The unease and leftward shift in Republicanism allied to the change of attitude on Federalism has led inevitably to talk of there being two identifiable wings in the Movement , one led by the spokesman for the ‘radicals’ , Gerry Adams, and the other led by Dáithí Ó Conaill.
Twice last year (1979) the tensions between the two men surfaced briefly – the first was in reaction to Gerry Adams’ fiercly socialist oration at Bodenstown and the other was at a special weekend conference of 200 Sinn Fein leaders in Athlone last October : by co-incidence , the Dublin ‘Sunday World’ ‘newspaper’ published that weekend an essentially accurate report claiming that Federalism was about to be abandoned and the Provos were about ‘to lurch to the left’ . The article also talked about the “waning influence” of Ruairí Ó Brádaigh and Dáithí Ó Conaill .
The effect of the article when it landed on breakfast tables at the Hudson’s Bay and Shamrock Lodge hotels , where the Provo delegates were staying , was to say the least traumatic . According to one source the uproar from rural delegates was such that Adams was forced to deny other reports that there were Marxists in the Provos : another source stated that there would have been a walkout had he not denied it . Needless to say leading Provisionals are not keen to talk about that Athlone conference – ” We wouldn’t want to air that sort of thing in the press” , said Dáithí Ó Conaill , ” we don’t have any fundamental differences and any we do have will be settled internally .” But according to another source , Athlone was something of a victory for the traditionalists in that Marxism is now a dirty word in the Provos…….
THE KITSON EXPERIMENT.
Review by Cathal McGivern of Roger Faligot’s 1983 book ‘Britain’s Military Strategy in Ireland : The Kitson Experiment’.
From ‘IRIS’ Magazine , 1983.
This book is a detailed survey of Britain’s military confrontation with the IRA . Roger Faligot, a well-known Breton-French journalist and author , argues that with the putting into practice of British General Frank Kitson’s theory of low intensity operations , the deployment of the SAS, M16’s dirty tricks department , and tough measures against political prisoners , the Occupied Six Counties have become a laboratory to experiment with new methods of controlling civilian populations .
Frank Kitson , who became a full general in July 1982 and commander-in-chief of the British Land Forces had served in British colonial wars in Kenya , Malaya and Cyprus before coming to Ireland . His book ‘Low Intensity Operations : Subversion , Insurgency and Counter Insurgency’ was published in 1971 , but later withdrawn from circulation . From 1970 to 1972 , Kitson was in Ireland commanding the British Army’s 39th Infantry Brigade which covered Belfast . Roger Faligot’s account of the implementation of Kitson’s theories in Ireland , which came into full operation about 1975 , makes fascinating , if chilling , reading .
Though Kitson had no sympathy for the hundreds of Irishmen thrown into prison without trial on August 9th 1971 he was a reluctant participant in internment for he knew that , carried out as it was without any real knowledge of IRA infrastructure , it would not only fail to put the IRA out of action , but would intensify support for it in the nationalist areas…….
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.
One of the women POW’s in Armagh Jail stated – ” Strip-searches are used not only to humiliate , but as a deterrent of inter-prison visits , which are the only contact we have with loved ones . We have since the introduction of the practice 15 months ago repeatedly petitioned the British ‘NIO’ to have the strip-searches regulation withdrawn on moral grounds , but the response has been in favour of prison Governor Murtagh’s decision that the measures should stand ‘in the interest of security’ – a completely invalid argument . Today , strip-searching remains a ‘standard practice’ , punishments continue , psychological maltreatment is a systematic ‘must’ . But all these we can , and we will , overcome .
The years have taught us that survival lies in the ability to mentally apply yourself to the situation . What have Murtagh and his administration to show for their efforts to subdue republican prisoners ? And while we maintain our stance , such will be the case , because the system is dependent on us in order to function fully – we can exist without it , and we will .”
Marion Coyle is another republican prisoner who has fought the system from the outside and the inside : she has now served nine years of a fifteen-year sentence imposed on her following her arrest in 1975 . It had been expected that Marion – who has suffered ill health in recent months – would , with remission , be released in January 1986 but she has now been informed that the previous one-third remission granted to women prisoners in Limerick Jail will in future be reduced to one-quarter , which is the remission rate allowed to male prisoners . She will be the main sufferer from this ‘reform’…….