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' .
NO LET UP IN REPRESSION .
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 .
" The whole atmosphere is hostile and oppressive , with every movement , spoken word and general habit chronicled by screws on the landings and scrutinised by the prison administration daily . One cannot help feeling like a caged animal walking up and down with every twitch monitored , analysed and filed away for future use against us .
It's a popular boast of the present regime that they know all we say and do , but they choose to forget that their mania for surveillance does not reveal what is in our minds , and that's what counts ! Since the installation of the present regime a year ago , there has been a marked increase in pettiness and severe punishments . The manner in which this is employed I can only describe as a two-fold tactic designed to divide Republican POW's and break their resistance to the system .
The first technique is obvious - constant punishment by long spells in solitary confinement , loss of remission and all so-called 'privileges' , so as to inflict as much suffering as possible in preparation for the second technique ; this involves a relaxation in the situation with a promise of more to come provided "you keep your nose clean..." . It is as though the prison regime have modeled their treatment of prisoners on the principle of 'teaching a dog new tricks' - do what we tell you and the reward will be yours , with the possibility of bigger and better rewards in the pipeline .
Then suddenly the 'breathing space' is over and things revert to the more familiar pattern of harsh punishments , leaving the taste of what life could be like if only Republicans would stop being Republicans ....... ! "
THE HEROIC PRISON STRUGGLE .
1981 was dominated by the grim and heroic struggle of Republican prisoners for political recognition - which they undoubtedly received from millions all over the world , yet which few governments , least of all London or Dublin , would grant them .
From 'AP/RN' , 31st December 1981 .
By Teresa Kelly .
After the earlier hunger strike had ended , on December 18th , 1980 , and the British government had allowed the H-Block prisoners to read a thirty-four page document of proposed prison reforms , the prisoners , their relatives and their friends sat waiting and hoping that commen sense on the part of the British would once and for all resolve this five-year-old crisis .
The prisoners were willing to end all forms of protest provided the promised reforms were implemented , and their elected Officer Commanding , Bobby Sands , negotiated with prison governor Stanley Hilditch a phasing-out of the 'no-wash' protest , with ten men from H3 and ten from H5 as a 'test case' . On January 20th , 1981 , those twenty prisoners , having washed themselves , sat waiting in their clean cells for the clothes their families had brought . But this was refused .
From the prison warders right up to the British government there had never been the slightest intention to resolve the crisis : what Margaret Thatcher wanted was total humiliation for the Republican prisoners - what the warders wanted was their fat bonus at the end of each month resulting from the prisoners' protest . January 20th 1981 was the last chance for the British government to settle to everyone's advantage , and with minimum cost to themselves . On February 5th , 1981 , the prisoners released a statement announcing that a second hunger-strike would commence on March 1st 1981 , the fifth anniversary of the removal of 'special category' status .
As February 1981 drew to a close , it was learnt that Bobby Sands would begin the fast alone , and that others would join him at regular intervals .......
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 issue of legitimate targets for the Official IRA was discussed by the OIRA Army Council some weeks previous to the shooting dead of British soldier , Ranger Best , on May 21 , 1972 ; the local OIRA Unit had managed to set up a brothel in the Waterside area and it was proposed to entice British Officers there and poison them : explicit authorisation for this action was obtained by the Derry Staff OIRA for this operation from a very senior member of the Official IRA at the time , now a senior member of the 'Sinn Fein the Workers Party' Ard Comhairle .
There was heated discussion at OIRA Army Council level on the ceasefire - it was vigorously opposed by Seamus Costello and others ; however , the terms of the ceasefire were deliberately qualified in a manner that allowed a continuance of the campaign more or less as before . A statement issued at the time said - " The (O)IRA has agreed to this (ceasefire) proposal reserving only the right of self-defence and defence of areas if attacked by the British Army or sectarian forces . "
Throughout the rest of 1972 and the early part of 1973 , the OIRA military campaign continued more or less as before : this fact is best illustrated by just two incidents in this period - on December 5th 1972 , a massive mortar attack blitz was launched throughout the North - British Army installations and camps and RUC stations were fired on in Blight's Lane in Derry , Kilrea , Coalisland , Croagh , Co. Tyrone , Lurgan and in Belfast at Silver City , Fort Monagh , Ardoyne and North Queen's Street . It was a huge undertaking and , because of it's size , was co-ordinated by the OIRA GHQ Staff in Dublin and explicitly supported by the OIRA Army Council . Those mortar attacks took place over six months after the announcement of the ceasefire .
The other illustration of the extent to which the ceasefire initially was in name mainly was a statement issued by the Command Staff of the Official IRA in Belfast on May 2nd 1973 , almost a year after the ceasefire announcement , claiming responsibility for the deaths of 7 British soldiers "...during recent retaliatory action in the North of Ireland . " Thus the pretence that the OIRA military campaign came to an abrupt halt in the middle of 1972 is entirely false : the campaign continued for at least a year afterwards .......