The ‘other’ IRA , the ‘open’ IRA , was to fight the political war . They were mainly IRA men and women well known to the ‘authorities’ who would pass in to a new ‘Civil and Military Administration’ , and would be responsible for ‘policing’ the Republican communities and for pushing Sinn Fein in a ‘radical’ direction .
To the acute embarrassment of the Provisionals, that GHQ ‘think-tank’ report was captured by the Dublin Special Branch in December 1977 when the then IRA Chief of Staff,Seamus Twomey, was re-arrested . That day was an especially ‘good’ one for the Special Branch – they also arrested Seamus McCollum, the man at the centre of an ambitious scheme to smuggle in an arm’s consignment from the Middle East.
Earlier that month Belgian customs officials had discovered nearly six tons of Russian and French-made automatic rifles and machine pistols as well as Bren guns , explosives , mortars , rockets , rocket launchers and ammunition hidden in electrical transformers on board the MV Towerstream which had just docked from Cyprus. The ‘transformers’ were addressed to a ‘front company’ in Dublin established months earlier by Seamus McCollum . The trace back to McCollum’s Dun Laoighaire , Dublin , flat and Special Branch surveillance netted an ‘added bonus’ in the form of Seamus Twomey , who had brazenly eluded capture since his dramatic helicopter escape from Mountjoy Prison in 1973…….
ARMAGH JAIL – NO LET UP IN REPRESSION…….
Arrested on active service in April 1976 and sentenced at her ‘trial’ eight months later to 14 years imprisonment , Belfast republican Mairead Farrell became one of the first women POW’s to take part in the protest for political status . Later on she was involved in the ‘no wash’ escalation of the protest in Armagh Jail , and in December 1980 she was one of three women prisoners to join the first hunger-strike . Here , in a smuggled communication to this magazine , she writes about the strip searches , prison work and isolation that are features of the prison regime’s repression in Armagh.
From ‘IRIS’ magazine , July 1983.
” The facilities are available in Armagh Jail for the implementation of a full-time education programme – it would not need a major shift in NIO policy , but would basically be an acknowledgement of the reality that there is no work to be done in the prisons and that an alternative needs to be found.
Eventually the NIO are going to have to look at this problem realistically as they are only avoiding the inevitable . With so much monitoring of republicans , the constant strip searching and the introduction of new rules every day under the guise of ‘security’ , it seems very contradictory to me that the prison administration would even consider housing ordinary prisoners in the same area as us .
They formally deny that we are in a separate category but we nonetheless merit special treatment as ‘High Security Risk’ prisoners . It is obvious that those ordinary prisoners feel as uncomfortable with republicans as we do with them – hence their decision to remain in their cells regardless of the Screws’ attempts to shift them out by coercion and threats……. ”
The Class Of ’76:(Top row L. to R.) Charlie Fagan (Arthur’s brother) , Dickie Glenholmes (Jnr) , Ciaran ‘Zack’ Smyth (served 9 years in jail) , Philip Rooney (served 8 and a half years) , Seany McVeigh (served 10 years). (Bottom row L. to R.) Eugene Gilmartin (serving life in the H-Blocks) , Arthur O Faogain.
The ghettos of Belfast and Derry are filled with stories such as this one. It is not unique. Young men and women, because of the partition of this country by the British, are killed, imprisoned and maimed.
By Artur O Faogain.
From ‘IRIS’ magazine , October 1987.
” But now it was our turn to resist and hurt , and, if everything went to plan , ‘heroes’ of those streets we would be . Things , though , never ever seem to go to plan. Even as we stood talking , events had overtaken us. The IRA had decided to extend its Christmas ceasefire. ‘It’s just to re-arm themselves…’ , were the words we often used , ‘after a couple more days the war will continue…’
But days became weeks and weeks became months . The ceasefire with the Brits became permanent . ‘Incident Centres’ opened and the indexing of complaints proliferated . Rioting was not permitted . We were told by senior republicans – ‘ If the Brits stop you , or hit you , go to the incident centres and make a statement and it’ll all be sorted .’ The Brits would have to listen . And listen they did , before sticking a boot into the face of anybody who reminded them of it .
The ceasefire had made them spectators and they revelled in it and while the IRA ceased attacking the British Army in the first months of 1975 , loyalists stepped up their own attacks . They targetted a pub , full of customers……. “