Prisoners stage lily protest
Prisoners stage lily protest


Republican political prisoners occupied a canteen in Maghaberry jail on Easter Sunday in protest at being refused permission to wear lilies to remember their dead.

Around 13 prisoners held on the controversial jail’s Roe 3 landing took part in the protest to highlight the prison ban. The landing is home to prisoners represented by Cogus, which is linked to the Republican Network for Unity, as well as Cabhair-represented prisoners, which aligned with Republican Sinn Fein.

The prison has been protests and conflict since prison authorities reneged on a 2010 deal to end strip searches and limit controlled movement. Prison authorities have insisted that those who wear the lily at Easter are not allowed to leave their cells.

On Sunday prisoners left their cells and entered the jail’s canteen area, where they attached the lily to their clothing. The canteen was also decorated with Easter lilies and pictures of the 1916 rising leaders.

In a statement Cogus prisoners said the take-over was launched “in resistance against the jail administration’s attempts to prevent republican prisoners from commemorating and remembering” their dead.

Prisoners then watched documentaries on Irish history and prisoner issues during the protest before moving into the exercise yard to take part in sporting activities. During the takeover, Easter statements, along with the proclamation, were read out and the national anthem sung,-

After returning to their cells that night those who took part in the protest were told by a senior prison officer that they were being “charged with wearing an Easter lily”.

The prisoners remain defiant.

“Republican POWs at all times will maintain their discipline and integrity in the face of British attempts to criminalise and devalue the republican struggle and those imprisoned by the British state,” they said in a statement.

“Any attempts at preventing us from honouring our fallen revolutionaries will be resisted in full using measures of our own choosing. Going forward Republican PooWs will continue our resistance and pursuit of our political objectives, continuing to conduct ourselves in the manner with which Republican POWs have done throughout the history of prison struggle.”

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