Several ex-POWs, local Republicans, community activists, along with a number of families of current POWs participated in the picket which lasted for an hour.
Those present held placards demanding the immediate Restoration of Political Status, End of Controlled Movement, End of Prison Brutality, Support POWs, Smash Criminalisation, and pledging Support for Prisoners families.
Towards the end of the picket the participants gathered at the front of the British Crown building were a statement was read on behalf of the organisers, POWs families and friends.
This is the second successful POW picket Republicans in Newry have organised, we had one last December and it attracted similar numbers.
This picket coincided with several other pickets that were held across the Occupied 6 counties. In Belfast 300 people took part in the picket on the Falls/Whiterock, in North Belfast 150 people attended the picket in Carrickhill and in Lurgan roughly 70 people stood in solidarity with the POWs.
It's great to see so many people rededicating themselves to grassroots Republican activism
Statement on Behalf of POWs Friends, Families and Picket Organisers
Republican Prisoners families, friends and ex-POWs have organised this picket to show solidarity with all Republican prisoners and their families. We demand an immediate end to the brutal regime in place in Maghaberry, under which Republican Prisoners have to endure strip searches, 23 hour lock up, controlled movement, sniffer dog searches, assaults and repeated attempts to portray them as common criminals.
We demand the restoration of Political Status which was won in the early 80s following a hard fought battle with the British Establishment and resulted in 10 brave young men sacrificing their lives.
Our family members and friends are not common criminals. They are political prisoners and are in prison for their political beliefs. It is safe to say that these men would not even be in jail if it wasn’t for the ongoing British presence in Ireland. They are clearly political prisoners and we demand that they be treated as such.
Not only are the prisoners suffering, but their families are also suffering, they endure degrading strip searches when visiting their loved ones and are regularly on the receiving end of harassment from the RUC/PSNI.
Up to five assaults have been carried out on Republican prisoners in Maghaberry in the last 18 months, all resulted in Republicans being charged with assault in an attempt by a corrupt prison regime to cover up what is happening. Only a few weeks ago a Republican prisoner was mauled by a prison dog and suffered severe injuries.
The only way this conflict in Maghaberry will be resolved is for political status to be restored for Republican prisoners and for the harassment and degrading treatment of visiting families to be ended immediately.
This picket is just one of many that has taken place across the 6 counties this evening. No doubt the prisoners will receive a much needed boost of morale and confidence knowing that Irish Republicans are standing together in support of them.
We want to thank everyone for attending this picket tonight at such short notice. It’s heartening to see so many lifelong Republicans and ex-POWs standing in solidarity with the prisoners and their families.
We must be ready and willing to take to the streets until this issue is resolved, at the end of the day the prisoners are in there for us and we are out here for them.