The Five Demands of Irish Republican Prisoners
The Blanket Protest, the Dirty and No-Wash Protest, and the Hunger Strikes all were struggles by Irish Republican prisoners to regain the political status that they had enjoyed prior to 1976, when the British Government decided arbitrarily to end what was known as ‘Special Category Status’ and implement a policy of ‘Criminalisation’.
In 1976 all new prisoners were introduced to a newly constructed prison — the infamous ‘H-Blocks’, where all previous privileges of political status were denied.
After 1976 the prisoners demanded that certain rights be restored to them:
1. The Right not to wear a prison uniform;
2. The Right not to do prison work;
3. The Right of free association with other prisoners;
4. The Right to organize their own educational and recreational facilities;
5. The Right to one visit, one letter and one parcel per week.
When the British refused to grant these rights, the prisoners escalated the protests to the point where 10 men died rather than give in to the British system of criminalisation.