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Mountjoy Prison: 600 into 420 Won't Go - Prisoner Solidarity Anyone?
rights and freedoms |
Monday July 14, 2008 12:09 by Ciaron - Catholic Worker
Prisons are the Crime!
On Saturday afternoon 70 inmates took direct action against intolerable living conditions in Dublin's Mountjoy Prison where 600 prisoners are crammed into an institution which has a bed capacity for 420. No staff were injured during this action where where 70-80 inmates occupied the recraetional area of D Wing. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/jul/13/ireland?gus...dnews
The Prison Officers Association made a statement on Saturday evening that they believed the unrest is caused by overcrowding. As far as I know there was no response from "the left"
in Dublin to this stand off on Saturday evening. It would be interesting to share reflections here on indymedia on why there was no response. This is not a rhetorical request. I'd really like to hear different perspectives! Does the Irish left only chase media friendly issues where they think they can get some mileage. Do they think that there is no mileage in prisoner rights campaigning where public perception maybe "they are all scumbags, what do they expect hotel conditions? overcrowding is too good for them" etc? Are there so few on the Irish left that have been to prison or know people in prison. Being a Catholic Worker, prison is an occupational hazard. And working at a homeless shelter I have many friends who are in and out of Mountjoy - as prisons in modern Ireland (like elsewhere) serve as warehousing the poor rather than seriously addressing crime.
Maybe the left and the mainstream have the same attitude to prisoners as they do to the cannon fodder being shuttled through Shannon on a daily basis - "scumbugs, don't care, they get what they deserve!" When these boys and girls come back from losing this war or are finish there sentences in this overcrowded hole - you may have to learn to care while society reaps the whirlwind.
Having spent a month Limerick Prison I have personal experience of how bad living conditions are in these old Victorian Irish jails (little difference from the lack of investment in the hospitals, transport and basic social infrastructure by the cashed up Celtic Tiger you may say and may have a point), I also know from my experience of direct action in prison environments (Texas, Darwin and Brisbane) how desperate prisoners must feel to take such action http://www.serve.com/nukeresister/nr119/nr119ciaron.html One knows at the end of the day (riot, occupation, whatever) you're going to be separated from your mates and individually bashed). Maybe prison officer culture is better in Ireland than Australia, U.S. and England where there is a strong military culture where a lot of the officers are ex-military, I dunno!
I do know that when prisoners take such action if civil society responds with activism - pickets outside the jail, proactive advocacy - prisoners can sense hope and loss of life and escalated violence doesn't have to be the outcome http://www.greenleft.org.au/2000/414/23145 (One imagines it's not over yet in Mountjoy - more violence and prosecutions to follow) Such solidarity did not take place on Saturday or Sunday and there doesn't seem to be any follow to locate and advocate prisoners demands. The riot squad stormed the recreation area - with 5 officers and 2 prisoners hospitalised.