when do you have to agree with people to defend them from injustice?
Marian Price (IRPWA)
I have no real problem with Liam O Ruaircs 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.
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.
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 wouldnt 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 partys 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.
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
9 June 2002
Other Articles From This Issue:
6 June 2002
Paul A. Fitzsimmons
To contact the Blanket project with a comment, to contribute an article, or to make a donation, write to: