Dissident Republicans on dirty protest challenge Maghaberry move to prevent legal and family visits

Two prisoners involved in a “dirty protest” at Maghaberry Jail have won High Court permission to challenge the denial of legal and family visits. William Wong and Michael Johnston are seeking to judicially review the ban imposed by prison authorities, which includes phone calls and court visits.

Dissident republicans being held there have been staging a protest over conditions. Maghaberry authorities have stopped their access to visits due to health and safety concerns for staff, other inmates and the public.

Mr Johnston, 28, from the New Lodge area of north Belfast is on remand charged with possession of timer power units. Wong, 22, and formerly of Dalton Close, Armagh, was jailed earlier this month for a minimum of five years for having a pipe bomb.

Their lawyers claim the prohibition breaches their rights under the European Convention on Human Rights.

Tony McGleenan, for the Prison Service, contended that the situation was down to the protesters refusing to wash. He told the court: “The prisoners themselves can quite simply take a shower, change their clothes and they can have legal visits.”

With the legal challenge set to be reviewed again later this week, prison authorities are expected to examine what other steps can be taken. One possible method may involve installing a phone line to be used only by the protesters.

Ciaran Murphy - When I Get Out

Arms stretched wide in a passive way,
One more strip search to begin the day,
Pig thick warders carrying out the governors orders without question,
And it they feel so hard in their boiler suits,
Their foot long batons and their nazi boots,
And they tried to break me with their dirty looks,
But I’m not frightened,
It’s when I tell myself “You wont be here forever one fine day your going home”
And well beyond these walls, wires, mesh and cameras,
I’ll catch up with them alone.

But they stare me out like the living dead,
They let their sniffer dogs go through my bed,
And the governor jokes that they’ll be better fed, than any prisoner
They make their living making my life hell,
Don’t look for justice in a 9 foot cell
"Comply at once boy or we’ll hit the bell and you’ll be batoned"
But I still tell myself I wont be here forever, One fine day I’m going home,
And well beyond these walls, wires, mesh and cameras,
I’ll catch up with them alone.

I’ve got 5 years down and I’ve 1 to go,
And I’ve felt emotions that you’ll never know,
But depression passes and my anger grows with every minute,
And these hard men screws that control my life,
They searched my children and disgraced my wife,
They’re gonna have a run in with my Stanley knife,
When I’m a free man.

I’m gonna hunt them down for every single minute,
They’ll regret it wait and see,
Every smart remark and grim humiliation, every time they tortured me,
When the screw comes home from his local bar,
I’ll be waiting for him in a little car,
And I’ll put the right foot on it ,
and the fucker will hit the bonnet one screw over,
When he’s walking home from the greyhound track,
He’ll feel my hammer bouncing off his back,
And that grim frustration that I felt in Isolation will be settled,
So I tell myself “You wont be here forever, one fine day your going home”
And well beyond these walls, wires, mesh and cameras,
I’ll catch up with them alone.

When the governors out in his Sunday best,
He’ll feel my Stanley knife across his chest,
And my ten hole DM Boots will do the rest,
Thats for Jimbo, (McDonald beaten to death by screws in HMP Maghaberry 1996)
When he turns the key to his private flat,
I’ll be waiting for him with my baseball bat,
And he’ll feel the anger of the dead still hanger he tormented
I used to tell myself don’t let them make you bitter,
Then they’ve got a hold on you,
But this country lets them get away with murder,
So murders what I’m going to do.

See I’ve watched brave men driven half insane,
As they left their children standing in the rain,
I heard young women screaming out in pain in isolation,
And I heard screws laugh as they cut the rope,
Of a young dead addict who gave up all hope,
Sure they only caught him with a lump of dope and took remission,
So I tell myself “You wont be here forever, one fine day your going home”
And well beyond these walls, wires, mesh and cameras,
I’ll catch up with them alone,

I used to tell myself don’t let them make you bitter,
Then they’ve got a hold on you,
But this country lets them get away with murder,
So murders what I’m going to do,
I’m gonna hunt them down for every single minute,
They’ll regret it wait and see,
Every smart remark and grim humiliation, every time they tortured me,
Every time they tortured me.


CONTINUITY IRA PRISONERS END DIRTY PROTEST IN MAGHABERRY - 2012 Article

Last week a significant number of the Irish political prisoners in the now notorious British-run Maghaberry Prison in the Occupied North of Ireland announced an end to their long-running “dirty protest”, a campaign to highlight the inhumane conditions they were being kept in. The prisoners were members of the Real Irish Republican Army or other unaligned Republican groups but are now attached to the “new” IRA, an amalgamation of several Republican Resistance organisations including the Real IRA and DAAD announced in July.

Speculation that the prisoners belonging to the Continuity Irish Republican Army, held on landing three of Roe House (or Roe 3) within the Maghaberry complex, would follow suit was confirmed with an announcement on Sunday:

“Statement from Continuity IRA POWs, Roe 3, Maghaberry Jail, Co Antrim:

After a long period of deliberation, it has been decided that we the Continuity Irish Republican Army POWs will suspend our current phase of protest from Monday November 26, 2012 in order to give the prison regime another opportunity to acknowledge and implement the agreement all parties signed up to in August 2010.

As Republicans we undertook the agreement in good faith and committed to honour it, and as Republicans, at no time did we break our word. After a period of six months it became increasingly clear that in the tradition of Perfidious Albion the British Government had reneged on their word to implement that solution and so we resumed our protest.

Now after 18 months of this second phase of protest, we believe that we have shown the prison regime our resolve and determination to oppose conditions not befitting Republican Prisoners of War. We also believe we can afford them the opportunity at this juncture to implement the agreement.

It is our hope that with this magnanimous gesture the prison regime will now honour their word. As Republicans we will not shirk our responsibility and we believe that it is now necessary for us to take this lead in bringing the agreement to its conclusion.

Like our Comrades on Roe 4 [the “new” IRA POWs], we assert that the resolving of this conflict lies squarely at the feet of David Ford [the regional northern justice minister from the Unionist Alliance Party] and the British Government, despite Ford’s assertion to the contrary.

Failure on the part of the British Government to implement the August 2010 Agreement in full, will result in a re-emergence of conflict in the Jail.

To all who have supported us up to this point, we ask for your continued support. We salute all people across the world who have worked on our behalf. We thank our families and our friends and CABHAIR [the Irish POW support organisation] who have given us unswerving support and assistance.

Signed O/C [Officer Commanding] Maghaberry Prison.”

The statement from the CIRA prisoners came as speculation mounts over behind-the-scenes negotiations between representatives of the Republican Resistance movements and the regional northern and British authorities via a number of intermediaries including some acting on behalf of the Government of Ireland.

Republican Sinn Féin president Des Dalton has been arrested in Lurgan, where shots have reportedly been fired and a number of cars hijacked and burnt out this evening.

Representatives of the group said Mr Dalton was detained as he made his way to a protest in Craigavon, over the condition of republican prisoners in Maghaberry.

A statement from the police said they have arrested two men - one aged 39 and another aged 30 - in connection with an illegal parade through the Lurgan in January.

Following news of Mr Dalton’s arrest, Republican Sinn Féin supporters mounted a new protest outside the police station where he’s being held in the Co Armagh town.

Josephine Hayden from RSF said the government has failed on promises to phase out strip-searching at jails.

"There was an agreement to phase out strip searches, but they’ve completely and utterly reneged on that, absolutely and completely."

It began with a security alert surrounding a suspicious vehicle at Lake Street, and has seen a number of cars burnt out and reports of shots being fired.

Two people, a 24-year-old man and a woman in her mid 20s, have been arrested for disorderly behaviour in connection with the destruction.

Upper Bann SDLP MLA Dolores Kelly has condemned those behind the violence.”Meanwhile we have received reports that gun shots have been fired and major disruption has been caused to people due to traffic diversions and the closure of the train line.

Meanwhile in Belfast, an earlier security alert outside Strandtown Police Station in the east of the city has been declared a hoax.

Police were investigating claims to a local newsroom that a bomb had been abandoned in the area. The alert is now over and the Holywood Road has been re-opened.

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