11/08/2011

Protestors Fail To Confront Alliance Leader

Republicans have this morning missed their target and failed to confront the NI Justice Minister over a prison dispute.

They staged their protest in support of prisoners at the Alliance Party headquarters in south Belfast - but failed in their mission to come face to face with the Alliance Leader David Ford who is also the Justice Minister.

He was not in the office but has since issued a terse and defiant comment on the incident that saw several people entering the building to stage a protest until the police arrived.

It has since been reported that three men have been arrested after the prisoner protest.

David Ford (pictured) said: "All Alliance Party representatives will continue to offer a service to constituents in an open and accessible manner.

"This matter is being dealt with by the PSNI. We will be making no further comment," he said, succinctly.
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It is believed the protestors who went into the building on University Street on Thursday morning were members of the pressure group, Republican Network for Unity (RNU)

The protestors have alleged that the Justice Minister David Ford had reneged on a 'deal' to end strip searches and so-called 'controlled movement' at Maghaberry jail in Co Antrim.

They were referring to talks that have recently been held between republican prisoners and the authorities at Maghaberry prison over the issue of strip-searching.

In a statement released before the incident, an RNU spokesman told UTV news: "Given the growing crisis in Maghaberry Gaol, RNU again demand that the Agreement is implemented before the situation deepens.

"We also demand an immediate meeting with Mr Ford before the protest escalates further and seek a resolution."

Mr Ford has also been grappling with repeated calls for the compassionate release of a republican prisoner, who was moved to hospital this week from prison as his condition deteriorated.

See: Lillis In Hospital As SF Calls For Release

(BMcC/GK)

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