The family and friends of prisoners were joined by republicans from across the Six Counties and further afield in a noisy demonstration of solidarity.
The protestors gathered in the prison car park before marching the short distance to Maghaberry’s main entrance. At the gates, the rally was addressed by family members of serving political prisoners and music provided by Pol MacAdaim.
|Independent Cllr Davy Hyland|
The main speaker was local independent republican councillor Davy Hyland who pointed out that the so-called “Justice Minister” David Ford is holding out on information that could bring the protests to an end.
"The minister, we believe, has had a set of recommendations for the assessment which would clarify it for us and bring this protest to an end," Hyland said
Davy Continued: "He has had this since January of this year and he hasn't acted on it - the big question for us is why?"
The protesters blew whistles, horn and set fireworks off to make it clear to the prisoners that support for the campaign is strong and to send a message to the prison regime that it cannot abuse political prisoners without facing a response on the outside.
At Mondays [June 6] monthly meeting of Newry & Mourne District Council, Cllr Davy Hyland proposed a motion to send a delegation to visit Maghaberry.
Speaking about this motion Davy stated: “I raised the prisoner’s plight highlighting the fact that the previous Council had agreed to send a delegation to investigate the prisoners concerns but postponed it when the August 12th agreement 2010 was passed. I proposed a motion that, in the light of the continued strip searching of prisoners it is vital that a Council delegation visit the prisoners as a matter of urgency. The motion was passed without objection.”
For centuries, the British government has attempted to portray the struggle for Irish freedom as a criminal conspiracy. Terence McSweeney, Thomas Ashe and Bobby Sands all died protesting against this policy of criminalisation.
|éirígí’s Newry spokesperson Stephen Murney|
Murney continued:” The refusal by the prison administration to implement the agreement reached last August has created a pressure cooker type situation within Maghaberry that has the potential to escalate further. The brutalisation of the republican prisoners in Maghaberry has clearly touched a nerve among nationalist communities in the Six Counties “
Stephen concluded by saying that:” Many people remember only too well the treatment meted out to POWs in the 1970s and early ’80s and they are not prepared to allow this situation take the same sad route. These people are in prison as a direct result of the ongoing British occupation of Six Counties. That makes them political prisoners entitled to political status within whatever prison they are held. Political status is, at its heart, an issue of human and civil rights. Those in Ireland who support the rights of political prisoners in Afghanistan, Guantanamo Bay, occupied Palestine and elsewhere need to extend that support to political prisoners in Ireland also.”