Following a visit by Oireachtas members yesterday to Maghaberry Prison and to Marion Price in Belfast City Hospital a group of Oireachtas members are to get an urgent meeting with An Tánaiste to outline their concerns in relation to detention and prison issues in the North.
During the visits yesterday the group, which consisted of TD’s Éamon Ó Cuív, Maureen O’Sullivan, Clare Daly, Aengus Ó Snodaigh and Mick Wallace as well as Senators Mary White and Mark Daly visited Gerry Mc Geough, Gary Adams, Martin Corry and Marion Price as well as a number of prisoners who had been on dirty protest until a week ago.
The Oireachtas members are particularly concerned about the health of Gerry McGeough who has had seven stents inserted to date for a heart complaint including one this week, Marion Price who has been in Belfast City Hospital for the last 6 months with multiple illnesses and Brian Shivers who suffers from Cystic Fibrosis.
Following the visits the delegation met Minister David Ford, Minister of Justice in Northern Ireland and outlined their concerns in relation to justice issues in Northern Ireland including:
The revocation of licences for prisoners convicted of crimes relating to the troubles that happened up to forty years ago and their detention without any details being given to them or their legal representatives as to the reason for their detention. This amounts to internment without trial. Cases involved in this scenario to date are Marion Price and Martin Corry.
The trial, conviction and imprisonment of people for offences committed during the Troubles as far back as 1981 despite the Weston Park agreement (Article 20) signed in 2001 between the Irish and British Governments which stated that people who supported the Peace Process would not serve prison for offences that predated the ceasefire. These are the so called (OTRs or On the run cases). Cases involved in this scenario to date are Gerry McGeough and Gary Adams.
The delegation also expressed concern to the Minister of Justice in relation to the prison conditions that led to a dirty protest of 18 months amongst dissident republicans. On a human rights level all prisoners are entitled to decent prison conditions no matter what they are convicted of and the group expressed concern over the conditions that would lead prisoners to such drastic action. They noted that most prisoners have come off the protest and expressed the hope that the remaining prisoners would come off the protest in the coming days and weeks. Dialogue is the way forward and this will lead to a better situation for both prisoner and prison officer respectively.
While at the Maghaberry Prison the delegation expressed their sympathy to the staff on the recent murder of their colleague David Black and signed the book of condolence in his memory.