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RSF supports Gabriel Mackle in his defence of his Republican identity.

Statement by the President of Republican Sinn Féin Des Dalton
28ú Márta/March

Republican Sinn Féin salutes Gabriel Mackle on his courageous defence of his distinct identity and autonomy as an Irish Republican POW within the Maghaberry prison. Irish Republican POWs have historically had to run the gauntlet of British and 26-County state attempts to criminalise them and deny them their identity, shamefully on this occasion this latest injustice comes at the hands of those purporting to be fellow Irish Republicans. To compound the injustice is the fact that it was the CABHAIR supported prisoners who won the right of Republican prisoners to have their separate identity accepted by the prison regime. The CABHAIR supported prisoners led the dirty protests which resulted in the August 2010 Agreement.
This attempt to deny Gabriel Mackle his own political identity and autonomy brings only shame to those who have a hand in it. By cloaking their actions in the name of Republicanism they sully that noble banner. A statement issued under the name of “Republican Prisoners, Roe 4” in Maghaberry prison by the group styling itself Saoradh is quite simply a tissue of lies and calculated smear, designed to hide what is really happening here.

In an attempt to smear Gabriel Mackle the statement cites his previous membership of the British Army’s Royal Irish Regiment. This is a matter of public record. Irish Republican history is littered with instances of Irish patriots who having served in the British Army subsequently gave honourable and heroic service to the cause of Irish freedom, James Connolly, Michael Mallin and Tom Barry are notable examples.

This statement cannot disguise the reality of what is going on in Maghaberry. Gabriel Mackle’s right, a right inherent to all Republican POWs, to maintain his own political identity is being attacked. Historically this right has always been respected by Republican prisoners regardless of organisation. However, this latest move to deny Gabriel Mackle this right echoes the actions of the Provisionals who in 1986 forced Republican prisoners who refused to renounce their Republican principles and abandon their allegiance to the All-Ireland Republic off prison landings.

Today it seems similar tactics are being employed by a grouping that it seems will not tolerate any alternative views. When these people speak of unity we now can see what they really mean. They are simply Provo – lite, aping the tactics and mindset of the Provisionals. They will be no more successful in their attempts to intimidate faithful Irish Republicans than the reformist Provos were before them.
We will not be intimidated or deflected from our work. Over the decades we have seen many such groupings styling themselves as Republican come and go. Republican Sinn Féin and the Republican Movement long predate them and will long outlast them. This year we mark 100 years since the historic 1917 Ard Fheis at which Sinn Féin adopted a Republican constitution. We are proud of our history of unbroken continuity of principle and organisation. Over the course of that century faithful Irish Republicans have defended that constitution from those who have attempted to subvert it, in 1921, 1926, 1946, 1969/70 and 1986. We will remain steadfast in our allegiance to the All-Ireland Republic of Easter and determined in our pursuit of our Republican goals. Once more we salute Gabriel Mackle and pledge him our continued solidarity and support. Maith thú Gabriel.

Críoch/Ends.

With many thanks to: Des Dalton, President Republican Sinn Féin.

Corrupt prison officer arrested for supplying drugs – Maghaberry Prison

 
 A serving prison officer was among five people arrested as part of an investigation into trafficking banned items into Maghaberry Prison.

The 50-year-old was arrested at the prison on Tuesday morning.

A quantity of cash and drugs were seized in a joint operation carried out by the PSNI and the Prison Service.

Three properties were searched in Newtownabbey, Belfast and Kinallen, County Down.

The prison officer was questioned in relation to conveyancing prohibited articles into a prison, misconduct in public office, possession of criminal property and being concerned in the supply of Class A drugs.

A 28-year-old man and a 26-year-old woman were arrested in Newtownabbey.

A 55-year-old woman was arrested in Belfast and a 50-year-old woman was arrested in Kinallen.

They were all released on bail pending further enquires late on Tuesday night.

The PSNI’s Head of Reactive and Organised Crime Chief Superintendent Tim Mairs said: “Detectives today seized £10,000 cash, a quantity of suspected Class A and Class B controlled drugs and a number of mobile phones.

“This operation is a good example of how collaborative working can disrupt crime and also demonstrates our commitment to Keeping People Safe by removing harmful drugs from society.”

The head of the Prison Service, Ronnie Armour, said: “I welcome the result of today’s joint operation with the PSNI and would take this opportunity to reiterate the zero tolerance drugs policy which operates within Northern Ireland’s prisons.”

Free Tony Taylor now interned 376 Day’s

Tony Taylor from Derry City is currently Interned in Maghaberry Prison.

To date, there has been no allegation of wrongdoing let alone evidence put to Tony by the authorities to explain his continued imprisonment.

The decision to jail Tony has been taken by the British Secretary of State, based on unaccountable intelligence supposedly provided by the security services. This is an abuse of power, undemocratic and an infringement of human rights.

#freetonytaylor

With many thanks to: James Connolly.

Teen facing charges linked to north Belfast bomb ‘radicalised by dissident republicans’, court hears – BelfastTelegraph.co.uk

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WELCOME HOME CONAL

http://m.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/northern-ireland/teen-facing-charges-linked-to-north-belfast-bomb-radicalised-by-dissident-republicans-court-hears-34173869.html

Report finds ‘Dickensian conditions’ at Maghaberry

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http://www.u.tv/News/2015/11/05/Report-finds-Dickensian-conditions-at-Maghaberry-48310

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Maghaberry Prison ‘most dangerous’ ever visited says chief inspector – BBC News

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http:// http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-34733832

Maghaberry Prison: Reaction to damning report :

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Maghaberry Prison - End British Internment & Mistreatment of Republican Prisoners.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-34732998

Red Cross to chair forum seeking solution to Maghaberry dispute.

THE International Committee of the Red Cross has agreed to chair a prison forum involving republican inmates in a bid to ease tensions at a Co Antrim jail.

The Red Cross took on the role after being asked by justice minister David Ford and receiving the backing of republican prisoners in Maghaberry. The involvement of the internationally recognised humanitarian organisation comes after years of conflict at the high security prison. The establishment of the forum was recommended by an independent ‘stocktake’ published last year. However, republican inmates refused to take part in the forum after a former member of the prison’s Board of Visitors, Tom Millar, was appointed as chairman without consultation. It is understood both prisoners and senior jail officials will take part in the forum which will discuss the stocktake. Republican prisoners are currently held in the prison’s Roe Four and Roe Three landings. The forum will be chaired by Geoff Loane, who is the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) head of office in Belfast. “The ICRC believes such a role fits within the organisation’s humanitarian mandate and is compatible with its fundamental principles of neutrality, independence and impartiality,” he said.
“After having consulted on this matter, the ICRC accepted the position of chair for a six-month period on the basis that all parties to the forum agree to the ICRC taking up the role. He said the forum is “now addressing substantive issues on the basis of an agreed agenda.” In the past Mr Loane has overseen ICRC visits to the US-run Guantanamo Bay. He has also worked in conflict zones including the Balkans, Middle East and the Horn of Africa. The Red Cross has been active in the North of Ireland since the 1950s and undertook prison visits until 1999, a year after the Good Friday Agreement (GFA) was signed. The Geneva-based organisation set up a full-time office in Belfast in 2011. Last year’s stocktake was carried out by an independent assessment team appointment by justice minister David Ford to look at a deal struck in 2010 to relax strip searches and controlled movement in the prison. Republicans claim that authorities have failed to implement the 2010 agreement. They also say that prison chiefs have failed to act on the last year’s stocktake. In 2012 republican prisoners ended a no-wash protest weeks after prison officer David Black was shot dead by the ‘IRA’ as he travelled to work at Maghaberry prison along the M1 Motorway. Tensions in the jail boiled over earlier this year after prisoners claimed that movement was restricted during building work. Last week republicans held protests after claims that two inmates were forcibly moved from their cells. A spokesman for the DoJ said: “The minister of justice has asked the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to act as independent chair to the prisoners forums for separated prisoners. “The ICRC has agreed to this request in its neutral and impartial role.” Mandy Duffy from the Irish Republican Prisoners’ Welfare Association (IRPWA) said: “Republican  political prisioners will not be drawn into a situation which is all process and no progress even if it is chaired by an independent body such as ICRC.” Connla Young, The Irish News. For the oranginal story.

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‘Patten-like reforms’ to prison service demanded in the North of Ireland the occupied six counties in the North.

Another damning report into the prison service in the North of Ireland!

Southern politicians speak after jail visit.

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THERE have been calls for “Patten-like reforms” in the north’s prison service (Protestant jobs for Protestant boys) after a cross-party group of politicians from the Republic visited Maghaberry Prison.

The group, which included former Fianna Fail minister Eamon O Cuiv, met several republican prisoners held permanently in Maghaberry’s punishment block, known as the Care and Supervision Unit (CSU). Mr O Cuiv, along with Independent Donegal TD Thomas Pringle, Fianna Fail senators Jim Walsh and Mary White, Fine Gael TD Frank Feighan, Independant TD Maureen O’Sullivan and United Left Alliance TD Clare Daly, later held a press conference at Belfast’s Europa Hotel. Tensions at Maghaberry have been high in recent months amid complaints from republicans that authorities have reneged on a deal to end strip-searches. In November 2012 inmates on the Roe 4 wing ended an 18-month ‘no wash’ protest days after the ‘IRA’ shot dead prison officer David Black as he travelled to work along the M1 near Lurgan, Co Armagh. Mr Pringle claimed prisoners in the CSU are held under “degrading and inhumane conditions”. “This situation can’t be allowed to continue and it has to end and prisoners have to treated with some dignity and sense of respect for their human rights,” he said. Mr Pringle described a previous meeting with justice minister David Ford to try to deal with some of the issues as a “waste of time”. Mr O Cuiv said he was “shocked” by allegations that some prisoners held in the CSU are being approached by MI5 to become informers. He said the “daily regime” described by the five republican inmates in the CSU,  which includes 23-hour lock-ups, is “horrendous”. Ms Daly said reforms similar to the Patten changes to policing are required to overhaul the prison service. “The prison workforce come primarily from one side of the community and that is unsustainable in the long term,” she said. A spokesman for the service said:  “The separated regime is subject to considerable scrutiny from outside bodies and, whilst some of the issues raised on this occasion are not for the prison service, all complaints by, and on behalf of, prisoners are properly investigated.”

With many thanks to: Connla Young, The Irish News, for the origional story.

VETERAN REPUBLICAN HAS PAROLE HEARING CANCELLED

‘No alternative date has been suggested or discussed with us – Jim Mcllmurray.

LURGAN republican Martin Corey, who has been interned without charge for over three years inside Maghaberry Prison since 2010 after his licence was revoked, has had his latest parole hearing canceled just days before it was due to take place.

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The 63-year-old who served 19-years in prison for his part in the shooting of two RUC men in 1972 was released on licence in 1992 and worked as a grave digger prior to being arrested over three years ago. He has subsequently not been charged with any offence and despite being entitled to an annual parole hearing has not been in front of the Parole Commissioners, who decide if he should be released, for 25 months. Jim Mcllmurrey who acts as a spokesman for the Lurgan republican said his legal team was contacted on August 30 to say a parole hearing due to take place last week was once again being postponed.”No alternative date has being suggested or discussed with us,” Mr Mcllmury said. “A variety of reasons have been given for the delay, including blaming Martin himself for his legal challenges against his detention. “The European Court of Human Rights ruled in 2012 that it was uunacceptable to deny an annual parole hearing to anyone held in custody. “This ruling followed a case of a man who waited 14 months for a parole hearing, Martin Corey has now waited 25 months. The Secretary of State in a recent communication stated, ‘an individual who served a life sentence can be returned to prison if they pose a risk to the public or commits further offences.” “Since Martin’s arrest in April 2010, he has never been charged with a crime, or given any explanation as the risk he poses to the public. “He has now served the equivalent of a seven year sentence since his arrest in 2010.”

With many thanks to : Allison Morris, The Irish News.

Forced strip search of Pomeroy woman a ‘Brutal Sex Assault’ !

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Sharon Rafferty

A REPUBLICAN prisoners welfare group have claimed that a forced strip search carried out on a Pomeroy woman last month amounted to a “brutal sexual assault”.

Sharon Rafferty (38) of Cavana Linn in Pomeroy is currently awaiting trial on five charges related to alleged dissident republican activity in Tyrone.

Detained in Hydebank Prison on remand since May 2012, on August 14 she left the South Belfast prison for the first time in 15 months for a preliminary investigation hearing at Omagh Courthouse alongside her co-accused Gavin Coney, Aidan Coney and Sean Kelly.

According to Mandy Duffy of the Irish Republican Prisoners Welfare Association (IRPWA), prior to her departure from the prison, force was used after Rafferty refused to remove clothing in her cell. The procedure was repeated upon her return according to the spokesperson, who regularly visits the 38-year-old.

Describing the procedure as “degrading and humiliating”, Ms Duffy said the Pomeroy woman had not reported any physical injuries, but had been left “distressed” by the ordeal.

It’s understood to be the first time in recent years that a female republican prisoner has been made subject to a strip search.

In a statement, the Northern Ireland Prison Service (NIPS) said it could not comment on individual prisoners.

Strip searching of female prisoners became one of the most controversial features of the troubles when it was introduced in Armagh gaol in 1982.

JUDICIAL REVIEW

In more recent times the practice came under the spotlight in 2005, when the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC) helped non-republican prisoner Karen Carson bring a judicial review before the High Court in Belfast, claiming frequent strip searching in Hydebank was in violation of articles three and eight of the European Convention on Human Rights, which relate to torture and privacy.

While Justice Girvan said that the articles had not been breached, in his judgement he found that the existing policy “cannot be demonstrated to be proportionate and necessary”.

The comments prompted a review of the NIPS policy for strip searching female prisoners, which led to new policy being introduced in September 2010.

According to the Chief Inspector of Criminal Justice in Northern Ireland, the new policy had by 2011 ended routine strip searching of all new arrivals at Hydebank.

Random searches were also scaled back, but the policy of strip searching has been retained, albeit under a new two stage procedure, with the initial stage allowing the prisoner to retain their underwear.

However according to the Department of Justice, “If staff had suspicions or intelligence has been received to suggest the woman could be concealing items in her underwear she would be required to proceed to a level 2 search. This would require her to remove the clothing from the top half of her body including underwear, when dressed she would remove the clothing from the bottom half of her body including her underwear.”

The new provisions also still allow for prisoners to be forcibly strip searched if they refuse to comply with a full search, using “approved control and restraint techniques”.

‘TRAUMATIC IMPACT’

Speaking to the Tyrone Herald, a spokesperson for the NIHRC said it supports the Prison Review Team’s 2011 recommendation to find an effective and less intrusive alternative to strip searching.

“The Commission’s 2005 research revealed the traumatic impact of strip searching on women and recommended that its use should be exceptional and restricted.”

It said while it had not received any complaints about the use of strip searching on women prisoners in recent times, the body intends to raise the issue of Sharon Rafferty’s forced search on August 14 during a visit with the Prison Service later this month.

Mandy Duffy said both male and female republican prisoners refuse to submit to strip searching, claiming that scanners exist that deem the practice unnecessary. On August 14, she said Rafferty’s three co-accused were also similarly strip searched by force at Maghaberry Prison after refusing to comply with requests to remove clothing.

“There is technology in place that removes the need for any prisoner to remove their clothing,” said the IRPWA spokesperson, “Sharon said she did not want to humiliate herself.”

PROTEST

The fallout over strip searching resulted in male prisoners at Maghaberry Prison staging a dirty protest over 18 months, which came to an end last year when the Department of Justice launched a trial of two millimetre wave scanners at Hydebank. However in February, the department said the scanners would not replace full body searches after a Prison Service report emerged claiming that just 57 per-cent of items tested had been detected.

Republican prisoners at both Hydebank and Maghaberry are currently held in separate wings from the main prison population.

The separation resulted in Sharon Rafferty, as the only republican prisoner in Hydebank, spending more than one year in effective isolation, until she was joined in June this year by a second female republican prisoner, Christine Connor. Mandy Duffy claimed Connor was denied a hospital appointment on August 23 after she refused to comply with a strip search on departure from the prison.

“With the policy now that they are going to be asking republican prisoners to comply with strip searches, that they will refuse, this is going to have an impact on hospital appointments and doctors appointments,” she claimed.

“Christine does have medical concerns. She has kidney problems and she does need to attend her appointments. Therefore she is being denied her rights to medical attention.”

Former Republican prisoner speaks out on Maghaberry protests

With many thanks to -:

The Ulster Herald | 12-14 John Street |

T: +44 (0)28 8224 3444

E: contact@ulsterherald.com

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