Prison warders accused of seeking confrontation


Maghaberry prisoners aligned to Republican Sinn Fein have condemned what it said were attempts to provoke tension at the jail by prison warders.

A statement by the prisoners said they believe there are being harassed in order to provide an excuse for overtime payments and bonuses for staff at the high security jail.

“Over the last number of nights Republican prisoners have been awoken in the early hours of the morning by screws banging each cell door individually,” they said.

“This is a deliberate act of sleep deprivation and designed to raise tension in the jail once again. It is clear to all PoWs that in order to justify their high wages, overtime allowances and other payments some screws are more than willing to aggravate the situation in Maghaberry.”

Prison officials have said such “body checks” are a mandatory procedure at the jail, but prisoners have said the harassment is selective and clearly being used as a provocation.

“The screws have escalated their actions by opening cell doors, shouting and physically waking prisoners,” they said.

“There has been no reason or explanation given as to why this is happening. It is clear these actions are sectarian, biased and shows there is still a sectarian mindset against republicans in Maghaberry jail.

“Republicans will resist these attempts to provoke and will take the necessary actions if and when required.”

Meanwhile, Saoradh is holding a protest at Hydebank women’s jail to highlight the conditions being faced by north Belfast republican Christine Connor in her isolation at the prison and to demand her transfer.

The is being subjected to increasingly oppressive measures, including being deliberately left vulnerable to attack by hostile elements and being denied education, healthcare and adequate legal communication, Saoradh said.

“Christine’s basic human rights are being attacked, and Saoradh will not stand by whilst this continues,” they said. “This is also in the knowledge that conditions affecting Christine now will be forced upon any woman who may be imprisoned in Hydebank in future.”

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