" A wealth of information..."

"1169 And Counting is a wealth of information on our Republican past and present , and demonstrates how the Irish political landscape , like that of any nation, will never be a black and white issue..."

(From the ‘e-Thursday’ section of the ‘Business Week’ supplement of the ‘Irish Independent’ , 21st August 2008.)



IRISH BLOG AWARDS 2017 - ooops! It seems that our entry application was "not completed in time to be considered.." (?) and, as such, we are not now in the running. But we wish all the best to the successful entrants and to the organisers, and we hope all goes well for them on the day!


Friday, November 25, 2005

" DON'T LET THEM BREAK YOU , LOVE " .
First published in the booklet ' STRIP SEARCHES IN ARMAGH JAIL' , produced , in February 1984 , by 'The London Armagh Group' .

This is the first time I have put pen to paper to try and document some of the crimes I have been subjected to .

You'll forgive me if I don't feel the need to ask you to understand just what is happening here in the occupied Six Counties . Rather I demand your realisation of what is being done in your name , to me , and to countless hundreds of my sisters . You have read of us , some of you have even met us , but you have never 'lived' us . Maybe this will help. Think of it as 'A Day In The Life ...' :

I am the eldest daughter of four children , born to working-class parents in a Catholic ghetto in Belfast . In August 1971 the British Government introduced internment . My father evaded arrest until December 1971 , then was taken by British troops to Castlereagh Interrogation Centre and held there incommunicado : witnesses to his arrest testified to the savage and brutal beating he received . We were denied access , and were denied a writ of habeus corpus . At this stage we just wanted his body , as we believed him to be dead .

Our home became a regular haunt of the British occupation forces - early morning raids , dawn arrests , these were our examples of 'British impartiality' . I was first arrested on the morning of my birthday in June 1974 , forced to stand 'spread-eagle' against a brick wall for four hours , subjected to a continual barrage of insults , rubber batons run up the inside of my leg , enquiries as to my sexual preferences , physically searched again and again by British troops , insulted , degraded , humiliated . I was sixteen that day .......

(MORE LATER).



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 .

On Sunday 26th April 1981 , twenty thousand marchers demonstrated on the Falls Road in Belfast . The size of the crowd , the many speakers who addressed the rally - US Attorney-General Ramsey Clark , Massachusetts State Representative Marie Howe , American Jesuit pacifist Fr. Daniel Berrigan , Kerry GAA football celebrity Joe Keohane , Bernadette McAliskey (who was making her first public appearance since the UDA's attempt on her life and on that of her husband on January 16th 1981) and , finally , the dozens of telegrams from all over Europe , the USA and Britain , that were read to the demonstrators : all these elements pointed to an unprecedented support for the prisoners' cause , a hitherto unequalled world interest in the plight of the Irish people .

Yet the British were to remain unmoved ; as the H-Block prisoners pointed out much later , in their October 3rd 1981 statement drawing the lessons of the hunger strike they had just ended - " The nationalist community is politically inconsequential and impotent in the context of the six-county statelet . "

Bobby Sands died at 1.17AM on Tuesday 5th May 1981 : as an angry nationalist community took to the dark streets , some women with bin lids , others with rosary beads , youths with stones and petrol bombs , the British Army and the RUC indulged in an orgy of attacks on by-standers , driving armoured cars at groups of women who were praying , shooting on small children with plastic bullets . On April 19th 1981 , in Derry , two youths had been savagely run over and killed by British Army vehicles - Gary English , aged nineteen , and Jimmy Brown , aged eighteen . Tensions were already high in the North over this incident .

The unadulterated violence displayed by British troops and the RUC would cause many more deaths and permanent injuries , causing even 'moderate' politicians and churchmen to condemn the use of plastic bullets , concerned as they were by the rising popular indignation and wishing that the British troops would 'behave' in a more 'acceptable' manner....... ('1169...' Comment - there is no 'acceptable' manner to Republicans for any British soldier to behave in on this island .)

(MORE LATER).


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 Official IRA was always used to control Sinn Fein the Workers Party and this did not end certainly until well after 1978 , if even then . The OIRA Convention used to be held regularly prior to the SFWP Ard Fheis and at those Conventions it would be decided how the OIRA should vote en bloc at the Ard Fheis . Therefore military discipline was effectively deployed at the party level to influence decisions .

The level of robberies stepped up considerably after the OIRA ceasefire , especially when the ceasefire became effective . The robberies took place across the North and in the South : a gang formed in Belfast especially for robberies , which became known as ' The Dirty Dozen' (initially comprised of 12 men and later of 13 ) , it reputedly stole £200,000 in one 4-month period : targets were mainly post offices , post office vans and security vans .

The Official IRA became primarily a fund-raising organisation but it served other purposes too - it kept order in the vast drinking clubs that the Officials own in the North and in Dublin ; it maintained internal discipline through intimidation and beatings , and provided the means of 'self-defence' for the party which got into feuds from time to time with the Provos . The Official IRA has also been responsible for running rackets in Belfast particularly . This involved primarily the operation of tax exemption fraud , which the Provos have also perfected .

On many building sites 'lump labour' is employed on a contractual basis - a 'weakness' in the method of collection of income tax from these workers was spotted .......

(MORE LATER).







Thursday, November 24, 2005

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 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 . "


[END of ' A HISTORY OF ARMAGH JAIL' .]
(Tomorrow - " Don't let them break you , love ..." - from 1984.)


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 .

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 - ...as , 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 .......

(MORE LATER).



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.

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.......

(MORE LATER).







Wednesday, November 23, 2005

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 .

" This repressive attitude is mirrored in all areas , and in none more so than in the area of prison work . Throughout Europe , many prisons have abolished prison work due to the economic recession - for since work is so scarce on the outside , it is impossible to secure contracts for work within the prisons .

The same position applies to Armagh , with no industry prepared to supply a contract ; yet instead of the administration taking a sensible view of the situation by providing educational and vocational training during the day , they demand that POW's sit at sewing machines all day every day , doing nothing but stitching prison-issue jeans which are'nt even in use . Such work is monotonous , and one would think that the administration's interest would be in keeping minds occupied and in providing some type of mind-stimulating alternative to demeaning work which can only increase tension and discontent throughout the jail .

It is hypocritical of the British 'Northern Ireland' Office to even speak of work inside the prisons when tens of thousands in the Six Counties remain unemployed . The facilities are available in Armagh Jail for the implementation of a full-time education programme . It would not need a major shift in policy but basically would be an acknowledgement of the reality that there is no work to be done in the prisons and that an alternative needs to be found . Eventually the 'NIO' are going to have to look at this problem realistically - they are only avoiding the inevitable .

With so much monitoring of Republicans , the constant strip-searching and the introduction of new rules every day under the guise of 'security' , it seems very contraductory to me that the prison administration would even consider housing ordinary prisoners in the same area as us ....... "


(MORE LATER).



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 .

Bobby Sands had been elected as an MP by a majority of voters in Fermanagh-South Tyrone : ' A Mandate for the IRA !' , screamed the newspaper headlines : " Thirty Thousand Murderers! " , shriked Loyalist politicians . " Traditional anti-unionist voting pattern ... " , pontificated John Hume , whose party (SDLP) had semi-offically called for abstention right up to election day .

" A freak result due to sympathy and emotion ... " , ('1169....' Comment - WHAT ! No "intimidation" ... ? ) was all the dumb-founded British 'official' voice could come up with . " They can't let him die now ... " , supporters of the prisoners thought : they were all wrong . The result was not "... a freak.. " - it was repeated four months later , and even improved on . It was not so much a mandate for the IRA but for political status , and was understood as such by all concerned , Republicans or not . And , not a month later , on Tuesday 5th May 1981 , Bobby Sands died .

The British government had seen its room for political manoeuvring considerably reduced by the election of a hunger-striker ; first , the world's attention had been suddenly focused on the occupied North of Ireland , to an extent unseen since 'Lord' Mountbatten's death and the Warrenpoint ambush in 1979 . And this time the British government could not play its old tune about " terrorists and gangsters " , as the game had been 'played' according to their rules , through the ballot box . The world's press flocked to Belfast : from local 'folk heroes' , Bobby Sands and his comrades were becoming media events . And most of all , the British government's lie that "...the prisoners had no support.. " lay in tatters at their feet .

Free State premier , Charles Haughey , who had consistently refused requests that he approach Margaret Thatcher and officially ask her to grant the prisoners their demands , made his move on April 23rd 1981 .......

(MORE LATER).



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.

Differences were coming to a head within the Official movement : proposals emerged for the restructuring of the organisation and a commission was set up in early 1973 to examine proposals . One paper dealt with Sean Garland's concern of " ...the revolutionary party.. " which he had first postulated the previous June in Bodenstown : the main aspect of this proposal was that one organisation , the party , would be responsible for all the activities of the Official movement ie military as well as political . Seamus Costello had a strong case for retaining the existing structure of two organisations , one political and one military , but with greater cohesion between the two .

A third paper was prepared by Eoin O Morchu who was editor of the 'United Irishman' newspaper at the time but who was later to leave the Officials and join the Communist Party ; he argued for the effective disbanding of the OIRA and its incorporation into the political organisation for 'certain specialised activities' .

The militarists within the Officials perceived this debate in terms of great alarm - they believed that it was not only Eoin O Morchu who was in favour of doing away with the OIRA but also Sean Garland who effectively wanted to emasculate the organisation and thereby abandon entirely the struggle for national unity . This debate , which effectively centered on whether there should be an open resumption of the military campaign waged through 1973 and early 1974 - Seamus Costello was suspended from the OIRA for 'factional activity' . He was in fact attempting to win support for his position throughout the Officials in a manner that apparently contravened the procedures for such debate . He was courtmartialed at the party's educational centre at Mornington , County Meath : he was found guilty of charges and dishonourably dismissed from the OIRA .

Undaunted , Costello continued his campaign within Sinn Fein the Workers Party but was resoundingly defeated at the SFWP Ard Fheis of 1974 when a resolution calling for his re-instatement was thrown out - he had been suspended from membership by the SFWP Ard Comhairle , amidst allegations of vote rigging in connection with the Ard Fheis but it is clear that he would have been routed anyway .......

(MORE LATER).







Tuesday, November 22, 2005

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 .

" When the 'no work' protest ended , punishment techniques were put into operation immediately in an orchestrated attempt to break the POW's . In the first fortnight , most Republican prisoners had received more punishment than would have been possible during a month on protest . This punishment reached the heights in severity with many women spending days , and in somecases months , in solitary confinement .

With the failure of this two-fold tactic the prison authorities have to content themselves with continuous punishment meted out on petty pretexts , trying to beat the Republican spirit into submission . A prime example of this is the continuation of strip-searching , despite the public outcry it provoked . The British 'Northern Ireland Office' have attempted to play down this degrading practice by saying that it is necessary when moving high security-risk prisoners to and from the jail , while a notice displayed in the strip-search area states that all prisoners must be stripped naked leaving and entering the jail because of 'prohibited artices' being smuggled in .

This refers to the incident last November which sparked of the strip-searching when two 'YOP's ' (ordinary prisoners) stole the keys of a magistrates car "for a laugh" while in RUC custody and brought them back into the jail . The two 'YOP's' have since been released . Ironic ? Maybe , but having listened to three women who have endured this disgusting practice daily for months , as have those in the 'Black informer' trial , I can only think of the enormous mental effect this must have at what is already a stressful period .

Each of these women has been stripped over 135 times . This is not 'in the interests of security' , it is psychological torture . The prison administration have agreed it is an un-necessary practice , yet it continues because it is a new-found weapon in the attempt to rob Republicans of dignity ....... "


(MORE LATER).



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 .

The March 1st 1981 hunger strike was to last 217 days ; 23 Republican prisoners engaged in it , of whom ten were to die , in a calvary of false hopes , anguish and pain for themselves , their relatives and friends ; lies and deceit from the British government , slander and blackmail from the Catholic hierarchy .

Support activities slowly gathered momentum , as if weary supporters had needed longer this time to face up to the awful reality of a fast to the death : on March 1st 1981 , Bobby Sands refused his first meal . Between five and ten thousand people marched up the Falls Road in Belfast in support of the five demands . After a slow start , events speeded up when , sadly , Frank Maguire , MP for Fermanagh-South Tyrone died of a heart attack on March 5th 1981 . His untimely death caused local H-Block activists to consider fielding a hunger-striker candidate . ( '1169....' Comment - The idea/proposal to field Bobby Sands as a candidate came from Daithi O Conaill and was seconded by Ruairi O Bradaigh .)

Fearless South Derry soldier Francis Hughes had begun fasting on March 15th 1981 . Raymond McCreesh from South Armagh and Patsy O' Hara from Derry had joined him and Bobby Sands on March 22nd 1981 . The SDLP , under pressure from rank-and-file supporters on the ground , decided not to field Austin Currie . Noel Maguire , brother of the late MP , after a visit from Bobby Sands' parents , withdrew his nomination papers minutes before the deadline for nominations , on Monday , March 30th 1981 .

Bobby Sands , political prisoner and anti-H-Block/Armagh candidate , and old-time Unionist and 'landlord' Harry West found themselves locked in an electoral battle on Thursday 9th April 1981 , as Sands lay on a hospital bed , forty days into his hunger-strike . Hundreds of thousands of people held their breath that day , as counting was going on in Enniskillen Technical College : then the magic moment , the magic figure - 30,492 ! Bobby Sands had been elected MP . Nationalists all over the Six Counties were elated . Constitutional politicians were stunned . Journalists were breathless . The British government was shattered .......

(MORE LATER).



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.

It is true that from the middle of 1973 onwards , the 'screws' were put on OIRA military activity ; this was done not by any formal decision but by the more rigid interpretation of the terms of the ceasefire - OIRA operatives were finding it harder and harder to get clearane for jobs and even when clearance was given the delay involved meant that the operation often could'nt be carried out anyway .

Also there was a problem of equipment ; while the OIRA leadership repeatedly promised new , more and better arms and explosives , the actual provision of these was a very different matter - there were always excuses why something could not be delivered and it was only in retrospect that OIRA Volunteers recognised this as a means of stopping the military campaign altogether . Thus the OIRA armed campaign was stopped not by fiat following the ceasefire announcement but by a gradual process which effectively choked off military activity without any accompanying major decision to that effect .

That amounted to a masterstroke on the part of Cathal Goulding who for the most part did not want a military campaign at any stage . Yet he managed to bring the Official movement with him into 1974 without any major rift , having effectively hoodwinked the organisation into a real ceasefire to which it never really consented . But , in spite of the cleverness by which this plan was manoeuvred , it was inevitable that it would give rise to tensions and these surfaced in the latter part of 1972 : a convention of the Official IRA was held in October 1972 and a document was presented jointly by Seamus Costello and another senior member - this clearly defined the objectives of the Official movement in traditional Republican terms , in contrast to the more 'civil rights' emphasis of Cathal Goulding .

The Costello 'line' won through and Costello followed this up with a detailed proposal for a resumption of the military campaign officially : in this he was heavily defeated at a resumed OIRA Army Convention the following month . This led to more tensions .......

(MORE LATER).







Monday, November 21, 2005

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 ....... ! "


(MORE LATER).



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 .......

(MORE LATER).



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 .......

(MORE LATER).