Prisoners confront regime at Maghaberry

Republican prisoners barricaded themselves into a dining hall yesterday evening at the North’s highest security jail in an escalation of conflict between republican prisoners and the regime in Maghaberry Jail.

Twenty-eight prisoners blocked the doors of the room at Maghaberry Prison on the anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising. The protest is continuing today.

It is understood the action was taken following the refusal of prison warders to allow the prisoners to wear a lily, the symbol of Ireland’s war dead, traditionally worn in Ireland at Eastertime.

It also comes amid a deepening dispute over conditions at the troubled prison and ongoiung attempts to criminalise the republican prisoners held at Maghaberry.

The incident took place at the Roe House area of the jail after prisoners attended a Mass service in the dining hall. They seized the hall and remained there overnight.

eirigi general secretary Breandan MacCionnaith called for the reintroduction of political status for the republican prisoners.

“Over the last number of years, the prison regime in Maghaberry has gained notoriety for its appalling treatment of republican prisoners and their families,” he said.

“This treatment has been centred on the denial of political status and the attempt to portray those who are detained as a result of the British occupation as common criminals.

“Regardless of one’s political opinions, the reality is that these prisoners would not be in jail were it not for the ongoing British presence in Ireland - they are clearly political prisoners and they should be treated as such.”

The demonstration comes as breakaway IRA groups continued to launch attacks throughout the Six Counties.

On Saturday, a car bomb was abandoned outside Crossmaglen police station in County Armagh. The vehicle, which was packed with containers of flammable liquid, was described as ‘viable’ by the PSNI but failed to detonate.

This morning a van was hijacked and set alight armed militants in Armagh, while there was also an alert on the railway line near Lurgan.

In a separate incident several homes were evacuated in Antrim after a suspicious object was discovered on the doorstep of a house on the Rathenraw Estate.

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