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CIRA links alerts to jail protest

(Simon Doyle, Irish News)

The Continuity IRA last night admitted responsibility for a series of security alerts and promised to escalate its campaign if segregation was not introduced at Maghaberry prison.

The alerts, which the CIRA said were linked to the campaign for segregation at the jail, brought misery to thousands in Belfast, Lisburn and Carrickfergus.

Prison Officers Association chairman Finlay Spratt confirmed that a package addressed to him, and containing a bullet, razor blades and a Mass card, was intercepted at a Post Office sorting office yesterday (Friday). It is understood that the governor of Maghaberry received a similar package.

In a statement to the Irish News last night, the CIRA said: "The Belfast Brigade of the Continuity IRA claims responsibility for today's security alerts.

"Whilst brutality against our comrades continues in Maghaberry jail and the harassment of their families does not cease, these attacks will continue and escalate until segregation is in place."

The group further claimed that its numbers had swollen in recent weeks.

Mr Spratt said: "If this package was designed to intimidate me in any way, then they have not succeeded. If they think that their campaign will succeed in achieving segregation they are mistaken."

Prisoners linked to the Real IRA and CIRA are now in the fifth week of a 'dirty protest' demanding segregation from other inmates.

Loyalist paramilitaries, meanwhile, launched a poster campaign with thousands of UDA flyers demanding "separation" put up overnight, it was claimed.

Tommy Kirkham, of the UDA-affiliated Ulster Political Research Group, said: "This is a campaign of non-violence aimed at achieving separation."

August 17, 2003

This article appeared first in the August 16, 2003 edition of the Irish News.

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