Irish Republican News · March 7, 2015
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Tensions rising at Portlaoise prison


A statement by republican prisoners at Portlaoise jail in the Irish midlands has warned of a deteriorating situation there.

The prisoners at Portlaoise said they face “a problematic future” following a meeting by prisoners on all four landings on E-block.

A statement issued in the name of the prisoners on landing E2, while acknowledging that the focus of public attention should remain on those prisoners north of the border, called for recognition of their own plight.

“The prisoners believe that attempts are subtly being maneuvered into place by the jail management to erode their conditions,” they said.

“The ongoing decay in the prisoners’ conditions has the potential to plunge the already strained situation into a point of crisis and confrontation.”

The management at the prison has been made aware of the concerns by the prisoner’ spokespersons, but the concerns appear to have been largely ignored.

Although republican political prisoners at Portlaoise’s E block enjoy a level of political status, they are still required to endure the practice of slop-out as part of the daily regime, a practice that has been condemned by the UN human rights commission on prisoners’ rights as inhuman and degrading.

In the statement, the prisoners pointed to a recent downgrading of the medical facilities and medical care, and said they had been informed that this is due to “cutbacks”. The food quality and quantity has also been cut back and downgraded, resulting in many prisoners’ families forced to purchase basic foodstuffs for their loved ones. The educational facilities continue to be downgraded and many basic classes have been discontinued since the beginning of 2012, they noted.

Applications for enhanced remission are being increasingly delayed or rejected out of hand, while a pre-release program, a long standing agreement between prisoners and management designed to gradually allow prisoners to reintegrate back in to society, has fallen into disuse.

The downward spiral in the conditions and the relationship between prisoners and management is something that the prisoners say they are anxious to avoid, but not at the cost of political status.

“Many of the issues outlined have become more common in recent times and appear to be the early stages of a much wider problem which in the long term can only lead to tension and confrontation within the jail,” the prisoners said.

“We will continue to highlight the downgrading of conditions and all other matters of concern. The prisoners will be vigilant and are adamant that they will maintain the political status that has been so hard won by comrades in days gone by.”

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