Depravity in Maghaberry Jail

Tonight the Pensive Quill features guest writer Sean Doyle of the East Coast H Block Hunger Strike Commemoration Committee which is organised by the Socialist Republican Unity Committee.

Lillian, so sorry and appalled to read your account on Monday May 30th after the visit with your brother Harry Fitzsimons on Sunday 29th May of the unprovoked brutal attack. He was beaten and tortured by the ever present sadistic enforcers of the British in partnership devolved governance. Possibly devoid governance would be more appropriate. Devoid of human rights, of truth, of freedom of speech and honour of commitments signed in writing with POW's. This is a human rights issue and not negotiable. It is not a fleeting discretion to be bestowed at the behest of and on those they consider fitting. As we are commemorating the 30th anniversary of the 1981 H block hunger strike.

I recall the first hunger strike in 1980 led by Brendan Hughes when assurances were given then and it was called off only to be reneged on by the British and the rest is history. When we are commemorating the hunger strikers as their anniversaries occur we will be holding public meetings and I can assure you we will also inform the people of the plight of your brother Harry and the POW's. We will endeavour to build a unified Socialist Republican campaign around this fundamental human rights catastrophe. They say silence is golden I say it is condoning. No proper civilisation can be built on a foundation of brutality and denial of basic human rights without these principles at the core to deny them and turn the other way is to debase humanity itself. 

I am astonished and bitterly disappointed that so many in POWER SHARING have suffered the beatings, strip searches and degradation and our hunger strike martyrs to resolve this. That you are prepared to have this inflicted on fellow human beings because you disagree with them. I repeat it is not yours to give, it is a basic human right an automatic entitlement to all friends or considered foe. Remember power has responsibility and it can also corrupt. You have no right to tailor make a persons human rights pending on their considered level of activity be it extreme by your present perspective. Their sentence no doubt and incarceration will reflect that. Human rights and honouring agreements signed in writing are a reflection on you as a society. Denial of and brutality and inhuman degradation should not be used to exert vengeance. Denial of human rights is a crime that must be exposed. It is a rot in the root of society that will spread through denial, lies, collaboration and silence. Speak out now: you know human rights is a given for all.


  1. This doesn't seem like it is written for publication as an article. If it is, it's hard for the reader to discern much more than emotional rhetoric.

    It would be far better I think to explain what the conditions in Maghaberry jail are like, give concrete examples in a way that can elicit sympathy from the wider Republican community.

    With men like Gerry McGeough in there now it should be a bit easier.

  2. Danny I think most republicans are well aware of the brutal conditions the pows in Maghaberry have to endure,the fact that what these men are being forced to endure and not in the public domain is due not to disinterest but more to a almost media blackout retaing to republican prisioners,there are a lot of ex prisioners in the Assembly some with mimisterial positions,they should have a long hard think about their silence and ask themselves where would they be today had the republican community turned their back on them as they have done to these prisioners ,we must do all we can to support these people as Sean says if for nothing else other than a human rights issue. when I watched the news report of the attack on the small Nationalist community of Short Strand last night,by masked uniformed men,who seemed to be bent on death and destruction ,the thought came into my head that nothing has changed here other than the brits and their stoogies have a new weapon in their armoury that is psf/prm.

  3. Marty...loads have changed since the signing of the GFA..most noticeably there are more peace lines, more segregation...list is endless...

    Back to the post..I think you hit the nail on the head..There is a complete blackout concerning the prisoners in Maghaberry & the MLA's on the 'republican' side should hang their heads in shame..Most don't even pay lip service to their plight..

  4. It seems the same apathy exists that existed when the brits tried to describe the 'blocks' as the most modern prison in Europe with the best facilities.
    With the help of SF who should know better, this seems to be the consensus on Maghabery. This time the media are assisting and it is working. People are uninformed and uninterested in general.

  5. Sean,
    There is such a dearth of information in relation to what is happening inside the prison.
    It is just horrendous to think that republicans continue to be brutalised and so few voices are raised in anger.

  6. Marty,the Republican community have not turned their backs on the plight of the POW's in Maghaberry. I take it you meant SF and their hangers-on as the Republican community? SF are nothing more than constitutional Unionists (just like the Sticks). Remember it was SF and the DUP that put that inbred mutant that calls itself David Ford in the position of micro "justice minister", and he like his SF&DUP masters couldn't give a fuck about the POW's. In my opinion, more information needs to be put out there (without any petty bickering about who or which party says they put it out) and more and more people will protest about the POW'S! In my eyes they are Republican POW's full stop!

  7. Very Good website. I like the contents. From

  8. Read in the paper today, Colin Duffy could not go for bail because he refused to be strip searched.
    Why is there such an uncomfortable silence around all of this?

  9. All:
    I, along with many others, have personally reached out to several journalists about doing a story on what’s really going on in Roe House in Maghaberry and have been told straight out that "it's not a popular subject matter to be writing about right now" end of story! Gerry McGeough tries to keep me updated almost on a weekly basis when he is not in lock down for 23 hours (now 24 as of 7/1/11) or when he is not being rushed to the local hospital outside the prison due to the screws playing Russian roulette with his heart medication. Letters have been sent to various Human Rights organizations and emails have been sent to the Prison Ombudsman – all seeming to fall on deaf ears.

    Last week I sent an email to the Prison Ombudsman regarding the mistreatment of Brendan Lillis, who is dying in prison and although all charges against him were dropped, he has not been released from Maghaberry? I also wrote regarding the mistreatment of Gerry McGeough and other POWS. The following is the reply I got from them. Yet they never once acknowledged McGeough or any of the other POWs in their reply to me, only Brendan Lillis?

    “ Thank you for your email in relation to Mr Brendan Lillis. The Prisoner Ombudsman is aware of the ongoing concerns about Mr Lillis.
    However the Prisoner Ombudsman's remit does not include the investigation of complaints from prisoners about healthcare issues. Any issues associated with the medical treatment which Mr Lillis is receiving in prison should be referred to the Southern Health and Social Care Trust. I know the Trust are aware of the situation.
    If Mr Lillis has other complaints, which do not relate to his healthcare needs, then the Prisoner Ombudsman would be happy to investigate these matters and Mr Lillis knows how to bring a complaint to the Ombudsman.
    I am sorry we cannot be more helpful.”
    Prisoner Ombudsman for Northern Ireland

    I don’t understand who this Southern Health and Social Care Trust is and why the Prison Ombudsman is passing the buck to them? Is anyone here familiar with this Trust? Sounds like a cop out to me.

    Danny, Marty:
    We have started a letter writing campaign to the Editors of all the major newspapers in Ireland, UK and the USA asking them to end the censorship/blackout on what's really going on in the prison with the vile mistreatment of the POWs. If you go to the Free Gerry McGeough Campaign on facebook you will find the names of the various newspapers with their email addresses/phone numbers/fax numbers. We are encouraging everyone to write a letter to their local media demanding they break their silence on the human rights abuses taking place in this hell-hole they call a prison.

  10. Helen,
    it is a 'cop out' what they are basically saying is, that Brendan Lillis's care package (for want of a better word) falls within the remit of that branch of social care.
    In other words, he is a patient of that trust, just as I would be a patient of the trust in the area where I live.
    They have not addressed the real issue of abuse and the fact a very ill man is being held without charge.
    What they have said is, if he has a problem with his care let him complain?