chairde, a chomrádaithe beannachtaí
chugaibh go léir.
would like to thank the editorial board of the Blanket
for giving us this opportunity to contribute and for
allowing us a voice which is being denied elsewhere.
We send greetings to our comrades in all other gaols
at home and abroad. (An Phoblacht Abú)
There are many issues which affect republican prisoners
post 'Good Friday Agreement'. As a direct result of
that agreement, Political Status that was fought and
dearly paid for was ended by the British Government.
They along with the NIO and the Prison Service say
they no longer recognise POW status. This is a blatant
falsehood borne out by the fact that they go to extreme
lengths to keep us apart from each other. So 'it's
back to the future' for Republican prisoners- the
battle continues- our first goal being 'Segregation'.
Segregation for Republican prisoners is probably the
most important and imperative issue facing us at the
minute. In the past month alone there have been eight
'death threats' (that we know about) from Loyalist
prisoners against Republicans, two actual assaults
and many insults and confrontations. The prison authorities
perpetuate such an environment by ensuring republicans
are spread very thinly throughout the gaol- we are
never allowed to be in the ascendancy. A typical example
is a wing of 24 prisoner-no more than 2 republicans
are placed on the wing while there can be up to10
or 11 loyalists on the same wing. The rest of the
numbers are made up with criminals and many of these
can be loyalist in outlook. So you can see the scenario.
Not only would republicans need eyes in the back of
their heads and nerves of steel every time we come
out of our cells but our guardian angels would need
to be on 24 hour alert as well.
As we continue to point out the very real danger of
a fatality looms large everyday. The procrastinating
of the British Gov., NIO and the Prison Service left
us with no alternative but to raise the tempo of our
struggle for segregation. As a result of action taken
the prison service reacted by 'locking down' the gaol
for 5 days, a number of prisoners were assaulted by
screws in the course of cell searches and nearly 200
prisoners were strip-searched. One political prisoner
from South Down, who was assaulted, was himself charged
with petty offences that were fabricated against him
in an attempt by screws to counteract his claim of
Most other prisoners were prevented from removing
'legal papers' from cells during searches or to be
present during searches (which is in contravention
of their own law lords ruling) No doubt the screws
had a good read at our private 'legal papers' uninterrupted.
Prisoners were then refused exercise, visits, legal
hearings, such as 'remand legal visits' or phone-calls,
or letters to or form the gaol.
in all the whole five days showed up the prison service
for what it is, an oppressive vindictive arm of the
British Government used to try to break the resolve
and spirit of Republican POW's in particular and the
Republican Struggle in general. However, as Republican
prisoners in the past, we will not be criminalised-
we are asking for nothing more than we are entitled
to as prisoners of war.
yet the Prison Service and the British government
have refused to move on the issue. We believe the
current political situation on the outside has a lot
to do with this refusal. In short, the 'coalition
of the willing' (British Gov., Sinn Fein leadership,
SDLP,Unionists) and other quislings cannot afford
to have an official admittance that there are still
Republican Prisoners of War, it would not sit cosy
with their media friendly image of normalisation of
judges' blatant sectarianism in relation to Bail hearings
has become more and more apparent in the past year.
In a recent case a well-known UDA leader, caught in
possession of a loaded small arm and loose rounds
for another weapon, was promptly given bail. The only
concern the judge had was the loose rounds and the
fact they did not fit the said gun. No thought for
the poor sod who was going to get the rounds that
weren't loose. Since 1998 few republican prisoners
have received bail while countless loyalists are granted
it despite the severity of the charge against them.
Perhaps some investigative journalist from those highly
independent newspapers or TV programmes would like
to enlighten us as to the reasons. Don't hold your
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