Political Status for Irish Republican Prisoners sign now

IN 2001, Irish Republican political prisoners are once again experiencing Britain's cruel justice.

Irish Republican prisoners in the past have suffered in prison protests and on hunger strike for the right to be recognised as political prisoners.

Now they must struggle again.

Leading them at the moment is a Continuity IRA prisoner in Maghaberry prison, Co Antrim:

Tommy Crossan from west Belfast.


STORMONT AGREEMENT, Good Friday 1998

Under the hidden agenda of that Agreement, the political status gained by Billy McKee and his comrades on hunger strike in Belfast Jail in 1972, and won back once more after it had been removed by the British government in 1976, was withdrawn again for new prisoners.

It was, of course, the strip-strike followed by the no-wash protest and the prolonged hunger strike in 1981, resulting in the supreme sacrifice by Bobby Sands and his nine comrades, which recovered political status on the second occasion - this time at enormous price.

At the end of June 2000 several Republican prisoners were sentenced in Belfast to terms of imprisonment, Tommy Crossan and Brendan Burns receiving ten years each. Immediately they were required to do penal labour within the prison as well as associate with ordinary prisoners and loyalists.

During his year and a half on remand Tommy Crossan had been greviously assaulted necessitating stitches to his head and was scalded by boiling water deliberately thrown over him. Apart altogether from the demands for political status, the personal security of these prisoners requires separation from loyalists and ordinary prisoners. Tommy Crossans wife and young children have been totally supportive of him and they too have been threatened by loyalists.

Beginning then on June 30, Tommy Crossan refused to do prison work and was placed in total solitary confinement, 23 hours per day in his cell and one hour in solitary exercise. Outside, a publicity campaign of postering, leafletting, issuing statements, writing slogans and picketing began. This extended from Belfast to the Six Counties, the 26 Counties and even to England and United States. Radio Free Йireann in New York was particularly helpful in this regard.

It was, however, the "white line" picket in the middle of the roadway on the Falls Road, outside the Republican Sinn Fйin office, which proved most successful. Organised every Saturday from 1 to 2 p.m. it gathered support, not only from true Republicans but also from non-supporters of our Movement who stated clearly that the prisoners were not criminals and were entitled to political status. Tommy Crossans struggle was mobilising support across the political spectrum in the nationalist community.

After ten weeks of solitary confinement the prison regime backed down. They first threatened that Crossan would lose all remission and serve the entire 10 year sentence in solitary in a basement cell. When he would not withdraw his demands, the prison agreed to substitute an education course for penal labour, which is always acceptable, but three months remission of sentence was already lost.

In addition his jailers heaped other humiliations on him: strip-searching and rigorous cell searches with confiscation of some cell furniture. Since the wearing of convict uniform does not now arise and with education substituted for prison labour, four basic demands still remain along with restoration of remission.

THE PRISONERS DEMANDS

These are: (1) The separation of Republicans from ordinary prisoners and loyalists; (2) recognition as a group; (3) The right to their own spokesperson and (4) a prison wing or space of their own. Ex-prisoners and nationally-minded people generally are called on to support these basic demands.

In particular there is an onus on the Provisionals Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness to explain their views on this issue. Both are former political prisoners themselves. If they continue to remain silent while Republican prisoners endure an ongoing campaign of harassment and denial of rights for seeking political status then they can only be judged to approve of this vindictive treatment. The time to speak out is now.

With the number of Republican prisoners increasing, north and south of the Border, it is necessary to make an all-out appeal for funds for CABHAIR. No Republican worthy of the name can excuse himself/herself from this vital work for the support of the prisoners dependants. All areas and personnel, at home in Ireland and in exile, must respond.

THE HISTORY

The issues at stake are not new. It is a continuation of the 'normalisation' (ie criminalisation) process begun by the British in the Six Occupied Counties in the mid 1970s -- To treat the political conflict caused by the British occupation as a series of criminal incidents to be dealt with by the police and the normal justice system. The fact that Tommy Crossan was sentenced in a politically directed non-jury Diplock court gives the lie to Britain's criminalisation process.

That criminalisation process led to prison protests by Republican prisoners which evolved over time. The first stage in the protest was the refusal to wear a prison convicts uniform which would identify them as criminals. The British authorities refused to allow the Republican prisoners to wear their own clothes and since they had nothing else to wear except a prison uniform the prisoners wrapped themselves in blankets. This was called the blanket protest.

The British authoritiers then refused to allow the prisoners to leave their cells to 'slop out' their chamber pots without wearing a prison uniform. The prisoners adapted by trying other methods of disposing of their waste. Finally they resorted to smearing their excrement on the walls of their cell as the best method they had of disposing of it. This was called the dirty protest.

Finally, after years of blanket and dirty protest and of deceit and lies from Britain and in absolute desperation Republican prisoners went on hunger strike in 1981 following a non-fatal hunger strike the year before. The 1981 hunger strike ended with ten deaths.

Out of that intense struggle came the return of political status.

THE RETURN OF CRIMINALISATION

Republican prisoners were once more criminalised by the Stormont Agreement of April 1998. The Stormont Agreement which was an accomodation by the British to make former revolutionaries comfortable within the British State, drew a line in the sand: those jailed for activity before April 1998 would be held in Long Kesh prison and be given political status; but those who continued the struggle after April 1998 would be treated as criminal prisoners.

The double standard was to allow prisoners of organisations who supported the new structures of British government to be conditionally released, thereby encouraging those organisations in their continuing support, and at the same time to fully implement the criminalisation process, begun in the 1970s, for those revolutionary Republicans who remained committed to a British withdrawal.


SIGN THE PETITION
We the undersigned call for the return of political status to Irish Republican prisoners held in British gaols by the granting of these four demands: (1) The separation of Republicans from ordinary prisoners and loyalists; (2) recognition as a group; (3) The right to their own spokesperson and (4) a prison wing or space of their own.

Sign The Petition

Sign with Facebook
OR

If you already have an account please sign in, otherwise register an account for free then sign the petition filling the fields below.
Email and the password will be your account data, you will be able to sign other petitions after logging in.

Privacy in the search engines? You can use a nickname:

Attention, the email address you supply must be valid in order to validate the signature, otherwise it will be deleted.

I confirm registration and I agree to Usage and Limitations of Services

I confirm that I have read the Privacy Policy

I agree to the Personal Data Processing

Shoutbox

Who signed this petition saw these petitions too:

Sign The Petition

Sign with Facebook
OR

If you already have an account please sign in

Comment

I confirm registration and I agree to Usage and Limitations of Services

I confirm that I have read the Privacy Policy

I agree to the Personal Data Processing

Goal reached !
1000 / 1000

Latest Signatures

  • 27 February 20161000. Michael Cf
    I support this petition
  • 11 February 2016999. Carol Annm
    I support this petition
  • 08 February 2016998. Frances Annc
    I support this petition
  • 28 January 2016997. Owen T
    I support this petition
  • 15 January 2016996. Ruth O
    I support this petition
  • 14 January 2016995. Joe Mcc
    Oh why did you do it? Have you not the guts to say? You say it was an accident or even a ricochet
  • 11 January 2016994. Ger Moss
    You have no right to be here. GET OUT NOW!
  • 11 January 2016993. An T
    TO THE AUTHOR OF NO.490... I DON'T LIKE THE PROVOS EITHER THOUGH THEY DID NOT MEAN2KILL CHILDREN IN WARRINGTON ANYMORE THAN THE RIRA MEANT2KILL INNOCENT PPL IN OMAGH. THE REAL TERRORISTS IN THE WORLD (2WHOM I ASSUME UR REFERING) R THE BRITS4WOT THEY HAVE
  • 10 January 2016992. Pira Fuckalltheyscumorangeb
    every orange british bastard is going down god bless all republicans and fuck the queen
  • 26 December 2015991. Erin O
    I support this petition
  • 19 December 2015990. Conor F
    Free all republican POW's
  • 14 December 2015989. Daniel E
    england will reap what it has sowed. Free the POW's
  • 10 December 2015988. Elizabeth Whitem
    I am an American so I'm not sure if my "signature" counts for anything, but you have my heartfelt support!
  • 27 November 2015987. Val S
    tiocfaidh ar la yee orange bastards.
  • 22 November 2015986. Amy W
    I support this petition
  • 19 November 2015985. Daithi O
    tiocfaidh ar la.Long live Wolfe Tone
  • 16 November 2015984. Kill Tommyc
    ITS NOT BRITS OUT BUT IRISH OUT!!!! YOU REBEL SCUM HAVE SOILED OUR BELOVED ULSTER FOR TOO LONG,WHEN THE TIME IS RIGHT WE WILL GET RID OF YOU ALL,ONCE AND FOR ALL...THE RED/WHITE AND BLUE WILL ALWAYS FLY IN ULSTER...AS FOR T.C. YOUR A DEAD MAN.
  • 13 November 2015983. Shane M
    irish volunteers are prisoners of war, they are not ordinary crimals.
  • 13 November 2015982. Timo L
    Let there be peace and justice
  • 30 October 2015981. Laura Nm
    tiocfaidh бr Lб
  • 30 October 2015980. Carrie W
    В
  • 22 October 2015979. Romina Richard
    I support this petition
  • 13 October 2015978. George T
    Йire aontaithe
  • 11 October 2015977. Gerry A
    WANK WANK WANK WANK WANK WANK WANK WANK WANK WANK WANK WANK WANK WANK WANK WANK WANK WANK WANK WANK WANK WANK WANK WANK WANK WANK WANK WANK WANK WANK WANK WANK WANK WANK WANK WANK WANK WANK WANK WANK WANK WANK WANK WANK WANK WANK WANK WANK WANK WANK WANK
  • 10 October 2015976. Ruairi Om
    I support this petition
  • 04 October 2015975. Mark M
    I support this petition
  • 03 October 2015974. Sean Pc
    I support this petition

browse all the signatures

Information

Doris RussellBy:
ReligionIn:
Petition target:
The British Prime Minister

Tags

No tags

Share

Invite friends from your address book

Embed Codes

direct link

link for html

link for forum without title

link for forum with title

Widgets