57 Percent Effective
Traveling through Belfast International Airport to attend Gerry McGeough’s homecoming from Maghaberry, I took for granted that the scanners used there and at other airports assured passenger safety.
Imagine my shock to read that such scanners, which the British agreed to substitute for brutal strip-searches of Republican prisoners, are little better than hit and miss, 57 percent effective according to British prison staff. No wonder Mr. McGeough had to be given a farewell strip-search before it was safe to read him his license and release him.
How did everyone responsible for the safety of vast numbers of passengers get it so wrong? Surely airports should now be shut until we have scanners that give passengers the same protection needed by crown prison staff before strip-searches of Republican prisoners can be halted at Maghaberry in compliance with the August 12, 2010 agreement?
There is of course, one other interpretation. Perhaps the “tests”, measured nothing more than the intent of the prison regime to continue brutal strip-searches of Republican prisoners and win the battle of criminalisation which they lost to the Hunger Strikers in 1981.
Recently there have been public and private appeals for Republicans to cooperate around a border poll as a genuine strategy to end British rule. There are obvious dangers in any British controlled poll which begins by gerrymandering out the majority of Irish people and will likely be twisted to enshrine the unionist veto as the final resting place for Irish reunification.
These private and public invitations may be sincere, but how do we trust the British to deal in good faith on any poll which could take them out of the six counties when they cannot even be trusted to keep their word to end the type of naked brutality that Bobby Sands and Brendan Hughes fought? Many Republicans never thought that the Stormont strategy would deliver a united Ireland by 2014 or 2016, but could we at least see it deliver an end to the brutalisation of Republican prisoners and the release of those interned by license by then?