‘ Although we have good reason to be sceptical, we are willing to give it fair wind – Inmate’s statement
REPUBLICAN prisioners in Maghaberry Gaol have said they are willing to give a “fair wind” to a recently completed reveiw of a controversial prison deal.
The reveiw which was carried out by an independent assessment team appointed by Justice Minister David Ford, examined aspects of a deal struck in 2010 to relax strip searches and controlled movement in the prison. Republican prisoners in the jail’s Roe House have accused jail authorities of reneging on the deal. The recent stock-take found that “not all the principles of the August 2010 agreement have been adhered to, nor have all undertakings been acted upon”. The report found that the agreement has “been unable to realise its full potential, partly because of bedding in problems arising from the lack of trust” between prison service officials and republician prisoners and concern about staff safety. It also said the stock-take has “created an opportunity to get things back on track”. In 2012 republican prisoners ended a no-wash protest just weeks after prison officer David Black was shot dead as he travelled to work in Maghaberry Gaol along the M1. Prison authorities say they will look at outstanding elements of the agreement including strip searches. They also say they will consider relaxing controlled movement as long as prison staff are allowed to carry out their work “free from harm, intimidation and threat”. In a joint statement inmates on the republican wing Roe Three and Four landings gave the review a cautious welcome. “Although we have good reason to be sceptical, we are willing to give it a fair wind,” it said. “The stock-take has the capacity to re-engage the implementation process of the August 2010 agreement. The reality is the only viable option. It is the only show in town,” it said. The prisoner statement said the 2010 deal offers are “victory to no-one”. “It is a route to an environment which is conflict free and threatens no-one,” it said. The joint statement added that a “resolution of all outstanding issues is within all of our grasps”. ” This should not be held to ransom by the politically ambitious or reactionary elements who yearn for a time long past,” it said. “We are in the 21st century; prison conditions should reflect that. Therefore Rupublican Political Prisoners in Roe House are in full favour of a conflict free environment.”
With many thanks to: Connla Young, The Irish News, for the origional story.