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Date Posted: 10:13:34 06/01/03 Sun
Author: IFC-USA
Subject: Prisons' Service Replies


Date : Fri, 30 May 2003 17:33:19 +0000


Date: 05 30 03

Many of our supporters have received offensive responses from the Northern Ireland Prisons Service, alleging that the policy of forced integration of republican prisoners alongside loyalists is designed to "reward the individual" and create "the safest prison regimes for both prisoners and staff".

Like many of you, we find these answers condescending and
wholly unsatisfactory. We fail to understand how an atmosphere can be declared "safe" where republican prisoners are grossly outnumbered, routinely harassed, brutally attacked, and openly targeted for death.

We encourage all of you to continue to lodge your complaints with the NIO and NIPS here:

Republican prisoners at Maghaberry are being pushed to the brink of endurance, and they desperately need your help. Please don’t allow history to repeat itself!

The Irish Freedom Committee®

March 25, 2003

ATTN: Press & Communications Unit
Northern Ireland Prison Service

To whom it may concern;

With all due respect, your reply here does not begin to address the ongoing violent physical danger these republican political prisoners are living under. I refer to several violent and brutal attacks against republican prisoners over the course of the past few years at Maghaberry Prison by the loyalist paramilitary prisoners you have elected to forcefully house them with:

1. MARCH 22, 2003: Republican prisoner JJ Connolly seriously burned with scalding water thrown at his face from loyalist cell
2. APRIL 8, 2002: Republican prisoner Ciaran McLaughlin viciously attacked with an electric iron, suffering severe lacerations and contusions to his body and face in a totally unprovoked attack by loyalists.
3. SEPTEMBER 4, 2001: Republican prisoner John Swift brutally attacked with an electric iron, leaving him near dead. John needed 17 staples to his head and 14 stitches to his face after the unprovoked attack by loyalist paramilitary prisoners, which also left him with a broken
4. OCTOBER 31, 1999: Republican prisoner Tommy Crossan scalded in an unprovoked attack by loyalist paramilitary prisoners
5. MANY, MANY OTHER ATTACKS against Remand prisoners have been recorded and go unreported out of genuine fear against further reprisals.

I am certain you will also be familiar with the PSNI police visits one year ago to republican prisoners at Maghaberry, warning them that death threats had been delivered against them by loyalist groups inside the prison. Knowing this, how does your policy of "treating the prisoners as
individuals" explain your decision to place these men in alongside the same loyalist prisoners who have issued the death threats?? Is this how loyalist paramilitary prisoners are "rewarded for good behaviour"?

I am entirely unclear as to how this policy of forced integration amongst persons and organizations who do not even live in the same communities on the outside can subsequently provide for " the safest prison regimes for both prisoners and staff" at Maghaberry. Clearly this
is not anywhere near the established definition of "safe" to house sworn enemies side by side in close quarters; particularly in the cases of the republican prisoners who are grossly outnumbered upon these landings, and, as we have clearly established, have already suffered a series of
vicious attacks and are currently living under mass death threats.

Please explain to us how this policy could possibly "reward the individual". Your answers below are not remotely encouraging.


The Irish Freedom Committee

-----Original Message-----
From: Northern Ireland Prison Service
Sent: Tuesday, March 25, 2003 8:43 AM
To: Irish Freedom Committee
Subject: Re: Appeal regarding Maghaberry Jail

Irish Freedom Committee;

Thank you for your recent correspondence.

You seem to be labouring under a misapprehension.

All prisoners in Maghaberry, regardless of their perceived political persuasion, are allowed to wear their own clothes and to associate freely within their accommodation block.

With regard to separating prisoners who hold different political views, the Northern Ireland Prison Service firmly believes that integration provides for the safest prison regimes for both prisoners and staff and meets the Service's obligations under the Human Rights Act.

Integration gives the Service the ability to treat prisoners as individuals rather than as part of a group and means prisoners can be rewarded for good behaviour thus giving each prisoner responsibility for his/her own actions.

A fundamental tenet of Prison Rules, which are enshrined in legislation and have been the subject of democratic debate, is that all prisoners shall be considered individually and that all prisoners committed by the Courts shall be held safely and securely for the protection of the community and the interests of justice.

When prisoners are segregated they act in a collective way which prevents treating them as individuals and compromises their own and staff safety.

Independent reports into the Prison Service, ranging from the Hennessy Report to the report by Lord Colville and, most recently, the HMCIP report by Sir David Ramsbotham in 1998 arrived at the same conclusion.

Rest assured that the safety of staff and prisoners is of paramount importance to the Northern Ireland Prison Service.

Thank you for your interest.

Press & Communications Unit
Northern Ireland Prison Service

----- Original Message -----
From: "Irish Freedom Committee"
To: "Ireland Prison Service Northern"
Sent: Monday, March 24, 2003 5:05 PM
Subject: Appeal regarding Maghaberry Jail

Dear Sirs and Mesdames,

I urge you to improve conditions in your prisons by allowing
republican prisoners to associate freely, wear their own clothes and be segregated from loyalist prisoners by being given their own wing and facilities for recreation and independent work. Many of us here in Irish-America remember, sadly and regretfully, the hunger strike a
little more than twenty years ago that needlessly cost the lives of ten men. Irish-Americans like me, and the organizations we represent, do not want to see the situation in the prisons there come to that again. We are very upset that it has been allowed to get this dire already. Please do your best to listen to voices like mine and defuse this situation before it gets any worse.

Sincerely yours,

The Irish Freedom Committee
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