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Date Posted: 17:47:26 11/13/02 Wed
Subject: Mark well
In recent weeks, at the behest of the October Fifth (1968 Civil Rights' Veterans & Supporters) Association, the leader of the SDLP, Mark Durkan MLA, met with around half a dozen relatives of republican prisoners, held at Maghaberry. The meeting, which lasted 45 minutes, went ahead on the same day as the PSNI raided Stormont, and relatives were surprised, and pleased, that it was not cancelled because of such. A leading civil rights veteran opened the discussion, and ended such by making a special appeal for action to be taken on the case of Aidan Hulme (Belmarsh). This latter point was not contained in the letter below, but regular updates have been supplied to the SDLP leader, who agreed to raise such with the Dublin administration.
Some weeks prior to this meeting the CR Vets established the Full Status Now Campaign - the FSNC forum can be located via http://www.voy.com/102812/ Its e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
The CR Vets also have a forum, which can be obtained from email@example.com
Letter dated: October 11, 2002
Jane Kennedy MP,
Northern Ireland Office,
Republican prisoners in Maghaberry Prison
I am writing to you following discussions with some of my constituents regarding the above matter. They have raised with me their concerns about the republican prisoners being exposed to attacks from loyalist prisoners. It has been reported to me that many of these attacks have been quite severe and unless action is taken to prevent such incidents a fatality may occur.
It has been put to me that some loyalist prisoners who have been threatened by other loyalist prisoners in the past have segregation and associated security measures in place for their protection. I have been asked to request that similar measures be taken to protect the well being of the republican prisoners who are subject to attack and threat.
The families of the republican prisoners also are concerned at a number of incidents during their visits to the prison. They have raised with me their concerns regarding the poor facilities for the visiting relatives e.g., broken chairs, lack of childcare facilities etc. There is also a concern over the use of a drug sniffer dog. Many families have been refused a visit because the dog has reacted to them, even though they had already been cleared by security personnel and they have assured me that they had no contact with drugs.
The point was stressed that many of the republican prisoners involved are on remand. The relatives feel that this adds to the case for segregation from convicted loyalists and more conducive visiting arrangements for families.
I would appreciate it if you were able to look into these matters and I would be willling to meet with you to discuss these issues if required.
MARK DURKAN, MLA,
SDLP Assembly Member for Foyle.
A reply has come to the attention of the CR Vets, but it would not be polite to post this until such time as it has been duly studied by the prisoners' relatives who attended the above meeting. Suffice to say that Jane Kennedy gave little by way of comfort to the prisoners, their relatives or supporters. This shows the need to support and build upon the FSNCampaign, NOW, as a matter of urgency, at home and abroad!
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