Irish Political Prisoners
and Post Hunger-Strike Resistance to Criminalisation|
By Declan Moen
The British Criminology Conference: Selected Proceedings. Volume 3. Papers from the British Society of Criminology Conference, Liverpool, July 1999. This volume published June 2000. Editors: George Mair and Roger Tarling. ISSN 1464-4088. See end of file for copyright and other information.
Political prisoners in the North of Ireland have a well-documented capacity to influence events inside and outside of prison. From the widespread opposition to internment (1971) to the hunger-strikes of 1980-81 and the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, political prisoners have remained central to broader political and social developments in society.
This paper contextualises the British Government's attempted criminalisation of political prisoners in the North of Ireland from 1976 until the signing of the Good Friday Agreement. The historical material presented demonstrates the typically fractious relationship between imprisoned Irish insurgents and the British state, a relationship characterised by a degree of fluidity in terms of state recognition of their political motivation. The contemporary analysis describes the politicisation of Irish penality through the introduction of internment and the achievement of Special Category Status. State criminalisation from 1976 onwards attempted to reverse prisoner gains, prompting a prolonged struggle between the British state and republican prisoners, culminating in the hunger-strikes of 1980-81.
The ending of the 1981 hunger-strike involved a transitional phase of prison based struggle and resistance, and a shift in context from all-or-nothing protest to a longer-term strategy of incremental advance. Political prisoners demonstrated a capacity to achieve political gains on the basis of their political characteristics, their particular strategies of resistance and their ability to socialise prison guards and politicise the prison environment. Most of this activity occurred in contradiction of official and public texts throughout the period in question. The early release of political prisoners as a consequence of the Good Friday Agreement re-aligned public acknowledgement of their political motivation with the private reality of the H-Block situation.
The Contested Idea of the Political Prisoner
Political prisoners occupy a special place in the
British psyche. Colditz was described as
the stronghold where Allied prisoners
of war...were incarcerated. it was the cage in which were shut the
birds that longed to be free, that beat their wings unceasingly
against the bars. In such conditions birds do not usually survive
long. It says something for the resilient spirit of man that those
Allied prisoners...who were sent to Colditz mostly survived the
ordeal. They were men of action...they were prisoners expiating no
other crime than the unselfish service of their country (Reid,
British POWs in Japan and elsewhere are similarly
feted (for example, Lucas, 1975). In the early part of this century
the suffragettes also agitated successfully for political
recognition. As a result of their determined protests they were
granted certain privileges in 1910, awarded to 'those whose offences
did not involve personal dishonour' (Walker, 1984:193). These
privileges related to personal clothing, the absence of prison work
and additional exercise, visits and letters, and survived in Prison Rules until 1972
when this 'discrete recognition of political status' was abolished as
a consequence of the emerging Irish difficulties (Walker, 1984:194).
In Irish circumstances, what constitutes a
political prisoner has become highly contested. The British
administration in Ireland has consistently denied a political motive
to those involved in the use of political violence in the long
standing conflict over sovereignty in Ireland initially and, more
recently, in the North of Ireland.
Irish republican prisoners have made organised
political demands on the orthodox prison system since the middle of
the 19th century, Clarke describing 'the indignities, brutalities and
torture which British prison officials have devised especially for
Irish political prisoners' (Clarke, 1997:13). Political recognition
was consistently denied to individual prisoners during this period,
and they appear to have been singled out for special treatment
because of their unwillingness to conform to 'normal' prison
...they were never sure of getting a
letter or a visit at the due time; these could be stopped for the
slightest misdemeanour such as trying to talk to one another or to
any other prisoner (Clarke, 1997:13).
Irish prisoners were first accorded large scale
POW status in Frongoch in North Wales, immediately following the 1916
Easter Rising. O Mahony outlined how...
Captivity was just another chapter in
a continuous struggle for freedom. In this manner at Frongach were
laid out the foundations for the policy of organisation and
resistance in jails and internment camps which formed the basis of
all subsequent prison activity in the years to follow (O Mahony,
Similarly, MacStiofain wrote in the 1950s,
we found officers who recognised a
difference between criminal and political prisoners, no matter what
English law said. They understood we were in prison because of
principles...in the Republican movement, a political prisoner did not
just vanish into jail to be forgotten. The jails and camps
themselves were an important sector of the revolutionary front
(MacStiofain, 1974:66, 73).
Contemporary Re-Affirmation of Political Status
Political prisoners were again detained in the mid
to late sixties - the outset of the current war situation. They were initially placed in Crumlin
Road prison and an attempt was made to incarcerate them as 'ordinary'
prisoners. Figures compiled by Rolston and Tomlinson (1986) show
that the extent and the structure of the existing (sentenced) prison
population changed beyond recognition from 1969 onwards. Long term
prisoners began to make up a large proportion of the prison
population, and most of them (in the post 1972 definition) were
convicted of scheduled offences - those which involved the use of
political violence or motive
(1986:165-166). It is entirely beyond dispute that the prison
situation was reshaped as a consequence of the growing political
crisis in the North. Numbers increased, new prison stock had to be
arranged and new prison employees had to be recruited. Crawford
remarks that, from the outset, these prisoners...
...did not emerge in a social vacuum,
motivated by self-gain or self-gratification. They emerged from
threatened, oppressed, fearful and angry communities with implicit
mandates to act on their behalf, in circumstances of conflict
The British administration reacted to the
political situation by introducing internment without trial on August
9 1971. It was used solely against the nationalist community in the
early stages and provides a suitable example of the potential link
between political prisoners and broader community activity. It was
widely regarded as a disaster for the British. In the words of
The nationalist people simply rose up
in outright defiance of the British army. A widespread civil
disobedience campaign was initiated, fully supported and endorsed by
the Republican leadership, including the withholding of all rent and
rates. Enormous weight swung behind the IRA (MacStiofain, 1974:187).
Individuals were held without due process, without
an opportunity to respond to accusations and in the absence of any
formal judicial 'protection'. Neither were internees subject to
normal prison rules, there was no obligation to work and no attempt
was made to impose an overtly disciplinary regime on the individual
In total, the conditions under which
internees were imprisoned approximated a World War II prisoner-of-war
camp (Crawford, 1999:25).
An obvious anomaly arose as increasing numbers of
'sentenced' prisoners entered the existing formal prison system and
were placed in Crumlin Road prison. These sentenced individuals soon
began agitation for political status on the same basis as that which
existed for internees in Long Kesh. In early May 1972 a
hunger-strike was initiated. Five prisoners refused food, followed
by another five on a weekly basis.
In mid June the leadership of the Social Democratic and Labour Party
(SDLP) established a tentative contact between William Whitelaw, then
British Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, and the IRA. A
meeting was arranged to discuss the possibility of a ceasefire. The
IRA imposed several conditions, the first of which was that political
status was granted to the protesting prisoners in Crumlin Road jail.
The terms were accepted in their entirety, much to the amazement of
the IRA leadership (MacStiofain, 1974).
Special category status was granted to all
convicted prisoners, republican and loyalist, on condition that they
were sentenced to more than nine months and were considered
acceptable to the leadership of the group they claimed allegiance to.
They received the same concessions as their interned colleagues in
the cages, including the right to wear their own clothes, free
association and an absence of an obligation to engage in prison work.
All political prisoners now shared a similar regime and recognised a
common command structure.
The decision to allow special category
status resolved the anomaly of
having political internees and sentenced prisoners in two separate
prison systems. It also solved the immediate problem of overcrowding
and poor conditions in Crumlin Road prison and it eased tension in
the community as the leader of the hunger-strike, Billy McKee, neared
death. The cost to the British government was the political
recognition afforded to the IRA on the outside as they moved towards
formal negotiations, and the recognition of the political status of
all combatants imprisoned as a consequence of the war. Unionists
lamented the perceived abandonment of 'long standing British penal
practices' when the introduction of special category status meant that
those who yesterday were aware of the
full consequences of conviction on more serious charges, today know
that they face a far less exacting punishment if their charges were
politically motivated (Irish News 22 June 1972).
The deterioration in the political situation from
late 1974 onwards preceded a deterioration in the prison situation.
In January 1975 the government appointed Gardiner Commission
published its findings, having been tasked
to consider what provisions and
powers, consistent to the maximum extent practicable in the
circumstances with the preservation of civil liberties and human
rights, are required to deal with terrorism and subversion in
Northern Ireland (Gardiner, 1975:1).
It proposed the phasing out of internment when
circumstances permitted, the ending of special category status for
sentenced prisoners, the
construction of a new prison and a review of rates of pay to attract
more prison service recruits. This represented a shift away from
military primacy (with emphasis on counter insurgency, a de
facto recognition of political motives, internment, negotiations
with dissidents and a short term focus) to one based on a long term
strategic emphasis on the rule of law and the use of judicial
In December 1975 the Labour government announced
that any individual arrested after March 1 1976, regardless of the
nature of the activity, or the claimed motivation, was to be treated
as a common criminal. These prisoners would have to wear a uniform,
do prison work and integrate with one another - conforming to a more
traditional understanding of what constitutes a penal regime.
By openly targeting those prisoners who most
clearly epitomised the political nature of the conflict in the North,
the British government facilitated a change in how the conflict was
publicly presented and understood in the long term.
Suspected terrorists could be
arrested, detained, questioned, tried and sentenced by what appeared
to be, and was certainly loudly proclaimed to be, due process of law
In this broader, social sense, criminalisation
attempted to delegitimise the political motivation of anti-state
activists and determined to create a moral distance between the state
and other protagonists in the conflict. A situation which was
recognised as 'political' prior to March 1976 became 'criminal'
through legislative and political means despite the fact that the
individual and collective characteristics of the prisoners concerned
remained exactly the same. By emphasising the 'violent' and
'criminal' aspect of subversive activities, and by disregarding the
significance of political motivation
...the public (was) coaxed into taking
a perception of the terrorists which corresponds to that of the state
- in other words, the terrorists are viewed simply as criminals, so
their treatment as such is acceptable (Walker, 1984:192).
Pre Hunger-Strike Resistance to Criminalisation
The basic premise of Irish political prisoners has
always been that they possess characteristics not ordinarily found in
the typical prisoner population. Some of these can be identified in
the foregoing discussion, including the historical continuity of
prison struggle, the existence of strong family and community support
and a collective allegiance to a common discipline and leadership.
There are few examples of attempts to document the nature and
significance of these characteristics (see Campbell et al, 1994;
Crawford, 1999; McKeown, 1998; Moen, 1998; Rolston and Tomlinson,
1988). Participants in previous research carried out by the
author identified particular
attributes which, they determined, distinguished them from more
typical prisoner populations (Moen, 1998). These attributes included
political motivation prior to imprisonment, or the absence of
criminal motivation; an awareness of appropriate political behaviour
in prison based on historical and family based precedent; camaraderie
and an identity with a community of republican prisoners; ongoing
support and political activity on release and an absence of shame and
In the prison context, criminalisation can
therefore be understood as an attempt to systematically undermine the
very characteristics that determined a political motive and ethos.
From a psychological perspective Crawford also described the pre
criminalisation regime as humanitarian as it 'minimised the
institutionalising and dehumanising impact of conventional prison'
(Crawford, 1979:49). The prison authorities tried to undermine the
existing sense of community by enforcing a policy of
individualisation, epitomised by the attempted use of prison numbers
and a subservient mode of interaction with prison guards. Group
allegiance was not recognised and leadership structures were either
ignored or dispersed. A republican prisoner from this period stated
(then) the top screw says, 'This is
the set up. There's no IRA in here. There's no organisation in
here. Each one of youse is an individual. You'll address me from
here on in as Sir' (Feldman, 1991:153).
Criminalisation also attempted to encourage the
development of shame or guilt by creating the criminal (or
super-criminal) tag of 'terrorist'. Prisoner dignity and
self-respect was undermined by efforts to impose criminal uniforms
and practices like prison work on politically motivated individuals.
Contact with family and the outside community was made contingent on
the acceptance of these restrictions. All positive aspects of the
political prisoner regime were delegitimised, undermined and
The first sentenced republican prisoner to reach
the H-Blocks in September 1976 refused to wear a prison uniform.
Alternative clothing was not provided so he wrapped himself in the
only available covering, a prison blanket. By May 1977 almost 400
republican prisoners had followed him 'on the blanket'.
In the H-Blocks, you go into reception
and you would say straight away I'm a political prisoner and I refuse
to wear a prison uniform and I refuse to engage in prison work.
They'd have all the clothes ripped off you and that was the last you
saw of your clothes (ex political prisoner in Feldman, 1991:168).
Refusing to wear a prison uniform symbolised the
total rejection of the criminalisation project which also aimed to
subordinate the prisoner to the prison guards, prison nomenclature
and prison work. It also resulted in the physical separation of
conforming and protesting prisoners. This physical separation was
the beginning of a noticeable bond developing between protesting
prisoners, something which played a significant role in the duration
and long-term outcome of the protest.
The government and prison authorities responded to
the protesting prisoners in a co-ordinated fashion by depriving them
of ancilliary privileges like visits, exercise and association out of
the cell. Protesting prisoners also lost remission, effectively
doubling their sentence. There
are suggestions that the inexorable escalation of the protest was
deliberately initiated by the authorities.
The instructions to break the
prisoners came from the highest levels of government because the
policy was...to make them 'conforming prisoners'...it was seen as a
transitory step towards normalization, the acceptance of the prison
uniforms and of prison rules in their entirety (ex Probation officer,
in Feldman, 1991:191-192).
Prison guards were given unprecedented power in
their attempt to 'break' the protest. A former prison guard who
worked in the protesting blocks stated that 'the officers ran the
prison and the officers were above the law' (in Crawford, 1999:167).
Other former guards spoke of the systematic beating of prisoners,
internal body searches, of throwing scalding water over prisoners, of
hosings with cold water in winter, the prevention of visits and of
the deliberate targeting and abuse of young prisoners (Crawford, 1999). Brutality had an
obvious long term impact on relationships in prison in later years
and forms an important part of the subsequent discussion on protest
in the post hunger-strike days.
As the situation escalated, physical conditions
became unimaginable, and were famously described by Cardinal O' Fiach
as the closest he had seen to the 'sewer pipes of the slums of
Calcutta' (Adams, 1986:74). These physical circumstances added to
the existing bond of comradeship engendered throughout the protest
and created the sense that it would be impossible for anybody else to
comprehend what they were going through.
People to this day don't understand
what was going on in the H-Blocks. They don't even start to
understand (ex political prisoner in Feldman, 1991:164).
Another factor utilised to reinforce unity and
common purpose was the Irish language. It performed a security role
in that guards were unable to comprehend it, and it reinforced a distinct cultural
Gaelic gave us a language of our own.
The jails proved when you became culturally separate it breaks the
enemy, that it builds walls they can't cross (ex political prisoner
in Feldman, 1991:212).
The collective mentality that developed as a
consequence of jail struggle completely transformed the traditional
prison hierarchy organised along military lines.
Confined to cells none of the normal
activities or procedures associated with republican prisoners up
until then could be conducted. Rank in these circumstances did not
bestow power or change the status of the one who held it. Everyone
was equal. The blanket protest was the 'Great Leveller' (McKeown,
As a stalemate emerged in the jail protest the
prisoners engaged in open and detailed debate about the appropriate
way ahead. The traditional tactic of hunger-strike was an obvious
choice given its successful application in achieving political status
in 1972. The leadership of Sinn Fein strongly advised against this
approach. They lacked the necessary national structure to develop a
co-ordinated response to the H-Block crisis and were only now
beginning to mobilise their support base around the political
realities of the 'long war' strategy. This represented the idea that
the political goals of the republican movement were not obtainable
through direct military means alone.
The prisoners eventually took the initiative to
end the stalemate by going on hunger-strike. They had consistently
viewed the criminalisation process in the prisons as an attempt to
de-legitimise the entire republican struggle.
We saw the hunger-strike as being far
more than a jail issue. We saw that the Irish struggle had come to a
stage where Sinn Fein needed a high political profile. We needed to
form a base and politicize the movement (ex political prisoner, in
Impact of the Hunger-Strike on Criminalisation
The first hunger-strike began on October 27 1980
and initially involved seven high profile prisoners in the
H-Blocks. Their statement
announcing the hunger-strike began
We, the Republican Prisoners of War in
the H-Blocks, Long Kesh, demand as a right, political recognition and
that we be accorded the status of political prisoners. We claim this
right as captured combatants in the continuing struggle for national
liberation and self-determination (Campbell et al, 1994:114).
Three female prisoners from Armagh prison joined on December 1 and a further 30 men
joined in mid December just as the initial hunger-strikers moved into
a critical phase of their fast. As one of the seven, Sean McKenna,
lapsed into a coma on December 18, a priest who had acted as
intermediary with the British, gave assurances that the protest could
be resolved to everyone's satisfaction. A 30 page document was
produced which had the potential to be an acceptable solution but
with the ending of the hunger-strike the British reneged on their
The Brits, it became clear, had no
genuine desire for a solution. Their sole concern had been to end
the hunger-strike and they had employed cynical brinkmanship to
achieve it. Fifty three days of hunger-strike and we were no further
on...almost immediately a second hunger-strike loomed on the horizon
(Campbell et al, 1994:126).
This breach of faith meant that protesting
prisoners fully expected to die in the course of the second
hunger-strike. Sands is reported to have stated, prior to beginning
his fast, that
I'm going to die, make no two ways
about it...it's not about a suit of clothes or a food parcel, I'm
dying to make sure that the struggle continues, that the struggle
lives (in Feldman, 1991:243).
Prisoners were clearly aware of the potential for
re-vitalising the entire republican struggle and of their ability to
exert considerable influence on wider society. Of huge significance
during the hunger-strike was the election of Bobby Sands as MP for
Fermanagh-South Tyrone and the
later election of Kieran Doherty and Paddy Agnew to the Dublin
parliament. These successes had a
number of significant impacts.
The most immediate impact concerned the
undermining of a central tenet of criminalisation, that 'terrorists'
had little or no support in their host communities. The New York
Times noted that the election of Doherty and Agnew had
cast doubt on the conventional wisdom,
vigorously encouraged by both governments, that the IRA has very
little general support among the general population (New York Times,
16 June 1981).
This is of huge significance in a context where
'criminalisation (was) an important conditioning factor to be applied
to the minds of the British public, and it (was) equally aimed at
channelling world opinion' (Walker, 1984:192).
A second impact concerned the strong revival of
republicanism as a political and practical philosophy, prompting the
Sunday Independent to warn that
Already government policy has provided
the IRA with its greatest influx of recruits since Bloody Sunday and
has left some sections of our youth so alienated that they no longer
pay much attention to the denunciations of violence (in Crawford,
Tolerance of and support for the IRA increased
substantially during this period. The hunger-striker's achievements
also served to accelerate Sinn Fein into electoral politics,
something which ultimately changed the nature and direction of the
entire political struggle. As Gerry Adams stated
there is now a realisation in republican circles that armed struggle on its own is inadequate and that non-armed fo
rms of political struggle are at least as important (Adams, 1986:64).
Another long term impact of resistance to
criminalisation, mediated through the hunger-strikes, was to polarise
political communities in the North to an unprecedented degree. The
New York Times commented that the hunger-strikes were 'likely to
heighten tension between Roman Catholics and Protestants in the
province' (in Mulcahy, 1995:455). The hunger-strikers were either
understood as terrorists seeking political status through blackmail
or were political prisoners seeking reasonable prison conditions to
reflect their non-criminal status.
Finally, there was an obvious human consequence to
the broad resistance strategy, in particular, those killed and
injured as a consequence of the escalating conflict around the
hunger-strike period. Attempted
criminalisation not only generated the series of reactions documented
above, it also provoked a series of riots and associated low
intensity activities in the H-Blocks, Magilligan, Crumlin Road and
Maghaberry prisons throughout the 1980s and 90s (see Coogan, 1980;
McCafferty, 1981; Beresford, 1987; MacDonald, 1991; Campbell et al,
1994 and Murray, 1998). These events had an associated impact on
Internally, resistance to criminalisation had a
similarly long term influence on prison life. It is not surprising
that those who had endured such conditions together should develop an
extraordinary bond as a consequence and it is easy to understand that
such a group, having witnessed the death of close friends and
colleagues in such a drawn out process, would be unwilling to give up
their protest. The characteristics of this bond extended to the more
broadly dispersed nature of the debate on the appropriate way
forward. The concept of leadership and the nature of the continuing
republican structure had altered beyond all recognition as a
consequence of the years spent on protest.
Much had changed in terms of the
internal politics of the camp...men were not prepared to just blindly
'follow a leader' or meekly 'obey orders'. They were going to
question what they did not agree with or what had not been fully
explained to them (McKeown, 1998:193).
This emerging egalitarianism also extended to
encouraging the re-involvement of those republicans who had left the
earlier protest and had been successfully 'neutralised' in the
conforming wings. In the changing circumstances of the H-Blocks the
emphasis was on a broad, unified strategy.
Another internal impact involved the avoidance of
a 'static', behind-the-doors protest where the administration could
control and isolate protesting prisoners held under lock and key.
This necessitated the ending of the residual protest over prison
work. A decision was taken to enter the conforming prison system
with a view to subverting it, although this was by no means
My view was ten men had just died, we
shouldn't give in, it didn't matter if there were no prospects of any
change, any concessions, you don't throw in the towel...I just had a
gut feeling it was wrong to give up the protest. I certainly wasn't
for moving (McKeown, 1998:180).
This ending of the protest had a debilitating
impact on the administration and the prison guards. Each subsequent
improvement in conditions further demoralised them and they began to
complain about being 'used' by the government to do their 'dirty
work' during the protest years, only to be forgotten about as
circumstances changed. A former prison guard commented
After the hunger strikes, the
prisoners had won...(they) had been through protests, the dirty
protest, the beatings, the boiling water, the hoses and then the
deaths. They weren't taking any more. The truth is, the prison
officers were frightened...they were scared, and their families were
scared. They suddenly caught on - they had been used and they were
regarded as expendable. When they got shot nobody gave a damn (in
A situation developed where the prisoners were
able to recreate IRA structures on every wing containing republicans.
Officers Commanding (OCs) were increasingly recognised by both guards
and the administration, despite public claims to the contrary.
At an official level the
administration claimed not to recognise OCs or anyone speaking on
behalf of other prisoners but at a practical level they had no other
choice (McKeown, 1998:184).
The final internal impact of the protest years
concerned the inevitable energy and commitment of those who had been
under 24 hour lock-up for periods of up to five years. Even in these
circumstances the traditional emphasis on education and political
debate had persevered. The prisoners emerging from protest
immediately began to augment the existing communal instinct by
engaging in political and educational activity in more favourable
As regards the feedback from the
lads...a majority of them were raring to go, to get doing something.
After years of lying behind the doors suffering and resisting they
wanted to be out there doing something, being pro-active...hitting
back at the system (McKeown, 1998:189).
These impacts collectively provide the basis for a
discussion of the actions taken by republican prisoners to resist the
residual aspects of the criminalisation policy.
Post Hunger-Strike Resistance to Criminalisation
The preceding analysis has been concerned with
outlining the historical and contemporary battle for legitimacy
between British Government policy and the resistance of Irish
republican prisoners, up to the end of the second hunger-strike.
Whilst I have focused primarily on the activities in the H-Blocks, I
have also been concerned to highlight the impact of this prison based
struggle for legitimacy on wider political struggles in society, in
particular the long standing war of attrition over the issue of
sovereignty in Ireland. I engaged in some detail on both the
historical and contemporary situation as this raises a number of
significant factors I should consider in more detail. I envision
that the forthcoming discussion can be organised around four distinct
areas: prisoner characteristics; strategies of resistance;
relationships and socialisation; and official presentations of the
The ending of the hunger-strike resulted in
ostensible defeat for the protesting prisoners in Long Kesh as the
tactic collapsed in the face of family resistance. The final paragraph of the statement
released by the prisoners affirming that the protest had ended stated:
...we reaffirm our commitment to the
achievement of the five demands by whatever means we believe
necessary and expedient. We rule nothing out. Under no
circumstances are we going to devalue the memory of our dead comrades
by submitting ourselves to a dehumanising and degrading regime
(Campbell et al, 1994:264).
Although this may have appeared as an act of
bravado, prisoners quickly demonstrated that they were far from
'defeated' as they sought to recover from such a difficult moral and
political situation where ten individuals had died without achieving
their immediate aims in the prison. An examination of political and
material factors relevant to resistance to criminalisation involves
an analysis of strategic thinking and planning on the part of
republican prisoners (see below). This will also necessitate
consideration of characteristics which allowed them to progress in
the H-Block setting.
Previous research by the author focused on
characteristics present in the republican prisoner population which
could facilitate sustained, and ultimately successful, protest (Moen,
1998). These attributes, among others, will form part of my research
approach. Those identified as relevant to this discussion include
- Experiences/motivation prior to imprisonment
"I would've been very political...very
interested in politics."
There was no indication that respondents possessed
criminal motivation or were motivated by personal gain. Emphasis was
placed on support for republican ideals and the influence of
"(The 70s) were a very intense, very threatening period."
"I always felt morally that I was right to oppose British rule"
(Moen, 1998: 21).
- Prior history and awareness of appropriate behaviour
"It was a case of when, not
if, I got involved."
Each respondent had prior experience of friends
and close family members experiencing imprisonment. They stated they
were generally aware of what was expected of them as imprisoned
republicans, without necessarily being aware of the specific
mechanics involved and in most cases they fully expected to be
arrested at some stage.
"Being a republican, I suppose it was a bit inevitable that you were
going to end up in jail" (Ibid: 21, 22).
- Camaraderie and community identity
"Knowing that others are there
is very important."
Friendship and comradeship were viewed as one of
the most positive aspects of imprisonment. Advice and support from
fellow activists in the early part of a prison sentence were of
"There are things that I've shared with other people over 16 years in
jail that I'll never live long enough to share with someone on the
outside" (Ibid: 28, 29).
- Community and family support
"If you have a family supporting you
through thick and thin, I think that helps a lot."
Families gave continuing and unwavering support,
even in circumstances where they themselves did not share the
political motivation of the respondent. They were also the main
source of support on release.
"I got my support from my family and friends" (Ibid: 28, 31).
"The single biggest thing
would've been contact with other ex-prisoners."
Whilst families generally provided material
support on release, the advice and support of prisoners and
ex-prisoners prior to and after release was seen as very significant
for successful negotiation of a potentially difficult time.
"Experience has taught me that the best counsellors for me were my
peers, people who have been in jail" (Ibid: 31).
- Absence of shame or stigma
"The fact that I never felt at any
time like caving in to the screws and handing over my identity and
responsibility for my actions is a success in itself."
As republican prisoners received high levels of
support and assistance from family members and the outside community
it follows that they felt no sense of shame on their release.
Respondents expressed pride, both in their involvement prior to
imprisonment, and in their conduct whilst in prison.
"I was proud that I was prepared to engage in something I believed
was right" (Ibid: 26, 32).
In a similar vein, from a different perspective, a
senior prison governor described how republican prisoners 'work from
an ideological base; and that 'republicans are one hundred per cent
there as an organisation and every guy will subjugate his own
personal views to accept the leadership's views and so on'
(Stevenson, 1996:96, 141).
These characteristics facilitated change in terms
of the prisoners' tactical approach to protest. The decision to
enter the 'conforming' system represented a huge shift in emphasis.
Prisoners were being asked to engage with a system they had resisted
bitterly for several years, and to engage in a more strategic,
long-term approach towards the regime. This period can be
characterised as a moving away from head to head conflict. It
involved a willingness to forego publicity (contrary to the public
presentation of a ruthless publicity machine) in order to avoid a public challenge to
the legitimacy of the prison system as 'raising the issue...would
bring us into conflict with the forces that had sat out the
hunger-strike' (McKeown, 1998:194). Confidence was placed in the
prisoner's ability to out-think the administration on the basis of
their political commitment and concentration in numbers. The prison
situation remained a battle of wills but the battlefield changed to
one more suited to the circumstances of political prisoners - a form
of guerrilla warfare shifting away from a dogmatic focus on demands
and principles to a pragmatic utilisation of whatever tactic was
Strategies of resistance in the post hunger-strike
period were based on political and material factors
relevant in the struggle to undermine criminalisation. Political
factors include particular characteristics that can be identified
from subjective accounts of the prison situation.
The above factors obviously contributed to the
material situation in the H-Blocks. The changing nature of the
prison environment over time could be characterised as one which ever
more closely resembled the classic POW situation (Reid, 1974). The
achievement of strategic objectives increased prisoner confidence and
control and enabled the further facilitation of material change.
- The consultative and collective nature of
republican strategy and the subordination of individuality to group
identity and need. This also relates to the confidence obtained from
having large numbers of like-minded people in the same environment.
- The existence of a highly disciplined and motivated political and
military structure in the prison - one which became increasingly
recognised by the prison administration.
- Evidence of cohesive and strategic thinking leading to
progressive and visible change.
- Further politicisation of prisoners through educational and
cultural activities (to build on the political motivation present
prior to imprisonment).
The ending of the formal prison protest after the
collapse of the second hunger-strike brought republicans together in
relatively large numbers for the first time since 1976. This enabled
prisoners to develop a measure of collective control over the prison
guards. The systematic socialisation of prison employees is an
important feature of this research project. The outcome of the
socialisation process is documented elsewhere (see Campbell et al,
1994, Longwell, 1998, McKeown, 1998), what is not as well known is
the extent to which it was planned and implemented in a very
considered and political manner by a co-ordinated group of prisoners.
The most brutal of guards were offered a second chance to engage in a
constructive way with the newly emerging republican wings. Those who
refused were told to work elsewhere in the prison system.Most
accepted. A concerted effort was made to lower tension in the
H-Blocks by engaging with the prison guards. This developed
accountability in that negative actions would create a negative
reaction from prisoners, and was a useful source of information about
the prison hierarchy and layout (see below).
Segregation from other prisoner types (on the
basis of political allegiance) was a key republican objective. It
was obtained relatively soon after the ending of the second
hunger-strike and involved a strategic engagement with the
'conforming' prison system in order to undermine it from within.
Former 'blanket' protesters were tasked with entering conforming
wings which also contained loyalists, republican prisoners who had
left the protest wings and ordinary criminals. Their strategy was to
force loyalist prisoners off the conforming wings as the British
government had clearly demonstrated its determination to resist the
political demands of republican prisoners throughout the
hunger-strike. Loyalists had to appear as the aggressors to allay
the suspicions of the jail administration. When loyalists smashed
their cell furniture in protest at republican intimidation, they were
moved en masse to a separate wing and were designated as
non-conforming prisoners, thus achieving segregation in a de
facto sense (see Hennessey, 1984).
Rapid socialisation of prison guards and the
physical segregation from loyalists occurred alongside a campaign to
undermine and destroy the prison workshop system. Prison work was
used tactically to intimidate loyalists, facilitate communications
between different H-Blocks, demoralise and undermine guard authority
and develop a detailed knowledge of the geography of the entire
prison (McKeown, 1998). Prison work was ended on the recommendation
of the Hennessey report in the aftermath of the mass escape from H7
in September 1983.
Escapes are an important part of the republican
prison experience. The 1983 escape was followed by several attempted
escapes which have not been made public. The prisoners devoted much
time and energy into creating the conditions which would allow for
mass escapes in a high-security prison. This invariably involved
breaking down prison guard diligence and expanding the degree of
physical freedom possible in the H-Blocks. All prisoner activity and
behaviour was subsumed to a broader collective need to remain
conscious of the possibility of escapes occurring. An attempted mass
escape failed in Easter 1997, resulting in much media comment about
the nature of the H-Block regime at the time. An individual IRA
prisoner did succeed in escaping in late 1998.
The entire 1981-1998 period can be characterised
as a continual improvement in material conditions in the jail, apart
from one limited period of retrenchment immediately following the
1983 escape. The attempt to improve living conditions was organised
on a centralised basis and involved every member of the prison
community (McKeown, 1998). Particular areas were prioritised,
including the ending of 'Red Book' status, increasing access to compassionate
parole to visit sick and dying relatives and a comprehensive
reorganisation of the Life Sentence review procedure. A comprehensive list of grievances was
presented to the prison administration in 1987. Most of the
suggested improvements were obtained by the mid 1990s, including 24
hour unlocks and the creation of Gaeltacht wings.
Relationships and Socialisation
Any consideration of the manner in which improved
conditions were achieved must involve an examination of relationships
within the prison setting and the socialisation of prison employees
by political prisoners.
I use the more positive term 'socialisation' in
place of 'conditioning' to signify that the socialisation process did
not solely rely on the physical intimidation of prison guards and
others. Conditioning is an inherently negative term. Socialisation
alludes to the conscious and deliberate way in which IRA prisoners
developed a strong political relationship with all aspects of the
prison administration. It would not have been possible to make the
political and material advances evident in the H-Block situation on
the basis of violence and intimidation alone. Prisoners worked
strategically to make themselves indispensable to the running of the
The existing research on relationships in prison
has been conducted in 'normal' prison situations in England and the
United States. Much of this work focuses on the powerlessness of the
individual prisoner and is not directly applicable to a political
prisoner situation (Sykes, 1958, Sparks et al, 1996). It can,
nonetheless, provide a suitable framework for presenting the unique
Three factors inform the official debate on
'conditioning'. The achievement of segregation from loyalist and
criminal prisoners, the utilisation of prison work to improve
awareness of the geography of the prison and the socialisation of
prison guards. These factors facilitated the mass escape of 38
republican prisoners in September 1983. The subsequent government
report by James Hennessey, the Chief Inspector of Prisons,
highlighted the extent to which prisoners had 'conditioned' prison
guards in H7, the base for the escape.
The physical security at the Maze
is...very good. They had therefore to plan on breaking down the
human contribution to security. In this they were largely
successful...they began by adopting a deliberate policy of
conditioning staff in order to reduce their alertness. This they did
by lowering the level of tension in the Block and avoiding, whenever
possible, confrontations with staff...staff-inmate relationships in
H7 improved...abuses of normal security procedure...came to be
regarded by the majority of staff in H7 as almost routine (Hennessey,
'Conditioning' is described here by Hennessey in
relatively benign terms. Guards were persuaded to turn a blind eye
by a reduction of the level of tension in the block. Longwell, a
serving governor in the H-Blocks, attempted to analyse this coercive
and corrosive influence in more detail. He outlined how
...conditioning is essentially a
skilled, orchestrated method of coercion. It is a process which does
not allow the automatic or comfortable performance of a prison
officer's function. It is a process that tests the will,
determination, courage and endurance of every prison officer that
comes into regular contact with segregated inmates (Longwell,
Longwell also described how republican prisoners
make demands about of the prison regime and refuse to act as passive
recipients of change. He presents his experience with criminal
...the encounter was very controlled
and there would be no question of the prisoner gaining the upper
hand. Some did try which resulted in them being sent back to their
cells (Longwell, 1998:9).
He described this as 'the essence of a reasonable
and fair regime' on condition that the prisoner makes a reasonable
and fair request (1998:9). In contrast, republican prisoners
grabbed a chair and sat down. They
would pull the chair up to your desk and set their elbows down
sitting face to face...it was clear he was only going to leave my
office when he was ready (1998:9).
This tactic was widely used on reluctant and
bureaucratic governors. Prisoners would deliberately clog up the
administrative system by arguing at length about matters of relevance
to political prisoners. Governors perceived as helpful and friendly,
or as efficient, regardless of their personal demeanour, did not
receive this treatment. This approach was understood by prisoners to
generate accountability within the system, it was important to know
who was blocking progress, what excuses were being offered and what
alternatives could be provided. This was organised in a systematic
fashion across the entire camp and was likely to be perceived as
intimidating and uncomfortable from a prison governor perspective.
Confrontation did, however, decrease progressively
over the 1981-1998 period and was increasingly viewed as counter
productive by republican prisoners. The site of the battle for
control within the H-Blocks shifted to organised discussions between
senior prison officials and the IRA leadership in the prison,
although the potential for violence inevitably remained. Stevenson
interviewed a series of individuals from the Northern Ireland Prison
Service and described how
over twenty-five years of agitation,
republican prisoners have earned the Prison Service's grudging
esteem. The prison administration openly considers paramilitary
prisoners political players (Stevenson, 1996:108).
and Public Presentations of the H-Blocks
Official documentation on the H-Block situation is
rarely as honest as the above comment suggests. The H-Block
situation was more subtle and fluid than is formally portrayed in
official and public discourse.
Central to all official accounts is the focus on
the potential for violence and intimidation on the part of republican
prisoners. This focus may be considered inevitable in a context of
escapes utilising weapons and other forms of violence but official
inquiries tasked with examining prevailing conditions in the H-Blocks
take a narrow view of the circumstances leading up to several
extraordinary situations, including a mass escape in 1983, a fatal
explosion in 1991, attempted
escapes in 1994 and 1997 and a
successful escape in 1998. This is evident in Hennessey (1984),
Colville (1992), Woodcock (1994), Narey (1998) and Ramsbotham (1998).
Once an incident such as an escape occurs, blame
is immediately ascribed to prisoner manipulation and intimidation.
Many (staff) have been killed and many
more have suffered personal attacks resulting in injury to
themselves, their families or their homes...certainly we believe that
the tendency for staff to turn a blind eye to activities which
threaten security is, in part, a direct consequence of terrorist
pressures (Hennessey, 1984:44).
Over many years the prisoners and the
paramilitary organisations have engaged simultaneously in the
sophisticated conditioning of staff, and in a frightening campaign of
intimidation (Narey, 1998:6)
These official interpretations would carry more
weight if they were complemented by an acknowledgement that both
prisoners and their guards possess coercive potential. It is self
evident that republican political prisoners have utilised violent
attacks in pursuit of their goals, for example, a former republican
prisoner with a long history of prison protest told the author in
interview that, in his opinion, the single most influential event in
the strategy of undermining criminalisation was the assassination of
a senior prison official in the late 1980s. Direct action of this
nature decreased from the early 1980s onwards. A former prison guard commented
The Provos differentiated between
officers - they went for the bastards, the hard men. If you'd been
decent to them, they left you alone. Nothing will ever happen to me,
I could go and drink on the Falls Road and still be ok (Crawford, 1999:171).
Although intimidation of protesting prisoners is
well documented no prison guard has ever been disciplined for such
activities, even where thousands of pounds in compensation have been
paid out to those assaulted. For example, following the 1983 mass
escape from H7, an IRA prisoner described how
We all got a hammering. They moved us
from H7 to H8. We had to run a gauntlet of screws shouting at us and
beating us. They set dogs on us and denied us clothing, food and
medical attention. I thought they were going to kill someone
It is also evident that prison employees are
rarely held accountable for the many failings of the prison system
despite these clear breaches of prison policy, and evidence of the
systematic under-utilisation of prison rules. For example, Narey
(1998) catalogued 'a general sloppiness in procedures' (p.10), 'an
erosion in procedures over time' (p.16), orders that were 'out of
date' (p.21), equipment that had 'fallen into disrepair' (p.23) and
search procedures that 'did not seem to be treated with sufficient
seriousness' (p.25). Despite these failings, which are not directly
related to prisoner influence, Narey commented that
We do not consider that the current
failings of the Maze can be put at the door of any individuals
A number of contradictions can subsequently be
developed here. There is a clear sense that when prisons are quiet
and out of the public or media spotlight that this apparent 'success'
can be attributed to administrative 'pragmatism'. Indeed, Narey
spoke of how improved prison conditions 'has reduced prisoners' sense
of grievance at the conditions of imprisonment in the Maze' (Narey,
1998:7). Administrative pragmatism, for whatever reason, precisely
involves turning a blind eye or a willingness to bend the rules. The
easiest explanation for systematic failure in the prison system, and
one which conveniently ignores the political characteristics of the
prisoners concerned, is to blame the prisoner propensity for violence
and intimidation. The Woodcock report, for example, highlighted
systematic manipulation of guards. A more complicated situation is
revealed in the comment on
the shock and surprise of prison
officers that one of the prisoners should actually shoot one of them
This does seem to indicate that prison guards
enjoyed reasonable relationships with prisoners, but the implication
of this is not discussed in the report.
Official and public accounts of the H-Blocks have
also failed to account for the changing nature of resistance in the
prison in the post hunger-strike period. As the struggle for
legitimacy changed from one based on all out conflict to one based on
incremental advance and stealth, it is perhaps not surprising that
some commentators have referred to the post hunger-strike era as
'normalised'. Crawford wrote that the end of protest meant that
...concessions were once again made to
political prisoners, including their right to personal clothing. The
prisoners were subsequently restored all the 'privileges' associated
with Special Category Status (Crawford, 1999, 15).
This statement obscures several years of intense
activity in the H-Blocks and elsewhere. Gormally et al (1993) also
highlighted what they viewed as the strategic consequences of
developing a 'normalised' prison. This involved a political decision
to recognise prisoner organisations with a view to developing
'constructive engagement' with group members (1993:58) and a 'culture
of realism' designed to minimise the potential for conflict as well
as a policy of greater transparency to demonstrate the above to the
wider public (1993:58). This implies the existence of a regime of
rapprochement and pragmatism involving mutual recognition and
legitimacy with an emphasis on genuine negotiation between the prison
administration and prisoner groups. This simply did not exist in the
post hunger-strike era. As McKeown stated, immediately after the end
of the hunger-strike
The screws did not want to adapt to
the new situation. They had fought us for years throughout the
blanket protest and were dismayed that we had won the right to wear
our own clothes...we wanted to move ahead and rapidly. The screws
wanted to stand still (McKeown, 1998:183).
It might be more useful to conceive of the prison
administration as those attempting to resist change. The prisoners
were the dynamic for change, they were the ones pushing for better
conditions, for genuine negotiations and for recognition of their
various representatives inside. For a number of years after the 1983
escape the authorities resisted granting recognition to the
republican jail leadership. Once they did so, they handed the
initiative over to the prisoners, thereafter it was republican
prisoners who dictated the agenda for change, the administration
could merely try to limit the degree and pace of change.
Rarely is the prison situation ever placed within
a social framework, indeed, Longwell (1998) goes to extraordinary
lengths to ignore the self-evident political nature of the H-Block
prisoners. He finally decides to label them as 'segregated
prisoners'. Opposition to segregation is a common theme in all of
the official accounts as it is considered to be conducive to
'paramilitary' control and intimidation. Official and public reports engage in
the pretence that the H-Blocks should not be considered to be any
different to any other prison in the 'UK'.
In this sense the clearest contradiction is
evident in the early release of political prisoners as a result of
the Belfast Agreement. Section three of the agreement deals
specifically with prisoners.
Both Governments will put in place
mechanisms to provide for an accelerated programme for the release of
prisoners, including transferred prisoners, convicted of scheduled offences (Good
Friday Agreement, 1998: 25).
Whilst in no way approximating to an amnesty in
the traditional sense, this nonetheless reflects the distinct
political motivation of what were euphemistically described as
'qualifying prisoners' (ibid, 1998:25). Despite this, the GFA also
imposed a cut off date of April 10 1998 beyond which it became
impossible to qualify for early release thereby repeating the
position of the 1975 Gardiner Report which had also designated a
similarly arbitrary date. Individuals arrested before the cut off
date are deemed political, those arrested after the date become
criminal - even if the activities are the same, the motivation is
similar and the same individuals or organisations are involved. As
Davanna has stated
...the return of 'criminalisation'...
still means the forced integration of prisoners who regard themselves
at war with each other, and the problems associated with the
implementation of this in the past are still relevant today (Davanna,
This paper has attempted to locate republican
resistance to the imposition of a criminal label in the context of a
historical and contemporary situation, demonstrating the contested
nature of the political prisoner and the fluid nature of the British
administration's attitude towards political status.
I have chosen to attempt to illuminate the post
hunger-strike situation in the H-Blocks because of the absence of
sufficient coverage in the academic or public literature. H-Block
prisoners also demonstrate characteristics not normally encountered
in prison settings, including a collective consideration of
strategies of resistance. It is also possible to contrast the
political and material circumstances of the prison with the situation
presented in official and public documents. I believe I can point to
significant contradictions in terms of an unofficial acceptance of
de facto political status for Irish republican prisoners - an
area that is linked to, and has implications for the legitimacy of
the broader political struggle for hegemony in Ireland.
1 The April 1998 agreement based on multi-party
negotiations which included provisions relating to the early release
of political prisoners.
2 This work concentrates on the prison activities
of Irish Republican Army (IRA) prisoners.
3 Special Category Status (SCS) was awarded to
sentenced political prisoners following a prolonged hunger-strike by
republicans in June 1972 in Crumlin Road Jail (Belfast).
4 I describe the prison as the H-Blocks throughout
in place of the official title of HMP Maze (which itself replaced
Long Kesh in 1976).
5 The 1981 H-Block hunger-strikers demanded these
very same privileges.
6 The first political prisoners of this period were
UVF activists arrested for the Malvern Street murder of a catholic
barman in 1966.
7 Section 31 of the NI (Emergency Provisions) Act
1978 defines 'terrorism' as 'the use of political violence for
8 A total of 20 prisoners were involved.
9 Significantly, in light of its later withdrawal,
SCS was never officially established via formal legislative
10 At the time of publication 1119 prisoners had
special category status (Feldman, 1991:151).
11 Based on a series of in depth interviews with 5
12 See Moen (1998) for a detailed review of these
13 20 loyalists also joined the protest. Blanket
prisoners were called 'streakers' by the guards.
14 Prisoners routinely received 50% remission off
a sentence for 'good behaviour'.
15 Young prisoners (YPs) were those aged under 21,
they were kept on a separate block.
16 Prison guards are overwhelmingly from a
protestant/unionist background where the Irish language is very
17 Leo Green, Brendan Hughes, Raymond McCartney,
Tom McFeely, Tommy McKearney, Sean McKenna (all IRA) and John Nixon
18 Mary Doyle, Mairead Farrell and Mairead Nugent
19 He was elected MP on April 10 1981 with 30,492
votes - 1446 votes more than his unionist opponent, Harry
20 On June 11 1981 in the constituencies of
Cavan-Monaghan and Louth respectively.
21 64 people died during the 217 day long second
hunger-strike (O'Malley, 1990:7).
22 A small number of prisoners remained on
'official' protest until late 1983.
23 The hunger-strike officially ended on October 3
24 One respondent was able to identify shame as a
factor in his imprisonment. As a teenager he had violated an IRA
army order by pleading guilty in court to a relatively minor action.
In his eyes pleading guilty acknowledged the legitimacy of state
criminalisation. His sense of shame at this action was still evident
some 20 years later. In a negative sense this violation of a social
code perhaps most closely approximates the shame and stigma felt by
criminals. This could also include such activities as breaking under
interrogation, pleading for leniency in court or advancing mitigating
circumstances to obtain a reduced sentence. More positively,
appropriate behaviour in court reinforces the strength of
cohesiveness of political prisoners and underscores their resistance
to the imposition of a criminal tag.
25 Republicans claim that this position was
greatly exaggerated - 'do you know the sum total of the famous
republican propaganda machine everyone talks about? I'm it' (Hickey,
in Mulcahy, 1995:457).
26 38 prisoners succeeded in breaching the prison
walls, 19 were re-captured almost immediately.
27 'Arnie' Averill escaped by posing as a female
participant at a Christmas party involving IRA prisoners and their
28 A category of exceptionally high risk prisoners
introduced after the 1983 escape. It involved half-hourly checks on
prisoners, restrictions in visiting arrangements and a denial of home
29 Life sentence prisoners had boycotted the
government appointed board set up to consider their suitability for
release. Significant changes were introduced after a successful
campaign initiated within the H-Blocks.
30 Irish speaking areas.
31 1 In Crumlin Road remand prison in Belfast. I
include it because the report focused on the segregated regime in the
32 An attempted escape in Whitemoor prison in
England. Again, the author of the report developed a comparison with
33 Following the intervention of Cardinal O Fiaich
in 1980 the targeting of prison guards ceased for a period.
34 The heart of republican West Belfast.
35 Many of those who remained in H7 were later
awarded compensation. No guard was ever disciplined. This had far
reaching consequences when a number of escapees successfully fought
extradition proceedings on the basis that they ran the risk of
assault if returned to the H-Blocks.
36 Sex offenders are also segregated in prison,
this in no way implies that they have access to power and influence.
On the contrary, they are one of the more vulnerable groups in prison
37 The last two reports into the H-Blocks did
acknowledge the existence of 'special' conditions (Narey, 1998,
38 A number of republican prisoners had been
repatriated from Britain following a lengthy campaign for their
transfer, they remained under the more stringent control of the
British Home Office who challenged the legality of their inclusion in
the 1998 negotiated early release scheme.
Adams, G. (1986). The Politics of Irish Freedom. Kerry:
Beresford, D. (1987). Ten Men Dead. London: Harper-Collins.
Campbell, B., McKeown, L. and O Hagan, P. (1994).
Nor Meekly Serve My Time: The H-Block Struggle 1976-1981.
Belfast: Beyond The Pale Publications.
Clarke, K. (1997). Revolutionary Woman: My Fight For
Ireland's Freedom. Dublin: The O'Brien Press.
Colville, M. (1992). The Colville Report: a Report on the
Operational Policy in Belfast Prison for the Management of
Paramilitary Prisoners from Opposing Factions. Cmnd 1860. London:
Coogan, T. P. (1980). On The Blanket: The H-Block
Story. Dublin: Ward River Press.
Crawford, C. (1979). Long Kesh: An Alternative
Perspective. Unpublished M.Sc Thesis. Cranfield Institute of
Crawford, C. (1995). Submission to the Irish Forum for
Peace and Reconciliation. (supplied to author).
Crawford, C. (1999). Defenders or Criminals? Loyalist
Prisoners and Criminalisation. Belfast: The Blackstaff Press.
Davanna, T. (1999). 'Segregation once again.' Fortnight
Magazine, June 1999, No. 379.
Feldman, A. (1991). Formations of Violence: The Narrative
of the Body and Political Terror in Northern Ireland. Chicago:
University of Chicago Press.
Gardiner, Lord (1975). Report of a Committee to Consider,
in the Context of Civil Liberties and Human Rights, Measures to Deal
With Terrorism in Northern Ireland. Cmnd 5847. London: HMSO.
Gormally, B., McEvoy, K. and Wall, D. (1993). 'Criminal
Justice in a Divided Society: Northern Ireland Prisons.' Crime and
Justice (17), pp.51-135.
Hennessey, J. (1984). The Hennessey Report: A Report of an
Inquiry by HM Chief Inspector of Prisons into the Security
Arrangements at HMP Maze. Cmnd 203. London: HMSO.
Longwell, A. (1998). The Maze Community: A Study of the
Interaction between Staff and Prisoners and the Redistribution of
Power and Control. Unpublished M.Phil. Thesis. Queen's University
Lucas, C. (1975). Prisoners of Santo Tomas. Devon:
David and Charles Publishers.
MacDonald, E. (1991). Shoot the Women First. London:
MacStiofain, S. (1974). Revolutionary in Ireland.
Farnborough: Saxon House.
McCafferty, N. (1981). The Armagh Women. Dublin: Co-op Books.
McKeown, L. (1998). Unrepentant Fenian Bastards: The Social
Construction of an Irish Republican Prisoner Community.
Unpublished D.Phil. Thesis. Queen's University, Belfast.
Moen, D. (1998). An Examination of the Effect of Imprisonment
on Irish Political Prisoners. Unpublished M.Sc Thesis.
University of Ulster Jordanstown.
Mulcahy, A. (1995). 'Claims making and the construction of
legitimacy: press coverage of the 1981 Northern Irish Hunger Strike.'
Social Problems, Vol. 42, No. 4, pp.449-467.
Murray, R. (1998). Hard Time: Armagh Gaol 1971-1986,.
Cork: Mercier Press.
Narey, M. (1998). Report of an Inquiry into the Escape of a
Prisoner from HMP Maze on 10 December 1997 and the Shooting of a
Prisoner on 27 December. Belfast: Northern Ireland Office.
O Mahony, D. (1987). Frongoch: University of
Revolution. Dublin: FDR Teoranta.
O'Malley, P. (1990). Biting at the Grave: The Irish Hunger
Strikes and the Politics of Despair. Belfast: The Blackstaff
Reid, P. R. (1974). Colditz: The Latter Days at
Colditz. London: Coronet Books.
Ramsbotham Report (1998). HM Prison The Maze (Northern
Ireland): Report of a Full Inspection, 23 March-3 April 1998.
House of Commons Paper 369. London: Home Office Publications Unit.
Rolston, B. and Tomlinson, M. (1986). 'The expansion of
European prison systems.' European Criminology. No. 7.
Published by The European Group for the Study of Deviance and Social
Rolston, B. and Tomlinson, M. (1988). 'The challenge
within: prisons and propaganda in Northern Ireland.' In: M.
Tomlinson, T. Varley and C. McCullagh (Eds.). Whose Law and Order?
Aspects of Crime and Social Control in Irish Society. Belfast:
Sociological Association of Ireland.
Sparks, R., Hay, W. and Bottoms, A. (1996). Prisons
and the Problem of Order. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Stevenson, J. (1996). We Wrecked the Place: Contemplating
an End to the Northern Irish Troubles. London: The Free Press.
Sykes, G. M. (1958). The Society of Captives: A Study of a
Maximum Security Prison. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University
Taylor, P. (1980). Beating The Terrorists? Interrogation in
Omagh, Gough and Castlereagh. London: Penguin Books.
The Belfast Agreement (1998). Belfast: HMSO.
Toolis, K. (1995). Rebel Hearts: Journey Within The IRA's
Soul. London: Picador.
Walker, C. (1984). 'Irish republican prisoners: political
detainees, prisoners of war or common criminals?' The Irish
Jurist, xix, pp.189-224.
Woodcock Report (1994). Report of the Inquiry into the
Escape of Six Prisoners from the Special Security Unit at Whitemoor
Prison, Cambridgeshire on Friday 9th September 1994. Cmnd 2741.
Declan Moen is a former IRA
prisoner in the H-Blocks in the North of Ireland (from 1989-1997) and
is currently a PhD student in the Department of Sociology and Social
Policy, The Queen's University Belfast. He also works with Coiste na
nIarchimí - an organisation which represents the interests of
Moen, D. (2000) 'Irish Political Prisoners and Post Hunger-Strike
Resistance to Criminalisation', British Criminology Conference:
Selected Proceedings. Volume 3,
Copyright this article © Declan
Copyright this volume © The British Society of Criminology 2000
[ Home ]