The question of extradition has come back into public focus following the arrest on Monday and detention of Donegal republican John Downey over IRA charges detain from 1972. After three nights behind bars, Mr Downey was granted bail on Thursday.
This week Dublin City Council became the third council to pass motions against the extradition of Irish Republicans to the North. The following is a piece by councillor Ciaran Perry explaining the campaign which saw his motion passed this week.
I had the following motion passed at the Dublin City Council meeting last night. I was disappointed but not surprised that the leader of the Labour Party on the council didn’t support a human rights motion in relation to political prisoners. Dermot Lacey was the only councillor who didn’t support the motion.
I don’t support the extradition of Irish political prisoners under any circumstances. Political interference in the system, discrimination against Republican prisoners, punishment by denying political prisoners educational opportunities all apply... but this motion is specifically about opposing extradition to a dangerous prison in an unfair jurisdiction.
I don’t believe we should be allowing the extradition of political prisoners to a prison which clearly can’t provide a safe environment for the current inmates never mind future inmates. If Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Prisons in England and Wales described the prison as the most dangerous prison he had ever seen, I think we can assume that it shouldn’t be housing any prisoners let alone political prisoners. The report by the Inspectorate of Prisons in England and Wales was absolutely damning and there is no evidence that any of the concerns raised have been addressed satisfactorily since.
Since 2007 there have been 50 deaths in custody in Maghaberry. This again highlights the fact that this prison is not a safe environment for anybody. The Prison Ombudsman has raised concerns that their recommendations on tackling prison deaths have still not been implemented. Clearly the administration doesn’t prioritise the safety of the inmates.
Currently two political prisoners, Sean Farrell and Ciaran Maguire, are facing extradition to a jurisdiction which is due to leave the European Union next March under Brexit. This leaves the men in a very precarious situation regarding rights they currently enjoy. While they may be extradited under a European Arrest Warrant, after March they do not know what legislation will apply or what rights of appeal they will have if found guilty. We cannot extradite the men with such a risk of uncertainty.
There is an urgency to address this situation because the European Court of Justice has recently ruled that uncertainty over Brexit isn’t a reason to stop extradition to Britain or the six counties and the extradition of prisoners has already begun.
This council opposes the extradition of Irish political prisoners to Maghaberry prison in the six counties.
The onset of Brexit in March 2019 will disadvantage any political prisoners who may have been extradited under the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) framework but will no longer enjoy rights applying to EU nationals including EU sentence appeal processes.
Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Prisons in England and Wales Nick Hardwick described the prison as the most dangerous prison he had ever seen.
The last comprehensive report on Maghaberry prison by “Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons in England and Wales” was damning and described the prison as “in crisis” and “unsafe and unstable” for prisoners and staff. The report highlights discrimination against Catholic prisoners.
The conditions in Maghaberry prison are inhumane with forced strip searches, forced isolation and restricted association.
All Republican prisoners in Maghaberry prison are denied educational opportunities.
There have been 50 reported deaths in prisons in the six counties since 2007 and the Prison Ombudsman has expressed concern about the non-implementation of its recommendations on prison deaths.
Reason for the emergency motion: The recent decision by the European Court of Justice in relation to extradition from Ireland to the UK ruled that ‘Mere notification by a member state of its intention to withdraw from the European Union is not an “exceptional” circumstance capable of justifying a refusal to execute an EAW issued by that member state’. This decision has resulted in the recent extradition of a prisoner to Maghaberry prison and may be used to complete the halted extradition of another 20 current cases.