Open Letter to Archbishop Eamon Martin 19/02/15
It is not an unreasonable expectation that a body which represents itself as being concerned with the well-being of prisoners, prison conditions and prisoner issues would have something to say in regard to the recent events in Republican Roe House. A number of years ago in the midst of protest action RPPs met with the hierarchy of the Catholic Church and the Church of Ireland. Aside from sympathy the response of these clerics was underwhelming. The protest would continue until November 2012 with an escalation, which history teaches us will always occur when those with power and influence dither.
A number of months ago we met Archbishop Eamon Martin whom we supplied with a wealth of documentation regarding the core issues in Maghaberry Jail: Controlled Movement, Forced Strip-searching and the Isolation of Republican Prisoners; this included the highlighting of one Republican Prisoner who has been forced to endure this politically motivated action for four years. We have yet to receive a meaningful response. Consequentially the integrity and independence of the Catholic Church must be called into question. The lack of interest demonstrated in the recent highly publicised assault of Republican Prisoners is lamentable. Six days passed before the Jail Priest was to enquire as to the condition of the most viciously assaulted Republican Prisoner. Mere sympathy was the best he could offer.
Subsequent to the deaths of the 10 Hunger Strikers in 1981 it was stated then that the “position of the Catholic Church had been established by political consideration rather than the Christian values of truth and justice” today we bear the same unease but the political considerations of the Catholic Church are now similar to those of constitutional nationalists. This is reflected in their total, ‘hear no evil, see no evil’, approach with regard to Republican Roe House. They are more concerned with distancing themselves from Republican Prisoners than exposing the current barbaric regime that they, by their calculated silence and blindness, give cover to.
It is unquestionable that the absence of such bodies is, as has been alluded to by political representatives and others who have visited us, due to a lack of concern. Those with such an attitude are apparently without hindsight. The past is littered with example of empathy toward the Jail situation at times, leading to crocodile tears and misdirected condemnation when the situation reaches crisis point. Let no one use clichés such as “we work quietly in the background” in an attempt to wash away the responsibility.
Republican Political Prisoners