Maghaberry Prison Report Highlights

A recent report by prison inspectors at Maghaberry Prison has revealed a number of disturbing facts. The report, on a visit on 19-23 Jan. 2009 and recently published highlights the conditions of the prison population in general. These conditions of the common criminal should be considered to be the bare minimum of that which is put up with by Republican Political prisoners, who have historically met with sub-par treatment during incarceration.

Some quotes from the inspection team report: 

 "The complaints system provided no confidentiality. Around a third of complaints were answered out of time, replies varied in standard and there was no effective quality monitoring. We found a number of complaints against staff, some of which made very serious allegations of assault that had not been answered at the appropriate level and most of which needed further investigation. As previously, a high number in our survey said they had been encouraged to withdraw complaints." page 21 

"Almost half said they had been victimized   by a member of staff. Many prisoners added comments about staff, specifically expressing their dissatisfaction with treatment by the search team " page 39 

"None of the staff wore name badges or had numbered epaulets, so could not be identified by prisoners." page 40 

"Complaints had been made by four different prisoners about an alleged assault by Staff on a prisoner in a neighbouring cell during a night search. The response was ‘this is not a complaint relating to this inmate, therefore cannot be answered’. No investigation had taken place despite the seriousness of the allegations." page 42 

"...general movement around the site was slower than at comparable prisons. The restricted movement system used on the separated units had not

changed. Only three prisoners were allowed out at any one time, with no less than five staff present. Prisoners could be rub-down searched up to three times when covering a very short distance, still in full view of staff at all times. This was in spite of the fact that we were told that instructions had been issued by HQ to prevent this." page 82 

One other aspect throughout the report was that the SST (Search and Standby Team) were "particularly intimidating". The report stated "Many complained that there was little to control their (the SST) behaviour and that the SST not the Governor controlled the prison." The report even went so far as to recommend "The search and standby team should be disbanded and its resources used to allow prison searching and incident management to be carried out by generic residential and security staff."  

Despite this report their have been repeated offenses against Republican political prisoners shown recently. In one instance, while guards were doing a search of a prisoner’s cell they confiscated a bottle of shampoo. On the prisoner asking if he was no longer allowed to take showers, the guards beat him, and, as if that were not enough, they bound him by his legs and hands. They then sent him to the punishment blocks for a number of hours. 

Another example is a prisoner who was due for a legal visit. The visit which was due to last two hours was delayed and he was allowed just five minutes with his solicitor. This prisoner and two of his comrades have already been awaiting their trial 27 months and cannot even have a full visit with their solicitor.  

The maltreatment, of all prisoners, must stop. The treatment of Republican prisoners especially has a long way to go. Political Prisoners have been fighting for their rights as such for decades in English prison systems. In 1981 ten men died to remind the world that English injustice cannot be allowed to reign. There is no excuse for any of the depredations laid out in this report. Political Prisoners, who have already given so much for their country, deserve the full support of the public at large and Irish Republicans from around the world. They are a constant reminder of the needless and unsanctioned occupation of the northern six counties by a foreign power. It is essential to remember that until they, and Ireland, are free this sadistic treatment of Republican political prisoners will surely continue.

 Click on the below link for complete report



Darryl Levey


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