The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent
Letters from Republican Prisoners

5 Letters

Rory O'More and Martin Brogan

Letter dated 13-06-03.

Dia dhuit,

This week in the Gaol saw a lock-down from Sunday 4pm to Thursday 9am, all because the screws on Roe 2 landing decided that a tub of Flora looked ‘very suspicious.’ So the Bomb Squad was called in to examine the offending object. Finally the ‘all clear’ was given and you would think that would be that. Not on your nelly, the Security team decided to take this opportunity or excuse to keep the four landings in Roe House on lock-down so they could search the whole area and every one in it.

Special attention was given to Republican prisoners as always. Some were deprived of drinking water for two days. As we were confined to our cells, meals were given to us at the cell door. Some of the food was quite clearly tampered with - I will spare you a full description of the foreign objects - suffice to say they were not of an appetising nature. Other prisoners were refused access to the Doctor or Solicitor.

No access to the phones was given so we could not inform our families not to make the journey to the Gaol as the visits were cancelled too. To add insult to injury when the visits returned to normal on Thursday some prisoners were offered ‘boxed visits’. All refused. As I have explained in previous letters, Republican Prisoners refuse ‘boxed visits’ outright as they are associated with drugs and are used by Prison management as a tool of harassment against us and our families.

In a finale to the escapade, several Republicans were moved to different wings and houses. The security teams way of saying ‘we can do what we like with you, without explanation of reason’- a law unto themselves, you might say. Sound familiar?

Is mise,
Rory O’More,
PRO.

PS: I have been asked to pass on a ‘go raibh maith agat’ to IRPWA for all their hard work in support of Republican Prisoners. I would like to add my own voice to that sentiment. The work they do is invaluable and I would urge all to lend them any support or help they can. Buiochas!

A Chairde, A Chomradaithe,

The so-called big guns were in town during the week or as one comrade put it ‘one wolf in sheep’s clothing and a lot of lap-dog’s’. And sure enough all the local politicians ‘cap in hand’ to tip their hats to the big chief. Sure some of them had concerns about a war conference taking place at the same time as supposed peace negotiations for here. It was said, that they made their protests known. I can just picture Gerry Adams and Mark Durcan giving off to Bush, he must have been shaking in his boots.

While the Sinn Fein leadership were negotiating for another few crumbs from Blair’s table, a Republican POW was being violently assaulted in Maghaberry Gaol. The prisoner, Brendan O’Connor, who hails from Tyrone, was trying to pass an Irish News to a comrade when the screw’s lit on him and kicked and punched him. One screw in particular, was to the forefront of the attack. He is originally from England and is well connected to loyalists. He has, on several occasions been drunk on the wing, taking great pleasure in insulting both Nationalists and Republicans with his sectarian remarks. Of course, many complaints were made to the Governor about him but as usual they were just ignored. And he continues to try and recruit young Nationalists to gain information on Republicans.

Our young Republican was then further assaulted by the riot squad when they arrived to take him to the ‘Boards’. Recently the screws have upped the ante; with petty and trumped up charges being brought against Republicans in an attempt to beak out determination and resolve. Letters are being stopped, delayed or ‘lost’. Association time had been drastically cut - some days prisoners only get out for an hour and a half. Strip searches are being carried out more often and rigorously. Legal papers are being stolen out of the cell when prisoners are out for a visit. The complaint system is a shambles, some complaints are ignored or security reasons cited when it seems you might win an issue or point.

Recently a new telephone system has come into operation in the Gaol. Republican POW’s have refused to operate the system on the grounds that it breaches several European laws on Human Rights and that it is nothing more than an intelligence gathering operation for the Branch and M15. The old system operated on a phone card basis and a prisoner could ring any relative or friend without giving prior notice. Now the system has been changed a prisoner gets a PIN number and has to give a prior list of telephone numbers of who he wishes to ring. This prior notice of numbers gives the Gaol the information they need to target specific prisoners for recording of phone calls. The records of calls are stored even if you are released. Legal calls can be listened to and recorded as well which is a clear breach of client - solicitor’s privilege.

Because we cannot call relatives this creates an added burden on our families and loved ones- one they could do without especially at times of illness. But it only goes to show the depths to which the Prison will go to curtail contact with the outside world.

Is Mise,
Rory O’More.

Beannacht ar chughaibh,
A Chairde, A Chomradaithe,

“No man has the right to fix the boundary of the march of a nation” - famous words of Padraig H. Pearse were both prophetic and to serve as a warning for future Republicans to accept nothing less than full nationhood. Pearse knew the dangers of partition or setting boundaries. Even though he was executed in 1916, he could hear the rumblings of the Pro-Unionists from the early 1900’s and knew that the British Government would try to degrade our definition of The Nation from a spirited and sacred thing to a material, organic thing that can be negotiated and bargained over. That is why he warned political leaders of the future not to bind themselves or restrict future generations by treaties or contracts with the enemy, lest they put hindrance in the way of those who come behind from asserting (by whatever means necessary) the freedom of our nation.

It is in this vein that the British made sure when the Good Friday Agreement was being negotiated, the words a “United Ireland by exclusively peaceful and democratic means” were included. Their intentions were to restrict the Irish people in the methods we use to free the nation and break the connection with England. Many political leaders fell for it and signed, even Republicans. Many of my own friends at the time voted for the Agreement. Most of the people voted for it, citing peace as the main reason for doing so. Unfortunately, peace alone cannot be the reason we lay down arms or accept this Agreement. The fight is about the freedom of the Nation and until the Nation has obtained its freedom there is an obligation on all to fight for it (by whatever means necessary). Peace will be the fruit of freedom not the other way around.

The greatest trick of the British Government is to get us to govern ourselves while they still hold Executive power, which was shown by the recent cancellation of the election. Imagine the uproar in Britain, if a Prime Minister cancelled an election because they thought they would not get the result they wanted. This goes to show the contempt that Britain holds for Ireland.

No, my friends, there is no law, treaty or agreement in Heaven or Earth, that can bind a man or woman from fighting for the freedom of one’s country. Any leader, organisation or political party that tries to do so will in the word of PH Pearse “be repudiated by the next generation”. He supported this fact by pointing out that the United Irishmen repudiated Grattan, the Yong Irelanders repudiated O’Connell and the Irish Volunteers repudiated Redmond, little did he know that the list would go on as some cannot learn from mistakes. I would implore anyone who has a love of our country or who wants to guard against mistakes or untruths, traps or treaties is to read the writings of Tone, Lalor, Davis and Mitchel as they are the founding fathers of Irish Republicans, we are only students.

In the Gaol this week, Prison management have taken away some Republicans' association time and that means that some of the men only get out of their cells for just over one hour per day. This is further punishment for asserting our right to remember our dead on Easter Sunday. After further threats this week from Loyalists, one man was moved to a different landing after being threatened by two Loyalists in the exercise yard. Our man would not cower down but bravely stood his ground even though he was badly outnumbered. Despite the screws witnessing the incident from a close proximity, no attempt was made to intervene and later the same day our man was moved out of the wing. You might this was for his own safety but think again, they moved him onto a wing with more loyalists than the one he left and then moved another Republican into the cell he had vacated. In a further twist, when Republicans are let out of our cells to collect dinner or lunch at the servery, the screws make sure that all the Loyalists on the landing are let out at the same time. In the case of most Republicans there is only 1 or 2 of us on each landing and this leaves us badly outnumbered and gives the Loyalists ample to opportunity to assault and threaten Republican POW’s. We have brought this situation to Prison Managements attention but it’s like talking to a brick wall. This leads us to draw the conclusion that it is a deliberate policy of the Prison to put us in a vulnerable position at all times when we are out of our cells.

The ongoing discrimination against Nationalists and Republicans continues as regards our Sunday Mass. Other denominations are given a specific time every Sunday for their service and are allowed to mix both sentenced and remand prisoners. In the case of Sunday Mass for Catholics, two Masses take place - one for sentenced Republicans and Non-Republican remand prisoners and other for Republican remand and the rest of Non-Republican remand. The reason for this unusual and over the top operation is to keep Republican sentenced and Remand prisoners from conversing with each other. As well as this we have to wait at the front grille and gates of the block for 30 - 40 minutes each Sunday as we don’t get a specific time for the service. On occasion we have been told that Mass is postponed for a further hour or two or cancelled altogether. Before we go into the church, we have to go through body searches, numerous gates and security checks as well as filing past 5 or 6 Alsatian dogs. No other religious denomination has to go through such an ordeal or is treated in such ways. As Republicans we have carried out a series of protests against such treatment and this will continue until we are accorded out rights as Prisoners of War.

Support for Republican POW’s and out families is very much appreciated. I would like to take this opportunity on behalf of us all, to thank all who sent Easter Cards and messages of support, especially our friends in America and Scotland.
Go raibh maith agat agus tiocfaidh ar la,
Is mise, Rory O More.
PRO.

A Chairde, A chomradaithe,

While contemplating in my cell over the Easter about the recent ultimatum given by Tony Blair to the Sinn Fein leadership, a few lines of Joseph M. Plunkett’s poem ‘The New Judas’ came to mind “ Is now their claim and I refuse, I will not bargain all to lose”. Unfortunately for Republicans, Sinn Fein have ‘bargained all’ it’s just that some of their number weren’t told that in the final hours of the Crucifixion of Republicanism they had to drive the nails into their own hands. But far from the boys and girls being fooled by the Sinn Fein leadership, they allowed themselves to be fooled.

Once you start on the road of bartering all your goods sooner or later you will be left naked. The thing that has dawned on the rank and file is that if they fold their hand it cannot just be picked up again. They cannot claim to carry the mantle if their own leadership says it is over. Then they have to ask themselves the questions - For What? What did they all go to Gaol for? What did they die for? What have we suffered hardship for? I don’t think that the thirty pieces of silver that was given by the British will quench the thirst of freedom. I would ask the rank and file a different question, Are you going to accept thirty pieces of silver and all that goes with it, the guilt, the sense of betrayal. The questions are hard, there is no doubt in that. The answer is even harder but it is known to all true Republicans - “I will not bargain all to lose, I will not sell Thee!”

Further attempts by the Prison management were made over the Easter to marginalize Republicans. Any Republicans that were wearing an Easter Lily on Easter Sunday morning were not allowed out of their cell all day. This action ensured that Republicans were denied their visits and our mandatory one hour of exercise. We were also denied our right to attend Sunday Mass and to walk down the landing to receive our dinner and lunch. An attempt was made to bribe us, by offering to let us go to our visits if we removed our Lilies and many Republicans throughout the Gaol were charged under Prison rules with ‘failing to carry out a lawful order’ as we refused to remove the emblem we hold dear. Many families that had made the journey (some travelling for two hours) were bitterly disappointed especially the children who were looking forward to seeing their Daddies on Easter Sunday. None of the screws who were confronted the next morning about this blatant act of discrimination were able to answer the fact that this decision was purely sectarian, given that poppies were openly sold and worn on Remembrance Sunday by screws and loyalists alike.

In a further act of discrimination certain Republicans were targeted for ‘boxed visits’ in the following days. The Prison Management were determined to make their point and on Wednesday morning the search team raided all Republican cells. Strip searches were carried out, cells were wrecked and Easter lilies were taken along with other items. But this course of action is seen for what it is an attempt to demoralise and demonise Republican POW’s. They seem to think they can break the unbreakable. No matter what hardships we have to suffer we will never forsake our tradition or beliefs and we will assert ourselves at every given opportunity, come what may!

Is mise le dea-mhein, Rory O More, PRO.

Letter received on 15/5/03 from Maghaberry Gaol written by Martin Brogan.

Easter Greetings to family, friends, supporters and comrades. This time of year is a poignant time for Republicans everywhere as we remember our gallant dead and pay homage to their memory. We acknowledge their sacrifice and re-dedicate ourselves to the cause and struggle for a 32 County Democratic Socialist Republic.

In a blatant act of discrimination and in an attempt to prevent Republicans from remembering our dead, the Prison Management have tried to stop us from receiving and wearing Easter Lilies. Even though in the lead up to Remembrance Sunday, British Legion poppies were openly worn by screws and loyalists in the Gaol and were sold without hindrance. Its one thing to discriminate against the living but to extend that to the dead is typical of Brit mentality in its war against Republicans.

The Prison Management in a further attempt to censor and criminalize Republican’s, have recently informed us that we can no longer refer to ourselves as Political Prisoners when sending letters out of the Gaol. They seem to think that if they can stop us writing it we all might disappear, “out of sight, out of mind”, you might say. God forbid anyone ‘outside’ gets to hear there are still Political Prisoners in Gaol. Wouldn’t that mean the war is not over, the Brits haven’t left and Republicans aren’t pacified? Exactly! And this is the way it will be until Britain decides to relinquish its claim to the six counties and act’s accordingly. This doesn’t mean the setting up of a sham Parliament to rule the North in their stead. It means the unconditional withdrawal of its Power and Apparatus from our country and inevitably, until then, there will always be Political Prisoners. No amount of censorship will change that fact.

This week after Stevens Three, the usual spin and black propaganda came out in an attempt to narrow the focus to the Special Branch and Force Research Unit (FRU). People should not be duped into believing that there was a few ‘bad apples’ in the barrel. The whole barrel and the makers of the barrel are rotten.

Collusion is a policy of the British Ministry of Defence, it was used by the Brits in many wars throughout the world and one could say ‘they had it down to a fine art.’

There is no doubt, given that the Secretary of State and the Minister of Defence both sit at the cabinet table and are answerable to the Prime Minister. We all know that when it came to matters about Ireland Margaret Thatcher was very hands on, therefore don’t lose sight of the ball amidst the ‘fog of war’. Ultimate Responsibility lies at the top not at the bottom. But don’t hold your breath for a War Crime’s Court being set up in The Hague to try Thatcher or Tom King (the then Secretary of State); they will not be joining the leader of the former Yugoslavia. No one will call them leaders of terrorists or tyrants. This world is ill divided, my friends. What really sticks in my throat is that former comrades and the so called leaders of Sinn Fein were wheeling and dealing with such people in secret talks. Shame on them!




 

 

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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



 

 

All censorships exist to prevent any one from challenging current conceptions and existing institutions. All progress is initiated by challenging current conceptions, and executed by supplanting existing institutions. Consequently the first condition of progress is the removal of censorships.
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Index: Current Articles



3 July 2003

 

Other Articles From This Issue:

 

Protest at Dundonald House
Anthony McIntyre

 

Dundonald House Protest (Photos)
Carrie Twomey

 

Conditions at Maghaberry Worsen

Lorraine Corr, relative; and statements from the IRPWA

 

Letters from Republican Prisoners
Rory O'More and Martin Brogan

 

30 June 2003

 

Bad News is No News in a World Where Sinn Fein Rules
Eamon Lynch

 

A Secret History Gets Told in Galway
Anthony McIntyre

 

The Legacy of Pedro Albizu Campos and Irish Republicanism

Aoife Rivera Serrano

 

Picking Up the Pieces
Cadogan Group

 

When Science Outpaces Law

John Harrington

 

 

 

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