Vicious treatment for terminally ill prisoner

Republican prisoner Brian Shivers, who was controversially handed a 25-year sentence by a Diplock court earlier this month, was brutally assaulted by prison staff while attending Belfast City Hospital last week.

Mr Shivers, who suffers from advanced cystic fibrosis, was due to attend a hospital appointment on Wednesday 15th February in regard to the life-threatening condition, according to the Family & Friends of Republican prisoners, Maghaberry.

But after a disagreement about the conditions of his consultation, Mr Shivers was “viciously assaulted” and “dragged out” of the hospital. The terminally ill republican has been left bruised and bedridden as a result of the incident.

The trouble began before leaving Maghaberry, when Mr Shivers was forcibly strip searched and then escorted by eight or nine warders to a windowless office to await his consultant’s arrival.

At the hospital, he asked the warders if he could have his consultation in private and he was told abruptly, ‘No, we won’t be leaving here.’ After protesting this, one of the warders present elbowed Mr Shivers in the face and said: ‘That’s it, you are going back to Maghaberry.’

“Brian was then trailed to the ground by the same screw with such force that the other screw who was handcuffed to him was brought down as well,” said the support group.

“He was then viciously assaulted and dragged out of the hospital in full view of members of the public.

“Brian was in complete agony due to the brutality he received. Throughout the return journey, Brian suffered excruciating pain from a slipped disc which was aggravated by the assault.”

When Mr Shivers arrived back at Maghaberry he was met by a Governor who took a note from him of all that had happened during the hospital visit. The prisoner asked for painkillers and informed him that he wanted to phone his solicitor. Instead, he was told that he would be strip searched again.

“Already bruised and battered and in excruciating pain due to the assault, Brian was forcibly strip searched by six screws. As a consequence, Brian was left in the holding cell unable to move. He repeatedly asked for painkillers which he never received.”

The prison authorities had told the court sentencing him this month that he would be able to receive specialist treatment for his degenerative lung disease at Maghaberry.

Solicitors for Mr Shivers said that despite some “platitudes”, the prison authorities had “abjectly failed” the first test. They now want his hospital appointments to be independently observed, and Prisoner Ombudsman Pauline McCabe has also been asked to investigate the attack.

“We will monitor future attendances and consider that same must be independently attended by a Church cleric, legal representative or suitable impartial observer to ensure that there is no repetition of this assault and deprivation of medical care,” they said.


Meanwhile, interned dissident Marian Price has been transfered from Maghaberry prison to the female prison at Hydebank Wood in south Belfast after evidence was presented that her mental health has suffered as a result of her solitary confinement at the all-male prison.

The prison service moved the 54-year-old this week, almost nine months after British Direct RulerOwen Paterson issued a decree for her imprisonment.

The prominent republican is an outspoken opponent of the political process in the North. She is now being held in the hospital wing of Hydebank Wood detention centre on the outskirts of south Belfast. The prison authorities confirmed that they had moved Marian following a report on her condition by a psychiatrist.

Her lawyer, Peter Corrigan said his client’s continued detention “exacerbates her health problems”.

“Marian Price’s situation is very serious and at the minute she isn’t even fit enough to go to court for legal appearances”, he said.

Mr Corrigan will next week launch judicial review proceedings in the High Court in Belfast asking for her release. He will point out that she was pardoned rather than released on licence and that Paterson exceeded his authority in sending her back to prison.

British officials have accepted that she was pardoned, but claim it did not cover all the offences with which she was charged at the time. They also say the pardon document itself cannot now be located and that it may have been shredded.

Her lawyers have told the commissioners that, “It is difficult to fathom how, even exercising a modicum of care, this document was destroyed without someone, before destruction, ensuring that the original (or at least another copy) was still in existence.

“There is certainly a foundation for suggesting that this document may (and we can put it no higher) have been deliberately ‘buried’ given the embarrassment it might cause.”

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© 2012 Irish Republican News