Monday, December 05, 2005

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

The women prisoners in Armagh Jail cannot appeal to you , so I do so in their name . They are imprisoned because they denied the British Government the 'right' to invade their country . For their 'audacity' , that same government has sought to invade both their bodies and their minds .

The Armagh women deserve every accolade laid on them ; they suffer and endure , resolutely , continual strip searches , cell-raids , and internal lock-ups . They expect nothing less and they deserve so much more .

The Official Response.
In response to criticism in the press , the British 'Northern Ireland (sic) Office' issued a circular in February 1983 describing the strip-searches thus :

" The prisoner is shown into an enclosed cubicle where , in complete privacy , she removes her clothing and passes them out to a woman prison officer for searching . While she is in the cubicle , she may put on prison-made top and skirt or , if she prefers , a sheet which she wears while her clothes are being searched .

She is then briefly visually examined while still in the cubicle by one female prison officer to ensure she has not hidden any item on her person . "
This 'official' statement paints a picture of a discreet , perfunctory and private search , carried out by only one prison screw while the prisoner is in the cubicle . It should be compared to a statement made by the prisoners themselves :

" We are told to go into the cubicles and strip . A curtain is fastened across the cubicle about waist-high to the floor . You are always in view of the prison staff who sometimes number as many as ten . As you strip , you become very aware of how little protection the curtain affords you . When you are naked , your body from the waist up is visible to all the prison staff in the room ....... "


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 August 2nd 1981 , Kieran Doherty , TD for Cavan/Monaghan , died after seventy-three days on hunger-strike ; the flag flew at half mast on Leinster House to mark his passing , although the few people left in the building at the beginning of the summer recess were at pains to point out that it was done "...for any TD .." In fact , arch-bigot and Unionist MP Robert Bradford was to be bestowed that same honour less than four months later .

The last two hunger-strikers to lose their lives in this heroic struggle were Thomas McElwee , who died on August 8th 1981 after sixty-two days on hunger strike , and Micky Devine , who died on August 20th after sixty days on hunger strike . On that same day a by-election took place in Fermanagh and South Tyrone ; no hunger-striker candidate this time - the British government had seen to that by hastily concocting and passing a bill through Westminster which would bar people convicted of 'terrorist offences' in Britain and the North from standing for election at Westminster .

That bill , widely known as the 'Sands Bill' , demonstrated how respectful of the ballot box the British really are . In the event , Owen Carron , local member of Sinn Fein , H-Block activist and former election agent for Bobby Sands , was chosen to stand as a ' proxy political prisoner candidate ' against ex-UDR man and Official Unionist Party candidate Ken Maginnis . Owen Carron polled 31,278 votes , increasing Bobby Sands' majority by almost eight hundred . This was another body-blow to Margaret Thatcher's government , a further indication of the height of support the prisoners enjoyed .

Yet , at that stage , the Brits' worries were soon to be over , as their old ally , the Catholic Hierarchy , was on an all-out campaign to put pressure on the hunger-strikers' relatives .......



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.

Bank Levies , SFWP style :

CIE Pay Office , Inchicore , Dublin : £150,000 .
This was one of the Official IRA's most successful operations and it took place on November 1 , 1978 . Five armed men held up the cashier's office ; they were armed with shotguns and they were wearing scarves and balaclava helmets . They locked the wages staff in the canteen after they got the money and then drove away in a CIE van , which was later abandoned as the raiders got away in another vehicle . Nobody was ever caught for the operation - we have been informed by several sources connected with the Official Movement that this robbery was conducted by the Official IRA to provide finance for Sinn Fein The Workers Party .

Dundalk Jewellers : £60,000 .
This robbery took place on May 9 , 1980 , and could have proved a major embarrassment to Sinn Fein The Workers Party because the men involved got caught and were identifiable as being associated with the Official Movement ; however , the media missed the story at the time and the Gardai do not seem to have realised the significance of the incident .

The jewellers that was raided was owned by John Walsh and jewels to the value of £60,000 were taken . A garda on duty nearby gave chase to the raiders but failed to catch them ; however , two men who corresponded to the description given by that garda were later spotted by other gardai who also gave chase and , this time , caught them . The car involved in the incident had been hi-jacked in Belfast the previous day , with the hi-jackers telling the owner that the car was being taken over by the Official IRA and would be returned later that day . When this did not happen the man went to the Provisional Sinn Fein incident centre on the Falls Road in Belfast and a man who liaises with the Official IRA for the Provisionals contacted the local Official IRA Officer Commanding in the Cyprus Street Republican Clubs drinking haunt .

He was told that the car would be returned the next day - but the car was then found to have been involved in the Dundalk jewellery robbery .......