Yesterday several hundred Irish Republicans protested outside Maghaberry prison in response to the brutality and inhumane conditions that the POWs have to endure.
Newry Republicans have been to the fore in these protests and held a successful picket at Newry courthouse last Thursday in which over 70 people attended. And yesterday well over a dozen Republicans from Newry, including several former POWs, attended the protest at Maghaberry prison in solidarity with Republican POWs and their families. One of the cars travelling from Newry was stopped twice under section 44 by the RUC/PSNI.
Awaiting us at Maghaberry was a large presence of RUC/PSNI personnel in armoured landrovers. The paramilitary force had set up checkpoints on all the roads leading to the jail and proceeded to stop and search republicans as they arrived, they also noted the registration of every vehicle that passed through the checkpoint and several vehicles were stopped and searched under section 44. We assembled in the car park and marched up to the main gates behind a "SUPPORT THE POWs, RESTORE POLITICAL STATUS" banner. Many people carried placards and tricolours and when we reached the main gates of the prison a number of Republicans addressed the large crowd including former POW Tony Catney, Former Blanketman Alex McCrory, Former Hungerstriker and blanketman Gerard Hodgkins, recently released POW Terry McCafferty, former POW Martin Rafferty and families of the POWs. Dozens of former POWs were among the crowd including several from the Newry area.
The protesters then blasted air horns, blew whistles and chanted for several minutes at the main gates, no doubt the POWs inside could hear us and this would have given them a much needed boost of morale.
We then marched back to the car park and drove in a convoy of hundreds of cars back up to the main gates were every car was blasting their horns.
While Constitutional Nationalists sit on the sidelines and regurgitate statements, word for word, that were already issued under different names last week, Irish Republicans are mobilising people and are active on the streets taking part in grassroot activism.