Gabriel Mackle In Isolation In Maghaberry For A Further 28 Days

Republican Sinn Féin POW Department raises the situation of Gabriel Mackle in Maghaberry Prison.

Gabriel Mackle has been in isolation in Maghaberry jail, Co Antrim since he returned from parole for a family occasion at the end of March. Most of that time has been in the Care and Supervision Unit (CSU) - the isolation unit. This situation arose when Gabriel returned from parole in March and he refused to come under the structures of the IRPWA on Roe 4. Gabriel was and is a CABHAIR-supported POW, he was a guest on Roe 4 for some time and worked under his own structures. He was approached by members of the IRPWA and told he would be removed from the landing if he did not comply with the IRPWA directive. He refused to do so and was removed from Roe 4. 

Gabriel’s father got a stroke four weeks ago and died last Sunday, April 23. Gabriel did not have a visit with his father in the hospital. Though he applied for a 48-hour compassionate parole, Gabriel was allowed parole for just eight hours to attend the funeral on the Tuesday. This was a callous act on the part of the prison regime. The physical change in him was dramatic and his family and friends were shocked to see his weight loss and his unhealthy pallor. 

Gabriel has not been given his personal belongings, has no access to newspapers or books. His drinks are placed outside his cell door and he must knock on the door when he wants a drink. He has no access to kitchen facilities as he did in Roe House, so he has either to eat what is given him or starve, which would explain his weight loss. He has had no visits and is allowed only a five-minute phone calls to his wife. This is particularly hard on the children who had regular visits with their father: suddenly he is removed from visits. His yard time is one hour on his own during which he is verbally abused by other prisoners.

On April 28, the governor and a member of the Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) visited Gabriel with the intention of moving him to Bann House where the loyalist prisoners are held. Naturally Gabriel refused such a move. But that refusal is viewed by the prison regime as a refusal to obey an order, so once again Rule 32 was cited and he is on punishment for another 28 days, another full month in the CSU punishment block, and the cycle starts all over again. 

A long battle for political status has been fought in the jails in the Occupied Six Counties. When political status was signed away in the Stormont Agreement in 1998, the POWs who were jailed had to begin that fight all over again and many were injured in the process. Roe House was set aside for Republicans when it was clear that POWs would never accept criminalization. And now when one group, by sheer volume of numbers, try to manipulate all POWs in Roe House, those who will not come under their control are criminalized.

Maghaberry prison tops the list in the three prisons in the Occupied Six Counties for the longest stays in the CSU, [1,813 in 2015]. In September 2015 it was reported that ‘prisoners were held in solitary confinement for months and even years in Maghaberry Prison -– despite a call from United Nations’ inspectors for a worldwide ban on more than 15 days. In 2014 at least ten prisoners were held in solitary confinement in Maghaberry for over 100 days each, with four prisoners held for over a year and in one case a prisoner was held for five years. The United Nations considers solitary confinement as the physical isolation of individuals who are in their cells for over 22 hours a day and it has called for a worldwide ban on durations of over 15 days. 


  1. I read this when it was posted and have been confused ever since. Before this man went on parole I assume he was satisfied with whatever structure he was under but 8 hours later when he came back his situation changed?

    Maybe I am missing some crucial piece of information but from what I gather this man has been put in solitary confinement for refusing to come under the structures of one republican faction rather than another? This unsatisfactory republican faction I assume are the prisoners who abuse him when he goes to the yard? "This situation arose when Gabriel returned from parole in March and he refused to come under the structures of the IRPWA"

    His access to phone calls and visits have been drastically reduced? If this all arose from his resistance to IRPWA structures it is perplexing for me to think that the IRPWA have this kind of influence over the prison administration? The IRPWA can do all this and have him removed from their wing to an isolation unit is beyond me??

    Can RSF not make approaches to this opposing faction and have the matter resolved without all this??

  2. Phone calls? Can anyone outline exactly what privileges/conditions exist for prisoners today? I'd be very interested to know.

  3. In the blocks we could buy 10minute or 30minute phone cards. From when the phones are switched on until they are switched off again your time on the phone was governed by how many names were down on the list to use the phone -if only 1 man wanted it between 2-3pm he could have an hour whereas if there were 12 names down for between 6-7pm then they would all get 5minutes each. Naturally, there would be higher demand for evening calls.

  4. Incidently Larry, we controlled how long each man could have on the phone and not the screws. So in GM's case I assume IRPWA are only allowing him 5minutes and not the screws. It might be because of the demand for the phone -but the article above suggests that the IRPWA are the cause and the 5minutes are a punishment for refusing to respect their structures.

  5. Christy Walsh
    Thanks for that info. What are the general conditions these days. For example is there single cell occupancy? What facilities are available? Exercise, sport, snooker TV internet etc? Not being rude just generally interested to know what jail conditions are like today.

  6. Larry
    Not rude at all but unfortunately I do not know the answer to your questions. From my own experience republicans are great at pulling together in bad times against the screws or loyalists but when conditions in the Blocks improved and people could get their own tv and play stations -republicans tended to turn in on each other and there was a lot of tension and fights on some wings with all sorts of grievances and jealousies. So I can only relate to my own experience and figure the various dissident factions all have it in for one another.

    The nearest I can relate to was when I was on H4 and Dessie McGrew? and another INLA guy started agitating for the INLA to opt out of the IRA structures and go out on their own -they started a fist fight and where then carried off H4 after months of causing bad blood and agro. Other INLA people followed them to H6 and they set up their own Block. McGrew and his mate were always dis-likable but apart from those 2 there was no animosity or tension between IRA/INLA -at least none that I know off. Then everyone praised the INLA when they killed the LVF leader Billy Wright on H6. McGrew and his mate were released and 1 or both were shot dead by the INLA.

  7. Christy Walsh

    Thanks again. I am just curious about the reality in there now. I was thinking with all these historical enquiries going on and people facing the prospect of 2 years inside if stitched up would it be a case of laying back watching TV with a remote control and access to internet and phones etc. Few sessions at the gym and snooker practice. If that was the case I can state I would recommend taking it as easy as possible and ballix to any protesting. Two years of the Jeremy Kyle show in bed. Near as good as Stormont live! lol

  8. Larry
    I think the 2 years tops only applies to acts prior to the GFA. Whereas the usual life and decades long sentencing applies to acts postGFA. I think dissident violence is futile own goal and only serves to cause hardship on their own families while securing lucrative financing for the securocrats.

    And as it appears from this article the factions are consumed with passive feuding against each other -not against prison conditions but conditions under any given faction structures. That is so perverse and contrary to the concept of former republican prison protest that reaffirms my view of dissident faction leaderships being about too many egocentric chiefs and not enough Indians.

  9. Larry

    As 2 former exprisoners if we can't make sense of Mackle's predicament what are the chances anyone else will who is not wrapped up in this petty internecine infighting over selfimposed 'structures' and leadership egos? That is an awful indictment on the leadership controlling these hardships on their own men. You are right about people just putting their heads down and getting themselves out of there as soon as they can I think it a waste that they're in there in the first place.

  10. Christy,

    outside of this blog I have heard nothing about Mackle.

  11. Larry,

    well, you wouldn't be jumping out of bed in the morning to go to any meetings. Scothcy used to say there were two places left in the world where they still believed in socialism - Albania and Cell 26.

  12. AM
    I am not really surprised by that. The authors of other articles you have carried about conditions in Maghaberry have remarked about the lack of interest from mainstream news outlets.

    maybe IRPWA and CABHAIR need to call a crinniu in the big cell

  13. Mackers

    That is funny. I remember Scotchie in the Crum in the early 80s. The meetings ('rangs' were they called?) where they churned out 'plastic provies'. Pure joke.

    Christy Walsh

    Totally agree with your take. The only prisoners welfare I would be interested in would be wising them up. Get them out and educate them to the futility in providing otherwise useless prods with amazing wages for zero labour or intellect in return.

  14. Larry

    Times have changed. In our time only the prison admin were held to account for mistreatment of prisoners -obviously from Mackle's predicament the republican leadership must also be held accountable for bad leadership and its detrimental consequences on those they act on behalf of.

  15. Maybe a Mitchell type figure unconnected with either group but respected by both could be utilised to arbitrate matters such as this?

  16. Terrible situation, but just want to clear something up. A person has referred to an incident in H-block 4 in June 94. Dessie Grew was not on the wing ( he was on parole) one INLA man was and he most certainly did not start a fist fight. Dee Mc Keever was physically assaulted by shinners in one of the most disgraceful actions carried out by the worst prison leadership in history ( Lynch, Maguire, mc Viegh and the rest of the cronies). Dee was dumped at the feet of screws by people who clearly cared nothing for the dead inla hunger strikers.

  17. Msspikemilligan

    I was there and you, Lynch and Maguire were not. Not sure if McViegh was or just arrived after that incident. In fact I think that wee smarmy guy Wilson had already replaced Lynch by that time so Lynch was no longer Camp OC.

    Thanks for adding the 1 name I couldn't remember and the other I remember now was Dessie McCleery not McGrew. McCleery was shot dead in a pizza cafe on the Dublin road in Belfast.

    Paul Duffy, Madda Moore, Richie Harken and Cypie something might be who you mean. Both McKeever and McCleery were agitating for months and H4 was highly volatile because of them. The most distinguishing feature I can remember about McCleery was he had this constant dark cloud over his head -he always looked angry and sullen. I could feel the bad vides from McCleery and McKeever as soon as I was moved onto H4. No offense to any other INLA guys I met in the Crum or Blocks but a huge weight of tension was lifted of the whole wing the day those 2 were fucked off.

  18. Apologies, wasn't Dessie Grew (rip). But Dessie was a Lurgan man so maybe Larry could clarify that

  19. Just read down through the comments...they deteriorated just like the structures that put Mackle in solitary confinement. Understand usual too many fuck'n egos!