THE IRA : the new IRA is younger , more radical and has seen little of life other than violence…….
By Ed Moloney.
From ‘Magill’ magazine, September 1980.

The first of the mistakes made in the ‘PIRA financial estimates’ as put forward by British Army General James Glover relates to ‘income from theft’ : since 1977 nearly £5 millions have been stolen in the 26-County State and nearly £1.5 million in the North of Ireland . According to reliable sources at least a third of the money goes in to PIRA coffers , with the rest going to the INLA , ‘freelance’ Provos , and ‘odc’s’ – ‘ordinary decent criminals’ . That would make the Provos’ income on average during that period over £650,000 per annum .

The second mistake relates to expenditure on newspapers and propaganda – according to a reliable source the Provo’s newspaper , AP/RN, which sells 34,000 copies each week and employs 12 full time staff , actually makes a profit . So the Provo’s surplus for arms purchases could be as much as £300,000 more than Glover estimated .

This would accord with some quantifiable facts about arms shipments . The Towerstream Consignment, by General Glover’s own reckoning , would have cost about £400,000 , notwithstanding the cost of arranging it . The M60’s which were in that consignment along with some 40 military Armalites stolen from the Danvers Armoury in Massachusetts in America in 1976 , would have cost about £50,000 . That’s over £450,000 on arms spending in one year…….

IRIS talks to a spokesperson authorised to speak on behalf of the Irish Republican Army.
From ‘IRIS’ magazine , July/August 1982.

IRIS : ” Garret Fitzgerald recently talked about the desirability of some form of joint border security force , and generally in recent years there seems to have been an intensification of border collaboration . To what extent is this hampering the IRA ?”

IRA : ” First of all , there is not an upsurge in collaboration , there is total integration of controls between the Free State forces and the Brits/RUC , co-ordinated searches , follow-ups , sealing roads , a direct radio link and a direct computer link-up . But because the operational IRA is self-contained within the six counties , cross-border collaboration doesn’t affect us .

For example , out of a series of reported arms dump ‘finds’ in the Free State earlier this year , only two involved quantities of IRA equipment – seven rifles in one find and an ammunition find in Emyvale in County Monaghan . The other ‘finds’ either didn’t belong to us , were of obsolete gear , or were fictitious. It’s only window-dressing by the Free State to show the Brits that they are keeping up the collaboratrive process , and to do this they are manufacturing non-existent ‘finds’.

But anyway , any increase in garda/Free State army collaboration has yet to affect an IRA active service unit in Ballymurphy or stop an operation on the Falls Road , or in Derry , Dungannon or anywhere north of the border . The only actual thing that the gardai , with the heavy increase in Task Force numbers , is involved in , is the harassment of republicans throughout the twenty-six counties . We have no doubt in the future that the garda Task Force will be used against militant trade unionists and other political activists as unemployment deepens in the twenty-six counties . ” (‘1169…’ Comment : see this article re State forces being used against political activists.)

The full story of the republican prisoners in Armagh Jail has yet to be told. It has yet to be sung , and properly described , other than as an after-thought in public speeches – “…and of course the women in Armagh..” Republicans have a right to be proud of those women who, from the Divis Flats grandmother doing six months for what an Orange judge called “riotous behaviour” to the young IRA Volunteer inside for the second time and not yet 25-years-old , have managed, whether they numbered 12 or 120 , to maintain their resistance to the most vicious prison system in Europe. The words that follow , says writer Patricia Collins , were written to encourage more of those women to come forward and tell their story , and are based on conversations with several
ex-prisoners , and on visits and letters from those women presently imprisoned. They were written in the hope of jogging the memory of all those women who wrongly think their contribution to Ireland’s future peace is not worth mentioning.

From ‘IRIS’ magazine , August 1984.

Liz McKee, then aged only 19 , was arrested in Andersonstown in West Belfast on December 29th 1972 and transferred to Armagh Jail on New Year’s Day 1973 : she had been served with a 28-day ‘Interim Custody Order’, the new euphemism for detention without trial . Internment and the ‘Special Powers Act’ were , in name at least , no more . Stormont had collapsed in March 1972 and the British direct-rulers had been quick to vote the same repressive laws in under new names .

The ‘Detention of Terrorists Order’ of November 1972 enabled the Brits to intern , and this they did wholesale . About 650 people would be interned between November 1972 and the end of 1973 , over 60 of them women . The news of the detention of Liz McKee was received with emotion : on January 7th 1973 , several hundred women marched in protest through Andersonstown and were addressed by Maire Drumm. A few weeks later Teresa Holland was to join Liz McKee , soon followed by Margaret Shannon and Anne Walsh.

At first they were put in the Remand Wing , then on to ‘A1’ Landing , along with twelve remand POW’s and about eight ‘ODC’ prisoners (‘Ordinary Decent Criminals’) . It is from ‘A1’ that , one Sunday night , March 4th 1973 , five republican women attempted to escape over the wall to freedom . As Teresa Holland put it – ” Liz McKee and I were in one cell , three remand POW’s in the next cell – Cathy Robinson , Marie Maguire and Evelyn Brady . We got hacksaws in our parcels and started on the bars . We also made ropes out of brown nylon wool . We had three cell searches that week . On Sunday night , at about midnight , we finished the bars and came out.” Having reached the sentry post the women started to climb , but the alarm was raised by a Screw who had noticed a bar gone in Teresa’s cell window . The escape attempt ended with the women being put ‘on the boards’ and sentenced to nine months . Military Police searched the cells and a fullscale riot developed . The Screws hosed the prisoners down with powerful jets of cold water…….

About 11sixtynine

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