After the surrender of the Provisionals and the deal to have their prisoners released under licence, political status in Maghaberry prison, Co Antrim, was rescinded. This started a long and often bloody campaign within the prison system where POWs of the CIRA and INLA were forced to associate with loyalists and criminals.
Many POWs suffered beatings, scaldings and more, but after a long campaign, segregation for Republicans was re-established. With the emergence of new groups and subsequent convictions, their POWs were welcomed to the landings.
Everyone is aware of the dirty protest of 2011 where POWs of different groups worked together for the benefit of all. Sad to see that in more recent years individuals whose convictions are of a dubious nature being afforded access to the Republican landings. This can only be seen as a slight on those generations of Republicans who refused to be criminalised.
Irrespective of family connections, political affiliations or former status as political prisoners, if someone is convicted of a non-political charge then their place is most certainly NOT on any political landing. An influx of criminals will ultimately lead to the closing once again of political landings in Maghaberry and the possible closing of Portlaoise political wing
There are many including former Republicans who seek to criminalise current Republican POWs, allowing individuals convicted of non political offences onto Republican landing only gives these individuals support in their claims and will result in a loss of support for Republican POWs and POW support groups.