Cumann na Saoirse Náisiúnta

National Irish Freedom Committee

IPOW's protest outside British Consulate in Manhattan

On Saturday, June 26th, NIFC members and supporters staged a protest in support of Republican POWs in Maghaberry Jail, Co. Antrim, outside the British Consulate in Manhattan. The group displayed posters protesting the treatment of Republican prisoners by prison authorities in the north of Ireland and handed out leaflets to passersby, most of whom were unaware of the appalling conditions in which the POWS live.

 Since Easter, Republican prisoners are locked in their cells 23 hours per day. In theory, prisoners are allowed out for 1 hour daily during which they must attempt to eat, shower, shave, exercise, use the toilet, and have family and legal visitors. Obviously, 1 hour is an inadequate amount of time for all these activities.

 In addition, because the jail is in reality run by the prison guards, not by the Prison Service, guards have implemented “controlled movement” practices in which only 3 prisoners are allowed out at any one time. Prisoners are subjected to repetitive and degrading strip searches even when they have had no contact with anyone other than prison guards. These searches reduce the already inadequate time they are allowed out of cell. The end result is that not all prisoners get even the 1 hour out that they supposedly are allowed. As a result, some men go days without showering, shaving etc.

 There are no toilet or washing facilities in their cells. As a result, many POWs are suffering the results of poor hygiene routines such as mouth and skin sores. Medical treatment has been denied for many with serious health problems. Some men have been savagely beaten. Men refusing strip searches are automatically denied family visits. Family members are often subjected to sniffer drug dog searches, even children. The inhumane treatment of Republican prisoners in Maghaberry is designed to break the spirit of the men and their families.

Of great concern to us is the potential escalation of the prisoners’ protest at Maghaberry. Already some have started dirty protests. We must not allow conditions to deteriorate to that of the 1980’s in Long Kesh in which 10 men died for the right to be treated as human beings.

 NIFC stands firmly behind the prisoners in demanding an end to these violations of basic human rights and to the reinstatement of political status, which was signed away by Provisional Sinn Fein when they signed the so-called “Good Friday Agreement.” NIFC urges all supporters of the Republican Movement and those concerned with civil rights and social justice to get involved.

 - write and/or phone your U.S. Senators and Congressional representative. Ask them to demand that the British government end the abuse of Irish Republican POWs.

- contact the British Consulate in NYC by phone at 212-745-0272, by fax at 212-754-3062 or write them at 845 3rd Avenue, New York, NY 10022 (address letters and faxes to Sir Alan Collins, Consul-General.) Let them know that you are aware of the situation and that you demand that political status be restored. Remind them that the world IS watching and will not allow more men to die for basic political rights.

 - write letters to the editors of your local newspapers. These letters are read by politicians and if they see enough people writing about the ill treatment of Republican POWs, they may be moved to act!

 - join NIFC. Contact Mike at nifcmem@optonline.net

- send a donation to Cabhair, the Irish organization that supports prisoners’ families. Mail a donation to National Irish Freedom Committee, P.O. Box 770549, Woodside, NY 11377. A donation of any amount will help.

 - keep current on prisoner issues via this website and Radio Free Eireann, WBAI radio, NYC, at 99.5 FM most Saturdays from 1:00 to 2:30 (archives on the web at www.wbai.org), or contact Jane at 718-683-6903 for details on future protests at the British Consulate in NYC.

 

The main point is, if you care, do something!

 


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National Irish Freedom Committee, P.O. Box 770549, Woodside, NY 11377

website: www. irishfreedom.net   --  email: nifcmem@optonline.net

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