Wednesday, April 23, 2014

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Mistreatment in Maghaberry

The following piece penned by Thomas 'Ta' McWiliams initially featured in Ardoyne Republican
on 20 April 2014. Ta McWilliams is a republican prisoner currently held in Roe House (3) in Maghaberry. He is aligned to CogĂșs and is also a former H-Block political prisoner.

"On Friday the 7th March I went out to see the medic due to having chest pains. I seen the doctor was Waqar Ahmed. He told me my pain was angina and gave me tablets and an ENT spray. My blood pressure was very high 100+. The pains continued over a period of ten days and my blood pressure only dropped when I used my spray. I continued to see the doctor every day to have my blood pressure taken and each day it was very high. I told a medic I was having severe chest pains which were now going into my throat.

On the Friday and Saturday I pointed out to the medic again that my pains were getting alot worse and again I was informed that my bp was sky high and well above dangerous levels. I asked could a doctor refer me to an outside hospital because I knew I was reaching a dangerous point. He told me over the phone that it sounded like I was taking a heart attack but to just keep using my spray.

Maghaberry Gaol

On St Patrick's day I felt very bad and couldn't go to the recreation room as normal. I lay in bed and then after a while and decided that I needed to go down and see the doctor, another Cogus pow seen me and sat me down and sent for the medic who seen me right away. I told her that things were very bad and that I was in a bad place with pain right up to my jaw. She told me to remain calm that I wasn't taking a heart attack as my colour was OK.

Maghaberry Prison
I knew at this stage myself that things were far from OK my bp was 220-110. I was told to go back to my cell and lay down and rest again and take my spray. All that day I continued to feel pain across my chest and feel ill it felt like someone heavy was standing on my chest. At 10pm that night I had had enough and hit the in-cell alarm. After a short time the screw got permission to open the cell door and he accompanied now by more screws brought me down to the medic, thankfully the medic on duty was a cardiac nurse, she took my bp and instantly rang for an ambulance. She told me that it was crazy that I hadn't been sent to an outside hospital much earlier and that I was a stroke waiting to happen.

I was stripped searched by prison officers before being placed handcuffed into an ambulance to a screw, it was clear to anyone that I was in no fit state to be a threat to anyone by this stage.

At the A&E I had tests taken and the cardiac doctor told me I had taken a heart attack. The doctor was in disbelief when I told him that these pains had been ongoing for ten days and demanded from the screws to know why I hadn't been brought to hospital earlier. They told him that wasn't there job to know.

The next day I had a stint placed into my heart as I had a blocked artery.

On the Wednesday I was brought back to Maghaberry prison. At this stage I was met by the prison riot team and told to strip, I refused and told them that I had just undergone surgery as I had taken a heart attack. Two screws then grabbed an arm each and forced me to the ground. One held my head and forced my chin into my chest. They forcibly removed my shoes socks and jeans. They then yanked my underwear from me. After a brief search of my clothing they half put my bottom half clothing back on. I was then forced up onto my knees and had my arms stretched up above my head and they took my shirt off me over my head. I was in agony and informed them of my pain and discomfort. They they released my arms and dropped me to the floor. I was told to "get dressed properly yourself" .

While I was naked on the cell floor governor Armour was watching the whole time, I informed him that this was not necessary as I was under guard the whole time, he said that advice from professional health service said I was OK to be stripped, I asked him who in the health service said this and he ignored me.
I have since spoken to the doctor over the phone who treated me and he informed me that this was a lie and this was never communicated to prison officials at any stage. On the Roe 3 landing on my return I wasn't given my medication and it wasn't until the next day at 4.45 pm that I was finally given my medication which stated "to be taken first thing in the morning"!
I first seen a doctor inside prison on the 08-04-14, 3 weeks after my op and I had to ask for him!!! He had no answers to any of my questions including why had it taken him so long to come and see me. I told him that the Prison Service was playing Russian roulette with my life and he need to get answers.

I would like to finish by thanking Cogus and everyone who turned out to my vigil in Ardoyne Ave and in particular to my partner Trisha and my family".


frankie said...

Maybe this report in The Detail goes someway in explaining the treatment metted out to Ta McWillaims...

In short the crux of the article bois down to this..

The overall Northern Ireland population is 48% Protestant and 45% Catholic, but in jails the positions are reversed, with 53.2% of inmates from a Catholic background, and 34.2% of prisoners Protestant.

New figures obtained by The Detail also reveal that last year Catholics accounted for almost 70% of all the disciplinary charges levelled against inmates, while Protestant prisoners accounted for just over 20% of punishments.

The study entitled 'Discipline and Disparity’ was carried out by Queen’s University Academics Michelle Butler and Shadd Maruna. The report examined the ability of mainly Protestant prison staff and prisoners from a Catholic background to interact with one another in positive and constructive ways.

It highlights concerns by some Catholic prisoners that they face discrimination from prison staff while other inmates thought prison staff simply felt more comfortable interacting with prisoners who came from similar backgrounds.

tiarna said...

An awful stressful ordeal for Ta.