25 September 1997
Republican Prisoners assaulted in English Jail
Sinn Fein Vice President Pat Doherty described last weeks assaults on three Republican Prisoners in Whitemoor Prison as entirely unacceptable. The three prisoners Hugh Doherty, Harry Duggan and Donal Gannon were brought down individually to a basement cell where they were stripped assaulted and left naked. Mr. Doherty called on the Irish Government to raise the issue immediately with the British government and to strenuously object to these unwarranted assaults on Irish citizens. The assaults came as prison staff forcibly took DNA samples from the Republican prisoners early last week. Mr. Doherty also called on the Irish government to immediately repatriate all republican prisoners in English jails.
Mr. Doherty said:
``The forcible DNA testing of Republican Prisoners by prison authorities early last week culminated in the assault and stripping naked of three Republican Prisoners. These totally unwarranted assaults will undoubtedly create anger and tension and will not be tolerated.
``Unbelievably these latest attacks come at a delicate time in the Irish Peace Process. During the last IRA cessation, under the previous Conservative government, jail conditions for republican prisoners worsened dramatically. The death of Pat Kelly from skin cancer was linked directly to the authorities initially ignoring his condition and then the long delay in getting the necessary treatment for his cancer. Combined with the lack of medical treatment many prisoners in the notorious Special Secure Units (SSU's) lived in conditions widely described as ``concrete tombs''.
``Many people had assumed that this period of repression against Irish prisoners was now well behind us. There is a responsibility on everyone and particularly on both governments to create conditions which will remove the climate of mistrust. These latest assaults on prisoners dissipates such moves.
``Prisoners and their families have a right to expect that the whole question of prisoners should be treated in a much more sensitive and generous way. Pending the eventual release of all political prisoners, conditions should be improved. Repatriation of Irish Prisoners should proceed immediately and without delay.''
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