A couple of days ago DUP leader Peter Robinson, UUP leader Mike Nesbitt, TUV leader Jim Allister, PUP leader Billy Hutchinson and Ian McLaughlin of the Ulster Political Research Group issued a statement:.
“There will be a graduated unionist response involving the Orange Institution, the PUL (Protestant Unionist Loyalist) community and political unionism.
The Orange Order and its concerns are now front and centre in unionist politics.
All Unionist/Loyalist parties paid court to self-styled “Grand master” Stevenson and his brethren at the Order’s new headquarters
and left it to the Order to craft a statement summing up proceedings and setting out demands, saying the ‘graduated response’ would “become more obvious as the days and weeks roll out”. There was no indication what form the pan-unionist action would take.No one seems to have any idea what it’s all about.
Self-styled ” Grandmaster Stevenson” decided the Orange Order is holding an emergency meeting of all self-styled “county” and “district grand masters” to decide on potential protest action.
In the meantime just to get the ball rolling
DUP, David Simpson MP for Upper Bann complained about a republican memorial event planned for Tuesday in Portadown.
Who is David Simpson?
Member of the Orange Order, Deputy Master of Loughgall District, a proponent of creationism,
What’s the Republican event?
Who was Julie Duggan?
26 year old Cumann na mBan Volunteer Julie Duggan died in a car accident while on active service in 1972. She was the first female IRA member to be killed in action.
West Belfast MLA Jennifer McCann, “Julie Duggan was the embodiment of the founders of Irish republicanism. She was involved in her community, was an active union member, abhorred sectarianism and her greatest desire was to see all the people of Ireland working together to build a unified, egalitarian society”.
Comment: That’s why the Orange Order objects to any commemoration!
What’s Cumann na mBan?
This book is based on interviews with women activists. It explores how and why women became active in the IRA and examines their roles within it
In the 1970s women joined Cumann na mBan
“I was given political lectures, learned about guns and explosives and how to conceal things about my person”
“Armed struggle or political violence, whatever you want to call it, is not a normal thing for women”
Women are usually considered victims or peace-makers. Women were the mothers, wives and sisters of Blanketmen, the prison visitors, the carers of children and the home.They experienced sexual harassment on countless occasions – when their homes were raided, on the streets, when they were arrested and during weekly prison visits to Armagh, Long Kesh/the Maze and Crumlin Road jail
The new Provisional IRA agreed to give women military training,Dolours Price was reported to be the first woman sworn in.
Women filled the spaces left by the men as the jails filled up with internees.
The first organised women’s action was breaking the Falls Curfew
Female volunteers were always much fewer than male and childless female volunteers greatly outnumbered those with children
How did women join the IRA?
Family involvement usually
Why did women join the IRA?
Experience of state violence and the Republican Armed Struggle as the only means left to resist oppression.
“They can’t kill my friends and neighbours and I’m not going to have children to be brought up in this and be treated like this”
“At one stage out of a family of 8, there were 2 of us left in the house. The rest of the family was in jail or on the run and that was including my mother as well”
“In Belfast you had to get involved to survive”
Sometimes Republicanism was a political conviction and the decision to join was made with the conscious realization that the atrocities perpetrated against individuals and families within the community were systemic.
“I’m not a Republican because some RUC man dragged me off the street by the hair of my head and bashed me.It’s a belief that it’s the only way to make this country better”
Involvement was often triggered by a key event – 1969, the prison struggle, the hunger strikes, death of Bobby sands,
“life couldn’t have went any other way”
Internment 1971: women were left to provide for the family when breadwinners were interned and cope with supporting internees
“My childhood memory is of Internment morning –sitting on my mother’s bed when the Brits were smashing our front door open and hearing glass breaking and crying”
”I had a brother who was arrested and my mother and my sister followed the trail of blood down the street to try and find him because the Brits would never tell you where they were taking anyone”
House raids: 1971 -1988: the British Army raided and searched almost 300.000 homes
“One of the British soldiers actually urinated all over the carpet on the stairs in front of us . . .”
“In another house the soldiers had urinated on the beds”
Interrogations: 10-15 years after this picture was taken these were the type of girls who were interrogated.
“Interrogation commonly involves rape, threat of rape and technical rape (with objects. fingers etc)”.
“Women have been handcuffed while interrogators repeatedly probed their vaginas and anuses”
“During one of the interrogations it was very bad I actually feared I was going to be fucking raped”
1982: Strip searches had the impact of sexual assault
“a debasing and revolting practice”,
They are designed to exert power and control.This is why scanners will never be introduced into NI prisonsthe people who perform the procedure are degraded and humiliated – not those who are forced to undergo it.
One woman was strip searched 250 times.
NB: In 2.000 strip searches carried out on 24 women in Armagh jail in the mid-80s, tobacco was the only prohibited object to be found.
Maureen O Neill was on remand for “terrorist offences”
“I went through 82 strip searches and in the end I was acquitted of all charges”
2 March 1991: Maghaberry prison – 21 women were forcibly subjected to strip searches”
“What happened over the 10 hours can only be described as sexual, psychological and physical torture. Up to 16 screws entered the cell and removed the woman’s clothes until she was totally naked. Every other woman in the gaol could hear each attack as it took place. In actual fact women spent the whole day listening to their comrades being sexually abused before and after her own turn came”
Theresa O_Keefe-Feminist Identity Development and Activism in Revolutionary Movements-Palgrave Macmillan (2013)
SBN: 978-0-230-23612-7, ISBN10: 0-230-23612-X