IRSP-ALBA would like to voice its solidarity with the political prisoners in Maghaberry and Portlaoise. We totally condemn the treatment of the republican prisoners in Maghaberry which has been reduced a torture chamber since the refusal of the Prison administration to implement the August agreement of 2010. Prisoners are routinely beaten and abused by the screws. A section of the prisoners are on protest in response to their inhumane treatment at the hands of the prison administration.
There is an obvious media ‘blackout’ in relation to the prisoners in Maghaberry, we would urge all groups and organisations to do all they can to raise awareness of the prisoners’ suffering. If the media do not give this issue coverage then republican socialists must become the prisoners’ media. John MacLean knew only too well the inhumane treatment dished out to him as a political prisoner in Peterhead in 1918. Given his experience and his unwavering solidarity with Irish revolutionaries, we are confident that were John MacLean alive today he would be to the forefront of the Maghaberry prisoners’ struggle.
IRSP-ALBA would like to make it perfectly clear that we support ALL the political prisoners in Maghaberry as they are all working class people who are driven by their political beliefs. As one Republican Socialist Movement ex-Maghaberry prisoner stated recently:
“All the POWs are on protest in some form and are to be commended let’s not get into making a difference again please, it is hard enough in there at the minute. Good luck to all the POWs”.
Disunity on the prison issue can only play into the hands of Minister of Justice David Ford and the Loyalist Prison Officers Association. The Republican Socialist Movement is well aware of the British government using the jails to break the spirit of republican prisoners. In 1981 three members of the RSM gave their lives on hunger strike for better prison conditions. It is a clear sign of how little progress has been made when political prisoners in Ireland are forced to resort to protest in 2011 when faced with draconian and degrading strip searches.
Although there are no RSM prisoners in Maghaberry the IRSP has consistently been involved in the struggle within the Prison and has supported several demonstrations and pickets throughout this year which were held to highlight the on-going situation in Maghaberry. The prisoners’ demands are basic human rights:
1. End strip searches
2. Free Association
These issues were covered in the August agreement in 2010 which facilitated the use of an electric Boss chair which would scan the prisoners, therefore removing the need for degrading strip searches. Prisoners who refuse to comply with strip-searches have been savagely beaten by special prison riot squads. Free association was also guaranteed but the prison administration has reneged on these promises.
Everyone should be behind the republican prisoners no matter which shade of republicanism you belong to. It is a basic tenet of humanity that prisoners be treated with dignity. The only motive behind the disgusting degradation in Maghaberry is naked bigotry. Our comrades gave their lives in 1981 for better conditions and we will continue to fight for the prisoners on the outside. To do anything less would be to disgrace the memory of those who laid down their lives for their friends. As Patsy O’Hara said “Let the fight go on!”