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Date Posted: 13:13:17 12/19/02 Thu
Author: Prison Front
Subject: Letter to Minister

Subject : Letter to Paul Murphy from Co.Tyrone Families of Republican Prisoners

Date : Tue, 17 Dec 2002 18:26:12 +0000 (GMT)

This was forwarded with kindness from Patricia Campbell who will be taking part if the protest tomorrow at Hillsborough Castle re: the human rights abuses of Republican Prisoners and the degrading treatment by 'Dog handlers' to the Families.



Mr Paul Murphy

Hillsboragh Castle

18TH December 2002

Dear Mr Murphy

Relatives and friends are here today protesting against the ongoing human rights abuses in Maghaberry Goal. It is with regret that the Director of prisons, Mr Peter Russell did not acknowledge our request for a meeting to discuss the relevant issues affecting us and our loved ones held in Maghaberry.

We have lobbied politicians and have sought to bring about awareness of the appalling conditions in Maghaberry Goal. We are outraged at the Junior Minister, Jane Kennedy’s response on 31st October to a letter she received from Mark Durkan M.L.A which outlined our concerns.

Ms Kennedy states there is no evidence to support the allegation that loyalist prisoners are constantly attacking republican prisoners.

Perhaps the Northern Ireland Prison Service (NIPS) and Ms Kennedy would explain why the security of those prisoners who received death threats were not protected in any shape or form despite the fact that the NIPS have a duty of care under article 2 of the European Human Rights Act. We are aware that ammunition was found recently in the prison and Governor Maguire stated in response to the find that it was almost impossible to prevent this. He further indicated that small items can be smuggled comparatively easily into the prison. Can you Mr Murphy and the NIPS guarantee the safety of our loved ones? We don’t think so.

We view the use of a sniffer dog as an outright abuse of our human rights and dignity by the NIPS. Many of us have been offered closed visits, which we refuse. This was as a result of the of the dog handler singling us out by tugging the dog lead as the dog appraised us and then stops at the individual and sits which is supposed indicate that the individual involved is drug contaminated. It would be laughable if the situation was not so repulsive. It is an outrageous farcical situation. Indeed the NIPS annual report published July 2002, highlighted there were 346 drugs find in the prison. We would like to add that there were no drugs found on republican prisoners.

This latest revelation quite clearly proves the NIPS claims that the drug dog has proven to be the most effective weapon to prevent smuggling of drugs is nonsense. The NIPS own evidence suggests the contrary.

Mr Murphy we ask you is this atrocious prison system to be part of the ‘new Ireland’ that is much talked about in the current political climate? Is this what the future holds? We ask you to intervene immediately and end this deplorable practice which targets mostly women and children. We also ask you to intervene to put measures in place that will house our loved ones in a safe environment thus protect their lives before it is too late.

Yours Sincerely

Ms Oralith Dillon

Spokesperson for relatives of republican prisoners

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