domenica 27 luglio 2008

Republican POW’s will not be criminalised

Republican POW’s will not be criminalised

The IRPWA are becoming increasingly concerned at recent events in Portlaoise gaol whereby attempts have been made by some within the Free State establishment to cause unnecessary friction between POW’s and the prison administration.

On Friday 25th July, shortly after lock up at 8pm seven members of the prison staff entered the cell of Derry republican Gary Donnelly and told him that they had been contacted by the gardai at 7.30pm and informed that he had a mobile phone and that they had been told to search the cell and strip search Gary. In turn the prison staff were told that they could search the cell but that he would be refusing to be strip searched. The prison staff relayed this message to the assistant governor who became highly agitated roaring through the radio to strip search Gary.

Gary Donnelly again refused and asked for his officer commanding who was duly sent for and arrived at Gary’s cell. The OC again informed the prison staff that they could search the cell but that as they had a metal detector they had no need to strip search Gary and that under no circumstances would it be tolerated. The prison staff searched the cell and needless to say found nothing.

The OC also demanded to see the assistant governor to whom he insisted that Republican POW’s and political prisoners would not be criminalised nor victimised. He also demanded a meeting with the Governor for the following day.

On Saturday 26th the Officer Commanding Republican POW’s on E3 and his adjutant met with the Governor and reiterated their position and also informed him that the Republican prisoners would be refusing to be locked up that day. The OC insisted that as political prisoners the men under his command would reuse to be treated like common criminals and told him if it was criminals he was looking for to search E1 where they were housed. The Republican prisoners then refused orders from the prison administration to lock up for head counts and stayed out of their cells until 9.30 that night.

The IRPWA are convinced that this political directive from the Free State elite is aimed at creating conflict within the prison by criminalising and victimising Republicans. It is undoubtedly intended to interrupt the organisation and smooth running of E3 wing that has no doubt caused concern among some. We are also extremely concerned at the attempts to victimise and target Gary Donnelly. In recent weeks the media have been attempting to link Gary to various things with which he has no connection whatsoever. The IRPWA also fear that as Gary is effectively being interned on a charge with no evidence that an attempt may be made to plant a mobile phone in his cell which is a criminal offence thereby bolstering their capability to hold him.

The IRPWA also are concerned at the increased incidents of petty harassment of visitors to the prison by prison staff, particularly female visitors. On a number of occasions females visitors have told of whistling and offensive remarks from both criminal prisoners and staff. In another incident visitors from Cork and Derry were refused entry at the front desk for not having photo ID, when a complaint was made to the governor he replied “ The fella on the desk must have been in bad form” clearly this is unacceptable.

The IRA POW’s and other political prisoners housed on E3 have worked hard to build a tolerable regime on that wing as befits their political status and they will not allow faceless figures from the Free State establishment, no doubt at the behest of their British allies, to create an atmosphere of conflict, friction and criminalisation. The IRPWA will support the prisoners in whatever action the deem necessary to undertake to protect themselves and their status.

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