lapse endangers republican prisoner's life, May 30
remarkable lapse in security could have had disastrous
consequences for republican prisoner John Connolly
in Maghaberry gaol last night. During lock up a prison
warden neglected to secure the cell of a prominent
loyalist, who then proceeded to roam the landing all
night. The security lapse was not discovered until
6am the following morning. Connolly was kept awake
by sectarian taunts and threats shouted through his
cell door all night but the consequences could have
been much more severe. John Connolly is the only republican
prisoner on this wing, which he shares with eleven
loyalists. Had the loyalist prisoner been able to
surprise the screw on night duty he would have had
access to all the keys for the wing leaving Connolly
at the mercy of loyalist prisoners. Connolly, as O/C
of the IRA prisoners in the gaol is probably the most
high profile republican prisoner in Maghaberry and
he has been warned on numerous occasions about death
threats against him and his family.
incident highlights the folly of keeping republican
and loyalist prisoners together in the general prison
population. It is clear given the number of assaults
on republican prisoners that the prison authorities
are unwilling or unable to protect them and while
we accept that the screws cannot be everywhere at
once we do expect them to lock people up at night.
If the prison wardens spent less time taunting and
assaulting republican POW's and concentrated on the
simple tasks then this would not have happened.
IRPWA call for immediate segregation of all republican
prisoners as a first step in the restoration of political
Commanding Republican Prisoners of War meets Secretary
of State Paul Murphy, May 27, 2003
in the education wing of Maghaberry gaol, the OC Oglaigh
Na hEireann prisoners John Connolly came face to face
with the secretary of state for Northern Ireland Paul
Murphy. Despite a large entourage of NIO officials,
Prison Officials and body guards Mr Connolly was able
to approach Mr Murphy and introduce himself as the
OC of the republican prisoners. There was an attempt
made by the prison officials to prevent any contact
but the Secretary of State indicated that he was prepared
to speak with the OC.
Connolly then outlined the position of the republican
prisoners in the gaol and told of the litany of abuse
from Loyalist prisoners as well as prison officials.
Connolly then went on to demand segregation from loyalists
and the restoration of political status on behalf
of the republican POW's.
Murphy indicated that there was movement on the issues
that had been raised and was thanked by John Connolly
for his time and interest when it was apparent that
officials did not want the exchange to take place.
IRPWA reiterate John Connolly's demands and would
urge the NIO to segregate republican prisoners immediately.
Paul Murphy's indication that moves are afoot are
a cause for some optimism but while officials talk
the likelihood of another serious assault or a death
ask the British Government to bear in mind what has
happened in the past when indications of movement
were not followed up by action and when hopes were
raised only to be dashed.
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