Statement from the family of Republican POW Gabriel Mackle

Gabriel Mackle is a Republican POW and had been housed in Roe House, Maghaberry jail, Co Antrim since September 2013.

However, on March 31, 2017 Gabriel was removed from Roe House by the administration in Maghaberry allegedly for his own safety. I myself have seen all the various statements and comments surrounding this and would just like to point out again how disgusted I am at the allegations being made.

Anyone who is in regular contact with POWs knows exactly what has happened here as this is not the first time this has happened. Both myself and Gabriel have received countless messages and letters of support from right across Ireland and beyond and we both appreciate the enormous support we are getting.

Gabriel is currently being held in CSU and the conditions being forced upon him are breaching every kind of right that Republican POWs have fought so hard for. Gabriel is still a Republican POW and must be treated as such until his release later this year.

At the moment, Gabriel is in a cell with just his bed and a toilet, he has yet to receive any of his personal belongings, despite several requests for them. He is being denied a radio or TV, he is being denied regular access to a phone and most importantly we are being denied visits, which is having a devastating effect on myself and our four children, who are aged between 6 and 12.

Gabriel is receiving cards and letters from people showing their support but as of yet he has not received any of the cards and letters myself and the children have sent to him. He requested to use the phone at a particular time to try to speak to the children before or after they go to school and this is not being granted to him. He gets one call per day and most days they allow him this between 10am and lunchtime which means he doesn’t get to speak to his children.

The administration is trying to force Gabriel to take a visit in the integrated visiting room which is completely unacceptable to both of us given not only the serious breach of safety to Gabriel, but would also expose our young children to the various criminal types that use this room. Maghaberry do have alternative visiting rooms as these were provided to previous Republican POWs who spent their sentence in CSU.

These conditions are not acceptable on any level, and what is going on needs to be highlighted, not only for Gabriel but also to try to hold them to account for the disgusting and disgraceful way this Administration thinks they can treat our POWs.

Gabriel is not even permitted to have a drink in his cell, he must knock on his cell door and request that his drink be given to him, then it is taken back from him again and placed back outside of his locked door. This has never been known to happen before. Completely disgusting and demoralising tactics are being used here and I fear Gabriel is not even telling me everything for fear of the distress it would add to our current situation.

And again, can I just say thank you to all who have contacted us, it really does mean a lot at this extremely difficult time.