Thursday, November 17, 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' .

A new type of criminalisation policy was launched - this was aimed at denying the legitimacy of Sinn Fein as a political party : increasingly , Sinn Fein election workers and advice centre workers who were identified with openly political activity rather than military organisations , began to be arrested and processed into jail on the Diplock conveyor belt . Intimidation and bribery were used to 'persuade' people to testify at the mass show trials which have become the latest feature of injustice in the North of Ireland system of 'justice' .

Despite the ending of the 'no-work' protest in Armagh Jail , as Mairead Farrell explains in the following piece , there was an increase in the amount of everyday harassment , which continues to this day .

Arrested on active service in April 1976 and sentenced at her 'trial' eight months later to 14 years imprisonment , Belfast Republican Mairead Farrell became one of the first women POW's to take part in the protest for political status .

Later on she was involved in the 'no wash' escalation of the protest in Armagh Jail and , in December 1980 , was one of three women prisoners to join the first hunger strike . Here , in a smuggled communication , she writes about the strip-searches , prison work and isolation that are features of the prison regime's repression in Armagh.......



' 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.

Current debates and discussions within the Republican Movement find interesting parallels in the discussions going on in the 1930's : Father Michael O' Flanagan , President of Sinn Fein in 1934-1935 noted how " ...the immediate task that lies before us is to clarify our minds on the essential principles of pure Republicanism , to apply them with unswerving consistency in the daily activities of our organisation , to show how their general application would solve all the pressing problems of the whole people of Ireland , and work out , in detail , a plan of governmet . "

A governmental programme was in fact worked out , which said of Republicans - " Not only must they be the organised and armed vanguard but they must also supply leadership and guidance in directing the thoughts of the people along constructive revolutionary lines . "

The lessons for the 1980's are obvious - we must move beyond abstract policies and pious declarations , to provide constructive revolutionary leadership in the day-to-day struggles of the people of no property . A 'Plan of Government' should aim at taking us from the real , concrete situation of today towards the united democratic-socialist Republic we are committed to .

Sean Cronin , the author , has not become converted overnight into an ardent supporter of the Republican Movement , but the pressure of events has forced him to recognise the bankruptcy of 'Sinn Fein The Workers Party' : as Cronin has said - " In their efforts to unite Protestant and Catholic workers , they seemed to have abandoned the small farmers , North and South . The Officials have come to some surprising conclusions on the National question , given their tradition and history....... "



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 course of the campaign began to go sour on the Official IRA from an early stage and in fact it was the Officials who were most associated in the public mind with atrocities rather than the Provisionals in early 1972 . The following is a sequence of incidents which caused considerable public outrage and pressure on the Officials to halt their campaign :

December 12 , 1971 - Senator Jack Barnhill was shot dead when he resisted attempts to burn down his house . Although it seems that there was no intention to kill him , in fact , his name had appeared on a death list of prominent individuals , compiled by the leadership of the Official IRA , to be assassinated at some future date . The list included several resident magistrates and prominent Unionist politicians .

February 22 , 1972 - Seven people , including five cleaning women , a priest and a gardener , were killed when bombs went off at the Headquarters of the British Parachute Regiment at Aldershot . The Official IRA planted the bomb in retaliation for the killing of the civilians in Derry during Bloody Sunday . The Official leadership approved the operation believing that over 20 senior Parachute Officers would be killed .

February 25 , 1972 - The Official IRA gunned down the Unionist politician , John Taylor on a pavement in Armagh . Relations now between SFWP and the Official Unionists are very close , thus this incident seems all the more bizarre in retrospect . However , Cathal Goulding seemed quite dismissive about the incident when interviewed some years later on March 8 , 1975 , by 'The Irish Times' newspaper : referring to the Taylor shooting , he said - " I suppose you could say that , well , Brian Faulkner should have been the target . He was in charge , but, like everything else , availability of the target matters , too . "