éirígí Sligeach activist Gerry Casey has branded the continuing abuse of political prisoners in Maghaberry gaol by the prison authorities and the British government as a "massive violation of their human rights which must be brought to an immediate end."
Casey was speaking following a large demonstration which was held in support of the prisoners outside Maghaberry on Sunday [June 5].
He said: "Political status continues to be denied to Irish republican prisoners. Savage beatings and forced strip searches are a daily occurrence."
"Back in August an agreement was reached which appeared to resolve the prisoners campaign to be treated humanely. However, the unionist sectarian thugs in the Prison Officers Association have continued to attempt to degrade, humiliate and brutally strip-search and assault prisoners. It is this continued abuse and breach of the agreement that has forced the prisoners back onto the no-wash protest."
"It is sad that 30 years on from the deaths of Bobby Sands and his comrades who died on hunger strike to achieve political status within Britain's prisons that this abuse and brutalisation of prisoners continues unabated."
Casey concluded: "All republicans, socialists and those concerned with human rights abuses, must stand up for these prisoners and help to bring an end to the savagery being inflicted on republican P.O.W's. éirígí will continue to support the prisoners and their families in their struggle to have the August agreement re-instated, and to finally secure the political status that the hunger strikers died for thirty years ago."
Despite attempts by the political establishment and the corporate media to bury the issue, the plight of the political prisoners in Maghaberry jail is again raising concern on the outside.
On Sunday [June 5], around 400 people gathered in the Maghaberry car park for the short march to the prison’s perimeter, where they were addressed by a number of prisoners’ relatives as well as independent republican councillor for Newry Davy Hyland.
After folk singer Pól MacAdaim helped the assembled crowd belt out a number of songs by Bobby Sands for the benefit of the screws, the supporters marched towards the wing where the republican prisoners are currently being held.
There, despite the lashing rain and the yards upon yards of barbed wire and concrete, the prisoners could be heard shouting their appreciation while the protestors blew whistles, let off fireworks, beat pots and chanted slogans for political status.
The protest was ended with a cavalcade of nearly 100 cars encircling the prison entrance with horns beeping and music blaring.
Meanwhile, last night [Monday], in a further demonstration of the growing support for the human rights of the prisoners, Newry & Mourne Council unanimously agreed to send a delegation to Maghaberry to investigate the prisoners’ concerns. The instigator of the motion, Davy Hyland, pledged to make the council follow through on its promise as soon as possible.
Rúnaí ginearálta éirígí Breandán Mac Cionnaith, himself a former political prisoner, said: “The last number of days have seen a welcome spike in the support for the rights of the prisoners in Maghaberry."
“The agenda in Maghaberry is currently being set by the notoriously sectarian and thuggish Prison Officers Association. This situation is totally unsustainable."
“The British government needs to recognise that the August 12 agreement of last year presents the basis for resolving the conflict in the prison and face down the POA.”
Mac Cionnaith added: “éirígí extends its solidarity to the protesting prisoners in Maghaberry and pledges to continue supporting their struggle and that of their families until political status is secured. All those with an interest in human rights should do likewise.”