Irish Republican News · January 20, 2012
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Appeal for republican prisoner

The wife of a Derry republican prisoner has appealed to the city’s political leaders to do something about the crisis at Maghaberry prison before someone dies.

Some 35 prisoners at Maghaberry are engaged in a protest against strip-searching and to secure the right of republican prisoners to political status.

Lorraine Taylor, whose husband Tony Taylor is currently one of 35 republican prisoners currently protesting abuses at Maghaberry, spoke of her worry and heartbreak over his plight

Suffering from ill health, he was was badly beaten by prison warden staff in December. This week it emerged that he had been secretly hospitalised by the prison authorities.

“Tony is on remand in Maghaberry Prison from August 3, 2011 and is currently on a dirty protest,” she said.

“He is in ill-health since being blown up in a bomb 18 years ago and has no spleen, no kidney and shrapnel in his body. Now they think he has septic arthritis, which could be poisoning his blood.”

Mrs Taylor, who is caring for three children, one of whom is special needs, has been worried sick about her husband since he was jailed. She is furious at the lack of communication from prison authorities about his illness.

“Tony has been taken to hospital by prison staff and on no occasion did anyone let me know. They have a duty to let me know, yet I hear nothing. They wouldn’t even tell me which hospital he is in.”

“Tony never complains. I notice through the visits how weak he is becoming, the weight is falling off him and he can’t even nurse my youngest child on his knee during visits anymore. He always rings me around 4.30pm every day and when he doesn’t phone I know there is something up. It was another prisoner’s wife who told me that Tony had been taken into hospital.”

She said this week that he “always puts on a brave face for us, for the children, but it’s heartbreaking when I look at him because I’m thinking to myself ‘he’s going to die in there.’ This has been the hardest six months ever, I cry all the time.”

Earlier this week, Mrs Taylor inquired about her husband’s condition. “I had rang the hospital to see how he was, and they told me he had a bad night and was in pain all night. Then I spoke to the Governor, who told me that Tony had a comfortable night - so who’s telling lies here? What if he was dying, are they going to tell me he’s doing great? It’s a disgrace. It’s their duty of care to keep the family informed of what’s happening.”

“All I want is for them to be treated normally. I want all the MPs and political leaders to help stop the dirty protests and improve conditions in there, so Martin McGuinness and Mark Durkan must get involved and put pressure on Justice Minister David Ford.

She added: “I want my husband to be treated like a human being, or he will die.”


Separately, Republican Sinn Fein has criticised a decision to deny compassionate parole to another protesting prisoner which it said “exposed the inhumanity of the British prison service when dealing with republicans”.

Following the death of his father, Damien McKenna, from Lurgan, was refused compassionate parole to attend his father’s funeral.

RSF Spokesperson Josephine Hayden said Mr McKenna was refused on the grounds that he is a protesting prisoner.

“Once more the real face of British rule in Ireland shows itself.

“Britain and their hirelings have learned nothing over the course of centuries of occupation.

“Thirty-one years after the brutality of the H-Blocks and the hunger strikes of 1981 yet another group of Irish Republican prisoners are being brutalised by a prison system designed to break the spirit of resistance.

“Irish history teaches us it will have the opposite effect and will instead galvanise the spirits of the POWs in their struggle for a free Ireland.”

We have a favour to ask

We want to keep our publication as available as we can, so we need to ask for your help. Irish Republican News takes time, money and hard work to produce. But we do it because we believe it makes a difference. If everyone who reads our website helps fund it, our future would be much more secure.

For as little as £1, you can support Irish Republican News – and it only takes a minute. Thank you.

© 2012 Irish Republican News