Hydebank Gaol has undergone an overhaul. Gone are the days of relative calm, and in its place, a power equation.
I have heard it said that time will bring a resolution but time is not a remedy. In the 4 months since my return to Hydebank. I have battled daily with an administration who possess the domesticity of assiduous bigotry. The intractable position of Gaol authorities has culminated in a practice of blatant discrimination and unfair treatment.
Visits that were previously allocated to Republican Prisoners have been significantly reduced, with the current stance being that the statutory entitlement is to 1 visit every 4 weeks, and anything beyond this, is at the discretion of the governor.
Educational opportunities are non-existent and access to craft is not comparable to those on offer to fellow Republican Prisoners in Maghaberry.
By virtue of being the only Republican Prisoner in Hydebank, essentially held in defacto isolation; an environment confounded further by the deliberate disregard for my welfare.
The well established principles of the Steele Report, clearly states political prisoners most remain at all times separated from the gaol population, but on several occasions now, I have been placed in situations that potentially could have jeopardized my personal safety.
To date the prison service has been unwilling to provide a comprehensive policy regarding separated females and of defined practices, decisions that have been disproportionate and ad hoc at best.
I have been met with an iron fist; an approach that is undoubtedly a custom of criminalization but this behaviour is of futile utility.
The security measures that are in place for external hospital consultations are excessive and degrading, resulting in the cancellation of all appointments.
I am one prisoner but the failings of the prison service, will only serve to fortify my determination to succeed in challenging the sectarian mentalities of those intent on continuing on this trajectory of marginalization and equality.
The hostile attitudes from those facilitating my imprisonment, is a daily occurrence and despite efforts by my legal team to elicit constructive engagement, the situation is further crystalized with each passing hour.
The presence of governors on the wing is simply intolerable and I refuse to barter for my rights. I expect nothing, other than what I am entitled to and I will not settle for less. The “numbers game” that seems to be at play means nothing to me because whether I remain the sole Republican woman in Hydebank or not, I will not allow anyone free rein to diminish my rights.
The changes in Hydebank are punitive by nature and have been designed by a pernicious administration with an axe to grind.
To end, I would like to send solidarity greetings to Maghaberry and Portlaoise, and to wish Saoradh the best of luck in their political endeavors in the year ahead.