Road to Freedom

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Road to Freedom

Post  ElPaso on Tue Jun 08, 2010 10:33 am

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Re: Road to Freedom

Post  ElPaso on Tue Jun 08, 2010 11:21 am

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Re: Road to Freedom

Post  ElPaso on Tue Jun 08, 2010 4:30 pm



'' bids! , bids! ''for my field....
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Re: Road to Freedom

Post  Green2thecore on Tue Jun 08, 2010 11:56 pm

Well played ElPaso mate, once we get Ghod on board this thread will probably be our biggest!!

It winds me up thinking about the time and effort Ghod put into the thread in that other shithole and then they banned the lad.

I used to spend hours reading all the articles and watching all the videos, it was a very educational thread.

But unlike that other hovel, we will actively encourage our Irish brethren to celebrate their culture.

UTR bhoys.
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Re: Road to Freedom

Post  niall on Wed Jun 09, 2010 2:46 am

we could possibly just repost them here
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Re: Road to Freedom

Post  clagan on Wed Jun 09, 2010 5:07 am

Seamus Costello was born in Old Connaught Avenue, Bray, County Wicklow in 1939. He attended Ravenswell National School in Bray. In 1950, at the age of eleven, he moved with his family to Roseville on the Dublin. Road in Bray. There were nine in his family, Seamus being the eldest.
His first interest in politics came when he read of the arrest of Cathal Goulding in Britain in 1953 following an arms raid on the Officers Training Corps School at Felstead in Essex. Costello subsequently "devoured" newspapers, according to his family and at the age of 15, on one of his many visits to Croke Park, he bought a copy of the United Irishman and immediately applied to join the Republican Movement. However, he was told to "come back next year". Costello did and was accepted into the ranks of the IRA and Sinn Fein.

The first Sinn Fein Cumann was started in Bray in the same year, comprised mostly from members of the Dun Laoghaire Cumann, their activity confined to 'United Irishman' sales. However, it wasn't long before it was being sold in every area in Co. Wicklow.

COMMANDED ACTIVE SERVICE UNIT


During the campaign of 1956-62 Costello, at the age of 17 commanded an active service unit in South Derry, their most publicised actions being the destruction of bridges and the burning of Magherafelt Courthouse. Those under his command described him as strict but radiating confidence. Once while resting in a safe house a grenade exploded and set off the full magazine of a Thomson machine gun. Miraculously no one was killed. Costello took the brunt of the explosion and was knocked unconscious. He received back injuries and lost half a finger and was moved back to Dublin for treatment.

He was arrested in Glencree Co. Wicklow, in 1957 and sentenced to six months in Mountjoy. On his release he was immediately interned in the Curragh for two years. Costello, as a prisoner, was described by fellow internees as quiet, rarely Joining others in playacting, preferring deep discussion and reading. He was a member of the escape committee which engineered the successful escape of Rory Brady and Daithi O'Connell amongst others. He is remembered by one internee reading Vietnamese magazines and it impressed Costello that peasants badly armed but with a deep political ideology could defeat their enemies. In later years he always referred to his days in the Curragh as ³my university days². He took part in the critical analysis of the 50¹s campaign, agreeing that it had failed due to lack of popular involvement as distinct from popular support.

HELPED RE-ORGANISE REPUBLICAN MOVEMENT

On the ending of internment in 1959 Costello assisted in the re-organising of the Republican Movement or as Costello put it "the cars started flying around again".

In 1962 he took up a job as a car salesman and, indicative his drive and strong personality had little trouble in becoming salesman of the year of his firm. He successfully fought an attempt to sack him because of his political affiliations by threatening to stay outside his firm's offices everyday until he was reinstated.

BUILT A STRONG LOCAL BASE

Meanwhile he began to build a strong local base in Co. Wicklow. He maintained that Republicans should build a strong home base and that these could then be linked up together at a future date. He also became full time political organiser for Wicklow at this period and developed a strong link with every conceivable organisation in Wicklow that dealt with the interests of the working class. He managed to involve the Bray Trades Council in the 1966 Easter Commemoration and helped found a strong Tenants Association in Bray. He also became involved with the Credit Union movement and farmers' organisations. During this period (1964) he married a Tipperary woman Maeliosa who became active in the Republican Movement.

HISTORIC ORATION

In 1966 he gave the historic oration at the Wolfe Tone Commemoration in Bodenstown which marked the departure of the left of the Republican Movement, the result of years of discussions within the Movement ably assisted by Costello. "We believe that the large estates of absentee landlords should be acquired by compulsory acquisition and worked on a cooperative basis with the financial and technical assistance of the State... our policy is to nationalise the key industries with the eventual aim of co-operative ownership by the workers... nationalisation of all banks, insurance companies, loan and investment companies..."




But Costello always maintained not only the right to use armed force but the necessity for workers to be armed and this remained his position up to his assassination. "The lesson of history shows that in the final analysis the Robber Baron must be disestablished by the same methods that he used to enrich himself and retain his ill gotten gains, namely force of arms. To this end we must organise, train and maintain a disciplined armed force which will always be available to strike at the opportune moment" (Bodenstown 1966).

ELECTION VICTORY

He pushed for Sinn Fein to contest the local election of 1967 in selected areas and he stood with Joe Doyle in Bray. Indicative of his organisational abilities is the fact that not only were Sinn Fein the only political party to canvass every house in Bray but they won two seats on Bray Urban Council, one on Wicklow Co. Council and collected more money during the election than they had actually spent during the campaign.

At Council Meetings Costello and Doyle always put their Cumann's views in accordance with what had been decided at their meetings. A strong attempt was always made to involve the people's organisations in any controversy or local issue.

Costello headed huge deputations of local organisations to Council meetings and demanded they be heard. He demanded the public not be barred from Council meetings. So insistent was he that unsuccessful moves were made to have him removed from the Council. He became involved in all local problems; housing, road repairs, water and sewerage, access to local beaches, land speculation etc. and such national issues as ground rents, the anti-EEC campaign, anti-repression campaigns, natural resources, the national question etc.

INVOLVED THE MASSES

Meanwhile Costello and Sinn Fein continued to build their strong links with local bodies always striving to show them their own strength while getting overall republican socialist policies across.

HELPED FORM N.I.C.R.A.

Nationally, Costello had pushed hard for the establishment of the Northern Irish Civil Rights- Association -to involve the mass of. the Northern workers in the- struggle. The: beginning saw some protestant involvement but with the orange card being played, brutality, murder and open repression the campaign changed through the years to a mainly nationalist campaign for national liberation. Costello, unlike many of the other leaders in the Republican Movement, was willing to accept changing situations and adapt, rather than insist that the struggle must be confined to a pre-laid pattern irrespective of the realities and holding back the struggle for national liberation.


A PEACE-MAKER DURING SPLITS

Costello stayed with what became known as the Official Republican Movement in the split of 1969-70 which gave birth to the Provisionals. It was not that he disagreed with the struggle for national liberation and a British withdrawal but that he saw it as a struggle that must take place side by side with the class struggle in the entire country, something the Provos were not to even admit until 1977. Even at this stage Costello showed his willingness to do all in his power to unite the Republican Movement and was in correspondence with Dick Roche and Sean Cronin who were acting as intermediaries.

COSTELLO FORMS IRSP

The change in policy in the Republican Movement from 1965 had seen the movement's involvement throughout the 32 counties in popular struggles, such as housing, ground rents, fisheries, industrial disputes etc. Military actions had been taken in some cases: against foreign (mainly German) land owners in the midlands, against a lobster boat the Mary Catherine ("to protect the Irish shellfishing industry"), against buses carrying scab workers in Shannon, against a mine in support of strikers, against land speculators, rackman landlords etc. These actions were not meant to be a substitute for involvement in the national question but part of the same struggle.


The Officials, however began to abandon such actions in the South and eventually in the North with the ceasefire of 1972. Costello maintained before his assassination that he should have broken away at this stage and not waited until 1974. The two years in question were taken up with Costello fighting a rearguard action to have accepted policy implemented while a section of the leadership implemented their own policies, oblivious to Ard Fheis wishes. Disillusionment set in in the rank and file with many dropping out while a witchhunt began of all dissidents, orchestrated by this clique in the leadership. Eventually Costello was charged with irregularities at the 1973 Ard Fheis and tried by Sinn Fein. He was found not guilty. However the Official IRA tried him on similar charges, with the exact same evidence (ensuring Costello's witnesses didn't turn up) and found him guilty. They dismissed him "with ignomy". Meanwhile Sinn Fein suspended him, despite their having found him not guilty. He was refused permission to stand in the local election of 1974. Costello knew he was finished with the Officials and stood as an Independent Sinn Fein Candidate as he began to organise the setting up of a new party that would entwine the class question and national question as one struggle. He topped the polls for Wicklow County Council and Bray Urban Council where he was immensely popular, being a member of the Wicklow Agricultural Committee and President of Brays Trade Council. The leadership of the Officials were dismayed by victory. He was nevertheless dismissed ("general unsuitability") from Sinn Fein at the Ard Fheis of 1974, memorable for its undemocratic procedures (delegates refused entry at the door because they supported Costello etc.).

In December 1974 Costello along with other disillusioned republicans and socialists, many with years of involvement in the Republican Movement at leadership level and with a deep involvement at local level formed a new political party. There immediately followed mass resignations from the Officials from all over the country, North and South. Entire Cumainn came over. And so was born the Irish Republican Socialist Party named after James Connolly's party of 1896. The word 'Republican' was deliberately put first to emphasise the struggle for national liberation, a struggle that was being abandoned by most organisations claiming the title of 'socialist'.

BLOODY BAPTISM

There had existed a minority opinion in the leadership of the Officials at the time of the Provo split who felt that Provos should have been crushed. The growth of the Provos merely strengthened this opinion. The Officials decided to employ this tactic against the IRSP and picked Belfast to launch their campaign of murder, driving the IRSP into hiding: Costello, who always had a deep appreciation of the damage of feuds and the demoralisation it would cause throughout the anti-imperialist movement, sought mediation with the Officials who refused. Eventually, Michael Mullen, head of Costello's union the ITGWU, acted as mediator and the Officials called off their murder campaign, mainly due to their bad showing in the Galway bye-election and the Northern Ireland Convention election. The feud had seriously effected the growth of the IRSP and stopped most resignations from the Officials. Three IRSP members were dead and scores injured. Indeed a bloody baptism for the IRSP.

STATE CONSPIRACY AGAINST IRSP

In the 26 Counties the state was bent on destroying the IRSP culminating in the arrest of Costello along with over 40 IRSP members supporters and relatives in April 1976. Nine were severely tortured and six framed with the robbery of a train in Co. Kildare. Costello pushed the IRSP to sue the State and brought Amnesty International's first involvement in Ireland when they demanded "a full and independent inquiry" in May 1976 into the arrest of IRSP members and their ill-treatment.

Costello always maintained that there existed a state conspiracy to smash the IRSP and the IRSP has ample evidence to prove this charge.

COSTELLO'S LEADERSHIP

During Seamus Costello's leadership of the IRSP, he was attempting to building a strong republican socialist party that would entwine the national and class questions as one struggle. He sought to involve the IRSP in all the struggles of the Irish people; trade union work, housing, fisheries, the struggle for women's emancipation, the national question, the struggle of small farmers, tenants, the cultural struggle, sovereignty, the struggle for control over our natural resources and the struggle against repression etc. While the IRSP was suffering from the Official's murder campaign and state harassment it was difficulty for the IRSP to make much headway in these struggles although it was involved in all of them to some extent.

Costello always felt anti-imperialist unity was of the utmost importance and worked hard for it. He was the main person behind the Broad Front talks that took place between anti-imperialist groups throughout 1977, although they failed to form a Broad Front.

OPPOSED INDEPENDENT ULSTER

He was the only leader of national importance that totally opposed unprincipled talks with Loyalists on any agenda other than 32 County Socialist Republic and he totally rejected an Independent Ulster as a "solution" to the Irish or the Ulster question. He could speak to Dublin's unemployed, Derry's harassed population, or Wicklow's farmers and reach them all. No struggle of the working class was too insignificant for his involvement and despite his national commitments, his organisational duties as full time IRSP political organiser, he always found time to honour his commitment to his constituents in Co. Wicklow.

At the time of his assassination [Dublin, 5 Ocotober 1977] he was member of the following bodies: Wicklow County Council, County Wicklow Committee of Agriculture, General Council of Committees of Agriculture, Eastern Regional Development Organisation, National Museum Development Committee, Bray Urban District Council, Bray Branch of the Irish Transport and General Workers Union, Bray and District Trade Unions Council (of which he was president 1976-77), the Cualann Historical Society, Chairman Irish Republican Socialist Party. From the period between 1964 and 1974 he held the positions of Adj. General, Chief of Staff and Director of Operations in the Official IRA and the position of Vice-President of Official Sinn Fein.



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Re: Road to Freedom

Post  niall on Wed Jun 09, 2010 5:35 am

Unassuming and mighty man laid to rest

BY MARTIN SPAIN

The sun shone brightly on the North Armagh town of Lurgan last week as republicans from the length and breadth of the country gathered to mourn the passing and celebrate the life of a man rightly described by Gerry Adams as ``one of the most respected republicans of our time''.


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He also personifies why Irish republicanism has never been defeated. He was an example of a physical force republican who was prepared to support and exhaust other means of struggle. He saw armed struggle as a means rather than as an en
Gerry Adams

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Volunteer Joe B O'Hagan, known to all and sundry simply as JB, died on Monday 23 April in the town in which he was born almost 79 years previously and from which he and his wife Bernadette had been exiled for 25 years during the current phase of the conflict. As befitted a soldier of Óglaigh na hÉireann, a uniformed IRA Guard of Honour had attended O'Hagan's body in the wake house and it was six of his comrades who carried the coffin, bedecked in the Tricolour and beret and gloves, from the family home on the first section of its journey to St Paul's Chapel for the Funeral Mass.

Up to 2,000 people attended the funeral on Thursday morning 26 April, and businesses in the bustling North Armagh town closed along the route as a mark of respect. At St Colman's Cemetery just outside the town, Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams paid fulsome tribute to a republican who had been active in the 1940s, the 1950s, the 1960s, the 1970s, the 1980s, the 1990s and right up to his sudden death. Adams noted O'Hagan's strong faith and welcomed the tribute paid during the Funeral Mass to JB's republican beliefs and exploits. He added, however, that it was high time the Catholic hierarchy reversed its directive banning the Tricolour from republican funerals in church premises. ``Our National Flag should be allowed to stay on the coffin for the entire ceremony,'' he said.

``I have always associated JB with Bernadette,'' he told those gathered at the graveside, ``even though they were apart for so many years. They were married for 52 years and Bernadette told me yesterday that she wouldn't change a day of it, that she was proud of him and of his life.

``In many ways he died the way he had lived, very quietly, modestly, not complaining, unassuming to the end. He was one of the most respected republicans of our time. There is no greater tribute that can be paid to any man or woman than to be known as a decent human being and Joe B was that and more.''

Adams went on to briefly record the extraordinary history of JB O'Hagan's involvement in the republican struggle, as soldier and political activist, since he first joined the IRA in 1940, including that famous 1973 escape from Mountjoy Jail by helicopter, accompanied by Kevin Mallon and the late Séamus Twomey.

``JB grew up in the 1920s in a state abandoned by the Irish Government, where nationalists were subjected to the B Specials and the Special Powers Act. He stood up at a time when standing up was a very very dangerous thing to do,'' said Adams. ``It is a wonder to me that he was active in every decade from the 1940s on. There is a mighty man!

``He also personifies why Irish republicanism has never been defeated. He was an example of a physical force republican who was prepared to support and exhaust other means of struggle. He saw armed struggle as a means rather than as an end, but he never ceased to be an unrepentant republican and to work always for the establishment of an Irish Republic based on national rights for the people of this island. He supported the Good Friday Agreement not as an end but as an effort to build a new accord with our opponents and enemies. Political unionism has found it very difficult to deal with this strategy.

``Joe B was very philosophical and very wise. He is representative of that republican element who never broke a promise in their lives.

``Those who seek to defeat the republican struggle by blaming the IRA for everything need to know that none of this will work. That is because of the work that JB and people like him put into this struggle. We won't be worn down or accept anything less than our full rights. The message for David Trimble and Tony Blair is that it is impossible for us to accept inequality, injustice and second-class citizenship. That is the past. We are looking to the future.

``Joe B's passing has left a huge gap, but we should celebrate his life. He touched so many of us. Joe B kept us right. The flame he kept flickering in the lean times is burning brightly now because of his contribution.''

Adams extended his solidarity and sympathy and that of all those present to Bernadette, to JB's children Barry, Kevin, Fintan, Siobhán, Felim and Dara, to his eleven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren, his sisters and entire family circle.



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ger at Catholic Church insult

At the end of the Funeral Mass for Joe O'Hagan last Thursday, the O'Hagan family lead by Joe's son Fintan placed the National Flag on the coffin before the remains were taken from the chapel.

This act was borne out of anger and frustration.

JB O'Hagan was a republican, an honourable man and a religious man who went to Mass every day. So, his family felt that the Catholic Church, that was as much an influence on Joe's life as was his republicanism, should respect his wish and allow his coffin to be draped in the Tricolour.

The family appealed to the Catholic Church authorities and the Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams interceded on their behalf, but they were refused the right to grant Joe his wish that the Flag not be removed from his coffin.

Dara O'Hagan, the Sinn Féin Assembly member for Upper Bann, told the Bishop that by sticking to their old policy the Catholic Church was criminalising republicanism and indeed criminalising her father.

Also, the Catholic hierarchy missed a great opportunity to heal a hurt that has existed for over 20 years, when the remains of IRA Volunteer Kevin `Dee' Delaney were refused entry into Corpus Christi Church in Springhill while bearing a Tricolour.

The rancour and hurt felt by republicans over this slight, coming as it did, in conjunction with the British Government's attempts to criminalise republicanism, has long been an insult that republicans have resented.

After all, churches are the people's property as it was their money and effort that built them. The people of Springhill and the Greater Ballymurphy area paid £5 a brick for the Corpus Christi building and the Delaney family no doubt contributed to that fund.

By taking matters into their own hands last Thursday, the O'Hagan family claimed back some ground for republicans and sent a message to the Bishops; that they have a part to play in this new political era and that they need to look at their attitude to republicanism.

Joe's wife Bernadette said that as Fintan draped the National Flag on Joe's coffin and the church burst into spontaneous applause, her heart was lifted.

``I was so glad and I walked down the aisle with a smile on my face,'' said Bernadette.

he was my uncle
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Re: Road to Freedom

Post  niall on Wed Jun 09, 2010 5:40 am

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Re: Road to Freedom

Post  niall on Wed Jun 09, 2010 5:42 am

niall wrote:

how do i post this damn video?
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Re: Road to Freedom

Post  clagan on Wed Jun 09, 2010 5:46 am

Born John Stevenson in England, MacStiofan was a key player in the early days of the IRA, especially during the split of December 1969 which resulted in the formation of PIRA. MacStiofain was at the coup's center. At the 1970 Ard Feis Convention, MacStiofain and O'Bradaigh worked intently, but unsuccessfully, against the rejection of absentionism. MacStiofain mastered the art of propaganda "techniques" and was responsible for the regular use of press conferences to get the message out. He lost some credibility within the Movement when he "caved" on his 53-day hunger strike in Curragh prison.

q: What was the state of the IRA in August 1969?
macstiofain: Very bad. Very bad. No arms, very little. No training. A few hundred people and for years no contact for weapons. Bad leadership, bad policies.
q: What did the people in Belfast feel about the IRA when the IRA had not been able to defend them?
a: Well, a slogan on the walls--IRA, we run away--very unfair to volunteers. They fight sometimes [with] their hands. But they fought with the leadership in Dublin.

q: Because the leadership had let down
a: Yes.

q: The people in Belfast.
a: Yes.

q: What did people in Belfast say about the IRA?
a: Well, I told you, right. But they want to reorganize and they're worried about more attacks. A lot of people come back to the movement and particularly the auxiliary units


q: You went to Belfast after August 1969. What did you say to people in Belfast?
a: I didn't want to see a split in Belfast, but it was too late. Some of the staff in Belfast were sympath[etic] to Goldings proposals and so that was too late.
q: Why did the IRA split?
a: One ... at least three, four ...

q: Reasons.
a: Reasons. One was political, and the other was military, they had this ...

q: Ideological
a: Ideological and also Republicans want to abolish Stormont.

q: At the Sinn Fein national conference on the 10th of January 1970, you took the microphone from Goulding.
a: No, no.

q: Tell me what happened there, what did you do?
a: I walked to the microphone, and said, "I pledge my allegiance to the provisional IRA." These were people who tied themselves to their Irish Republican Army. Then I said, "Now ... it's time to go. Go." And we did.

q: How many left with you?
a: About 40% more.

q: And that's how the provisional IRA was born.
a: Born, no, that's Sinn Fein. Three weeks before the IRA.

q: Right, I understand. How did you get weapons in those early days?
a: We sent orders to all units in the south. I want 90% of your weapons and money for the units in the north ... and we had no training courses, HQ and everything like that.

q: What was your strategy when the provisional IRA was born?
a: First, defense for the summer. All weapons and ammunition and equipment for Belfast, Derry and the other places, because the summer is always trouble. So we thought, right and plenty of training, and reorganization, that's it.

q: So at the very beginning your strategy was purely defensive.
a: Yes. Yes.

q: When did you turn to offensive action?
a: After internment. Before, anything else was a retaliation, because the British army was bad to the people. So we thought retaliatory action and sabotage. But after internment we went to all offensive, all offensive action.

q: But wasn't the killing of Gunner Curtis, the first soldier to die, an offensive action?
a: No. It was on retaliation for the bad treatment of British troops in Belfast.

q: What was the significance of the shooting of Gunner Curtis, the first soldier to die?
a: One, volunteers for ...

q: Recruitment.
a: Yes.

q: But what was the significance of the fact that a British soldier had been killed, he was the first soldier to die in the conflict, in the recent conflict, what was the significance of that?
a: The British people say if you stay in Ireland there's a price to pay.

q: And what was the price?
a: More soldiers go back in coffins unless the pressure the government to right thing about Ireland.

q: At the beginning of 1972.
a: Yes.

q: What was the state of the IRA?
a: Good now. When 1972 good, very good, I think, the best and better IRA for fifty years, more men, ammunition equipment and very, very good morale. And we reorganized everything.

q: At the beginning of 1972 did you think you were winning?
a: Yes. But there was a report that the British army said we give us a month in Belfast, one Derry, and then two months in the border, its over. Well, they were wrong.

q: Why did you want Gerry Adams released from internment?
a: He was a potential leader. Good thinker. And good in the national question.

q: What was his role at the time?
a: Prisoner.

q: What was he before he was a prisoner?
a: He was in leadership ... Belfast.

q: The IRA leadership in Belfast.
a: In Republican movement.

q: But he was IRA Belfast, wasn't he?
a: Well ...

q: What did you do when Gerry Adams came out of internment?
a: Well, I sent a messenger from Derry and explaining the thing, then that night I rang to Gerry and I said "Oh I'm very, very ... surprised, ... and you owe me one.

q: And what did he say?
a: He says, No, I tell 'em get, collect and in a couple of days and leave, right. His wife.

q: Yes. Just going back to the press conference that you gave.
a: Yes.

q: At the time you were the most wanted man in Ireland.
a: Yes.

q: Because you were the chief of staff in the provisional IRA, how did you get into Derry without being arrested?
a: They scout out the roads, and escort, right.

q: Were you in disguise?
a: Yes. Yes. And O'Connell was as well ... we had a driver and two others and another car.

q: What was your disguise?
a: Oh, an awful mustache and hair, different way and something else. Yes.

q: And you got through.
a: Yes. And once I went to Derry, to the funeral, Sean Keenan's son was killed. And they advice was too much activity the British army in their droves, so I said, "You take me over the fields in Derry." We did.

q: How did you decide who should go with you to meet Mr. Whitelaw?
a: Well ... one Seamus Toomey. O'Connell, Martin McGuinness, and myself and Adams from the prisoners.

q: Ivor Bell.
a: Yes. ... And I said and so that's it, .... I want this an IRA ...

q: Delegation.
a: Yes.

q: All were IRA?
a: Yes. Not been, not Sinn Fein, but IRA.

q: All of them?
a: Yes.

q: Including Martin McGuinness?
a: Oh yes.

q: Including Gerry Adams.
a: All of them.

q: When you get to Cheyne Walk, and you meet Mr. Whitelaw.
a: Yes.

q: What do you say?
a: Well he come to me and said, "Mr. MacStiofain, how do you do?" I [thought] this guy has done his homework because he pronounced my name perfect. I said, "I'm OK, now this is my friend Seamus Toomey, .... O'Connell, Martin McGuinness, Adams, Bell." So he said, "Oh, Mr. O'Connell, perhaps you want to sit down to me." [He] said "No, we sit down as group."

q: You didn't want to be split, separated?
a: No, no. And a long, a line of us right.

q: Were you offered anything to drink?
a: Water. Yes, he said, "Want a drink?" I said, "No. No." So he said, "I think I will begin." He was speak[ing] about five minutes and nothing he said, no interest to us. So I said, "I have a statement from the Irish Republican Army, I will read." And part of the statement was we call on the British government to publicly acknowledge the right to the Irish people, act in one unit to decide the future of Ireland. Now then Whitelaw said, "There's confusion about that, difficulties."

q: Difficulties.
a: Yes. "But we have a constitution guarantee for the unionists," I said. "It's a fact that one act of parliament can put back the other one." He said, "Oh that's a fact of parliamentary life." So then we would talk about the incident in ... nationalist people in rural ...

q: Areas.
a: Right, and Whitelaw said, "Oh, British troops will never fire on civilians." So I said, "Martin, you have something to say?" "Yes, Mr. Whitelaw, I saw your troops, paras, kill people in Derry, they were unarmed civilians." So I said and others. So no reply from Whitelaw and the staff much muttering, "No capital alliance."

q: What did you say about British withdrawal?
a: We want a couple of years, four years ... to withdraw.

q: I think you said you wanted a British military withdrawal by the first of January 1975. What did you say?
a: We want the withdrawal first of January 1975.

q: Extend ...
a: Extend yes.

q: How far were you prepared to extend the 1975?
a: ... that was negotiations.

q: Were you talking about a British military withdrawal, in other words, demanding that Britain withdraw her troops back to the rest of the United Kingdom?
a: Yes, yes.

q: Or were you talking about a total British military and political withdrawal, a total withdrawal?
a: Well, political, yes, as well. Yes. Because no, we want all military and political withdrawal.

q: By 1975?
a: Yes.

q: But that was just hopelessly unrealistic.
a: Maybe, maybe.

q: But you must have known that.
a: That was starters.

q: The starting point.
a: Yes. Yes.

q: How long did the meeting last?
a: The two breaks, about an hour, one hour.

q: What did you say when the meeting was over, what did you say amongst each other?
a: Then we discussed it ourselves, said "We'll give them three days for an answer."

q: That wasn't very long.
a: No. But we said, "Give them a week at the most, but start three days."

q: You didn't really expect Mr. Whitelaw, on behalf of the British government, to come back within three days or a week and say, "OK, we agree, we're going."
a: No, but you see, if he first said, "No," [we] were [to] give them more time ... another couple of days, then we said, "One week," because I knew that a Cabinet meeting on the Thursday, so I said, "Whitelaw, OK, that's it, but if there was in the chance to more negotiations right, we can expand that." But I don't think they were interested.

q: What was the atmosphere like on the flight going back?
a: Steele come to me and said, "Don't tell me you're not starting, your stupid campaign again." So I said, "Well, it's up to you people. We never worried about the casualties, we've more casualties in Germany with accidents ... you lost twenty men in two weeks in here, in Ireland."

q: That was the two weeks leading up to the cease-fire?
a: Yes, yes.

q: What did he say to that?
a: "You know what they mean." And I said, "Well that's about the troops."

q: Did you ever hear back from the British?
a: No. No.

q: But shouldn't you have given the truce longer? Two days isn't much.
a: But the British and the UDA broke the bloody truce.

q: Well the truce was broken by Seamus Toomey ... leading that cavalcade down Lundadoon Avenue and forcing the army lines.
a: No, that is wrong.

q: It was there. I saw it.
a: No ... but I had people I respect there that told you that that's not so. No, that the UDA went into break the truce and the British army in Belfast the British general, brigadier they want to break the truce. No, they, lots of incidents as well in Belfast, Portadown and ... the truce had gone by Sunday night.

q: When the truce was over.
a: Yes.

q: What was your strategy, what did you decide to do as chief of staff?
a: Well, the leadership first of all units in the north were instructions to get back to operations. And I said the campaign will be stop.

q: Is intensified the word you're looking for?
a: Yes. OK.

q: After the truce had ended, what was your strategy as chief of staff of the provisional IRA?
a: Well the leadership had an order to all units in the north, get back into offensive action and we must get intensify the campaign.

q: Part of that intensified campaign was the planting of over twenty bombs in Belfast on what was known as Bloody Friday, was that part of the intensification?
a: It was, 22 in Belfast and 14 other parts right, and only two had civilian casualties, and the every bomb had three warnings and the British government and the British army they not give the warnings.

q: Those bombs planted on that day, on Bloody Friday, killed eleven people, eleven civilians.
a: No, no, nine. Nine.

q: Well nine or eleven, nine innocent people died.
a: No. Nine people were killed then. Two British army, two RUC, one a known RU and a UDA. But there were four innocent people and we regretted all of them. The others were legitimate targets.

q: Well, in the eyes of most British people, nobody is a legitimate target, even if you say they were legitimate targets four civilians were killed.
a: They were, yes, and we regretted all of them, but the blame was the people who deliberately not given the warnings to the public.

q: The blame rested with those people, your people the IRA who planted the bombs.
a: No, I don't agree.

q: You don't plant the bombs, people don't die.
a: Oh, well, but if the British government has persistent his policies to the north of Ireland, then you get resistance and I'm sure if the same situation was England, some of your friends would resist it.

q: Did you ever discuss taking the campaign to England?
a: Yes. Yes. We have and there was planned an operation to sabotage the factory [that] makes CS gas in 1970, but I then the OC was bad in security and four people were arrested. Right. So then another year an operation was organized for shooting a high ranking officer, who was not, was in the north. But then we had two operations planned for the end of 72, and I was arrested so I don't know what happened, but yes.

q: Were you aware of the planning of the Old Bailey bombs before you were arrested?
a: No, no. ... that was my one month, ... the end of March '73.

q: Why did you want to take the campaign to England?
a: To make sure that the establishment would see that they must pay dearly for the north of Ireland.

q: Their presence in the north of Ireland.
a: And the policies and the prison.

q: What was your reaction when you heard that Sinn Fein had rejected abstentionism in 1986?
a: I was very, very disappointed, very disappointed. And that was one of the biggest mistakes that Adams made and so yes.

q: Why do you say that?
a: The government in Dublin is typical neo-colonial government ... there's no real policy about the north. And saying from the people, whole people here ... went into politics to advance the class interest, his own class.

q: What was your reaction to the IRA's declaration of its cessation in August '94?
a: I was pleased. Four years before I suggested to the IRA leadership that something like that to suspend offensive action and change the tactics.

q: Do you think the war is over?
a: No. No, I do not. Because Major and the unionists have never taken the peace process seriously
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Re: Road to Freedom

Post  clagan on Wed Jun 09, 2010 5:48 am

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Re: Road to Freedom

Post  ZBhoy on Wed Jun 09, 2010 5:52 am

Love this song




They wouldn't hear your music
And they pulled your paintings down
They wouldn't read your writing
And they banned you from the town
But they couldn't stop you dreaming
And a victory you have won
For you sowed the seeds of freedom
In your daughters and your sons

CHORUS:
In your daughters and your sons
Your daughters and your sons
You sowed the seeds of freedom
In your daughters and your sons

Your weary smile it proudly hides
The chainmarks on your hands
As you bravely strive to realise
The rights of everyman
And though your body's bent and low
A victory you have won
For you sowed the seeds of justice
In your daughters and your sons

CHORUS:
In your daughters and your sons
Your daughters and your sons
You sowed the seeds of freedom
In your daughters and your sons


I don't know your religion
But one day I heard you pray
For a world where everyone can work
And children they can play
And though you never got your share
Of the victories you have won
You sowed the seeds of equality
In your daughters and your sons

CHORUS:
In your daughters and your sons
Your daughters and your sons
You sowed the seeds of freedom
In your daughters and your sons


They taunted you in Belfast
And they tortured you in Spain
And in that Gaza ghetto
Where they tied you up in chains
In Vietnam and in Chile
Where they came with tanks and guns
It's there you sowed the seeds of peace
In your daughters and your sons

CHORUS:
In your daughters and your sons
Your daughters and your sons
You sowed the seeds of freedom
In your daughters and your sons


And now your music's playing
And the writing's on the wall
And all the dreams you painted
Can be seen by one and all
Now you've got them thinking
And the future's just begun
For you sowed the seeds of freedom
In your daughters and your sons

CHORUS:
In your daughters and your sons
Your daughters and your sons
You sowed the seeds of freedom
In your daughters and your sons
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Re: Road to Freedom

Post  clagan on Wed Jun 09, 2010 5:58 am

brilliant song Z

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Re: Road to Freedom

Post  ZBhoy on Wed Jun 09, 2010 6:08 am

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Re: Road to Freedom

Post  ElPaso on Wed Jun 09, 2010 4:38 pm

turn it up ta fuck....

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Re: Road to Freedom

Post  ElPaso on Wed Jun 09, 2010 5:49 pm



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Re: Road to Freedom

Post  ElPaso on Wed Jun 09, 2010 7:09 pm

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Re: Road to Freedom

Post  ElPaso on Wed Jun 09, 2010 7:18 pm

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Re: Road to Freedom

Post  niall on Thu Jun 10, 2010 3:52 am

My POW Article

According to the song, brave sons and daughters of Ireland have been fighting the occupying forces for 800 years. Well, 800 years is a long time to be fighting and consequently many of these brave volunteers have given their lives in the attempt to free their country. People such as Dessie McGrew, Martin McCaughey, Eugene Toman and Sean Burns and Mairead Farrell have all given their lives for the cause.
Many more young men and women have spent large portions of their lives behind bars as a result of Ireland’s quest for freedom. Even today, there are many young republicans in gaol in Ireland.

“They may hold our bodies in the most inhuman conditions, but while our minds remain free, victory is reassured” Bobby Sands

The conditions faced by these prisoners are nothing short of barbaric. They are repeatedly strip searched, especially at visiting times. Refusal by the prisoner results in naked body search and a loss of visitation privileges. Prisoners are on a virtual 24 hour lock down with any movement they do get under tight control and supervision.
Food arrives late, be it breakfast or dinner, and often in inedible condition. Prisoners are often forced into choosing whether they want to use the gym or have breakfast. Lastly, and perhaps most worryingly, the prisoners are being forced onto a time limited wash rota. As a result, some prisoners have refused to shave thanks to inadequate washing or no washing at all. One wonders did Clarke, Pearse MacDonagh et al face similar conditions in Kilmainham?
For many people this is a situation they will be all too familiar with and will evoke memories of the late 70’s and early 80’s. Is there a man inside Maghaberry at the moment who will be this man’s Kieran Nugent? Will we see another Bobby Sands martyr himself?
Yes that is right, another Bobby Sands. With conditions deteriorating inside Maghaberry so quickly would it surprise anybody to see another Republican hunger strike? After all it is a tactic used in the past. Thomas Ashe in 1917, MacSwiney and Fitzgerald in 1920, Denis Barry and Andrew Sullivan in 1923, D'Arcy and McNeela in 1940. In more modern times we had McCarthy, Gaughn and Stagg before the hunger strikes of 1981. And let us not forget Sean Glynn who was driven to suicide by prison conditions in 1936. These are men who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for their beliefs.
Copied from: Board67 http://www.board67.com/forum/showthread.php?t=8839

“We refuse to lie here in dishonour. We are not criminals but Irishmen. This is the crime of which we stand accused” Bobby Sands

No-one in Maghaberry wants to die, no-one wants to go on hunger strike, but if conditions continue to deteriorate, there may be no other choice. And what are they protesting about? They will not be labelled as common prisoners, as criminals. And why should they, they were fighting to free their country from oppression. These men have been protesting since Easter but only now is word of their struggle leaking out despite repeated attempts by many people to brush it under the carpet. These men will not stop their struggle, their protest, and nor should we. It is up to us aid them, up to us to bring the truth into the public eye. David Cameron, David Forde, I have a message for you, in the words of Patsy O’Hara, let the fight go on. Victory to the POWs.
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Re: Road to Freedom

Post  clagan on Thu Jun 10, 2010 4:14 am

superb piece of writing Niall, inspiring and heartfelt.
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Re: Road to Freedom

Post  ElPaso on Thu Jun 10, 2010 5:17 pm

Tribute to "The Dark" from the American Indian Movement. A message of support for Irish Freedom from Red Crow and Bill Means.



The darks ashes were spread , as was his wish in three places.
Each year republicans meet up in the cooley mountains in one of the areas Brendans ashes were spread. (were Brendans grandfather hailed)

Brendan
“In 1969 we had a naive enthusiasm about what we wanted. Now in 1999 we have no enthusiasm. And it is not because people are war weary - they are politics weary. The same old lies regurgitated week in week out. With the war politics had some substance. Now it has none. The political process has created a class of professional liars and unfortunately it contains many republicans. But I still think that potential exists to bring about something different. And I speak not just about our own community but about the loyalist community also. Ex-prisoners from both and not the politicians can effect some radical change.”

“Stormont is still there, but it is a Stormont with Republicans in it. Stormont has not changed. The whole apparatus of the Stormont regime is still there, it is still controlled by the British, it is still unjust, it is still cruel. The RUC is still there. The whole civil service are still there, the same civil servants who controlled the shoot-to-kill policy, who controlled the plastic bullets, who controlled the H Blocks of Long Kesh, who took responsibility for ten men dying. It is all still there. But, saviour of saviours, we have two Sinn Féin ministers there, who happen to close hospitals. The sad thing about all this is that the British set this up. This is the British answer to the Republican problem in Ireland. It’s a British solution, it’s not an Irish solution. It’s not a solution that we have control of. There are people up there and the British ministers are handing money out. But the whole thing is built on sand.”

“I am not advocating dumb militarism or a return to war. Never in the history of republicanism was so much sacrificed and so little gained; too many left dead and too few achievements. Let us think most strongly before going down that road again. I am simply questioning the wisdom of administering British rule in this part of Ireland. I am asking what happened to the struggle in all Ireland—what happened to the idea of a thirty-two county socialist republic. That, after all, is what it was all about. Not about participating in a northern administration that closes hospitals and attacks the teachers’ unions. I am asking why we are not fighting for and defending the rights of ordinary working people, for better wages and working conditions. Does thirty years of struggle boil down to a big room at Stormont, ministerial cars, dark suits and the implementation of the British Patten Report?”

“It has been the futility of it all. From a nationalist perspective alone what we have now we could have had at any time in the last twenty-five years. But even nationalist demands don’t seem to matter any more. And in the process we have lost much of our honesty, sincerity and comradeship.”

“The republican leadership has always exploited our loyalty.”


----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Anthony McIntyre interviewed Brendan Hughes, former IRA leader in Belfast and OC of republican prisoners throughout much of the Blanket Protest in Long Kesh, for the first issue of Fourthwrite.

Fourthwrite, Issue #1, Spring 2000

Q: After such long term involvement in the republican struggle do you feel a sense of satisfaction at the way things have turned out?

A: No. I do not feel any satisfaction whatsoever. All the questions raised in the course of this struggle have not been answered and the republican struggle has not been concluded. We were na_ve ever to have expected the Brits to get on the boat and go. But the things that we cherished such as a thirty-two county democratic socialist republic are no longer mentioned.

Q: The former republican prisoner Tommy Gorman in the Andersonstown News bewails the absence of radical republicanism and has questioned if it was all worth it. What is your view?

A: Let me answer it this way. When I came out from jail in 1986 having spent more than twelve years there I found work on a building site on the Falls Road. Some of the people I thought I was fighting for were now seeking to exploit me. I recalled my father telling me stories about earlier campaigns when republicans such as Billy McKee came out from jail and being employed by Eastwoods for peanuts. And there I was decades later digging holes for the same peanuts.

Q: But there are many who feel it was worth it.

A: True. But amongst their number are those who have big houses and guaranteed incomes. Of course it was worth it for them. I recall going to the Republican Movement and asking that it highlight the exploitative cowboy builders on the Falls Road who were squeezing the republican poor for profit. The movement censored me and refused to allow me to speak. Once they published a piece that I wrote - or should I say did not write as the thing was so heavily censored as to be totally unrecognisable from the article I actually wrote. Some of the cowboy builders had influence with movement members. Whether true or not, there were many whispers doing the rounds that these members were taking backhanders and so on. In any event this led to a vicious circle in which money created power, which in turn created corruption and then greed for more money. Dozens of ex-prisoners are exploited by these firms. They run the black economy of West Belfast simply to make profit and not out of a sense of helping others.

Q: Is the future bleak?

A: People are demoralised and disillusioned. Many are tired but it would still be possible to pull enough together to first question what has happened and then to try to change things.

Q: But has Sinn Fein not been sucked so far into the system that any salvaging of the republican project must now look a very daunting task?

A: While I am not pushing for any military response, our past has shown that all is never lost. In 1972 we had to break the truce in order to avoid being sucked in. In 1975 the British came at us again. And from prison through the Brownie articles written by Gerry Adams we warned the IRA that it was being sucked in. We broke the British on that but it took hard work. And now they are at it again. And it will be even harder this time. Think of all the lives that could have been saved had we accepted the 1975 truce. That alone would have justified acceptance. We fought on and for what? - what we rejected in 1975

Q: What do you feel when you read that Michael Oatley (formerly of MI6) expresses support for the Sinn Fein leadership, and that David Goodall, who helped negotiate the Anglo Irish Agreement in 1985 said recently that it is all going almost exactly according to plan?

A: These are the comments of men supremely confident that they have it all sewn up. What we hammered into each other time after time in jail was that a central part of Brit counter insurgency strategy was to mould leaderships whom they could deal with. So I get so demoralised when I read about this. I look at South Africa and I look at here and I see that the only change has been in appearances. No real change has occurred. A few republicans have slotted themselves into comfortable positions and left the rest of us behind.

Q: Has the nationalist middle class been the real beneficiary of the armed struggle?

A: Well, it has not been republicans - apart from those republicans eager to join that class.

Q: It seems that the social dimension is your real concern regarding republican direction?

A: No. There is much more than that. It has been the futility of it all. From a nationalist perspective alone what we have now we could have had at any time in the last twenty-five years. But even nationalist demands don't seem to matter any more. And in the process we have lost much of our honesty, sincerity and comradeship.

Q: But could it not be argued that this developed because people are war weary?

A: In 1969 we had a naive enthusiasm about what we wanted. Now in 1999 we have no enthusiasm. And it is not because people are war weary - they are politics weary. The same old lies regurgitated week in week out. With the war politics had some substance. Now it has none. The political process has created a class of professional liars and unfortunately it contains many republicans. But I still think that potential exists to bring about something different. And I speak not just about our own community but about the loyalist community also. Ex-prisoners from both and not the politicians can effect some radical change.

Q: Do you sense any radical potential amongst loyalist ex-prisoners?

A: Yes. Very much so. Not only are they much better than the old regime, they have experienced through their own struggle the brutality, hypocrisy and corruption of the regime against which republicans fought for so long.

Q: What are your views on the Good Friday Agreement?

A: What is it? Have we agreed to the British staying in the six counties? If we listen to Francie Molloy that is what republicans have signed up to. The only advantage is that unionism has changed. The landed gentry has been smashed but only because of the war, not the Good Friday Agreement. Overall, the facade has been cleaned up but the bone structure remains the same. The state we set out to smash still exists. Look at the RUC for example.

Q: Do you sense that Sinn Fein is going to settle for something like disband Ronnie Flanagan?

A: Would it really surprise you?

Q: Do you sense that the republican leadership fears or despises democratic republicanism?

A: The response to democratic republicanism has always been pleas to stay within the army line. Even doing this interview with you generates a reluctance within me. The republican leadership has always exploited our loyalty.

Q: What do you say to those people who are unhappy but are pulled the other way by feelings of loyalty?

A: Examine their consciences. Take a good look at what is going on. If they agree - ok. If not then speak out.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Interview with Joe O'Neill • 24.11.00

In last month's Irish Herald we ran a short piece on "The Irish Republican Writers Group". In this issue, a founding member of the group, Brendan (Darkie) Hughes, airs his views on his Republican philosophy and questions the political direction of the current leadership of Sinn Féin and the Republican movement.

Hughes was one of a small group of Republicans in the Lower Falls (Belfast), who split from the IRA in 1970, to form what was later to be known as the Provisional IRA. In the sometimes violent split within the movement at that time one of the first victims was his cousin, Charlie Hughes, who was shot dead in a gun battle in the Lower Falls by members of the Official IRA.

After almost three years on the run, Hughes was arrested, along with Gerry Adams. They were tortured for over 12 hours in Springfield Road barracks and then Castlereagh before being flown to the cages of Long Kesh. Within 5 months Hughes had escaped from Long Kesh, crossed the border and within 10 days, was back in Belfast with a new identity, to assume command of the Belfast Brigade.

Captured again 6 months later, he was sentenced to 15 years on weapons, explosives and documents charges. Hughes, as Brigade O/C was caught with what the press called a "Doomsday Plan" which was the IRA plan for the defense of the Nationalist community in Belfast.

While O/C Republican prisoners in Long Kesh Hughes was charged in connection with a prison riot and given an additional 5 years. However, at this time, the process of Ulsterization and criminalization had begun and he was taken from court to the infamous H-Blocks. "That morning" said Hughes, "I left Long Kesh, Brendan Hughes, O/C Republican prisoners, recognized as a political prisoner and that afternoon, I was Hughes, 704, in the H-Blocks."

In the H-Blocks Hughes was instrumental in organizing the men on the blanket protest and was elected O/C with Bobby Sands as his adjutant. As the protests by the men escalated, without any movement by prison authorities, or the Thatcher government, to resolve the prisoners demands to end their inhumane treatment, he called for volunteers to join him in a hunger strike. Hughes resigned as O/C, to be replaced by Bobby Sands and was joined by 6 of the 90 men who had volunteered to go on hunger strike. After 53 days without food, with Sean McKenna within hours of death and the others in very serious condition, the strike was called off as the government delivered a document which satisfied the prisoners demands. After the government reneged on their agreement the strike led this time by Bobby Sands commenced with deadly consequences.

In an interview with the Irish Herald, Hughes discussed a wide range of topics on the Irish political landscape.

The Good Friday Agreement.

"The decision was taken from the top down, there were no discussions, there was nothing taking place. What we heard was, 'The Hume/Adams Document' and I am very annoyed at this because, I have spent my whole life in this Republican movement and all of a sudden everyone is talking about 'The Hume Adams Document' and I asked if I could see it . To my knowledge no one has ever seen it. I thought it was a disgrace that John Hume knew where this movement was going I didn't know where it was going. I didn't know anything about 'The Hume Adams Document', what the hell is it? Then, 'The Hume Adams Document', developed into the 'Good Friday Agreement'. What was the Good Friday Agreement all about? All of my life I spent attempting to bring down Stormont, attempting to remove the British from Ireland and all of a sudden, all of that language was gone. We no longer talk about a British declaration of intent to withdraw from this country and we have got to the stage where we were actually fighting to get down to the Stormont, that we just spent 30 years trying to bring down. The loyalty factor eventually burnt out with me, the loyalty factor was no longer there."

Sinn Fein leadership

"Stormont is OK as long as we're in it. What was developing here was a sort of a class thing within the Republican movement. You had the "Armani Suit Brigade" and a lot of these people I had never come across before. I had never spent time in prison with them and their politics drifted away from me, their politics, I didn't drift away from my politics, their politics drifted away from me to a stage where I believed I needed to say something, because these people are running away with my movement. The suffering and everything that we represented was no longer there anymore and these people had it, they were wineing and dinning at Stormont. I believe very shortly, we will be wineing and dinning in Westminster. I believe that they have run away with the politics, the real politics of the Republican movement the Republican struggle and I believe that they have to be resisted. Which I am doing. It wasn't easy for me to go public and criticize all these things that were going on, but I feel a moral responsibility to do so. Even though it puts me on the fringe and I am called a dissident and other names. But I know damn well, that what I am saying, is representative of the ordinary people on the ground.

The Republican Movement

"I believe this Republican movement belongs to the people. I don't believe that people like me should walk away and form another small group to oppose this group. This group is the Republican movement. We have fought, we have gone through an awful lot of struggle and I believe it has been hijacked by a handful of people who have gone in a particular direction that I disagree with. But it is my movement. I don't want to form another movement I want my movement back to what we fought for. I don't believe that it is totally hopeless. I believe it can be won back. If I thought it was hopeless, I would probably leave the country. I believe that I have a moral responsibility and a duty to carry on the struggle. It's not easy, a lot of the people I am talking about are comrades and friends of mine. I wish they could change and turn this thing around and bring it back to the people. Bring the movement back to the people. Not a political party that's running to Stormont, running to Westminster with their Armani suits on and jutting about in their State cars. The same regime that's been oppressing us for so many years, they have become a part of.

Decommissioning

The IRA has been asked to decommission. We were all told that there would be no decommissioning. When you bring a stranger to a dump an IRA dump and point out where that dump is to me that is decommissioning. I certainly would not go near that dump again, so that dump is, by and large, decommissioned. Forget about it. It has been identified yet I am told there will be no decommissioning. To me that is decommissioning. People are telling lies. We are doing everything we were told would not happen. We still hear at some commemorations people getting up on platforms and telling blatant lies. 'The war is not over'. By and large, the war is over. The current joke in the town at the moment is; Q. 'What is the difference between a Sticky (Official IRA) and a Provie (Provisional IRA). A. Twenty years.' The only difference is that the Stickies didn't have to decommission."

The RUC

"What I was beginning to see was the reintroduction of a different type of philosophy the words they were using 'the RUC has to be changed' no longer disbanded."

Commemorating the 20th Anniversary of the Hunger Strike

"Anyone who is going out to commemorate the Republican struggle should commemorate the people who died in the struggle. It should be about respect and to commemorate the sacrifice that these people made. I believe the party of the working class is entitled to commemorate the working-class people who died. I believe a party of the Middle or Upper-class should not be allowed to capitalize on those people's deaths. Those people died for working-class issues and I believe that the only people who should be allowed to capitalize on that are working-class people who are fighting for working-class issues. I don't believe the leadership of the Republican movement, at present, is fighting for working-class issues, or fighting for the issues that these people died for."

Armed Struggle

"We are sitting in Divis Towers now and there is ? million of equipment on top of this roof, there are armed British troops on top of this roof. As long as there is one British soldier on this roof, I believe that people have a right to oppose that. Unfortunately, the occupation forces are still here and unfortunately, the leadership of the movement that I belonged to have become a part of that, they have become a part of the problem."

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

'The Hunger Strikes - 20 years on, where are we now?'
Thursday, 25 January, 2001
ATGWU Hall, Dublin
Transcript, IRWG PUBLIC MEETING


Brendan Hughes • 25 January 2001

After that last speaker I was prepared to walk out, I don't know how I am going to beat that. Listen, we are a bit stuck for time and I could ramble on here for a long time on the jail situation but there is a few important points I want to make.

Briefly I will give a bit of history on where I came from. I was born into a working class background, a socialist background, and became a member of the IRA, and went to jail, escaped from jail, went back into jail, became part of the prison protest. In 1972 there was a truce and the IRA asked for the British to give a declaration of intent to withdraw and that would end the war. Two weeks later it was obvious the British were not coming across with that. The end of 1974/75 another ceasefire was called, this time it was a long drawn out ceasefire and the intentions of the British at that time was to get the IRA involved in a long drawn out ceasefire, and an attempt to normalise the situation, criminalise the situation and to pacify the situation. That basically meant to get the British troops off the street, the RUC back onto the street and put republicans in jail. That they done.

In 1974/75/76 I was in the cages of Long Kesh and soon became O/C in the cages of Long Kesh. In 1978 it was decided that I was no longer a political prisoner and on a morning in January 1978 I was negotiating with the governor and he called me "Mr Hughes" or "O/C". That afternoon I was taken out, brought to the H Blocks of Long Kesh, and stripped, given a blanket and thrown into a cell. That was part of the criminalisation policy that the British government employed at that time. The intention was to turn me into a nice law abiding criminal.

At that time the British believed that they had the struggle beaten - they refused to give a declaration of intent to withdraw, they refused to agree for the Irish people to come to their own conclusions of what sort of democracy, what sort of social democracy, we wanted here. The intentions from the war when I first got involved was to bring about a 32 county democratic SOCIALIST Republic.

By 1980 we had been on the blanket protest for over four years and the brutality that took place there is just so undescribable. I mean we were locked in the cells 24 hours a day, we were starved, we were beaten, we went through the white light torture treatment at night - when the lights was left on. In the winter the heating was turned off, in the summer the heating was turned on. Men were taken out and beaten. They introduced the wing shifts, where a whole series, thirty men at a time - not all at one time, one man at a time, but thirty men on a wing - were taken out individually, beaten and thrown into another wing.

By 1980 we decided on the Hunger Strike, because we needed to end this protest, we needed to bring this to an end. There was so much suffering and so much agony. On the outside what was taking place was that the Republican Movement had rebuilt. This time more politically aware than they were before 1975. On the streets there were mass protest on behalf - there wasn't mass protests actually - not until the Hunger Strikes. The common phrase in the H Blocks at that time was "Does anyone care?", "Does anyone know?". The first Hunger Strike was called and it wasn't long before the world knew, and we called on the world for support, to support our five demands.

The Hunger Strike which I was involved in, myself and Bobby decided - Bobby Sands - we decided to call the Hunger Strike. Tommy was on the Hunger Strike with me. We negotiated what we believed was the settlement of that Hunger Strike.

I don't know if anyone here has any experience of a hunger strike, but it is an agonising, torturous, smelly way to die. I remember the first thought I had the first day I was on hunger strike. I was lying in a shitty cell, on a piece of mattress, on a wet floor, cold, hungry - and I'd been that way for over three years. But the first day I went on hunger strike was the day I looked back at yesterday and thought 'well, that wasn't too bad'. I mean this is the day you start to die. Yesterday I could have lived for a year, two years, three years, I could have stuck it for that length of time. But today is hell, today is the day you die.

When you go on hunger strike, if you have any excess fat on your body, your body will eat it. Once the excess fat is gone, and believe me there wasn't too many fat men in the H Blocks of Long Kesh, it then eats at the muscle and your muscles starts to go. Once all the muscle is gone all that is left is flesh and bone. The body is a fantastic machine, it will keep itself alive. So the next thing to go is the brain. Your body starts to live off your brain, it takes the glucose from your brain. Once that starts that's the critical period. That's when your eyesight starts to go, your smell, all your senses start to go. Then you go into a coma. Then you die. Agonisingly, an agonising death. And an agonising death for a family member, a parent, a mother, to sit and have to watch this. That is the reality of hunger strike.

We believed that we had settled the first Hunger Strike. It turned out that we were betrayed in that settlement and that led to the second Hunger Strike. Now the second Hunger Strike, as you all know, cost ten men their lives. Ten men died on it. The Hunger Strikes ended. Now I don't want to get in too deeply into that, just keep it brief because I think the next few points are the most important points that I am trying to make.

The Hunger Strike is so important to the struggle. It was part of the struggle, part of our struggle to bring about a 32 county democratic socialist Republic. But to be honest with you the day I called the Hunger Strike was the day to end the prison protest. That was the main decision, to end the prison protest, to end the struggle in the jails.

The struggle then went on until the next major development, which was the Hume-Adams document. Now I don't know if any of you have read the Hume-Adams document, but I certainly haven't read it and I've searched for it, looked for it, but I've never come across the Hume-Adams document. If anyone has it would they please give me it, because I have never come across it. The Hume-Adams document went on to the thing we now call the Good Friday Agreement.

Now I went to jail, spent the last thirty years of my life, trying to bring down an unjust, undemocratic, immoral, corrupt, sectarian statelet set up by the British. The Good Friday Agreement has brought about that same state, the thirty year struggle did not end the injustice of that statelet. We still have the RUC. The slogans were on the walls 'Disband the RUC', then it became 'Reform the RUC'. Some time ago they brought a discredited conservative politician here to sort out the policing problem - the 'policing problem'. The new in word, by the way, with the RUC now is 'transist', they are 'transisting". So the next slogan goes on the wall is that the "RUC are transisting", into what I don't know, but they are no longer to be disbanded.

Stormont is still there, but it is a Stormont with Republicans in it. Stormont has not changed. The whole apparatus of the Stormont regime is still there, it is still controlled by the British, it is still unjust, it is still cruel. The RUC is still there. The whole civil service are still there, the same civil servants who controlled the shoot-to-kill policy, who controlled the plastic bullets, who controlled the H Blocks of Long Kesh, who took responsibility for ten men dying. It is all still there. But, saviour of saviours, we have two Sinn Féin ministers there, who happen to close hospitals.

The sad thing about all this is that the British set this up. This is the British answer to the Republican problem in Ireland. It's a British solution, it's not an Irish solution. It's not a solution that we have control of. There are people up there and the British ministers are handing money out. But the whole thing is built on sand. First of all the statelet still exists. Secondly, whenever Tony Blair, or whoever comes after him, decides - or the Unionists decide - to walk out, the Good Friday Agreement is finished. It's all finished. So the whole thing is built on sand. The unfortunate thing about it is that there are people who actually believe that we have a settlement, that we have a settlement to our problem, to your problem, to my problem, to everybody's problem in Ireland. And I don't believe that.

I was in London a few weeks ago. I was asked over by a group of people, the Kurds and the Turkish people, who are in Turkish prisons. Why I was there was they asked Sinn Féin for support. Thirty two people have died, twelve of them hunger strikers in Turkish jails. Sinn Féin's response to these people was "we do not get involved in the internal politics of another country". God help us all. That's what the response was "we do not get involved in the internal politics of another country". To me that is a total betrayal. [applause].

On the Falls Road, the heart of the resistance struggle in Ireland to bring about a socialist republic, we have employers who are paying women £2 an hour, who are paying men £20 a day for working on building sites in all types of weather with no security that they will have a job tomorrow morning. I know men who went in to work for a day and because the people did not like their face they were sacked. They were sacked because the person who was employing did not like their face. These same people are employing a lot of ex-prisoners, a lot of these people done 10, 15, 20 years in prison. These same people, these rogue builders, are now millionaires who own five bars on the Falls Road. These are the same people that built the new Sinn Féin office, with slave labour. The new Sinn Féin office on the Falls Road, a real luxury building; and the local paper, the Andytown News, these same people built that. These are the people who are paying men £20 a day and who are abusing them and sacking them and it's so totally unbelievable and so disgusting, but that's what they are getting away with.

Now it took me a long time within the Republican Movement, if you are in a movement for over thirty years you have a certain amount of loyalty to it. When the Good Friday Agreement was agreed upon I had my doubts, I had my reservations. But I stayed there for a long time, I stayed there for far too long while people like Tommy McKearney and Anthony McIntyre were sticking their necks out. Until I began to see and open my eyes and see what was going on. The best friend I had all my life was Gerry Adams. This isn't anything personal against Gerry Adams, although I have been accused of it, of mounting a personal campaign against Gerry Adams. I am not. Gerry Adams happens to wear an Armani suit, I attack everybody in Sinn Féin who wears Armani suits, because the working class doesn't have them. [applause]

So I joined the Republican Writers Group and began to write. I began to write about the excesses of these rogue builders. I began to write about a old Republican, who I knew all my life, who the IRA and Sinn Féin evicted out of his house, because the British government was offering £50,000 of a grant to Sinn Féin open it as drop-in centre for prisoners. I was an ex-prisoner and I'd have been saying to them "Fuck your fifty thousand, the Republican is more important to me than fifty thousand pounds". [applause]

So really what we are doing, and it wasn't easy for people like us to do this. I mean we have lost so-called friends. I wouldn't say we have lost comrades, because you don't lose a comrade unless he dies, or she dies. We have lost so-called friends because of our actions and, as I say, it is not easy to do what we do. Myself and Anthony travelled all over, we went to meet the families of the hunger strikers from London. We were arrested on the way in and probably will be arrested again. They won't let us in to America. What we are trying to do is cause a debate. We have an alternative to the Good Friday Agreement, we have an alternative to the British settlement in Ireland. We have it, the people have it. It has to be a socialist alternative, it has to be a republican alternative. That's what we are trying to do. We are trying to start a great debate, we have one organised in Belfast next week and I hope to God it is as well attended as this, I somehow doubt it, but I hope it is.

To end I want to thank you all for coming and I really appreciate you listening to me. Thanks very much.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Former IRA hunger striker Brendan Hughes is angry with his one-time brother-in-arms, most particularly Gerry Adams and the 'Armani suit brigade'


Niall Stanage • Sunday Tribune, 17 December 2000

Brendan Hughes looked out onto the Falls Road. A man sitting in a car opposite the safe house had aroused his suspicions. Hughes asked someone from the area to check him out. When the local approached, the man drove hurriedly off.

Moments later, British troops swarmed through the door, pumped up with adrenaline, shouting, jostling. They were soon exultant. They had captured not just Hughes but two of his senior colleagues in the Belfast IRA. One was Tom Cahill, the other Gerry Adams. It was 1973.

A lot of blood has been spilt since then. The lives of Adams and Hughes have diverged to an even-greater extent, too. For the former, the tortuous grind of the peace process has been enlivened by electoral triumph, White House welcomes, the international respect accorded to a burgeoning statesman.

Brendan Hughes gets by on income support. His last job was as a hod-carrier on a building site. We meet in a flat in Divis Tower. The top floor and roof of the complex are home to the British Army -- its observation post has been there for years and, for all the talk of demilitarisation, the army shows no inclination to abandon it.

Hughes is angry. He believes that the republican movement to which he has devoted his life has drifted from its base, betraying its principles and its working class roots. He referred to those in control as "the Armani suit brigade".

Hughes has only recently begun to voice these criticisms openly in the recent past. "There's an old cliché in the republican movement: 'stay within the army line.' That's what I did, but I was making no progress whatsoever," he said.

Even so, his first public pronouncements were circumspect. Now that has changed. The final straw came when Real IRA man Joseph O'Connor was shot dead in Ballymurphy in October.

"When people get into positions of power, and start enjoying the trappings of power, people like Joe O'Connor get killed in the streets," Hughes commented bluntly.

No paramilitary group has accepted responsibility for the killing, and the security forces have declined to say who they think is to blame. Such a convenient silence doesn't wash with Hughes.

"If that's right, then let's have a bloody inquiry, because it means there's a bunch of men running around Ballymurphy killing people and nobody knows who they are."

So Hughes thinks the Provisional IRA killed O'Connor? "I do, yes. I feel disgusted, I feel hurt, and I feel it's a total contradiction of everything Sinn Féin are saying. Everybody knows who done it."

Hughes went to O'Connor's funeral and helped carry his coffin. In the clannish world of Belfast republicanism, it was seen as an important gesture, though Hughes pointed out that he was expressing his opposition to O'Connor being killed, not support for the Real IRA.

"Why didn't Gerry Adams go to his funeral?" he asked. "He was one of his constituents. Joseph O'Connor was a republican who was shot."

As allegation and counter-allegation flew in the wake of the killing, mainstream republicans mounted pickets on the homes of Anthony McIntyre and Tommy Gorman, two non-aligned dissenters. Hughes was not impressed.

"Anthony McIntyre and Tommy Gorman came out with a totally honest appraisal of the situation and they were picketed. I see paranoia [within] the leadership; anybody who criticises must be condemned, there must be no debate, 'we must not be questioned'. We have something that is almost fascism developing out of this, and that is scary."

Disturbed by the anger he had seen among young Real IRA supporters at O'Connor's funeral, Hughes also realised that a full-blown feud between RIRA and the Provisionals was a possibility. He and veteran Republican Billy McKee offered their services as intermediaries.

Word soon came back from the Provos that Hughes was "not acceptable". It was the most pointed of snubs.

"I have spent 30 years of my life in this struggle," he said. "I know what I wanted 30 years ago, and I don't see anything close to it at the moment. I just see the movement which I spent my life in becoming part of the corrupt, rotten regime which we tried to destroy."


Does he feel betrayed?

"I do, yes."

Anyone close to the current leadership seeking to disparage Brendan Hughes will not have an easy task. Very few members of the IRA have such a dramatic record of activism as the man known as 'The Dark'.

Hughes was approached to join 'the movement' in 1969. He made swift progress through the ranks and was soon one of the senior IRA men in his area. Asked if he was Belfast commander of the IRA, he replied, "So they say," and smiled.

He went on the run in the city in 1970. It was a chaotic time. "On a normal day in the 71-72 period, you would have had a call house [a safe meeting place] and you might have robbed a bank in the morning, done a float [gone out in a car looking for British soldier] in the afternoon, stuck a bomb and a booby trap out after that, and then maybe had a gun battle or two later that night."

During the same period, Hughes survived an attempt on his life by British soldiers. He still bears a bullet scar on his forearm.

When Hughes arrived in Long Kesh in 1973, after his arrest with Cahill and Adams, he thought his war was over. Instead, he soon escaped, rolled up inside a mattress which was left out as rubbish. The bin lorry which served the camp, unknown to its driver, took Hughes to freedom.

Hughes then became Arthur McAllister, toy salesman. Under this unlikely cover, he travelled around Belfast, meeting other senior republicans and co-ordinating activities.

He knew it couldn't last. It didn't. He was arrested again, convicted of possession of firearms and explosives, and sentenced to 15 years. He was sent back to Long Kesh. The process of criminalisation had now begun: the H-Blocks were opened in 1976. In 1977, following the release of Gerry Adams, Hughes became O/C (officer commanding) of the republican prisoners. When he was moved from the old, POW-style compounds to the new jail, he refused, as others had also done, to don the prison uniform.

The blanket protest gave way to the dirty protest. Still there was no sign of special category status being reinstated. In the autumn of 1980, Hughes decided the only option was hunger strike. On 27 October 1980, he refused food, as did six other prisoners.

"The first day I went on hunger strike, I was still in this shitty cell. But I remember thinking to myself that night, 'the cell doesn't look that bad'. Because that is the day you start to die. After awhile you can actually smell your body wasting away."

By 18 December, negotiations were at a critical point. But Seán McKenna, one of the hunger strikers, was close to death. Believing that the prisoners' demands had been met, Hughes called the strike off. He still holds the view that the prison authorities then sabotaged the agreement.

A second hunger strike started. Ten men died. In the years after their deaths, most of their demands were conceded. Hughes was released from the H-Blocks in 1986, when he once again became active in the republican movement.

The trauma of the period left a deep mark: "I blamed myself for years," Hughes said. "I used to believe that if I had let Seán die, that would have ended it, which would have stopped 10 men dying. During one period I was almost at the point of jumping off a bridge."

Hughes feels that the apparent abandonment of traditional republican objectives by the current leadership casts a shadow over the sacrifices made by him and others: "I don't think it's been worth it," he said. "If someone had told me 20 years ago, you're going to go to jail, you're going to get tortured, you're going to go on hunger strike, you're going to watch loads of men dying to get this......I'd have told them to forget it."

So much for the past. Where does Brendan Hughes think republicanism should go from here? He is unequivocal about the fact that a return to armed struggle is not an option. "The most important thing at the moment is truth. The next most important thing is that people should be allowed free speech. The third objective is to force republicanism to broaden the base of debate," he said.

Hughes tries to keep his disagreements with the current leadership on an ideological level, but it is impossible to expunge personal factors from the equation. If one wanted evidence that the personal really is political, republicanism provides it. It's there in Hughes' own words when he talks of the "major problems" encountered by people trying to come to terms with the suffering they endured (or inflicted) during the conflict.

"There are many people who have gone through this whole struggle and have gone off their heads. Kieran Nugent, one of the first blanket men, finished up with people calling him a water rat, drinking wine at the side of a river. Loads of others have just died off," he said.

There is one note of personal bitterness sounded by Hughes, too. It goes back once again to ties of friendship. It goes back to Gerry Adams. Hughes believes that eventually his old comrade was using him only to further his (Adams') own agenda.

He recalled one period in the 1980s: "I was being trailed all over the country with him at that point. He was building up an electoral base. But I didn't know that. I was just Brendan Hughes, the famous 'Darkie' Hughes who had escaped from jail and who'd been on hunger strike. My reputation was being used."

Adams and Hughes last met about three months ago. It wasn't a pleasant experience: "He was asking me questions about my getting publicity, talking about the 'Armani suit brigade' and so on. And he was saying things about the people I was associating with -- that I had got myself into bad company and I should get myself out of it. It was an attempt to censor me through friendship. But it was so ridiculous! If Gerry had said that to me 20 years ago, I'd have f*cked him a right!"

Yet, for all that, an old black and white photograph still hangs in Hughes' living room. Two men. Long hair in a Long Kesh cage. Big smiles. Arms around each other. Brothers-in-arms. Gerry Adams and Brendan Hughes. "The reason I keep that there is it reminds me what it used to be like," said Hughes. "We were 100% into it. One hundred percent."
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Re: Road to Freedom

Post  ElPaso on Thu Jun 10, 2010 5:20 pm

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Re: Road to Freedom

Post  ElPaso on Thu Jun 10, 2010 5:30 pm

Continuation of 'The Dark'....

John McDonagh: Could you just give us your background within the Republican Movement how you grew up and why did you join and how did that come about?

Brendan Hughes: Well, I joined the republican Movement in 1969 uh my father had a history of Republicanism , my grandfather was in prison, my father was in prison, uh my mother had been arrested.. um... I grew up in an area of Belfast which was predominantly Protestant, and growing up most of my friends were all Protestants and there wasn't a great deal of Republicanism about during my youth except through father's background. and my father would be pretty private about that except on occasion where he would talk about his cousin being shot dead in Yard Street, and stories about my grandfather and so forth.

But in 1969 when the pogroms came about , when house were being burnt down ,when the B-Specials were shooting up Divis street and so forth I became involved in the movement then actively , through a cousin of mine it was a guy called Charlie Hughes who was shot dead in 1971 by the Officials, the Official IRA.

By that time in 1970 a split had occurred with the Irish Republican Army, the Provisional wing of the Irish Republican Army was formed. I became involved as member of that organization and through that um. . Initially it was for defense against attacks by the B-Specials , the RUC, and the Loyalist mobs and defended places like Bombay Street , the areas where I lived myself which was up the Gratton Road , and when the British Army came in... The war actually started then with the British Army. The British Army raided houses in the lower Falls where I lived and looked for arms caches which the IRA had hidden, which resulted in the Lower Falls Curfew. Which I was involved in. There were people there form the 40s campaign the 50s campaign, like Bill McKee, Proinsias McAirt who were long time republicans and who had seen this as an opportunity to bring about a united Ireland and that is actually when I got totally involved in the Republican Movement... in the Republican Struggle against the British.

John McDonagh: So were you arrested at that time?

Brendan Hughes: I was not arrested until 1973. I had been on the run from 1970 and the British troops had raided my house looking for me, arrested my father, interrogated my father, and then released him 48 hours later to walk home with no shoes on in his bare feet. Um... So from 1970 until 1973, I lived in a different house every night, I moved from house to house. The British were continually raiding to trying capture me. Um... They actually started to. . It was they who nicknamed me The Dark, it was they who called me "The Dark", the British troops, but from 70 to 73 I just was constantly on the run.

John McDonagh: And how old were you at that time?

Brendan Hughes: I was 21.

John McDonagh: And then how did your capture come about?

Brendan Hughes: I was arrested um. . on the Fall road along with Gerry Adams and Tom Cahill. By that stage the British media, the press in England, had headlined news articles about me being the commander of the IRA or being Operations Officer of the IRA in Belfast. And we were having a meeting on the Falls Road, my self, Gerry and few others when the British Army raided the house an arrested us all. I was then take to... we were all taken to Springfield Road RUC station where we were interrogated by ten plain clothed British troops... uh.. British undercover operatives and we were tortured. Uh.. I was continually tortured for over a period of up to eight hours I was beaten with small hammers , I was tied against the wall and continually punched and kicked. I was then tied to a chair and continually beaten. They put a weapon in my. . a gun a 45 in my mouth... and pulled the trigger, but obviously it didn't work. They threatened to shoot me there and dump me on the Black Mountain and put out a statement out saying that loyalists had killed me.

John McDonagh: And what were you being charged with at that time?

Brendan Hughes: Nothing. Nothing... I wasn't arrested with anything um... I was.. when they were interrogating me, they were trying to get me to sign a statement that said I was member of the IRA which I did not. So after a period of fourteen or fifteen hours I was handcuffed, manacled, and thrown into the back of an armored car, and driven to long Kesh were I was interned.. for an indefinite period.. um.. with out any charge. I wasn't charged with anything. I was just thrown into Long Kesh Internment Camp.

John McDonagh: And that how long were you interned?

Brendan Hughes: I was there for about eight months then I escaped from Long Kesh. I escaped in a garbage truck. What happened was is that I was put inside a large bag.. uh.. with rubbish, sawdust, and all the garbage of the camp. The guys who came to lift the rubbish... a lorry came every day... I was thrown in the back of the garbage truck and after four or five hours in camp the truck left , left Long Kesh and up toward the hill , I broke.. I was able to release my self from the bag , jump out of the lorry, and then.. I had a lift actually to Newry where I had some money coming out the jail, were I had a taxi and I was driven to Dundalk were I was eventually free.

John McDonagh: Was there any chance of you being crush within the garbage truck?

Brendan Hughes: NO. No it wasn't that type of garbage truck it was an open type truck. The Danger the biggest danger was... before the truck left the camp uh British soldier would push a large spiked object through the rubbish... and it actually happened that day. But I had a bit of luck that day and at both times they missed and I wasn't hit. But at they period when this happening I knew exactly what was happening, because we had done some intelligence work on it we knew the whole process. But I took the chance. and it worked OK they did not spike me. But I must admit at like one stage I felt like jumping up and shouting that I was here in fear of being spiked by this.. its like a large spear.

John McDonagh: And then how long were free at this stage how long did you stay free?

Brendan Hughes: Well.. I got across the border I got a new identity. I had my hair dyed and changed my who appearance and came back. I was back in Belfast within ten days Um. . 1974 May 1974 I was arrested in Belfast again. I was arrested on the Malone Road in a large house on the Malone Road which is totally outside the working class area. which was a policy of mine at the time, to move outside the working class areas because it was becoming so hard to move around. I established an identity as traveling toy sales man an set up set up home out side West Belfast all together. But I was traveling into West Belfast everyday with a suit and a brief case and so forth. I was often stopped by British troops and RUC, but I ways got by... until the particular time when they raided the house an arrested me along with weapons and munitions detonator an so forth.

John McDonagh: And then what were you charged a sentence to at that stage?

Brendan Hughes: Pardon?

John McDonagh: What were you charged and sentenced to at that stage?

Brendan Hughes: I was charge with possession of weapons and sentenced to fifteen years um. . they then took me out again an charged with me escape from Long Kesh and gave me one and a half years. uh. . I went into Long Kesh and. . some time in 1978 I became OC of the Prisoners in Long Kesh. Um. .At one period there was a bit of riot.. and being OC. I attempted to stop the riot. But in doing that I was accused of causing the riot and I was taken out and sentenced to another five years. The morning I went to court.. My position as being OC of Long Kesh, I would go out every morning and negotiate with the governor of the prison on condition and people would make requests, an I would have to sit and meet and talk to the governor and request these things the prisoners were looking for. Sometimes it was a mandolin, sometime it was guitar, sometime it was a pair of boots or medical equipment or something like that,. . and I would go and sit. . and it would be quite cordial and quite friendly and I was called Mr. Hughes, or host Commanding Officer. Um. . shortly afterwards I was taken to court,, sentenced another five years and I found my self put in the back of a truck and taken down to the H-Blocks of Long Kesh. I was walked in, told to strip uh.. thrown into a cell naked.. and with a blanket around me.

John McDonagh: Did they ask you to wear a prison uniform?

Brendan Hughes: The asked me to wear a prison Uniform.. .Yes.

John McDonagh: And then you refused?

Brendan Hughes: I refused to wear a prison uniform yea, because I didn't see my self a criminal. I was a political prisoner.

John McDonagh: And at that stage how long had the blanket protest gone on in the H-Blocks?

Brendan Hughes: The Blanket Protest had gone on almost two years uh.. I had been in contact with the. . Me being OC of the prisoners of Long Kesh I was also the OC of the prisoners in the H-Blocks, but at no time did I visualize the conditions of the men in the H-Blocks. until I got there.. But I had put an appeal against the five year conviction because I was... I actually had a prison officer who went and gave evidence to the fact that I was not involved in any sort of riot. I was involved in trying to keep the peace intact. but I think at that period they wanted me out of the H-Blocks and they gave me the five years.. Soon afterward with the prisoners they asked me to takeover , because it was totally disorganized there was two blocks at that time there was H-5 and H-3 and there was an OC at H-5, an OC at H-3 and there was no communication at all, because at that period they were not taking visits, there was no papers, there was no radio. There was absolutely nothing at all. Everybody had long hair and long beards.. .. I felt a responsibility to try and change that. .. So I dropped the appeal against my five year conviction and became OC of the two block H-5 and H-3. I then stated to organize cause I knew um.. that the prison authorities had my people our people totally under control the were totally. ..the place was spotless clean.. screws.. the Prison officers as they were called, were totally in control of this and the people there was over a 150 men here at the time. were not going anywhere. So my.. point was.. we need communication.. we step up the protests we need to do something. And actually I initially suggested...and this might be hard to believe, but its actually true, that we put on the prison uniform.. and we go into the system.... and we wreck the bloody place. Just totally wreck the prison, because eat the way we were stuck in the cell 24 hours a day no fresh air no showers no nothing. but the people that were there for two years found this very hard to take, so it was decided that we couldn't take that way. so then I ordered that people would begin to take visits and to take a visit, you had to put on the prison uniform. That was OK, as far as I was concerned. It was compromise we had to make for the point of us making communication and to get more outside to what the conditions were really like. And from that uh we went right into the Blanket protests and went right into the Hungerstrikes.

John McDonagh: But Brendan before you get into the Hunger Strikes maybe you could explain how you ended up on the Dirty Protest?

Brendan Hughes: Well...... .. Because we began to take visits, because we began to smuggle things in. We began to bring pens in , bits of paper in we began to smuggle thing out. . uh. . we called them barges which is a communication wrapped up in cellifoil. it was placed up the anus, sometime up the nose, and it would be passed over sometimes in the mouth. It would be passed over on a visit. Uh. .the Prison authorities realized what we were doing because obviously they raiding cells an finding pens, and finding tobacco and finding stuff. So they introduced a mirror.. a mirror search. What happened on the visit is that they came, took you out of the cell, walked you up the end corridor, and forced you squat over a mirror. We refused to squat over the mirror, so we were physically forced over the mirror so that they could look up the anus.They would then badly mistreat us... mess with us going out a visit. .coming back and the shower thing They were supposed to give a shower once a week They wouldn't do that. Sometimes they would give, let one person go for shower other time they wouldn't. And since most of the time when people went for a shower, they were getting physically and verbally abused. So the order was given finally. .. No more showers. we stopped going to the showers. We refused to wash. So they began to bring bucket around... buckets of water and throw them into the cell. Often just throwing them on the floor and water would spill and we supposed to wash with this. So the order was given to smash the bases, smash the jugs. which were plastic uh.. we smashed all those so they stopped doing that. uh... It came to the point where we had to stop going out of the cells all together because of the physical abuse and verbal abuse every time we left the cell. And that's what developed into the dirty protest. We started to smear excreta in the cell , we wouldn't wash, we wouldn't go out. .uh. . and the cells just became uh... infested with rubbish, with urine, with excreta and the situation that they were given.

John McDonagh: And how long did that last ?

Brendan Hughes: That lasted almost three years. but it was slow development because through the protest we making eventual destroy our beds, smashed them up.. smashed the windows so all we were left with a mattress all we had was blanket and mattress on the floor. And they would come in, most nights they would come in with hose pipes and just open the cell door an you'd get hosed down. Other times they would come in with very strong disinfectant and throw a bucket of disinfectant around you to the point where it brought tears to the eyes and was very painful. uh.. after we smashed the windows, they came I put iron grills on the windows.. we were totally sealed in. and this carried on for almost three years.

John McDonagh: Was there any heat the cells I mean was the wind coming in form these grates

Brendan Hughes: Yea , yea the snow , you would wake up in the morning with snow on you.. yea the windows were totally open until they put the grills on. Even with the grills on very often they turned the heat off the cold winter nights they turn the heat off and the hot summer days they turn the heat on um.. they took a large machine.. uh we used pour out the urine out the cell doors at night and they would put this large sucker machine to let the. . and leave the machine on all night. It was like a generator going all night.. uh..they left the lights on all night and as I said in the winter nights they would turn the heat off.

John McDonagh: This would bring us up to 1980 , how were you able to communicate and organize a hunger strike within the prison?

Brendan Hughes: We had a line of communication with the Irish language at night we would shout the windows uh.. in Gaelic. .what was happening uh.. we were able to send communications. .A guy would go on a visit with a commutation. .. if I wanted a communication to H-block.. I was in H-Block 5 and I wanted a communication to H-Block 3 I would uh. .write a communication and give it someone going out on a visit and often other people in H-5 ,H-6 H-7 would meet on a visit and the communication would be passed on that way but by and large it was done through shouting at nights the quiet nights, and Long Kesh was a very quiet place at night. .and were able to shout from one block to another block ,pass the communication from one wing to another wing and on to another block. That. .That is how we done it.

John McDonagh: And how did you did come the decision about the Hungerstrike?

Brendan Hughes: Well...... ....because we were getting so much publicity uh because of the conditions we were in and remember that for two years these men had been sitting and no one knew anything that was going on that we were being brutalized, we were being tortured being totally mistreated, by 1980 people were beginning to realize that there was something wrong. the Main break through was when Cardinal O'Fiaich, the Catholic Arch Bishop.. the Catholic Cardinal of Ireland visited the prison. But he was only allowed to visit the prison or visit the people from South Armagh where the cardinal had came from but by pure coincidence I was in a cell with a guy from Armagh and Cardinal O'Fiaich came in and I spoke to him and he was really really touched by what he had seen and he walked out of the prison gate and he made a public statement on television an cells looked like the streets of Calcutta the H-Blocks. From then on we began negotiation with Cardinal O'Fiaich Cardinal O'Fiaich began negotiations. and his contact with me was priest called father Alec Green and Alec was chaplain in the prison and Alec kept contact contact with me and always told me that the Cardinal was doing things, The Cardinal was meeting behind the scenes, we actually began meeting other priest Father Alec Green, he was lovely gentleman. ... behind the scenes and Cardinal O'Fiaich went to see Maggie Thatcher..... and... I wasn't there at the meeting, but I was told that Maggie Thatcher was totally insulting the Cardinal, uh. .we had our hopes really built up here that we were getting a break through and I was getting word back through Father Alec Green that there are things happening.... hold on because we had been threatening hunger strike for about a year now and we were actual going to call one. We were all holding back, then one day I got a visit from Danny Morrison who told me... on the visit that.. Maggie Thatcher had shut the door on the Cardinal and there was nothing. And we had almost four hundred men here who were sitting waiting.. sitting on the blanket for years... and all their hopes were built into this.. into Cardinal O'Fiaich making some sort of progress, and here we had Maggie Thatcher just shut the door in his face... and I was told this on the visit.... I got a visit from Danny Morrison an Danny told me. .. he brought cigar up for me that day. .and the only the only time ya smoke was on visit. I smoked the cigar and he told me that the door was closed, Cardinal got nothing... and I didn't know what to do. And he asked me actually , "what are you going to do now?" and I said, there was no alternative but hunger strike. We have to.. there's nothing left except hunger strike.. . And I walked back.... and its was long walk back for the visit to the H-blocks......I remember.. I'll never forget the walk back. . the prison officer beside me walking back with a long, long beard ,long, long hair filthy , dirty, and walking up the. . the path... and walking up the path into the blocks is two wings, and every face is their window looking... to see if I had any scéal. .what we'd call scéal which is news... had I any news for them. . and I didn't know what I was gonna tell these people. ..uh. . and we never ever spoke until after eight o'clock and there was only two screws left in the wing.

And I was entering the cell that day and Bobby Sands was at the cell next to me. And Bobby was obviously at the pipe right away. We used to dig holes in the walls so we could communicate. And I told Bobby its up in the air and we have to organize a hunger strike. Bobby absolutely was in total agreement with it and from there we started to organize the hunger strike. That night I got up to the door. . it was half past eight at night when everything was quiet.. none of the rest of the prisoners knew except my self and Bobby that the whole process with Cardinal O'Fiaich had fallen through and I then said what then happens, and that we had no alternative but to call a hunger strike. And...

I remember the total... utter silence. .. uh and that night. . Bobby. .Bobby had a great voice for shouting , Bobby done most of the shouting, most of the communication in the Kesh at the window... and we began the work later that night through the communications through Bobby and the Irish language. And. ..I mentioned earlier on that. .Long Kesh was a quite place.. it was a really silent place that night.

The next day, over the next couple of days, I got communications back in from the other block. volunteers, I ask for volunteers for hunger strike. and... I think there was a 148 volunteers... and I wanted six.... one from each county..and I got a hundred a forty-eight names in... it was only a couple of days. Um... my self and Bobby selected six people. Actually Bobby wanted to go on the first hunger strike and I decided against it. I felt the responsibly that I should do it I called it and I should be on it. and.. the process started for there, six of us went on hunger strik...

John McDonagh: You represented Antrim?

Brendan Hughes: Yes.

John McDonagh: What was the qualifications and what was a tough decision to pick one form the other counties, How did they qualify?

Brendan Hughes: It... It was very very hard. Very very hard to pick people. One person I had rejected was a guy called Sean McKenna... and Sean begged me and begged me... to choose his name... and I eventually did. The other qualification was. . there was people from the Irish National Liberation Army there as well. and we allowed of theirs. .one from that organization to go on the hunger strike. The biggest majority of the people in Long Kesh at that time were Provisional IRA people... um there was a small group of INLA people and they demanded that they had a representative on the hunger strike and we agreed to that... and it was guy called Sean Nixon, a guy who was in the INLA went on hunger strike with us.

John McDonagh: and what happened to that first hungerstrike in 1980?

Brendan Hughes: Uh.. the hunger strike went on for uh.. Fifty-three days. On the forty first day we got representation from British Civil Servants who had come in a produced this document.... as an attempt to settle the hunger strike...we right away... at this stage six of us were within the prison hospital, and we had met in what is called the Canteen Room and we were allowed some time to discuss...uh We went back into our cells...Ten days later they came back again with another document which they produced , which we studied and which we believed was a possible.. was possible solution to the problem.

Uh. . on the Fifty-third day, the day the hunger strike ended, a priest who representing us met a British civil servant at a Belfast airport. and the only way that the priest could recognize this guy is that he would have a red carnation in his coat. The priest me this civil servant or whoever he was with the red carnation who passed over a document.

That night the night the hunger strike ended, Bobby Sands and the priest was in the prison hospital.. at this stage uh.. Seam McKenna was in a coma. .. uh... and was almost dead.... ... The doctor Dr. Ross , who our doctor at the time, told me that Sean had only a few hours to live... uh. .I believed that that we had the basis of a solution. They rushed Sean out on a stretcher.

At this stage I was still able to walk and there was two priest there Father Murphy an Father Connor who helped me out into the hall way when they were rushing Sean out and Doctor Ross begged to save Sean's life. and. .I said it, "feed him.". ...intravenously.

Sean..... ... was.... uh. .. was immediately put out on support machine and the hunger strike was actively over. The document that the priest brought we believed was a settlement. Bobby and priest was there with me and um we believed. .I couldn't read because my eyesight was gone, but the priest who had brought the document to us was overjoyed. I mean we were overjoyed as well because Sean wasn't going to die and none of us were gonna die and we had a settlement. We believed we had a settlement.

Over the next few days... I believe it was the prison regime itself that was responsible for causing the collapse of that agreement. The refused to accept cloths, they refused to accept certain pieces of clothes. . Bobby had not taken over.. When I went on hunger strike, I handed my position over to Bobby...Bobby Sands when Bobby was in the negotiations I was still recovering for the hunger strike in the hospital. uh.. he was in constant contact with me. They were bringing Bobby up to the hospital every day to see me.

The prison officers who were running the jail hated the whole deal. They detested us. They believed that we had won and they done their utmost, including the Prison Governor to sabotage the whole thing. I believed they did sabotage it. . and leading to the point of where Bobby sent a communication up to me that they had stopped allowing Bobby to come to see me at one stage. Uh Bobby sent a communication to me that he didn't see any alternative here except another hunger strike. uh I fought with Bobby actually over this. I didn't believe that we should go on a second hunger strike. Bobby was the OC and I was not that the facts as they stood and they went on hunger strike. and it was Bobby's decision that the second hunger strikes take place.

John McDonagh: Now a significant part of this second hunger strike which happened in 1981 was the election of Bobby Sands to the British Parliament for Fermanagh /South Tyrone. Maybe you could describe to our audience what was that like and was that a big gamble by putting him up because had he lost it might've discredited the hungerstrikes, but what was it like in the prison an how did you find out that we won the election?

Brendan Hughes: Well we. .. we didn't have any form of communication. Any form of communication we had we used to uh...smuggle it in. .into small pieces , small articles or whatever we had no newspaper , no radio, no television, and when we heard that Bobby was elected. We, were elated.. I mean the whole world knew that he was elected before we did. . We did feel that. . we believed or hoped... that.. Jesus this must end now, then they must give in now.. they must give us our demands...

John McDonagh: But Brendan, when you were figuring out to have him run did you think it was big enough gamble that if he lost the election , it would have hurt the chances of the hungerstrike , I mean how.. what was that though process like? About that you took a gamble on it?

Brendan Hughes: We actually on the inside didn't have great deal of influence on into that it was uh..the leadership on the outside that.. that... had that , and they were supremely confident and we had a great deal of faith in the leadership on the outside and when that decided to run Bobby in the election we believed that it was the right decision and we believed that we should do it. and we heard the stories about the support we had out there and we knew the sympathy was out there, so we were pretty confident that Bobby. .Bobby would make an impression. Uh. .. But we also really believed that if Bobby was elected we would.. it practically break the British role and we would get our demands. The thought process was dictated from the outside.

John McDonagh: And then uh... what happen after the election?

Brendan Hughes: . ..... uh..... Bobby died. They, they allowed him to die... and...noth...nothing changed within the prison. uh.. As I said we didn't have any sort of communications at that time at all.. and all I'm doing. .and all I have been doing is looking back an reading about that period, because we were totally isolated at the time a totally and totally demoralized at that time when Bobby's election didn't make any difference and hen when Bobby died and again the whole world knew before we knew. .. A priest came to my cell in the early hours of the morning after Bobby died and told me.. and I knew it as soon as the priest walked into my cell. ..that Bobby was dead. and. . it was... just an... abyss... to us.

John McDonagh: And did you have any ceremony inside the prison?

Brendan Hughes: Yea well... we were locked in the cell.. all. silence. . silence...silence is. . is a thing we know very well in the jail. and we had a two minute silence thing uh.. and that Sunday after Bobby's death that the only time we came out of our cells was.. we went to mass. and... we had our social mass in the jail.. every wing had a special mass in the jail for that , but then the whole process start all al over again uh ten died...

John McDonagh: uh then it was called off in the Fall and then I believe the demands were implemented by the Thatcher administration.

Brendan Hughes: The demands were implemented. . yea. .the demands were implemented by the fact that that we were without.. they allowed us our clothes. they gave us our cloths after the deaths. . and we went out. .out of our cells. And it was totally different regime all together. you know, we had shoes on, we had cloths on, we had dignity... uh and these same people who had tortured us all these years were still there uh you went into the prison system, they forced us to work we wanted to work and sabotaged everything we could get out hands on. We broke all machines, we did everything we could do to disrupt the who prison regime to eventually when it came to the point that that said don't.. they wouldn't let us go to work any more, so we won that demand. The demand not to work... not to take prison work. And over a period of a year all of the demands we had asked for we had. we had our own cloth our free association, we were treated as political prisoners, we had representative as OC who the prison governor had to recognize. and it intact we had won all the demand that we wanted.

John McDonagh: And it came at great cost.

Brendan Hughes: It came at too big a cost I think...yes

John McDonagh: Did it mainly have to do with Thatcher intransigence through the whole negotiation of the whole Hunger strike?

Brendan Hughes: Her intransigence? Yes, I think it was largely to do with that. I think that there were people there in White Hall, in the British government who would've been quite prepared to give us what we had... what we had.. I have spent almost eight year in prison with my own clothes with political status, and here they were trying to take it away from us uh. .. and eventually they had to concede that we were political prisoners, they could not control us, they tried to control us uh... they couldn't we resisted every attempt to the point where ten men died. .. and Thatcher... Thatcher. That woman. Thatcher.. just could not accept the fact that we were political prisoners. .we were fighting for a cause.

John McDonagh: Which brings us up to what is going on today, and I want to go back into the prison, because there's been a lot of discussion that the process that was designed in 1998 had its germs in...within the discussion group with Gerry Adams, Bobby Sands and your self about a way forward, a way out of what was going on. how much of you guys were a part of that through process which brought us to the treaty that was signed in 1998? and was it even discussed that the way to a United Ireland was to bring back Stormont and some of the thing that have come about out of the process?

Brendan Hughes: Absolutely not. Um. . a lot of us within the prison some of us were in our teens some Twenty-one , all young men. A lot of us went in with uh.. not a great deal of political though in our heads. Within Long Kesh with in the the cages of Long Kesh uh. we began to push and I remember Gerry. . Gerry was the main driving force behind this. that we need politically educated rank and file.. politically educated rank and file.. and with in Long Kesh we began to do that. We had debates, we had discussions, we had arguments we had we read about the Palestinian Cause we read bout the South African Cause, we debated all these causes and we became politically educated, we became not just a soldier who was just a person who was able to fire a gun , but a person who was able to think uh before he fired a gun. So all that started there I mean I was in the cages with Bobby Sand and I was in the H-Blocks with Bobby Sands and went through this whole situation where we became and we knew... that before we went into the prison there was Sinn Fein and there was the IRA all the fighting we were doing we were creating a party called. . the SDLP actually became the nationalist voice of the IRA, though they were not representing the IRA but the SDLP was largely created by the war that was going on and we knew that if your going to fight a war, then you gotta be able to fight a war and be able to talk after the fighting stops. So the whole sort of people who are involved in the struggle now, are politically educated ex soldiers. Uh

John McDonagh: OK now you were released in 1986 and in the interview that you did with a magazine that we will be giving out the web address later on, you stated that you went to work for contractors in West Belfast and how you were reminiscing about what your father had said that nothing much had changed after all the suffering that went on and everything that was going ,that you were still be exploited by what you were calling cowboy contractors?

Brendan Hughes: Yes. Yea. Uh... I remember the story my father used to tell me like when they all got out of jail people like Billy McKee, me father, Proinsais McAirt and so forth uh they were sort of alienated by society and they could've worked anywhere , so that had to take , get any sort of work they could get uh.. I remember feel that that was so sad. I mean here was people who went to war trying bring about a democratic Socialist Republic and they are working for these people who are Exploiting. Um when I got out of the prison in 1986 I found myself right in the same position again , I couldn't leave West Belfast I was too well known. I couldn't have worked outside West Belfast I had to stay here.. but the only work I could get would be on a building site. and these people, they were Catholic, they called themselves nationalists, but they doing the same an were paying people 15 to 16 pounds per day where the average would be 30 to 35 pounds per day, and that still persist today. And its not just Builders , there's loads of employers who do the same. And me being a republican and me being involved in the Republican Struggle, one of my objectives in fighting this war and trying to bring about a uh..a Democratic Socialist Republic, was to fight for the working class. And unfortunately I don't see that happening , I see the working class being exploited again. and being allowed.. the Republicans allowing people to exploit the ordinary working man and woman and I'm totally opposed to that. And. ..one... A few years ago I wrote an article for An Phoblacht Republican News against these people and I found I had to fight with the editorial people within An Phoblacht uh. . to publish the thing. And when it eventually was published , it was totally censored! Um... I wanted to expose these people years and years ago and I wasn't allowed to. that article was printed okay, but there was no editorial , there was no campaign, there was no anything.

And all those last few years I've kept quiet. I haven't said anything through a sense of loyalty to the Republican Movement. and do not get me wrong, I still feel and am a member of the Republican Movement, I still believe the the Republican Cause, I don't believe there is anybody outside the Republican Movement that can bring about any changes. The problem I feel is that republicans are sitting back and there's some of them there who have made careers out of politics and have left the who principle that ten men died for and hundreds of men died for and hundreds of men went to jail for, have left behind. And I think they need to be wakened up and it needs to be pointed out to them that as I said in the article, it takes a great deal of pain for me to come to the point where I could put pen to paper and write this. And I do it reluctantly , but I do it through necessity and I do it through uh. ..and I also do it for my comrades who died. ..

John McDonagh: But Brendan you do have people like Marian Price who have spoke out against this Agreement and then they are ostracized in republican clubs where she's not allowed into some. Some of the songs that were written about her in the 70s are not allowed to be sung in the clubs, I mean your talking loyalty but it's also a great risk within a community that you were born a raised that you're going to be ostracized for those views.

Brendan Hughes: Yea, but unfortunately that a risk we have to take. I mean Marian an Dolours would be comrades of mine. uh and. . some of the people who would ostracize people like that ,or ostracize people like me. I have no time for. Let their petty little minds ostracize right, but anyone who would want to ostracize me I would want to ask them a question...do you agree with everything the republican movement is doing ? If they do , then okay, then go away from me, I have no time for ya. If they don't agree, and they don't say anything...then I think they 're a moral coward. At least Marion has the guts to stand up to and say something that she believes is wrong. I don't necessarily agree with everything Marian says, but I absolutely agree with the right for her to say, or anyone else to say what they believe in

John McDonagh: But Brendan one of the whole problems about this whole process is that started with Gerry Adams an John Hume and it's been banged around in the press its called a "Pan-nationalist front" Never at no time do they say its a pan-republican front, so its quite obvious that Republicans had to go over to a nationalist point of view in order to join that front, because I can tell you in America there has always been a pan-nationalist front with the Irish government, with Ted Kennedy, with the American Government and with John Hume always stopping people form getting visas to come into this country so what in actual fact happened is a certain part of the Republican Movement has joined that pan -nationalist front.

Brendan Hughes: Yes and that apart of it , I think that the point I'm trying to make. I think they need to be pulled back from that. I think we need to get back to the principles of republicanism. the principles I was brought up with the principles of James Connolly, of Liam Mellows, of true Republicanism, and I see the people... some of these people going about now.. and they could just be happy to be members SDLP. And the SDLP is not a party that I would be involved with. Sinn Fein some of the Sinn Fein Leadership now, I don't want to be involved with them. I want Republicanism back to its roots.

John McDonagh: But then they'll tell you then the doors will shut the visas will stop, we'll not get into the White House on St Partricks Day, the fundraising will stop in America and well be an isolated party. Where by if we have all these doors open maybe we can make some progress, but there is a price to open those doors.

Brendan Hughes: Well, I mean, If you have all the doors open and you walk through the doors and leave yer children behind, what the hell is the sense of leaving the doors open if you leave your children behind?

We're talking about the Republican family here, a family that's been fighting a war for so many years, I think if you are honest and sincere and you stick by the ideas that you fought for, then so what if the doors close, then kick them down some way. uh I Mean there no use have these doors open if actually your leaving everything behind now. and I'm afraid that there are some people in the leadership who are prepared to do that.

I.. . I... I talk to people everyday on the ground and most of them ex-prisoners, and all Republicans, and most of them are very unhappy with the way things are going and I know the point that your making, You have to get some doors open somewhere, but I don't think you should have to leave your principles behind to do that.

John McDonagh: You're Listening to Radio Free Eireann and this will be aired on St Partricks Day we're speaking with Brendan Hughes who is the former OC of the H-Blocks and in Long Kesh and we started off with his background being in prison and now we're going to what we find in 1998. Now Brendan in your wildest dreams when you were fighting to bring down the local government in the six counties called Stormont, that you would see a day where you actual have Sinn Fein begging the loyalist to go into Stormont and actually having administering British rule in Ireland and being paid by the British to do it? Now in your article you stated you think there was an insurgency program going on by the British government to mold a republican leadership that they can deal with. Maybe you can explain how this came about where you now have member of Sinn Fein fighting to get into a British government in the six counties?

Brendan Hughes: Yea,.. It something I could never visualize my wildest dreams, I never visualized that what so ever. The Problem is like in 1972 thecease-fire... the IRA cease-fire the British Government tried to get people involved in this long drawn out cease fire just to end the war and it was recognised within a period of two weeks... it was recognized an the war was back on again.

In 1975 they released certain people they arrested certain people and released certain people. Gerry Adams was one of the people arrested I was one of the people arrested. they released other people from the prison who became the leadership in the republican movement. And within the prison people like my self and Gerry opposed the cease-fire and some of the articles Gerry wrote many articles warning the leadership that your getting drawn into long drawn out cease-fire, the British are trying to stop the war. And their trying to mold the type of people they can deal with. And as I said they selectively released people from prison knowing they would be in the leadership and knowing their profiles and knowing the British could deal with them.

In the nineties I think they have done the same. They have allowed a leadership to develop. They have pumped millions into here. I mean there's centers all over the place in West Belfast and North Belfast, people have gone into these centers and become career people and they are being paid very decent wages, certainly a lot more than the people in the building situation were being paid, and the British have encouraged this. ..and here ya have other people... to the point where ya have people breaking away forming the Continuity IRA, the Real IRA uh which I am not a supporter of , I think the leadership needs to look at itself and needs to find out, are they playing the Brit's game here? And I believe they are. I mean going into Stormont, the.. the contradiction of a Republican begging loyalists to go into Stormont. . Its. .Its just so hard for me to swallow.

John McDonagh: Also we had Martin McGuiness stating in this country that when these vote were taken , that he was voted in by the Irish people and he was voted by the Irish people to administer British rule in Ireland, but then the rug was pulled out form under him when they just passed a law in London negating any vote that just took place in Ireland and just made unless you play the game , we can give you your role be a Minister and we can also take that away.

Brendan Hughes: That.... that's. .. Exactly what I think the whole thing been just a farce. It never ceases to amaze me how we have allowed ourselves to get into this position where the British control everything here, they still control everything here the RUC's still here, the whole structure's still here the judiciary is still here , uh the murder machine's still here and um i mean hospitals are getting pulled down schools are getting funds cut. um.. we find ourselves in a position where Republicans are administering this, and we don't have any control.

How far down the line do we go here? Do we start putting on Wigs and joining the judiciary, the British judiciary and start administering British justice in Ireland? At the moment or when the assembly was going we were administering British rule.

How Far.. How far do we go here? To me the whole thing seems to me sometimes to be a complete farce. I mean where the hell is Republicanism going ? All I'm trying to do.. I don't have an alternative, people keep saying to me if your going to criticize put up an alternative. I don't have an alternative, the alternative is within the republican movement. I think there has to be an open an honest debate.

You heard about the Humes Adams Document...What is it? Have you seen it?

John McDonagh: Nope.

Brendan Hughes: : I haven't seen it. I don't know what it's all about! What was said or even came out of the document that brought this whole process about? I don't know.

The reason why people like me and Anthony McIntyre and the rest of the people that are involved with the writers group, we want to know what's going on? And we don't know what's going on, we can see what going on but what's the purpose any more?

John McDonagh: But a lot of it Brendan and you can see a lot of people just walking away from the movement saying listen I've given so much of my life I cant do it anymore and take some of the benefits which are coming in, some of the economic benefits that are coming and people are getting disillusioned. I mean how are republicans to over come that when there are job opportunities opening up and if you take the road your taking those job opportunities are going to get very small.

Brendan Hughes: We're not talking about Job opportunities here. There are people in jobs Okay, I mean I'm not in a job, thousands of people aren't in a job, there's 1,800 people who lost their jobs this morning cause people just closed down the shipyard. Uh... What are we talking about here? I m talking about the Republican Cause, I'm talking about Justice, about working for people's right for a job, I'm not talking about a handful of selected people walking into well paid jobs and having good salaries. And even that with all these people I'm talking about within well paid jobs, it can stop tomorrow if the British decide to pull the plug. These well paid jobs and these people who are in jobs have no control over their own lives!

There's 1,800 men who lost it in the ship yard today. I mean, I don't want that. .they have no control over that. .So I mean we're talking about jobs here, I mean you can have a job, but have no security. I want a job and I want security in that job , and I want a job for my son and a job for my daughter, I want security! I want to have control over that.. .a job's a job but security, is the most important thing.

John McDonagh: Well Brendan we've been almost speaking an hour here and I am very grateful for putting on the record for how we've gotten to the point where we have gotten to, uh what do recommend we do particularly in here in America an we have a lot Republican people living in the tri-state area and people will be listening on the internet, who were forced to come to this country because some of the things that are going on.

Brendan Hughes: I think they should look at the situation, look at the background, look at the history of what Ireland has done to its self. Look at the people in America you're talking about now, who had to leave Ireland. I don't want to have to leave Ireland, I don't want my children to have to leave Ireland, what I think we should do is talk, debate, if you think there is something wrong , say it ! It may hurt some people, but if you believe your right, I think you should speak up. I think people should have a great look and not be carried away by the mass media stuff. . look into the belly of the beast and see what's really happening and...

I know so many people here in Belfast and throughout Ireland who are disillusioned and who are walking away and who just don't see any hope, but what I would hope to be able to do, would be to give them a view where they can feel able to contribute to the debate. And I think the debate is the most important thing and its their way out of this and look back into Republicanism and what is Republicanism all about? And that is all I would want them to do

John McDonagh: Yea, Brendan, in this country too, people in Irish Northern Aid an the Clan na Gael are always being marginalized there is this looking up there, saying look we're in the White House look there's a picture of Gerry Adams dealing with Clinton, and I would have to believe a lot of people on the Falls Road would say look how far we've come look at the pictures.. We're on the front page of the New York Times , there's been clubs or business that you couldn't get involved with and now allowing in people with Republican backgrounds to get involved with and people are looking at this as a way forward that this as It's a great thing that's happened.

Brendan Hughes: I would say.... I have a house, and I paint the whole outside of it beautiful, and inside the house there's no furniture..... What the hell use is the house?
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Re: Road to Freedom

Post  ElPaso on Thu Jun 10, 2010 5:36 pm




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Re: Road to Freedom

Post  clagan on Fri Jun 11, 2010 2:42 am

a couple of cracking posts there El Paso. that last quote from Brendan Hughes about Adams was excellent.
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Re: Road to Freedom

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