Fionnuala O’Connor on the struggle for the Loyalist leadership as the politicians and their paramilitary allies gear up for a strike .
From ‘MAGILL’ magazine , March 1986 .

Frank Millar , General Secretary of the Official Unionist Party , said what concerned him about that TV ‘Panorama’ programme (on the Hillsborough Treaty) were the conclusions that a ” .. national audience .. ” (sic : he meant ‘British’) might draw from it ” They might easily have concluded that the politicians were redundant or soon to be so , or worse, that the politicians were working in consort with the Ulster Clubs and other individuals featured in pursuit of a common goal and a common destination . That is not the case . “

But whatever about the goal and the destination , the politicians have been working with the Ulster Clubs ! There may be no co-ordinating ‘Ulster’ Workers’ Council , as in the Loyalist general strike of 1974 , to unite paramilitaries and politicians in daily planning as yet . Perhaps the time simply has’nt come yet …

In the meanwhile frequent meetings of leading individuals supplement the considerable dual membership of both political parties and the clubs . Frank Millar’s party’s Deputy Leader , Harold McCusker , is in constant contact with Alan Wright , a near neighbour in Portadown , where the whole ‘Clubs’ business started . The two Unionist party leaders , Ian Paisley and Millar’s boss Jim Molyneaux , have been kept informed by the Clubs every step of the way of their progress and intentions ; they were sent the Clubs’ constitution to consider as soon as it was drawn up .

DUP Deputy Leader Peter Robinson , more than any other leading politician , has kept the lines of contact open , and is said by Clubs people to be Alan Wright’s guide and hero …….

The Democratic Unionist Party would prefer a Civil War to acquiescence in a role for the Dublin Government in the affairs of the North of Ireland after the Anglo-Irish summit .
FINTAN O’TOOLE spoke to DUP activists about the depth of their opposition to the Anglo-Irish deal and their willingness to resort to violence .
From ‘MAGILL’ magazine , November 1985 .

Jim Wells (DUP) stated – ” If the (Catholic) priests can get twelve million pounds for an airport in the middle of a bog in Mayo , what can they not do to Protestants ? Many Protestants would just have to get up and leave under those circumstances , they just would’nt tolerate it . My view of the south is coloured by the experience of my relatives who refused to live in the south .

My wife’s mother was born in the Irish republic and all her folk lived in Cavan and Monaghan . And one hears the experience that they went through as Protestants in the Irish republic , and the way that they were discriminated against overtly and covertly , and the way in which for instance they found it difficult to be educated except by nuns and priests and found it difficult to get teaching jobs because they could’nt speak Irish .

Their civil liberties , in the form of birth control , divorce , that sort of thing , were controlled by a Catholic-dominated state , and many thousands of them were forced to come up here and live in Northern Ireland . (sic) When we see the way they were treated in the south , then that is enough to convince us that we don’t want to go there .

But could I say that even if the streets of Dublin were paved with gold and even if Ian Paisley were allowed to write the constitution , and if Dublin was a state (sic) flowing with milk and honey and motorways – which you don’t have , by the way – and all the paraphernalia of a western civilised society , we still would not be interested . ”

That sense of a threat to Protestant faith by the southern state goes deep in the DUP …….


Last month , BRENDAN McFARLANE was ordered by a Dutch court to be extradited back to the North to serve out a sentence of 25 years . He is appealing the decision . His companion GERARD KELLY had his plea accepted that his offences were political . BRENDAN McFARLANE has been on the run since he led thirty-seven men in an escape out of the MAZE PRISON in September 1983 . In an exclusive interview with MAGILL at Bylmerbages Prison in Amsterdam , McFARLANE talks about his life , his youth and upbringing , and his involvement with the ARMED STRUGGLE in the North .
First published in ‘MAGILL’ magazine , April 1986 .

In 1976 , the British withdrew political status from the prisoners ; in this period , the Provos announced that prison warders were now legitimate targets . One was shot dead outside Crumlin Road Prison , leading to increased tension in the prison which in turn led to disturbances .

After sentence in the middle of 1976 , Brendan McFarlane was moved to Cage 11 , Long Kesh , to serve out his sentence until the year 2001 . Life was more relaxed there than it had been in Crumlin Road , and contact with prison warders was minimal . The ‘Truce’ was over and the Provos were being jailed in increasing numbers ; among those who were serving sentences there at that time was current Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams . The Provos had lectures and discussion groups and had their own command structure . Brendan McFarlane was already very highly politicised .

And then on the last day of March 1978 , McFarlane , Pat McKeon and Larry Marley donned prison officer uniforms they had made themselves and tried to escape . Brendan McFarlane had been well-liked by the prison warders ; he was out-going and played various musical instruments . The warders had built up a relationship with him , and even though they knew how dangerous he was , they could’nt square that with the man they knew , according to those who were serving time with him .

The three prisoners made their way to the gate , intending to take a warder’s car ; they had forged passes but before they reached the gates , they discovered that the style of the passes had been changed the previous week . Seeing vans coming and going , they decided to sneak out on the blind-side of one of them . A prison warder who knew them spotted them but did’nt say anything – just let them through : they had an imitation firearm . Once outside , they were caught almost immediately …….


About 11sixtynine

A mother of three (and a Granny!) and a political activist , living in Dublin , Ireland.
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