Irish Republican News · June 12, 2009
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Prisoner assaulted by ‘delinquent’ warders

A Republican prisoner has been seriously assaulted in his cell in Maghaberry jail this Wednesday, according to Republican Sinn Féin.

Warders conducting a cell-search entered his cell at around 9a.m. and sought to take a bottle of shampoo along with other items. When the prisoner enquired whether he was no longer entitled to shower, he was badly beaten, and his hands and legs were bound. He was then brought to the punishment block and kept there for a number of hours.

This follows reports that security has been tightened in Maghaberry over the course of the past two months.

Republican Sinn Féin also said that the man, who is badly bruised as a result of his ordeal, was to be charged with assault.

“The RUC and the screws have a long history within the Six Counties of assaulting people, and subsequently charging the injured party with assault,” a spokesman said. He asked whether “perhaps they could avoid injury to themselves if they weren’t using Republicans as punch-bags?”

“Brutality against Republican prisoners is not a thing of the past. It continues unabated in Maghaberry jail,” he added.

The incident came as it was announced that senior staff at the prison are to be replaced following a damning report into the death of anothrt prisoner.

Colin Bell was found hanging in his cell 10 months ago despite the fact that prison warders were supposed to be checking on him every 15 minutes.

The announcement that the prison’s governor and deputy governor are to go, but will not face disciplinary action, was made yesterday. It follows a government-appointed review of management at the prison.

Inquiries are understood to have revealed that prison staff watched television or slept while an at-risk prisoner hanged himself.

The report suggested there were many reasons why Bell had received such “poverty of care”.

“But above all he was the victim of an insidious subculture that allowed the delinquent behaviour by some junior staff, much of it undetectable because of their isolation from unannounced supervisory visits,” it said.

Bell was said to have done himself harm on some 15 occasions in the months before his death last August and to have called the Samaritans dozens of times.

Earlier this year prisons ombudsman Pauline McCabe recommended that the most senior staff face disciplinary action. However the government inquiry has decided not to follow this advice, opting instead to call for their removal and replacement.

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© 2009 Irish Republican News