Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 20 August 2014

Dissident inmates in new protest over ‘broken’ jail deal15

Republican prisoners in Maghaberry have launched a fresh protest over claims that prison chiefs have “reneged” on a deal designed to ease tensions in the high-security jail.

It is understood 15 prisoners launched their protest last Friday by wrecking 11 cells and throwing urine and excrement from their cells onto landings in Roe House.

The protest was launched just one day after the 30th anniversary of the death of IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands.

The protesting prisoners, some of whom are aligned to a number of dissident republican organisations, were then placed in solitary confinement.

The protest involves a number of well-known republicans including Lurgan man Colin Duffy, who has been charged with killing two soldiers in Antrim in March 2009.

Two men charged in connection with the sniper murder of PSNI constable Stephen Carroll in Craigavon days later, John Paul Wootton and Brendan McConville, are also involved in the action. The latest protest was sparked after inmates claimed jail chiefs failed to implement a deal struck after a similar protest last year.

Prison tensions have been running high after a number of republicans objected to being strip-searched on their way to and from court appearances. Just last week a judge ruled that full body searches of prisoners in Maghaberry was lawful.

Last night the prisoners’ spokesman Paul Duffy blamed prison chiefs.

He said: “Agreement was reached in August. There were people from the Northern Ireland Office there, an aide to (Justice Minister) David Ford was present and these people should be called to book for this and asked ‘why don’t you stand by the agreement?’, as it is the basis of a resolution.

“If you speak to any ex-prisoner out there today and they negotiated a settlement and it wasn’t implemented in full, every one would say that they would resist.”

A Prison Service spokesman said it had stood by the terms of the agreement.

He said: “The Northern Ireland Prison Service is committed to the full implementation of the agreement reached last August and is committed to dialogue with prisoners so that issues of concern can be addressed in a peaceful and non-confrontational manner.

“There can be no justification for protests which ultimately undermine the fundamental principles of the agreement.”

The protest also involves a number of men arrested and charged in relation to dissident republican activity in the past month.

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