Attempts At Criminalisation To Be Fully Rejected

Sean Bresnahan, chairperson of the Thomas Ashe 1916 Society Omagh, hits out at proposals to end political segregation in Maghaberry.

In response to the motion before the British Assembly at Stormont by Doug Beattie of the Ulster Unionist Party, that the current system of separating republican prisoners from criminals at Maghaberry Gaol be brought to an end, the Thomas Ashe Society Omagh call for its complete rejection.

35 years on from the H-Block Hunger strikes, it seems that Britain and her local proxies have learned nothing – including, it would seem, those who rose to power on the backs of the Hunger strikers but now uphold the same occupation system that drove them to their deaths. Their feeble effort to introduce a mere amendment, as opposed to rejecting this reactionary policy shift outright, should be noted by all progressives. It does not disguise that they are now on the side of those who seek the oppression of political prisoners in Maghaberry.

We call not only for the rejection of the hypocritical scheming of Doug Beattie – himself a former servant of Britain’s criminal war machine – but likewise for an end to the repressive policies operated at Maghaberry by a reactionary prison regime, under the direction of British Intelligence, whose intent is the torture of republicans in its custody. Strip-search, controlled movement and lockdown are waged without relent in a direct challenge to their status as political prisoners, to their right to a dignified existence in accord with that status.

Republican prisoners are – and always have been – a product of the British occupation of Ireland, which remains ongoing. With that in mind, we demand that the rights of political prisoners in Maghaberry, as elsewhere, be upheld forthwith. We consider the long-overdue implementation of the August 2010 agreement, unilaterally shelved by the prison administration, as the means to resolve conditions within the gaol, providing a suitable environment for all as previously negotiated and agreed. This should proceed without delay.

Many contend we can judge society by the manner it treats the imprisoned. But should we apply that to our own society the conclusion would be inescapable: like Maghaberry, it is unfit for purpose. Maghaberry, then, is an indictment of modern Ireland and can no longer be swept under the carpet. Human rights must be universal and apply to all. Change, systemic and without excuse, must be the order of the day.

The Thomas Ashe Society demand that same change and extend solidarity to all republican political prisoners. We call on civil society in Ireland to join us in our demands and ensure a situation for too long ignored be given the attention it merits.

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Anthony McIntyre

Former IRA prisoner, spent 18 years in Long Kesh. Free Speech advocate, writer, historian, humanist, and researcher.

9 comments to ''Attempts At Criminalisation To Be Fully Rejected"

  1. Poking the political hornets nest ends in a sting for the poker ... after all these years and the fools still can't help themselves

  2. The sloppy seconds of a failed strategy.

  3. I remember reading an official report about the conditions in Maghaberry, where the cheif inspector describing the prison as being one of the most "dangerous" prisons he had been in and the conditions were described as "victorian". It's a terrible tragedy that this is the hidden world that people like SF have left behind in their pursuit for power and the coin. I may not agree with their political methods, but surely these people have rights too and deserve some level of visibility?

  4. Bloody daft by the UUP. Antagonism only breeds more animosity.

  5. After so many years of protest and death,how can SF remain so silent?

  6. Frankie Lanigan, SF hasnt been silent,MMG has already declared them traitors to the island.... etc and his comrades have helped put others in a grave.Havent you been listening?

  7. Does this proposal to criminalise all prisoners not fly in the face of certain aspects of the GFA that the UUP signed up to? Surely once bitten twice shy is applicable here.

  8. Niall, never thought of the GFA in reference to this. It's a valid and important point.

    If someone with the evil gumption of Thatcher couldn't criminalise Republicans I guess a twerp from the UUP has no chance.

    A danger these days is the anecdotal reports linking Republicans to illegal drugs. Selling, extorting etc.

    I don't know the full truth of it but I have heard reports, some on this site, some from Anthony himself on this site.

    I am in favour of legalising all drugs, education and for supply of harder drugs in a controlled, clinical setting. It would be safer for everyone.

    Until then drugs should be shunned as most suppliers care little for people's lives, health or the social impact. The supply of drugs is organised by gangsters. The profits are huge, particularly for harder drugs and guns are needed by gangsters to protect their market.

    Any involvement in the drug trade would criminalise Republicanism quicker than the ending of segregation.

    Association with a criminal market would criminalise your struggle notwithstanding the societal change in relation to the use of drugs. People's views are mellowing on drug use but remain hard on gangsters, profits and bulking up on drugs with poisons to allow these profits to be keener.

    It is one of the reasons Loyalism has lost so much support. Too many of their constituents have seen their loved ones die from the effects of drugs. The people are the sea in which the guerilla fish swim. So, if not for the pleas of peace-loving lapsed Republicans like myself do it for yourselves.

    Sinn Fein, on the immediate subject, should support the prisoners as they criticised the SDLP for lack of support for prisoners during the conflict and their lack of support is hypocritical. I guess they're afraid of giving legitimacy to today's Republicans but support will be more quickly lost from those who don't favour violence but who can see a just cause in keeping segregation and notice hypocrisy when they see it.


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