British govt ‘attempting to break political prisoners’
British govt ‘attempting to break political prisoners’


Republican prisoners at Maghaberry have expressed their anger after one of their number was refused permission to attend his brother’s funeral this week.

Eamon Cassidy went to court on Monday after prison officials said he could not travel to Derry for the funeral of his brother John, also a former republican prisoner.

It is understood that after initially telling him he could attend, accompanied by Prison Service staff, authorities later blocked the move, claiming safety issues.

After challenging the decision on Monday, a judge ruled he could attend a Requiem Mass, but not the wake house or his burial at the nearby City Cemetery. He was told he would be released from Maghaberry Prison in County Antrim at 8am and have to return to the jail by 3pm.

The Derry man refused to accept the restrictive conditions. His solicitor said: “This man’s right to grieve was recognised, but there was very strict conditions placed on him which made it difficult to avail of the parole.”

Cait Nic Shomhairle of Cogus, which represents some republican prisoners on Maghaberry’s Roe Three landing, said the decision put “pressure and stress on Eamon and his family at a time when they are grieving for a lost loved one.”

She accused the British government’s Northern Ireland Office (NIO) of acting vindictively to block the leave.

“This complete lack of empathy for a grieving family is indicative of the state’s attempt to break Republican Political Prisoners and their families,” she said.

In recent days republican prisoners in the jail’s Roe Four landing have also been critical of prison chiefs after several prisoners were refused compassionate parole to attend religious events involving family members.

The NIO has also been accused of working with a co-operative judiciary to ensure republicans continue to be detained without trial at Maghaberry -- a form of internment.

One remand prisoner, Seamus Daly, had his detention extended on Monday after the wrong prosecutor turned up to a court hearing in Omagh. And although a judge this week said he was ‘greatly concerned’ about repeated prosecution delays in the case of another remand prisoner, he ruled that west Belfast man Alex McCrory must remain behind bars, claiming his release “would expose the PSNI and security forces to a risk of further harm”.

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