Monday, November 21, 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 .

" 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 ....... ! "


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 .......



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 .......