Wednesday, November 16, 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' .

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 .......



' 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' ) .......



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 .......