The Primark Scream – Loyalism today

Another great video song from Loyalists Against Democracy
Well done LAD

With the forthcoming march on Saturday, 30th November

loyalists 30 nov
The US Consulate General in Belfast advises: “Even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and possibly escalate into violence.

“We recommend that US citizens avoid the areas where such demonstrations are occurring if possible, and, as always, exercise caution in the vicinity of any parades or protests.

“We also advise you to stay current with media coverage of local events and be aware of your surroundings at all times.”

Northern Ireland should act in its own best interests, not indulge its obsessions

PS If you enjoyed these posts, you’ll also like last weekend’s music and satire

No Mr Larkin, Never, ever, ever ?

You said yesterday Dr Haass “thought the scale and the intensity of the reaction was instructive”. What happened?
He was confronted by angry Kate Nash, whose brother William was killed by British paratroopers soldiers during the 1972 Bloody Sunday massacre.
bloody sunday
She urged him to reject any notion of an amnesty because the main beneficiaries of any amnesty would be those who perpetrated State killings.
what part no
How can there be an amnesty for murder?” she asked.
you get treated this way for almost 42 years by the justice system. There was no police inquiry back then as such, and then they drag you along all those years, all that campaigning, and then at the end of all that they are going to tell us, ‘Let’s draw a line under it all
drawing a lline
What are they trying to do, draw a line under victims, draw a line under my brother? We are not going to let that happen,” she said.
sdlp logo
said victims were “entitled to justice irrespective of the lapse of time“.
“This would amount to a blanket amnesty and the SDLP do not believe that this would be acceptable.”The international view, also held by the United Nations is that general amnesty is not the correct way of proceeding in a post-conflict situation.

what part no

What did the DUP say?
Peter Robinson was resentful.
The Attorney did not make either the Deputy First Minister or myself aware of his comments. The first knowledge of what he had said came to us from the media,”

Ian Paisley,
paisley 4
now Lord (Paranoia) Bannside, suggested the Attorney General’s call for a de facto amnesty for Troubles killers might be a “convenient smokescreen”.
Such an unsought ostentatious outburst of opinion, about which no one claims to have known the slightest thing, and the entire furore it has caused, is perhaps a convenient smokescreen for what really is in the pipeline with the Haass process.”
conspiracy alert
He’s quite right. The idea that the Attorney-General could take this into his head without consulting the First and Deputy First Ministers is stretching credulity to breaking-point. His proposals have to be linked to the Haas talks. Everybody knows that the big issue is how we cope with the past.
Well, Dr Haass did hold discussions with Attorney General John Larkin on the 22nd November, two days after he released his proposals.
dup banner
Mr Robinson saw “no merit” in Mr Larkin’s suggestions. He said he was completely opposed to the proposals.
what part no
In other societies they don’t say ‘we’re not going to go after murderers anymore because the years have passed by
Jeffrey Donaldson
jeffrey donaldson
” would strongly object to the notion of an amnesty, we’re very clear about that.”
TUV leader Jim Allister

jim allister
was “appalled and angered”.
“Mr Larkin is not advocating amnesty for everyone, only for ‘trouble-related’ crimes; thereby endorsing the terrorist propaganda
,” he said.

chucky arlo
Nigel Dodds
dodds orangeman
asked the prime minister about the “very worrying statement.
I can reassure [you] that the government have no plans to legislate for an amnesty for crimes that were committed during the Troubles.”
Now!! What about in the future?
labour logo
Hywel Francis,
hywel francis
Chair of Parliament’s joint human rights committee
house of commons
described Larkin’s remarks as “at best unhelpful and at worst offensive”.
”They seem to have been made without recognition of either the natural rights of victims for justice or the international framework in which the UK and the Northern Ireland Governments have to operate”

“The European Convention on Human Rights and other international treaties bind the UK and its devolved governments to certain rights and duties. Accepting John Larkin’s proposals would go directly against these.”
Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny
enda kenny
I think this (Mr Larkin’s proposal) would be in contravention of human rights. People have internationally a right to know. They have a right to find out and where (members of) the state were involved, there must be an investigation. Clearly this is a matter of international human rights… and if the hand of justice points incontrovertibly following court cases to individuals then justice has to take its course.”
John Dalhuisen,
john dalhuisen
Europe and Central Asia Director at Amnesty International agreed the proposal was a blanket amnesty.
It would be an utter betrayal of victims’ fundamental right to justice. Such a move would fly in the face of international human rights standards and perpetuate impunity.Victims are too often already being let down by flawed investigations into past human rights abuses and violations. Today’s proposals from the Attorney General would be a further betrayal for many victims in Northern Ireland.

what part no
Strangely enough our lovely SOS
has already said “The Government does not believe that selecting a further series of cases for public inquiries is the best way to deal with the past in Northern Ireland.”

Another dissonant opinion is expressed by Auxiliary Bishop of Down and Connor, Donal McKeown,
I think what John Larkin has done for us is actually raised the question – how can we get the best possible deal in the very imperfect circumstances that we have, where many people will never tell the truth about the past, because of embarrassment, because of their own inability to cope with what they’ve done themselves.”
He said for Mr Larkin to put his proposal forward during the Haass talks was “very laudable“.

Sir Desmond Rea, who chaired the first Policing Board in 2001,agreed.
He advocated the idea of an amnesty a number of years ago.
Under the Belfast Agreement, the slate should be wiped clean. Our society and policing should look to the future.The release of prisoners under the Belfast Agreement should be extended, we argue, to an amnesty for all. There should be no more inquiries.Our concern as a society should be for the victims at their point of need“.

What are the benefits of this amnesty that isn’t an amnesty?
Moving on from the past, Political stability. Rational use of financial and other resources.The greater good of NI society
Who is set to gain most?
Loyalists and republicans and of course, the British state. It is already refusing to carry out any more inquiries, therefore supporting a de facto amnesty.The Catholic Church seems to agree, as did the Eames-Bradley Report. Bets on the rest will be finessed
Who is set to lose most?
Victims and survivors. They will be left without answers and wrongs will go without redress. They may be offered a Truth Commission but who knows how much “truth” that will uncover.

drawing a lline

Attorney-General John Larkin QC and The Law of Diminishing Returns

Who is John Larkin?
A Belfast man , he was educated at St Mary’s Christian Brothers’ Grammar School, and Queen’s University Belfast
where he read law. In 1989, at the age of 25, he was appointed as Reid Professor of Criminal Law, Criminology and Penal Law at Trinity College, Dublin.
In the 1990s he returned to Northern Ireland to work at the Northern Ireland Bar. He specialised in administrative law, civil liberties and human rights, competition and constitutional law, defamation and judicial review. In May 2010 First Minister Peter Robinson and deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness appointed him

What did he say in his submission to Dr haass?
He called for an end to all prosecutions, inquests and public inquiries other state investigations into the crimes committed during the 30-year conflict known as “ The Troubles”.

Why? On what grounds?
He gave largely pragmatic reasons:
1) With forensic evidence almost non-existent and 40-year-old witness accounts usually unreliable, the prospects of securing convictions look remote at best.
They’re probably going
going nowhere
Any investigation, inquest or inquiry would be a fruitless exercise in opening up old wounds.
no good
More than 15 years have passed since the Belfast agreement, there have been very few prosecutions, and every competent criminal lawyer will tell you the prospects of conviction diminish, perhaps exponentially, with each passing year”
old wounds
so we are in a position now where I think we have to take stock” .
“we should accept that no matter how many more investigations we hold, or how many witnesses we call, or how much money we spend , they are unlikely to achieve anything more of use. That time has come

The contributions of the Historic Enquiries Team, the Police Ombudsman and various community-based inquiries all fuel an impetus
uncover the past
to uncover the truth, to shed light on past deeds, to bring to public attention the past associations and culpabilities of various political actors. To what end? For sure, some of this uncovering is not about the past at all; it is a continuation of war by other means
iwar by any other means
It strikes me that the time has come to think about putting a line,
drawing a lline
set at Good Friday 1998, with respect to prosecutions, inquests and other inquiries.
2) Then there are all the costs
A Criminal Justice Inspection (CJI) estimates that the costs to the criminal justice system of dealing with the past under current arrangements may exceed £187m within five years.
Non-monetary costs of failure to address the past
map belfast
are reduced public confidence in the criminal justice system and its ability to operate in the future. It is not equipped to deal with the past, and it is incapable of providing a comprehensive solution to legacy issues.
3) And finally there are the terms of the Good Friday Agreement which included
*a)the 1997 arms decommissioning statute, which meant any weapons handed over to be put beyond use could not be tested forensically to obtain evidence in criminal prosecutions.
*b)the Sentences Act, provided for vastly reduced jail terms for anyone convicted of a Troubles-related killing – anyone convicted would spend a maximum of two years in prison
*c)the 1999 legislation covering the recovery of the Disappeared states that information that leads to remains being found can be examined only to establish identity, not forensically.That means it cannot be used as evidence for a criminal trial.
*d)The 2011 Weston Park agreement. The British and Irish governments had agreed not to prosecute any paramilitary of an offence prior to 1998.

He thinks his proposal is the logical consequence and outworking of all these terms

Is he talking about an amnesty?
what part no
Sometimes the fact of an amnesty can be that that which was a crime ceases to be a crime. That wouldn’t be the position here, it would simply be that no criminal proceedings would be possible with respect to those offences” .

Does his proposal breach article two of the European Convention of Human Rights, which says governments have a duty to investigate suspicious deaths caused by the state?
what part no
I think a decision by the state at the highest level embedded in an act of Parliament or an act of the assembly will find favour with Strasbourg,” .

Are these ideas new?
what part no
Last year, Eamon O’Cuív,
a former Irish government minister and Eamon de Valera’s grandson, said no one should be prosecuted for past politically related crimes between 1969 and the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, including the Bloody Sunday soldiers.
It was time “to draw a line under the past
drawing a lline
over all killings and other violent incidents during the Northern Ireland conflict, including shootings carried out by the security forces.
“This has to apply to everybody. So I do not see any point in following prosecutions against security force members or members of the loyalist paramilitaries or anybody in relation to the Troubles in Northern Ireland. We have to understand that in a peace process there were three sides actively engaged, including the British security forces, and so in a peace process let history judge who was wrong but let’s spare future generations any more mayhem and violence.

Why was the timing interesting?
Attorney-General John Larkin released his proposal a few hours before the BBC broadcast the Panorama programme “Britain’s Secret Terror Force”.

What did Dr haass say?
“ the attorney general’s intervention had served, whether intentionally or unintentionally, to “crystallise” public and political views on issues related to dealing with the past.
“I thought the scale and the intensity of the reaction was instructive,”.

Britain’s Secret Terror Force

For everybody who may have missed the Panorama documentary about the British Army undercover unit that shot unarmed Catholics on the streets of West Belfast

“I’d go back tomorrow and do it all again – absolutely”-member of the undercover British Army Unit

The North’s Director of Public Prosecutions, Barra McGrory has asked the PSNI chief constable Matt Baggott to investigate claims and admissions that a British army undercover unit operated a shoot-to-kill policy in Northern Ireland in the early 1970s.

The British state has failed to acknowledge the gulf between its own official aims and methods and the reality on the ground.The political, military, security and judicial Establishment has never admitted its own recourse to shoot-to-kill policies, collaboration with loyalist paramilitary groups to carry out assassinations of suspected republicans, disregard of the criminal careers of its informer network and politicisation of the legal system.
According to the official history, the conflict in Northern Ireland was about two warring tribes—the Catholics and Protestants, who had to be kept apart for their own sake by British soldiers.
But in reality the British occupation of Northern Ireland was brutal, repressive and murderous.
In 1972, the British Army took overall responsibility for security in Northern Ireland.
army in belfast
In a document prepared by Army General Staff in October 1971, under the heading,
Tougher Military Measures and Their Implications,
mod doc
the following suggestion was included.
More aggressive tactics against gunmen such as the formation of Q squads in special areas, to mystify, mislead and destroy the terrorists.
“The IRA has the initiative and is causing disruption out of all proportion to the relatively small numbers engaged.
“This is not to credit the IRA with any unusual skill; it is the normal pattern of urban guerrilla activity when the guerrillas are not opposed by a ruthless and authoritarian governmental machine
army standards

PS Do also read

Blowin’ In The Wind

Finally back on line!!
Hello again to all!!
Saturday Night favourites!!
This is specially for all of you who remember/love Bob Dylan, Joan Baez and LADS
A new spin on an oldie but goldie

And just to remind you all what actually happened

Here’s Aunt Bernie

and lest we forget last year’s number 1!!

Catholic Ex-Servicemen Don’t Count

In Northern Ireland Unionism/Loyalism is built on the political myths and symbols of Protestantism and Britishness i.e.they are anti-Catholic
map of ni
manchester guardian
realised in the early 1920s that it was an offence simply to be born Catholic in NI.
Summer 1920: Over 8,000 Catholic workers were expelled from the shipyard, nearly all the engineering works, most of the large factories, warehouses, shops and concerns of every kind. Scarcely one of them has since been allowed to return

NB 1,225 of the expelled were ex-service men.

NI was a “cold house” for Catholics with relentless use of the past as a political weapon to browbeat them even more.
In the mind of Ulster Unionists/Loyalists
Catholics are assumed to be hostile to the institutions of the Union (disloyal). All Catholics are suspect, irrespective of their status or achievements. The state’s core values of Protestantism and Britishness defined them as outsiders.
Catholics were ‘the enemy within’ and were seen as posing a security problem. They were offered citizenship in the new state but only on terms which made them second-class citizens.

Irishmen in WWI
soldiers in trenches
1914: Irishmen joined the British Army in very large numbers.
206,000 Irishmen served in the British forces during WWI
*58,000 were already enlisted in the British Regular Army or Navy
*24,000 originated from the Redmondite National Volunteers
*80,000 were mostly urban poor, hoping for a pay rise and the chance to learn a trade.
*Some 26,000 recruits came directly from the 1912 Ulster Volunteers – the unionist militia.

1912 uvf
UNIONIST MYTH: Remember! Only the UVF fought in WWI and deserves to be commemorated
red poppy
The poppy has long been the preserve of the unionist/loyalist community and is seen by many as a political symbol and a symbol of Britishness representing support for the British Army.
bullshit detected
After WW1: Unionists/Loyalists and Catholic ex-servicemen
1918: When young Catholic men were demobbed
and sent home to Belfast they found worse enemies than the Germans waiting for them
1921: Catholic ex-servicemen had to leave Craigavon Military Hospital near Belfast and seek treatment elsewhere after they received
anonymous letters
containing threats from Loyalists
Loyalists murdered Malachy Halfpenny,

wounded twice and gassed during the war,
wwi soldier
together with 3 other young Catholic men.
Mr Halfpenny’s multilated body was dumped far from where he lived
catholic Mrs Kerr, widow,

war widow
received a plaque and a letter from King George V commemorating her husband
Some hours later a Loyalist mob attacked
loyalist attack
and wrecked her house in Vere St
1922: Loyalists evicted Patrick O’Hare,
loyalist attack
home on leave from the Connaught Rangers, from his house in Urney St, making his family of young children homeless
Joseph Walshe (39), who had served in the Middle East, was battered to death in bed with a sledgehammer
along with 6 other Catholics in the Arnon St massacre by policemen from Brown Sq Constabulary Barracks
His seven-year-old son Michael was shot and died from his wounds the next day. Another son, Frank (14), was shot in the thigh but survived.
1935: Charles Tierney, a British Army Reservist was beaten up,
loyalist attack
spent 3 months in hospital and had his house wrecked and burnt out
Loyalists rioting in Belfast
1939-45 WW2 and Ulster’s War Effort
school report
Alone in the UK, the British Government decided against conscription in Northern ireland
no conscription
because the Stormont Parliament told them a large minority did not regard themselves as British.
could do better
1940: A senior civil servant from the War Cabinet assessed the contribution Northern Ireland was making or could make to the war effort. He reported a general lack of concern, indifference on the part of the Ni government, technical stagnation in the principal industries particularly shipbuilding, engineering and linen which had remained as they had been in the 19th century
1945: James Magennis VC

magennis and vc
could not get a job because Ulster Loyalists “were reluctant to employ Roman Catholics“.
magennis vc
Mr Magennis moved to Huddersfield where he became an honoured citizen
1999: Long after he had died, and more than 50 years after he won the VC, a monument was finally erected in his honour at Belfast City hall

magennis memorial
Too little, too late
1977: Elderly Canon Hugh Murphy CBE, Chaplin to the Royal Navy Reserve during WWII,
rn chaplin
member of the British Legion, parish priest in Ahoghill, was invited to conduct the Remembrance day service in Ballymena.

The Paisleyite chairman of the Town Council “refused to take part in any service at which a Roman catholic priest was officiating”
1978: Canon Murphy was kidnapped by a Loyalist gang
loyalist attack
and held hostage because the IRA had abducted a member of the RUC
Johnny McNabb,
Not for Photosales
a Catholic serving in the Irish Guards when the Troubles erupted in Northern Ireland, was repeatedly the subject of interrogation for suspected terrorist activity.
On one occasion he was interrogated for seven hours by paratroopers in Bessbrook after he inadvertently ended up in Crossmaglen.
Police officers in London detained him for two days while they questioned him in relation to bombings in the capital in the 1970s.
If Catholics, Republicans and nationalists do not honour our non-Unionist Irish dead who will?
green poppy
Next year if you want to recognize our ancestors who joined the British Army during WW1 or at any other time for whatever reason (poverty, Home Rule, adventure, etc) and who died or were injured,
green poppy
Wear a green poppy

Republicanism and Loyalty in Ireland, Andrew Boyd
Memorial to James Joseph Magennis VC

Can’t Pay. Won’t Pay – UK and Ulster

cant pay
Ulster says goodbye to UK millions
Minister Mike Penning “Follow our policies on welfare reform or we’ll start cutting millions of pounds a month from your funding
budget cuts
That’s the hardline message from Work and Pensions to Stormont’s welfare Minister Nelson McCausland .
Controversial changes to how benefits are doled out started back in April.
house of commons
But nothing has happened in Northern ireland despite warnings of potential big money losses if it didn’t follow suit.
head in sand
Mr Penning told the Nolan Show “if NI won’t go along with parity they can’t expect the rest of the UK to pay for that”.
end of the line
He accused NI politicians of burying their hands in the sand over welfare reform.
head in sand
Our lovely SOS
has already delivered the same message
“The truth is we don’t have as many resources as might have been available in times past
Mr Cameron
has already said “It’s Northern Ireland’s choice
It’s not a question of the UK Government ‘cutting’ [from the money it sends to Stormont]. This is a devolved system; it’s for the politicians in Northern Ireland to decide how much to spend on welfare and how much to spend on other areas of government policy.It’s for Northern Irish politicians to make their own decisions here”.
up to yiou
It will be their decision but obviously if they decide not to make those reforms there are financial consequences“.
what part no
UK taxpayers can’t or won’t pay for NI anymore
cant pay
Who could blame them?
We hate to say it but we told you so!!
budget cuts2

Calling all MLA and TD! Your Chance to Make History!!!

Your chance to take part in the very first joint Stormont Assembly-Dail Eireann debate!
Miss this opportunity! Miss out!

The joint RTÉ/BBC programme ‘The Disappeared’ was broadcast on Monday 7th November
If you didn’t see it, here it is
Since then calls have been made in the Stormont Assembly
to discuss the documentary.And an Ulster Unionist Party
uup banner
motion will be discussed by MLAs next week (Nov 11-15).
UUP MLA Tom “I’m no political dinosaur” Elliott said

I am glad that the Assembly will be debating these issues in light of the recent documentary, but I am also disappointed that we can’t have this debate sooner.”
just 110 miles away, a drive of under 2 hours, with an estimated fuel cost of around £21 in the Dail
coalition TDs called for a debate on the ‘Disappeared’
Fine Gael
fine gael
TD Patrick O’Donovan said
fg td o donovan
Seven families are still waiting on closure and justice. They deserve all of the political support they can get.”
sinn fein
has signalled it would back such a Dail debate.
So what’s stopping them debating the issue all together?

Here’s one example from the European parliament
joint debate
And we’re all Europeans now, aren’t we?
Of course, if we had joint sovereignty/governance
Our two Secretaries of State
would simply organise the joint debate between London and Dublin

However,we don’t and if Northerners won’t travel South
no way
and Southerners won’t travel North
no way
We have modern technology to overcome the logistics
video conference
Video conferences and debates. Skype video conferences cost even less

though given their salaries, money is hardly an issue for either TDs or MLAs
The issue of the Disappeared involves both jurisdictions, why not have a joint debate?
MLAs!! TDs!! This is your chance to make history! Remember

Making history never starts with asking for permission

“We broke Armagh, it never broke us” – Irish Republican women

When young women were imprisoned throughout the conflict, in this state, in Britain and in the six counties, they knew they were walking in the footsteps of the women of 1916. We were republicans in the mould of Markievicz. We were what we were. We are what we are. Unashamed, unrepentant republicans; to this day and forever on.”SÍLE DARRAGH

The experience of women during the Troubles has often been overlooked, especially those connected to Armagh Gaol
armagh gaol
Now empty, it was the only female prison in Northern Ireland until it closed in 1986. The number of female political prisoners grew from 2 in 1971 to more than 100 by 1976; hundreds of women, most aged from mid-teens to mid-twenties,
armagh prisoners
were jailed in the 1970s and 1980s for political offences.

1 January 1973: – Elizabeth McKee (19) of Belfast became the first woman to be detained under the Detention of Terrorists (Northern Ireland) Act

No charge. No trial. Indefinite imprisonment.

32 other women including Teresa Holland, Margaret Shannon and Anne Walsh were soon to join Elizabeth.

Republican women prisoners endured horrific abuse and violence and yet acknowledgement of that experience has been marginalised as have the unbearable pain and tremendous courage of mothers who were imprisoned.
prison 2
When the final key turned on a history many will never forget the stories of these prisoners seemed destined to remain unheard and unseen.
In the Footsteps of Anne
in the footsteps of anne
fills the gap describing how young girls, married women, pregnant women and even grandmothers withstood horrific abuse and stood up to the British system which aimed at breaking them for over 30 years. Eileen Hickey,
eileen hickey
OC of the women prisoners from 1973-77, started compiling the inside stories from the women themselves over 10 years ago with the help of her sister Mary.
Many ex-prisoners were reluctant to collaborate some because they did not want to re-live bad memories, others because they had put the past behind them.

refusal fem
All the women who told their stories remembered some of the worst times, the inhumanity and petty vindictiveness and the incredibly strong bonds forged among the women in prison.

Mariea McClenaghan Williams (Armagh 1973) said “The comradeship between us all was fantastic.Many of us are still great friends, that bond we had will never leave us

North Belfast republican Mary Doyle was first sent to Armagh women’s jail for republican activities in May 1974 when she was 18 years old.
Armagh Jail was an old Victorian building. It was freezing. It wasn’t pleasant. The conditions when we were slopping out were grim and not something you thought you could ever get used to.But when your back is against the wall, you get the strength from somewhere. And republicans, we just get on with it. We always have.”

Many recalled where their cells had been, and who their cellmates were. They remembered the protests and they remembered the beatings at the hands of the screws.

Here’s why some women ended up in Armagh gaol
Anne Larkin McCay was arrested at Easter time in 1967 for selling
easter lily
Easter lilies in Ardoyne (a staunch Republican area in North Belfast).

In 1971 Margaret Boyd Gatt was sentenced to 6 months for wearing
a parka jacket and carrying a hurling stick – “conduct likely to lead to a breach of the peace”
32 women were interned without trial – no charge, no sentence, indefinite imprisonment

prison 2
For example, Ann Walsh O’Neill was interned in March 1973, Ann Doherty in June of the same year and Anne-Marie Williams in August.
Here are memories of Armagh Gaol from one prison officer, two Open University tutors, one loyalist prisoner and three republican prisoners.

Marie Doherty went into prison as the protest by republican prisoners was escalating.
I was arrested in February 1977 and when I went into jail the political status had gone at that stage,” she said.
About six months after I was sentenced a shout went up one evening that there was chicken for dinner which was unusual because we never had chicken on a Tuesday. We all rushed down to the canteen and while we were there the screws moved in and penned us in and others went to search the cells. A riot broke out and we were all locked up for three days continuously with no access to toilet or washing facilities. That was the start of the no wash protest.

political status
Una Nellis says she went off the protest and felt really guilty and bad about leaving her comrades at that time in those conditions. She had a breakdown and ended up on so many different drugs, not realizing the damage they were doing to her.
I still suffer from mental illness but it does not wreck my life. I do not think I would have suffered from this if it had not been for the conditions in Armagh gaol”
“I still have flashbacks as i am sure other do even though it is 30 years later. I’m still on heavy medication”
“There’s an awful lot of men and women suffering and they try to hide it as I do but our story should be told”.

Republican prisoners in Armagh had close links with the men in Long Kesh.
There wasn’t a woman in Armagh who wasn’t writing to at least one man in Long Kesh. I shared a cell with the fiancee of Tom McElwee for three years and it was awful watching her, knowing that he was going on hunger strike.
“We knew the first four who were going on and she knew at that stage that Tom’s name was on the list. For her it was not just being separated from him but she also knew what he was going through in Long Kesh”.
Thomas McElwee started his Hunger Strike in the H-Blocks on 8 June 1981. He died on 8 August 1981.
hunger strikers
The 10 hunger strikers who died (clockwise from top left) – Raymond McCreesh, Thomas McElwee, Bobby Sands, Patsy O’Hara, Kevin Lynch, Joe McDonnell, Francis Hughes, Michael Devine, Martin Hurson and Kieran Doherty. (Photograph: Pat Langan: PA)
“I remember going to the funerals after they died. The thing that sticks out most in my mind was the funeral of Tom McElwee”.
mc elwee funeral
“I remember seeing his sisters carrying his coffin. That was the first time I had ever seen women carrying a coffin, it just wasn’t done back then. That sticks out in my mind. It was his sisters telling the world that they were proud of their brother and what he had done. When I think of Tom McElwee that is what I think of,”
Jennifer McCann is a Sinn Fein politician who is a member of the Stormont Assembly.
jen mccann mla
She was sentenced to 20 years for terrorist offences.

In her time as a Republican prisoner she and her colleagues refused to work which meant they were locked up in their cells for most of the day.
We were let out for a short time to wash and to empty our chamber pots in the mornings. We ate in our cells and we got an hour’s exercise in the afternoons and we were allowed a small period of time for association in the evenings but not at the weekends.We lost a day’s remission for every day we wouldn’t work,”
Jennifer McCann clearly remembers hearing that Bobby Sands had died on hunger strike in the Maze in 1981.

bobby sands
There used to be heating pipes which ran through the cells. We had smuggled in small crystallised radios”
crystal radio
which were made on the outside and I passed on the news that he had died.”
Mary Mc Conville

In October 2009, a group of internees and sentenced prisoners began a journey to Armagh Gaol that some of them had only made once before, but which their families had made many times during their years of incarceration.
My beautiful picture
At the end of the visit, the women were in the courtyard. I pointed out an intact window to Pauline Derry.

Be a shame to go without leaving your mark,” I said as I handed her a rock.
stone in window
The other 20 women also intended to “leave their mark.” As the hail of rocks began to sail through the air I heard
Ye couldn’t break us then and you’ll never break us now.”
“Here’s what we think of your strip searches.”
“We were political prisoners no matter what you all said.”
“Where’s Thatcher now?”
“Armagh thought it would break us – well we’ve broke Armagh

victory to armagh women

women prisoners, armagh prison, 70's belfast

In the Footsteps of Anne
in the footsteps of anne
is published by Shanway Press, 1-5 Eia St, Belfast.
The copyright belongs to the women ex-POWs who submitted their stories.
eileen hickey
Eileen Hickey also started an independent museum which is housed in the Conway Mill, Belfast.

Her main hope was that the museum would provide visitors with an insight into “the Troubles” in Northern ireland and an understanding into why so many young men and women joined the Republican movement