Since the 1979 Athlone Conference , the Provisionals have spent their time healing wounds . Daithi Ó Conaill was elected joint Vice President with Gerry Adams at the 1978 Ard Fheis and Ruairí Ó Brádaigh, a consummate wound healer if ever there was one , symbolically spans the gap between .
Between May and July this year (1980) leading Ard Comhairle members representing both ‘wings’ have toured the country : in a public show of unity , Ó Brádaigh , Ó Conaill , Joe Cahill, Charlie McGlade and Niall Fagan of the ‘Traditionalists’ and Gerry Adams, Foreign Affairs spokesperson Richard Behal and ‘AP/RN’ editor Danny Morrison for the ‘radicals’ (!) took pains to assure Sinn Féiners throughout Ireland that the trouble was over and that unity and peace reigned once again in the Movement .
As part of this strategy , an interview was arranged for journalist Ed Moloney to speak to a leading member of the Provisional IRA who has been authorised to speak on behalf of the IRA Army Council…….
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.
Within the British politico-military establishment , British Army General Frank Kitson pushed the view that the situation had developed to such a point that , in order to isolate the IRA , it would be necessary to take a number of immediate steps – initiate a fake peace movement (done!) , manipulate loyalist gangs and orchestrate a campaign of assassinations that would terrorise the population , and wage a massive psychological war , using the SAS and other ‘special’ units to discredit the IRA and, in the short term, to try and split them between left/right , ‘doves/hawks’ , North/South and military/political axes.
The programme was too ambitious however for the William Whitelaw regime who , apart from implementing the propaganda war and an invasion of the no-go areas to engage in control of populations , adopted a more traditional plan – direct rule , brutal repression , indiscriminate internment without trial and Bloody Sunday.
In 1972 Frank Kitson had failed to convince his superiors of the need for a co-ordinated counter-insurgency ‘offensive’ , but some of his more brutal suggestions , like the assassination campaign against Catholics , were kept in mind . And , even though on April 22nd 1972 he was returned to Britain , gradually his ideas made headway in the North , so that- to quote Roger Faligot – “From 1975 onwards , they were totally implemented and his theories reached the top circles in the British Army , research centres , lobbies and think-tanks with NATO , and the ruling classes within Europe , beginning with West Germany , where he continued his career.”
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.
Limerick Prison, a condemned building since 1948 , currently houses 100 male prisoners as opposed to only 14 women , following the transfer of small groups of male prisoners from Portlaoise Prison . Since this transfer , the women’s exercise yard has been halved , leaving only a small pathway for the women to use .
Marion Coyle’s demand to be allowed access to the yard , and her refusal to use the pathway until then , has led to her being denied any exercise at all since November 1982.
The ‘privileges’ for women in Limerick Prison are practically non-existent . Marion takes one visit of one hour’s duration each fortnight , since she feels it is too much of a burden to impose a weekly visit on her family who have to travel from Derry , and the prison authorities have denied access to visitors other than close relatives…….