Maghaberry Dispute Reaches Critical Phase
Hundreds of people, including many éirígí activists, have taken to the streets across the Six Counties in the last week to express solidarity with the protesting republican prisoners in Maghaberry jail.
Demonstrations were organised in Belfast, Newry, Lurgan and Derry on Thursday [April 8] after the political prisoners acted on Easter Monday to demand an end to the deplorable conditions which are being endured in Maghaberry. The prisoners barricaded themselves into the recreation room for 36 hours in an effort to highlight the abuses which they and their visiting families are living with.
Meanwhile, éirígí activist and Dublin City councillor Louise Minihan has lodged an emergency motion with the council, to be heard tonight, calling for the restoration of political status for all republican prisoners.
Speaking before Dublin City Council’s monthly meeting, Louise said: “Over the course of the last number of years the conditions under which republican prisoners are being held in Maghaberry have been steadily eroded. Prison staff are now routinely subjecting republican prisoners to humiliating strip searches, verbal abuse and physical attack. This is in addition to a draconian prisoner movement and lock-up regime.
“Even reports commissioned by the British government itself have recommended scores of changes to the way that Maghaberry is run, including calling for the disbandment of the militaristic Search and Standby Team, which is responsible for much of the brutality within the prison.
“On April 4, dozens of republican prisoners protested against the conditions under which they are being held in by barricading themselves into a recreation room, where they remained for thirty-six hours.”
Speaking on the issue of political status, Louise continued: “For centuries, the British government has attempted to portray the struggle for Irish freedom as a criminal conspiracy. Terence McSweeney, Thomas Ashe and Bobby Sands all died protesting against this policy of criminalisation.
“Whether one agrees or disagrees with the wider analysis of those republicans who are in prison today is irrelevant. These people are in prison as a direct result of the ongoing British occupation of Six Counties. That makes them political prisoners entitled to political status within whatever prison they are held. Political status is, at its heart, an issue of human and civil rights. Those in Ireland who support the rights of political prisoners in Afghanistan, Guantanamo Bay, occupied Palestine and elsewhere need to extend that support to political prisoners in Ireland also.”
The full text of the emergency motion is as follows: “This council notes with deep concern the recent significant deterioration of the conditions under which republican political prisoners are being held in Maghaberry Prison, Co Antrim, as highlighted by events within the prison on April 4th and 5th. This council calls for all republican political prisoners in Maghaberry and elsewhere to be granted full political status with immediate effect.”