" 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.)



This blog was listed as one of the 'Finalists' in the '2016 current affairs/politics' category of the Littlewoods Ireland blog awards - but we didn't win the award. Ah well! Thanks to everyone involved for getting us to the final stage of the competition and sure we'll try again next year!

Friday, December 09, 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' .
The Official Response.

In response to the many letters of protest sent by concerned members of parliament , members of the European Parliament , local councillors , members of the public and concerned women and men from elsewhere in the world , this official version of the strip-search procedure has been faithfully reproduced , together with further comforting phrases :

" The (British) government is satisfied , having gone into the whole matter very carefully , that there is a need for the present procedures and that they are carried out in as sensitive a manner as possible by the staff concerned . To describe what is done as 'inhuman' is a gross exaggeration . " Compare this with the following , which actually happened - " Eight screws were present , standing silently , waiting to see , hoping to see , another one break . Then the dreaded words - "Right ! Strip !" "

And this - " She is briefly visually examined while still in the cubicle to ensure that she has not 'hidden' any item on her person .....as I felt a hand slowly moving down the calf of my leg my flesh crawled . They were'nt content to jibe at my naked state , they had to 'search' me . A 'skin-search' , aye . It sounds ridiculous , but it is true... "

The British government is "...satisfied.. " , despite the fact that metal detectors , which are available , are not used to search prisoners at Armagh , that these degrading procedures are "...necessary.. " . The British government is also "...satisfied .." that sometimes as many as 28 strip-searches a month are "...necessary.. " to make sure that one prisoner is not smuggling anything into the prison or out of it .

Yet , if the British government is concerned about 'security' why do they not use the metal detectors ? Surely the imposition of anything so traumatic as the strip-searches , which are unnecessary , constitutes 'inhumanity' and is a contradiction of British 'Lord' Gowrie's 'principle' of "...proper consideration.. " ?

[END of " DON'T LET THEM BREAK YOU , LOVE " .]
(Monday , 12th - 'British Justice' : 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 the outside , the Irish 'establishment' has been exposed and lost credibility and electoral ground . British 'criminalisation' policy has been smashed . Anti-imperialist feelings have been awakened from their slumber throughout Ireland . The struggle for Irish freedom has gained world-wide publicity . And , more important perhaps for the future , the youth of Ireland stood up to be counted .

Some joined the ranks of the IRA , others worked tirelessly in their action groups , organising pickets , drafting leaflets , painting wall murals , the photographs of which went all over the world , as the most beautiful proof of the existence of a living popular struggle . All this was , first and foremost , what Bobby Sands and his comrades were in jail for , and what they died for .

[END of ' THE HEROIC PRISON STRUGGLE ' .]
(Monday , 12th - 'Fr. Denis Faul ; A Conniving , Treacherous Man.' From 1981.)


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.

Bank Levies , SFWP style :

ALLIED IRISH BANK HEAD OFFICE site - £6,000 :
This robbery took place in 1977 when the AIB headquarters was under construction . Two armed men forced their way into the site office of Crampton's , the builders , and got away with £6,000 - a third man was waiting for them in a car opposite the Royal Dublin Society building in Ballsbridge , Dublin . Specific details of this robbery were not available from Crampton's - the foreman at the site at the time was able to remember only the above details . Sources connected with the Official IRA have informed us that they were responsible for the robbery .

INTERNATIONAL MEAT PACKERS , DUBLIN - £30,000 :
This , according to the Gardai , was "...a particularly well organised job .. "
The payroll arrived in the factory on Lower Grand Canal Street , in Dublin , at 9AM on Friday , July 22nd , 1977 . Forty-five minutes later two raiders , dressed in white coats and protective helmets (the uniform of workers on the site) arrived ; they held up the cash office at gunpoint as the staff there were in the process of filling out wage packets . They opened fire on a member of the staff who pursued them , and got away in a white Ford Cortina which had been stolen and was later found abandoned .
(Monday , 12th - 'CIE Train Robbery'.)
(MORE LATER).







Thursday, December 08, 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' .
The Official Response.

" Anyone with long hair is ordered to gather her hair up in her hands and hold it on top of her head . This , say the women prisoners , makes the entire sordid affair seem like a slave trade market . When the strip-searching is finished , clothes are returned and we are allowed to dress .

Next , we are brought into an RUC van and from there on we are in RUC custody ; after arriving at court we make a brief appearance and , I should stress , have
no contact with the public . Most women are returned to Armagh Prison from the local court in Armagh in less than half an hour , and are again subjected to strip-searching .

The women are searched on their return to prison from court , even though they have been in RUC custody and have had no contact with the public - where would they get anything to conceal on themselves in a high security court ? Also , what could possibly be the justification for searching the women on
leaving the prison to go to court ?

Harassment , rather than security , is obviously the purpose ....... "


(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 .

Bernard Fox ended his hunger-strike on September 25th , 1981 for health reasons , similar to the health issues suffered by Brendan McLaughlin . The hunger-strike finally crumbled as an effective weapon when all but one family of the remaining six hunger-strikers indicated that they would intervene eventually .

What the British and Free State governments had been unable to achieve , directly or through various 'official' bodies , the Catholic hierarchy had succeeded in bringing about - an unconditional end of the hunger-strike . The prisoners , in their October 3rd 1981 statement , were not slow to draw the lesson from the fact . Having won international recognition for their status as political prisoners , but having failed to wring the formal admission of that fact from an unyielding British government , the Republican prisoners were given their own clothes and promised some restoration of remission for 'good behaviour' .

About two-thirds of the prisoners are now on a 'no-work' protest , like their women comrades in Armagh Jail , and the rest have decided to conform to prison rules . It will take them months , maybe years , to overcome the emotional and physical strain of four-and-a-half years of gruelling protest and ill-treatment , and a year of hunger-strikes .......

(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.

Bank Levies , SFWP style :
Cork CMP Dairies raid - £10,000 : cont/d .......

During a raid on the Cork CMP Dairies , a handgun was discharged at a clerk , Maura Collins - she was wounded in the lower back . The Special Branch moved in on the premises and a gunfight ensued , resulting in the capture of the five raiders . Those five men were :
Thomas Patrick Cosgrave , Cork .
James Martin McKevitt , Newry .
Rory O' Hagan , Dundalk .
David Russell , Belfast .
Hugh Gorman , Newry .

Legal counsel for the men stated at their trial in the Special Criminal Court on October 9th , 1978 - " ...while there were members of the Official IRA (sic- "present" ?) the incident in question was of the nature of a maverick operation for themselves.. " .

That statement , which of course was given in good faith by the legal counsel , was designed to minimise the political embarrassment caused by the incident . It was , however , untrue , according to a variety of sources attached to the Official's . In addition , one of the men involved gave an alias - this man was a prominent operative for the Official IRA over the previous number of years .

(Tomorrow - raids on Allied Irish Bank Head Office and International Meat Packers , both in Dublin.)

(MORE LATER).







Wednesday, December 07, 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' .
The Official Response.

British 'Lord' Gowrie (Deputy Secretary of State for 'Northern Ireland' , with responsibility for prisons , for two years until 1983) stated : " I do accept that there is legitimate concern that no prisoners , especially women , should be treated other than with proper consideration . Neither I nor Jim Prior (present British Secretary of State for 'Northern Ireland') nor any of my officials , would tolerate a system which did not operate under this principle . "

Yet very little consideration is shown to women when they are menstruating , as can be seen from the prisoners' account : " While you are naked you are asked if you have a period and , if you have , you are forced to remove your sanitary protection . A paper bag is provided for your tampoon or towel ; the bag is then opened and the contents examined . Your body is then inspected , and you are told to turn completely round so as no part of your body is left unseen . "

Why wait until the woman is naked before asking if she has her period ? Why not ask this before the strip-search begins ? It is obvious that the whole process is designed to humiliate and degrade the women prisoners and that 'Lord' Gowrie's words are meaningless . The contradiction between 'official' statements and the reality of what the women prisoners go through can be seen from further statements .......

(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 .

Mrs Quinn's intervention to save her son , Paddy's life , on July 31st 1981 , was heralded as " ...an example for all Christian mothers.. " by various clerics , increasing the already unbearable pressure on the families of Kevin Lynch and Kieran Doherty . Through public statements , Catholic priest Fr. Denis Faul began to describe the hunger-strike as "...hopeless.. " , accusing Republicans of using the hunger-strike to "...gain control.." . The mask was down .

The Catholic hierarchy's real fear had been , all along , the collapsing of their power base . And if their power rested on British rule , then support British rule they must . Pat McGeown's wife intervened on August 20th 1981 as his condition suddenly worsened . Apart from Brendan McLaughlin , who had voluntarily called off his fast on May 27th 1981 after fourteen days on hunger-strike , after it had become clear he would soon die of a perforated ulcer , now two hunger-strikers had ended their fast through family intervention .

Fr. Denis Faul by then was paying frequent visits to the hunger-strikers' relatives , calling meetings or seeing them individually . On September 4th 1981 , Matt Devlin's family signed for medical intervention : on the 6th September 1981 , Laurence McKeown's family did likewise . On the 26th September 1981 , Liam McCloskey voluntarily ended his hunger-strike after his mother convinced him that she would intervene the minute he became unconscious .......

(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.

Bank Levies , SFWP style :

Allied Irish Bank , North Wall , Dublin - £11,000 .
Three armed men entered the bank at 10.14AM ; two jumped over the counter and one of them shouted - " Give us the rent ... " - they got away in a car which was driven by the fourth man . Two of the men involved visited the scene on the following day to point out the location to their girl friends . One of these ladies is a prominent trade unionist today .

Cork CMP Dairies - £10,000 .
This was probably the most embarrassing robbery for Sinn Fein The Workers Party because the people involved were caught and many of them were very well-known members of the Official Movement . Five men , all armed , held up the wages office of the CMP Dairies and took £10,000 ; one of the raiders fired a shot at a wages clerk , a M/S Maura Collins , who failed to comply swiftly enough with their orders : she was hit in the lower back .

The sound of the gunshot alerted three Special Branch men who were investigating a break-in at the rear of the premises . They rushed around to the front and exchanged shots with the raiders - when one of the Branch men produced a machine-gun , the five raiders surrendered .......

(MORE LATER).







Tuesday, December 06, 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' .
The Official Response.

" You are then told to hand over all your clothes , which are taken away and searched . Once your clothes are gone you are asked if you want a 'gown' - this garment comes in two parts : the top consists of a strip of material which slips over the head and consists of two panels , back and front , which are not joined .

The bottom part is similar to a mini-skirt - the purpose of this is to enable the prison staff to raise the material and inspect your body . No woman has ever agreed to wear these distasteful garments . Apart from adding to the already tense embarrassment , they would only tend to prolong the strip-search . After the 'gowns' have been refused , a bedsheet is offered - if you accepted this sheet you would have to wrap it round yourself and then open it to have your body 'inspected' . This also only serves to prolong the strip-searching , so the sheets are also refused . "


From this woman's account , it is obvious that there is no privacy and that , instead of one prison screw , there are sometimes up to ten present . Also , the offer of a 'gown' is used to prolong the strip-search ; not to make it as brief as possible . It does nothing to preserve the woman's dignity or to prevent her from being humiliated .......

(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 main advocate of the anti-Republican campaign which was carried-out by the Catholic hierarchy was Long Kesh assistant-chaplain Fr. Denis Faul , with the approval of Cardinal O Fiaich and Bishop Daly .

As early as 1st March 1981 , Bishop Daly of Derry had condemned the hunger-strike as " ...immoral.. " and advised young people "...not to be used by certain groups.. " . The Catholic church broke its silence a few times , asking for compromise and an end to the fast ; on April 28th 1981 , the Catholic Pope's envoy , Fr. John Magee , was despatched to plead with the hunger-strikers to unconditionally end their fast . To no avail .

After the death of Francis Hughes, Cardinal O Fiaich had sent a telegram to British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher begging her to negotiate with the prisoners , but his plea was ignored . This was to be the last effort by the Catholic hierarchy to act in favour of the prisoners . Through the Irish Commission for Justice and Peace , the Catholic hierarchy willingly played the British game of deceit .

By then , after six deaths in the H-Blocks , those anti-Republican forces clearly saw the prisoners' 'Achilles heel' to be their distressed relatives , and began a concerted effort in that direction ; repeatedly through the last week of July 1981 , and into August , Fr. Faul , by a series of lies , tried to undermine the trust the families were putting in the H-Block campaign leadership . Although always publicly exposed , Fr. Denis Faul forged ahead , with various meetings of prisoners' relatives - in Toomebridge , Belfast etc , hoping to provide a public platform for any frustration or resentment the families might have had against the whole campaign , or against the Republican Movement .

But the relatives remained united , and even issued a joint statement at the end of such a meeting in Belfast , on August 7th , 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.

Bank Levies , SFWP style : Dundalk Jewellers (cont/d)...

Two of the men who were involved in the May 9th 1980 robbery of a jewellers shop in Dundalk , County Louth , were caught and sentenced to eight years imprisonment by the 'Special Criminal Court' : they were Leonard McAteer of Newry and James Tracey of Horn Drive , Suffolk , Belfast . Two of the Gardai involved in the incident were decorated .

Bank of Ireland , Westland Row , Dublin - £25,000 :
This robbery took place on November 22 , 1977 , while security men from Brinkmat Security Firm were making a delivery to the bank . Three armed men accosted them at the door of the bank and forced them inside ; one of the raiders was armed with a shotgun and the other two had handguns . They got away with £25,000 but missed a larger sum of money which was still in the security van .

Two of the raiders escaped on a motorbike while the third made off on foot . The Gardai later apprehended a man and interrogated him but it was found that he was a barman in a local pub who was confused by locals with one of the raiders .......

(MORE LATER).







Monday, December 05, 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' .

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 ....... "

(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 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 .......

(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.

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 .......

(MORE LATER).