Prisoners unite to oppose controlled movement
Prisoners unite to oppose controlled movement


The three groups of republican prisoners inside Maghaberry jail, the main British prison in Ireland, have agreed that facilities and space should be shared among them and they have collectively issued a statement calling for the prison administration to recognise the new situation.

The change is intended to challenge the prison authorities’ continuing policy of controlled movement, which severely limits the physical space and freedom withih the jail. The policy was supposed to have been largely dropped in an agreement reached four years ago, but that agreement was never implemented.

“In the past, jail administration have exploited relationships between Republican Prisoners to foster and exasperate tensions so as to create division and disharmony,” the prisoners’ said in a statement.

“This has been to subvert the August 2010 agreement generally, but in particular it is a last ditch effort to ‘legitimise’ its discredited and condemned controlled movement policy.”

The practice of denying political status to republican prisoners has its origins in the Thatcher era. At Maghaberry, this policy has recently seen new limits placed on visitation rights as well as the long-standing practices of brutal strip searches, controlled movement and prisoners being held in isolation.

A typical forced strip search was graphically reenacted this week in west Belfast during a protest in support of the prisoners. The weekly whiteline protest took place on the Falls Road.

In their statement, the republican prisoners aligned to Cogús, Cabhair and the IRPWA said they were united in their determination to resist all British criminalisation efforts.

“Equally we are committed to taking whatever action we deem necessary to achieve the implementation of the August 2010 agreement; which alone provides the route towards the establishment of a conflict-free environment”.

Sinn Fein Assembly members Jennifer McCann and Raymond McCartney also met with Prisoner Ombudsman Tom McGonigle this week to outline their party’s ‘serious concerns’ over conditions in Maghaberry prison. They urged that the prisoners be treated with “dignity and respect”.

“The Sinn Fein delegation made it clear that the regime in place at the moment is an infringement of basic human rights and cannot continue,” they said.

“The agreement reached in 2010 must be implemented as the mechanism to improve the situation in the prison.”

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© 2014 Irish Republican News