Sinn Fein condemns treatment of dissident inmates
Published 07/04/2010 | 15:09
Sinn Fein has criticised the Northern Ireland Prison Service over its treatment of dissident republicans.
MLA Caral Ni Chuilin claimed inmates are being held in 23-hour lock up and had been denied the right to wear Easter lillies outside their cells.
The Prison Service has strongly rejected suggestions they are subject to 23-hour lock up.
A protest last weekend by 28 inmates at Maghaberry Prison ended only when the dining room in which they had barricaded themselves was stormed.
Ms Ni Chuilin, a former prisoner herself during the Troubles, said: "Regardless of why anyone is in prison they are entitled to be treated with respect and dignity.
"It is clear that the regime in place for republican prisoners in Maghaberry falls well short of this.
"Prisoners should not be held in 23-hour lock up, they should not have been denied the right to wear Easter lillies and the decision to remove 28 men to the punishment blocks as a result of the weekend's protest is wrong and counterproductive."
Sinn Fein Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness last year denounced dissidents as "traitors" after they shot dead a policeman in Craigavon, Co Armagh.
The party has repeatedly condemned the policies of the splinter groups behind a string of attacks across the North.
However, Ms Ni Chuilin, MLA for North Belfast, claimed prison officers were still "wedded to the past" in their dealings with those behind bars.