Lock-ins: Republican POWs are subjected to up to 23-hours' lock-up on a "bad day". There is what is known as the "good day, bad day" policy operating within the prison.

Strip-searches and rub-downs: the screws have prisoners strip the clothes from the top of their bodies before being searched, and are again searched after replacing their clothes and stripping the bottom half of their body. Seemingly this is an attempt to deny that strip-searches occur within

Maghaberry Gaol as EU legislation defines them as full-body searches with all clothes removed at the one time. (One prisoner was searched a total of eleven times in one day. These included strip searches.) Lack of access to solicitors and legal representation: prisoners have been searched on their way to and from legal visits, and in some instances made to miss the visit altogether.

No free association: Lack of educational opportunities - these are available to other prisoners. New restrictions on parole and compassionate parole: the draconian conditions placed on them have led to many prisoners refusing parole.

Misuse of sniffer dogs to prevent visits and refusal of open visits. Despite passing some visitors, the dogs have been brought past them again and made to sit. This can prevent a visit from taking place. Another tactic is to offer an "open" visit, which most prisoners will not accept.

Internment by remand: there are a growing number of cases whereby people have been remanded in custody for many months before being granted bail or acquitted. They may be refused bail on the grounds of forensic evidence connecting them to the charges - however the forensic reports show that no such evidence exists.

It is clear that the British government is attempting to criminalise Republican prisoners and by extension the struggle for Irish freedom, as evidenced by the signing away of political status under the terms of the 1998 Stormont Agreement. They are seeking to destroy the prisoners - both mentally and physically. POWs have been subjected to sleep-deprivation and other methods. However history shows that oppression inevitably results in increased resistance.

We also find it ironic that others who have argued constantly that there are no longer any political prisoners in Ireland should call a public meeting to discuss the issues facing prisoners in Maghaberry. These are of course the selfsame people who were only too happy to sign away political status for anyone convicted of a "scheduled offence" after the Stormont Agreement came into operation. Ten men died during the Hunger Strike of 1981 to restore this right - a right that did not belong to those who sought to remove it.

Despite the much publicized reintroduction of segregation (or "separation" as the British now call it), prisoners can be refused entry to the segregated wing on the basis of RUC or prison authority opinion that they are not qualifying prisoners. The former head of the British prison service, John Steele, proposed that segregation be reintroduced, as it was necessary to ensure the Health & Safety of prisoners. As such the perception of these prisoners by other inmates is of far greater importance than the perceptions of the RUC/PSNI and/or Prison Service staff. If pro-British and Loyalist prisoners believe them to be Republican or nationalist then their safety is clearly in jeopardy and therefore they should be admitted into segregated accommodation.

We unreservedly support the aims of Republican prisoners for the granting of full political status, which they are entitled to as of right, as well as their struggle to end British Occupation and restore the All-Ireland Republic so that Irishmen and Irishwomen can finally be free from all foreign interference.

Please consider helping relieve the finiancial burdens of the dependants and family members of Irish political prisoners.

National Irish Freedom Committee