Alliance a ‘legitimate target’?

Moving from an oppositional role in the Assembly to taking on the role of Justice Minister ran political risks for the Alliance Party. At the time I flippantly noted David Ford had put himself in the firing line in more way than one.

However, his and Alliance’s responsibility for the conditions of Republican prisoners has come to the fore as a decent sized crowd made their way to APNI HQ for a protest on their attitude to prisoner rights –something those locking themselves inside will not have experienced before.

ADD –  I hear David Ford was the first, and so far only, member of APNI to be added to the equivilent of the Key Persons Protection list and is now given around the clock armed police protection.

, , ,

  • joeCanuck

    Fair enough for coming along and explaining.

  • jim

    suppose kitson will want status as well.so will the war criminal who chained the man in londonderry in his van n made him drive himself to eternity.in hindsight he should have driven it outside yer mans mas house.look at the status this scroat has now who says crime doesnt pay

  • joeCanuck

    To get back to the subject. There have been consistent complaints by some prisoners that they are being mistreated which, if true, should be totally unacceptable in a democracy. Does Northern Ireland not have an independent Inspector of Prisons? If so, what is she/he doing or not doing? If not, perhaps the English and Welsh Inspector should be asked to come over and have a look.

  • Mark McGregor

    joe,

    I hear a SF delegation was visitng the prison today. Will be interesting to hear their response.

  • jim

    theyre english prisons.just run by n ireland ministers sf dup ect ofdfm

  • jim

    they must be visiting gary taylor n co on the uda wing

  • Mark McGregor

    John O’Dowd tweet – ‘I was part of a SF delegation which went into MaghaberryPrison Gerry A has already raIsed his concerns with the Justice Minister over prison’

  • joeCanuck

    Mark,

    The kicker will be in what they are allowed to see. Do you know if they will have unlimited access?

  • Tout

    The high-minded and upstanding libcom.org has electronic copies available for anyone’s perusal.

  • jim

    sf were never near the wings on the jail.o dowd went as far as the screws canteen for tea n biccies.

  • Mark McGregor

    No idea Joe. I’d be surprised if people they descibe as ‘criminals’ and ‘traitors’ (and more) had any interest in meeting them. If they didn’t get to see many/any prisoners their report after could be of little/no value.

  • Mark McGregor

    I was thinking that myself but lets hear SF’s detailed report on what they did when/if they give it.

  • Alias

    I’d be surprised if 50+1% of the catholic population in NI voted to change the constitutional status that they have accepted, but absolutely amazed if 50+1% of the general population did so. Their calculations are always self-serving so they will along the lines of “What’s in it for me?” In reality, all that is in it for them is that they will shift from being among the 45% ethnic group in a sectarian statelet to being among an 85% ethnic group in a larger sectarian statelet, with the other ethnic group being forced into the minority position instead. So that gives them some sectarian advantage that they would likely vote for.

    Most of them, however, would consider selfish interests such as their job, state entitlements, investments, ect, and what effect that changing the constitutional status would have on those factors. Given that 72% of the economy in that part of the United Kingdom is dependent on the state sector, the loss of that state would utterly devastate its economy. It is highly unlikely that the catholic group will vote itself out of state employment or good health care etc just to gain some modest sectarian advantage over the other tribe.

    A majority of voters in the Irish state also have to approve unity. Again, it is highly unlikely that they will vote to extend the British veto from NI to Ireland, agreeing to dismantle their nation-state and convert themselves into a non-sovereign nation just so that the British nation can hold a veto over their inalienable right to self-determination and so that they can ‘enjoy’ the same dysfunctional constitutional dynamics that have rendered NI into an economic, political and social basket case.

  • Alias

    J118: As I said, Patsy (SA3) was all for it, Tommy (SA1) was ready to go, he said he would have no problems asking the crew for their support.

    G: Do you think there will be any problem with it?

    J118: I know our fella (J119) has everyone geared up for it, he (J119) thinks it is his idea.

    G: I think you should push this along as quickly as possible.

    J118: Murray (B328) is pushing, starting to ask a lot of questions about Belfast Command.

    G: Don’t worry, we will look after things in that department, you just concentrate on the checkpoints.

    G: We must have another meeting next week. In the meantime you can use the number I gave you in updates on the progress of things.

    Martin McGuinness is J118 telling his handler that his brother, J119. is all “geared up” to prepare that human bomb that you referred to.

  • Alias

    “How about the later business of leaving stripped and hooded bodies by the roadside – is that a provo innovation.”

    No, that is a British Army FRU practice. The deputy head of PIRA’s ISU, Freddie Scappaticci, was an FRU agent, as was the head of PIRA’s ISU, JJ Magee. That was the British state via its agents in the state-sponsored murder gangs leaving hooded British citizens in a ditch by the side of the road.

  • sdelaneys

    It is claimed they met Liam Campbell. Colin Duffy, Brendan McConville and Turloch McAllister.
    Also claimed that John O’Dowd, Paul Maskey, Caral Ní Chuilín, Raymond McCartney and Mickey Culbert were the delegation,. Don’t know what access they had to the wings.Think they met the men in a specific room. Th prisoners were apparently selected by the prisoners themselves.

  • jim

    theyd have been better off meeting mi5.

  • sdelaneys

    Inspections of Maghaberry in 2006 and 2009 were damning in their findings and have been basically ignored. One recommendation in 2006 was the disbandment of the SST (commonly called the riot squad) but, wouldn’t you know it, they are still there and were the cause of the cell wrecking last week after they brutalised Harry Fitzsimmons.

  • sdelaneys

    Someone may well come on here to claim that that is just what did happen but far be it from me to make such an ‘outlandish’ claim!

  • old school

    PSF have already dug themselves into a hole and described separatist Republicans as “criminal gangs”.
    They’ve boxed themselves into a corner on this issue.
    Not much wriggle room for them, but then again they do have a gift of talking from both sides of the mouth at the same time.

  • sdelaneys

    Yes, they are good at that but they will have difficulty accepting strip searching and full time controlled movement ( a prisoner can’t move about at all outside his cell without half a dozen screws with him and this applies only to the republicans)

  • old school

    Screws have been supplied with body armour, according to the Bel Tel.

  • old school

    Just noticed the DFM’s brother in law at that Alliance protest.
    Fair play to him.

  • joeCanuck

    Any chance of a source for that?

  • Mark McGregor

    OS,

    The photo came from elsewhere but I’d appreciate not being forced to mask faces on stuff I link for fear of others naming/identifying people present.

  • joeCanuck

    Who can be held responsible? Is it now the Justice Minister? If so, he should be allowed a honeymoon, say 3 months. There is a more pressing problem as we all well know.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Whatever the truth about the allegations of mistreatment this issue which the dissers clearly think will have siginificant propaganda value (it is obviously their best bet)seems to have the potential to run for some time and presumably the hunger strike option will come into play at some point.

    I suspect if a hunger strike were called it would have little traction with the general Nationalist population and it might take the shock of such rejection for the dissers to realise the futility of their continuing campaign.

  • sdelaneys

    I sincerely hope not, never want to see or hear about hunger striking again.
    This has nothing to do with propaganda as is obvious if only from the fact that the diverse affiliations of the prisoners wouldn’t allow co-operation for such reasons. Even look at the lack of statements coming from the various groups the prisoners belong to.
    This is genuinely about the issue of strip searching and controlled movement. There is an old proverb about being careful what you wish for in case you get it. Look at a hunger strike in that context, if you are wise.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    sdelaneys,

    “This is genuinely about the issue of strip searching and controlled movement. ”

    If you were running a prison are you seriously telling me you wouldnt strip search people if you knew they concealed stuff you didnt want smuggled in?

  • sdelaneys

    Sammy, when a prisoner is taken from his cell and strip searched what do you think the purpose for strip searching him two minutes later before he is sent into anothwer room is? What do you think the reason for strip searching him after he leaves that room although he has been in the presence of nobody but screws all the time? It has nothing to do with security and everything to do with control freakery and is only applied in such extreme fashion to republicans. The same applies to controlled movement and republicans can look out the window to see one screw crossing a yard with 5 or 6 loyalists or ordinary prisoners but they won’t allow one republican to move unless they have 5 or 6 screws to accompany him.

  • Concerned

    I wish some had not already resorted to “the hunger strike option”, as you say.

    26th:
    A letter from a prisoner in Maghaberry was smuggled out of the jail and delivered to the Andersonstown News yesterday, outlining why the local man was on hunger strike.
    The letter reads: “Liam has taken the weapon of hunger strike to this poisonous establishment which is Maghaberry prison.” The letter claims that Mr Hannaway’s mail and photographs have gone missing, that his family and friends had been strip-searched when visiting him, and it states that he is unhappy that his food is being handled by loyalist prisoners who aren’t observing even basic hygiene principles.
    His family yesterday confirmed to the Andersonstown News that he is on hunger strike.
    His partner, Alison Diver, told us: “Liam has been on hunger strike for eight days. It is mainly to do with conditions in the jail.”

    12th:
    liam is starting to show signs he is going down a bit quicker than we would have expected Smell of food is now making him violently sick and his sight is alot worse than it had been on saturday his total weight loss to date from he started this is 2st 10 lbs He is now refusing medics as he has asked for an independant doctor to examine him he has very little energy and things are all downhill here on in

    Any news of Liam?

  • jim

    bxxls. ime an ordinary decent criminal if 5 or 6 three by twos accompanyd every prisoner wede be well over the wall …………………………..by the way for the undereducated 3 by 2s r screws

  • Munsterview

    sdelaneys

    Same as Portlaoise: political prisoners were held in single cells and subjected to a 24/7 lockdown because of the protest. Once the prisoners and their cells had been thoroughly searched the first time, that should have been it, only prison officers were in and out of the cells from then on in and in group strength at that.

    The fact that groups of prison officers regularly crashed cells, sometimes several times in the same hour, overwhelmed prisoners with brute force and then proceed to conduct leisurely naked body genital and anal searches showed what the exercise was all about, breaking prisoners wills.

    If this practice is now operative in Derry for the same purposes then prison officers are going down a very dangerous road indeed. Only so much was taken from the prison officers in the Kesh and we all know what then happened. There is an urgency about this matter that do not seem to be appreciated and all concerned about a peaceful resolution should act now.

  • jim

    maybe hes giving free grub out or invites to his new bought pub somehow i cant rememember worrking with him on the building sites.oooooooooooooooooooo…………………..ooooooooooooooo……………i wish i was back home in l/derry

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    sdelaneys,

    So you dont have a problem with strip searching just the way it is applied to Republicans?

    There may be many reasons for the differential treatment of groups of prisoners some related to risk and some related their previous behaviour and I have no idea whether these allegations are true or not. It is in the prisoners interest to make out they are and in the prison staff’ interest ot make out they are not.

    Unfortunately for the dissers their campaign of violence is so unpopular that they have diifculty getting people to listen to them or believe them or have sympathy for them and perhaps it is only after they have a hunger strike that the harsh reality of their isolation from political realities will be brought home to them.

  • sdelaneys

    Have another read of my post about the nature of the strip searching and its obvious intent to demean. Nothing to do with risk.

  • sdelaneys

    It’s very similar indeed and it’s worth pointing out that the worst offenders are the members of the SST who are equally despised by many of the ordinary officers and by the prisoners.

  • jim

    IN the case of tom williams as the song goes weal make u all regret .bxxls pierpoint the man who hung him went on to run a bozzer in yorkshire at the height of the ira campaing in england ross mc wirterr was shot n every other cxxt wuz murdered i know the campain fizzled out a bit but fxxk that if anybody should have needed stiffed it wuz this cxxt i was in his pub n the slag had a sign NO HANGING ABOUT THE BAR

  • joeCanuck

    Prisoners and the guards should all be given the opportunity to read the Encyclopedia Brittanicia entry on prisons. They, prisons, only work when the prisoners accept the incarceration regime and that only comes about when the formal rules are considerably relaxed with the minor ones being ignored by both sides. Tnhat only applies, of course, during periods of calm. The real key is both sides respecting the others as fellow human beings and no unnecessary humiliation.
    I know nothing about the conditions in any N.I. jails but I think that the extent of the complaints and apparent ignoring of recommendations for change need some sort of investigation.

  • wee buns

    ‘Has there ever been a screw found guilty of abuse in the North…Ever????’

    Not Yet.
    It is very easy for the establishment to exert & maintain abuses with the excuse that circumstance demands it, but this is an uttertly false & exploititivr claim on behalf of the governemnt, meant to keep everyone (not just republicans) securely in place; take away dissenting voice.

  • wee buns

    It’s a fair bleat, Kevin, until it happens to be you or your family, doing something the state might not approve of, like, I dunno, defaulting on morgage payments.

  • wee buns

    You should have your keyboard washed out with soap, another dirty fighter just like Pippakin.

  • sdelaneys

    Yes Joe, that’s the core of it. Look beyond who these men are and then you have to wonder why all the serious recommendations from people tasked with making them have been ignored.
    As far as I

  • sdelaneys

    Yes Joe, you’re coming to the core issue. Reccomendations made by people tasked with making recommendations are being ignored long term. I

  • sdelaneys

    Those two posts got away on me as I am a bit butter fingered tonight. Trying to make the point that the prisoners are not asking for anything extraordinary or special treatment but simply for the implementation of recommendations and a less rigid interpretation of the rules.It is that rigidity that can lead to a prisoner being stripped searched twice within minutes and a journey of a few yards never having left the scrutiny of prison officials.

  • jim

    ure last paragraph says it all. u no fxxk all about jail.jail is jail screws r screws

  • joeCanuck

    Wrong, Jim. I know a lot about jails. I just don’t know about the conditions in N.I. jails. Perhaps you might want to read what de Tocqueville had to say; it’s relevant today..

  • Michaelhenry

    dirty fighter, its the best way to fight, with the truth.

  • Eire32

    jim are you on the bevvys

  • joeCanuck

    I’m fairly sure that jim is a troll. Perhaps we should just ignore his illiterate posts.

  • Munsterview

    sdelaneys

    This is not really about prisoners and prisons: it is about power and some shit in a suit, or a coupe of them around a polished table in some anonymous office in Whitehall deciding that rather than confront Republicans on the streets tying up resources and risking escalating support for them, that they will break them and their families using the prison system.

    As other posts have stated, it seems that the political prisoners want little more than independent reports ( in as much as these things are ever independent) and recommendations implemented.

    There is also a very serious issue for the peace process as a whole; I did enough chapel gate and other meetings in my day for the rights of the Armagh Women political prisoners, the Kesh and the Curragh and took part in enough protests, not to feel strongly about it and appreciate it for the emotive issue that it can become.

    If the current geniuses sitting around our own polished tables allow this to become a focal point of street protest, most Republicans my self included will support it. In these circumstances it will also quickly become a focal point for other issues to do with the Peace Process, of broken promises, undertakings not delivered on and serious misjudgments by the Leadership. It is in their interests and in the interests of the Peace Process that this is not allowed to happen.

    In the South most Republicans in the Thirties swallowed hard and gave gave Fianna Fail the benefit of the doubt until it came to the prisoners issues; then it became black and white, either Republicans allowed prisoner abuse to happen in which case they were the New Free Staters or they stood by their old comrades and Republican beliefs. The Brits it seems are not the only ones slow to learn the lessons of history!

    One other issue here; how many of the prison officers are Catholic /Nationalists and how many are the usual Orange misfits and half wits in uniform. The answer to that could explain a lot of the problem.

    Whatever; if it is not resolved and quickly there is only one way that It can end. One prison officer escorting six loyalist prisoners and six escorting one Republican Political Prisoner is not equality of treatment and points to the old cosy relationships and all being drawn from the same backstreet loyalist street culture and gene pool!

    Republicans too have learned the lessons of history, this will not end with prisoners on protracted Hunger Strikes, it will end with prison officers being shown outside prisons that there are consequences to their actions and limits to their power. As I continue to point out we are going down a very dangerous road here.

  • Laddy

    Dear Munsterview:

    I do not view political prisoners the same as those who have been duly convicted of crimes. Your points are well taken. The problem in my humble opinion is the use of the policing power of the State, any State, to enforce policy decisions that are not consonant with the voluntary will of the individual. The State represents coercion and wealth consumption both of which must needs be severely shackled in a society of free men. This is not an advocacy of anarchy, rather its converse that governments are instituted among men to secure their natural rights. Political imprisonment is an abomination to liberty.

  • sdelaneys

    I wouldn’t argue with that.
    The prisoners will say, though, that generally speaking most of the ordinary officers are OK, there is a small sectarian element but the major problems arise with the SST members. Th excuse that 5 or 6 screws are needed to move republican prisoners is added to by refusing to move more than three at a time which results in there not being enough time for all the prisoners to eat their dinner in the dining hall so some are forced to eat alone in their cell siting beside the toilet. Same with classes and exercise, the marriage of ‘needing’ so many officers to move small numbers of men means that all the time some prisoners are seriously short changed.
    Religious breakdown of prison staff would show a very high proportion are from the unionist tradition and a lot are ex army. Some have come through Long Kesh.

  • Munsterview

    sdelaneys

    Thanks for the info! Arising from this a number of issues are immediately apparent.

    First given the make up of the Prison Officers and their cultural background close impartial supervision of the Prison Regime will be required. Under usual conditions P.O. do not generally respect inmates or their rights, I have some experience of the Southern State’s here and The Queens ‘hospitality’ across the water, not too much thankfully but enough to have seen and experienced the system from the inside out.

    I need to digress for a moment to the larger and by now almost successfully buried Donegall Garda Corruption scandal to see what can happen when ‘the watchers’ are not watched. There a group of waster cops ( in every sense of the word) and far more than were acknowledged were involved in a grand financial scam against the Southern State and the Brits also for good measure!

    To recount here for the benefit of Northern or new readers, Special Branch Garda ( police ) detectives had a fair sized cottage industry going : they had a garage and equipment specially set aside to manufacture explosives, which they did in some quantities. They then planted some of these viable explosives in the Six Counties with faulty detonators and the remainder South of the border. These planted explosives were then ‘found’ in the North and South, much heightened security, lashings of overtime, promotions and even commendations, you could not script this!

    Fortunately a Judicial enquiry did and it is all there for all to see, I had a hand in breaking that story and as much was suppressed in a massive damage limitation exercise as made it into the public forum. Needless to say no charging of Gardai with manufacture of possession of explosives etc or any of that nonsense; even those convicted were allowed keep their pensions!

    The connection to the Derry prison problems are obvious; are some prison officers especially this ‘Heavy Squad’ hyping up the ‘Security situation’ for their own sole financial benefit with no regard for the Peace Process or any other tensions that they are creating? Do the Heavy squad as is usually the case get a special allowance for being on stand by and suited up? If so then it is easy to see how ‘heightened security’ could become a constant. There are a myriad of questions arising here that need immediate answers.

    Just how much of this nonsense is coming from Whitehall security advisers ? Mick Collins was none too pleased about Sir Henry Wilson’s ‘security advice’ after the Treaty and Mick dealt with that situation by dealing with the very top in a most effective way!

    The lessons of history will not be lost in certain people no doubt and they should be learned by all and quickly at that.

  • sdelaneys

    Personally I have been of the opinion for some time that a fair element of the trouble inside and outside the prison is being orchestrated by those who would, on the face of it,be deemed least likely, agents of the state. There are very weird things happening at the moment,it’s almost surreal. People protecting their jobs? Probably but not only, more to it than that.

  • Munsterview

    Agreed; of course it is more than it seems, much, much more. There are probably a dozen or more far greater resourced and sophisticated people than the Donegal clowns lurking around the ‘security’ undergrowth up there, each attempting to protect their own patch and expand their own specific operations.

    To them all up there are human lab rats to test out various ‘post conflict’ situations. One has only to appreciate the level of penetration of the Southern Security services and likewise the Provo Republican organizations ( the elephant in the room) to realize just how extensive and effective these operations were. They have not gone away you know.

    The rise of the Provos took all security, political and informed opinion by surprise; no doubt there are all sorts of theories on their side as to how the situation could have been contained back then. Now with the spooks best friends in office for the next five years? all their Christmases will have come together. That old Chinese curse of ‘May you live in interesting times’ may have validity for the North.

    As to the Peace Process per se, whatever of the optics, the High Tories regard the whole thing a s ‘temporary little arrangement’ and will not be adverse to any situation that can be engineered to leave Sinn Fein powerless. They have not forgotten Brighton, Canary Warf or Mountbatten. Neither should we forget what they were like and what made all these things necessary.