The Secretary of the Kernow branch of the Celtic League expressed his concerns on behalf of the branch about possible human rights abuses taking place at Maghaberry Prison, Lisburn in the north of Ireland. Branch Secretary, Mike Chappell, has written to an array of politicians to express his concerns following a demonstration by prisoners at Maghaberry Prison over conditions, over the Easter weekend. One member of the branch wrote to Mr Chappell with the edited contents of a letter that he had been sent by an inmate at Maghaberry Prison. In the letter the prisoner says:
“It’s 5:00 pm Sunday, 14, March, we’ve been locked up from 11:40 this morning. It’s been over a day since a fellow prisoner was taken from our wing yesterday at 4:00 pm and taken to the “Boards”. So, I don’t know if he’s OK or not. It was our meal time when they took him and I didn’t get fed. They said they had run out of time.
“So, myself and another prisoner in the next cell didn’t get fed. Seven of us didn’t get fed yesterday as well, no excuse offered for yesterday. So, I’ll have two meals from Friday to Monday. They only allow for a half hour to feed us one
or two at a time. This week we were not getting breakfast on time or at all. At nights now for the past few months we have only been allowed the exercise yard maybe one out of three evenings, “Staff shortage” being cited as the reason for this. They seem to be intent on not feeding us at our scheduled times of noon and 4:00 pm.”
Mr Chappell points out in his letters that possible human rights abuses at Maghaberry Prison have been raised by the Celtic League numerous times in the past. He highlights the fact that legislation is in place in Europe that allows
for the fair and proper treatment of those being held under custodial sentence and calls on the politicians for their assistance in ensuring that staff at Maghaberry Prison are not subjecting prisoners to unlawful suffering.
Enclosed within Mr Chappell’s letters was a recent press release from the Director of Information of the League, Bernard Moffatt, which included a letter that he had also sent to Northern Ireland Prisons Minister, Paul Goggins MP,
asking him to ensure concerns expressed by prisoners which led to recent disturbances at Maghaberry Prison are properly and independently investigated. The Kernow branch is considering putting forward a motion on the topic of human rights abuses at Maghaberry Prison at this year’s annual general meeting (AGM) of the League, which is due to be held in Peel, Mannin/Isle of Man in July 2010. Last year prisoner Noel Maguire was transferred to Maghaberry Prison after a long standing campaign in which the Kernow branch of the League played an instrumental role.
Among those people Mr Chappell has so far written to include Mrs Bairbre de Brún, Sinn Fein MEP, Diane Dodds, Democratic Unionist Party MEP, Mr James Nicholson, Ulster Unionist MEP, Martin McGuinness MP MLA, Deputy First Minister and the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission.
This article prepared for Celtic News by Rhisiart Tal-e-bot General Secretary Celtic League. For follow-up comment or clarification contact:
Tel: 0044 (0)1209315884
J B Moffatt (Mr)
Director of Information