Irish Republican News · November 5, 2016
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Jail visits blocked after assault furore


There have been protests on behalf of Derry republican internee Tony Taylor following an assault on his wife by a Maghaberry prison warder.

Tony Taylor has been held in Maghaberry prison without charge or court hearing since March 2016. Lorraine Taylor was physically assaulted and verbally abused after visiting her husband at the weekend.

The assault reportedly came from an impatient and agressive female ‘screw’ as Ms Taylor was providing care to the couple’s son, who is severely disabled, at the conclusion of her visit. The dispute escalated further with the announcement of a ban against both Ms Taylor and her son from future prison visits, as well as other visotirs who went to her aid.

Republican Network for Unity’s National Chairperson Stephen McCourt described the situation as “disgraceful” and “an attempt to exert pressure on Tony, his family and the campaign for his release”.

“It is also a clear attempt to cover up an assault against Lorraine Taylor by a screw working within the prison,” he said.

“Visits are the only time a family can spend with their loved one while they’re incarcerated, this is all the more salient in Tony’s case as he and his family still don’t know why he finds himself on the other side of the visiting table.

“The decision to revoke Tony’s visits and ban his immediate family, including his disabled son, from the prison must draw condemnation from every corner. I call on everybody to use the complaint procedure at Maghaberry to register their disgust at this decision. I also call on political parties, human rights committees and prisoner welfare groups to make any representation possible to overturn this abhorrent ban.”

A protest was organised this week by the Free Tony Taylor Campaign group.

“It is feared that this punitive action on the part of the prison administration will exacerbate the impact that Tony’s ongoing detention is already having on his family, in particular his son,” they said.

“Tony’s son is unable to talk and therefore relies on physical contact as a means of communication, which he will be denied as a consequence of this visitation suspension. With the above factors in mind we are calling on the prison administration to immediately reinstate family visitation rights in the interests of fairness and human decency.”

Republican Sinn Fein expressed support for their supporters who have had their visits banned as part of the fall-out from the incident. They described it as “another dirty trick in a long list of tactics employed by the screws to undermine the political status of our prisoners of war. Unable to break the men they are now upping their game and attacking prisoners’ families”.

Meanwhile, a debate at the Stormont Assembly this week heard that the continued incarceration of Mr Taylor was “a political, extrajudicial and a denial of due process”.

Sinn Fein’s Declan Kearney said he accepted there was political interference at Maghaberry, while People Before Profit’s Eamonn McCann added: “If Tony Taylor is not a political prisoner, what type of prisoner is he? He is certainly not a convicted prisoner.”

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© 2016 Irish Republican News