Irish News, August 24, 2006
Injustice must always be opposed and exposed
By Jim Gibney
Britain's history in Ireland is one of brutality and inhumanity, often
characterised through the abuse of political prisoners.
One would have thought that the British government would have learnt that
lesson by now and would know that not only is the maltreatment of prisoners
entirely wrong it is also entirely counter-productive.
All prisoners are entitled to humane prison conditions, to proper medical
facilities and to be treated with dignity.
For this reason Gerry Adams publicly called recently on the British
government to transfer those Irish prisoners seeking repatriation to Ireland
and to resolve the dispute in Maghaberry by introducing decent prison
conditions. This was the public expression of a demand that the Sinn Féin negotiating
team have repeatedly made to both the British and Irish governments.
In Maghaberry Prison 30 republican prisoners are experiencing a vindictive
regime. An oppressive and hostile system of controlled movement regulates the
prisoner's lives. They are confined to their cells, denied adequate washing facilities and are
forced to eat all meals in their cells.
Objections from the prisoners to this treatment results in them being put on
bogus charges and punished by losing remission.
Aiden Hulme is a 27-year-old native of County Louth serving a 22-year
sentence in Belmarsh Prison in England.
He was convicted for his alleged part in a bombing campaign in 2001 in
Before his arrest he was involved in an accident severely damaging one of
While in prison his injured leg has deteriorated to the point where prison
doctors have told him his leg needs to be amputated.
He believes this condition has been caused by medical neglect.
On four occasions the prison authorities cancelled an operation depriving
him of the urgent medical attention he needs to save his leg.
Aiden believes repatriation to an Irish prison offers him the best chance of
getting proper medical attention.
Since September 2005 the Department of Justice in Dublin has had his
Aiden and his family believe the Justice Minister Michael McDowell is
deliberately blocking his transfer.
His transfer application is supported by Sinn Féin, the SDLP, an independent
TD and the Irish Commission for Prisoners Overseas.
Mickey McKevitt is serving a 20-year prison sentence in Portlaoise on the
word of a paid informer.
McKevitt's sentence followed a disturbing trial involving the informer David
Rupert, the FBI, MI5, the Garda Special Branch, the Director of Public
Prosecution and a number of senior judges.
During the trial Rupert was shown to be a thoroughly disreputable person who
inhabited a world of criminality and deceit throughout his entire life.
Several files characterising Rupert and penned by MI5 operatives were
presented to the court, and in my view destroyed his credibility as a person
worthy of giving evidence in a court of law:
McKevitt's defence revealed Rupert to be involved in a string of dubious
ventures: a career informer for the FBI from 1974, gambling deals with the
Mafia in Florida, drug dealing, tax evasion, bouncing cheques, white slave
trading involving two young (minor) girls, human trafficking, arms,
explosives, and other contraband smuggled across the Canadian border.
Under relentless cross-examination by McKevitt's defence Rupert sought
refuge in memory loss. He said 'I don't recall' over 1,000 times!
He was convicted and his conviction upheld by an appeal court on the grounds
that Rupert was a 'credible witness'.
Informers insidiously undermine justice. They pollute and corrupt those they touch. They put justice on trial.
Whatever one's opinion of Michael McKevitt's political views, and I for one
fundamentally disagree with him, he is entitled to justice through a fair
trial in front of a jury.
Political manipulation of the judicial system is not only wrong it is
Injustice whether at the hands of British or Irish judges must be opposed