‘Punishment control’ for released prisoners

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Saoradh have sought public attention for the case of former Republican Prisoner, Vinny Kelly, who has been persecuted since his release last year.

We as Republicans are more than aware of the arbitrary nature of the British towards Republican Prisoners, however in recent years the British have stepped up the targeting of recently released Political Prisoners with special enforced measures.

The case of former Republican Prisoner, Vinny Kelly clearly proves the vindictive levels the British will lower themselves to.

Vinny, a proud Dubliner, has been an active Republican from his teenage years. He has served two terms of captivity; one in Portlaoise and a nine year sentence in British Military Intelligence controlled Maghaberry. Vinny was released on the 18th of May 2019. While he was looking forward to seeing his family, especially his sick father, the British Establishment had other plans for him.

On the day of his release, he was hit with a release licence order that stated Vinny could not leave the jurisdiction of the Occupied Six Counties while ensuring he had to sign on everyday at a Crown Force barracks.

It seems the British Establishment decided that holding Vinny in captivity was not enough; they were going to hound him after his release. What has become crystal clear is that the British and their puppets have devised plans to try and break Republicans. Vinny now found himself released, but not free from captivity. The British still had their claws in him.

Recently he found out he had a daughter. A daughter he longs to see and build a relationship with. Vinny also has a sick father who he never seen while in British captivity. Not only have the British targeted Vinny, the measures imposed on him after his release is a systematic targeting of his family members. Historically the British have used bail conditions (signing at the barracks) to collude with loyalist death squads to assassinate Republicans. Today they use this tool to target Republicans for the evil approach from MI5 to turn informer.

On the 10th of November 2019 while Vinny was leaving a Crown Force barracks, two men approached and called him by his first name. They were challenged to expose their identities. The men described themselves as “special branch” and that they wanted a chat. Suspiciously they warned Vinny to think of his child; they were subsequently told in no uncertain terms where to go.

From here the British occupation and their contempt for Irish citizens is laid bare. The day after the illegal approach to Vinny there was a knock at the door, the Crown Forces were present and without notice an electronic monitoring tag was fitted. Immediately Vinny set about a legal challenge to this abusive policy.

In court his legal team were instructed to engage with the ‘Department of Justice’. To date this facet of the British Administration has not answered any correspondence from Vinny’s legal team. Not only has he been treated with disdain, but four times he has been refused to visit his sick father or his daughter. This included a British judge stating Vinny should choose between living in Belfast or living in Dublin - effectively making Vinny choose between members of his family. All this to break him as a Republican. To be a Republican is not a crime nor is being related to a Republican.

The control, obedience and ultimate destruction of Republicanism is at the heart of these British draconian actions, actions aimed at released Republican Prisoners.

Throughout the ages released Political Prisoners have faced disadvantages and discrimination, but today former comrades support such practices. Like some recently released Republican Prisoners who have been placed on the British compiled ‘terror register’, Vinny is not allowed a mobile with internet access unless he supplies British Crown Forces with the mobile number and the IMEI number of the phone. No lock pin or removal of search history is allowed. All the basics of a right to private life plundered and denied.

Vinny has not been charged with any offence since his release, but like other Republicans he is being targeted in a form of punishment control. A coherent strategy is needed to defend released Republican Prisoners from this systematic abusive targeting. Republicans must remain united, defiant, and fight. To sit on our hands is to help administer the continued felon setting of former Republican Prisoners and the struggle in general. Vinny continues to challenge the British targeting of himself and his family through a new legal team. Vinny’s case is not unique, and he doesn’t want put on a pedestal. His case is being used to highlight the abuse and denial of basic civil liberties former Republican Prisoners face by the British Administration.

The feeling, not just in Republican circles, but that of the legal profession is that measures like the ones imposed on Vinny; the British compiled ‘terror register’ imposed on other Republicans, will become more extreme, draconian and selective.

Saoradh plan to organise strategies that will defend the integrity of the Republican Prisoners, those Political Prisoners being released, while also defending the integrity of Republican struggle.

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