‘Mouth search’ increases Maghaberry tension
‘Mouth search’ increases Maghaberry tension

A number of republican prisoners have been refused their visits in Maghaberry prison after they refused to open their mouths and wiggle their tongues before entering the visiting area.

The ‘mouth search’ was introduced last week is considered by the prisoners to be a breach of the agreement reached with the authorities after their protest against criminalisation earlier this year.

On Thursday, a prisoner who refused to open his mouth before his visit was allowed to continue with his visit. When he realised that the other prisoners who had refused to open their mouths had lost their visits, he asked to be brought back to the wing.

On his return he was again asked to open his mouth, and when he refused he was dragged down and his mouth forcibly opened.

Over a dozen visits have now been refused, it is understood.

On Saturday, five families were not permitted to enter the visiting area but instead were held in a waiting area for over an hour before being told that their family member had refused their visit.

The ‘boss chair’, which was used for the first time last week, was introduced last week to replace the full body strip search procedure long opposed by republican prisoners in the North.

Instead, it is being used to humiliate the prisoners with the accompaniment of an oral inspection.

“This latest development is a blatant attempt to inflame the situation on the part of senior [prison] management who do not care about the fact they are in clear breech of commitments given in August,” according to a member of a prisoner support group.

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