When the IRA’s Director of Operations , Brian Keenan, was arrested in March 1979 and sent to Britain for trial on offences related to the 1974/1975 bombing campaign there , he had on him a torn half of a Libyan dinar bill ; a recognition signal that was used a lot during the 1972/1975 liaison between Colonel Gaddafi and the IRA .
Another curious piece of the Libyan jigsaw has also recently come to light : in August 1979 a shady arms dealer, called Sadiq Baahri, who operated his arms business from a legitimate export agency in Athens , disappeared while flying in his private jet on a flight from Cairo to Jeddah in Saudia Arabia . Reliable Arab sources in London now say that Baahri had incurred Gaddafi’s displeasure for refusing to arrange an IRA arms shipment . The rumour in Libya , say the sources, is that Libyan jet fighters forced his plane down at Benghazi where he now languishes in jail.
In its campaign between 1977 and 1980 , the Provisional IRA has demonstrated what for the RUC and British Army must be an irritating ability to switch tactics : among the targets chosen for one to nine month campaigns have been businessmen , so-called ‘off duty’ UDR men, a sustained attack on the British Army and prison warders and the killing of prominent people like ‘Lord’ Mountbatten. Bombing targets have switched from co-ordinated , six-county wide attacks and smaller scale attacks on commercial premises , government buildings , hotels , banks and factories to the blasting of town and village centres . The methods involved in using such devices have also varied…….
IRIS: ” Some supporters still question whether republican involvement in the electoral process will mean a de-escalation of military involvement . There is even perhaps an implication that this electoral strategy may have been forced on the Movement of necessity , because of the IRA’s inability to guarantee a high level of military struggle in the future . Could you comment on this ? “
IRA: ” No , it has nothing to do with the escalation or de-escalation of the armed struggle . The benefits in using it as another arm in the struggle are : A) the Brits don’t want republicans to use electoral involvement , which proves that as a weapon it is very effective (‘1169…’ Comment- wrong on both counts; the Brits would much rather deal with political opposition only as that is any occupiers preferred ‘theatre of war’ and , secondly, political involvement can indeed be “very effective” but only when it is not being implemented by those who are prepared to sell short on issues , as the Provisionals have been doing since they left the Movement in 1986. Also – as forecast by Republican Sinn Fein – electoral involvement quickly became [for the Provisionals] the only opposition offered , rather than it being used as “another arm in the struggle” ) and B) it’s a massive embarrassment to the Brits and the collaborationist political parties (‘1169…’ Comment – ….of whom the Provisionals can be numbered with) – highlighted by the response of all but a few honorable exceptions in Leinster House and Westminster at the time of the deaths of Kieran Doherty TD and Bobby Sands MP – and the way the British changed the law to prevent other sentenced prisoners being elected – when we involve ourselves in the ‘democratic process’ , because its always shown up to be completely undemocratic and false .
The electoral strategy wasn’t forced on us – it was a conscious decision , and to a large extent the views of people throughout the Movement were canvassed and taken into account . Republicans must never allow themselves to be isolated (‘1169…’ Comment – yet , by there very nature , institutions such as Leinster House and Stormont [and Westminster] purposely “isolate” their cosy ‘inmates’ from , not only republicanism , but from normal ‘day-to-day’ issues as well , and those cosy inmates quickly become accustomed to their newfound fat salaries and expenses and quickly become insulated from the concerns and objectives of those they once claimed to represent) , we must never depend on one facet of resistance alone (‘1169…’ Comment – too late!) . Our resistance must be military , political , cultural , social and economic , at the same time . In that way we can involve all the people in the war against the British and the collaborationist forces . Within that wide spectrum of resistance there is a place for everybody , and everybody can find his or her place . Everyone is equal in the struggle no matter what job they are doing : selling papers , collecting for the prisoners , picketing , leafletting , carrying out an operation . But , at the same time , armed struggle is the first facet of our resistance and always will be till the British are removed from Ireland .” (‘1169…’ Comment – from the Provos support for armed struggle to this today: “I have met senior PSNI officers in my constituency, and my party (PSF) has also met them regarding ongoing activity……the PSNI must be allowed to do its job….” [from here] : the first statement was made in 1982 when the Adams faction was shaping-up to take control of the Movement , the second [linked] statement was made by the Adams faction after they had not only secured control of the Provisional grouping but had actually turned it from a revolutionary organisation into a parliamentary constitutional entity , with all the financial ‘rewards’ that accompany such a transformation.)
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 political prisoners organised debates on controversial issues – Teresa Holland stated re this issue : “We discussed how we thought the struggle was going , how we saw things developing in the long term . I remember a heated discussion on the 1975 truce and ‘UDI’(Unilateral Declaration of Independence). The women were unanimous on rejecting any idea of an ‘independent’ Six Counties . Another debate was on young people , delinquency , joy-riding.”
While the women were on the whole very politicised , women’s issues however were rarely , if ever, discussed . ” We never saw ourselves as different from the men in Long Kesh ” is a common remark . Around 1973/1974 many men had been arrested and a lot of responsibilities had fallen to the women on the outside . The release of hundreds of male POW’s later in 1975 would reverse the trend somewhat .
Medical care in Armagh Jail was primitive and still is . Doctor Cole – or ‘Doctor Death’ or ‘The Pill Pusher’ as he is referred to by the women – and his aides were quick to dish out pills ; Valium , Panadol and Distalgesics (DG’s) mostly , which are now taken off the market because of their addictive effect . Many women who had dental care while in that prison developed abcesses but luckly three of the POW’s were nurses and were able to advise their comrades on the type of medication they were given . Nonetheless , at least four women prisoners developed Anorexia Nervosa and other women who came in suffering from bad injuries like gunshot wounds or severe burns were not properly looked after by the prison authorities…….