Monday, 31 May 2010

20 Aid Workers Killed by Israeli Terrorists

Twenty aid workers have been confirmed dead and dozens injured after last night’s attack in international waters when the Israeli navy opened fire on the six boats and commandos stormed the decks and opened fire. At least eight Irish people are among the humanitarians who were bound for the besieged Gaza Strip, which has suffered under a zionist blockade since the democratic election of the Hamas government.

éirígí spokesperson Daithí Mac An Mhaistír  said: “Yet again, Israel has been exposed as a rogue state in the eyes of the world. Their barbaric treatment of international aid workers seeking to relieve a beleaguered population bears all the hallmarks of a fascistic regime.

“Action must be taken to end these recurring massacres. The Israeli ambassador and all the embassy staff must be expelled by the Twenty-Six County government without delay.

“Trade with Israel should be suspended and the preferential agreements the European Union has negotiated should be cancelled. This apartheid state should be boycotted and shunned by the whole world.”

Mac An Mhaistír continued: “To this end, people should get to today’s demonstrations in Belfast, Derry and Dublin – as an act of solidarity with the Palestinian people and the aid workers, as a display of outrage at the Israeli regime and as an act of protest against western complicity in the ongoing Palestinian nightmare.

“The more people there are on the streets, the more pressure will be brought to bear upon those in Ireland who insist on collaborating with the Israeli regime.”

Today’s protests are as follows:

Belfast City Hall, 4pm

Guildhall Square, Derry, 5pm

The Spire, O’Connell Street, Dublin, 6pm, for march to Israeli embassy.

Sunday, 30 May 2010

Concerned Families and Friends of the Maghaberry Prisoners Public Meeting

Republicans attended a packed meeting in Conway Mill on Saturday, the following article came from Anthony McIntyre's, Pensive Quill.

The Concerned Families and Friends of the Maghaberry prisoners held a public meeting on Saturday 29th May, 2.00pm, at Conway Mill Belfast.

A panel to include human rights activists and legal experts outlined the conditions the men in Maghaberry are being forced to endure and a question and answer session followed for development of debate.

Chairing the proceedings was Maura McCrory, a veteran of the anti-H-Block/Armagh campaign who took to the streets in defence of prisoners rights with The Relatives Action Committee, in 1976.

Former hunger striker Gerard Hodgins and Maureen Fitzsimons, sister of prisoner Harry Fitzsimons, both spoke at the meeting. The text of their speeches follow.

Gerard Hodgins:

Thirty years ago we engaged in a battle that was to have far reaching ramifications for us all. It was the longest and most painful battle of the war when Brendan Hughes forged the Blanketmen into a formidable fighting machine which established once and for all the political legitimacy of the Republican cause and the Republican prisoner. We didn’t fully know it at the time but we changed history. The cost was horrendous and the pain of that battle still wounds many of us. The memories will never leave us, nor can the knowledge that today the inheritors of that sacrifice sit in power in Stormont.

Why are former comrades who experienced the inside of a prison cell the same as many of us allowing this obscenity which is Maghaberry to happen? How can a joint First Minister not have the power to end this shameful situation in his prison? How can one half of the Stormont power bloc be powerless to intervene in Maghaberry prison? The thugs enforcing this regime of shame in Maghaberry are the very same thugs who beat Blanketmen and gloated at the deaths of hunger strikers: the Prison Officers Association.

The only change in the equation is that instead of serving a British government directly the POA are today serving our own locally elected government of which Sinn Fein makes up one half.

Sinn Fein have sat in silence over the years allowing the festering cess-pit of Maghaberry to deteriorate, to date they have expressed an interest in what is happening in Maghaberry, but we need more than an expression of interest from former comrades who know instinctively the fate of Republican prisoners in the British prison system, we need concrete action, we need massive change within the prison regime, we need a party with more spine than the imperialist lickspittle who similarly sat in silence while ten brave men died.

We demand the reintroduction of the regime that was implemented after the hunger strikes, we demand the reintroduction of a safe and humane environment where all prisoners can lead lives of dignity and purpose; and where even screws are saved from the debasement of being torturers.

What I and the rest of us demand is not an impossible dream, we are not asking for new avenues to be explored or opened up, we are not asking for risks to be taken. The things we demand are doable; it has all been done before at no risk to the security of the prison system and it could all be done again: today.

Things have moved on in the wake of the ceasefires, life may be more vibrant than ever in our towns and cities; but life is also still a nightmare existence for that small group of people the rest of society chooses to ignore and pretend doesn’t exist: the prisoners. For them, there is no new dispensation. For them there are only Oscar Wilde’s immortal words: every prison that men build is built with bricks of shame; and bound with bars lest Christ should see how men their brothers maim, Maghaberry prison is an institution built with bricks of shame, Maghaberry prison is bound with bars lest Christ should see how the screws our friends and relatives maim. Maghaberry prison has been shrouded in a veil of official silence – but no more.

We, together, will tear down the bricks of shame, we will expose the sadists of the POA to full public scrutiny and exposure of their cowardly deeds; we have exposed them for the liars they are in trying to tell us Maghaberry is a 5*hotel where the ungrateful fenians beat themselves up just to complain about it afterwards.

We, as a group, came together in the wake of the Easter mini-rising in Maghaberry and pledged to hit the streets, to agitate and campaign until the prisoners in Maghaberry get a proper and humane regime. We are of all political colours and no political colours; we are equally and unanimously and maturely committed to assisting the men in Maghaberry challenge and defeat the inhuman and degrading conditions being imposed upon them through the active aggression of the POA and the silent acquiescence of their political masters in Stormont.

We can all do this together. Go from here today and replicate what we have done here in Belfast across the country: bury your political differences and unite around one common goal, theme and objective: our prisoners. Let every county in this partitioned state organise and demand human rights for the prisoners; it doesn’t take a large, cumbersome structure or massive amounts of money to do: commitment and a belief in the justness of the prisoners’ cause are all that’s needed.

Do this, and we have even greater scope for coordinated actions if we need to seriously consider paralysing the normality of a sick state in order to make it sit up and listen.

Our prisoners deserve that, we owe them that and we owe it to the memory and integrity of our comrades who died that lonely death in 1981. Let a thousand prisoner support groups flourish from here today and let the Stormont ostriches know: we are not going away you know!

Victory to the prisoners.

Maureen Fitzsimons:

My brother Harry Fitzsimons, is a prisoner in Maghaberry. Ironically, my brother is actually in Maghaberry for following orders. He does not want to be in Maghaberry, he wants to be home with his children and partner, and wider family circle; and we want him home with us.

My brother is not a criminal; he is not an animal to be caged and beaten; neither is he self-inflicting any type of harm or hardship upon himself just so he can complain about it later.

My brother, Harry, is the latest victim in a long line of tortured souls to fall under the attention of the screws in the British prison system in Ireland; yesterday it was the H-Blocks, today it is Maghaberry. His crime in their eyes is not that he has been sent to prison but that he is a catholic, a republican: a fenian! Human rights are non-existent in Maghaberry if you are a prisoner, they are completely non-existent if you are a Republican prisoner.

The revelation that all is not well in Maghaberry came as a shock to our family. We experienced the depth of bitterness that characterised the H-Block conflict, we lived through it; the daily reports of prisoners being beaten and the military repression inflicted upon our community as we stood in defiance in support of our prisoners, in defiance of Margaret Thatcher. We don’t want to go through all that again, but already there is a sense of déjà-vu.

We thought that we had seen the prison issue settled once and for all: ten men died lonely deaths of starvation in British prison cells to assert the right and the legitimacy of the Republican cause: it is a horrifying sacrifice we can never forget. But it is all reawakening as the Maghaberry screws diminish the gains and the penal reforms hard won by republican prisoners in the past.

Why are they allowed to get away with this? Why are one group of narrow-minded, unreconstructed sectarian bigots being allowed to drag us back into the past? Where are the voices of those in political power with the power to end this obscenity?

When we leave here today all I ask is that each of you remembers that our prisoners are being forced back into a H-Block-type regime, that our prisoners in Maghaberry are being brutalised. And remember them in your prayers.

Let your elected representatives know how you feel, how you feel that the nightmare of the darkest chapter in British penal policy in Ireland is being reawakened and reinvigorated in Maghaberry.

I know this, because my brother Harry is living that nightmare. I have had to endure watching him disappeared into the lonely isolation of Maghaberry, knowing that he had been beaten, knowing that the screws had chained him to a bed and cut the clothes off him, knowing that he was hurt and me unable to see him, to comfort him. We, his family were not allowed to see him, his solicitor was not even allowed to see him.

This is what the screws are doing. They are also barring immediate family from visiting prisoners. They are a law unto themselves and must be challenged and we are the ones who will mount that challenge on behalf of our prisoners.

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Constitutionals Make Empty Threats

Yesterday a glimmer of hope emerged for a split second as i came across a number of media outlets proclaiming that "SF Will Review It's Co-operation With PSNI", the first thing i thought was what in gods name has happened for such a bold, dramatic threat to emerge? What grave injustice has been inflicted upon the Irish people?

Was it because of 35,000 stop and searches in 12 months?
Was it because the Chief of the British Militia was trying to prevent an inquest into shoot to kill policy?
Increased RUC/PSNI harassment?
The use of plastic bullets?
Increased payments to Brit touts?
Increase in political policing?
Attempts to frame republicans?

It was none of the above, this empty threat emerged because a former priest didn't get a job on the British Policing Board!

The former priest is a brother of Dermot Kennedy, who is a former Sinn Fein Westminster and Assembly election candidate. It's also interesting to note that he is quite wealthy and lives in former Judge's mansion. Dermot has been described as an entrepreneur by one of his comrades, Mairtin O'Millionaire. Onwards to the Socialist Republic eh?

Surely to god the irrelevants could pick a better reason to make a veiled threat that will never materialise.......couldn't they?

Another thing i would also like to mention is Gerry Adam's recent blog post (though it looks more like it came from Gerry's bog)

It reads like something that came straight from the NIO or Jonathon Powell's desk.

In his bog Gerry mentions the "segregated wing" rather than the Republican wing and he refers to the men in Roe House as "prisoners" rather than Republican prisoners, political prisoners or POWs. The term "prisoners" puts those men in the same level as common criminals.

Sad times
They call us 'cons' to right the wrongs,
They do it with a pen,
They call us 'crims' to suit their whims, Of politics my friend,
But they can call us all they want
For the people call us men"
-Bobby Sands

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Political ‘Stop and Search’ powers used almost 35,000 times – repression clearly on the increase

Serious concern has been expressed by éirígí, as newly published figures show that politically-motivated stop and search legislation has been used on almost 35,000 occasions in the Six Counties within a twelve month period.

Rúnaí Ginearálta éirígí Breandán Mac Cionnaith said, “In recent years, there has been a very steady, noticeable and disturbing increase in the use of politically motivated legislation by the PSNI in the Six Counties.

“That such legislation was used on almost 35,000 occasions in the twelve months between 1st April 2009 and March 31st this year should be matter of serious alarm and major disquiet to all those concerned with the protection of human and civil rights.

“Indeed, this is particularly true when one considers that, between 1st January and March 31st this year, the PSNI made use of powers under Section 44 of the “Terrorism Act” on 8,200 occasions.

“That figure alone demonstrates the contempt which the PSNI and Policing Board have for human rights in the Six Counties.

“The vast majority of usage during that three month period occurred after the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) had issued a landmark judgment in early January which stated that “the Court considers that the powers of authorisation and confirmation as well as those of stop and search under sections 44 and 45 of the 2000 (Terrorism) Act are neither sufficiently circumscribed nor subject to adequate legal safeguards against abuse. They are not, therefore, ‘in accordance with the law’.” The Court also stated that that the powers constituted a violation of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights and warned that there was a clear risk of arbitrariness in the granting of such a broad discretion to police.

Mac Cionnaith added, “At the time of that judgment, éirígí was one of the very few organisations prepared to publicly call for the ECtHR ruling to be made immediately applicable to the Six Counties. We also said that the ECtHR ruling was extremely pertinent for the Six Counties where there already had been a dramatic rise in the use of repressive stop and search powers under Section 44.

“Indeed, based on these new figures, it can be seen just how dramatic that increase in the use of repressive powers has been. In 2006, stop and search powers were used by the PSNI and British Army 14,910 times during a 12 month period – a figure then described as “shocking” by those nationalist politicians who have since endorsed the political policing methods of the PSNI.

“One wonders how credible any response from those nationalist parties at Stormont, or from David Ford as so-called justice minister, can be when faced with the facts that the PSNI are using repressive legislation with such frequency that the overall figure for 12 months stands at almost 35,000.

“These newly published figures and January’s European Court ruling clearly demonstrate the illegal and arbitrary reality of British policing in the Six Counties. It is a reality far removed from what was promised by the nationalist parties who took the decision to endorse the PSNI.”

Duffy Family Banned From Visiting Colin

The Lurgan-based campaign group, The Friends of Colin Duffy, has strongly criticised a decision made today by the Prison Service to ban Mr Duffy’s wife, Martine, and his brother, Paul, from visiting him in Maghaberry Prison.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the campaign group said:

“Earlier today, the Prison Service informed Colin Duffy that both his wife, Martine, and his brother, Paul, were banned from visiting him in Maghaberry Prison. No reasons were given for this arbitrary banning order.

“It is our understanding that the Duffy family are presently taking urgent legal advice with a view to challenging the prison authorities’ prohibition of visits by immediate family members. We expect that such a challenge will be mounted through the courts in the coming days.

“This banning of family members from prison visits represents a serious breach of a prisoners’ human and civil rights and we believe that such a banning order also represents a clear contravention of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights which states that ‘Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence’.

“It is noticeable that the European Court has previously ruled, on a number of occasions, that such arbitrary interference with Article 8 rights of prisoners is incompatible with European law.

“This latest oppressive and provocative move by the authorities at Maghaberry prison is clearly designed to increase tensions both inside and outside the gaol. It also represents a pre-meditated escalation by the prison authorities of their efforts to break the resolve of Republican POW’s in the ongoing campaign to achieve freedom of association and end to strip searches.

“It is patently obvious that the prison authorities and, indeed, David Ford, as so-called Justice minister, are permitting the unionist-dominated POA with its a long history of acting as ‘a force within a sectarian force’ to dictate conditions within Maghaberry prison.

“We fully condemn this deliberate provocation and targeting of prisoners’ families, and call on all those interested in upholding human and civil rights to demand that this latest authoritarian and oppressive measure be immediately rescinded. "


Monday, 24 May 2010

Successful POW Picket in Camloch

On Friday (21st May), between 60-70 Republicans held a white line picket in Camlough, South Armagh from. In attendance were families of the POWs, lifelong republicans and Ex-POWs.

This picket was to show support and solidarity with Republican POWs currently incarcerated in Maghaberry Gaol. The event also highlighted the inhumane conditions that the POWs in Maghaberry have to endure including:

• 23 hour lock up

• Degrading Strip searches of POWs and their visiting families

• Psychological torture

• Controlled movement

• Sniffer dog searches

• Assaults

• Criminalisation

There has to be 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 the criminalisation policy which is in place in an attempt to portray these political prisoners as common criminals.

During the picket a banner was re-erected in the village calling for an end to the criminalisation of Republican POWs.

Republican prisoners are not criminals, they are political prisoners and are in prison because of their opposition to the British occupation. 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 they should be treated as such.

It was also fitting that this event fell on the 29th anniversary of Óglach Raymond McCreesh who along with his 9 brave comrades, paid the supreme sacrifice to achieve better conditions and to smash Thatcher’s policy of criminalising Republican POWs. Today in 2010, The POWs are again being criminalised and brutalised by the very same system that the Blanket Men and Hunger Strikers fought against

The only way the conflict in Maghaberry will be resolved is for political status to be restored for republican prisoners and for the harassment and degrading treatment of political prisoners and their visiting families to be ended immediately.

The picket was organised by local Republicans in conjunction with the Concerned Families & Friends of Maghaberry POWs

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Public Meeting in support of POWs in Conway mill

A public meeting is to be held in Conway Mill, Falls Road, on Saturday 29 May 2010. The meeting will be chaired by Maura McCrory former leader of the relatives action committee (RAC). The panel will consist of prominent speakers as well as a POW family member.

This meeting has been organized by the Ex-Pows Familys and Friends group .

The aim of the meeting is to form a proper committee who will tasked with moving on the campaign on behalf of OUR POWs.

The demand is simple we want Political Status restored.

OUR POWs are now being criminalised and brutalised by the very same system that the Blanket Men and Hunger Strikers fought against .

Theirs is the same Demand.

“Everyone, Republican or otherwise, has their own particular part to play. No part is too great or too small; no one is too old or too young “


Thursday, 20 May 2010

Roe House conditions an appalling abuse of right: Jim Gibney

I have to admit i was pleasantly surprised with Jim Gibney's piece in today's Irish News, he captured quite well what is happening inside Maghaberry and highlights the suffering that the Republican POWs have to endure. Plus in the first sentence he describes those incarcerated as Republican prisoners, which is exactly what they are.

Although there were a few things i disagreed with him on including when he said that "there is no british government sponsored campaign trying to criminalise them", its clear that there is a criminalisation policy Jim and it's being endorsed by many including those who should know better.

All in all it was a decent article, and i hope to see more of the same from the constitutionals.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

British Justice Minister, David Ford, In Visit to Maghaberry

Word has just been sent out from Maghaberry that British Justice Minister, David Ford, has just been on a visit to the gaol.

He was escorted by up to 20 screws along the Republican wing. The wing had been cleaned just before his visit and he was shown an empty undamaged cell.

The POWs were banging on the cell doors demanding that he speak to the prisoner's but they were ignored. He left after about 10 Minutes without speaking to any of the POWs.
A number of relatives who travelled long distances to visit their loved ones had their visits cancelled, they only learnt of this when they arrived at the gaol.
It seems like this was nothing but a cheap, pathetic stunt, he was shown a clean landing, an empty, clean, undamaged cell and didn't speak to any of the victims of human rights abuses incarcerated in Maghaberry. He also had his photograph taken in the clean, empty, undamaged cell.

We can safely say that there will be no progress made and this will not be resolved because he wasn't shown what its really like. The prison clearly had prior knowledge that he was coming and were prepared for his visit, David Ford will probably be leaving Maghaberry wondering what all the fuss is about.

Maybe if they had of showed him Harry Fitz lying chained to a bed, bloodied and bruised like an animal, rather than have him looking at an empty cell, then maybe it would have made a difference.

Also, recently a constitutional nationalist delegation made up of former Republicans also visited the gaol and met with Republican POWs (though they only described them as prisoners).

They said in their vague statement that  "They didn't meet with Harry due to a misunderstanding"

Lets make this clear, Harry was informed that the delegation had asked to meet with him and he agreed to meet. Harry was then told that in order to meet with the delegation he would have to shower, which he did.
He was then left sitting in his cell waiting.

No-one came near him to explain why he wasn't permitted to meet with the delegation.

Its clear that the corrupt prison administration pulled the wool over their eyes and im sure that PSF know that. If the delegation had of met Harry then they would have seen the serious injuries inflicted upon him. And most likely something would have been done about it.

They should say it like it is rather than be so vague about it. PSF are not stupid, they know fine well that the POA are up to their dirty tricks.

It also said in their statement that they will meet "with representatives of the prison administration as well as the Minister for Justice, David Ford, regarding our deep concerns about the current situation for prisoners and their families in Maghaberry,”", and hey presto! David is brought to a clean, empty, undamaged cell and gets his photograph taken.

The POWs and their support group have stated from the start that this is a humanitarian issue and all help is welcome (even if it is from constitutionals). But lets also remember that these are the people that label Republicans as "criminals", "traitors", and call for them to face British Courts and British gaols in Ireland, The delegation going to Maghaberry should be cautiously welcomed but lets not get our hopes up.

We should also point out that David Ford has received numerous emails, letters, and repeated requests from the families and friends of POWs to meet with them. To date there as been no response from David or his office.

It will be interesting to see what lies ahead, but it's looking bleak after this pathetic stunt.

UPDATE: The concerned families and friends of the Maghaberry pow’s have released the following statement re David Ford’s visit.

The Concerned Families and Friends of the Maghaberry prisoners view David Ford’s visit to the prison today as a wasted opportunity to begin a process to bring to an end to the inhumane conditions in Maghaberry.

“David Ford went to Maghaberry to get his photograph taken in an empty cell. He spoke with none of the prisoners, he listened to none of the complaints they have. David Ford knows he is going to have to confront this issue and hiding behind a POA gang of 20 screws just to get his photograph taken is no substitute for engagement.

David Ford has already went on record to claim prisoners are beating themselves up so they can later complain about it.

David Ford has been asked repeatedly for a meeting by us and yet he contemptuously refuses even to acknowledge our requests.

Where is the professed inclusivity of the Alliance position, where is the coming together so often espoused by Alliance.

We condemn this publicity stunt for what it is: a stunt. Further we repeat our demand that Ford meet with us and that he bring an end to the terrorisation of our prisoners in Maghaberry.” ends.

éirígí: Maghaberry Gets the Message

Over 300 protestors, including many éirígí activists, gathered at the gates of Maghaberry Jail on Sunday [May 16] to demand an end to the degrading treatment of republican prisoners.

The family and friends of prisoners were joined by republicans from across the Six Counties and further afield in a noisy demonstration of solidarity.

The protestors gathered in the prison car park before marching the short distance to Maghaberry’s main entrance, led by relatives carrying the names of those republicans incarcerated there and a republican flute band. At the gates, the rally was addressed by former POWs and family members of serving political prisoners, including the sister of Harry Fitzimmons who, last week, was chained to a bed by screws and had his clothes cut off his back after he refused to consent to a strip search.

Binlids were banged, horns blown and fireworks set off to make it clear to the prisoners that support for the campaign is strong and to send a message to the prison regime that it cannot abuse political prisoners without facing a response on the outside.

éirígí general secretary Breandán Mac Cionnaith said: “The brutalisation of the republican prisoners in Maghaberry has clearly touched a nerve among nationalist communities in the Six Counties. Many people remember only too well the treatment meted out to POWs in the 1970s and early ’80s and they are not prepared to allow this situation take the same sad route.

“At this moment, people should put their political opinions to one side and mobilise for the restoration of political status. This is the only way this situation can be resolved.”

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Camlough POW Picket 21st May

This Friday (21st May), Republicans will be holding a white line picket in Camlough, South Armagh from 7pm-8pm. This picket will be to show support and solidarity with Republican POWs currently incarcerated in Maghaberry Gaol.

This event will also highlight the inhumane conditions that the POWs in Maghaberry have to endure including:

  • 23 hour lock up
  • Degrading Strip searches of POWs and their visiting families
  • Psychological torture
  • Controlled movement
  • Sniffer dog searches
  • Assaults
  • Criminalisation

 It's also fitting that this picket will fall on the 29th anniversary of Óglach Raymond McCreesh who along with his 9 brave comrades, paid the supreme sacrifice to achieve better conditions and to smash Thatcher’s policy of criminalising Republican POWs.

Today in 2010, Republicans are also being forced to protest for humane conditions and political status.

Assemble in Camlough village, 7pm-8pm

Organised by local Republicans in conjunction with the Concerned Families & Friends of Maghaberry POWs

Monday, 17 May 2010

Hundreds Protest at Maghaberry Gaol

Once again hundreds of people were mobilised in solidarity with Republican POWs incarcerated in Maghaberry. Several carloads of Republicans and Ex-POWs from Newry made the journey yesterday.

The protesters lined up behind a flute band and marched from the visitors car park right up to the main prison gate. There were then several minutes of noise and mayhem as protesters blew whistles, banged bin lids, beat drums, played flutes, let of fireworks, blasted airhorns, chanted shouted and cheered so that the POWs could hear us.

Loud cheers and chants of "What do we want?" "Political status", "When do we want it? "Now" and "Victory to the POWs" ,in what was reminiscent of the H Block and Blanket protest era, could be heard loud and clear.

Several people spoke including the families of the POWs and a statement on behalf of the POWs was read out by recently released POW Terry McCafferty.

The protesters then lined up once more and marched along the perimeter fence making more noise, it was heartening when we could hear the POWs inside cheering and banging their cell doors in response. Despite being confronted by riot clad scumbags with guard dogs the protesters remained undeterred.

These men are locked up for 23 hours a day, they don't get washed every day, they haven't shaved in over 7 weeks, they get assaulted and beaten on a regular basis, they endure degrading stripsearches, the water and heating has been switched off, their cells are soaked with urine. For anyone living in such conditions is unimaginable, yet this is happening in 2010 in occupied Ireland.

Harry Fitzsimmons is still lying chained to a bed in his underwear, and is still in a serious condition after suffering a severe beating from the screws, i would guess that Harry and his fellow comrades were given a much needed boost of morale yesterday when they heard us outside.

The POWs have since sent word out that they could hear us loud and clear, and it was indeed a great lift for them.

One thing that's very noticeable is that these protests are getting bigger every time.

More protests and events are being organised to highlight the situation in Maghaberry. So watch this space!!!!

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Letter from POW Harry Fitzsimmons

Since Harry wrote this letter he was removed from his comrades by the riot squad for daring to speak to a screw through a locked door.

A gang of thugs in full riot gear entered Harry's cell and dragged him off the wing to a waiting van, once inside they gave him a severe beating, he was then taken to the punishment block.

His clothes were torn and cut from him and he was chained like an animal to the bedframe. That evening a priest was permitted to have a short visit with Harry, afterwards he contacted Harry's family to update them on his condition and confirmed that all of this was in fact true.

The following morning harry was once again visited by these thugs and while he remained chained to the bed he once again received their justice.

This morning word was sent out from the gaol that Harry is coughing up blood and has a suspected broken rib. he is dressed only in his boxer shorts and the heating and water is turned off.


Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Protest at Maghaberry Gaol

As a result of the ongoing situation in Maghaberry, a protest has been organised for this Sunday at 4pm at the Gaol

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Prisoners’ Protest at Alliance HQ

Over 80 people participated in a protest outside the Alliance Party’s headquarters in south Belfast at lunchtime today [Tuesday].

The protest was organised at short notice by friends and family of republican prisoners following comments made yesterday evening by Alliance leader and Six County Stormont ‘justice’ minister David Ford.

In an obvious attempt to smear their campaign, Ford claimed that republican prisoners in Maghaberry were somehow responsible for the brutality being meted out against them by prison authorities, saying that they “seem determined to create conditions which they will then complain about, but they will have no-one to blame but themselves”.

There was a heavy PSNI presence in the area before, during, and for a good deal after today’s protest had taken place.

A letter on behalf of the prisoners’ families was put through Alliance’s letterbox by Lillian Fitzsimmons, sister of republican prisoner Harry Fitzsimmons. On Thursday [May 6], Harry was dragged from his cell to the punishment block after he refused to be strip searched; he was then held down and his clothes were cut from his back by screws.

Following the protest, rúnaí ginearálta éirígí Breandán Mac Cionnaith said: “While the Alliance Party often tries to portray itself as the paragon of liberalism, it is clear that they can be just as reactionary as the rest when they get their hands on a measure of power.

“Republican prisoners in Maghaberry continue to be kept in their cells for 23 hours a day and are still refused any opportunity to wash or exercise.

“David Ford is guilty of deliberately putting his head in the sand over this issue in attempt to obscure the real reasons for ongoing conflict in Maghaberry. He has now given the nod to the prison authorities to continue with their brutalisation of republican prisoners.”

Mac Cionnaith concluded: “It is now more important than ever that the prisoners attain political status. It is up to all republicans to campaign for return of this status to which republican prisoners were previously entitled.”

Monday, 10 May 2010

Maghaberry and its Violence

The following was written by Ex-POW Anthony McIntyre and is on his blog, The Pensive Quill

Just minutes before I sat down to write, a text came through from a friend who has worked with ex-prisoners over the years. As I read her words her concern leaped across to me like a surge of electricity. The Maghaberry screws are at it again, beating and harassing republican prisoners.

These days few things from the political past annoy me. I have grown accustomed to the failures and the futility, the lies and the let downs. Life goes on, it always finds a way. Prison related matters are different. They grip me like few other things. I witnessed so much violence by the screws in the H-Blocks of Long Kesh, on occasion being subject to it, that when I learn of it taking place again anger leeches through me.

My friend told me via her text that ‘the situation Maghaberry is increasingly dire at the minute.’ She went on to tell me about the beatings that had been handed out. A day or two ago my wife had alerted me to the harassment that one republican prisoner is undergoing. Harry Fitzsimmons, serving eight years for a Provisional IRA operation which the Provisional IRA denied and whose key leader dismissed as a ‘bar room brawl’, to save himself embarrassment, was apparently forcibly removed from his cell and thrown into an isolation unit. We decided to drop him a card which was written out yesterday and due to be posted tomorrow. It probably won’t get through – same old routine as the blanket men put up with during their incarceration.

Today Mairtin Og Meehan of the Republican Network for Unity circulated a press statement which the Pensive Quill will carry tomorrow. Himself a former republican prisoner, Meehan to his credit, like his late father, hasn’t got it in him to turn his back on those who find themselves on the wrong side of the walls. He confirmed that Harry Fitz had sustained injuries as a result of screw brutality.

The measure of the peace process as an initiative to advance a republican agenda can be found in what is happening in Maghaberry Prison today. It is found to be wanting. How are republican prisoners still being brutalised and deprived by the British Northern Ireland Prison Service? The peace process is clearly not protecting them. And Harry Fitz was not some dissident out to destroy the peace process but a Provisional IRA volunteer sent out by advocates of the peace process to assault and kidnap an opponent of the peace process.

Having just spoken with the father of South Armagh republican prisoner, Turloch McAllister, it was confirmed that Turloch was beaten by a number of screws. He is now in a cell. His furniture is a wet mattress and his clothing is a T-shirt and a pair of tracksuit bottoms. The screws have removed everything else. There is no toilet facility as the water had been turned off and Turloch McAllister has to use a bucket to relieve himself. Echoes of the blanket protest.

Jim McAllister, Turloch’s father, has expressed his concern at the regime his son and other republican prisoners are forced to undergo. In his view, very little is required in order to remedy the situation. That nothing is being done leads Jim McAllister to believe that some sinister agenda on the part of prison management is holding back progress.

Harry Fitzsimmons and Turloch McAllister are the names of republican political prisoners we are hearing about today. Their names could just as easily be Kieran Nugent or Raymond McCartney; men who faced the same vindictive regime and all the brutality it could muster in a different time but for the same reason.

These men cannot be allowed to be swallowed up in the jaws of the Maghaberry machine where their plight is smothered by public indifference and a regime of silence. We, former republican prisoners, who experienced the British jailers and know their callous penchant for bullying and brutality, can hardly sit indifferent to what is going on behind the walls. We were supposed to have sorted these matters out once and for all. If we don’t stop it then the value of our efforts so many years ago is called into question.

There is one way to protect the integrity of our own prison struggle. That is by extending the benefits it produced to the prisoners who followed in our footsteps. Maghaberry’s brutal screws must be stopped in their tracks. Nothing less will do

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Statement From The Concerned Families and Friends of Maghaberry POWs

The Concerned Families and Friends of Maghaberry prisoners note with dismay the continuing deterioration of conditions in Maghaberry prison. On Thursday 6th May Harry Fitzsimmons was forcibly removed from his cell and placed in isolation. During this process the screws beat Harry.

• We demand the immediate removal of Harry Fitzsimmons from the isolation unit and his return to the main wing with the rest of his friends.

• We demand immediate medical attention for Harry and express our concern at the manner in which he was removed from his cell and beaten by screws.

• We demand the immediate reinstatement of the humane and safe living conditions within the prison regime which were implemented following the tragic hunger strikes of 1981.

• We demand the immediate end to controlled movement which is being used by the screws to isolate and intimidate prisoners.

• We demand the immediate end of degrading and humiliating strip searches.

• We demand the end of the free rein given to the POA in reversing the gains of 1981 and their determination to implement a regime based on brutality and sectarian bigotry.

• We demand an answer from the Minister for Justice: who ordered the beating of Harry Fitzsimmons and who will be held responsible for it? The Justice Minister or the sectarian cavemen of the POA?

Maghaberry prison is a prison not fit for purpose; prison is a place of denial of liberty, it is not a sadistic toy to be utilised as a centre of brutality and psychological terrorisation where defenceless prisoners are subjected to the degradations of the hostage, as in Maghaberry today. We will not stand by and allow this draconian regime to continue unchallenged in Maghaberry prison. These prisoners are human beings and as entitled to protections under human rights legislation as any of us.

The situation in the prison could be remedied quite rapidly with no loss of face on either side given that the prisoners are not asking for new demands or new mechanisms which have not previously been granted, and could quite easily be reintroduced.

Responding to Justice Minister David Ford’s accusation the prisoners are responsible for their own predicament and trying to move backwards in time, the Concerned Families and Relatives said:

"We reject totally David Ford’s assertion our friends and relatives are orchestrating this in any way. The only people seeking to draw us back in time is the prison regime and their masters in Stormont; it is they who have removed the safeguards and mechanisms put in place after the Hunger Strikes and precipitated this crisis."

"We are further dismayed that David Ford would make such pronouncements without first ascertaining all the facts. To date neither David Ford nor any of his staff has contacted us or the prisoners: just the POA."

"We reject further and totally the implication that we are in any way trying to bring us back to the past or that we have any association with violence."

"We are concerned friends and relatives of Irish Republican prisoners being brutalised in a British prison under David Ford’s control and we would welcome an opportunity to present the true picture of life in Maghaberry prison to David Ford. "

Friday, 7 May 2010

Brutality in Maghaberry Continues

Yesterday a Republican POW was beaten and dragged from his cell by several thugs in riot gear. This happened after the riot squad had entered the POWs cells and stole personal belongings. Obviously the POWs objected to this and as a result one was attacked.

The POW in question had voiced his concerns to the screws through a locked door, the screws decided that was a good enough reason to dish out a vicious beating.

The POW was stripped and forcefully taken to the punishment block were he was thrown into an empty cell naked.

The situation and conditions in Maghaberry are appalling at this stage, the POWs don't get fed on a daily basis nor can they get washed on a daily basis, none of the POWs have been able to shave in over 6 weeks!! These are basic human rights and they are being denied by a corrupt force.

The victim of this assault has been to the fore in the protests within the prison and this has no sign of ending anytime soon. His comrades are reported to have wrecked their cells in protest at this assault.

Nothing will be reported in the media about this so the majority of people out there will never hear about the situation in the gaol, its up to the Republican people on the outside to highlight this.

And modern day sticks destroying POW banners and painting out slogans aren't helping matters either, those cowards must and will be faced down!

Thursday, 6 May 2010

POW Banner Destroyed and Slogans Removed by Cowards!

The following leaflet was passed onto me by a Comrade from Camloch, South Armagh. It was distributed to homes in the Camloch area last night. It explains how a banner in support of the POWs was torn down by cowards. Its a disgusting act but not surprising.

One thing thats clear is that the banner contained the message "END THE CRIMINALISATION OF REPUBLICAN POWs", obviously those who tore it down disagree with that message, if that is the case then that can only mean one thing, they must support the criminalisation of Republican POWs.

I was also told that last night slogans in support of the POWs were painted in the village, the slogans contained the message SUPPORT THE POWs and WHAT DID TEN MEN DIE FOR? These were removed before 9 Óclock this morning.

Bobby And His Comrades Would Be Turning

Those responsible for these cowardly acts are doing what the sticks done in the 80s, that sums it up for me!

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Bobby Sands

9 March 1954 – 5 May 1981

I too am a political prisoner, a freedom fighter. Like the lark, I too have fought for my freedom, not only in captivity, where I now languish, but also while on the outside, where my country is held captive. I have been captured and imprisoned, but, like the lark, I too have seen the outside of the wire cage.

I am now in H-Block, where I refuse to change to suit the people who oppress, torture and imprison me, and who wish to dehumanize me. Like the lark I need no changing. It is my political ideology and principles that my captors wish to change. They have suppressed my body and attacked my dignity.

If I were an ordinary prisoner they would pay little, if any, attention to me, knowing that I would conform to their insitutional whims. I have lost over two years' remission. I care not. I have been stripped of my clothes and locked in a dirty, empty cell, where I have been starved, beaten, and tortured, and like the lark I fear I may eventually be murdered.

But, dare I say it, similar to my little firend, I have the spirit of freedom that cannot be quenched by even the most horrendous treatment. Of course I can be murdered, but while I remain alive, I remain what I am, a political prisoner of war, and no one can change that.

éirígí: Support Grows for Republican Prisoners

Over 150 people gathered on the Falls Road on Monday [May 3] to show their support for the republican prisoners in Maghaberry Jail.

The picket, which was timed to coincide with the west Belfast route of the Belfast Marathon was attended by the family and friends of prisoners, former POWs, blanketmen and hunger-strikers, as well as éirígí activists and other republicans.

Support has been growing for the republican prisoners in Maghaberry since they staged an occupation on Easter Sunday in protest against the conditions they are forced to endure.

The two simple, reasonable demands of the prisoners and the campaign on the outside are:

1.Free association for all republican prisoners.

2.An end to degrading strip searches.

éirígí general secretary Breandán Mac Cionnaith said: “The demands of the republican prisoners in Maghaberry are in no way unreasonable or unrealistic, they are simply asking to be treated with dignity and respect.

“The conflict in Maghaberry can be resolved quite easily: restore the political status to which republican prisoners were previously entitled.”

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Thousands Remember the Hunger Strikers

On Sunday thousands of Irish Republicans came together to commemorate the memory of the 22 Republican hungerstrikers who gave their lives.

Several flute bands also took part including the Naomh Pádraig Independent Flute Band from Kilkeel, St Pats Independent RFB from Hamilton, Scotland, Carrickhill Independent RFB from Belfast and the Pride of Eireann RFB from Portadown.

The parade was twice attacked by loyalists in the city centre and then at Millfield, but this did not deter the Republicans from commemorating their fallen comrades.

When the parade reached Dunville park on the Falls Rd, the names of the 22 hunger strikers were read out and white doves were released, that was followed by Amhrán na bhFiann. This was a non-party political event and no political speeches were made.

There was a massive presence of heavily armed riot clad members of  the British Militia for the duration of the commemoration, there were also dozens of armoured landrovers and a helicopter which flew extremely low over the commemoration almost drowning out the noise of the flute bands.

The Carrickhill band then made their way home just like they have done many times over the years, but this time they were faced with a crowd of 200 loyalist bigots. The loyalists once again attacked the commemoration and those taking part in it. Bricks, bottles and lumps of concrete rained down on the marchers, this resulted in a few minor injuries with 1 band member being hospitalised, thankfully and to their credit the marchers remained peaceful and dignified.

This was the first Independent Hungerstrike commemoration and was a very successful event which is proven by the large numbers that attended.

Fair play to the organisers of this event, Its clear that Republicanism is constantly growing and people are once again taking to the streets

Monday, 3 May 2010

Large Attendance at POW Marathon Picket

Over 150 Republicans participated in a picket in support of Republican POWs during the Belfast marathon. The picket took place on the Falls road and was seen by thousands of people many of which greeted us with messages of support for the POWs.

There was a large heavily armed RUC presence around the picket with armoured landrovers lined along the Falls Rd and at each end of the picket. The RUC also kept the picket under constant surveillance with the entire event being videoed.

This very successful event is just one of many that has taken place in recent weeks to highlight the plight Republican POWs have to endure in Maghaberry.

Whilst other people (with short memories) remain silent on the issue, Irish Republicans are taking to the streets demanding that our POWs are treated for what they are, political prisoners.