An anti-internment parade in support of republican prisoners last weekend heard a call for the full resumption of prison visits.
The well attended march in Glasgow, Scotland, held in support of republican prisoners and for an end to internment, was followed by a rally addressed by Stephen Murney of Saoradh, who called for an end to the political repression of prisoners at Maghaberry and Hydebank jails.
Mr Murney compared the internment of 50 years ago with the policy of internment by remand in use against republican activists today.
“Today in Maghaberry and Hydebank, Republican Prisoners continue to struggle against an overtly sectarian and repressive regime that is controlled and directed by MI5,” he said.
“Privately former Republicans have quietly stated that the prison regimes in the Occupied Six Counties are rotten to the core, yet publicly they not only support but defend the very same sectarian and repressive prison regime.
“In Maghaberry and Hydebank goals today, Republican Prisoners endure forced strip searches, controlled movement, forced isolation, arbitrary beatings, 3rd rate health care, along with sectarian abuse from the regime.
“In Maghaberry and Hydebank today’s Republican Prisoners have had no visits from their families in over a year. Some have children, babies, that they have never met or got the chance to hold in their arms.”
He said Covid had played part but as the rest of the world comes out of lock down, the regimes in Maghaberry and Hydebank have attempted to impose closed visits on Republican Prisoners.
“These visits would have a large perspex screen going down the centre of the table and visitors would be restricted to one adult and one child. There would be no physical contact for Republican Prisoners and their loved ones.
“As a former Republican Prisoner myself, I can tell you first hand just how repressive the Maghaberry regime is. How sectarianism is endemic from top to bottom from governors to screws. How barbaric the riot squad are and how they take great pleasure and enjoyment in attacking Republican Prisoners.
“Let no one tell you that there is no reason for gaol struggle today, that today’s Republican Prisoners get it easy, for they most certainly don’t. To their credit, Republican Prisoners in Maghaberry, Hydebank and Portlaoise conduct themselves with dignity and honour in the face of adversity, just as their predecessors did before them.”