It’s been announced that a section of the Irish political prisoners engaged in a “Dirty Protest” in the notorious Maghaberry Prison near Lisburn in the Occupied North of Ireland are to end their campaign from today. According to media reports twenty-two prisoners who now form part of the “new” Irish Republican Army (a military coalition of the Real IRA, RAAD and some non-aligned Irish Republican guerrillas) called off their protests in a unilateral move designed to encourage new negotiations between their representatives and the regional northern and British authorities. All twenty-two prisoners are held in Landing Four of Roe House and a campaign has been running since May of 2011 in opposition to full body strip searches and other inhumane conditions by a majority of Republicans held in the prison. Since then the situation in Maghaberry has rapidly deteriorated culminating in the shooting dead of a prison guard, David Black, by Resistance Republicans. The northern justice minister, the Alliance Party’s David Ford, claims that no secret deals have been done to end the trouble. Which is hardly the first time we have heard that.
The following statement was issued by the twenty-two “Prisoners of War” in Maghaberry Prison aligned to the “new” Irish Republican Army:
“Following the signing of the August 2010 agreement with the Prison Service, Republican POWs continually attempted to resolve all outstanding issues. Despite the continued use of the brutal forced strip searches we regularly engaged with political parties and groups who showed an interest in bringing a resolution to the impasse.
This process of dialogue lasted nine months. The amount of time and effort put into this process cannot be over stated, unfortunately despite this lengthy engagement all we had to show were the injuries inflicted during these searches and beatings. The resumption of protest action became inevitable. On May 6th 2011 we commenced our current phase of protest action.
We are now into our 19th month of this phase of protest. Our resolve and commitment are unquestionable. As Republican POWs we are prepared to meet head on any attempt to reintroduce failed policies of the past. This should never have to be the case.
Following intense and detailed discussion and analysis, we, the Republican POWs on Roe 4 have decided on a unilateral initiative which we believe will provide the space required for a resolution of the current impasse.
As from Wednesday 21st November 2012 all Republican POWs on Roe 4 landing will cease our current protest action.
This initiative should be viewed as a genuine and sincere attempt to create the conditions in which a conflict free environment can flourish whereby all are treated with respect and dignity is guaranteed.
A dialectical process of engagement to resolve all issues should be the order of the day. Confrontation need not be part of the environment that we all have to live and work in.
Upon launching this initiative we call upon all those political parties and groups who profess to share our stated aim of a conflict free environment to immediately seize upon this initiative. We call upon you to use your political influence and position to bring about the progressive change that is required.
We call upon the prison service management at all levels to jettison the failed policies of the past and to move forward progressively.
Finally, to all who have campaigned on our behalf, we applaud your commitment and steadfastness and ask that you continue to highlight our plight.
For our part, we will not be found wanting in the task that lies ahead.
Republican POWs, Roe 4, Maghaberry.”
Interestingly Republican political prisoners elsewhere in Maghaberry Prison were by some accounts unaware of the new developments and remain on protest until their demands are met.
More here [Italian].