Tuesday, November 15, 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 October 1980 , protesting POW's in the H-Blocks of Long Kesh began a hunger strike for political status ; on December 1 , 1980 , they were joined by three Republican women prisoners in Armagh Jail - Mairead Farrell , Mairead Nugent and Mary Doyle .

These were the only three women weighing more than eight-and-a-half stone . The 'no wash' protest was halted as the hunger strikes began : Westminster was reeling under fear of a Christmas bombing campaign , which hunger strike deaths would undoubtedly spark off . On December 18th , 1980 , a 30-page document was released outlining proposals and assurances from the British Government that , step by step , the five demands would be met .

The hunger strike was called off and the fulfilment of promises was awaited . They were never fulfilled . The condition of Pauline McLoughlin (vomiting constantly and rapidly losing weight) had been deteriorating . In October 1980 , the 'British Socialist Feminist Conference' (which was attended by 1,200 women) supported the demand for political status and pledged its aid to campaign for the release of Pauline McLoughlin from Armagh Jail ; after a sustained campaign in Ireland and Britain , Pauline McLoughlin was released on licence on January 10th , 1981 .

As the British Government was claiming that there had never been an agreement with the 1980 hunger strikers , and the possibility of concessions became more remote , another hunger strike began .......



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 .

There is not and never has been a Republican principle on the issue of intervening in the electoral process although the Republican Movement has split on a number of occasions on the issue of attendence in colonial , neo-colonial or imperialist institutions. The Movement has suffered to some degree through the years from the effects of the various tendencies which have been in the ascendency during different periods .

Whether constitutional , militaristic or revolutionary , their lack of complete success - inevitable in the absence of a proper social and political consciousess - in achieving conditions by which the Irish people can re-establish the Republic has tended to thwart and obstruct efforts to apply the proper mixture of all three strategies to this end .

Only now , with a protracted war in the Six Counties - and the increasing politicisation which flows from it - sixty-three years after 1918 , is there the start of the beginning of a realisation of the need to secure such a strategy .

SOURCES for the above article :
' Land and the National Question in Ireland , 1858-1882' , by Paul Bew .
'Revolutionary Underground' , by Leon O' Broin .
'The Modernisation of Irish Society 1848-1918' , by Joseph Lee .
'Ourselves Alone' , by Robert Kee .
'The Irish Republic' , by Dorothy McArdle .
'Northern Ireland-The Orange State' , by Michael Farrell .

(Tomorrow - ' Useful political interpretation of Irish Republicanism' : from 1981.)


The aspirations of SINN FEIN THE WORKERS PARTY towards socialist respectability are undermined by the continued military operations of the OFFICIAL IRA and that Party's own ideoligical contortions .
From ' MAGILL' magazine , April 1982 .
By Vincent Browne.

In a recent interview on RTE's 'Day By Day' programme , Tomas MacGiolla , the President of Sinn Fein The Workers Party said - " I certainly have no knowledge of them (the Official IRA) . All I know is that I am convinced and I am aware that there is no question of any military organisation in any way associated with us at the present ." He went on to say - " I have no reason to think that (the Official IRA) still exists . Certainly it does'nt exist in any way down here . There was for some years a suggestion that it may have existed in the North and I pursued that there for quite a number of years to see any evidence of its existence and I am satisfied that it certainly does not exist in any association with us . "

In the course of the same RTE programme , Sean Garland said that in his July 1972 Carrighmore speech , Tomas MacGiolla had made it clear then that "...this party wanted nothing to do with such activities from then on . " Asked if he was still a member of the Official IRA Army Council he replied - " You're talking about today and we'll say 12 years ago , which is a long time . " The official stance of Sinn Fein The Workers Party nowadays is that as far as they are concerned the Official IRA went out of existence immediately after the July 1972 ceasefire : it is also suggested that the military campaign from 1970 until the ceasefire was 'an abberation' for which only a handful of 'hotheads' were responsible , while the SFWP leadership did what it could to stop the campaign all along !

The fact is that almost all the 100 or so members of the Official IRA are members of Sinn Fein The Workers Party . Like most organisations , SFWP remains to a large extent a prisoner of its past , although it has made remarkable efforts to disengage itself from its ideological heritage . The leftward drift of Sinn Fein during the 1960's under the direction of the Trinity intellectual Roy Johnson has been well chronicled by now . However , the significance of this development in terms of Marxism has been much exaggerated - it reflected much more the very non-marxist radicalism of the 1960's , more popularist , more issue-oriented in terms of fish-ins , housing agitation etc than a strict marxist strategy would allow . It was also very Republican , in the traditional sense of that word .

The 'National Question' remained central to its ideology and the struggle against "British imperialism" was seen as the focus of the party's main line of activity both in economic and nationalistic terms .......