IPOW's protest outside British Consulate in Manhattan
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
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
- 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
- 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
- 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