Ireland: Maghaberry prisoners campaign

Tuesday-Sunday, 31 May – 5 June, 2011

Support grows for Maghaberry campaign

Up to 500 people gathered outside the gates of the notorious Maghaberry prison in Lisburn on Sunday afternoon in protest at the treatment of republican prisoners at the jail.

Despite a number of cars and buses being stopped by the PSNI and
prevented from attending, relatives and supporters of the prisoners were happy with the turnout.

Conditions for prisoners have deteriorated in recent weeks, with an
increase in beatings, degrading strip searches and other human rights violations.

Last August, following talks with the British authorities, an agreement was reached to end strip searching before domestic and legal visits.

However, over the last few weeks, around 15 prisoners have been holding their own protest after the agreement was unilaterally binned by the Stormont regime.

In addition to the beatings, the prisoners are now being subjected to
23-24 hour lock-up and many have been forced to begin a no wash protest.

Newry Councillor David Hyland said the Six-County Justice Minister David Ford was holding out on information that could bring the protests to an end. “The minister, we believe, has had a set of recommendations for the assessment which would clarify it for us and bring this protest to an end,” Mr Hyland said.  “He has had this since January of this year and he hasn’t acted on it – the big question for us is why.”

Runai ginearalta eirigi Breandan Mac Cionnaith added his party’s support for the protest.

He said: “The situation in Maghaberry jail has reached crisis point.
Republican prisoners are being brutalised and assaulted by gangs of
prison officers on an appallingly regular basis – the latest victim
being Harry Fitzsimons as recently as Monday.” He said the situation was “intolerable” and “goes against not just the August 12 agreement but every notion of humane treatment.” “Policy in Maghaberry prison is currently being dictated by the notoriously sectarian Prison Officers Association, with all the negative consequences that that entails. “Pressure must be placed on the British government to face down these bigots and implement a humane prison regime, in line with the August 12 agreement. Ultimately, only the full restoration of political status for political prisoners will resolve the conflict in Maghaberry.”

Sinn Fein’s Raymond McCartney called for the outstanding agreement between prisoners and the prison administration to be implemented in full “as a matter of urgency”.

“It is important that prisoners rights are protected and that human
rights are to the fore of the prison regime,” he said.

“I will be pressing the prison administration and the Justice Minister
on the mater to ensure that this is done. The situation cannot be
allowed to deteriorate any further and a resolution must be forthcoming without further delay.”

He also reiterated his call on British Direct Ruler Owen Paterson to
rescind his decision to summarily imprison Marian Price, secretary of the 32 County Sovereignty Committee.

“The revoking of Marian Price’s licence is completely unacceptable. “The move by Owen Paterson amounts to detention without trial; this runs contrary to natural justice. The Justice system must be human rights based and the revoking of Marian Price’s licence is totally unacceptable.

Sinn Fein raised our concerns on this issue with the British Secretary of State at the time of Marian Price’s arrest and will continue to do so in the interests of justice and the human rights of the individual.”



5 thoughts on “Ireland: Maghaberry prisoners campaign

  1. kruitvat Post author

    Dissident protests demand action on prisoners’ status
    Monday, 6 June 2011

    Dissident republican supporters staged a series of protests across Northern Ireland at the weekend, calling for political prisoner status and for the freeing of prominent activist Marian Price.

    Around 200 people gathered outside Maghaberry Prison yesterday waving tricolours, blowing whistles and carrying placards.

    On Saturday some 30 republicans gathered for a so-called “white-line protest” in Londonderry’s Shipquay Street also urging support for “PoWs.”

    Yesterday’s march from Maghaberry visitors’ centre to the main gates of the prison saw protesters call for the release of Price, who was jailed last month for encouraging support for an illegal organisation.

    Price was pictured at a republican rally in Derry’s City Cemetery in April holding a statement which was read by a masked man.

    She was jailed in 1973 for her part the Old Bailey bombing carried out by the IRA. After the cemetery incident her release licence was revoked by Secretary of State Owen Paterson.

    The weekend’s events came amid warnings that dissidents are wrecking Derry’s economy with businesses losing millions of pounds because of regular bombscares and explosions.

    Foyle MP Mark Durkan said continued dissident activity in the area was having a devastating impact on the city’s commercial centre.

    Last week the niece of deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness was caught up in the chaos following a bomb explosion in the Lecky Road.

    Last month a gang of masked men threw a bomb into the Santander bank in the Diamond in the city centre, forcing the area to be evacuated. It has since emerged that the city’s Richmond centre lost more than £100,000 in business that day.

    Mr Durkan said the disruption simply cannot continue.”So-called dissident attacks in Derry are not threatening some distant system, disturbing the establishment or challenging the state,” he said.

    “Instead, they are doing real damage to a city centre that needs every trading hour it can get.

    “It is local people who own, run or work in businesses who lose trade, product and wages as a result of such attacks and threats.

    “The economic climate is challenging enough for businesses everywhere without shops and outlets here being harassed and handicapped by the commercial vandalism of the dissidents.”

    Mr Durkan said those responsible were wrecking the city and preventing real progress.

    “We all share in the wider civic loss that comes from repeated disruptions which keep people out of the city centre and put others off coming to the city as either shoppers or tourists,” he said.

    “Shutting down the centre of Derry will not open up any political paths for these groups.

    “These attacks are victimising legitimate local businesses, threatening jobs, costing wages and doing Derry down.”

  2. kruitvat Post author

    6 June 2011
    Ford Faces Maghaberry Prison Problems

    There are fresh problems over prison conditions at Co Antrim’s Maghaberry gaol.

    The Stormont Justice Minister David Ford has been warned by the DUP ‘not to give in to dissident republican demands’ for Maghaberry prisoners to be given political status, while the Sinn Fein Vice-Chair of the Assembly Justice Committee, Raymond McCartney MLA (Foyle) has called for a prior ‘agreement reached between prisoners and the Prison administration to be implemented in full as a matter of urgency’.

    “There are continuing concerns about the treatment of prisoners being held in Maghaberry with allegations of prisoners being mistreated by prison staff,” said the former republican prisoner.

    “Carál Ní Chuilín and myself have met with senior prison management on numerous occasions to outline our ongoing concerns about the situation in Roe House and in relation to the prison system overall.

    “During that process an agreement was reached between the prisoners and the administration. This agreement needs to be implemented in full as a matter of urgency,” he said.

    “I will be pressing the administration and the Justice Minister on the mater to ensure that this is done.”

    On Saturday dissident republican supporters protested outside the prison and a ‘dirty protest’ is continuing inside the jail.

    But DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson said: “They are demanding free association within the prison which is tantamount to special category status, similar to what would have been happening in the old Maze Prison.

    “We’re absolutely clear that David Ford must resist these threats of violence from dissidents seeking concessions.”


    In May this year, republican inmates at Maghaberry wrecked their cells and began hurling defecation onto the prison’s landings.

    The protest came after a judge ruled that full body searches of prisoners at Maghaberry was lawful.

    But a spokesman for the inmates in question – the 32 County Sovereignty Movement, considered to be the political wing of the Real IRA – said the action was being taken after an alleged deal was reneged on by the prison administration.

    Sinn Fein Assembly member Caral Ni Chuilan has since called on the Justice Minister to intervene as a matter of urgency in the ongoing situation and reiterated that a prior deal has been reneged on.

    Speaking last month, Ms Ni Chuilan commented: “In August last year after lengthy negotiations an agreement on the future management of Roe House was reached between the prisoners, the administration and the Department of Justice.

    “It is clear that the prisoners in Roe House believe that the terms of that agreement have not been honoured.

    See: Real IRA Prisoner’s Resume ‘Dirty’ Protest


  3. kruitvat Post author

    June 7

    Motion relating to Maghaberry prisoners successfully passed in Newry & Mourne Council

    I’m just back from the Newry & Mourne Council monthly meeting. I raised the prisoners plight highlighting the fact that the previous Council had agreed to send a delegation to investigate the prisoners concerns but postponed it when the August 12th agreement 2010 was passed. I proposed a motion that, in the light of the continued strip searching of prisoners it is vital that a Council delegation visit the prisoners as a matter of urgency. The motion was passed without objection.

    Cllr. Davy Hyland

  4. kruitvat Post author

    Stormont Ignoring Suffering of Republican Prisoners in Maghaberry – RNU
    national | rights and freedoms | press release Tuesday May 31, 2011 10:37 by RNU PRO – The Republican Network for Unity (RNU)

    THE REPUBLICAN NETWORK for UNITY (RNU) NATIONAL CHAIRPERSON, CARL REILLY has expressed serious concerns about the situation facing Republican Prisoners in Maghaberry Gaol. “In spite of repeated warnings from RNU and others who represent Political Prisoners in the Gaol, the Stormont Executive and it’s Justice Minister have completely ignored the suffering of Republican Prisoners in Roe House.
    THE REPUBLICAN NETWORK for UNITY (RNU) NATIONAL CHAIRPERSON, CARL REILLY has expressed serious concerns about the situation facing Republican Prisoners in Maghaberry Gaol. “In spite of repeated warnings from RNU and others who represent Political Prisoners in the Gaol, the Stormont Executive and it’s Justice Minister have completely ignored the suffering of Republican Prisoners in Roe House.

    Rather than using their influence to have last August’s Agreement implemented in full, Stormont Politicians have also ignored serious concerns about the situation facing Republican Prisoners in Maghaberry. In spite of numerous meetings, letters and statements from RNU and others who represent Political Prisoners in the Gaol, the Stormont Executive and it’s Justice Minister have completely ignored the suffering of Republican Prisoners in Roe House.

    Rather than using their influence to have last August’s Agreement implemented in full, Stormont’s Politicians have also ignored the continued harassment, ongoing intimidation and brutal attacks upon Political Prisoners in the Gaol. In spite of lengthy negotiations, between Republican Prisoners, RNU, other representative groups, Independent Facilitators and the Prison Service that led to last August’s Agreement, it soon became clear to the POWs’ that the Prison Administration and the Loyalist POA were not happy with the settlement and would do anything to undermine the entire agreement.

    It was not long before, the belief and goodwill illustrated last August started to diminish due to the gradual mistreatment of Republican Prisoners. The Prison Service and LPOA soon placed obstacles in the way of prisoners, their families and representatives outside. It also seemed that the Stormont Justice Department had little interest in implementing the Agreement either. It was apparent that they too were being held hostage to the negative policies of the LPOA. Within months, the August Agreement had broken down and protest action by Republican Prisoners resumed”.

    Mr. Reilly concluded; “At present, over 30 Political Prisoners are locked in their cells 24/7 under ‘Rule 32′. They have no access to education, adequate washing facilities or proper association. During the past few weeks, a number of POWs’ have had to be transferred to an outside hospital for medical treatment because they were badly beaten by the Screws. A few days ago, Harry Fitzsimmons’ cell was stormed by the Riot-Squad who smashed his glasses into his face and repeatedly punched and kicked the Belfastman to the floor. After a few minutes, they left Harry lying on the floor in pain. One of the Independent Facilitators and his family have since witnessed his many injuries. The current situation in Maghaberry is intolerable. RNU call on the Maghaberry Administration and Loyalist POA to end their failed criminalisation policy against Republican Prisoners and implement the August agreement in full. We urge Human Rights advocates and Politicians to ensure the dignity and respect for Political Prisoners in Roe House.

    Finally, our Network ask everyone Republican or otherwise to assemble at Maghaberry for a Rally on Sunday 5th June, 2011 at 3pm to demonstrate unity against this crisis and demand the implementation of the August Agreement”.

    Related Link:

  5. kruitvat Post author

    2003 !

    Please make your voice heard!!

    Please send an email or letter to the Northern Ireland Prisons Service and the Northern Ireland Office

    SUNDAY MARCH 23, 2003
    Maghaberry Prison, Occupied Ireland

    Five miles outside of Belfast in the Occupied North of Ireland, Irish republican political prisoners at Maghaberry Gaol are living under a deadly “forced integration” policy that appears to be solely designed to guarantee the violent death of any one of them at any time.

    Irish republicans prisoners at Maghaberry are being held individually isolated on hostile loyalist landings where they are outnumbered up to 13 to 1, surrounded by hostile loyalist paramilitary prisoners. Groups who would normally not ever associate on the outside are being forced by the Northern Ireland Prisons Service to coexist in close quarters under the auspices of a failed British treaty. All terms of POLITICAL STATUS have been totally revoked for these Irish republican prisoners, and vicious assaults and death threats are a part of their daily life. Several Irish prisoners have already been viciously assaulted under these conditions; one very nearly fatally.

    Yesterday yet another vicious attack was leveled against a republican political prisoner at Maghaberry. John James Connolly, 28, was taking exercise in the prison yard when he was seriously burned with scalding water thrown from a cell window above. This is yet another in a series of vicious and potentially lethal attacks against republican prisoners that have taken place inside Maghaberry prison in recent months.

    Additionally, several Irish political prisoners at Maghaberry were recently visited by Northern Ireland Prison Service officers, who warned them that loyalist death threats had been issued from inside the prison against all of them.

    Irish republican political prisoners are being pushed to the brink of endurance under these deadly conditions, and many on the outside now fear that there is no choice left for these men but to take the drastic step of blanket or hunger strike protest


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