I would like to comment on Danny Kelly's letter which was headed ‘Reflections of the 1981 Hunger Strike’, August 20. I would like to first of all thank Danny for such a detailed piece on the horrors that took place in Long Kesh concentration camp – horrors which I am sure are burned into the minds of many many ex-POWs. They are horrors which will not be forgotten as time goes by.

Unfortunately, these horrors, 30 years on from the deaths of ten republican and republican socialist POWs, have not changed as they still exist today, the only difference today is that it isn't being committed in that hell-hole known as Long Kesh but in the hell-hole known as Maghaberry Gaol. Sectarian screws, degrading strip-searches, controlled movement, vicious beatings and physcological torture, all because republicans incarcerated in Maghaberry, like those republicans in Long Kesh, are prisoners of war and deserve political status.

So while people do reflect and think about the ten men that died in Long Kesh and what their families went through, I would ask those people to also think of the republican POWs who, as you read this, are currently on the dirty protest. Think also of their families and what they go through, the worry and the stress of knowing if their sons are okay, wondering have they been beaten badly tonight by the riot squad. Irish republicans today refuse to be criminalised, just as Bobby Sands and his nine comrades did in ’81.

“Building an Ireland of equals,” Danny, is a long way off. First we must have selective internment ended and prisoners released, and the restoration of political status for republican POWs before we can even begin to talk about “building an Ireland of equals”.

Dean Smith  

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