Thursday, December 01, 2005

First published in the booklet ' STRIP SEARCHES IN ARMAGH JAIL' , produced , in February 1984 , by 'The London Armagh Group' .

As I felt a hand slowly moving down the calves of my leg , my flesh crawled . They were'nt content to jibe at my naked state , they had to 'search' me - a 'skin-search' . It sounds ridiculous , but it's true. I was ordered to turm around , and I managed to totally ignore that command and the following ones . They could strip me , but no way was I going to assist them . They were forced to move behind me and , as I steeled myself , they searched my hair .

Eventually , they could draw out the search no longer - they told me to re-enter the cubicle and dress quickly , but I remained where I was , silently staring at each one of them in turn , wanting them to look at my face . These were women - women who did this to me . I am 5ft 1inch and weigh 6st 9lbs , and it took eight of these prison screws to be present . I slowly returned to the cubicle and started to dress , feeling drained , and I noticed a tremble in my hands . I felt violated , invaded , victimised . And very , very angry .

Within the next 48 hours I was to be strip-searched five times . I wrote numerous letters of complaint to the Board of Visitors , calling into question their empty excuses that strip-searching is necessary on 'security grounds' . Each time I left the prison I was under joint British military/RUC escort , and was taken to the court (two minutes journey away) in a steel-reinforced van , locked into a steel 'pig-sty' within the van and dragged out of it and hustled into the courtroom for a 30 second appearance in the dock , and returned immediately to the prison .

Both before getting into the van and when leaving it back at the jail I was strip-searched , stripped naked twice within twenty minutes , having had no contact at all with the public .......


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 June 23rd 1981 , as Joe McDonnell was beginning his fifty-seventh day on hunger-strike , the 'Irish Commission for Justice and Peace' met the British Under-Secretary for Prisons in the North , Michael Alison . At that meeting he told them that he saw no problem in the prisoners wearing their own clothes : from that day to July 8th , when Joe McDonnell died , the British government was to engage in yet another exercise in brinkmanship with the prisoners' lives , letting the Commission meet the hunger-strikers , but not their Officer Commanding , Brendan McFarlane , allowing the Commission members to raise the relatives' hopes only to crush them , as on July 3rd , when Michael Alison renaged on the clothes issue .

All along , Garret Fitzgerald , the Fine Gael Free State 'Taoiseach' , was monitoring the situation , and even met the families of the hunger strikers on July 3rd 1981 , impressing on them that they should get their sons to accept the Commission's statement ; but the British government's 'about-turn' on the clothes issue , followed by their stalling , ensured that the Commission was shown as a 'puppet' in the hands of the British . On July 8th 1981 , Joe McDonnell died after sixty-one days on hunger-strike .

Never at any time had the Republican prisoners stated that the Commission's proposals were acceptable to them yet , in spite of a lengthy and crystal-clear statement by the prisoners , on July 14th 1981 , the Commission , a creation of the Irish 'establishment' , had lent itself willingly to the cynical manoeuvres of the British government : the streets of the Occupied Six Counties echoed once more , for the fifth time in less than ten weeks , with the fracas of bin lids and of angry rioting .......



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.

It appears that many of the Official IRA's arms were dumped around 1975 : one of those arms dumps was discovered in Monaghan by the Gardai in September 1980 : among the items found then were six handguns , 10,000 rounds of ammunition , walkie-talkie radios and a quantity of silver coins - left overs from a bank raid . Training manuals and other documents were also found , leading Gardai to conclude that weapons training had been carried out by the Official IRA some short time previously .

Sinn Fein the Workers Party strenuously denies that any of its finance comes from robberies ; in spite of these denials , however , we have identified the following robberies as having been carried out by members of the Official IRA since 1975 . We have been able to identify robberies that amount to only about half a million pounds in all and much of this was recovered afterwards . But we are aware that these represent only the tip of the iceberg - that much more money has been robbed by members of the Official IRA over the last several years . One former member of the OIRA Army Council estimates that the Official IRA robbed a total of about £2 million since the 1972 ceasefire .

We have also been informed that two major robberies were conducted in the run up to the June 1981 general election campaign , one of which took place in Belfast in early 1981 when a bank on the Ormeau Road was raided . The other robbery took place in the South and the takings were very considerable . We are not aware of the precise details of either of these operations and have therefore left them out of this narrative ; however , we wish to point out that there was a major jewellery robbery in McDowells Jewellers in O' Connell Street , Dublin , on April 24 , 1981 , when jewellery valued at £100,000 was taken . We have no evidence that this was stolen by the Official IRA but this is the only robbery of its size undertaken in the run-up to the 1981 election .

Also , as outlined below , the Official IRA was involved in another jewellery robbery in May 1980 and therefore must have the means of disposing of jewellery on the black market .......