Children of republican prisoners attending a jail visit at Maghaberry prison were told to use a “mop bucket” after requesting to use the toilet.
The Irish Republican Prisoners Welfare Association said there had been a litany of complaints raised by relatives of prisoners at the jail in recent weeks.
Spokesperson Paddy Gallagher said during a recent visit, relatives and some children aged under 12, were “hemmed into a room” and denied the use of a toilet.
“When challenged about this and told that there were children who needed to use the toilet, the response was ‘let them use the mop bucket in the corner’,” he said.
“This is the bare sectarian attitude that visitors have to endure just for a visit.”
Concerns have also been raised about the suspension of weekend visits to the prison. Mr Gallagher said it would pose difficulties for potential visitors who “will now have to take a day off work if they want to visit a loved one”.
“With the world in financial despair, families will be hit hard with the loss of a day’s wage, this is if their employers will allow one day off per week,” he said.
“So families will have the emotional decision of work or visit their loved ones while potentially running the risk of losing their employment.”
“At every juncture the Maghaberry regime are attempting to subvert the republican prisoners position of a conflict free environment.
“The regime are intent on upping the ante by punishing the prisoners through the direct targeting of their loved ones.”
He also accused the MI5-directed prison regime of pointlessly forcing visitors to remove coats and jumpers, and using a sniffer dog to forcibly prevent one family’s visit despite no drugs being found.
“The Irish Republican Prisoners Welfare Association reiterate that we view these regressive steps as an attempt to fuel conflict with republican prisoners. It is imperative that the families and the visitors of republican prisoners are not denied access to their loved ones and that no obstacles are put in the way of visits.
“There is no logical or practical reason for these small minded actions. We would urge the Maghaberry regime to finally grasp the mantle of a conflict free environment that the republican prisoners have pursued and initiated.”
A demonstration is to take place at the Ardoyne Shops in north Belfast at 2pm on Saturday 6th August in support of the prisoners and to highlight ongoing British internment.
“It is vital, particularly while internment is being weaponised against republicans that we extend our support to all republican prisoners including those who have been interned by the occupier,” Mr Gallagher said.
“In addition to British internment still being used, republican prisoners face a continued policy of controlled movement, strip searching, isolation and the denial of the most basic human rights.
“The Irish Republican Prisoners Welfare Association, in conjunction with Saoradh, encourage all likeminded republicans and individuals to show your support for the men and women behind the wire.”