The Blanket


A journal of protest & dissent


Since when do you have to agree with people to defend them from injustice?
- Lillian Hellman



Working Together


Marian Price (IRPWA)


While I have no real problem with Liam O’ Ruairc’s article “A Missed Opportunity for Segregation”, I feel he did not have the benefit of the full facts when writing. Contrary to what Liam thinks, the idea for a new "independent" group was not hit upon by chance but was the purpose of the meeting called by RSF in April at Conway Mill. The fact that RSF had headed note-paper for the “independent” group sitting in their offices before a committee had even been voted in surely would raise some questions. Who decided on the name of the new group? What were the voting procedures? Who was entitled to be represented on the group? Had all interested parties to the issue even been made aware of the idea? Had any discussion taken place with the prisoners, their families or the respective groups who represented their views? And indeed who was to answer all of the above. Was the fact that all committee members save two were members of RSF in Belfast just a coincidence? Why were members of IRPWA, including an ex-prisoner recently released from Maghaberry, refused admission to one of these meetings if it was all-inclusive? And why did any query to the new group have to be referred back to “Geraldine” if it was independent and not affiliated to RSF? The list could go on ad finitum.

We in IRPWA questioned the need for and the agenda behind a so-called “ independent” group because the very people behind it had only a few weeks earlier stated, "Tommy Crossan was the ONLY Republican prisoner in Ireland". We found their ‘road to Damascus conversion’ to concern for ALL Republican prisoners curious to say the least but again we felt better late than never. However a few phone-calls from Irish/American fundraisers clarified and explained the whole agenda for us. The IRPWA is banned from fundraising in USA - however, RSF is not.

Contrary to what Liam states the IRPWA has never had any difficulty working with other groups on many issues. We have no problem with the idea of a “broad-front”; I think he is confusing our group with the stand taken by RSF in the past, where “broad-front” has been received like a crucifix held before a vampire. It is not only in England that we in IRPWA work well with other groups; throughout the north we have stood side by side on the prisoner issue with members of IRSP, RSF and totally non-aligned Republicans. What we strongly objected to was the attitude of RSF whereby they wouldn’t even recognise the role IRPWA had in representing the prisoners. We tried unsuccessfully for two weeks, in lengthy, private meetings with RSF to resolve the issue but we ran into a brick wall - albeit a green one! We have no wish for confrontation with any Republican group; it serves no one save our mutual enemies. We believe what happened in Conway Mill was unfortunate but it was necessary to prevent RSF building their party’s profile on the back of a prison struggle. We have all seen and are still living with the catastrophic affects of this happening in the past.

We in IRPWA wish to draw a line under this whole sorry affair and get on with the work of giving these Republican prisoners and their families the support they so justly deserve. We look forward to co-operating with other groups on this and other related issues - the IRSP are preaching to the converted on this one. Our primary concern is the plight of our own prisoners, but that is not to the exclusion of support for other oppressed peoples in Turkey, Palestine, the Basque Country and indeed worldwide.











Index: Current Articles + Latest News and Views + Book Reviews + Letters + Archives




The Blanket




INDEX: Current Articles


9 June 2002


Other Articles From This Issue:


Pleading Guilty

Anthony McIntyre


A Missed Opportunity for Segregation

Liam O'Ruairc


Working Together

Marian Price (IRPWA)


After the General Elections, What Future for Sinn Féin?

Bob Shepherd


The War on Terrorism & the Irish Factor

MN Kelly


6 June 2002


The Short Strand

Anthony McIntyre


An díomhaointeas ag cothú drochiompair

Liz Curtis


Wishing for reunion but walking yet apart

Paul A. Fitzsimmons



Dorothy Robinson



Latest News & Views

Index: Current Articles

 Book Reviews 



The Blanket Magazine Winter 2002

Republican Voices