Sinn Fein hold talks on Maghaberry
Sinn Fein hold talks on Maghaberry

A Sinn Fein delegation of Stormont Assembly members -- Raymond McCartney, Sean Lynch and Jennifer McCann -- met with the Six-County Justice Minister David Ford on Wednesday to discuss the ongoing crisis at Maghaberry prison.

Speaking following the meeting, Raymond McCartney again called for the release of Marian Price and Martin Corey.

Both are being held after the British Direct Ruler revoked their release licences -- Ms Price was also told last month that a royal pardon she received in 1980 had been shredded by British officials, and this month was charged in connection with the 2009 attack on Massereene British Army base.

Raymond McCartney said the revocation of the release licences was “unacceptable”.

“If there is evidence against someone it should be presented and tested in a court of law. Sinn Fein have continuously raised this matter with the British Government and the Department of Justice including at meetings this week.

“We will also be making representations to the Life Sentence Review Commission when they come to examine both these cases in the coming weeks.”

Mr McCartney however welcomed what he said was the Minister’s commitment to finding a technological method to replace strip-searching.

“The Minister said yesterday in the Assembly that significant progress had been made on finding an alternative and we welcome this but a sense of urgency needs to be applied to resolving this issue. The bottom line is that all prisoners need to be treated with dignity and respect.”

Mr McCartney said that dignity should also apply to prisoners seeking compassionate parole and referred to the case of Damian McKenna, where the prison administration refused him compassionate parole to attend his father’s funeral.

“This is a step backwards. It was a case for compassion, something which was clearly missing from this decision,” he said.

A group of republican prisoners in Maghaberry Jail took part in a 24-hour-fast on Monday in protest at that decision.

Republican Sinn Fein PRO Geraldine McNamara said the situation at Maghaberry “would have been resolved but for the fact that the prisoners are political prisoners and like their comrades of 30 years ago who died on hunger strike, the British establishment in Ireland will do everything in its power to break the prisoners both mentally and physically.

“Being allowed parole to go to a family members funeral is a basic human right and should not be denied to anyone. The prisoners saw no option but to go on a protest solidarity fast with Damien to highlight this inhuman decision.”

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