Last week a significant number of the Irish political prisoners in the now notorious British-run Maghaberry Prison in the Occupied North of Ireland announced an end to their long-running “dirty protest”, a campaign to highlight the inhumane conditions they were being kept in. The prisoners were members of the Real Irish Republican Army or other unaligned Republican groups but are now attached to the “new” IRA, an amalgamation of several Republican Resistance organisations including the Real IRA and DAAD announced in July.
Speculation that the prisoners belonging to the Continuity Irish Republican Army, held on landing three of Roe House (or Roe 3) within the Maghaberry complex, would follow suit was confirmed with an announcement on Sunday:
“Statement from Continuity IRA POWs, Roe 3, Maghaberry Jail, Co Antrim:
After a long period of deliberation, it has been decided that we the Continuity Irish Republican Army POWs will suspend our current phase of protest from Monday November 26, 2012 in order to give the prison regime another opportunity to acknowledge and implement the agreement all parties signed up to in August 2010.
As Republicans we undertook the agreement in good faith and committed to honour it, and as Republicans, at no time did we break our word. After a period of six months it became increasingly clear that in the tradition of Perfidious Albion the British Government had reneged on their word to implement that solution and so we resumed our protest.
Now after 18 months of this second phase of protest, we believe that we have shown the prison regime our resolve and determination to oppose conditions not befitting Republican Prisoners of War. We also believe we can afford them the opportunity at this juncture to implement the agreement.
It is our hope that with this magnanimous gesture the prison regime will now honour their word. As Republicans we will not shirk our responsibility and we believe that it is now necessary for us to take this lead in bringing the agreement to its conclusion.
Like our Comrades on Roe 4 [the “new” IRA POWs], we assert that the resolving of this conflict lies squarely at the feet of David Ford [the regional northern justice minister from the Unionist Alliance Party] and the British Government, despite Ford’s assertion to the contrary.
Failure on the part of the British Government to implement the August 2010 Agreement in full, will result in a re-emergence of conflict in the Jail.
To all who have supported us up to this point, we ask for your continued support. We salute all people across the world who have worked on our behalf. We thank our families and our friends and CABHAIR [the Irish POW support organisation] who have given us unswerving support and assistance.
Signed O/C [Officer Commanding] Maghaberry Prison.”
The statement from the CIRA prisoners came as speculation mounts over behind-the-scenes negotiations between representatives of the Republican Resistance movements and the regional northern and British authorities via a number of intermediaries including some acting on behalf of the Government of Ireland.