Friday, November 04, 2005


The women's prison in the North of Ireland is situated in the centre of the Protestant/Loyalist city of Armagh .
It was built in the 19th century , a huge granite building which today sports all the trappings of a high-security jail such as barbed wire , guards , arc-lamps , and closed circuit television cameras .
First published in the booklet ' STRIP SEARCHES IN ARMAGH JAIL' , produced , in February 1984 , by 'The London Armagh Group' .

In Ireland and in Britain , tens of thousands of people marched in opposition to the British Government's policy of internment : but the shooting dead of 14 unarmed people without any provocation on Bloody Sunday (January 30 , 1972) spelt out clearly that in the North of Ireland mass political peaceful and even pacifist protest by those supporting nothing more than equal civil rights for Catholics would not be tolerated by the British government .

Internment and particularly Bloody Sunday convinced many young people that the British government had no intention of listening to anyone who could not force them to listen . Armed raids on the Catholic ghettoes continued and , as one woman described it , "...anyone who could walk on two legs was making petrol bombs .. " . Not surprisingly , women began to be sentenced to long terms of imprisonment .

Special Category Status was won in 1973 due to hunger strikes by two male political prisoners in Crumlin Road Jail - this meant that all political prisoners could now wear their own clothing , associate freely , receive food parcels and visits every week , organise their own recreation and education and obtain 50 per cent remission of sentence . In Armagh , Special Category Status allowed women the chance to take education and examinations . CSE and RSA exams were sat and classes in Irish , maths , geography , dressmaking , art , music , physical education and handicrafts were held . The prisoners could walk freely from one side of the prison to the other .

There was a kitchen on the wing , and with twice-weekly food parcels (if relatives could afford them) the demoralising prison food was supplemented . As one political prisoner was later to say - " It was'nt a holiday camp but at least you did'nt feel like you were dying from the neck up ....... "



Despite the fact that SINN FEIN has been contesting local elections in the 26 counties for more than two decades , much comment has been passed and incorrectly interpreted about Republican involvement in elections - north and south of the British-imposed border - in the past several months .
Here we review Republican interventions in the electoral process for the past century and more .
From 'IRIS' magazine , Volume 1 , Number 2 , November 1981 .

The First Dail was making its presence felt , against the background of an increasingly escalating IRA campaign , to the point where even British political commentators were beginning to refer to the Dail and Sinn Fein as the " facto government in three-quarters of Ireland .. " . In the local government elections of 1920 Sinn Fein won an overwhelming endorsement of their position : in Ulster , both Tyrone and Fermanagh County Councils , with twenty three town councils , were out of Unionist control ; the Unionists had a majority in only twenty two councils .

In the meantime the British government had passed their 'Better Government of Ireland Bill' - a throw back to the 'Home Rule' days with the added mixture of two domestic bicameral parliaments in Ireland - one for the six north easterly counties and the other for the remaining twenty-six counties . An all-Ireland council with equal representation for the 'two parts' of Ireland was to provide a forum for six and twenty-six county interests and there were to be provisions whereby various functions of both 'parliaments' could be transferred to the all-Ireland Council .

The Westminster Parliament was to retain control of all 'imperial concerns' including trade , customs and excise , defence and foreign affairs . As can be seen , the 'powers' devolved to the two partitionist parliaments were very limited . Finally , the 'Act' declared that if the majority of members of either 'parliament' had not taken their oath of allegiance to the British Crown within fourteen days of the date fixed for the opening of the 'parliaments' , then the assembly in question would be dissolved and that 'part' of Ireland would be administered as a British Crown colony.......



The Gardai had in their possession a clue which could have led them to the O'Grady kidnappers and their captive some ten days earlier .
A card found in a rucksack after the Midleton shoot-out led them directly to the gang once they checked it out - but this was ten days later , by which time John O 'Grady had lost two of his fingers .
First published in 'MAGILL' Magazine , May 1988 .
By Michael O'Higgins .

The gardai knew that Dessie O' Hare would be travelling in a green BMW car ; they knew its registration number , and the road it would be on at lunchtime on Friday November 27 (1987) . An armed checkpoint was set up . The BMW was now driving towards that checkpoint . Word spread quickly down the garda line to be ready - members of the State Army were there as back-up .

As the car came nearer it swerved , as if the driver had braked suddenly . Dessie O' Hare was driving , Martin Bryan was in the passenger seat . O' Hare rolled down the window - " How's it going? " Inspector Moriarty asked O' Hare , who nodded in reply . Moriarty asked him where they were coming from . O' Hare muttered "Kilkenny." At this stage Moriarty did not recognise the driver as O' Hare , who was dressed in a grey suit and collar and tie - he looked more like a solicitor than the 'Border Fox' . He had blonde highlights in his hair as well .

Moriarty's hesitation may also have been grounded in the fact that the gardai had been told to expect O' Hare to be in the passenger seat . Moriarty turned his attention to the passenger , Martin Bryan , asking him a couple of questions to which Bryan made no reply . He was then ordered out of the car . Bryan moved as if to open the seat belt but produced a gun : at that very moment Sergeant Joseph D'Arcy , who was behind a wall covering Inspector Moriarty , recognised O' Hare and shouted - " That's him . Get him out of the car ." Moriarty jumped back when Bryan produced the gun ; Detective Sergeant O' Rourke already had his hand on his revolver - the BMW rushed forward in a wheel-spin .

From their concealed positions the State Army and the gardai opened fire ; the BMW came to a halt when it crashed into the garda car and a State Army landrover , which had been spread across the road . There was a pause . Dessie O' Hare pointed a gun out the window and started firing at the State soldiers and the gardai to his right . One of the two shots he managed to fire grazed a Lieutenant's leg : the firing started again . The BMW was hit thirty-six times in all . Dessie O' Hare was slumped over towards Martin Bryan , who was already dead . Inspector Moriarty ordered his men to stay in position , as he and Detective Sergeant O' Rourke approached the car.......


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