Maghaberry resolution discussed at Human Rights meeting
August 24, 2010
A Human Rights meeting was held in Armagh City last weekend to discuss the successful resolution to the Maghaberry prison protest. The attendance, which included prisoners’ family members, listened attentively while former Armagh prison chaplain & long time champion of Civil and Human Rights, Monsignor Raymond Murray, spoke knowledgeably about his experiences of prisons, the different regimes, the relationships between governments, the justice system, prison governors and their staff and how this affects prisoners.
Jim McAllister, whose son Turloch is in Maghaberry prison, then spoke about difficulties prisoners had been enduring in Maghaberry and some of the effects this had on families. His delight in the settlement was obvious and he told of receiving a phone call in which his son said he was after eating a slice of toast for the first time in four months. Mr McAllister expressed his thanks to everyone who had supported the prisoners, worked for a resolution or even simply sent their good wishes.
Pat McNamee, former Assembly member for Newry & Armagh, as an ex-prisoner, gave an eloquent description of aspects of prison life including disputes of the past in Portlaoise. Mr McNamee pointed out that, despite what some politicians claim, life in prison, even under favourable conditions, is difficult and, taking the aforementioned slice of toast as an example, he explained that choice is missing from a prisoners life, as the authorities make choices for the prisoners. During the course of the meeting, the conditions that Michael Campbell, from just over the Louth-Armagh border at Faughart, is enduring in prison in Lithuania were also raised. It was flagged up as important that his family have been unable to have a visit with him. There was agreement that his family needed support.
Following the addresses by the speakers there was live music from Ciaran Murphy and Marty McGuinness who gave their services and talent free of charge.