PROSE AND CONS.
By prisoners from E1 Landing, Portlaoise Prison, 1999.
Grateful thanks to the following for their help, support, assistance and encouragement, and all those who helped with the typing and word processing over the past few months. Many thanks to Cian Sharkhin, the editor of the book, Mr Bill Donoghue, Governor, Portlaoise, Mr Seán Wynne, supervising teacher, the education unit in Portlaoise Prison and the education staff, especially Zack, Helena and Jane. Education officers Bill Carroll and Dave McDonald, Rita Kelly, writer, print unit, Arbour Hill.
First Print : November 1999, reprinted March 2000, illustrations by D O’Hare, Zack and Natasha. Photograph selection : Eamonn Kelly and Harry Melia.
FOR ALL THE HARD WORK.
For all the hard work, soul searching, enjoyment, reflection and silent pondering that went into crafting this book from all concerned. We would like to thank Sister Caoimhín for all her hard work on behalf of prisoners in this country, for her kindness and compassion. For she is truly a great woman with a big heart.
All proceeds from the sale of this book will go to Sister Caoimhín Ní Uallacháin OP, Matt Talbot Community Trust, 42 St. Laurence’s Road, Chapelizod, Dublin 20 –
“Our organisation is a non-residential drug free community founded to befriend and work in solidarity with young disadvantaged adults, mostly young men over 17 years, returning to their community from prison, addiction therapy, state/psychiatric care or struggling in the face of poverty or homelessness.
We offer education, training, work, counselling and therapy, recreation and meals to those employed with us on a CE scheme. We are also involved in prison and home visitation, a woman’s group, a family summer project and local networking and partnership.”
(END of ‘PROSE AND CONS’. Next – ‘Joker In The Pack’, from 1987.)
“We British are sometimes told we do not understand the Irish but, if this is so, the failure to understand is a two-way street. Everything on which the IRA is currently engaged suggests that it does not understand us at all.” – So wrote Peter Brooke, Secretary of State for ‘Northern Ireland’, last July in ‘The London Evening Standard’ newspaper. More august* persons such as CJ Haughey and Garret Fitzgerald have also said the same from their varying points of view. By Cliodna Cussen, from ‘Iris’ magazine, Easter 1991. (‘1169′ comment : *’August’ as in ‘ dignified and impressive’? Haughey and Fitzgerald? How so? From what point of view? Certainly not from a republican perspective, anyway…)
The English concepts of ‘doing the honourable thing’ and of ‘duty to a colony’ which were recently agonised over when making settlements about Hong Kong, have never had the moral force to stand up to economic reality. ‘Good moral reasons’ are always found for their own actions ; although British governments have a masterly grasp of the effective use of propaganda, they must sometimes wish we were not quite so gullible, so easily cowed, so trusting of the authoritative voice of English mentors.
Questioning voices on the truth of the British government line always come from independent newspapers or television in Britain, not from programme-makers or media people in Ireland. The ‘master-servant’ relationships taboos are alive and well in the Irish media.
One of the saddest facts of Irish history is the way, time and time again, the Irish ‘intelligentsia’ have allowed themselves to be pushed into a welcome acceptance of ‘Britishness’ (‘1169’ comment – lol! And lol again!) : this acceptance of colonised mental status is as true for the North as it is for the rest of Ireland. Discussion programmes on television emanating from Belfast contain constant references to ‘the mainland’, while in ‘the Republic’, the present reappearance of the colonised mentality is more insidious but none the less real. (MORE LATER).
GROWING UP IN LONG KESH…
SIN SCÉAL EILE.
By Jim McCann (Jean’s son). For Alex Crowe, RIP – “No Probablum”. Glandore Publishing, 1999.
Biographical Note : Jim McCann is a community worker from the Upper Springfield area in West Belfast. Although born in the Short Strand, he was reared in the Loney area of the Falls Road. He comes from a large family (average weight about 22 stone!). He works with Tús Nua (a support group for republican ex-prisoners in the Upper Springfield), part of the Upper Springfield Development Trust. He is also a committee member of the ‘Frank Cahill Resource Centre’, one of the founders of ‘Bunscoil an tSléibhe Dhuibh’, the local Irish language primary school and Naiscoil Bharr A’Chluanaí, one of the local Irish language nursery schools.
His first publication last year by Glandore was ‘And the Gates Flew Open : the Burning of Long Kesh’. He hopes to retire on the profits of his books. Fat chance!
The drunken boaster was caught red-handed in the pub, handcuffed to a cop, escorted onto the Liverpool boat and transported back to Ireland. He was handed over to the RUC on the dock at Belfast and, after a short visit to the Petty Sessions Court in Townhall Street in Belfast, where he was remanded in custody, he was sent to Long Kesh.
We of course had no idea as to why he was in prison – it was none of our business. Usually a new guy would just tell you over a cup of tea but this new guy wouldn’t come across with any info at all. We thought this was very selfish and told him so, but he wouldn’t say anything about his charge. The I.O. (Intelligence Officer) in Cage 10 was a mate of a mate, so we cornered him the next day : “What’s the crack with yer man?” we asked. “The new guy”, we said.
“I can’t tell you”, he said, but we knew by his face that he was bursting to tell us. “Ah go on, tell us, we’ll not say anything to anybody…” we said to him. And he told us all about the new guy – the’phone caller’ – and the phone call he made. We could scarcely believe the stupidity of the guy but there it was, and we were duty-bound not to tell anyone about it… (MORE LATER).
Thanks for reading, Sharon.