Thursday, November 10, 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' .

1976 saw the formation of the Relatives Action Committees ; they were mainly women relatives of political prisoners who , finding the added financial strain of visits and food parcels and the deteriorating situation in the jails going un-noticed , got together to draw attention to what was happening .

The Committees worked hard and long , raising money , spreading information and touring Europe , America and Britain raising support for the prisoners : they were later to form the backbone of the H-Block/Armagh Committees which mushroomed during the hunger-strikes . A group called ' Women Against Imperialism ' , believing that feminists could no longer pretend neutrality on the national question , had broken away from the Belfast Women's Collective .

The 'Women Against Imperialism' group marked the linking of the struggles for women's liberation and national liberation by picketing Armagh Jail on International Women's Day 1979 - it was known that , in May 1978 , following disturbances among remand prisoners , a squad of male prison offices in riot gear had locked the women in the cells for a number of weeks .

The picket in 1979 was attended by about 50 people ; when it had ended and those on the picket were about to leave , the RUC charged into the crowd .......



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 July 31st , 1922 elections left the country swept by rumour : the IRA were holding on to their garrisoned positions and Belfast was fired by pogroms . Eamonn de Valera awaited a call from Michael Collins to forward the names selected by his party for the coalition cabinet - that call , understandably , never came . Sinn Fein - a nationalist movement more than a doctrinaire Republican party - was broken and while the legitimacy of the First Dail remained intact , de jure legitimacy was to be no match for the de facto control exerted ruthlessly by those who now formed the first Free State government .

For parliamentarian republicans - with the repudiation by the IRA of all civil control and a policy of coercion from the parliament itself - only a limited number of options were available . Some had the view that until the Second Dail was formally resolved no other assembly should be recognised as legal ; among these , some contested that those deputies who had broken their oath by conspiring to overthrow the Republic had forfeited their right to sit in Dail Eireann and that the Dail deputies who had remained faithful to the Republic would have the constitutional right to act as the 'Second Dail' .

Others , including de Valera , believed that Republican TD's should go and claim their seats , whether in a 'Second' or a 'Third' Dail ; he discussed this with Mulcahy (of the Free State government) who insisted that the Treaty must be accepted as a condition for attendence in the parliament . This the parliamentarian republicans rejected .......


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 .

Dessie O' Hare told the court that his wife , Claire , had been as much a hostage as John O' Grady had been . Claire O' Hare , who is also charged with the kidnap , had opted for a separate trial .

During his speech from the dock Dessie O' Hare told the court that the only justice in Ireland came through the barrel of a gun ; he faltered at one point when he looked up to the packed public gallery - the family of Jimmy McDaid was staring intently at him . Dessie O' Hare and Eddie Hogan got forty years . Tony McNeill received a fifteen year sentence . Fergal Toal got twenty years . The court treated the fourth accused more leniently - Gerry Wright got just seven years .

(Tomorrow - 'In The Shadow Of A Gunman' - from 1982.)