Friday, November 18, 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' .
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 .

" During the last seven years that I have been imprisoned in Armagh Jail , my comrades and I have endured much from the prison administration's ever-changing attitude . Now , three months after the termination of our 'no work' protest , the conditions have deteriorated , the regime is more repressive and the punishments more severe and excessive .

I hope here to give you an insight into this present-day situation in Armagh , where the new prison regime has resorted to the familiar tactic of 'divide and conquer' in every aspect of prison routine . Considering the overall prison population of the North , there are very few women prisoners - all of these are held in Armagh . Republicans form the vast majority of the total , and at present there are 28 sentenced Republicans and seven on remand , scattered throughout the jail .

Within the prison building there are three separate structures housing prisoners - 'A' , 'B' and 'C' wings - each of which is completely isolated from the others . Inside each of these wings there are two landings , one blocked off from the other with no contact possible between the two . This is geared to further isolating Republicans in the jail , with the number of prisoners on each landing not exceeding nine . This in fact is not a prison , but many prisons within a prison . The purpose of dividing Republicans into small units is one of surveillance and control , it is not primarily a security measure but more a means to determine any weaknesses in individuals which the administration hope to exploit for their own ends ....... "



' 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.

Sean Cronin , the author , stated - " The Officials blame the Catholic middle class , not British rule , for Ireland's failure to industrialise . They favour devolved government in the North (ie return to Stormont's Orange State) and they have been accused (rightly) of betraying the National question by adopting the 'two nations' theory (ie Protestant and Catholic) . Finally , they support industrialisation via the multinationals . "

Cronin does not draw out all the conclusions from his obvious disillusionment with the Sticks (SFWP) but it is a clear sign that their one time 'radical' credentials are well and truly tarnished . Cronin ends up with a brief look at Republicanism proper , quoting from Sinn Fein vice-president Gerry Adams , and concluding that - "...his political ideas reflect a natural radicalisation of an armed struggle conducted among the Catholic ghettoes of Belfast and Derry . He seems much closer to Connolly's analysis than other voices . "

One wonders what has happened to the 'Hibernian gunmen' we used to hear of ! Cronin and his ilk never understand that pure republicanism has always been radical , in the sense that it looks to the roots of our problems - in our case , British imperialism and partition .

(Monday , 21st - ' THE HEROIC PRISON STRUGGLE' : 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.

March 6 , 1972 : Marcus McCausland , a former Officer in the UDR , was shot dead by the Official IRA - the coldblooded nature of this shooting as well as the fact that this was a middle-class target provoked particular outrage .

March 12 , 1972 : a woman was fatally injured in crossfire in Leeson Street , Belfast , between the Official IRA and the British Army .

March 24 , 1972 : the Official IRA announced that it would continue its campaign in spite of the prorogation of Stormont ; this statement was almost as hardline as that issued at the time by the Provisional Chief of Staff , Sean MacStiophain , which is much better remembered .

April 10 , 1972 : the Official IRA killed two soldiers in a booby trap .

May 10 , 1972 : a fifteen-year-old girl was beaten , tarred and feathered by the Official IRA in the Leeson Street area of Belfast .

May 21 , 1972 : an off-duty British soldier , Ranger Best , who was at home on leave in the Creggan in Derry was shot dead by the Official IRA . This incident led to the Official IRA ceasefire which was announced on May 29 , 1972 . Prior to the announcement of the ceasefire there was heated debate at OIRA Army Council level on the issue of the Ranger Best killing - several members of the Council condemned it and said that public support had been devastated by it , others pointed out that an explicit OIRA Army Council order had been made some months previously stating that British soldiers , in or out of uniform , were legitimate targets .......