Contrary to press speculation the killings and bombings in Germany were not aided by the Baader-Meinhof group or other anarchist groupings but were a short term and largely unsuccessful attempt to arouse western European interest in the war in Ireland. According to one British Army source ‘…there are no operational links between the IRA and any of these groups..’ by which was meant not only the Baader-Meinhof group but also ETA, the Bretons and the Corsicans. The IRA guns that come from those sources are few and far between .
The IRA buys its weaponry in Europe and the Middle East from conventional black market sources who also supply training : the last two years have seen the severing of an important link with the PLO -the British Army says that the Towerstream cargo at least in part came via the PLO . Now Yasser Arafat says the link has been formally ended in return for Dublin and EEC recognition of his cause . (‘1169…’ Comment : in much the same way as the Adams Provo leadership began the wind-down of the Provisional organisation in the years between 1983 and 1986 , leading to that disgraceful grouping now actually enforcing British mis-rule on this isle.)
Some mystery however surrounds the link with Libya’s Colonel Gaddafi which most people thought had ended with the deportation of the last remaining Provo contact man in early 1975 . Now there is speculation that the link might have been re-established…….
IRIS: ” What is your view of the ‘normalisation’ process ? Did the hunger-strike spell the end of it , or is it still ongoing ? ”
IRA: ” It’s on-going . ‘Normalisation’ was a major problem in 1977 , 1978 and 1979 , although the IRA’s efforts and operations etc blocked it to a large extent. The hunger-strike had a big effect in causing people to start looking again at the whole process of British involvement . So, while it is an ongoing process , the IRA too is involved in an ongoing process of defeating it.”
THE UNDAUNTED WOMEN IN ARMAGH…….
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.
The women POW’s in Armagh Jail as a whole formed ‘A’ Company , which was eventually divided into three sections , one for each Prison Wing , and named after dead IRA Volunteers : Ethel Lynch from Derry , who had died in 1974 , Vivienne Fitzsimmons from Downpatrick , who had died in August 1973 , and Julie Dougan from Portadown , who had died in August 1972 – all three were killed on active service.
Before 10am the whole Wing had to be cleaned , bins taken out , cells tidied up and , after inspection by the IRA Officer Commanding at 10.30am , the women had a 15-minute to half-hour military drill in the exercise yard . Classes were organised , with quite a few prisoners taking official exams . Irish classes were taken by six of the women who were themselves receiving tuition from Seán O’ Boyle, an old Gaelic scholar from Armagh . One of the POW’s , Marie Dillon , taught Irish dancing .
Every Sunday the POW’s would parade in the yard in full uniform : black skirts , black sweaters and berets that the women had crocheted themselves with black wool . ” It was very important , “ ex-POW Eileen Hickey recalls , ” in keeping the women together . It kept them aware that they were soldiers . In Armagh you could feel so far removed from the Movement , from the struggle outside.” Special parades were organised on Easter Sunday and on St Patrick’s Day…….