The bulk of Provisional supporters , especially in the rural , border areas are traditional Republicans : small farmers or country town merchants , what one Belfast member calls ‘Fianna Failers with guns’ . Their support which is reflected in the vote for the 30 or so Sinn Fein councillors is vital for the war effort , as they provide the training camps , the dumps and the safe houses . Many of them stayed with the Provisionals precisely because they thought the Officials were too leftist or Marxist .
Much the same can be said for the older veterans of the Movement : the men of the ‘forties and ‘fifties , many of whom sit on the IRA Executive , the body that acts as the repository of Republican faith and which in war time appoints the IRA Army Council . One such man , a Northerner in fact , who has spent 13 years in prison or in internment camps summed it up like this – ” I don’t like this word socialism . I wish they could find another word for it…” Others , like Billy McKee, a former Chief of Staff and Belfast Brigade Commander , have dropped out altogether . When McKee last came to Belfast in May 1979 to speak to a welcome home rally for released blanket-man Ciaran Nugent he was reportedly horrified at the number of foreign left-wing posters and pamphlets in the offices of the ‘Republican News’ newspapeer , the voice of the Northern left .
Another group whose dollars at least are vital to the Provos are the Irish-Americans and notably ‘Irish Northern Aid’, headed by veteran Irish Republican Michael Flannery. But even in the early days the Irish-Americans were a standing joke with Belfast Provos . It was common then for visiting Irish Republican speakers from Ireland to be taken by Michael Flannery for a new outfit of sober suit , tie and shiny shoes before being let loose on the Irish-American faithful…….
BLACK PROPAGANDA AND BLOODY MURDER…….
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 .
In around 1979 , British Army Captain John Colin Wallace , whilst working for the local council in Arundel , in Sussex , England , became involved in preparing a BBC ‘It’s A Knock-Out!’ TV programme which was to be screened from the seaside town of Arundel . While the show was being organised he became friendly with Jane Lewis , who worked in the council office . ” Jane and her antique-dealer husband , Jonathan , went out several times with my wife , Eileen , and I , ” says Wallace , ” Later , the police said I had been having an affair with Jane…”
On 5th August 1980 , Jonathan Lewis phoned Wallace and asked to meet him at 6.30 that evening for a chat before both couples went to a small dinner party in a local hotel , which was being held to celebrate the ending of the filming for the ‘It’s A Knock-Out!’ programme . The former British Intelligence man agreed , and drove over to pick-up Lewis in a white Austin Princess which he had on loan from the BBC while helping to make the show . The police version of what happened next is that Lewis and Wallace had an argument about the relationship between Wallace and Jane Lewis and that Wallace hit Jonathan Lewis with an expert karate chop to the face , knocking him unconscious . Wallace , say the police , then dragged Jonathan Lewis outside , put him in the boot of the Austin Princess car and drove to the hotel , where he joined the dinner party .
According to the police , Wallace then pretended to be ill , slipped away from the party at about 10.15pm and drove to the River Arun , into which he dumped the still unconscious Jonathan Lewis . Four days later , the antique dealer’s body was found downstream . He had been drowned .
Wallace’s version of what happened that night differs dramatically from that of the police : he admits that Lewis and he talked at the Wallace home , that Lewis confessed he was worried about the rocky state of his marriage and that they had one drink each – Wallace had a beer and Lewis had a gin and tonic . Then , said Wallace , he drove the antique dealer back to his car at about 7.15pm and that , he claimed , was the last he saw of him alive . At around ten that evening , Wallace left the party because he had stomach trouble ; for the police , that was a crucial piece of evidence…….
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 protesting female republican prisoners managed to pass a statement out from Armagh Jail : ” At Easter 1978 , the then prison governor , Ernest Whittington, was replaced by George Scott. Unlike Whittington , who held an indifferent attitude towards the non-conforming stance , Scott , upon his arrival, immediately introduced measures to increase the hardships republicans were experiencing . He was determined to break the backbone of republicanism in the jail – the (IRA) company structure , which was by then firmly established among the increasing number of protestors. “
In an attempt to break the protest , George Scott decided by late 1978 to move most of the protesting prisoners to ‘B’ Wing , leaving only four short-term prisoners in ‘A’ Wing – Roisin Rouse (3 years) , Roisin Black (2 years) , Rita Bateson (3 years detention) and Maureen Gibson (4 years) . They were left in ‘A’ Wing , along with common law prisoners and some loyalists , while the rest of the protesting women POW’s were moved to ‘B’ Wing along with four long-term loyalist prisoners .
However , the four POW’s in ‘A’ Wing continued the protest in spite of their isolation and , 10 months later , after two had been released, George Scott conceded defeat and moved the other two women POW’s back with their comrades in ‘B’ Wing . But the Governor and his staff were sore about having to give in , and petty vindictivness was soon back on their agenda…….