Mistreatment of two republican prisoners

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The Irish Republican Prisoners Welfare Association has relayed serious cases of abuse of republican prisoners at Maghaberry and Hydebank jails.

One prisoner who suffered an untreated heart attack in 2014 has been subjected to a strip search by prison warders just after he had received urgent hospital treatment.

from Ardoyne was diagnosed with renewed heart palpitations and forced to attend an outside hospital while handcuffed to a warder.

“At hospital he was fitted with numerous heart monitoring devices which have been kept on him to monitor his heart rate etc over the next 48 hrs,” the IRPWA said.

“On return to the jail this evening he was stripped standing up as he was unfit to be laid on the floor. This was while continuing to wear heart monitoring equipment.

“Although all objective bodies have called for an end to forced strip searching, the issue of forced stripping of those in ill health was raised by the Prisoner Ombudsman only weeks ago.

“This behavior, including the presence of screws in medical consultations, is a flagrant violation of Human Rights. It cannot be ignored that this is occurring as we approach eight years since the signing of the August 2010 Agreement- 8 years after NIPS [the Northern Ireland Prison Service] agreed to end strip searching. Such actions speak to the depravity of the Maghaberry administration and the Six County prison service as a whole.”

The IRPWA also highlighted recent threats and attempted assaults on republican prisoner Christine Connor at Hydebank women’s prison in south Belfast. As the only republican prisoner at the jail, Ms Connor is already living in isolation and has previously been subjected to sustained verbal abuse and other oppressive measures.

This recently escalated into two attempted physical attacks, the IRPWA said.

“On the first occasion Christine was left trapped in an enclosed space by a screw who had abandoned his post when a male attacker attempted to reach her whilst shouting sectarian abuse.

“He managed to get past the useless security measures before being restrained by his own escort.

“On the second occasion three would-be attackers overcame the measly security measures, with one of these attackers armed with a sharp implement. When Christine made her way to safety she was greeted with hostility and ambivalence by the screw who was on duty.

“When Christine complained she was subsequently charged by Hydebank jail. The jail has offered only a worthless apology, and it is clear that Hydebank is determined to see harm come to Christine.

“The treatment of Christine Connor is ample evidence of the depths of reactionary control and sectarian bigotry in the Six-County prison service.”

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