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International Socialism, March 1977


Notes of the Month



From International Socialism (1st series), No.96, March 1977, p.5.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


THE SITUATION in Ireland remains in a log-jam. The provisional IRA are not winning; the British Army are not winning. The Dublin Government is doing its best to help the British Army. At the same time as the European Human Rights Court is hearing the case against British Government tortures it has been revealed that a ‘heavy mob’ of the southern police has been using exactly the same methods against Republicans in the South.

The terror extends back to Britain. Republican prisoners in British jails are being systematically brutalised and evidence that many were framed is beginning to emerge. The four Republican soldiers convicted in the ‘Balcombe Street Siege Trial’ refused to plead on the grounds that the British Police would not charge them for bomb attacks in Woolwich and Guildford for which they claim responsibility. 3 Irishmen and one British woman are already serving long sentences for those attacks. They were convicted on the sole evidence of ‘confessions’ forced out of them by police thugs. A great deal of evidence about police methods is likely to emerge at their appeals.

Further evidence of systematic official terror against Irish workers is provided by the operation of the notorious Prevention of Terrorism Act. To date 2101 people have been held under the Act. 44 have been charged with serious offences. 77 have been deported. 57 have been charged with minor offences. Three of these were for ‘wasting police time’.

A new twist to the PTA is about to become public. John Higgins and Eddie Caughey will go on trial under Section 10 of the Act for ‘soliciting money or property intended for the commission of acts of terrorism’.

According to Jaqueline Kaye, writing in the Irish newspaper Hibernia, they are victims of a particularly sordid frame-up. They are alleged to have attempted to procure military equipment from John Banks. The last time that name was in the press was as a recruitment officer for mercenaries sent to Angola. Leslie Aspin, the mastermind of the Angola operation, is also involved. He has claimed in his autobiographical books that he i has earlier worked as an informer for the Dublin ‘government and to have worked with the British agent provocateur Kenneth Littlejohn.

This case has all the marks of a fit-up. Both of the defendents have been harrassed before but neither has any criminal convictions. Caughey is a longstanding militant in the AUEW. He has been a branch officer, a delegate to national conference and was for three years a member of the National Executive. The PTA is designed to terrorise the Irish militant in Britain. It is an excuse for arbitrary arrest, provocation and victimisation. It comes up for renewal in the near future. We have to fight to get this vicious Act thrown out.

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