Saturday, 10 August 2013


‘Internment’ by John McGuffin (1973)

Chapter 7

IN the mid-1960's people might have been forgiven for thinking that internment was a thing of the past. (True, the obnoxious Special Powers Acts were still on the Statute Book, but they were in abeyance). Such thinking was not to be right, however. The monolithic structure of Unionism proved incapable of reforming itself under the onslaught of the civil rights campaign. Terence O'Neill might have been able to save the Unionists with his pragmatic approach and his appreciation of the need for change, but their diehard 'not an inch' backwoodsmen would have none of it. And so the week of 12 – 16 August 1969 saw the old familiar pattern: a police force unable, and, in many cases unwilling,[1] to prevent the sectarian attack upon the Falls Road periphery, led in some cases by the B specials. That month was to see house burning, intimidation and murder – ten civilians dead, including a 9-year-old boy asleep in his bed, shot by a high-velocity Browning machine-gun used with murderous recklessness by the police in their Shorland armoured cars; 145 injured, hundreds of families burnt out of their homes, 90% of them Catholic. Free Derry was born that week. The barricades went up in Belfast. The first steps towards the irrevocable demise of Stormont were taken. And, predictably, men were detained, without charge or trial.
     At 6.45 a.m. on 14 August, 28 Republicans were arrested and taken from their homes. As usual, no 'Loyalist' extremists or gunmen were arrested.
     When the English Special Branch men arrived next month to sort out the RUC they asked for the files on all the 'terrorists'. They were handed the records, mostly out-of-date, on the IRA. "What about the UVF," they asked. "It doesn't exist," was the reply. "We have no records on Loyalists."
     But this time it was not to be internment. The British army had had to be called in. Callaghan and Wilson had summoned Chichester Clark to Downing Street. The B men were 'phased out'. The Scarman Tribunal was set up. The Labour Government was tired of the old-fashioned traditional Unionist methods. Moreover, from behind the barricades a campaign was being mounted. Illegal radios proliferated. Street newspapers were born. The detainees were released after 17 to 20 days. The message should have been clear; internment should have no place in the 1970's.
But the Unionist hierarchy learn nothing from history. The gangling figure of Chichester Clark, the stand-in PM, shambled off into obscurity as 1970 and 1971 saw an escalation of the violence by the Provisional IRA, themselves a reaction to the attempted 'Loyalist' pogrom of 1969.
     On 23 March 1971 Brian Arthur Deane Faulkner achieved his lifelong ambition and became PM. The English press warned that he was the 'last man in'. If he couldn't control the situation, direct rule was a certainty. But despite the obvious immensity of the task, Faulkner was confident.
     This was the moment for which he had schemed, intrigued and betrayed, for so long. With a staggering record of disloyalty to previous PMs, he could hardly expect to be trusted or liked, but surely all could agree on his shrewdness and ability.
     In fact, Faulkner's intelligence was always greatly over-rated by the media. And his biggest mistake was soon to come. The Sunday Times 'Insight' team claim[2]that "when he took over the issue was not whether internment was to come, but when and on what scale. By then Faulkner had been an advocate of internment inside Chichester Clark's Joint Security Committee, for six months." Whether this is true or not, and on balance it seems a reasonable statement, it is certain that Faulkner had completely failed to learn the lesson of how and when internment 'worked'. He had been Minister for Home Affairs in 1959 under Brookeborough, and, with the help of his trusty aide, the civil servant William Stout, he bad been responsible for the implementation of internment, which he apparently felt to be responsible for the defeat of the IRA border campaign. As is made clear already, this just was not so. The campaign failed, for lack of popular support, and, most important, the internees could languish in Crumlin because there was no campaign to get them released.
     Nevertheless, one of Faulkner's first actions upon becoming Northern Ireland's last PM was to order the RUC Special Branch to work with the Director of Military Intelligence at Lisburn in drawing up a list of those Catholics who should be interned. The army were unhappy. General Tuzo, the GOC in Northern Ireland since February 1971, consistently opposed internment, believing, rightly, as it turned out, that they could not get the right people. But as the violence escalated, Faulkner became more and more insistent. On 9 July he telephoned Heath. "I must be able to intern now" he demanded. Accordingly, with some reluctance, a 'dry run' was agreed upon. At dawn on 23 July, 1,800 troops and RUC raided Republican houses throughout the province, searching for documents. They got enough to encourage them. The decision to intern was only a matter of time then, despite army objections.
     The position was complicated by the mistrust and, in some cases, downright hostility between the army and the RUC. As the Sunday Times team put it: "The army believed the police list was politically motivated, and the police believed that the army's list showed inadequate local knowledge." Both were correct. Some sections of the army had favoured a small internment in the spring of 1971, with only 50 or 60 men being lifted. They had been overruled. Now the task was to be much greater.
     The list had more than 500 names on it. Of these only 120 or 130 were gunmen or officers in the IRA. The vast majority were regarded either as 'Fellow-travelling sympathisers' or troublesome political activists – like PD socialists. The police contribution was the names and addresses of former internees. But Faulkner was determined. At the Joint Security Committee meeting at Stormont, Shillington, the Chief Constable, agreed with Tuzo that internment would not work. That made no difference. Faulkner secretly flew to London that afternoon. There he convinced the Cabinet. Tuzo could offer no alternative. Maudling was his usual indolent self. Whitelaw said nothing. Internment without trial was acquiesced to. The date was set for 10 Augnst. On Sunday 7 August, however, Harry Thornton, an innocent building worker, was driving his car past Springfield Road barracks when it backfired. Soldiers opened up and killed him. His friend Murphy was dragged from the car, covered with Thornton's blood, and savagely beaten by police and army. Within minutes the people of Clonard went wild. The fighting went on all night but had died down the next day. But the army were taking no chances. At midnight on Sunday the order went out: operation internment was brought forward 24 hours. Brian Faulkner had unwittingly signed himself his own political death warrant – and that of Stormont, too.


There's no nicer people in Ireland, than those from British Occupied Ireland. I am speaking about people from both communities there. I say that as a Galway person, who is from the west of Ireland, who lived there for several years. It is against my instinct, as an Irish person, to allow for the fact and reality, that Britain has any right in the governance of any part of Ireland but I am must face the difficult current reality as my starting point, that there are many other Irish people who see it differently. To be honest it hurts but I can live with it.

Last night, and over the last number of months, I have been mezsmerized, watching the British PSNI paramilitary police operate in Belfast. They did a good job in very difficult circumstances. It is not easy for me to admit that but credit where credit is due, they did a good job.Now I will make a lot of enemies, by saying that. I understand that!. Some people will accuse me of being a traitor and a Tout for saying that. They would be wrong. I have put my life on the line, as a matter of principle on this. I am no angel but that is a fact.

Ruairi O Bradaigh has recently passed away. He is probably the Irish republican, who most impressed me most, in my time around Irish Republican Socialist politics. He would not be pleased with the above statement, neither I am sure would his friend Martin Corey, who is also a principled man, but I I must first be honest with myself, before I can be honest with anyone.It is time I believe for Republican Sinn Fein, whom I believe are the only real Sinn Fein left to talk with everyone, including the Brits.

There are some very genuine people in 32CSM, RNU, Eirigi, IRSP, SWP, etc.,..even in British Sinn Fein. Those in British Sinn Fein are naive, if they believe you can be Lord Mayor of Belfast, call yourself and your party Gaelic names and still want people to call you Lord, while professing to be a republican of any sort. It is time Martin Millar came clean and stopped being a chameleon calling himself an Irish name, in an Irish named party. Those career politicians living on genuine Irish republican wounds, should do the decent thing and call themselves the Chameleon Party.

Last night in Belfast, was a major victory for democracy and the vast majority of working class people in the City, whether they are aware of it or not. Everyone who a participated in making that Anti Internment Rally happen, including the PSNI should be very proud of their contribution last night A lot of noble spirits who gave their lives, including British ones, particularly over the last 40 years, were jumping for joy in another realm of freedom last night and I am not talking about any earthly realm of privilege.

I believe all Irish people of goodwill, from whatever community can see that and would be willing to sit down around a table and negotiate a genuine compromise. The British have shown good faith over the last few months with decent policing and while one swallow never made a Summer, it's a good start. It would be consolidated further, by ending internment without a proper transparent public trial and releasing internees like Martin Corey, Stephen Murney and those internees on remand, as a further act of good faith. It is a time for generosity by all people of good faith to negotiate, without surrendering traditional principles.

I believe a major factor to become clearer, after last night in Belfast, is that people can see, that their political objectives, can be achieved, without political violence, if people are willing to work for them. I salute everyone who participated in the rally last night. I credit the PSNI with being fair cops last night and I salute the decent Unionist people, who did not buy into the fascism of those trying to prevent free expression of political beliefs. I offer my condolences to the British viceroyal on the recent loss of her father, she is very welcome in Ireland, strictly in a private capacity.

Friday, 9 August 2013

Belfast Loyalists Riot Fails to Stop Anti-Internment Rally

Belfast loyalists riot as they attempt to prevent republican march

Violent clashes between loyalists and police as republican dissidents parade to mark anniversary of internment without trial 
Riot police deploy a water cannon after being attacked by loyalist protesters in Belfast on 13 July
Riot police deploy a water cannon after being attacked by loyalist protesters in Belfast on 13 July 2013 Photograph: Peter Morrison/AP
Rioting broke out in central Belfast on Friday evening, with loyalists forced off the city's main thoroughfare as they sought to prevent a parade of 5,000 republican dissidents and their supporters marking the anniversary of internment without trial.
The loyalists were physically pushed off Royal Avenue by riot police, who were then bombarded with bricks, bottles, stones and fireworks.
The police, who deployed dozens of vehicles, with most officers wearing riot gear, responded with water cannon. Police were also using dogs to control the crowds.
At least two police officers in body armour were knocked to the ground during the disorder. The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) confirmed it had fired plastic baton rounds at the rioting loyalists.
Shortly after 7pm the PSNI used riot squad officers and armoured vehicles to block the dissident republican parade at North Queen Street in the nationalist New Lodge district. It meant there were two separate stand-offs around central Belfast, one involving the loyalists and one involving the republican dissidents.
The focus of the trouble involving up to 1,000 loyalists was centred on the junction of Royal Avenue and North Street, which leads to the loyalist Shankill Road.
The violence erupted after the loyalists managed to block Royal Avenue around 6pm.
The loyalists are objecting to a republican dissidents commemorating the 42nd anniversary of internment.
An alliance of hardline republican groups opposed to the peace process brought thousands on to the streets in the first ever dissident parade to go through Belfast city centre. They included the 32 County Sovereignty Committee, the political wing of the New IRA.


Up to ten thousand republicans, socialists and concerned citizens took part in a civil rights march against internment through Belfast this evening despite heavy rioting by loyalists and a political campaign to demonise those taking part.
The planned march along a neutral city centre route from nationalist areas in north Belfast to west Belfast was not considered contentious. But tensions had increased during the week after it was revealed that almost a thousand loyalists had been given permission to hold ‘protests’ along the parade route.
The Parades Commission appeared to have been hoodwinked into believing legal protests were planned when it permitted a number of previously unknown groups to mass along the parade route.
Two so-called ‘residents groups’ were granted permission to stage a protest involving an estimated 300 people at Royal Avenue, where the worst of the violence broke out. A further four protests were held by other Protestant organisations including the Orange Order, adding a further six hundred loyalists into the mix.
Long before the parade made its way into Belfast city centre, hooded flag-waving loyalists blocked the road and rioting erupted along Royal Avenue.
Shocked tourists looked on as bricks, bottles, stones and fireworks showered a showpiece city centre boulevard known for its shops, restaurants and bars. The police responded with water cannon and a small number of plastic bullets, while dogs were used to attempt to control the loyalists.
Business premises were attacked and bins were set alight amid the disturbances. However, the riots only served to draw attention to a hugely successful parade and the incoherent rage of loyalism.While the original, neutral city centre route through Royal Avenue was blocked off, marchers were ironically directed by the PSNI through the intersection of Peter’s Hill and Carrick Hill, passing an interface with the loyalist Shankil Road.
The parade was briefly attacked at the intersection where a burning barricade had been erected. However, it ultimately made it down Millfield to a rendezvous with thousands more cheering supporters in the Divis area of west Belfast.Organisers successfully appealed for calm from marchers. Amid a lull in the trouble, civil rights activist Dee Fennell said the media had wrongly portrayed the parade.
“This is a parade over a human rights issue, not a republican parade and certainly not a dissident republican parade.”
He said the march had been organised by the Anti-Internment League, and that he is not aligned to any republican group. He said political activists are being held for up to two years on remand before having charges dropped or beating them in court.
“It’s a way to get activists off the streets for two years,” Mr Fennell said. “People think internment is a thing of the past, but only the way it is used has changed. It is now more selective.”



INTERNMENT as a weapon was not new to the British. The nineteenth century alone had seen some 105 Coercion Bills, whose ruthless provisions often included virtual internment of the Irish. In 1881-1882 more than a thousand Irishmen were put in prison without warrant, charge or trial as 'suspects'. Habeas corpus was suspended and the Land League proclaimed. But internment camps were a new thing.
     The Boer War gave the name 'concentration camp' to the world and brought shame and ignominy to Britain, accustomed for so long to have her imperialist way without question. Some 20,000 Boers, mainly women and children, died in the camps from disease and neglect.
     In 1914, with the outbreak of World War One, enemy aliens were rounded up and interned, mainly at Frongoch camp in North Wales. Few Irish were amongst the assorted group of foreigners. Indeed, many Irishmen were in the British army fighting that "small nations might be free"! 1916 changed that. As a military uprising it was as impractical as all those before it: in Dublin 1,500 men marching in Easter Week to occupy the General Post Office, Bolands Bakery, South Dublin Union, and several minor public buildings and solemnly proclaiming Ireland's freedom. Most Dublin people gawked in amazement or jeered the volunteers. At 3.45 p.m. on Saturday 29 April 1916, Padraic Pearse issued his note of unconditional surrender. Connolly and MacDonagh followed suit. The fighting was over, but the war was only just beginning.
     With the crassness born of indolent arrogance the British turned the rebels into martyrs. The signatories of Proclamation of the Republic and others, with four notable exceptions, were shot in the stone breakers' yard on the north-west corner of Kilmainham jail, commandeered by the British in 1914 to accommodate extra troops. The exceptions were Tom Ceannt, shot in Cork; Eamon de Valera and Countess Markievicz who were reprieved, and Sir Roger Casement who was hanged in London. The last to be shot were Connolly and McDermott, the one severely wounded, the other a polio victim. Poets and song writers rushed for their pens. The English had done it again.
     After the rising the number of prisoners in British custody was 3,430 men and 79 women. Almost immediately 1,424 men and 73 women were released. Of those remaining, 159 men and one woman, Countess Markievicz, were court-martialled. Eleven were acquitted. Ninety were sentenced to death but only fifteen were executed. The rest got penal servitude, ranging from two years to life.
     1,836 men and five womenwere interned without being sentenced and were shipped to the Frongoch camps in North Wales. Another bad mistake.
     German prisoners were moved out to make room for the Irish who soon settled in and organized themselves. Frongoch was divided into two parts; the south camp which consisted mainly of an old distillery, and the north camp which was full of huts. In order to lessen sympathy for the Irish prisoners, the British put it about that they were the recipients of 'The Kaiser's Gold', but as a propaganda exercise this backfired. The average Tommy was hardly well paid and was only too willing to treat the prisoners well, run messages for them and smuggle messages in and out in the hope of getting some of this magical (and non-existent) gold in return.
     Another mistake made by the authorities was to try to conscript a number of the internees, not all of whom had been involved in the Easter rising; indeed, many were political innocents scooped up by mistake, but actions like this created solidarity. Conscription of prisoners was strongly and successfully resisted.
     But the worst mistake made by the authorities was to have internment, in the first place. The camps became hotbeds of 'sedition', political education centres and training grounds for resistance fighters, the foremost of all being Michael Collins. In each of the camps, prisoners elected their own commandants (a practice always followed in the future) and established a chain of command with group and hut leaders. Morale was kept up by cultural activities, sports (1916 was a good summer) and lectures. The organizational abilities of men like Collins and MacCurtain were given full rein. Future action was planned and the lines of communication laid. The internees felt that they were much better off in the countryside of Wales than the sentenced prisoners in Stafford, Usk, Lincoln, Lewes or Dartmoor jails. Comradeship grew and with it a feeling of exhilaration.
     All this might well have died had internment lasted for a long time, but in December 1916 Lloyd George pushed Asquith out of office as British Premier and took over. By Christmas the last 600 internees had been released and sent back to Ireland – to drill, train and build up an organization to drive the British out. The process was given even more impetus in June 1917 when all the sentenced prisoners, including de Valera, were released. First, martyrs had been made, then the survivors were turned loose to an admiring audience.
     Irish aspirations for independence had been aroused yet again. Activity intensified. Almost immediately a spate of arrests followed. By the truce of 11 July 1921 there were 7,000 Irish political prisoners in the jails of England and Ireland. Most had been arrested on ludicrous charges. By 1920 people were getting up to two years for "whistling derisively at a policeman", having a single copy of the banned Irish Volunteer paper, An t-Oglach, singing 'The Felons of Our Land' – written 50 years previously – or carrying a hurley. But most of the important arrests were carried out under DORA – the Defence of the Realm Act. Introduced originally at the onset of the war, special 'Irish Clauses' were periodically added to the Act. By 1917 anyone "whose behaviour is of such a nature as to give reasonable grounds for suspecting that he has acted, or is acting, or about to act in a manner prejudicial to the public safety or the defence of the Realm" could be arrested. On 24 April 1918, quietly and without notice, the Defence of the Realm Act was altered to allow the authorities to take Irish prisoners to be interned in England. The constitutionality of such an action was about to be challenged in the courts while internees were in Frongoch, but the challenge was dropped upon their release at Christmas 1916. Now the law was altered to permit deportation to England. The way was being paved for the 'German Plot'.
     Germany had, in fact, very little interest in Ireland. More German guns had been sold to the 'Loyalist' Orangemen in the North than to the Nationalist Republicans in the South. The fiasco of Sir Roger Casement's attempt to form an Irish Brigade from captured POW's in Germany had convinced the Germans that little was to be gained from Ireland. The only other Irish 'agent' of the Germans to set foot in Ireland was Lance Corporal Joe Dowling who was arrested as soon as a U-boat had put him ashore on the Clare coast on 12 April 1918. He was sentenced to penal servitude for life and served six years.
     Casualties in the World War were mounting, however, and plans were afoot to introduce conscription to Ireland, hitherto exempt. This was another tactical blunder, for nothing was more likely to unite the Irish than attempts to compel them to fight for England. De Valera drafted the anti-conscription declaration issued unanimously by the Mansion House Conference of 18 April 1918 which included the words "the passing of the Conscription Bill by the British House of Commons must be regarded as a declaration of war on the Irish Nation". The conference was attended by Sinn Fein, the Irish Parliamentary Party, Trade Union representatives and others. The Catholic hierarchy also were opposed to conscription. Five days after the conference the Trade Unions held the first ever one-day general strike-against conscription. Lloyd George and his Government had been warned what to expect and so they cooked up the 'German Plot'.
     Quietly the Dublin Castle Executive was purged of any 'pro-Irish' elements such as Henry Duke, the Chief Secretary. Lord Wimbourne, the Lord Lieutenant, was replaced by Field Marshal Sir John French, fresh from his recent disasters and blunders in Flanders. General Sir Bryan Mahon was succeeded in the military command by General Shaw. French outlined his simple-minded tactics to Lord Riddel:
Conscription will be enforced. If they leave me alone I can do what is necessary. I shall notify a date before which recruits must offer themselves in the different districts. If they do not come we will fetch them.
On 8 May Sir Edward Carson, not a Cabinet Minister, issued a statement to the effect that the Government "had the closest evidence in their possession that the Sinn Fein organization is, and has been in alliance with Germany". On 17-18 May the Government swooped. Seventy-three people were arrested. They included Arthur Griffith, de Valera, Count Plunkett, Countess Markievicz, Mrs. Tom Clarke, Maud Gonne MacBride, W. T. Cosgrave and Joe McGrath. Sean McEntee and Denis McCullough were arrested in Belfast. By the evening of 18 May they were all aboard a man-of-war at Dun Laoghaire. It was then they were informed that under the Defence of the Realm Act they were being deported and interned. After a week in a disused army camp near Holyhead they were split up and sent to Usk and Gloucester jails. A little later some or the Gloucester prisoners, including de Valera, were transferred to Lincoln jail.
     Meanwhile the furore about the 'German Plot' continued. In the House of Lords on 20 June 1918 the recently-sacked Lord Lieutenant, Lord Wimborne, told members that there was no plot. The Government shifted its ground. Edward Shortt, the Chief Secretary, told the Commons on 4 August;
They (the Irish prisoners) are there under suspicion. Supposing they were found innocent of that (i.e. conspiring with Dowling) do you imagine that that would let them out? Of course it would not. They may not be the individuals, but they may be equally dangerous to the State.
Dangerous they might well have been, but in most cases constitutionally so, for those arrested included most of the public speakers arid election agents for Sinn Fein, who were soon to win the next general election. Despite the exposure of the 'plot', however, a further 20 men were arrested and deported.
     The fight to be treated as political prisoners began upon their arrival at British jails. The internees, many already veterans of the English and Irish jails, were adamant. At Usk, Governor Young was out of his depth, and he soon gave in: the right of association, of writing and receiving letters and parcels were all granted; so was the prisoners' right to wear their own clothes instead of the broad arrow of the convict. In Usk and Lincoln they did not have to resort to the 'Lewes tactic' – i.e. smashing up the jail. During the summer, conditions were not too bad, but winter brought the cold and the influenza epidemic which savaged all Europe. Most of the internees were affected, but only two died. Statistically at least they fared better than the rest of the population.
     Escape was in all their minds, however, and on 21 January 1919 four men, McGrath, Shouldice, Mellows and Geraghty, went over the wall of Usk jail with a rope ladder. It had been intended that 20 would go on a mass break-out, but the influenza epidemic had laid many low – indeed, Mellows, who did get away successfully, could hardly stand.[6]
     This escape and the resultant hue-and-cry in England came at a bad time for de Valera. He and two of his comrades, Sean McGarry and Sean Milroy; were co-operating in the process of having their own escape from Lincoln jail engineered. So important was it that de Valera should escape that Michael Collins and Harry Boland went over to England themselves to supervise it. The well-organized escape involved three cakes, three keys, a number of key blanks, files, key-cutting tools, a rope-ladder and a fleet of cars. It says little for the security of the jail that so much was smuggled in and that messages could pass in and out so easily.
     In January 1919 the first Dail assembled in the Mansion House in Dublin and one of its first decisions was to appoint three envoys to the peace conference at Versailles, to claim Ireland's freedom. The men chosen were then internees in English jails: de Valera, Griffith and Plunkett. Hence de Valera's particular desire to escape, and escape he did, in the company of Milroy and McGarry, on 3 February 1919, just eleven days after the Usk escape. They walked through a door in the jail wall, using a skeleton key, and were smuggled away to hideouts in Manchester and Liverpool. On 20 February, disguised as a priest, de Valera was back in Dublin. Never had there been such a hue-and-cry for an escaped prisoner; rarely had there been such a propaganda coup for the Irish.
     Internment was not to last. Embarrassed first by the escapes and then by the death, on 6 March, of Pierce McCann, a Tipperary TD interned at Gloucester (where the Usk prisoners had been moved following the escape), the Government gave in. McCann died of influenza and public opinion in Ireland erupted on hearing the news. Two days later it was announced that the internees were to be released. On 9 March the first batch arrived back in Dublin, led by Arthur Griffith and bearing the remains of McCann. The internment of the 'German plotters' was over – for the time being.
     Some had not been so fortunate in their treatment, however. Padraic Fleming had been arrested in connection with die supposed 'German Plot', but unlike the majority, he was not transported to England. Instead, he was housed in Maryborough (now Portlaoise) jail. He had been there the year before, after being framed (it is alleged) on an arms charge. He bad been refused political treatment, had gone on hunger strike and had been promised political treatment if he would wear prison garb. He refused and went on a naked hunger strike for a further fortnight. Public opinion having been enraged at the death of Torn Ashe from forcible feeding while on hunger strike in Mountjoy in September 1917, the British decided to exercise a new tactic vis-à-vis hunger strikers. This was the so-called 'cat-and-mouse' act. Under it a prisoner would be released while on hunger strike and rearrested when he regained his health. And so, on 20 November 1917, Fleming was let out. Next May, as a 'German plotter', he was back again in Maryborough. There began his one-man crusade for political treatment. It was typical of the determination exerted by internees and sentenced political prisoners to secure 'political treatment'. They did not regard themselves as 'criminals', nor did they intend to allow themselves to be treated as such. That their fight was unsuccessful is attested to by the fact that the same fight was fought in the same jail 25 years later, culminating in the death of Sean McCaughey after 31 days hunger and 12 days thirst strike. He had been naked in his solitary for almost five years.
     Padraic Fleming did not die, but his single-minded fanaticism could easily have led to his death, given "the cold blooded formalised cruelty of officialdom in power", in the words of Piaras Béaslai. Fleming refused to wear prison garb. His own clothes had been taken from him and he was left with only bedclothes, and these were removed each day from 6.00 a.m. to 8.00 p.m. Fleming was 23 and over six feet tall. It took eight warders to forcibly dress him. He tore the clothes off as soon as they were on and he was alone. The warders put him in iron manacles, with a body-belt which kept his manacled wrists and upper arms tight against his body.[8] With his hands thus strapped warders had to feed him – a few spoons of soup and half a a pint of coffee a day. He broke out of the manacles. The warders put him in 'muffs', which practically paralyse the body. He broke out of these. He was then strapped so tightly across the stomach that his digestive system was disrupted. Again he went on hunger strike. After eight days the prison doctor said he was dying. Word came from outside that hunger strikes were to be called off; he recovered, but still refused to wear prison garb. The jail authorities tried to have him certified insane, but no doctor would sign. The strait-jacket restraint continued. The authorities built him a special cell supposedly warm enough for a naked man in winter. Despite the jacket he succeeded in tearing up the blankets. He smashed the gas fittings by kicking the rubber chamber pot up at them. He got out of the strait-jacket by repeatedly jumping at the gas jet until the jacket went on fire. He took the radiator apart with the hand-cuffs on his wrists, broke the glass of the window with the rubber chamber pot and with glass fragments between his teeth, he cut the jacket. He was dragged, head first, hands still manacled behind his back, down four flights of iron stairs, to be further punished. Finally, after seven months, in exasperation the authorities gave in. Fleming was granted the 'status' of a political prisoner and taken to Mountjoy. From there he escaped with 19 others on 29 March 1919.
     The thousands who filled the jails of England and Ireland until the truce of 11 July 1921 would call themselves, in many cases, internees. Under DORA there was no need to formally 'intern', when a man could be charged with 'possession of documents' or 'whistling derisively' and receive a lengthy sentence. On 9 August 1920 DORA was extended with the Restoration of Order in Ireland Act which, as Dorothy MacArdle wrote in The Irish Republic, "relieved the military forces in Ireland of almost all the restraints of law". Military authorities were empowered to jail any Irish man or woman without charge or trial under section 3 (6); could have secret courtmartials under section 3 (1-5). Only if the death penalty was involved could a lawyer be present, and he was appointed by the Crown agents. Four-fifths of the population who had given their allegiance to Dail Eireann were offenders against the Act, 14(1&2). Because 33 coroners inquests had indicted military or police for murder, inquests were banned.
     The jails of Mountjoy, Kilmainham (finally abandoned as a jail in 1924), Kilkenny, Derry, Cork (Spike Island), Belfast, Dundalk and Sligo, and military camps at the Curragh, Kilworth, Boyle and Ballykinlar were full, and prisoners escaped from all but a few of them.
     The Rath camp at the Curragh was still the official internment camp, however. Some 1,300 were interned there in 60 wooden army huts in a ten-acre area. The huts were arranged in four symmetrical rows, referred to as 'A', 'B', 'C' and 'D'. The prisoners' compound was rectangular and surrounded by two large barbed-wire fences, ten feet high and four feet wide. Between the two fences was a 20-feet wide corridor which was patrolled day and night. Machine-gun towers with powerful searchlights were situated at each corner and played on the huts. It was regarded as escape-proof. Attempted escapes in laundry vans and refuse carts had failed ignominiously. The guards had orders to shoot anyone approaching the wire and no one doubted that they were quite prepared to shoot – in January 1921 James Sloan and James Tormey, both from Westmeath, were shot down in Ballykinlar camp for "gettig too close to the wire"!
     Tunnelling was obviously the best chance for an escape, but the authorities at the Curragh were very vigilant and the situation was complicated by the presence of spies and agents provocateur. With as many as 1,300 internees in the camp it was impossible for everyone to be known, and in each hut there were people whom nobody knew. Most of these men were genuine internees but some were undoubtedly stool-pigeons and plants. (To this day it is common practice for the police to plant someone amongst internees. In August 1971 in Crumlin, however, a plant was such an incompetent liar that he was easily unmasked. He was then moved very rapidly for 'his own safety' and released the next day.)
     In April 1921 a tunnel at the Curragh was betrayed. Men of the Kings Own Scottish Borderers made straight for it. As a result, 'privileges' were withdrawn. All tunnelling was suspended. On 11 July the truce became operative, but there was still no release for the internees. Thirty-seven who were TD's were released so that the Dail could consider the British peace terms. In August Sean MacEoin, under sentence of death in Mountjoy, and the only TD still held, was released after the Irish had threatened to break off negotiations unless he was freed. While MacEoin was in Mountjoy, a most ambitious attempt to rescue him almost succeeded. It involved the capture of a British army whippet armoured car which was driven straight into the jail by the IRA. When, in spite of the truce, there were no general releases the Curragh internees began tunnelling again. Two tunnels were started. The 'professional' and ambitious 'Dublin Brigade Tunnel', and the 'amateur' 'Rabbit Burrow'. In the event it was the amateurs who got there first. In the space of only 18 days they reached the outside wire, and, on the night of the 8 September 1921, in a dense fog, 50 men got away. They wandered around in the fog and some even blundered back to the wire, but all eventually escaped. Section Leader Brabazon, who stayed behind, commented, "If we'd waited four more days until a larger tunnel was finished we could have got a thousand out."[9] Many of the remaining internees were transferred to Kilkenny, where, benefiting from the tactics learnt at the Rath camp, 43 men tunnelled their way out on 23 November (including Michael Burke of Glengoole, who had survived a 90-day hunger strike in Cork jail).
     Just a fortnight later it was over. The Treaty was signed on 6 December. On 8 December all internees were released.
The English can claim that this was their last venture of peace-time internment – but in 1923 over 100 Irish men and women, mostly members of the Irish Self Determination League, were deported from England under Clause 14B of the Restoration of Order in Ireland Act and interned upon their arrival in Ireland. This was subsequently shown to be an infringement of British law and those deported were eventually returned to England and received some compensation.
     Camps were subsequently established in Aden, Cyprus, Malaya, and, most infamous of all, Kenya. But liberal British public opinion has always been less squeamish when the rights of black people were infringed. In Kenya men were killed in Aguthe detention camp and the most horrendous climax came on 24 February 1959 when 11 Africans were beaten to death in Hola camp. Leading Conservative Ministers Julian Amery and Alan Lennox-Boyd saw no need for an inquiry after all, over 80,000 men and women had been rounded up with no charges brought against them and 700 men were kept without trial for over seven years (a "certain amount of indiscriminate violence is inevitable"). Even with the news of the horror and murder that came out of Kenya internment camps and the reports of Chief Officer Captain Ernest Law, who resigned in protest, the British Government still looked after its own. The Acting Assistant Commissioner of Prisons, J.B.T. Cowan, was made a MBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours List of June 1959.[11] With true family solidarity Lennox-Boyd's sister spoke out. "I'm sick hearing about consciences," she said. "What we want is a real Conservative who doesn't keep seeing good in the other side." Lady Huggins, vice-chairman of the Conservative Commonwealth Council, was equally firm. "Too much fuss is being made of the deaths of Mau Mau detainees at Hola camp," she told students at Nottingham University. "These men were certainly beaten to death but they were, in fact, the worst type of criminals themselves and they would not have been accepted back in their home districts."
     It is, of course, totally unfair to blame Britain for any atrocities committed in foreign lands under the control of the British army – "the finest body of fighting men" etc. It is well known that the British Judicial system is the finest in the world and the envy of all: the rights handed down in the bosom of every guardian of the law, from the police and army to the MPs who ably represent us at Westminster. But, though it is not generally well known, in 1939, before the war broke out, Britain again introduced internment; the recipients were, yet again, to be the Irish.
     On Monday 16 January 1939 the farcical IRA bombing campaign in England was begun, after a solemn 'declaration of war', under the command of Sean Russell. Using Jim O'Donovan's 'S' plan the campaign was a short-lived disaster which nonetheless cost the lives of seven innocent English civilians, wounded over 100 and resulted in the execution of Barnes and McCormack (Richards) on 7 February 1940, to say nothing of lengthy jail sentences, up to 20 years, for over 100 Irish prisoners (23 men and women got 20 years penal servitude, 34 got 10-20 years, 25 got 5-10, and 14 received less than 5 years).
     Even before the tragic accident in Coventry, on 25 August 1939, the British Government had acted. Generally it is a lengthy process getting legislation passed through Westminster. A series of 'Checks and Balances' ensure that legislation is usually a time-consuming business. On 28 July, however, something of a record was set up when the Prevention of Violence Bill took five minutes to get through the first and second reading in the Lords. The third stage was waived and so by the next day it had passed into law. Its provisions allowed deportation for Irishmen and, that old standby, internment, as well as the registration of all Irishmen living in Britain. By 5 August 48 expulsion orders and five prohibition orders had been issued. Many hundreds of Irishmen did not wait for the midnight raids but took the Holyhead boat home – only to discover the Free State Government had just banned prisoners' dependants meetings and had put into force the Offences Against the State Act.
     The declaration of war saved the British the embarrassment of 'peacetime' internment. Those men they wanted were lifted for the duration of the war and kept with other 'aliens' and 'suspected persons' in camps – the best-known one being on the Isle of Man. In 1940 there were 1,400 interned. Only 50 were still interned when, in May 1945, Herbert Morrison announced that the order had been revoked. The Government had considered interning communists but desisted, fearing unrest in the Clyde. Most of those interned were German nationals. One of the most unfortunate was the gentleman who found a pocketbook containing £9 and took it to a local police station in Middlesex. He was thanked, asked his name and address and then interned. Three thousand aliens had been rounded up in May 1940 due to panic created by newspapers such as the Express and Herald. The conditions of internment varied from 'inconvenient' to 'atrocious'. Successive British Governments have denounced internment as 'a despicable weapon' – and used it. Ex-internees Makarios, Banda, Nehru, Gandhi and de Valera would presumably agree. But they all became respectable statesmen. Britain would do well to remember that in the Long Kesh Class of 1972 may languish a man of similar stature.

‘Internment’ by John McGuffin 

Thursday, 8 August 2013

ZEIG HEIL OUR QUEEN ! #BoycottBritish

A map highlighting the areas subjected to Brit...
A map highlighting the areas subjected to British plantations in Ulster, using modern county boundaries. (Photo credit:Wikipedia)

‘For God’s sake bring me a large Scotch. What a bloody awful country.’ Visiting Northern Ireland as home secretary in 1970, Reginald Maudling, whose mellow moderation verged on a slothful desire for an easy life, was understandably exasperated by the Ulster problem – but no more so than a long line of politicians, before and since. Churchill – not so easily depicted as a faint-heart – lamented in the aftermath of the First World War that, while the cataclysm had transformed the rest of Europe, the Ulster question remained as intractable as ever and politicians would once more have to pay attention to the ‘dreary steeples of Fermanagh and Tyrone’.

Fifty years and another world war later, Ulster remained a needling presence in British political life. At the time of the Ulster Workers’ Council strike of 1974, which helped bring down the cross-community power-sharing executive agreed at Sunningdale in 1973, a peeved Harold Wilson openly denounced Ulster Protestants as ‘people who spend their lives sponging on Westminster and British democracy’. The prime minister’s accusation riled the Protestants, who thought themselves harder-working than their feckless Catholic neighbours, the real spongers in their eyes. Incensed Ulster Unionists began to sport sponges on their lapels.

Are the people of Ulster – as its Protestant champions claim – an integral part of the British nation? Or is Northern Ireland rather, as Irish nationalists insist, a relic of empire, whose close proximity to Great Britain obscures the otherwise bald fact that British colonialism is the ultimate cause of the modern Ulster Question? Both claims are valid, while neither tells the whole story. Certainly, the Northern Irish problem has its roots in a colonial project, the Ulster Plantation of the early 17th century. Yet with the passage of the Act of Union between Great Britain and Ireland in 1800, the north-eastern counties, with their Protestant majority, became the most self-consciously British region of the United Kingdom. By the same token, Britishness of the Ulster kind – Orange parades and kerbsides painted red, white and blue – seems demonstrative and stridently un-British. To the summer visitor from Britain who pulls off the ferry at Larne, the proliferation of Union Jacks along roads and at roundabouts is alienating. Unintentionally perhaps, the puffed-up hyper-Britons of Ulster exhibit colonial insecurity and make clear the precariousness of their position on what its current first minister, Peter Robinson of Paisley’s Democratic Unionist Party, once described as ‘the window ledge of the Union’.

A colonial strangeness lurks behind such seemingly familiar phenomena as student drunkenness. Belfast’s Holy Land is an area between Queen’s University and the Ormeau Road where the streets, built by a biblically minded Victorian Protestant, are named for Jerusalem, Damascus and Carmel. Originally, Protestants lived here, and later, the area became more mixed, with young lecturers bringing in a dash of counter-culture; but in recent years the Holy Land has become a place of student-dominated multiple-occupancy housing and raucous anti-social behaviour, which tends to culminate in riotous stand-offs with the police on St Patrick’s Day. The authorities would rather not confront the fact that many of the rioting students – ‘culchies’ (yokels) from mid-Ulster – wear Celtic tops or Gaelic Athletic Association shirts, and are asserting an instinctive quasi-sectarian command of what is now their territory. Protestant students prefer to rent accommodation further south in Stranmillis.

In Belfast the urban motorway – something that has done much to blight city life across the United Kingdom – has a sinister, though not altogether unhappy significance. As Dominic Bryan argues in his lively essay in Belfast 400, the M2 and the Westlink have served as a bleak cordon sanitaire between some of the rival sectarian ghettoes in the west of the city. Moreover, as the security forces were quick to recognise, the limited number of crossing points for vehicles meant that the centre of Belfast could be more effectively secured against disturbances spilling over from the Shankill and Falls Road areas. This estrangement persists, long after the Good Friday Agreement of 1998. Peace did not bring the ‘peace walls’ tumbling down, or strip away the protective netting which covers tiny back gardens within lobbed-bottle distance of the other community.

Ulster is, and remains, a collage of confessional territories. As the late A.T.Q. Stewart remarked in his history of Ulster, The Narrow Ground (1977), every resident of the province carries around in his or her head a complex and detailed geography: they know which villages or streets are Protestant or Catholic, or mixed. These internalised microgeographies – of small urban pockets such as Sandy Row or the Short Strand – provide the matter of sectarian conflict, for, as the acerbic historian Joe Lee lamented, Ulster has a ‘dearth of major atheist settlements’.

Geography also presents challenges on a larger scale. The incomer from ‘GB’, as Ulster folk call Great Britain, quickly learns not to call the nearby larger island ‘the mainland’, while apparent synonyms for Northern Ireland – such as ‘Ulster’ or the ‘Six Counties’ or ‘the North of Ireland’ – betray the politics and religion of the speaker. Where, indeed, is Ulster? This seemingly straightforward question opens up a rich seam of history. Ulster is one of the historic provinces of Ireland, and comprises nine counties, six of which – Armagh, Down, Antrim, Londonderry (or Derry), Fermanagh and Tyrone – are today in Northern Ireland, and three – Monaghan, Donegal and Cavan – in the Irish Republic. The colonial Plantation of Ulster in the reign of James VI and I covered six counties, but not those of today’s Northern Ireland. Ironically, the counties which became the redoubt of British Protestant settlement – Antrim and Down – were not technically part of the Plantation, which instead encompassed Donegal (then known as Tyrconnell), Londonderry, Armagh, Cavan, Fermanagh and Tyrone.

During the Home Rule crisis of the early 20th century, Sir James Craig, the founding father of Northern Ireland, envisaged hiving off the four most strongly Protestant counties – Antrim, Down, Londonderry and Armagh – to form an Ulster statelet. In the event, Fermanagh and Tyrone were added to the new self-governing province of Northern Ireland established under the Government of Ireland Act 1920, but Article XII of the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921, between the United Kingdom and the Irish Free State, was deliberately vague on the future resolution of the border. In the event, the proposal of the Boundary Commission of 1925 to shave off southern Armagh for the Free State and transfer parts of eastern Donegal to Northern Ireland was much too controversial to implement, or even acknowledge in public.

Certain areas near the border in Armagh became notorious for atrocities more than a century before there even was a border. Uncanny congruences of this sort reinforce the assumption of outsiders that Ulster is a land of memory, where the horrors of an inescapable past forever haunt the present. However, as Sean Connolly notes more precisely in Belfast 400, memory is all too often selective memory, if not ‘historical amnesia’. When 19th-century Belfast became ‘the capital of Irish Unionism’, its citizens conveniently forgot that in the 1790s the city had been ‘the birthplace of a United Irish movement committed to the establishment of an independent Irish republic’. At the centenary of the Rebellion of 1798, the leading officials of the Orange Grand Lodge of Belfast misremembered the largely Presbyterian rising in Ulster as ‘a series of most foul and cowardly murders and massacres of innocent men and women whose only offence was their Protestantism’. James Loughlin notes in his essay in Ulster since 1600, that ‘former Presbyterian rebels’, keen in the early decades of the 19th century to reinvent themselves as loyal Britons, were ‘only too ready to frame the rebellion through the lens of 1641 as a vast Popish conspiracy’. In other words, although Ulster Catholics had been largely quiescent in 1798, the supposed history of the rebellion was cunningly – but convincingly – turned upside down to fit with an existing memory of the Ulster Catholic rising of 1641 (and, to be fair, with the strikingly different pattern of hostilities in other parts of Ireland during 1798).

Moreover, an entrenched rhetoric of civility and barbarity, which dated back to the Ulster Plantation, and beyond, appeared to confirm such perceptions. After the flight to the Continent in 1607 of the harassed Gaelic earls – Hugh O’Neill, Second Earl of Tyrone, and Rory O’Donnell, First Earl of Tyrconnell, along with Cúchonnacht Maguire, Lord of Fermanagh – the Plantation of 1609 was designed to bring civility to these rude parts. The new king, James VI and I, had already attempted to colonise the fringes of Scottish Gaeldom with civilising Lowlanders, as Martin MacGregor’s essay in the collection edited by Eamonn O Ciardha and Micheál O Siochrú makes clear. From Giraldus Cambrensis to the chronicler John of Fordun, medieval commentators from Britain had demonised the Gaels for their barbarous ways. Such sentiments still persist in the expected quarters. Ian Paisley claimed in the early 1980s that the forebears of the good Protestant folk of Ulster had ‘cut a civilisation out of the bogs and meadows of this country’, while the Gaels ‘were wearing pig-skins and living in caves’. These Yahoo Gaels were not only uncivilised, but so addicted to violence that it had permeated their entire culture. Paisley’s daughter, Rhonda, at one stage a Belfast councillor, complained that the Irish language itself ‘drips with their bloodthirsty saliva’.

Although there was a Scots presence in the north-east of Ireland from the early 17th century, Scots Presbyterian culture wasn’t consolidated there until the arrival of General Robert Munro’s Scots Covenanter army in the 1640s. The Scottish famines of the late 1690s brought a further exodus to Ulster of Scots, particularly from the south-west, the stronghold of Covenanting Presbyterianism. The Scots Covenanters were decidedly not republicans; they preferred to be governed by kings, but owed them a highly conditional allegiance. If the king failed to uphold the community’s Covenant with God, then the people were entitled to take up defensive arms against his malignant rule, and in certain circumstances even to execute divine vengeance on the apostate ruler. It is ultimately from this branch of the Scots Presbyterian tradition that Ulster inherits the peculiarities of loyalism, a commitment to queen and country so anarchic and tenuous as to be downright disloyal.

Loyalism has taken different organisational forms. The Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) was set up in the mid-1960s by a former British soldier called Gusty Spence, as a proactive means of combating the upsurge in IRA activity which, it was expected, would follow the fiftieth anniversary in 1966 of the Easter Rising. The Ulster Defence Association (UDA) emerged in the early 1970s as a form of vigilantism by the Protestant working class against the insurgency of the Provisional IRA (which had split in disgust from the torpid Marxism of the Official IRA in 1969). The UDA used a proxy, the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF), for its terrorist activities. So self-defence was followed by the unprovoked sectarian killing of Catholics – regardless of whether they had any links with the Provos – and eventually, in some areas at least, by psychopathic gangsterism. Clearly, there is a major cleavage within Ulster Protestantism between Unionism and loyalism, but it’s not easy to trace its course.

Ian Paisley’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) once stood on very uncertain terrain between the ‘big house Unionism’ of the old Ulster gentry, from which it recoiled, and a proletarian loyalism it sometimes appeared to court. How was one to interpret Paisley’s night-time rally on a hill in County Antrim in 1981, at which five hundred supporters waved their firearms licences? The Paisleyites’ reckless disregard for the rule of law, for Westminster and for British constitutional norms earned them the contempt of Enoch Powell, a Conservative turned Ulster Unionist, who favoured the full integration of Northern Ireland into the UK. Powell claimed Paisley and his followers were ‘Protestant Sinn Féin’.

The distinction between Unionism and loyalism revolves not only around violence and the nature of Ulster’s commitment to the British state, but also around class – that omnipresent yet largely invisible factor in Northern Irish politics. Loyalism has been an underappreciated expression of working-class consciousness. Andy Tyrie, the supreme commander of the UDA between 1973 and 1988, admitted that challenging the dominance of Unionism was an important part of being a loyalist. Of course, loyalism was an uninhibited demonstration of anti-Republican hostility, but it was also a form of resentment against the middle-class Unionists in their leafy suburbs, who seemed content enough to let their proletarian co-religionists bear the brunt of the internal struggle with the Provos.

Why, an outsider might ask about the situation in Ulster, did the region fail to develop the same class-based politics as the rest of the UK? Northern Ireland seems to be stuck in a conservative limbo, with voters preferring to vote along religious lines without regard to their material interests. But this analysis is oversimplified. Ulster is, in fact, rather left-wing. In one of the most surprising essays in Ulster since 1600, Graham Brownlow calculates that, factoring out coal and iron and steel manufacture, which the province lacks, Northern Ireland was ‘much more strike-prone than the UK average’ between the 1940s and the mid-1980s. UK trade unions enjoy considerable support, in spite of the divided national allegiances of the workforce. Indeed, Northern Ireland has a higher density of trade-union membership – that is, actual membership divided by total potential membership – than other parts of the United Kingdom, including Labour’s heartlands in Wales and Scotland. The Northern Ireland Labour Party, established in 1924, had offered an appealing alternative to ethnic politics, but just as it had emerged as the official opposition in Stormont it was overwhelmed by the onset of the Troubles. Similarly, the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) – formed in 1970 out of various groupings, including the Republican Labour Party, and supported by some former members of the Northern Ireland Labour Party – shed its Labourite origins under John Hume’s leadership, but could not present an Irish enough identity to see off the electoral challenge of Sinn Féin. In any case, people in Ulster might wonder whether they needed class-based political parties. Sectarianism had done more to protect the working class in Northern Ireland than a powerless Labour Party had achieved in Britain after 1979. The Troubles helped to keep Thatcherism at bay, so that in 1989 the journalist Ian Aitken could describe the province as ‘the Independent Keynesian Republic of Northern Ireland’.

Here the middle classes flourished during the Troubles, their high-living maintained by a bloated public-sector-cum-security-state. The North Down constituency is a haven of peace and material amplitude, though notorious in cliché for its all too stark social division between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-yachts’. Nothing is as likely to shock the preconceptions of the visitor who comes to view the grim locations of ‘Troubles tourism’ as the sight of Ulster Tatler on newsagents’ shelves. Middle-class life in the province has its own variations. South Belfast has a multicultural bohemian flavour, as obvious in the boutiques of the Lisburn Road as around Queen’s University itself. This is a world captured with deliberately baroque exaggeration in Chris Marsh’s comic novel A Year in the Province (2008), whose humour comes from a pitch-perfect rendering of the cadences and sing-song inverted repetitions of Ulster speech. Ian Sansom’s deadpan novel Ring Road (2004), on the other hand, explores the dour and parochial absurdities of Ulster’s less flashy middle classes in the dormitory towns around Belfast.

While the Troubles did very little to threaten the middle classes, events have recently taken a potentially worrying turn. The recent spasm of unrest was provoked by Belfast City Council’s decision in December to restrict the flying of the Union flag at the City Hall – it had always flown there year-round – to selected dates in the political calendar, such as the Duchess of Cambridge’s birthday. The decision was not just the doing of Sinn Féin, but was supported by the somewhat priggish middle-class do-gooders of Alliance, a political party which has traditionally floated consequence-free above the streetfighting of proletarian Ulster. On this occasion, however, loyalist protesters chose to single out Alliance for facilitating the outrage. The party offices and the homes of prominent Alliance politicians became targets. The riots which have followed have been blamed – rightly – on loyalist recidivism.

There is, however, another unexpected side to loyalism, as Peter Shirlow’s book demonstrates. Whereas middle-class Unionist Ulster was for decades happy enough to say no, time and again, to changes in the government of the province, working-class loyalists – despite their own reputation for intransigence – could not afford to indulge in the same endless rejection. Shirlow distinguishes between the ‘idiocy’ of rejectionist loyalism and an avant-garde of ‘progressive’ or ‘transitional’ loyalism willing to engage with the demands of the Catholic community and to think imaginatively about conflict resolution. Working-class loyalists experimented – long before their snooty Unionist cousins – with a ‘non-sectarian mode of Unionist politics’, which recognised the shared sufferings of working-class Protestants and Catholics alike.

In 1979 the UDA-backed New Ulster Political Research Group published a report called Beyond the Religious Divide, which explored the common ‘Ulster’ identity of the province’s Catholic and Protestant peoples. The UDA also flirted with the idea of an independent Northern Irish republic as an ingenious solution to the underlying cause of the Troubles, namely the rival British and Irish claims of sovereignty. In 1987 the Ulster Democratic Party (UDP), which would become a front for the UDA, put out Common Sense, which called for power-sharing and equality across the sectarian divide. The hard men of the UVF also caught the peace and reconciliation bug. In 1984 the Progressive Unionist Party (PUP), the political wing of the UVF, proposed a Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland, which was too daring for the authorities, and followed it up with an ecumenical document entitled ‘Sharing Responsibility’. Needless to say, not all loyalists were impressed. Transitional loyalists were seen by traditionalists as ‘lundys’ (the Ulster Protestant term for ‘quisling’). Another grouping, the Loyalist Volunteer Force, denounced the PUP as ‘atheistic communists’ determined to impose ‘a socialist ideology over a conservative people’.

This is, of course, to beg the question. Ulster has an ingrained conservatism, to be sure, but also an old-fashioned socialism about which it often seems to be in denial. The future remains uncertain. The dispute about the flag shows how much symbols matter in Northern Ireland, and unfortunately Ulster has just embarked on a ‘decade of centenaries’. Some are uncontentious, such as the four hundredth anniversary of Belfast’s receipt of a royal charter in 1613 and the Titanic centenary of 2012; others are pregnant with menace. The contrasting blood sacrifices of Dublin’s Easter Rising and the Ulster Division’s losses in the Battle of the Somme loom ominously in 2016. And, if we get past them without incident, the centenary of the Protestant statelet itself and the partition of Ireland arrive in 2020-21.

By Colin Kidd.

Winston Churchill wrote: “The power of the Executive to cast a man into prison without formulating any charge known to the law, and particularly to deny him the judgement of his peers, is in the highest degree odious, and is the foundation of all totalitarian government, whether Nazi or Communist.”


Martin Corey is a 63 year former Provisional IRA member,

who before being interned without trial for more than 

the last three years, spent almost twenty years 

previously in Long Kesh Concentration Camp in British 

Occupied Ireland. He was released in June 1992.

He was taken back into custody on April 16, 2010, on the

 basis of British SS, "closed material". On July 9, Judge

Treacy ruled, that Martin Corey's human rights had been 

breached, and he should be released immediately on

 unconditional bail. This was overruled by the English

 Viceroyal again and Martin was interned again without

 trial charge. 

Martin Corey is an innocent Irishman who has 

absolutely no idea why he has been interned in Ireland

 for over three years now without trial, on the order of 

a non elected English Viceroyal. Martin is but one 

example of Many Irish people, interned by remand, or 

without trial and many other guises in British Occupied


Below is the story of Internment introduced in Ireland on

the last occasion 42 years ago. Internment without trial 

has been a fact of life in every generation, since the 

foundation on a mentored sectarian,  headcount of the

failed, scum, sectarian, state of British Occupied 

Ireland, based on the privilege of the old British 

colonial policy of divide and conquer.

‘Internment’ by John McGuffin (1973)

Chapter 1

IN the early hours of Monday 9 August 1971, I was kidnapped from my bed by armed men, taken away and held as a hostage for five and a half weeks. I was not in Uruguay, Brazil, Greece or Russia. I was in the United Kingdom, an hour's flight from London. I was in Belfast.

     A crashing on the door awoke me. It was 4.45 o'clock. I went down stairs in my pyjamas to answer. As I opened the door I was forced back against the wall by two soldiers who screamed at me "Do you live here?" Overwhelmed by their perspicacity I admitted that this was so, whereupon they ordered me to get dressed. I foolishly asked why. "Under the Special Powers Act we don't have to give a reason for anything," an officer said. "You have two minutes to get dressed." Through the window I could see in the dawn light half a dozen armed men skulking in our tiny front garden.

     I was given exactly two minutes to get dressed while a young soldier boosted his ego by sticking an SLR up my nose. My wife, not surprisingly, was almost in tears as I was dragged down the stairs and into the street. She ran after me to give me my jacket and was roughly ordered back into the house. Our quiet residential bourgeois neighbourhood hadn't seen such excitement in years as I was frogmarched and escorted at the double down the avenue by eight soldiers. As we sped down we were joined by a dozen more who had been hiding in nearby gardens, wreaking havoc on the horticultural efforts of various OAPs. People who looked out into the early morning mist must have imagined that a Vietcong patrol had been sighted in the locale.

     "Tie him up and gag the fecker" [sic] an educated English accent ordered. "That's hardly necessary," I said, as I was frisked for the second time up against a lorry, or 'pig' as they called it. This was accepted, albeit reluctantly in the case of a corporal who was positively twitching with desire to practise his boyscout knots upon me. My shoes were taken off me and I was put none too gently into the back of the 'pig'. Two men with sten-guns covered me. "Nice morning," I ventured. "Shut your fecking Fenian mouth."

     I sat there and watched the army manoeuvres. Back up the avenue they scurried, to a friend's house, I thought. Obviously, however, they were out of luck. But, never men to return empty-handed, they came back with another friend, Liam, who lived at my house. He was barefoot and, it subsequently transpired, had been arrested in error for someone else. The two other houses they raided in the area were empty and so, after casually wrecking the two flats they hastened back, each man covering the other. There wasn't a soul about and their antics began to assume a somewhat surreal aspect. Any amusement to be derived from the situation soon evaporated, however.

     Sitting shivering in the back of the 'pig' I began to try to work out what was happening. I had known, as of course had anyone involved in Irish politics, that internment was on the cards, but I had never expected to be involved. For three years I had been a member of the People's Democracy, a libertarian socialist group, and had attended meetings, marches and pickets, all perfectly legal. I had contributed articles to their weekly paper The Free Citizen, again perfectly legal. My wife and I had received compensation from the government for being beaten. up at Burntollet by B Specials. But the public had been told over and over by the Prime Minister, Brian Faulkner, that only IRA and UVF men could be interned. What, therefore, were Liam and I doing freezing in a lorry with sten-guns covering us at this ungodly hour? Could the discredited Faulkner have panicked to the extent that in order to prop up his Orange State he had resorted to arresting unarmed socialists? It appeared so.

     We were driven to Annadale TA camp and forced to stand, legs apart, against the nissen huts. Then back to the 'pig' where we were joined by another PD member, Michael Farrell, and an unknown man whom I later discovered was Harry McKeown. They, too, were barefoot and when ten soldiers joined us in the back of the 'pig' we were very cramped. We sped through the deserted early-morning streets, with no idea where we were being taken. Each time we passed a police station I mentally crossed it off the possible list of destinations. Up through Carlisle Circus and past Crumlin jail. "Christ, it must be Rathlin Island," McKeown said. No one spoke, and the 'pig' made a sudden sharp right turn through to the Antrim Road. Then up a side street and into what we were later to learn was Girdwood barracks.

     Four lorries were in front of us and slowly disembarking were other men, mostly in pyjamas. A helicopter, engine revving, stood on the turf outside the TA hail. Another half an hour was spent shivering in the back of the lorry until we were told to jump down, without our shoes, into the mud and make our way, guns in our backs, into the hall. Soldiers, RUC and Special Branch men thronged the corridor and entrance hall. As we were 'processed', polaroid flash pictures were taken and affixed to a card. A further search. Watches, rings, belts were taken and we were pushed into the gym hail where about 150 other people were squatting on the floor. Many were in pyjamas or shirtless. Heavily armed soldiers walked up and down, risking apoplexy or a coronary by incessantly bellowing, "No talking, you scum."

     Every five minutes or so groups of six of us were called out. The first three groups didn't return. The fourth did. They were dishevelled and several were bleeding, including a young man I knew, called Murphy. Was this the treatment we could all expect? I tried to comfort myself by thinking "Westminster must have sanctioned this internment; they'll have to behave themselves." Then I remembered Cyprus and Aden and Hola Camp in Kenya. My optimism flagged. The familiar lines of R. W. Grimshaw came back to me: "what can you expect from a pig but a grunt?" I braced myself and looked around. Very few faces I recognised. Mostly old men and very young boys. A man was led in by the police. Good Christ! He was blind! What sort of people were these, at whose mercy we were?

     [The army also detained three winos, picked up drunk at Dunville Park bus shelter, and a dog. All were released after 24 hours. It is not reported what the dog was suspected of – people will find this hard to credit, but it is absolutely true.]

     My name was called. Apprehensively I shuffled forward. I was taken by two young SB officers who identified themselves – the only ones to do so during my four interrogations – into a room and desultorily questioned. They obviously knew very little about me and cared even less. Name, address, occupation (lecturer) and a few general comments such as "Well, it's at least five years for you." What interested me more was the view past them through the window. On the lawn outside, the helicopter stood, engines still revving and blades rotating. A dozen or so barefoot men were being forced to run the gauntlet between two rows of military policemen who were clubbing them with sten-gun butts and batons. Those who fell were badly kicked. When they reached the helicopter they were grabbed in and then thrown out again almost immediately. The noise of the helicopter drowned any screams.

     The interrogators noted my concern. "That's nothing to do with us," one said. "That's just the army letting off a bit of steam."
     "I'd like to see my lawyer," I said, feeling foolish. They laughed. "I'm entitled to see a lawyer and to know what I'm being charged with," I tried again. They stopped laughing. "Listen, you smarty bastard, under the Special Powers Act we can keep you here as long as we like. You can't see anyone. No one will know where you are and we don't have to charge you with anything. If one of those soldiers happens to shoot you, there'll be no inquest either, you bastard." Having read the SP Acts I knew this to be unfortunately all too true. They lost interest and led me out again, this time upstairs to a crowded room where about 220 people were crammed on the floor. A faded sign on the door, under a regimental motto, said 'Merry Xmas'. Beside that a portrait of Her Serene Highness Elizabeth R. gazed serenely down.

     People were still being brought in and I saw another two PD members, John Murphy and Oliver Cosgrove, president of St. Joseph's Students' Council. I sprawled down beside Liam, who was looking very pale. I glanced down and saw congealed blood on his leg. "What happened?" I whispered. "Helicopter run," he grunted. It was only later I learned that he and others had been taken about four feet up in the air and pushed out backwards, believing that they were much higher off the ground, having been told so by the soldiers.

     The door opened and a young lad, his arm covered in blood, was thrust onto the floor. A policeman completed the task by going over and kicking him in the ribs. I later discovered that the lad's name was Patrick McGeogh and that he'd had to run the gauntlet three times.

     Military police patrolled us, preventing anyone from dozing off or talking, but with over 200 sprawled on the floor whispered conversation was possible at times. The young man in front of me was obviously in pain. He was Eamonn Kerr. Then I saw the pus oozing out of the sores on the back of his neck. Soldiers under command of Major Lloyd had stubbed out four cigarette butts on his neck in the 'pig'. William Burroughs has said "a paranoid is someone who has some small idea of what is really going on." I began to see his point.

     New military police wandered in and out making jocular remarks about getting the Fenians to sing 'the Queen'. No one stirred. At about 11 a.m. we were ordered to the door in groups of six, to get a cup of warm swill. An English gentleman put his head around the door and announced that he was a priest. Did anyone want to see him? His accent seemed to put off many. Only four queued up, shamefacedly. "You'll all be needing the last rites soon enough," the military policeman beside me smirked. Slowly they began to call out names. These were taken away in groups of six, apparently the mystic number, and disappeared from sight. By lunchtime our numbers had been reduced to 87. We were then taken downstairs again for 'lunch'.

     Again we sat in ranks on the floor. No talking, no dozing, no sprawling. As different NCOs came on duty the 'rules' changed. We were shuffled in order and made to walk in circles. Throughout the afternoon we were called out for further questioning. The boredom and uncertainty dragged on. We had little idea of time, of what was happening outside, of where our friends were, of what was going to happen to us. Most of the 87 were old men or youths. The blind man, Peter Farran, was still there. By now they had given him a table to sit at.

     The sergeant began to play a very real role in our lives. It was apparently his job to invent as many petty regulations as possible to make our lives uncomfortable. To go to the toilet necessitated queuing in a corner, looking straight ahead and putting one's hands on the shoulders of the man in front. Failure to comply exactly with this occasioned anything from a rebuke to a sten-gun butt in the kidneys, depending upon which NCO was guarding this vital installation. Time dragged on. 'Tea' was as unappetising as 'lunch'. Watery 'stew' "and you're fecking lucky to get anything." "Eat it, it may be your last." More reassurance. RUC men sat around the room, but it was clear that they were mere message boys; the army was in control. Some requests for a doctor were scornfully refused.

     Uncertainty was the worst enemy. A man, later identified as Geordie Shannon, was taken off to hospital. He suffered from ulcers and had been forced to squat, head between knees, for an hour. It was four days before he was brought over to the jail.
     The night shift came on to guard us. They, of course, had new sets of rules for us to obey. A new 'game' was introduced. It consisted of going down the line pointing at men and saying "tinker, tailor, soldier, sailor, fecking nailbomber!" Whereupon the fifth man would be set upon and beaten. Exhaustion had set in but people were still being called out and interrogated. At about 11 p.m. we were ordered to erect camp beds and given two blankets each. "Those Irish bastards smell; give them showers," the sergeant said. That we smelt was true, but hardly surprising, since men, still in their pyjamas in many cases, had been dragged through the mud. Everyone's feet, with or without socks, were encrusted with filth.

     The showers proved another opportunity for jocular fun. Several youths were forced into showers that were boiling hot, the next lot into freezing ones. We were issued with army socks and toothbrushes. "Compliments of her majesty," I was told. At midnight lights were dimmed and we piled into the rows of camp beds. I fell asleep but was soon awakened by a soldier shining his torch into my face. "O'Hara?" he asked. "No," I mumbled. He moved down the line. I dozed off again. Suddenly there was a thunderous sound. Batons hammered on the walls. "Get up you bastards." We fell out of bed. It was 3 a.m. 'Rollcall'. A Branch man came round and solemnly took everyone's name yet again. "What are you doing standing there, get to bed!" We dropped off once more only to be aroused at 5.30 am for 'breakfast'. Half a bowl of stale cornflakes. The beds were dismantled and we resumed squatting on the floor. People were still called out singly for further interrogation. Police walked in grinning and held up the morning newspapers to show us headlines "13 shot dead". "Ardoyne burnt to the ground" (an exaggeration). The sergeant, refreshed from his sleep, was also forthcoming. "That's 13 less of you Irish pigs; none of ours was got." Word filtered back from those who'd been interrogated again. The death toll had risen to 18, including four women and a priest.
     I got talking in whispers with my neighbour, George O'Hara. After doing the 'helicopter run' he, too, had been dragged into it, but, unlike the others, he had been taken up some 200 feet into the air. Two military policemen had then told him to "talk or we'll shove you out." Shades of Vietnam!

     My further three interrogations were tragi-comic. At no time was I questioned about the IRA, UVF or bombs. All questions which could be termed in any way relevant were concerned with what was socialism. Bizarre jokes were thrown in, such as "did I know that Farrell was getting Moscow gold?" So help me! Moscow gold! I explained that libertarian socialism as advocated by the PD and Farrell in particular was directly opposed to state capitalism as carried out by totalitarian regimes like the USSR. "That's just the KGB's cleverness," I was told. They clearly didn't believe it for a minute, but any smear in a storm. Next I was asked about Jerry Rubin. Was it not all a part of the international conspiracy, the trouble here? The next questioners were the most bizarre. A lugubrious gentleman gave me a lecture on the evils of atheism (I am an agnostic, but this theological distinction passed my Presbyterian inquisitor by). Did I believe in hellfire? Did I know that I would burn in all eternity? He didn't quite spell it out but the clear implication was that if I confessed to some crime or other – unspecified – he would be able to get on some kind of supernatural shortwave and put in a good word for me. Next I was asked what I was doing in the same room with a band of child murderers, rapists and mad bombers. All of them? All of them! "Even the blind man?" I explained that I had been dragged there by armed men, knew virtually none of the men and boys in the room, and rather doubted the allegations so wildly hurled about them. A view backed up by the Special Branch themselves when they released over 80 of them that day. They didn't seem very interested in me after these exchanges and contented themselves with telling me that I'd get "at least five years." For what? For speaking at civil rights meetings (perfectly legal meetings, in fact) which had led to "all this trouble."

     Their tactics with me may have been innocuous enough, but what others suffered was not. Quite a few were badly beaten – a fact obvious to all who saw them emerge from the interrogation room; many were told that the streets where their families lived had been "burnt down by the Orangemen," that their relatives had been shot, sons arrested, their friends had "squealed and told all about them," that everyone believed that they had squealed and that only the SB could smuggle them out of the country, that they had lost their jobs (about the only true statement made) and finally, that if they didn't talk "we'll rip out your teeth with pliers" – which were brandished by a well-known Branch man named Harry Taylor.

     By lunchtime on the second day discipline had relaxed slightly. The sergeant graciously permitted one cigarette per man before and after the 'meal'. Then we had a period; of exercise – five minutes walk outside. Soldiers gathered to make humorous remarks about 'the animals'. A playful corporal kept slipping the leash of his Alsatian as we passed him until the bewildered beast turned and tried to bite him., We were hastily rushed back inside lest we should laugh.

     Rumours began to spread that they couldn't keep us more than 48 hours without officially charging or interning us. This was incorrect. They can do anything they like. under the Special Powers Act, and most of the men we met in Crumlin Road jail who were from out of Belfast were kept six days without being issued detention notices, let alone internment notices.

     We continued to squat on the floor. Many were afraid to go to the toilet because of the blows some received there. Everyone was stiff and very tired, but still we were told nothing. Eventually, at 9.30 p.m., we were ordered to collect the bags containing our 'personal effects' and to put on our shoes. Suddenly there was a bustle of activity. About 25 military policemen and a dozen RUC men entered and surrounded us. Guns were cocked. Special Branch men entered and a senior officer appeared with a list. As he read from it, those called were to stand up and move over towards the door. The list was obviously incompetently compiled. Many of those called weren't in the hall or had been released earlier. The dates of birth of several people were incorrect but the Branch refused to recognize this and so sons were still mistaken for their fathers and vice versa. Eventually, 17 men were marched out. Were they being interned? Or released? We had no idea. My friend Liam, who had been arrested in error for someone else, was last to go.

     Then it became really frightening. The SB withdrew, leaving the soldiers. They began to drill us, shouting what presumably to them were merry quips. "You're the feckin' bomber then, are you?" (This to a 77-year-old dignified man who never for a minute deigned to complain). "Haven't got your Thompson now, have you? You'll have to be fitter than that to join the British army" (this to a 70-year-old asthmatic who had had seven hours sleep, and that interrupted, in the last 65 hours, and who was quite unable to keep up with the exercises). Some of us were given 'fatigues' to do, which ranged from cleaning out toilet bowls with our bare hands to dishwashing. I was more fortunate and was given the task of sweeping the floor under the tutelage of a pimply teenager, eager to impress his superiors with his wit. My efforts were dearly regarded as inadequate and he let me know by constantly prodding me with the butt of his sten-gun. "Keep awake, you dozy sods," they continually yelled. It was now 2 a.m. My mind started to drift off. Things took what I felt was a very surrealistic turn. In front of me was the company notice board, upon which were pinned three notices – all of them blank! During the day one had been taken down and replaced with a blue notice, but it, too, was blank. (On looking back, I thought that I must have imagined this, but others who were standing in the front row with me have confirmed it). I kept trying to work out some kind of secret message from the board. Was it in the colour of the drawing pins? In the different shapes of the blank paper? Invisible ink? I felt myself falling asleep and a kind soldier awakened me with his baton across my back. "Feckin' bastard." I began to wish that if they must swear so repetitiously, they would at least say 'fuck' instead of using this emasculated surrogate.

     A quarter to four. Surely they must let us go. After all, the blind man was still in our group along with most of the very old men, and the only two other people in the hall whom I knew were not only not terrorists, but clearly couldn't be mistaken for terrorists. I wasn't even a Republican, a political belief quite legal in any democratic society. But then William Craig had banned Republican clubs, hadn't he, and the House of Lords had upheld the ban. I began to think of getting home and getting some sleep; surely it was just all a bad dream? About 3.50 a.m. the military police massed in strength again, this time even more threateningly. Most of us had had only a disturbed seven-hours sleep out of the last 67 hours. Was it to be a mass beating? Mentally I tried to resign myself to it. But no. Out came the lists again.

     Of the 60 still remaining, 48 of us were called up in groups of six. As I stood waiting to be taken out an SB man began to talk to me. "It's Crumlin for all you lads," he said, "and they've brought back the B men."
     "Not even Faulkner's that stupid."
     "Just joking, lads." Some joke!
     "Are you interning the blind man?"
     "Yes, at night he can see better than all of you put together."
     We were taken out into the entrance hall and photographed again with a RUG man holding us by the collar. We had been 46 hours in Girdwood barracks. At no time since our arrest had we seen a doctor, although later Brigadier Marston Tickell was to claim: "Those arrested were given a medical inspection both on arrival at the 'police station' and again on moving into the place of detention." (Army press briefing, Belfast, 20 August). "These medical tests are available for inspection," he went on to say. This, in fact, was totally untrue. No one was inspected. About ten men saw someone who, it was alleged, was a medical orderly. His only action was to order Edward Campbell to have his head completely shaven because he had 'venereal scabies'. (No such disease exists). Pressmen who asked to see the mythical medical records were refused.

     "Draw pistols," came the order. The group of six of us who had been called out of the hall together were forced down a corridor to our right, a RUC man holding each of us by the scruff of the neck and a redcap with a pistol at our heads, beside each of us. I could hardly stand for fatigue. "If there's any sniping out there we can afford to lose two of you bastards on the way over," a corporal said.

     Then we were out of the building and onto the path; We were rushed over the by now infamous 'obstacle course – broken glass, barbed wire, sharp stones. We were more fortunate than people like Michael Farrell who had had to traverse it in daylight – with bare feet. We at least had our shoes on, but one slip meant a cruel beating. Then we were rushed through a hole in a wall and found ourselves in the grounds of Crumlin Road jail. A rapid dash over the football pitch, with soldier snipers all around it. A final dash down a grassy slope and inside the walls of the prison itself. We were out of the hands of the soldiers. The screws couldn't be as bad? They weren't. Most seemed very subdued. There was no violence shown towards us.

     Two to a cell. Initially, we found the usual plethora of petty and nonsensical regulations. All the conditions the old internees had fought for, over the last 50 years, had to be fought for again, but, within two days, a prisoners committee had been elected and began to demand changes from the Governor, Major Albert Mullin. Because the treatment accorded in Crumlin was tolerable, Mullin was addressed as 'governor', unlike 'commandant' Kerr of the Long Kesh camp.

     We retained our civilian clothes, although most of these were torn and filthy; it took time to get fresh clothes sent in. We could get food and books sent in, and for the first time got to see newspapers. Free copies were sent in by the Irish News, Newsletter and Belfast Telegraph as well as a few Independents. The day after we arrived we were joined by those who had been sent over from Girdwood a day before us. They had been put up in D wing and had, by and large, received worse treatment than we had – more beatings, attacked by the guard dogs, put over the 'obstacle course' in bare feet. Most of them bore the marks of rough treatment and some were still confined to hospital, but the medical authorities didn't want to know about any allegations of maltreatment.

     From the papers we learned that about 110 men, mainly from rural areas, had been detained on the HMS Maidstone, a hulk moored at the coal wharf. They were getting only four hours on deck out of 24 and were apparently much more cramped than we were. At first we also had been limited to four hours but strenuous protests had forced the prison authorities to extend this, after the first week, to letting us out of the cells from 7.30 a.m. to 8 p.m. (4 p.m. on Sundays) and this was later extended to 9 p.m. After the first week we were able to eat together in the small recreation hall, although this necessitated some men having to eat with the toilets only a few yards away. Still, for most it was better than being forced to eat in our cells every day. Lights went out at 10 p.m.

     Most of the time, if the weather was dry, we spent in the small prison yard. The yard was overlooked by both C wing and D wing where the convicted prisoners were, and the first day when we entered it we were greeted by an incredible spontaneous outburst. From every cell window cigarettes, food, books, papers and encouragement showered down. That these men, whose conditions were worse than ours (though as some of them pointed out, "At least we've got a release date on our cell doors"), were so generous was, to me at least, a morale booster.
     Helicopters flew over every day, landing in Girdwood, a sordid reminder for most of us, exacerbated when they swooped low and gesticulated and mocked us.

     We were not allowed to contact lawyers for several weeks and our initial postcards out were held up for four days, presumably while SB men perused them. Later, "as a favour" we were permitted two postcards a week and eventually a 20-minute visit from relatives, with a warder sitting between us. It had been harder on relatives and wives. In most cases they had been trying without success to find out where we were being held. Some, like Mrs. Shivers of Toome, were only told where their husbands were after nine days. All had been fobbed off with bland lies by the Ministry for Home Affairs and shuttled from one authority to another. One army official evidently believed that it was a good joke to give the number of Paisley's 'Dial-a-Prayer' to relatives requesting a phone number to get permission to apply for a visit.

     On 14 September 12 of us were released. The next day the other detainees were moved to Long Kesh.