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Date Posted: Thu, Oct 19 2006, 20:13:05 PDT
Author: RPAG


ON Friday, October 13 the Republican Prisoners' Action Group (RPAG) and members of Republican Sinn Féin throughout Ireland and supporters of the protesting Republican prisoners in Maghaberry in Sweden and the USA held a series of events to highlight the plight of the prisoners, as another sell-out of the Republican position was being negotiated at St Andrews in Scotland.

A statement from the RPAG on October 13 said that efforts to highlight the conditions faced by Republican POWs in Maghaberry jail - "a regime which the late Msgr Faul described as 'inhumane' after visiting Maghaberry, shortly after he had received a delegation from the RPAG".

The statement continued: "However we have endured a media blackout. Clearly it is not in the interests of London, Dublin or their hirelings for the people of Ireland to learn of the appalling conditions in which Republican POWs are held in Maghaberry jail or their ongoing resistance to the Brit policy of criminalisation.

Republican POWs in Maghaberry jail have been on protest since the June 19. They have issued five demands. These are:

* Free association
* Freedom of movement
* The right to full-time education
* Separate visiting facilities
* The right to organise their own landings

Supporters of the protesting Republican POWs in Maghaberry jail took part in a number of protest actions in order to increase awareness. Belfast members of the RPAG attempted to take over the offices of UTV but were prevented by the RUC/PSNI. A letter protesting the lack of coverage given to the POWs' protest was handed in to the UTV offices and read to a camera crew at the gate.

The following is the text of the statement read outside UTV in Belfast: "We stand here in solidarity with the Republican POWs in Maghaberry jail, who are on protest against the inhumane conditions in which they are kept. The English government - in conjunction with former Republicans - has sought to criminalise them by revoking political status under the terms of the 1998 Stormont Agreement. The Provos are presently in Scotland discussing ways of reinforcing English rule in Ireland.

"Meanwhile those captured resisting the foreign occupation of our country endure 22-hour lockups; no free association; no adequate educational facilities; visits alongside loyalists; misuse of the sniffer dogs and many other injustices.

"The Prisoners of War in Maghaberry have been on protest since the June 19. During this time they have refused to eat food in their cells - in which there is a toilet - as well as initiating other forms of protest. They have also undertaken 24-hour, 48-hour and 72-hour fasts. Their health can only suffer as a result, and as such there is an onus on everybody to do all in their power to resolve the situation in Maghaberry.

"Twenty-five years ago ten soldiers died on hunger strike to ensure that political status would be returned to those who came after them. Those incarcerated for pursuing the freedom of their country have an absolute right to political status - and this right does not and did not belong to the Provos to sign away.

"The Republican Prisoners' Action Group has sought to increase awareness of the appalling conditions in which Republican POWs are held, and to this end we have held many white-line pickets, public meetings, meetings with concerned bodies and individuals; organised leaflet-drops and other forms of protest.

"However there has been a concerted campaign of censorship in the media. Every attempt has been made by those responsible to minimalise our efforts to inform the Irish people of the conditions in Maghaberry Gaol and the ongoing protest within the prison. But the prisoners have made it clear that their resolve is strong, and that their protest will continue until their demands are met.

"Republican POWs can never be criminalised. Political status now!
"Victory to the POWs!"

An RPAG picket was placed outside the gates St Andrews in Scotland to highlight the plight of the Republican POWs in Maghaberry. Whilst the enemies of Republicanism - including the Provos - were inside negotiating ways of bolstering English rule in the Six Occupied Counties, the Republican POWs continue to suffer inhumane conditions in Maghaberry. Those who signed up to the Stormont Agreement signed away political status for the POWs.

Several thousand leaflets were handed out in the centre of Dublin outlining the plight of the prisoners by members of the Dublin Comhairle Ceantair of Republican Sinn Féin.
In Cork members of the MacCurtáin/McSwiney Cumann, RSF Cork and RPAG (Republican Prisoners Action Group) turned out at Daunt Square in Cork for a vigil to highlight the continuing attempts at the criminalisation of Republican Prisoners in Maghaberry.

Hundreds of leaflets were handed out, highlighting the present conditions in Maghaberry and the continuing protest for political status, which had been won by the sacrifices of ten brave men in 1981 and was removed by the British government and those who signed the failed 1998 Stormont Agreement. The reaction from passers by was positive.

In New York members of the National Irish Freedom Committee (NIFC) staged a very successful demonstration outside the British Consulate in NYC on October 14. The demonstration was part of the world-wide Political Status Awareness/Action Day to support the escalating struggle for political status by Irish republican prisoners.

Participants passed out leaflets with information on the escalating struggle inside British jails by the Republican prisoners. Storyboards were carried by members of the group depicting the ongoing political status struggle beginning with the 1981 struggle in the H-Blocks.

The sidewalk in front of the consulate was busy with people; many of whom posed questions about the ongoing struggle for political status. The NIFC made its position clear by asserting that any attempt to criminalise the quest for a united 32-county federal Irish Republic, free of British occupation, will be resisted at every turn.

In Sweden the Ireland Information Group held pickets and handed out leaflets about and in support of the protesting Maghaberry prisoners on Saturday, October 14. There was one picket outside the British embassy in Stockholm, and one outside the consulate in Gothenburg. All the local branches of the committee plan to hold pub evenings/raffles in support of the prisoners in the near future.

Almost four months on from the start of the protest in Maghaberry it is imperative that anyone with influence exerts this to resolve the situation, which is hurtling towards crisis point.

The newly formed Glasgow branch of RPAG will distribute leaflets outside Celtic Park before the game in support of the Republican POWs in Maghaberry jail, on Saturday, October 21. Show your support for the POWs by meeting at the junction of Janefield Street and Holywell Street at 2pm, to collect and distribute leaflets.

Republican POWs will not be criminalised!

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