Gabriel Mackle In Isolation In Maghaberry For A Further 28 Days
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.