oglaigh na hEireann were informed by the Gaol O/C.

“Whilst there have been some changes implemented to improve conditions since this decision we believe that they only partially meet our demands.”

Among the changes granted so far are access to a classroom, the possibility of football games between prison wings, access to a dining room on a rotational basis, and reduced (16-19 hour) lock-ups.

“Although we must acknowledge that significant change has been made we believe that a lot more needs to be done,” the prisoners said.

“We have only agreed to a temporary suspension in order to show that we are not intransigent; we will not accept the continuation of any policy which seeks to criminalise Republican POWs.

“We would urge the NIO and the Brits not to view our suspension as a sign of weakness, but rather as a sign that we are willing to give room for manoeuvre - the room that was requested from us by intermediaries.

“We wish to restate that we will not tolerate any more foot-dragging on the issues pertaining to better living conditions. We will not allow the status quo to remain for a further 3 years without more significant change. The ball is again in the Brits’ court.”

Meanwhile, it has been reported that tensions are running high in Portlaoise prison as republican prisoners have suffered the consequences of a crackdown on the activities of criminal convicts.

All cells in the County Laois jail have been raided by warders after one prisoner used a smuggled mobile phone to make complaints to a high-profile Irish radio talk show.

Republicans have called for greater separation between the political and criminal prisoners, with the possibility that gangland prisoners be moved to Mountjoy jail in Dublin.

* Michael O’Neill, one of the four-man Provisional IRA unit involved in the 1996 Adare raid which led to ther death of Garda Jerry McCabe, was released from Castlerea prison today. O’Neill is the first of the men to be released following the completion of his jail term.

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© 2007 Irish Republican News