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4 June 1998 Edition

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Back issue: A secure foundation

As we enter the twenty-second month of the most heroic and intense republican prison struggle this century the prisoners today are as determined as Kieran Nugent all those months ago when he said ``they will have to nail the prison uniform on my back''.

The living conditions these prisoners have to exist in, the constant solitary confinement and the frequent beatings have strained them physically and mentally almost to the breaking point.

But still the resistance not only continues but grows daily as republican prisoners are diplocked away for as long as thirty years.

Importantly, the prisoners' protest has decisively set back the central theme of the Brit policy of criminalisation.

No longer is the media fed weekly Northern Ireland Office statistics indicating how many prisoners ``are not conforming to prison discipline''.

No longer is the `Irish News' carrying daily full-page adverts depicting republican guerrillas as gangsters, and much less frequently do we hear the abusive term of ``Godfathers'' aimed at republicans.

Today Mason himself is keeping a well-advised and noticeable `low profile'.

The price we have paid to establish both nationally and internationally that we are fighting a war of national liberation is very high and the prisoners especially have borne the brunt of this struggle. Their determination has even forced the loyalist paramilitants (who had been in agreement with the Brit policy of criminalisation and helped them implement it by prison collaboration) to begin to protest seriously for segregation and political recognition.

A welcome development which can only assist republican protesters.

An Phoblacht 3 June 1978

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1