On Friday 27th March Saoradh Béal Feirste member, lifelong Republican and ex-blanketman Ciaran “Zack” Smyth from the Short Strand was seized by Crown Forces and trailed to Maghaberry Gaol for “breaching his licence conditions”. This was in relation to a non-political offence, though Zack was permitted to serve his time as a guest by Republican Prisoners in Roe House. This policy is not unusual, and has been used at their discretion by Republican Prisoners for generations.
Since his internment just a week ago Zack has found himself the victim of unprecedented circumstances, partly due to the coronavirus crisis but mainly due to the intransigence of the MI5-directed Maghaberry Gaol administration.
Having initially been placed in isolation on the CSU for a number of days and deprived of any contact with the outside world, clothes or other accepted norms for any prisoner entering this hellhole, Zack has further been denied access to his legal team after being returned to comrades in Roe House several days ago. Given that proper measures have not been put in place in order to allow him to communicate with his legal team since then, he has been denied his few tangible rights that still exist under draconian British legislation. Officially designated as “vulnerable” to coronavirus due to pre-existing health conditions, he is literally at risk of death due to the actions of the British.
In the days following Zack’s administrative detention, the usual cabal of pro-Brit gossipmongers masquerading as journalists were contacted by “sources” from within British intelligence and/or Sinn Féin who fed them nonsensical reasons for this. One was the false allegation that Zack was involved in the non-existent “threats” against British micro-minister Michelle O’Neill and fellow PSNI recruiting sergeant Gerry Kelly. This was published by Allison Morris of the Irish News. Morris did not contact Saoradh for comment as is usual journalistic practice, given that she actually reports in the article that Ciarán Smyth is a member of the party. Nor did she speak to Zack’s legal team to discuss whether or not this had been a reason for his detention.
In a 186 page dossier presented to Phoenix Law spelling out why Ciaran Smyth is the victim of internment at 60 years of age, not once is there mention of ANY “threat” against ANY Sinn Féin member. Effectively, Morris has once again printed a lie that she has been fed by one of her “sources”. Embarrassing herself, her newspaper and her profession. Was the “source” real? What is the background of the “source”? What is the nature of her relationship with the “source”? All questions that only Morris can answer.
In recent days Morris was made aware by members of Ciarán Smyth’s family, including prominent Sinn Féin supporters/members, that there was no truth to the story that she had printed. She promised them that there would be a retraction in today’s Irish News. This did not happen. Added to other previous lies and misinformation she has put into the public domain, her credibility and integrity is shot to pieces.
Within this 186 page dossier there is nothing that would warrant even the flimsiest of evidence that could result in charges, let alone a conviction. Even in one of Britain’s non-jury Diplock Courts that are still in operation. The crux of the dossier is that Zack, a member of Saoradh, met other members of Saoradh. In public places, including in Saoradh offices. There is no proof provided of anything in any of these observed and internal Saoradh discussions that would suggest anything other than legitimate political activity.
Ciarán Smyth is in prison because he is a member of a legitimate political party and was observed speaking to other members of the same political party by Crown Forces. This is in direct contravention of Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights. That is something that should rightly concern and outrage all those who advocate the protection and implementation of human rights, regardless of whether they agree with Saoradh’s political analysis or not.
Saoradh demand the immediate release of Zack Smyth and an end to the ongoing use of internment by remand, via miscarriage of justice or through revocation of licence. He is 60 years old, in poor health and isolated from his legal team and his family. In recent years we have seen the same British tactic of revocation of licence being utilised to intern Tony Taylor, Marian Price, Brendan Lillis, Gavin Coyle and others. We encourage those who rightly spoke out in support of these Republicans to do the same for Zack. Our demand is simple.
Free Him Now!