Union backs prison move by Craigavon Two’s Wootton

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One of two imprisoned victims of a miscarriage of justice is threatening legal action in a bid to force prison authorities to transfer him out of the high-security Maghaberry jail used for political prisoners.

John Paul Wootton, one of the Craigavon Two, has always protested his innocence of allegations that he was involved in a Continuity IRA action in 2009. Still fighting to clear his name, he wants to serve the remainder of his sentence at Magilligan Prison in County Derry, a medium security facility.

Wootton left Maghaberry’s Roe House, which holds the majority of republican prisoners, several years ago. A teenager when he was sentenced to 18 years behind bars, he now wants to serve the remainder of his sentence where he has greater access to educational and other opportunities.

Family members and trade union activists held a protest outside Maghaberry recently to highlight his demands for a transfer.

Part of the protest was to highlight the refusal by prison authorities to allow him participate in prison support programmes, educational mentoring schemes or allowed to sit on prison committees.

Lawyer Gavin Booth, of Phoenix Law, who has sent pre-action correspondence to prison chiefs, said delays by authorities in responding to his clients request for a transfer “is well outside the bounds of what could be considered reasonable or lawful”.

The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) trade union, which has supported the Wootton family, helped to organise the solidarity protest to highlight the ongoing discrimination.

“It is John Paul’s view that many of the problems he faces could be dealt with by transferring to [Magilligan] prison. However, despite the fact that he meets the prison service criteria, he remains in Maghaberry,” the family said.

A spokesperson for the IWW Ireland said it took part in the protest to “lend our voice and solidarity... at a time when he continues to face further discrimination at the hands of the state who have already wrongfully imprisoned him”.

The IWW also noted that it had “continually” backed the immediate release of the Craigavon Two as a “clear case” of a “blatant” miscarriage of justice by the British State.

“For decades they have wrongfully set-up and imprisoned innocent victims, destroyed lives of those who they have incarcerated and that of their families left behind to fight their corner. The case of the Craigavon Two is yet another case on par with the Birmingham Six or the Guildford Four.

“The family and loved ones of John Paul Wootton have once again highlighted the practice of an ongoing campaign of discrimination directed against this fellow worker, and have rightfully demanded that this should be brought to an end.

“The IWW fully supports this campaign and echo’s the families grievances and concerns. In doing so we demand that this practice of discrimination must end immediately. We call upon the Director General of Prisons to act immediately and listen to the families demands.”

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