It is with grave concern that we wish to address the treatment of Republican prisoner Thomas ‘Ta’ McWilliams from Ardoyne.
Ta has been consistently subjected to mistreatment and abuse in relation to his health. In March 2014 Ta had a heart attack he visited the gaol doctor who failed to diagnose the heart attack and merely gave him paracetamol and an ENT spray. Ta’s potentially fatal heart attack went undiagnosed for 10 days before he was taken to an outside hospital. Medical staff were shocked at how he was treated, and on this occasion Ta had a stint put into his heart.
Despite the severity of the situation, Ta was handcuffed throughout his journeys to and from the hospital and whilst in the hospital. He was forcibly stripped searched twice by a team of Riot Screws.
Since this incident Ta has been taken to outside hospital on several occasions, and has been subjected to repeated handcuffing and forced-strip-searching procedures each time. In June 2015 Republican Prisoners released a statement highlighting the fact that Ta was taken to hospital where he was held in handcuffs for almost 24-hours and forcibly stripped twice.
This travesty has been repeated today, 17/07/2018. Ta was taken out to outside hospital this afternoon as recommended by the doctor, as he was taking heart palpitations and he felt he was having a heart attack. He was cuffed to a screw and accompanied by two others. At hospital he was fitted with numerous heart monitoring devices which have been kept on him to monitor his heart rate etc over the next 48 hrs.
On return to the gaol this evening he was stripped standing up as he was unfit to be laid on the floor. This was while continuing to wear heart monitoring equipment.
Although all objective bodies have called for an end to forced strip searching, the issue of forced stripping of those in ill health was raised by the Prisoner Ombudsman only weeks ago.
This behavior, including the presence of screws in medical consultations, is a flagrant violation of Human Rights. It cannot be ignored that this is occurring as we approach eight years since the signing of the August 2010 Agreement- 8 years after NIPS agreed to end strip searching. Such actions speak to the depravity of the Maghaberry administration and the six-county prison service as a whole.
Saoradh Prisoner Department.