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. "

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