Challenge Maghaberry Injustice

Today the Pensive Quill carries a letter from Republican Network for Unity activist, Martin Óg Meehan

A Chara,

As a former political prisoner, I’d like to express my sadness at the current situation faced by republican prisoners in Maghaberry.

On Easter Sunday political prisoners in the gaol took part in a disciplined protest to highlight problems they were enduring. Ever since, republicans in Roe House have been denied proper medical, washing, association and exercise facilities. The refusal of these basic rights is another example of a vindictive prison regime. Who have been criticised in the past by the Human Rights Commission and Prisoner Ombudsman regarding serious irregularities and mismanagement.

The families and friends of republican prisoners are also subjected to long delays and oppressive searches from prison staff during visits to the prison. These negative activities are totally unacceptable and must end immediately.

Last week Harry Fitzsimmons was forcibly taken by the prison riot team to a solitary confinement block, where he suffered a number of injuries from screws who remain wedded to draconian measures and the failed policies of the 1970’s.

What the prisoners require is a reinstatement of the humane conditions which were implemented following the tragic hunger strikes of 1981, where human rights and entitlements are safeguarded. Without addressing these concerns properly, the situation will deteriorate further. Therefore, it is incumbent upon us all to challenge what passes for ‘justice’ in Maghaberry!


  1. Mairtin Og,

    keep highlighting the issue wherever you go.

  2. Martin
    I am glad that you are using your experience from being an ex prisoner to highlight the plight of other prisoners or maybe its only those with republican backgrounds maybe you could be more clearer about same , no human being should be subject to that type of barbaric treatment, but and it’s a big but is it a bit like the pot calling the kettle black ass when the same Harry Fitzsimmons was in the process of dishing out his own form Provo treatment to a dissident republican whatever that is and now he is complaining that someone is doing same to him. Maybe Harry should have thought long and hard about breaking the laws of the land that the organisation he belongs too is now controlling. Seems to me he should be writing to his MP complaining about the mistreatment HMP are handing out , but then I have just remembered his MP for West Belfast has never heard of the Provo’s ,or maybe drop a line to the all new and improved PSNI that everyone loves. What a complicated world some people chose. As a matter of fact which group does Harry now show his allegiance too is it The Provo’s, Real IRA, Continuity IRA, or The IRA, it must be really difficult to pick out the good guys from the bad
    This piece may sound cynical and possibly it is but when reading your article Martin I try to be objective, now for someone like Harry Fitzsimmons to be complaining against a system which he was prepared to beat a man senseless for objecting to, I really find it difficult to take him serious, It smacks of the same complaint the UVF,UDA,LVF and co were making for years in that “why are they locking me up when I was fighting for Queen and country “sorry that’s my view and may offend but such is life.

    Please keep on campaigning maybe you can persuade the MP out of West Belfast that a republican is being abused by HMP

  3. The english thought mind runs through your post, if Fitz can beat someone up then it's ok for a group of screws to beat up on him...... Sorry but I can't take you serious.
    This POW is a human being....... No one has a right to beat up on him or his comrades. It makes me angry,it makes me cry, and it makes me want to seek vengence. AND SO IT DAM WELL GOES. If the english removed their fat ass's from Ireland there would be no POWs and no one would be hurt any where in Ireland or england.
    We must fight the injustice in Mag as one day it could be one of us in there being beat to a pulp. And don't think if you are crime free you are safe, to these pigs who imprison our sons, imprison anybody who disagrees with them.

  4. Margaret
    The English theme couldn’t be further from my mind, as I have always and as I always will abhor and condemn violence being used on another human. What troubles me about the Harry Fitzsimmons case why or what is the problem. This man was convicted of carrying out an operation on behalf of the Provo’s , the same organisation that give up its weapons went into a British government as a Political Party and then shut its whole army down , now I have never heard a word from them condemning this barbaric treatment meted out by HMP. Has the now Sinn Fein party condemned this man to be a traitor same as other republicans have been called .If I read your reply properly that we should treat all prisoners the same then I have a problem because now I have to support a man convicting of carrying out a crime against the Irish people by the British
    Sorry but I think it’s a bit early in the Good Friday Agreement for us to give complete and undying support to the British
    This post does not mean to cause offence but more to look for answers is Harry Fitzsimons being treated in this barbaric way because he is republican or because he supports all thing British

  5. Helen,

    your comment came through but I held off on publishing on the grounds that some of the people to be written to have moved off the scene due to the change of government. I suggest you reword and then send it in as an article


  6. Duleek Independent Republicans and Duleek 1916-1981 Monument Committee call on all members of the public to support the return of poliotical status to republican prisoners in Maghaberry Prison. This is a right won by Bobby Sands and his nine comrades who sacrificed their lives for in 1981.

  7. Interested,

    Seems, like Ewok earlier, you are allowing the issue to stand or fall around Harry Fitz. It has to be wider than that.

    Position is: there are a number of republicans being beaten by screws and a lot more being subject to a punitive regime. Where has it been said that Harry Fitz has complained? People have complained on his behalf. Are they wrong to do so? Is he to be excluded from whatever protections are afforded to prisoners because he is doing time for a Provisional IRA operation? Even if he does complain is it to be ignored? The criticisms you wish to make of him for his involvement in the Tohill operation may well be justified to the hilt but should they be allowed to pollute this issue of prisoners being abused by screws? I think this is what makes comments like Mag’s so angry in tone.

  8. AM
    If you read both of my posts they start off with the same tread that is no human being should be treated in an inhumane barbaric way and that all forms of mistreatment towards anyone held in HMP or in any government run prison across the world should be ill-treated, my view being that they have been caught charged and incarcerated and from that moment on should be treated properly. I do not believe Harry Fitzsimmons should be cruelly beaten or mistreated but merely once again asking the Sinn Fein/IRA leaders to come out and defend their own, has this man been abandoned because he reverted to type while in jail, do the Provo leaders also agree he should conform and then stand up and salute people who didn’t people like the poor dead republican whom put these now powerful bastards in the place were according to them is where they wanted to be. Maybe thru this haze of confusion that is in front of me can someone give an accurate answer as to whether Harry is supportive of stormont or is now a POW?

  9. Interested,

    I did read both your posts, noticed what you said at the start and then followed your line of reasoning throughout which led me to conclude that your post was adhering to the letter but not the spirit. Moreover, the emphasis was less on challenging the Provisional leadership but more on challenging Harry Fitz.

    Criticising Harry Fitz is fine if that is what you want to do but it strikes me that it is hardly the issue at hand.

    Is he a supporter of Stormont? I don’t know. He stayed with them long after they went in to it so I presume he is. But again it has absolutely no bearing on the question of him being beaten. Is he a POW? It is hard to be a POW when there is no war on. Is he a criminal? No. Was the attack on Tohill an issue of self gain? No. Is he a political prisoner? Yes. He is in there because of the political conflict in the North.

    I have no doubt that the questions that perplex you have perplexed us all. And the issues you raise make for interesting reading and they provoke reflection. However, at this point they don’t add to our understanding of the brutalising of prisoners.

  10. If the men in portlaoise accepted Harry Fitz, and Mr Tohill (the victim) pleaded for leniancy on his behalf, and the men in maghaberry accepted him, it seems that Mr Fitz has become another one of the disciples who have just realised that the "emporer has no clothes".
    And that can only be a good thing.I hope the current protest can get a result. The prison issue has been allowed to lapse from view for too long ,and given the crown forces the confidence to inflict such brutality without any comeback
    Any idea why Liam Hannaways hunger strike is not getting more coverage ?.It seems to be getting very serious.

  11. AM
    Once again I reiterate what I said in earlier posts, inhumane treatment against anyone locked up for whatever reason is wrong. Why I am constantly referring to Harry Fitz is that we have all been led up the garden path into being better British citizens by the Provo movement of 30 plus years.
    Now here we have a Provo complaining against his own system but seems reluctant to condemn the people whom put him there.
    I utterly condemn his mistreatment but surely no one expects me to follow blindly as I had being asked to do for 30 years, following blindly only gets a more British than Finchley.

  12. Interested,

    Yes, you oppose beating prisoners. That much is clear. But you seem to be shifting your argument post by post. Your position seems more concerned with the perspective of Harry Fitz and less the brutality against him. Yes you have covered your bases by stating your opposition to him being beaten and then you move on to press what seems to be the real thrust - Harry Fitz’s inconsistency. Who has asked you to follow blindly? Those of us who think Harry Fitz's predicament needs prioritized more than the inconsistency of his political position are hardly following blindly.

  13. AM
    Point taken and I do hope your voice is heard as well as others

  14. Interested,

    I have taken your own point on board and do not seek to relegate your argument, merely to relocate it. These things are all worthy of further discussion. Keep pitching.

  15. Thomas,

    I think this is a key point often overlooked. Bobby and those with him just didn't die for a few years of political status to be conferred.