" A wealth of information..."

"1169 And Counting is a wealth of information on our Republican past and present , and demonstrates how the Irish political landscape , like that of any nation, will never be a black and white issue..."

(From the ‘e-Thursday’ section of the ‘Business Week’ supplement of the ‘Irish Independent’ , 21st August 2008.)



IRISH BLOG AWARDS 2017 - ooops! It seems that our entry application was "not completed in time to be considered.." (?) and, as such, we are not now in the running. But we wish all the best to the successful entrants and to the organisers, and we hope all goes well for them on the day!


Wednesday, November 16, 2005

A HISTORY OF ARMAGH JAIL .......

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' .

The protesting Irish POW's , men and women , came off both the dirty protest and the blanket protest to highlight the situation of the hunger strike - one by one , ten hunger strikers died . The five demands were ignored . Mass mobilisation and public support met derision and increased repression .

Before his death , Bobby Sands had been elected as a Westminster MP ; the British Government changed the law to ensure that no other prisoner could be elected . Two more Republican prisoners , Kieran Doherty and Paddy Agnew were elected to the Free State parliament . A Sinn Fein member , Owen Carron , was elected to replace the dead Bobby Sands : the British Government dug in its heels despite severe international pressure .

The strategy of using the ballot box to demonstrate the support amongst Catholics for a total British withdrawal from Ireland menaced the British Government . In the 1982 North of Ireland Assembly elections and the 1983 General Election , Sinn Fein , the largest Republican organisation in the North , got almost one half of the total Catholic vote .

A new type of criminalisation policy was launched by Westminster - this time aimed at denying the legitimacy of Sinn Fein as a political party .......

(MORE LATER).



USEFUL POLITICAL INTERPRETATION OF IRISH REPUBICANISM.

' Irish Nationalism - A History Of Its Roots And Its Ideology' by SEAN CRONIN (The Academy Press , Dublin, 1980) .
A book on Irish Nationalism by a one-time Republican is bound to attract attention . Cronin's study deals with the roots , history , growth and development of Nationalist thinking in Ireland , particularly its revolutionary form - Irish Republicanism .
From 'IRIS' magazine , November 1981 .
No by-line.

One could be forgiven for dismissing this book as the product of a renegade Republican turned academic , and , even worse , one whose books are published by the mis-named Sinn Fein The Workers' Party's company , ' Repsol Publications ' . That would be mistaken on two counts :
1) The book is a generally useful political interpretation of Irish Republicanism , superior in that sense to Bowyer Bell's history of the IRA ;
2) In spite of repeating the standard slanders on the 1970 split in the Republican Movement it provides a damning indictment of those reactionaries masquerading behind the 'SFWP' label .

The history that author Sean Cronin takes us through is a familiar one - Wolfe Tone and the United Irishmen , Thomas Davis and Young Ireland , the Fenians and the Land War , and the great Easter Rising . He then traces the IRA through the Tan and Civil Wars , the difficulties of the 1930's , the war years , and the Border Campaign of the 1950's where Cronin of course played an important role himself .

His last chapter is entitled significantly ' The Final Rebellion in the 1970's ' , presumably an admission that this is the final , inevitably victorious phase of the struggle . Sean Cronin gives us one quite valid conclusion - " The lesson of Irish history is that England never yields to right , reason or justice , only to force . Consequently , armed rebellion is an essential element in any attempt to win Irish independence . " (Today , those that wrote those words , and those that so favourably quoted from them at the time , have had their minds changed by offers of a 'political career' within the British and/or Free State system and now favour a different 'solution' ) .......

(MORE LATER).



IN THE SHADOW OF A GUNMAN .......

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.

The IRA was run down during the 1960's with the main emphasis on civil rights - the belief was that concentration on civil rights would have the effect of destabilising the 'state' in the North of Ireland ; but when violence flared on the streets of Belfast in August 1969 , the Republican Movement re-acted instinctively in the traditional Republican manner . Although its rhetoric did'nt catch up for a while and the split with the Provisionals confused the issue , the Official IRA got caught up in a military campaign against the British presence in the North as much as did the Provos .

Although SFWP now seeks to minimise the significance of the issue , the Battle of the Lower Falls was a major 'macho boost' to the Officials in July 1970 . They boasted at the time that it was "...the first major battle between the forces of the Republic and the British Army since 1921 .. " - some enthusiasts even went so far as to claim that it was the heaviest military engagement involving the British Army since the Second World War - nowadays Tomas MacGiolla refers to it merely as a confrontation between the people of the Falls Road and the British Army : " Slates were thrown from the roofs .. " , he says , minimising the degree of military engagement * that occurred .
('1169...' Comment* - ...similar to the way that the Provos now refer to "a 30-year campaign.." , in the hope of convincing their new members that the struggle was a thirty-year one for 'civil rights' , instead of what it is - a freedom struggle which has been on-going for over 830 years .)

The military campaign of the Official IRA stepped up considerably in the months after the introduction of internment in August 1971 ; local OIRA O/C's were encouraged to 'out-do' the Provos in militancy - the Derry OIRA Officer Commanding at the time recalls being berated by very senior members of the Official IRA for not shooting enough British soldiers .......

(MORE LATER).