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Peter Hadden

Hunger strike protest

(July 1980)

From Militant [UK], No. 513, 23 July 1980.
Transcribed by Iain Dalton.
Marked up by Ciaran Crossey.

Two prisoners in Long Kesh, Martin Meehan and Seamus Mullen, are currently on hunger strike.

Meehan, after more than sixty days without food, is now also refusing liquids. It is possible that one or both of these men could be dead by the time this article is printed.

Both men are protesting their innocence. They claim that their spate convictions were a “frame up” based on paltry and contradictory evidence.

In Northern Ireland, Martin Meehan is well known as a republican. Militant, has always fought for working class unity and socialist policies as the only way forward for the Northern Ireland working class. The activities of the Provisional IRA, with whom Meehan’s name is associated, have served to divide the working class and set back the cause of socialism.

They have given the ruling class the excuse to step up their oppressive methods. Individuals like Meehan have been the victim of these policies.

The labour movement nevertheless has a responsibility to oppose oppression. What has happened to Meehan demonstrates the methods the ruling class would be prepared to use against trade unionists in Britain in the future.

At the end of 1975, Meehan was the last internee to be freed. Since then he has been arrested and held for seven-day detention periods in the interrogation centre at Castlereagh police station, on no less than 12 occasions. He was charged with organising the burning of the Long Kesh camp in 1974 – until it was discovered that he had not been in the camp at the time of the burning.

Meehan is now serving 12 years for conspiracy to kidnap. The severity of this sentence is in marked contrast to the recent one-year suspended sentence on a number of RUC men convicted of kidnapping a priest and causing an explosion and injuring by gunfire the doorman of a pub they were attacking.

The case against Meehan was presented to a non-jury Diplock Court. The entire evidence against him was based on the word of the man kidnapped in this case.

t the hearing this man confessed to being a paid army informer. He also admitted that, while working as an informer, he had been shown photographs of Meehan by the police and had been asked to carry out surveillance work on him.

During the trial a witness gave evidence to the effect that he, not Meehan had driven the car in question, and that this car did not, as he had been led to believe, belong to Meehan. The hirer of the vehicle corroborated this evidence. Yet this confession was dismissed by the judge of the grounds that the man was “partisan”.

The conviction of Seamus Mullen was based on the no less flimsy evidence of a voice identification, despite the testimony of voice experts disputing this evidence.

>The labour movement cannot afford to ignore such blatant manipulations of so-called “justice”. These cases must be taken up as must those of the other prisoners who have been convicted purely on the basis of police evidence or through “confessions” signed while under interrogation in Castlereagh and other police stations.

The movement must fight for the quashing of the convictions of both Meehan and Mullen by demanding an immediate retrial before a jury court. This is the last hope that these men have.

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