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 most successful radicalisation of the Republican Movement since the Republican Congress, and it didn’t cause a split…” – that’s how Sinn Fein Vice President Gerry Adams, the man most identified with that radicalisation , now describes the recent political changes in Sinn Fein .

The move to the political left hasn’t , it’s true, caused a split in the Provisionals but it has come very close to it : there is undoubtedly a division within the Provo ranks , and that organisation can be said now to be roughly divided between North of Ireland and South of Ireland , old and young , traditional and revolutionary , but essentially between political ‘right’ and ‘left’ .

The impetus for the move leftwards has come from a small group of Northern and especially Belfast radicals whose influence far outweights their strength . One Belfast leftist puts their numbers at no more than 30 or 40 , but it is almost entirely because the present 7-person IRA Army Council is like-minded , and are responsible for the military re-vitalisation of the IRA , that the leftists have exerted as much influence as they have . Realistically , the Provisionals have yet to move much further to the left before the radicals can say that they have successfully turned it into a socialist organisation . More so than most political organisations , the Provisionals consist of a delicate balance of differing interest groups – move them one way and the balance is upset . Most political organisations can withstand those sort of stresses and strains but less so an organisation that is also fighting a war of national liberation . The leftists have been able to tip the balance so far and even then only a little at a time…….


British Army Captain John Colin Wallace.
First it was the Maguire family – claiming they had been wrongly convicted of bombings in London on faulty forensic tests and circumstantial evidence . Then the Birmingham Six were shown to have been the victims of another miscarriage of British ‘justice’ . Now , in the most bizarre case of all , a former British Intelligence officer , who served in the North of Ireland , has claimed that he was framed for a killing he didn’t commit .
British Captain John Wallace , now serving ten years for manslaughter , claims that his conviction was part of a plan to destroy his credibility because he knew too much about covert operations in Ireland – on both sides of the border . Frank Doherty talked to Wallace and to another former British Intelligence officer , Captain Fred Holroyd , who is lobbying politicians to re-open a case which is as potentially embarrassing for the British Secret Service as the Wright case in Australia has proved to be.
From ‘MAGILL’ magazine , December 1986 .

British Army Captain John Colin Wallace claims that he was shifted from the North of Ireland to England because he was one of a team of black propaganda experts organised by the Secret Service chief in the North , Craig Smellie. According to Wallace , his title of ‘Head of Production Services’ was a meaningless cover for his real job as senior officer in the secretive ‘Information Policy Unit’ , a propaganda group run jointly by MI6 and the British Army.

” Most of the propaganda was directed against the IRA . Some of it was used on targets like Ian Paisley, Bill Craig and some Southern politicians, ” says Wallace . He claims that he leaked information to ‘The Times’ newspaper after being instructed to do so by a ‘a senior officer in [British] intelligence’ . Files and papers concerning a special unit set up at Stormont Castle to discredit politicians were dropped through the letterbox of a Queen’s University professor’s home in 1975 – ” It was me who delivered those papers, ” Wallace says , ” but I was acting on instructions from higher authority . Later , the reporter was visited at a Dublin hotel by a British Embassy official and threatened with prosecution under the Official Secrets Act if he used the information in the documents I had left with him.”

The whole affair was part of the feud which had blown up between rival British spy agencies in Ireland . ” I ended up with a civilian job in Arundel, Sussex, as Information Officer with the local council . Other members of the MI6 team in Lisburn were sent elsewhere when MI5 took over responsibility for intelligence on both sides of the Irish border . The head of the Secret Service team , Craig Smellie , was sent to Athens . He died there……. “


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.

Young women from Nationalist ghettos would be thrown into Armagh Jail , just like Brenda Murray was : Rita Bateson , from the Bone area of Belfast , arrested in November 1976 , then aged 16 : Peggy McCormack , sentenced to two years in 1978 , then aged 14 . In contrast to those teenagers , there were also women like Rose McAllister , from Ardoyne , who had done six months in prison for wearing a combat jacket in 1971 . Later , in 1976 , she spent a few months on remand which ended with her charges being dropped and , finally , in 1978 , she was sentenced to two years , which she did on the protest . She was then aged 40 and had four children . With these women a whole community was being criminalised .

Brenda Murray was on her own in the sentenced part of ‘A’ Wing for three or four weeks . Eileen Morgan , from Newry , then joined her and the two engaged in a ‘no work’ protest and , as a result , were put on 21-hour lock-up , with only one visit a month , loss of all privileges and loss of remission .

Other women were soon to follow : Roisin Rouse from Craigavon , then Mairead Farrell . By February 1977 , there were five protesting prisoners and two are still inside – Eileen Morgan and Mairead Farrell . By March 1979 , the numbers of protesting Irish republican female prisoners stood at 38…….

About 11sixtynine

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