Female inmate ‘forcibly strip searched’

BRITAIN STILL ABUSES IRISH REPUBLICAN WOMENSecond woman missed hospital appointment after refusing to remove clothes campaigners say.

REPUBLICAN prisoner campaigners have claimed a forced strip has been

out on a female republican inmate at Hydebank Wood Prison.


Sharon Rafferty, of Cavana Linn in Pomeroy, was forced to remove her clothes before and after making a court appearance in Omagh, Co Tyrone, last month. Supporters say the 38-year-old refused to take off her cloths voluntarily female prison officers forcibly removed them down to her underwear. Ms Rafferty is facing charges relating to republician paramilitary activity in Co Tryone. Since her arrest in May last she has been detained on a separated wing at Hydebank Wood Prison on the outskirts of Belfast. It has also emerged that a second republican prisoner, Christine Connor, missed a hospital appointment last month after refusing to be strip searched. The 27-year-old is facing two counts of attempted murder and possession of pipe bombs in relation to an attack on the PSNI in North Belfast in May. The Irish News understand both wimen have indicated they will not voluntarialy submit to strip searches in furture.

On Wednsday night Mandy Duffy from the Irish Republican Prisoners Welfare Association (IRPWA) sais Ms Rafferty felt like she had been “sexually assaulted” after the search. “She feels very strongly she should not have to remove her clothing,” she aid. The prisoner campagner says Ms Connor will also continue to resist strip searches. “Christine feels she is being denied the right to medicial treatment which is a basic human right,” she said. “She is on medication and needs to see a specialist.” The last high-profile female republican prisoner to be subjected to strip searches is believed to be Roisin McAliskey – daughter of former Mid Ulster MP Bernadette McAliskey – who was searched more than 70 times while pregnant in custody awaiting extradition to Germany in connection with an IRA mortar attàck in 1996. She was released wîthout charge in 1998.


In November last year male republican prisoners in Maghaberry Prison ended an 18-month no-wash protest sparked by a number of complaints about the jail regime, including the use of strip searches. A spokesman for the Department of Justice (DOJ) said: “The Prison Service Full Search Policy for women prisoners has developed a two stage full search procedure. A stage one search requires the woman to remove her outer clothin; however she would not be requied to remove her underwear. If staff have suspicions or intelligence has been received to suggest that the woman could be concealing items in her underwear she would be required to proceed to a level two search. “This would require her to remove the clothing from her top half of her body, including her underwear. When dressed she would remove the clothing from the bottom half of her body, including her underwear. While we cannot comment on specific individuals, at no stage has a level two search been deployed in Ash House in recent weeks as is being claimed in some quarters.”

With many thanks to : Connla Young, The Irish News.


FIVE police officers who strip-searched a 22-year old woman and left her naked in a cell for half an hour will face misconduct charges.

The woman who said her drink was spiked, was arrested outside a club after she ran in and out of a road. Officers (apperently) believed she had drugs hidden in her clothing and she was stripped in her cell with the CCTV images broadcast to the custody desk at Chelsea Police Station. The woman complained about her treatment and the Independent Police Complaints Commission ruled the search was carried out without justification. IPCC commissioner Derrick Campbell said: “I find it difficult to understand why officers think they have the right to strip a young woman leaving her naked and then expose her to being filmed.” The case has been referred back to the Met and five PCs and a duty sergeant will face a misconduct hearing. 



‘We are just not getting the cooperation we require – Simon O’Brien.


STATE investigators probing alleged Garda wrongdoing have accused the force of not cooperating with them. The Garda Siochana Ombudsman Comnission (GSOC) said it had no option but to go public .th its frustrations over “unacceptable” delays and the refusal of officers to hand over documents crucial to its inquires.

Simon O’Brien, chairman of the watchdog, suggested the behaviour of tProtocols would not be tolerated within police forces in other countries. “I was a senior police officer in London’s Metropolitan Police. I was there for 32 years,” he said. “Certainly if a request for information came to me from IPCC [Independent Police Complaints Commission]…. then boxes of documents would be handed over in the morning to IPCC investigators.” Mr O’Brien said he had been having top-level talks over thei past year and a half which have still not resolved the Garda’s lack of cooperation. He said he would not have gone public if the problem was not widescale but he said it was clear there were “systemic” issues in the force that had stymied the commission’s work. “We are just not getting the cooperation we require,” he said. “The numbers speak for themselves.” The commision’s annual report reveals a number of cases where the Garda refused to hand over documents, gave only limited access to files or delayed giving any requested details.

On one occasion, the commission had to wait 542 days for a peice of information to be handed over during an inquiry. Mr O’Brein said it was often routine requests for basic information that were being obstructed. “We are not just talking about performance, safety, state security,” he said. “This is your mother, your son or daughter making a complaint about the Garda, possibly, and awaiting an inordinate amount of time for that complaint to be resolved.” Protocals agreed in 2007 compel the Garda to hand over documents to the watchdog within 30 days. Mr O’Brien said this deadline was adhered to in only a small number of cases. The commission also said it was greatly concerned that nearly three quarters of the force’s 567 internal investigations into alleged wrongdoing last year were taking longer than the 12-week timeline for such inquires. Of those, 21 have been dragging on for two years or more. Mr O’Brien said the watchdog had powers to enforce its role. He said the commission would rather not arrest officers or raid Garda stations but such action was possible in the furture. “I do not wish to be sitting on this platform again next year saying things have not improved,” he said. Garda commissioner Martin Callinan said he had set up a new office and email address to deal with ombudsman commission requests. On the internal inquires, he said both sides agreed it was usaally not possible to meet the 12-week timeline and talks were continuing about extending the deadlines to between 16 and 24 weeks.

With many thanks to : Brian Hutton, Irish News.

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