Irish Republican News · June 6, 2011
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Support grows for Maghaberry campaign

Up to 500 people gathered outside the gates of the notorious Maghaberry prison in Lisburn on Sunday afternoon in protest at the treatment of republican prisoners at the jail.

Despite a number of cars and buses being stopped by the PSNI and prevented from attending, relatives and supporters of the prisoners were happy with the turnout.

Conditions for prisoners have deteriorated in recent weeks, with an increase in beatings, degrading strip searches and other human rights violations.

Last August, following talks with the British authorities, an agreement was reached to end strip searching before domestic and legal visits.

However, over the last few weeks, around 15 prisoners have been holding their own protest after the agreement was unilaterally binned by the Stormont regime.

In addition to the beatings, the prisoners are now being subjected to 23-24 hour lock-up and many have been forced to begin a no wash protest.

Newry Councillor David Hyland said the Six-County Justice Minister David Ford was holding out on information that could bring the protests to an end.

“The minister, we believe, has had a set of recommendations for the assessment which would clarify it for us and bring this protest to an end,” Mr Hyland said

“He has had this since January of this year and he hasn’t acted on it - the big question for us is why.”

Runai ginearalta eirigi Breandan Mac Cionnaith added his party’s support for the protest.

He said: “The situation in Maghaberry jail has reached crisis point. Republican prisoners are being brutalised and assaulted by gangs of prison officers on an appallingly regular basis - the latest victim being Harry Fitzsimons as recently as Monday.”

He said the situation was “intolerable” and “goes against not just the August 12 agreement but every notion of humane treatment.”

“Policy in Maghaberry prison is currently being dictated by the notoriously sectarian Prison Officers Association, with all the negative consequences that that entails.

“Pressure must be placed on the British government to face down these bigots and implement a humane prison regime, in line with the August 12 agreement. Ultimately, only the full restoration of political status for political prisoners will resolve the conflict in Maghaberry.”

Sinn Fein’s Raymond McCartney called for the outstanding agreement between prisoners and the prison administration to be implemented in full “as a matter of urgency”.

“It is important that prisoners rights are protected and that human rights are to the fore of the prison regime,” he said.

“I will be pressing the prison administration and the Justice Minister on the mater to ensure that this is done. The situation cannot be allowed to deteriorate any further and a resolution must be forthcoming without further delay.”

He also reiterated his call on British Direct Ruler Owen Paterson to rescind his decision to summarily imprison Marian Price, secretary of the 32 County Sovereignty Committee.

“The revoking of Marian Price’s licence is completely unacceptable.

“The move by Owen Paterson amounts to detention without trial; this runs contrary to natural justice. The Justice system must be human rights based and the revoking of Marian Price’s licence is totally unacceptable.

“Sinn Fein raised our concerns on this issue with the British Secretary of State at the time of Marian Price’s arrest and will continue to do so in the interests of justice and the human rights of the individual.”

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© 2011 Irish Republican News