Thursday, November 24, 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 prison administration formally deny that we are in a separate category but we nonetheless merit special treatment as high security risks . It is obvious that these ordinary prisoners feel as uncomfortable with republicans as we do with them . Hence their decision to remain in their cells , reardless of the screws' attempts to shift them out by coercion and threats .

It is plain to see that there is a need for segregation along these lines in Armagh . It is true to say that we do not have a republican/loyalist-type situation here , as is the case in the H-Blocks , but the need for segregation is still a major issue . In my opinion , the future ahead for republican POW's in Armagh looks grim because of the attitude we are met with on these important issues . It is such a small jail with a low population of inmates that one would think a reasonable existence would be possible with little difficulty .

It is , of course , but not under the present circumstances , as for the past year the prison regime has been , continues to be , geared towards punishment alone and there is no sign that this will change . "

(Tomorrow - " Don't let them break you , love ..." - from 1984.)

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 .

On April 23rd 1981 , Free State premier Charles Haughey (who had refused to speak-up on behalf of the political prisoners) made his move - he advised Bobby Sands' distraugh relatives to call for the intervention of the European Commission on Human Rights ; he also led them to believe that that intervention would take place immediately , and produce quick results . Yet it later appeared that the Commission needed Bobby Sands' signature to intervene , that they would see him alone , without his chosen advisors , that they would need two weeks to present their findings , and that the matter of political status was completely outside their competence .

The Free State government had shown itself as a shrewd and deceitful accomplice of the British (' 1169 .... ' Comment - , indeed , they still are , even if some 'republicans' have thrown their lot in with them ) and , like them , more interested in ending the 'embarrassment' of the hunger-strike than in resolving the issue .

On April 20th 1981 , three Free State Euro-MP's - Neil Blaney (Independent Fianna Fail) , Sile de Valera (Fianna Fail) and Dr. John O' Connell (Independent) , were allowed to visit Bobby Sands : O ' Connell had previously stated that he would try to convince Sands to come off his fast ; upset by their visit to the dying MP , they requested a meeting with Margaret Thatcher who , in a press conference in Saudi Arabia , publicly humiliated the three Euro-MP's by saying - " It is not my habit or custom to meet MP's from a foreign country about a citizen of the United Kingdom resident in the United Kigdom ."

On April 25th 1981 , Sands' 56th day on hunger-strike , a three-member delegation of the European Commission on Human Rights flew to Belfast in a blaze of publicity ; they left the following day without having met Bobby Sands , who by then lay on a waterbed , still lucid but close to death . They had managed to create an impression of movement , and lent some 'respectability' to the British and Free State governments in their callous exercise in brinkmanship and media manipulation .......



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.

Seamus Costello established the 'Irish Republican Socialist Party' (IRSP) and the 'Irish National Liberation Army' (INLA) on the same day , Sunday 8th December 1974 , in the Spa Hotel in Lucan , Dublin . Costello was to insist first that there were no links between the IRSP and the INLA but in fact the manner of their 'birth' suggested otherwise . About 90 people assembled in the hotel in Lucan - they broke for tea , then reconvened as a separate group to form the INLA . Actually some of the people who disapproved from the outset with Costello's plans for a military organisation left during the tea break .

Costello was to insist that the two organisations were entirely separate and that the political organisation would have no control over the military one - it was this insistence that eventually led to the resignation of Bernadette McAliskey from the party . The formation of the IRSP/INLA posed a very severe threat to the Official IRA/Sinn Fein the Workers Party because its Northern members had been in the main unhappy with the Official's ceasefire and the strict enforcement of same . Entire Units of the Official IRA , such as that at Divis Flats in Belfast , immediately defected to the INLA . Anxiety over the possible decimation of the Official IRA must have been a contributory factor in the fued that subsequently broke out between the two organisations - IRSP members remembered chillingly repeated expressions of regret on the part of senior members of the Official IRA that they had not wiped out the Provisional IRA at their infancy .

Following the IRSP split with the Officials , the proposed organisational changes in the Official IRA did not go through , at least not until after 1978 , if at all . The significance of the Official IRA declined significantly , however - OIRA Army Council meetings which used to take place on a monthly basis began to take place only on a three monthly basis . Its main topic of discussion was proposed robberies and the control of the political organisation.......