Strip searches rise as authorities fail to use scanners


More than one hundred forced strip searches have been carried out against Republican prisoners in the past two weeks, despite new scanners that make the infamous procedure redundant.

In the past, tensions at Maghaberry, where the majority of Republican prisoners are held, have erupted in rioting over the invasive and degrading searches.

Airport-type scanners are available at the prison but have not been put into use. A legal action is expected to be launched amid escalating tensions.

Irish Republican Prisoners Welfare Association representative Paddy Gallagher denounced the “archaic” policy.

“Four men restraining you and taking your clothes off, holding you face down whilst every exposed inch of your body is examined could only be reasonably described as an assault,” Mr Gallagher said.

“It is humiliating and degrading for everyone. There is no place for these assaults in the 21st century”.

Fianna Fáil TD Éamon Ó Cuív has now also spoken out against the abuse of Republican prisoners. He described it as “unnecessary and purposely degrading treatment which conflicts with any decent human rights codes, and seems to be directed solely against Republicans”.

The Galway West TD agreed that “prison authorities have the technology to obviate the necessity of doing this”.

“I believe it is unnecessary, and purposely degrading treatment and conflicts with any decent human rights codes and seems to be directed solely against Republicans,” he said.

He sought assurances from the 26 County Tánaiste Leo Varadkar to make “urgent representation” to British Direct Ruler Chris Heaton-Harris and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to end what he described as “this barbaric treatment”.

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