Maze Prison

Maze Prison
   The Maze is a high-security prison complex built in the early 1970s. Situated southwest of Belfast, it was constructed to house Irish terrorists, both Republican and Loyalist. From 1976, new inmates were kept in the single-storey H-blocks for which the prison has become famous. Beginning in 1978, some inmates staged both a ‘blanket’ and a ‘dirty’ protest; this led ultimately to the hunger strikes of 1981, in which Bobby Sands, newly elected as an MP in the British Parliament, starved to death. The government refused to give in to demands for the reinstatement of the special or prisoner-of-war status accorded in the early 1970s, and there followed riots, more deaths and then a breakout of thirty-eight Republican prisoners, which embarrassed the authorities. The Maze’s importance to the Republican cause was highlighted when, following the killing of Protestant paramilitary leader Billy Wright by Republican inmates, Northern Ireland Secretary Mo Mowlam came to the prison to negotiate with inmates to secure their participation in the peace process.
   See also: Ireland

Encyclopedia of contemporary British culture . . 2014.

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