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.