Visiting Irish Republican guest-speakers in America were instructed by NORAID never to refer to socialism , and one such guest speaker can recall discovering unopened bundles of ‘Republican News’ lying dumped in dustbins outside NORAID’s Bronx headquarters : some aspects of republicanism were always thought to be too radical for the Irish-Americans . There are traditional , conservative forces within the Provos ranged against the ‘radicals’ within the same organisation and , although there have been symbolic victories for them , notably the fusion (or takeover as some see it) of ‘Republican News’ with the Dublin-based ‘An Phoblacht’ , the real political debate has centred on the Provos 1972 policy docement , ‘Éire Nua’.
That document is identified in most people’s minds with two traditional leaders , Sinn Féin President Ruairí Ó Brádaigh and Vice President Dáithí Ó Conaill : at Sinn Féin’s last Ard Fheis held in January 1980 , but actually 1979’s Ard Fheis , that document was changed for the first time since the new policy document which was adopted ‘Éire Nua – the Social , Economic and Political Dimension’ , was more a change in emphasis than substance .
The language was more socialist than the 1972 document but some controversial clauses , especially relating to the right to land ownership , were merely changed or deleted by Sinn Féin’s ruling body , the Ard Comhairle . But what that document did do was to set in motion a series of moves which the radicals hope will turn the Provisionals leftwards . A women’s committee was set-up to devise a policy document to be debated at the next Ard Fheis – that policy will reflect the difficulties the radicals are having converting their more conservative and Catholic sisters . Women who have had abortions are not condemned but the system that forced them to is . Moral issues like contraception and divorce should , the committee decided, be left to individuals to choose…….
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 .
British spy John Colin Wallace was charged in August 1980 with the murder of Jonathan Lewis , whose body had been removed from the River Arun . The charge was reduced to manslaughter after the trial judge , Mr Justice Kilner-Brown, said it was doubtful if he knew Lewis was dead as the body slipped into the water .
Wallace proclaimed his innocence from the beginning and his ex-MI6 wife , Eileen , has always agreed with him . Wallace himself says – ” The whole thing has been a nightmare . I’m not saying that Jonathan Lewis was killed to frame me and get me put in jail , but I believe that sinister forces who wished to discredit me took advantage of the situation which arose when a friend of mine died a violent death . You have to remember that I know about a lot of skeletons in the cupboard left there by British Intelligence in Ireland . Just as they tried to smear Peter Wright, the MI5 officer whose book they are trying to suppress , and John Stalker, who got too near the truth in the North of Ireland , they seized a chance to smear me . It was successful . Few people would be prepared to believe the word of a convicted killer about anything . ” (‘1169..’ Comment : ‘alleged convicted killer’ or not , that is not the main reason why people would doubt his ‘word’ or , indeed , the ‘word’ of any Brit spy.)
After 45 hours of evidence and a four-and-a-half hour absence by the jury , Colin Wallace was found guilty of manslaughter and sent to jail for ten years in 1981 . For nearly five years he kept his belief that he had been framed under wraps . When there were changes in the top in British Intelligence he hoped against hope that he would be freed and that the nightmare would end quietly , with him being slipped from prison the way he had seen other prisoners released in Belfast on the say-so of the men who control the shadowy world in which Wallace once worked . His wife , now employed as personal assistant to the British ‘Duke of Norfolk’ – another old Intelligence hand – kept up discreet pressure to have her husband’s conviction investigated by British Secret Service bosses .
After five years , Wallace gave up hope that the British Intelligence mafia of which he had once been part would do anything for him ; in Lewes Prison one night he watched a Channel Four ‘Diverse Reports’ programme which featured Captain Fred Holroyd, a former British Military Intelligence Officer who had worked with MI6 in Lisburn , County Antrim . Wallace remembered meeting him in the British Secret Service office on the second floor of military HQ in Lisburn years before and decided to contact him , asking for help…….
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.
Charges of ‘breaches of prison discipline’ were made against the prisoners on the flimsiest excuse . Prisoners were left in their cells for hours after asking to go to the toilets . In May 1978 male Screws were used to baton-charge female remand prisoners engaged on a protest action against the removal of political status . (‘1169…’ Comment : How ironic that some of those protesting against the removal of political status would ‘evolve’ into constitutional anti-republican salaried puppets for Westminster and would themselves , in later years, remove political status from republican prisoners by calling for supprt for , and helping to implement , the 1998 ‘GFA’/Stormont Treaty! )
Such violence was an indication of things to come . Less than two years later , as tension had been slowly building up in the North’s jails , the protesting prisoners were savagely attacked by male and female Screws . February 7th 1980 marked the escalation of the protest as the Armagh women POW’s embarked on the ‘no-wash’ protest.
The prison administration’s pretext was a Wing search for the black uniforms that had been used some days earlier by the protesting prisoners for a commemoration in honour of dead IRA Volunteer ‘Dee’ Delaney. The prisoners were set upon as they were queuing up to get their dinner ; they were beaten , trailed by the hair , thrown downstairs and finally dragged in front of prison Governor George Scott who punished all of them by putting them on complete lock-up – this attitude left the women prisoners with no alternative other than to call a complete ‘no-wash’ protest : all 32 women in that Wing were in agreement with that course of action . The ‘no-wash’ protest lasted 13 months , during which more attention was focused on Armagh Jail than at any other time during the decade . But the cost to the prisoners was high…….