The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent
A View of the H-Blocks

Anthony McIntyre • Issue 40, Expac News, 2005

I walked into the circle and then retraced my steps of 27 years earlier, along the concrete floor of H Block 4. The first time I made the short journey to Cell 15 at the bottom of the wing, I was barefoot. Now, almost three decades, later, I was kitted out in Timberland runners. The contrast could not have been greater. The Blanket protest seemed so far removed. Walking into my old cell, I was immediately reminded of Tommy McKearney's counsel after he had returned to visit the closed H-Blocks - it is claustrophobically small. How, I wondered, could two men share that minuscule space each day for years without sailing on the ship of fools?

We had a goal, a vision, an ideal. It made us fit for purpose. Which was never to be criminalised by a government that invariably found in every country it occupied that there was an inordinately high number of criminals, whose main criminal enterprise seemed to be opposing the British. I met many criminals during my years in the protest blocks - all working for the Northern Ireland Prison Service. I visualised how they had kicked me along the wing naked as part of the forced wash preparation. I recalled how the Northern Ireland Office waxed ethical about criminality yet covered for the criminal brutes in its pay at every turn.

In the hospital block, I stood in the ward where Bobby Sands had breathed his last. Another contrast: the small building which held the intense gaze of the world in 1981 was now desolate and detected by the mental radar of only a few. The desolation seemed a calculated act of profanity visited on sacred ground; as if something treasured and to be handled with care had been rolled up in a ball and cast into some dusty corner. More than ever before I felt the urge to have the place preserved. It is sacred ground for republicans. An eternal flame should burn there similar to the one in Arlington Cemetery at the grave of John F Kennedy.

As I left the prison, my sole regret was not being able to take my four year old daughter Firinne in along with me. Her laughter at the spot where Bobby Sands died would have been a fitting tribute to a man who died predicting that his revenge would be the laughter of our children.
































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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



There is no such thing as a dirty word. Nor is there a word so powerful, that it's going to send the listener to the lake of fire upon hearing it.
- Frank Zappa

Index: Current Articles

7 November 2005

Other Articles From This Issue:

Mary McGurk — Giving Voice to the Abandoned
Anthony McIntyre

It Is Only the Intellectually Lost Who Ever Argue
Marc Kerr

Prospects for the Left in Ireland
Eugene Mc Cartan

Bartering the Infinities
Eoghan O'Suilleabhain

The Political Police
Anthony McIntyre

Herrema's Kidnapper Explains Motive
Eamonn McCann

Revenge is a Dish Served Cold
Dr John Coulter

Causes and Effects
Mick Hall

Speaking Truth to Power
Fred Wilcox

The Bush SATaff Goes to Morals School
Mary La Rosa

A View of the H-Blocks
Anthony McIntyre

23 October 2005

Badges? We Don't Need No Stinkin Badges
Mags Glennon

A Long Way Down
Anthony McIntyre

A Party of Their Own
Mick Hall

Reid's Sectarian Slur
Eamon McCann

Repeal Anti-Catholic Section of Act of Settlement 1701
Fr. Sean Mc Manus

Nicola McCartney & the Facts About Irish History
Seaghán Ó Murchu

Usual Suspects
Anthony McIntyre

Socialism in Ireland
Francis McDonnell

Turning "Smoke ban" thing into ANTI-DIOXIN movement
John Jonik

From the Classroom to the Grave
Anthony McIntyre

Yet More Voices Against Censorship
Davy Carlin

The Death Fast Enters its 6th Year
Tayad Committee

Setting Up Abbas
Jeff Halper



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