Maghaberry And David Ford

David Ford went to Maghaberry to get his photograph taken in an empty cell. He spoke with none of the prisoners. He listened to none of the very serious complaints they have – Gerard Hodgins.

A number of years ago, in discussion with a former governor of a Scottish prison, he relayed a conversation that took place between him and a Glasgow prisoner during his time in charge at Peterhead Prison, notorious for its cages. The Glaswegian told him that the only difference between the two was 'your gang is bigger than mine.' This conversation came back to me on learning of the visit by British micro minister for Justice David Ford to Maghaberry Prison. What justice did he advance? Why did he even bother going there? He was photographed with the prison's best organised gang - the screws. The prisoners in Maghaberry may well be doing the public a service by keeping the screws off society’s streets but it comes at a considerable price as explained by Turloch McAllister who is serving a sentence for republican activity.

Regarding human rights, there is a lot of talk about a new dispensation and we are supposed to be ‘dripping’ in Human Rights legislation but I could not see any as I was being kicked in the face by the riot squad and forced, face first, onto a urine covered floor and told to strip naked or I’d get more of the same. All my clothes and footwear bar what I had on me have been taken from my cell and I am expected to believe that nobody knows what happened to them. These riot squad members wear no identification numbers.

According to one source the British official was escorted along the republican wing by around 20 screws. The wing had been cleaned in advance of his visit and he was invited to inspect an empty and undamaged cell where he was most unlikely to hear any complaints. Republican prisoners banging on the door - in the time honoured fashion of the blanket men anytime a British official ventured onto their wings – were ignored as the Minister for Justice strutted with the unjust. He left the prison without speaking to those who have complained most about it, conversing only with those against whom the complaints have been made.

As Ford was on his way into the jail accompanied by a number of officials and a sizeable PSNI presence, the father of a republican prisoner was on his way out having just visited his son. Jim McAllister noticed David Ford entering the prison by a different door. If Ford noticed Jim McAllister he made no attempt to speak with him; as indifferent to prisoners’ families as he was to the prisoners it would seem.

On a previous visit Jim McAllister noticed how his son’s left cheek and nose were badly discoloured. His son had also told him that his back and side were of a similar state. This was the result of a beating handed out by the thugs David Ford seemed so eager to be photographed with. Turloch McAllister later made the following comments:

We have been on protest here since Easter over degrading strip searches and over-zealous use of controlled movement which means that for one of us to move on the wing takes four or five screws. We are locked up twenty three hours a day. It would not take much goodwill on the prison services’ behalf to resolve this as we are prepared to meet anybody with a solution half way.

I am writing this note at two in the morning having just been wakened by screws making as much noise as possible and shining a lamp in my face. This happens to me and every other man here every couple of hours meaning that we are getting no proper sleep. A new form of human rights. Between beatings and lack of sleep I wonder is this the year 2010 or 1810.

As former republican prisoner and victim of screw violence, Gerard Hodgins said, David Ford ‘hiding behind a Prison Officers Association gang just to get his photograph taken on a republican wing is no substitute for engagement.’ Glad handing it with the thugs responsible for what happened to Turloch McAllister and his fellow republican prisoners combined with his earlier statement that the prisoners were only seeking publicity, engenders memories of old when screws were given government license to beat at will.

With so much political and media noise being made stressing the need to avoid any return to the bad old days, it is ironic that the Minister of Justice should remain silent in the company of those determined to take Northern society right back into the middle of its darkness.


  1. No need to worry. The prisoners no longer have any need to worry, Paul Maskey and the rest of the Sinn Fein delegation have the matter in hand.

    Well, according to the Andytown News (The bible of any dedicated republican)Sinn Fein will now do great things.

    Personally think, although I sincerely hope I am wrong that their whole visit was choreo
    graphed and stage managed.

    Why was their party leader not amongst them, if it was being taken so seriously?
    He was able to be photographed at the launch of the "Befrienders"
    a so called ex-prisoners group apparently dedicated to helping ex-conns cope, (twenty or thirty years too late but who's counting)
    He was also photographed at the launch of another new Irish Language initiative.
    Photographed at a day dedicated to the Black Taxis.
    Photographed with the arts minister and the deputy first minister.
    Yet he could not fit the prison in!

    Many of these prisoners are his constituents one is his cousin. Yet he could not take time out to go into the prison and fact find himself.

    He is the so called elected represenative for West Belfast.
    However, to date he has not uttered one word of condemnation via the media.

  2. "Minister for Justice strutted with the unjust" That will stay with me as will, "I wonder is this the year 2010 or 1810."

    I admired Gibney today for the first time in a long while over his article in the Irish news when he described the treatment of the men in Maghaberry as 2an appalling abuse of rights."

  3. Yeah Seamusin, must admit I was taken aback by that article, he refers to the prisoners as republican, the article kind left me wondering what the fuck the psf,ers are playing at, it was only a while ago Marty called them traitors, Gibney and Kelly, and the rest refered to them as micro groups,like Nuala I would have my doubts about the recent visit by the psf delegation to Maghaberry,although I believe that Mickey Culbert and Rarmond Mc Cartney would be disgusted at what they heard,I wonder what the man from god knows where ,ie, one Paul Maskey was doing there he seems to be popping up almost as much as the bearded one, mind you he has only been about for a few years so he is catching up,anyway this volte-face by Gibney must be seen as a recognition by the psf that they have underestimated the potential strength of the "dissident republican movement"and that the situation in Maghaberry has the potential to undremine their wishfull position as spokepersons for the Republican community,so after saying that it may well suit their interests to get onboard even belated as it is,this head of steam that is starting to build in our area,s has the potential to bring us all back to a very dark place, and just because a handfull of thugs have been given a nod and a wink ,to go back to doing what they know best ie,. beating the crap out of helpless prisoners , they may have felt that commemts by Mc Guinness,Adams and co meant they could have a free hand ,as for that other bearded one the micro minister of justice Ford,looks more like Moley mole from Deputy Dawg with those closed eyes of his he;ll do ok with the thugs in the p.o.a

  4. I too was surprised at Gibneys piece but, pardon me for being cynical, I can only guess that he's been given the go ahead to write this by our leader.

    Perhaps it's been wriiten as part of the hastily pulled together PR strategy to 'get behind the prisoners before people start remembering again'.

    Fionnuala, to be fair to our leader he has been rather busy with various photo opportunities and you really can't expect him to be as omnipresent as he'd like us to believe.

    Maybe his helicopter was grounded on the day of the Maghaberry visit?

  5. Belfast Bookworm:

    I agree that Gibney’s column and Sinn Féin’s news release yesterday are best seen as part of a PR campaign to “manage” the prison issue. Sinn Féin recognizes, and fears, that any popular mobilization around Maghaberry will only highlight the serious flaws in party thinking about the devolution of policing and justice.

  6. I think that the reality of the prison situation is that it suits psf to resolve the issue as it removes a rallying point from anti-GFA Republicans and gives PSF an opportunity to 'prove' their Republican credentials.

    Ironically a PSF-led victory on prisons would be a win for normalisation but could be turned to future Republican advantage if the strategic lessons are learned from it; namely the power of protest in forcing PSF to adhere to some semblance of Republican principles.

  7. Belfast Bookworm, I totally agree with you. I do not believe Jim Gibney would write anything that his boss would not approve of.
    We seen it with Robin Livingston a withdraw or die situation

    In relation to Micky Culbert, I don't believe for a second he would be overly concerned about prisoners. He has not done on iota for former prisoners, unless they can absolutely prove they follow a Sinn Fein agenda.
    I think it is an absolute disgrace that he has sat tight lipped for years about the plight of prisoners.
    He must be frightened that their fund holders will get a whiff of the trouble in the jail and start asking questions.
    Surprised, he even went in to be

    Why have they (Sinn Fein) not released a statement, to date?

    Oh forgot! Gerry had to run to Marty's birthday bash in Stormont.
    Then a pressing engagement with David Cameron.
    The Tories will not cut our funding until next year. Marty said we need to brace ourselves. (Let them eat cake as long as it isn't his, of course)
    A bit rich (pardon the pun) for a man who earns £73,000 as the deputy and 43,000 plus expenses as an MLA.

  8. Nuala could it be your just jealous your not invited to Mc Guinness,s parties , The invitation list would be worth seeing,of course the big bash at Stormont will be for the great and nogood, not to many cumman and election workers there of course, then closer to home the boys will lay on a humbler affair for Marty were countless opportunities to be photographed with the Stormont stooge will abound, then after implementing the savage cuts that will affect the working class of all shades ,Marty will fuck of to Dun na Gall for a spot of fishing and poetry writing,and as far as the prison crisis is concerned what crisis he,ll say David Ford has everything under control. Moley mole Ford has stated these so called beatings are just gentle boyish fun where the warders are try to encourage those lazy boys to move more quickly as there is so much to do and there and so little time . I also see that P.S.F LTD. have brought out their version of pork suasages,there,s a picture of the bearded one on the front holding one one a fork that he has just lifted of the bbq.then on the back it says prick with fork, cant argue with that!

  9. Marty why did you mention Micky Culbert? The mention of his name always upsets me.

    He will never deviate one inch from a Sinn Fein agenda.
    He is so typical of the arrogant, conceited and up their own backside people, that our now being presented to us as the new face of republicanism.

    When I was reading about the launch of their latest new clap trap the "befrienders".
    I could not help but think about Keiran Nugent, Brendan Hughes, Anne O Neill, Marie Dillon. Where was the help for those people?
    Funding pouring into their money grabbing coffers from everywhere and none of these people ever got an acknowlegement. And I know for a fact, Culbert knew about the dire situations two of these people were in.

    I even wrote and told them, that prisoners could not get jobs, get house insurance,sickness insurance and still had travel restrictions and the rest.
    However people like himself, Walsh, Mc Conville and the rest seem to be a job rotation scheme. (at least four each) Isn't it just a pity the revolution they involved themselves in had not been the French one.

    To be honest I do not believe one member of that delegation will utter anything other than the party line.

  10. why has the pensive quill been so surprisingly quiet on the liam hannaway issue?the man is nearing death .

  11. Nuala hon I am sorry to offend you and mo gra thats the last thing I would want to do, I know how right you are re Mickey Culbert as a "befriender" to ex prisoners,Marie has requested assistance from him on a few occasions and not as much as a reply,he actually told her on one visit that their funding was really tight.when I have seen wasters in this area were given funds to have a bus run and weekend at Leo,s pub in Dun Na Gall and again very few ex prisioners in the area were told about it, I have heard numerous such stories all over Belfast and futher, I was hoping that Mickey and Raymond would have a conscience trip re that visit but I suppose that may be like asking the priests to stop screwing kids.I know the decent people you mentioned some who sadly are no longer with us deserved all the help that was within their gift to give and were so badly let down, so to does every republican in the country wheter they wish to believe it or not ,if they do a Nero or Pontius Pilate on these men and the present situation deteriorates which is highly likely,Mickey Culbert and co could find themselves taking the rap from the republican family as you can be sure Adams will deny any responsibility,

  12. Nuala ask "our"Albert to check out the comments at Brian Mors last pic please xx.ahem the xs were for Anthony

  13. ewok, there appears to be a wall of silence in relation to Liam.
    His cousin, my friend rings me regular from Donegal to get reports about him.
    I think people are quiet because they don't really know much about what is actually happening. I only hear when I meet his brother.
    I honestly do not believe people are ignoring his plight. I for one have known his family all my life so obviously I would be concerned.
    His hungerstrike is clearly being played down by the media.
    I know the Sinn Fein delegation actually met with him. Why are they not commenting on his plight?
    Gerry Adams is his cousin!

    Ewok, this is just a personal interpretation. Not speaking or presuming to speak on behalf of "The Pensive Quill"

  14. ewok, a cara if there seems to be little said re Liam Hannaway it may be that I for one am looking at the Maghaberry situation in the whole rather than at individual prisoners,I agree that Liam Hannaway,s deteriorating condition is of grave concern to anyone and everyone who cares about the plight of this man and the other prisioners, as Nuala has stated his cousin Gerry Adams psf president has remained deafingly quiet about his family member and his other comrade Harry Fitzimons. I know I speak for all republicans who visit this blog when I say that we all want this awful situation in Maghaberry ended with dignity for the prisoners asap

  15. Ewok,

    TPQ cannot cover everything. There is a range of issue it would like to address but cannot do so for reasons of time mostly. You are of course welcome to drop your anonymity and pen a piece on the Liam Hannaway situation. That way it would be certain to get out. But you might be like most of us and have access to little in the way of information about him. I have made attempts over the past few days to get detail but have managed to access very little. American friends have also been in touch with me trying to access some information. I presume most subscribers to TPQ will agree when I say that Liam Hannaway should be treated justly and in no other fashion. Problem is no one seems to know for certain what his hunger strike is about. It is certainly something that needs to be moved on very quickly.

  16. Mackers, heard initially that Liam was on hungerstrike because he was being segregated from other republican prisoners. His younger brother told me, that Liam had been placed on a wing with sex offenders and other low lifes.
    The prison line on this was, that he, Liam was being held on that wing for his own protection!
    Apparently, they were saying, Liam was under death threat from former comrades in the gaol?

    Last week I was told that his hungerstrike was in fact related to the conditions in the gaol.
    In truth it is probably a combination of many factors.
    What is disturbing about it however, is the lack of information surrounding his fast.

    Many members of his own family are not even sure about what is going on!
    I know this to be true because I know the family very well.
    A distant relative of his actually phoned a friend of mine to ask whether or not he was still on his fast.

    Obviously there are people who know.
    As I said earlier the Sinn Fein delegation could have certainly shed some light on the predicament.

    I am sure the republican MP, Mr Adams could more than hazard a guess as to what is happening!
    Unfortunately the people best placed to generate the knowledge appear to be remaining silent, or in the latters case too busy partying.

  17. Marty,
    Just one last comment before I open my wine!
    I know countless prisoners who had disasterous experiences with Coiste. I mean absolutely humiliating, people who would never ask for anything until desperation set in and they were left scundered!
    In fact it was a comment about Coiste that got me barred of Leargas. I told big Gerry that the only people they ever helped was themselves.
    I actually know a few very decent people who work there however,it is essentially run by and for "mainstream" republicans.

    If Mr and Mrs McIntyre will be so kind, could I just add. (hogging the blog)
    They are looking for workers to become part of the befrienders team. Criteria you must have experienced the problems you are dealing with at the "coal face."
    Eg. you must have been into drugs, drink or the other vices!
    You must be a republican, it is essential you be a republican!
    This is serious!
    So I sneaked onto the blog incognito and asked Big G, "Did this apply to the Doctors, Psychiatrists and Psychologists and Nurses who are involved?
    Chased again.

  18. ff.s Nuala there,s an old saying many a man has cut a stick to beat himself,why bother hon,sounds more like a branch or mfi oops mi5 recuitment drive{probably is}that old indian in Josie Wales got it right when he said "dont piss down my back and tell me its raining",they said Josie was the last holdout, bullshit there,s loads of us,and believe it or not we are getting bigger in number by the day,I heard an American tourist in a hot air ballon was lost over Andytown,lookin down he saw Bob doh brains cleaning the bugs of Gerry Itwasntme,s car,and believe me there was more bugs than you could imagine,anyway hon he shout down "where am I?"Bob doh brains looks up and shouts"you cant fool me ya f@@ker I know your in that basket" enjoy yer Semillon Chardonnay and I,ll send "our"Albert down a bottle of Maines cloudy lime

  19. Ewok,

    it's difficult for anyone to formulate any sort of argument on the why's and what fors of this situation as there is so little information available to us.

    For most though, I'd say the fact that these prisoners appear to have lost any rights secured for POW's after the last hunger strike is what's not only angering people who remember this but frightening them too. What people may finally be waking up to is that those rights were done away with the signing of the GFA.

    I can't see SF using any political sway or influence to help these prisoners. To them, they're counter-revolutionaries who deserve all they get. SF just won't say that aloud.

  20. Nuala,you must have been into drugs,drink ,or the other vices,what the f##k is the other vices hon? is this a call up for Liam boy to come home and continue his good work?

  21. Gav,

    whatever their reasons they are strategic about it. As soon as it is to their advantage to hold pro-POA marches watch the crowd flocking down the Falls cheering the revolutionary governors. If marches are not banned altogether by then that is.

  22. It's good to see SF giving their support to the POWs, even if that support was late, and somewhat begrudgingly. Most shrewd observers will see it as a testament to the support the POWs have now marshalled in nationalists' areas, and that SF were eventually galvanized into 'action'. My only concern is what on earth is the ubiquitous Paul Maskey doing there? What would he know about the plight of prisoners? Surely Kelly and co should have at least shown their faces at the gates?

  23. Marty, don't know what the other vices are, Gerry did not elaborate.
    Only know the criteria is, you have had to have been at the "coal face"
    and you must be a "republican".

    I just wanted him ask, if the essential criteria only applied to us little people or did it apply to the professionals they have on board?

    I then told him, I thought it was all a bit menacing, not just the title which they hijacked from the international "Befrienders.
    But the line up from the "coal face"
    Put it this way if you were depressed and you seen them coming, you would be straight out onto the ledge. And not just any old ledge you would make sure you were at least twenty stories up.

  24. I take it then Nuala that Adams himself will have nothing to do with the "befrienders" as the man has said himself,(I use the term man loosley)that he never was in anything and therefore could,nt have any coalface experience, as for being a republican ,fucking dont make me laugh I,m holding a mug of tea, Stormont stooge yes rep na!he could of course give hints on eating the alter rails, lying with a straight face, and licking brit ass.still waiting to hear from him and his cronies about Liam Hannaway and the other men in Maghaberry

  25. Excuse me Anthony I meant to say in my last post, that Adams has been such a sweet boy all his life,he wouldnt have any experience of drink or drugs so therefore he,d be useless at the coalface, and if I saw his mates coming up my path I wouldnt wait to find out what help they were gonna offer me, I like my bones just the way they are I,d run like fuck

  26. Mackers: I agree that the PSF position is purely strategic and ultimately geared towards harnessing and controlling any momentum derived from the prison protest. Gibney's article displays the essence of this where he criticises the abuses and manipulation of the system by staff on the one hand and praises the receptiveness of the prison management on the other. It's obvious that any efforts on their part will be from within the system and any progress will be at the whim of the system. It will be interested to see whether sense, malice or indifference will prevail.

  27. Very informative piece Mackers. By any standards, relentless strip searching, 23 hour lock-up, and excessively intensive controlled movement is an oppressive regime when endured every day in such a confined space. The British prison 'service' in Ireland is probably once of the most reactionary elements left of the system. This type of treatment would probably stir a protest from prisoners convicted of social crimes, never mind from political prisoners who should be granted more political conditions in my view.

    I think the protest outside the prison and the various white-line pickets have helped to highlight the problem, and a lot of people are certainly aware of 'something not being right', and it is now a topic of discussion in local communities.

    It remains to be seen whether that can be channelled into an effective campaign to resolve the matter and restore dignity, space and basic human rights to republican political prisoners. Maybe the recent publicity on its own might be enough to trigger a resolution, although this might be a bit over-optimistic given that, as you pointed out, the local British Justice Minister didn't even meet with the people most affected by the regime. He only met the regime.

    As regards PSF involvement and their motives; the motives don't really matter. What matters is that the issue gets resolved. During the hungerstrikes we may have been suspicious of many of those involved from different political backgrounds, but all efforts were made to gather as much support as possible from as many sources as possible.

  28. Sean, disagree with you that Sinn Fein's motives are unimportant.
    Considering motives are usually the driving force that dictates action. I think their motives for going into the prison are extremely important.

    If their motives were superficial or half baked. Well then, it would follow that any actions produced will also be superficial and half baked.

    However, if their motives for going in to the prison were out of genuine concern for prisoners then, the end result should be very productive.

    Since they went in there has been no statement from themselves or their party leader!
    Which leaves us all wondering about their motives!

  29. Fionnuala, you're right, it was probably wrong of me to suggest that PSF motives don't really matter. Motives may effect outcome, so they are important to a certain extent.

    At the same time, I do feel that some people are excessively fixated with PSF motives...

    The important thing is the prisoners, their protest, and the improvement of their conditions...

  30. Hedgeing their bets Nuala, or waiting to see which wy the wind blows, they are politicos after all

  31. Nuala,

    Micky bought me and Tommy Gorman a pint one night! Regardless of the politics and the shortcomings I have always liked him.

  32. Mackers,
    Albert has always said good about him. (apart from the arrogant bit) However I know people who went to one of the meeting he held. These women went with purely altrustic intentions, seeking help for other ex-prisoners, they said he spoke to them like dirt.

    Regarding yourself and Tommy I would guess he would know better.
    I just think, he is like the rest of the shinners self seeking and self serving.

    If I am wrong about him Mackers, I will profusely apologise!
    In public on "The Pensive Quill"

  33. thanks to all who answered,sorry if it came across as though i was saying you were ignoring it,i know you were'nt,its a very sad situation indeed,not sure dropping my anonymity would matter much,im an independent republican from cork just quite concerned about it is all, i looked it up as much as i could,seems he's on hunger strike in the same manner as gary donnelly was,i would imagine the screws are playing it up because he's a cousin of adams,by that i mean they would easily let the man die,i rekon there is a despicable breed of screws running that prison right now.on one blog there was a lot of talk about expulsion from the 'contos' that he had no support from them,but others seemed to think he would be welcomed onto 'roe house'i believe his hunger strike is definetly against the conditions he's being held in,similar to that of the man who committed suicide awhile back(which was apparently the source of the 'industrial dispute'between screws and management),anyway i hope the man doesnt die,whatever his situation,republican intricacies aside he's part of the same struggle thomas ashe was.tha struggle goes on.

  34. Ewok, I think you are right for flagging the issue up. And the suggestion that you drop anonymity is merely to allow you the facility to put something out there. I think comments without an ID are alright although I never prefer the use of anonymity. But I feel for a piece to go out it would have to be without anonymity. The situation Liam Hannaway finds himself in deserves wider discussion.

  35. Am,when i posted for the first time,it just automatically chose the name ewok,im not hiding,my name is suggested writing a 'piece' im not really the article writing type. ya i believe the hannaway issue needs a lot of discussion.if the man dies we'll all be discussing it. i believe the various republican groups have been caught off guard and have so far offered a poor response to the crisis in terms of all the prisoners,we dont even hear much of michael campbell anymore,i think he's still captive in a lithuanian shit hole.why there cant be a united prisoners movement at least is sadening,as an independent im not sure who to turn too,there was a demo in cork last week for the prisoners,32csm,rsf had banners etc,there has been a split recently in rsf,the limerick and mallow branches left en masse apparently over what i dont know. as an independent i'd love to row in behind the prisoners but others have expressed the view that some groups wouldnt be happy with non aligned people speaking for their prisoners,what a sad state of afairs indeed.i believe the way the screws are treating the boys is part of a wider campaign against 'the dissidents',i think they are testing the resolve of this generation of prisoners,and republicans in general.not sure if generation is right word there but you know what i mean.

  36. whats the story with the bin by my comment,is that a hint?

  37. Ewok,
    Love the name ewok. Is it after those little furry ewoks out of Star Wars?

    I remember a few years ago Tommy Mc Kearney calling or rather suggesting that what was needed was one "viable opposition to Sinn Fein"
    Unfortunately as you say republicanism is splintered into so many factions.

    Someone recently wrote in the paper they felt prisoners were being let down by Coiste. They suggested that, there should be one independent prisoners group.
    If one were to emerge now, it would be perfectly timed.

  38. ewok them bins bin hunting me from the start Nuala said Im paranoid and Anthony said it was bin Laden, Nuala calls for a viable alternative to psf, how about Lady ga ga

  39. yes im a furry little ewok!

  40. 6FT 5, Nuala and built like a brick shit house, or dunny as"our" Mary the hedgehog would say,the only furry thing about ewok is the stuff he chucks up when the Guinness has been off I bet

  41. Marty, you are sort of lowering the tone coming out with stuff like this.
    Have people like Mick Hall not taught you any decorum?
    How come you never get told off by the blog master?

  42. Big brown envelopes Nuala big brown envelopes

  43. Marty, Albert said the same thing?

  44. Nuala,

    This unfortunately is the problem. Micky nor any of them will deviate from the line one bit. No matter how much we might like them on a personal level – and I have always liked him and Raymond and Jim Gibney – when it comes to politics they will stick to the line no matter what it is.

  45. Nuala,

    you underlined the problem in one - total lack of information. If you could not get to the bottom of the hunger strike issue, and you know Liam's family, what chance had others? It is over now but the situation should not be allowed to develop where prison management forces him to decide that he has no option but to pursue similar action.

    Sam, I agree that SF support should be welcomed rather than snubbed. If you rely on the support of the pure at heart alone you will stand alone without much backing. I think a discussion of SF’s motives would be useful but getting support rather than rejecting it is more important to the prisoners position.

  46. Ewok,

    I am not sure how the bin appears. Nuala asked about it too so I guess it is there at times and other times not.Its function is to allow you to delete your own comment. It is the only comment you can delete. You can't delete anybody elses.

  47. Seán Mór,

    Anybody there before like ourselves knows what is going in. So ex-prisoners can bring pressure to bear. A genuine concern by many people, and you have touched on it, is the ideological posturing that is going on. It is not only against SF but against others within the republican community who don’t subscribe to this or that bit of republican theology. It will do nothing to protect the prisoners.
    Motives matter and I am sure republicans will suspect SF’s. But is the situation of the prisoners worse or better because of SF wading in? I think it can only be better.


    Gibney and SF can do little but work within the system. SF is a reformist party and has signed up to the legitimacy of the state. But gains should not be rejected because they emanate from within the system. Anything that advances rights has to be viewed in a positive light. The strategic question then is how can these rights be firmly enshrined as rights against the state and not ‘rights’ which are in fact concessions? The problem facing a rights based argument is that the boundaries of what are and are not rights shift subject to political circumstances and constraints.


    We know that SF can only go so far given that they have been boxed into the current arrangements. What SF will be willing to support will not satisfy the prisoners. But that was always the way for us when doing time. Martin McGuinness, now operating in Gerry Fitt’s old role, will hardly be able to push the issue any further than Fitt did. The thrust of strategy here should be to extract as much substance as possible from any group’s position. If SF only push it 50% of the way that 50% has to be better than 0 % coming from them. It is my own view that some people abandon the strategic, hope SF do nothing and then on the strength of that increase the tempo of the critique against SF. As far as I am concerned SF can be critiqued from here to eternity but what impact does such a critique, if it becomes the dominant discourse within the pro-prisoner community, have on pushing back prison management?

  48. Ewok,

    it is not a question of anyone accusing you of hiding your name. You are free to post there without revealing who you are. You make many good points and your contributions are welcome. But if we carry a piece, rather than a comment, I think the author needs to identify themselves. That is why I suggested the dropping of the pen name if you sought to write a piece. You are right about things being in a sad state but this is the fissiparous nature of the republican project. There is no need for you to turn to any group. There are a number of ways that you can back prisoners without aligning yourself to the groups they belong to.