Friday, 6 August 2010
Maghaberry Talks Breakdown
After weeks of intensive lobbying from a wide variety of community, business, political and religious representatives, all seeking a satisfactory and humane resolution to the appalling conditions in Maghaberry Prison, a dialogue was commenced between prisoners and the prison administration on Friday 23rd July 2010.
This dialogue continued through to Friday 5th August when the British dug in and insisted they would not move on the core issues. Controlled movement coupled with strip searches are the main points of contention in the prisoners’ dispute with their captors.
Colin Duffy and Brendan Conway led the prisoners delegation in the talks; and the prison administration was represented by Austin Treacy, Gary McClean and Julie Wilson.
Commenting on these latest developments The Concerned Families and Friends Group said:
“The approach of the British representatives is disappointingly obstructive and reflective of past British bad faith towards prisoners. As some sort of spurious progressive move forward they offered to “suspend” strip searching until a review of its use is completed in a few weeks time. Then it’s back to strip searching.
If they can suspend it they can abolish it as there is no rational nor security justification for its use in today’s world. It is and remains a weapon of degradation and isolation employed exclusively to demean and debase prisoners.
The British are playing at brinkmanship, they have not engaged in good faith negotiations with the prisoners in Maghaberry and we note with despair the apparent unwillingness of the Stormont regime to intervene and remedy this issue in good faith coupled with their willingness to let this opportunity to resolve the problem of Maghaberry pass.
The prisoners presented the British with a set of proposals which are reasonable and non-threatening to anyone and which could be phased in over a period of time: for some reason the British have thrown this offer back in the prisoners’ faces.
All the prisoners are asking for is humane and dignified living conditions, this is not an insurmountable problem but it is one the political classes clearly don’t want to touch.”