Irish Republican Prisoners Welfare Association.
Press release : 26-08-2003.
Contact : Marion Price/Martin Mulholland.
Phone : 07801 729 412 or e-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
Officer Commanding IRA prisoners beaten by loyalists.
Yesterday in Maghaberry gaol the O/C of the IRA prisoners, John Connolly was badly beaten by loyalist inmates. Connolly has been beaten on several occasions in the past as have most if not all of the republican prisoners. As O/C of the republican prisoners, John Connolly is probably the most high profile republican prisoners in Maghaberry and as such is under constant threat from loyalists. Added to this is the fact that Connolly is the only republican on his wing which can include up to sixteen loyalists. It is evident from their past behaviour towards republicans and their families that the prison officers are unwilling to stop these attacks and will lose very little sleep if republicans are beaten.
A loyalist source has stated recently that loyalist prisoners are about to begin a campaign of beating republicans on sight in order to get segregation. The IRPWA are convinced that the assault on the O/C is the beginning of that campaign. Republicans have little or no ability to defend themselves against attack isolated as they are in different parts of the prison. In the past fortnight UDA leaders in the gaol have been intimidating ordinary Catholic prisoners in an attempt to stop them siding with republicans, this in to ensure that when the beatings start the IRA prisoners are on their own. The IRPWA salute the courage of a number of ordinary prisoners who have refused to be intimidated and have continued to help and support the Protesting prisoners.
The IRPWA call for immediate segregation of republican prisoners before anyone else is beaten or killed. We have no reason to believe that loyalists will not try to kill a republican and if this happen we may well be entering dark days indeed. The situation in Maghaberry could be resolved very easily with a bit of flexibility and common sense. The IRPWA urge the NIPS and the NIO to act now before a situation develops that is harder to resolve.
Martin Mulholland, spokesperson.