Concerns have been raised after a support group for Irish republican prisoners at Maghaberry Prison revealed that newspapers can no longer be bought and that authorities plan to scrap weekend visits.
The Irish Republican Prisoners Belfast Association (IRPWA) stated that prisoners have been informed that daily newspapers are no longer available in the prison.
When inquired about the supply of newspapers last week, warders stated that “at this time the shop will not facilitate newspapers anymore and no other shop is being sought,” a stance which the IRPWA has documented.
However, as the matter became public, the prison claimed to be “seeking an alternative supplier for prisoner newspapers after the current supplier has withdrawn the facility.”
The IRPWA said the authorities had been shown to be falsely claiming there was a problem receiving newspapers.
“The MI5-led regime makes up policies and lies as they go along,” the IRPWA said.
“The same issue is also affecting female Republican Prisoners at Hydebank Gaol, as they have never received newspapers. Why is this? Why deny Republican Prisoners access to newspapers? On what grounds?”
IRPWA spokesman Paddy Gallagher also stated that the prison was also trying to halt weekend visits. He said this will cause hardship for the children of republican prisoners and other family members, especially when schools return next month.
Mr Gallagher said “seven families have been denied visits in one weekend.”
“This number will continue to rise once school resumes,” he added.
“This will result in family members having to take time off work and children missing valuable school time to visit their loved ones.”
He said the issue of family visits could be “easily resolved by restoring a Sunday visit; however, the regime has bluntly rejected this idea.
“The ongoing policy of pettiness and the anti-Republican attitude of the regime and its security screws will ultimately lead to conflict.”