Govenor: Alan Longwell
Staffing: 939 staff
Capacity: 745 in single cell accommodation
A former republican socialist activist and volunteer is the latest in a long list of deaths which have occured in the 'special supervision unit' of maghaberry prison.
Belfast is coming to terms with news of the death in Maghaberry prison of John Kennaway.
John was a former Volunteer with the Irish National Liberation Army who played a significant role in the fight against Loyalist killer squads in the city for over two decades.
Whilst imprisoned in Long Kesh John by his own admission participated in the audacious behind bars assasination of Loyalist seriel killer and LVF commander Billy 'king rat' Wright in 1997.
Following his early release on licence after the Good Friday Agreement John was subjected to harassment at the hands of the RUC and PSNI, his licence was invoked some months ago and he was returned to prison to recommence his life sentence.
Early reports claim that his death was by his own hand, it is too early to confirm this. What we know is that the Special Supervision Unit (the official term for the punishment block) in which he died is manned by screws who are without exception Loyalist in character, anti catholic and vicious and vindictive in the extreme. According to eye witness accounts from members of Belfast ABC it is a place in which human rights dont exist and in which staff are accountable to nobody.
Maghaberry prison is situated in an area in which the LVF hold much support and in which King Rat frequently operated. Just days ago he was denied compassionate parole to attend the christening of his grand daughter.
Johns passing represents the latest in a long line of deaths in the prisons SSU.
He was a down to earth lad, witty and with an instinctive empathy towards the Belfast working class from which he came. By all accounts he was also a loyal helpful and concerned neighbour and his loss will be bitterly felt in the community in which he lived.
Human Rights Abuses in Maghaberry.
In 2006 Irish republican political prisoners were subjected to inhumane and degrading treatment by the prison service when they were forced to eat their meals in cramped cells next to open toilets. On June 08 and 09 2006, members of the Irish Freedom Committee met with Irish republican political prisoners interned at Roe House in Maghaberry prison in the Occupied North of Ireland, to hear allegations of skyrocketing human rights abuses inside the jail. Representatives were presented with a shameful body of evidence on the desperate and worsening situation for dozens of Irish political prisoners at the facility maintained by a supposedly civilized government.
A small list of these human rights abuses are as follows
- Forced 22-23 hours a day cell lockdown for republican prisoners.
- Meals must be taken in cells within inches of open toilet.
- Unsanitary and unhealthy exercise facilities in a tiny and crowded “bird cage” yard covered with bird excrement.
- Medical care available only one day a week.
- Unacceptable lack of fresh fruit and vegetables. Spoilt and rotten fruit served only five times a week.
- Lack of educational facilities – empty computer rooms for show only.
- Classes offered to men include yoga and hairdressing – no valid education.
- Families routinely refused visits by use of sniffer drugs dog despite prison’s own admission that drugs have never been found on republican prisoners or their families.
- Families repeatedly fingerprinted on visits up to five times in one visit.
- Frequent strip searches of up to a dozen times a day.
- Frequent use of possibly radioactive X-ray metal detector leading to complaints of back pains.
- Microphones and cameras throughout facilities including possibly in showers.