Cumann na Saoirse Náisiúnta

National Irish Freedom Committee

Irish Republican Information Service 


In this issue
06/29/10

 

 A.  RSF supports Maura Harrington
1. POWs in Maghaberry commence dirty protest
2. RSF Protest at DPP meeting Newry
3. Republican Sinn Féin leaders to meet senior Maghaberry Duty Governor
4. Republicans will oppose any visit by the Queen of England to Ireland
5. Republican leader remembered in Carlow
6. GARC call to support Ardoyne on the ‘Twelfth’


 

 A. Republican Sinn Féin support for Maura Harrington

 

Republican Sinn Féin sends our support to Maura Harrington after her arrest and incarceration in Mountjoy jail.

 

Maura Harrington has been steadfast in her opposition to Shell’s destruction of her local community and the bleeding dry of Ireland’s much-needed natural resources, aided and abetted by the Dublin Administration.

 

Shell has begun the process of destroying an area of natural beauty to line the pockets of already mega-rich oil barons. The Dublin Administration had already sold off the royalties to Shell at a time when they thought they didn’t want money.

 

Along with “The Chief” O’Donnell, Maura Harrington has not bowed to the bully-boy tactics of Shell and the 26-County police. We salute them and all of those who oppose the blatant capitalist theft of resources which rightfully belong to the Irish people.

 

 1. POWS IN MAGHABERRY COMMENCE DIRTY PROTEST

 

ON June 21, 2010, the POW Department of Republican Sinn Féin once again highlighted the plight of the protesting Republican POWs in Roe House, Maghaberry jail, Co Antrim and a brief outline of the reasons for the protest:

 

The protesting Republican POWs in Roe House, Maghaberry jail, Co Antrim began a dirty protest on June 6. Their protest escalated when the prison authorities refused to implement an agreement made with the prisoners at Easter to address their concerns at the conditions.

 

On the contrary conditions have deteriorated still further despite the promises of the prison authorities. The Ombudsman's report www.niprisonservice.gov.uk/publications -- made many recommendations but it is unlikely that any of the recommendations will be implemented while the prison wardens run the jail.

 

In fact the ten prison wardens, suspended in the wake of the death by suicide of a prisoner in the mainstream prison in 2008, are to be reinstated, resulting in the announcement on June 17 of the resignation of the director-general of the Northern Ireland Prison Service for the last six years, Robin Masefield.

 

The POWs have for some time tried to resolve the problems which they saw as
unacceptable. These included long lock-up from anything between 14 to 21 hours per day, especially at the weekends. The controlled movement operated at the jail meant that only three prisoners were out of their cells at any given time, which also contributed to the long lock-up. It further ensured that the men did not have communication with each other.

 

Education facilities were practically nonexistent, and the general atmosphere, and indeed ethos, of the prison wardens was oppressive and restrictive designed to provoke confrontation.

 

Today the Republican prisoners are locked-down for 23 hours per day. There is an increase in strip-searching despite the long lock-up and lack of contact between the prisoners/visitors; education facilities are totally nonexistent; yard time, visits, meals and showers must now be taken within the one hour they are unlocked. Because of the controlled/restricted movement the men are lucky if they get a shower every five or six days.

 

They have no in-cell sanitation facilities in their cell. Having no water they are unable to wash or shave; they have not had their hair cut for some weeks. Many of them have sores around and in their mouths which leaves then very susceptible to infection.

 

Their weight loss has been rapid and their sleeping pattern is seriously disrupted.
The ethos and attitude of the prison warders is even more vicious and they are in total control of the jail. They make the decisions and as there is no overall governor they have a free hand. Governors have tried to implement reforms but to no avail, the prison warders refuse to implement the changes.

 

On June 13 they stepped up their protest by embarking on a dirty protest. This protest means they are now using the floor and the walls of their cell to take their excrement and urine. They had been using juice cartons for their waste but these cartons are no longer available to them. The men, when asked to, are refusing to strip naked for the screws and be subjected to intimate body searches which often means they don't get their visits.

 

This situation cannot be allowed to continue and we call on people to register their protest by writing/contacting all media outlets and also and in particular those nationalist politicians who sit in Stormont claiming to speak for the prisoners. Far from acting in the interest of the prisoners, it is in the interests of these British paid politicians, Adams, McGuinness, and O’Dowd etc, to make sure this prison protest is not given oxygen.

 

The last thing they want is to be reminded of the part they played in betraying all the 1980/81 hunger strikers by signing away the status they won by 10 deaths in 1981. These people are part and parcel of the British government which is standing over the conditions in Maghaberry. They draw their big salaries' and would indeed occupy the office of Minister of Justice in the partitionist Stormont had not the Unionists objected to such a deal. But the Provisionals backed David Ford for the position, a man who believes the prisoners are 'in a situation of their own making'.

 

The following communication was received from Maghaberry jail, June 16,
2010:

 

“After having exhausted every other avenue available to us, we the POWs have been forced to engage in a protest to bring about an end to the degrading and inhuman conditions we find ourselves being subjected to.

 

“Our protest began after Mass on Easter Sunday when we secured the recreation room and erected barricades to prevent the screws [prison warders] from gaining access. We held this position for two days with upwards of 200 screws plus RUC in riot gear taking up positions around the area we had seized.

 

“Prison officials (accepted in consultations) in which we agreed to hand back control with the understanding that within 48-hours further negotiations would take place within the aim of resolving our concerns. The prison service reneged on their promise of negotiations, to no surprise to us.

 

“Since then we have refused to participate in degrading strip searches and have been
covering the observation flaps on our cell doors. Since then we have wrecked our cells in response to the search team removing a POW to the boards, where he was handcuffed to a steel bed and had his clothing cut off.

 

“We then had to pour urine under our cell doors to get rid of it, as we have been locked down for 23 hours a day.

 

“In our efforts to resolve the protest we have met with the prison governors and found them uninterested to discuss in any detail the issues concerning us. We have also met with seven delegations of the so-called Justice Committee, which comprises members of PSF [Provisional Sinn Féin] and the SDLP [Social and Democratic Labour Party]. A further meeting was held with the Prison Ombudsman but to no avail.
“Having once again exhausted all avenues to us we feel the option left to us is to step up our protest.

 

“We call upon our families, comrades and supporters to organize again and step up their efforts outside with protests, letter-writing campaigns, leaflet drops and all other appropriate actions to highlight our plight.

 

“We salute your efforts to date and know we can rely on you in the future. For our part, on Sunday, June 13, 1020 we will commence a Dirty Protest.

 

“PRO Republican POWs
“Maghaberry jail.”

 

2. RSF PROTEST AT DPP MEETING NEWRY

 

A PROTEST was carried out tonight by members of Republican Sinn Féin at a DPP Meeting in Newry that RUC Commander Matt Baggot attended.

 

The protesters were refused entry; one security guard actually physically restrained a man from entering. The BBC and local papers were there but no doubt the usual media ban will ensue.

 

A statement was read by a member of a POW’s family, outlining the inhumane treatment doled out to the POWs and the current demands of the POWs.

 

Statement below:

 

“Over the past number of years Republican prisoners have been subjected to physical and mental abuse at the hands of the screws. The POWs have engaged in a number of protests to highlight the conditions in Maghaberry jail. The conditions in Maghaberry jail have led to a political protest, the abuses that the screws inflict on our men are political abuses and the only way to resolve this, is to take it head on in a political context, the tactics of the screws are to humiliate and criminalise the men but these efforts will fail as said by our comrade Bobby Sands ‘never will they label our liberation struggle as criminal’.

 

“Bobby Sands, a POW, stayed true to this statement and so will the POWs in Maghaberry, they are not asking for much, just basic human rights as the conditions in Maghaberry are inhumane.

 

“The screws treat the POWs with a hostile nature on a daily basis the POWs are strip-searched. This is just a tactic used by the screws to humiliate our men. Over the past year the screws have been actively violent towards the prisoners which have resulted in several POWs being assaulted by the screws.

 

“The prisoners are subjected to 23-hour lock-downs with only two meals a day which are served in disposable containers and slid along the floor to the prisoners. The POWs are denied proper medical facilities. Some prisoners have serious health problems and are not getting the medical treatment they need. The POWs’ domestic visits are stopped when they refuse to strip for the screws. The screws are also using their drug dogs to stop the POWs’ families from visiting.

 

“This protest began on Easter Sunday of this year when the POWs took control of part of the jail which lasted 48 hours. Since this time the prisoners only get an hour of the day to exercise, phone home, wash their clothes and receive a legal visit. Initially when the protest began the POWs as part of the protest didn’t shave or cut their hairs. However the POWs have decided to escalate the protest and now are on dirty protest as the conditions have not changed.

 

“This is an absolute disgrace for our POWs to live in, the protest in Maghaberry will continue and we the families and RSF will engage in street protests, marches and leaflet drops until the POWs receive their five demands which are:

 

Right to free association
End controlled movement
Right to full time education
End to strip searching
adequate medical facilities

 

“Political Status Now!
“Victory to POWS!”

 

3. REPUBLICAN SINN FÉIN LEADERS TO MEET SENIOR MAGHABERRY DUTY GOVERNOR

 

The President of Republican Sinn Féin Des Dalton along with the Patron and former President Ruairí Ó Brádaigh will hold a meeting on Sunday, June 27 with the Duty Governor in Maghaberry Prison to demand the return of the right of Political Status to the Republican prisoners who are currently under 23-hour lock-up and engaged in a 'Dirty Protest'.  They will also meet with the OC of the Republican prisoners.

 

Following the visit both will address a rally in support of the prisoner outside of the prison at 4pm.

 

4. REPUBLICANS WILL OPPOSE ANY VISIT BY THE QUEEN OF ENGLAND TO IRELAND

 

IN A statement on June 24 Vice President of Republican Sinn Féin Fergal Moore said:

 

“Brian Cowen's assertion that no obstacle now exists to prevent a state visit to Ireland by Britain's queen taking place must be seen as a declaration that the process of normalization is complete and the pacification of Ireland has been successful. British rule in Ireland can never be normal nor will Ireland be pacified while partition and British rule remain. Republican Sinn Féin will vigorously oppose any visit to Ireland by the Queen of England and calls on all Republicans to do likewise.

 

“Cowen's declaration comes just days after the Saville Report delivered a damning indictment of the British Army and must be seen as a gross insult by the families of those who have lost loved ones as a result of British rule during Elizabeth Windsor's tenure as monarch. Only when Britain leaves Ireland for good and offers an acceptable apology for the wrong doings of 800 years of occupation will the conditions exist for a possible state visit by her to Ireland.

 

“In the mean time Republicans must be prepared to take to the streets in protest at any visit.”

 

5. REPUBLICAN LEADER REMEMBERED IN CARLOW

 

ON Sunday, June 20 the annual Tony Ruane commemoration was held in Carlow.

 

More than 40 people marched to Tony Ruane’s grave, led by a Colour Party from Wexford, where proceedings were chaired by his granddaughter, Laura Nolan, secretary of the local RSF Cumann.

 

The oration was delivered by Kevin Devlin, Dublin who said:

 

“It is an honour for me to pay tribute to Tony Ruane, a dedicated and true Republican. No words can properly describe the admiration felt for men and women like Tony, who gave their all for the cause of Irish freedom.

 

“Tony Ruane joined Na Fianna Éireann as a boy and made the natural progression to the Irish Republican Army. He was active during the War of Independence, including overseas duty in England.

 

“Taking the Republican side he went to America in the mid-1920s and worked tirelessly with other like-minded men and women to further the Republican Movement through organisation and fund-raising.

 

“Tony returned to his native country in 1936 and joined the Dublin Brigade of the Irish Republican Army, continuing to utilize the organizing skills both locally and nationally. In May 1941 he was arrested and spent two years in jail before being interned in the Curragh Concentration Camp until 1945.

 

“Upon his release Tony reported back for duty, again putting his skills to good use during what was a difficult time for himself and his comrades. In 1966 Tony became National Treasurer of Sinn Féin.

 

“When the Stickies went by the wayside, Tony continued on the true Republican path, working in Kevin Street and Parnell Square. Many of the people who cane through the doors of Sinn Féin in the 1970s would have met Tony and it’s fair to say, given the level of recruitment at this time, they must have been suitably impressed by the persona of the man.

 

“Tony Ruane retired as National Treasurer in 1980 but after the Provos’ treachery in 1986, despite ill-health; he returned to help make sure the Republican Movement kept to the path he so firmly believed to be the right one.

 

“I never met Tony Ruane but those who knew him admired him and speak highly of the dedication and hard work he put in for the cause he held so dear.

 

“There have been many over the years that have taken the easy road but as Joe McKelvey said and I quote ‘The way to freedom is a hard and bloody one’ and those of us who choose that way take guidance and inspiration from comrades like Tony Ruane. They give us the strength to carry on the struggle for Irish freedom and self-determination.

 

“We regard our part in that struggle as nothing more than our duty and like Tony Ruane, we carry out that duty for the greater good and not for personal gain or recognition. Those who have gone down the path of furthering their own careers are not true Republicans and are on a road to nowhere!

 

“Finally, to Tony Ruane’s family, friends and comrades, I hope I have done justice to the man and to the Republican soldier we honour today.

 

“An Phoblacht Abú!”

 

6. GARC CALL TO SUPPORT ARDOYNE ON THE ‘TWELFTH’

 

“ON June 7 the Greater Ardoyne Residents Collective (GARC) delivered a letter to a number of community, political groups and parties who represent the Ardoyne community including N/Belfast Provo MLA, Gerry Kelly.

 

“Our letter offered dialogue and highlighted key findings of our survey in an attempt to map a peaceful way forward to Loyal Order marches in the area. Instead of contacting us, the Junior British Minister once again launched into a clear attack on GARC by issuing a statement to the media on June 19, 2010. His response erroneously accused GARC of being ‘a self-styled, non-elected and uncontested group, hell-bent on provocation’ by erecting a mural clearly expressing the wishes of this community which stated, No Parades – No Violence.

 

“We take this opportunity to point out two planned actions which we abandoned: 1. to picket the offices, Windsor House, of the Parades Commission and to hand in a letter of protest around their past and future decisions to permit clearly unwelcome parades past our community (not shop fronts). 2. To hold a white-line picket on the Crumlin Road between 1pm and 2pm on June 18, hours before the Tour of the North parade? Where was the provocation in those strategies?

 

“Is this not a true reflection of how we feel about this issue? If he is serious, as he claims, about stopping unwelcome marches, why does he not ask his boss Stormont’s Deputy First Minister to end them now? As it doesn’t affect them or their immediate families.

 

Gerry Kelly also blamed us ‘of undermining other residents groups’ ei: CARA. Would he care to clarify why senior members of CARA attended one of our meetings prior to the ‘Tour of the North’ march? The debate was an attempt to challenge contentious parades in a holistic manner. However, instead of adopting a unified approach, CARA undermined the community after it forgot to mention they had already met with the North/West Belfast Parades Forum and were due to meet them the following day, Thursday, June 17. Of which the North/West walked out due to the common-sense banning of the feeder parade. Who was being disingenuous on this occasion? GARC believe common-sense NOT deals or negotiations will resolve this issue. Our position is clear, No Parades – No Violence. So please March where you are welcome and leave us in peace!

 

“Unlike Gerry Kelly and his party’s past bankrupt strategy in preventing unwanted parades and annual riots past our community has been clear for all to see. His verbal attacks to the media re GARC and then offering us the opportunity for a chat, no thanks Gerry! Your comments made sure of that.

 

“A common-sense approach to forthcoming parades must prevail. To that end, GARC take this opportunity to call upon Nationalist and Republican people from near and far to come and stand shoulder to shoulder with the beleaguered Ardoyne community for the Twelfth of July parade. Only together can we stop being treated as second-class citizens at the behest of sectarian bigots.”

 


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