Independent Media Centre Ireland

Situation in Maghaberry jail critical.

category international | rights, freedoms and repression | press release author Monday July 11, 2011 18:01author by Seán Ó Murchú - Republican Sinn Féin

Ford puts the boot into Republican prisoners.

"The Republican POWs in Maghaberry jail have once again been forced into a situation of confrontation with the British prison regime. From the top down, the administrations involved in the running of Maghaberry jail have again failed the POWs," said Josephine Hayden. POW Department, Republican Sinn Féin.

"What makes it different this time," she said "is that the Stormont regime, in the guise of the justice department with the connivance of ministers McGuinness and Robinson, have had the remedy on their desk for over eight months to solve the ongoing dispute in the jail. All the POWs are asking for is their right to be treated as political prisoners - this was agreed in the August 2010 agreement which included a timeframe for the implementation of the demands of the POWs.

"The disgraceful conduct of David Ford, the prison authorities and the Stormont ministers has to be roundly condemned. That Martin McGuinness could sit on such a report for such a long time is beneath contempt, while at the same time attending commemorations to the men who died on the 1981 hunger strike.

"The document in question outlines the way to resolve the issue, and I quote from the report: 'The installation of two BOSS chair systems would remove the core area of contention while establishing the highest possible level of security. It would guarantee a more humane search regime and reduce the stresses that arise around full body searches under current procedures.'

The politicians have allowed the situation to deteriorate to the point where now the situation within the jail is critical. The POWs are on 24-hour lock-up, they are not allowed visits, showers, education or yard time. They are existing (one could hardly call it living) in their tiny cells with excrement smeared on the walls – in the hot weather the stench is unbearable.

"Republican Sinn Féin demands the implementation of the agreement immediately and the restoration of political status won by the 1981 hunger strikers.

This will at least ensure that the POWs and their families do not suffer any further needless hardship".

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