Doco on The Maze prison

Danielle Ni Dhighe danielle at irsm.org
Mon Sep 2 20:28:21 MDT 2002


At 03:02 PM 9/2/2002, Philip Ferguson wrote:
 >Critics also include Bobby Sands' sister Marcella who
 >leads the 32-County Sovereignty Movement

Actually, it's Bobby's other sister, Bernadette.  There was a recent
reorganisation of the 32CSM, so I'm not sure what her exact role in the
organisation is now.

 >One of the criticisms I'd have of the documentary was
 >that no members of the INLA/IRSP from the H-Blocks were
 >interviewed.

That was my main criticism of the documentary, as well.  Not just lack of
interviews, but a seeming attempt to write the INLA out of the history of
the Maze altogether.

The only time they mentioned the INLA was during the interview with the
sister of INLA hunger striker Mickey Devine.  I was shocked that they even
included her.  It gave the impression that Mickey was the only INLA member
involved in either of the hunger strikes (1980 and 1981), ignoring the
contributions of John Nixon or Patsy O'Hara, among others.

The documentary managed to mention the assassination of Thatcher's
associate Airey Neave, as well as the assassination of Loyalist leader
Billy Wright, without mentioning it was the INLA which was responsible for
both.

 >series of internal rifts that resulted in internecine war
 >within the organisation, as factions opened up on each other.

I would disagree somewhat with that.  It wasn't an internal conflict as
much as it was a conflict between the INLA and the IPLO, the latter being
comprised of people which had resigned or been forced out of the INLA as
many as three years earlier.  However, I think you're correct about what
contributed to the conflict, namely the assassinations of Costello, Daly,
Bunting, et al., as well as the damage done by the supergrass (paid
informers) trials.

 >The other chief founder of the IRSP was Bernadette, but she
 >left early on as she disagreed with the decision to set up
 >an armed wing (or that it was done behind her back, anyway,
 >which was rather unfortunate.)

There's an amusing story I heard recently about that.  At the last IRSP
leadership meeting she attended, she asked those who were also in the INLA
to please stand.  Everyone in the room except for her stood up.

My understanding is that her main criticism was that the INLA was the
dominant wing of the movement of the time.  It really wasn't until the
1990s that the IRSP became the dominant wing, although the move toward that
began in 1986 with proposals put forward by INLA staff officer Thomas Power
(one of the first people to be killed by the IPLO).

On a related subject, it's interesting to hear how the petit-bourgeoisie in
Ireland have twisted the history of the struggle into one where Republicans
were nothing but criminals who masked their deeds with political
ideology.  This came up in a recent discussion with members of Fianna Fail
and the SDLP.

Danielle Ni Dhighe
Puget Sound Chapter, Irish Republican Socialist Committees of North America
danielle at irsm.org - http://www.irsm.org/irsm.html
Free Dessie O'Hare! - http://www.irsm.org/irsp/free_dessie/


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