Monday 25 July 2011

Greater Love Than This Hath No Man

At the tender age of 12 I witnessed a watershed moment in the history of Ireland’s long struggle against the British Crown. In 1981 Irish Republican prisoners reached a point of no return in the battle to break the British policy of criminalisation. The battle would culminate in the pyrrhic victory of sorts in the Irish Hunger Strikes.

From 1976 the British mounted a media offensive to give the impression that the Irish struggle for independence was a criminal gang conspiracy with no popular support other than that given through intimidation and fear – they were made out to be nothing more than gangsters.

The struggle commenced when the British Government withdrew the ‘Special Category Status’ of political prisoners. This status was granted after a previous hunger strike in 1972 at the height of the early troubles. Republicans incarcerated after this time would also be housed in a specially built maximum security prison – the H Blocks.

The first prisoner processed under the new regime was Kieran Nugent. He refused to wear the offered prison uniform and said the prison guards would have to "nail it to my back”. He was forced to be naked with only a thin prison blanket to protect his modesty. Hence came the name of the “blanket protest”.

Later the war of attrition continued and escalated to a point where the prisoners had to smear their faeces on the cell walls and throw urine under the cell doors. As conditions worsened only one tactic remained - Hunger Strike.

An abortive mass hunger strike took place in 1980 when British brinkmanship took the struggle to the point of near death. It was unsuccessful after a last minute “good faith” proposal from the Brits proved ultimately worthless – Perfidious Albion as usual.

A difficult decision was made that the weakness of this tactic would be removed. Hunger Strikers would join at different times and that in the event of deaths they would be replaced with fresh volunteers.

This would be no suicide mission but a tactic to increase pressure through public protest. Existing medical conditions would be monitored and illness would force the stand down of some hunger strikers.

The strike began on 1st of March when Bobby Sands first refused food. He would be joined by Francis Hughes, Raymond McCreesh and Patsy O’Hara. Bobby would be elected to the British Parliament in a by-election during his fast to increase the pressure on the British.

All through March and April tensions rose rapidly. Everyone expected the Brits to play brinkmanship games again. No one believed that they would allow a Member of their Parliament to die in this manner. In the early hours of the morning of the 5th May Bobby died after 66 days on hunger strike. To say the district I lived in exploded in anger would be an understatement.

In spring and summer of that year while the world watched the petty pomp of Charles and Di’s wedding a nightmare death watch ensured for the Irish. The strike was ultimately called off in early October after the prisoners’ families’ repeatedly intervened to ask for medical treatment when they slipped into comas.

By its end 10 hunger strikers had died. 2 were ordered off the protest on medical ground, 5 had been taken off by their families and 6 were still on strike at its end. The entire nation was traumatised by the emotional rollercoaster and the ensuing violence.

Publically the British lauded the ‘defeat’ of the Republican Movement. In private it was an acknowledged disaster for them. Their reputation in the international community lay in tatters. In Ireland there weren’t enough guns to supply the new generation of volunteers.

The flagging armed resistance was rejuvenated. The electoral success of Bobby and his election agent Owen Carron propelled the political party Sinn Fein to the front of the struggle. There was no going back. All this was unforeseen in those days.

30 years ago ordinary men from ordinary backgrounds were forced into a terrible struggle with a merciless state. Despite the public stance of the British the prisoners achieved their 5 simple demands.

  1. The right not to wear a prison uniform;
  2. The right not to do prison work;
  3. The right of free association with other prisoners, and to organise educational and recreational pursuits;
  4. The right to one visit, one letter and one parcel per week;
  5. Full restoration of remission lost through the protest.

Why do I bring up these still painful memories at this time? At this very moment another strike is under way. On 1st July prisoners inside Pelican Bay State Prison in California began a rolling hunger strike.

They too have 5 demands and have been reduced to using the most fundamental weapon of the oppressed – their own lives. We can read about this struggle from the Hunger Strike Solidarity and Prison Watch blogs.

The tactic of hunger strike is an old and respected one in many cultures. It is the tactic of last resort and these men have been left with no other option. Fyodor Dostoyevsky is quoted as saying that "The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons."

We shall see how civilised the new Empire truly is. In a society that frequently employs prisoners as slave labour the dimensions of this struggle are deeper than simply ‘law and order’ issues. Human rights for the inmates in the new gulags may be more important than first thought. How many more will join them soon.

My connection to this story is an emotional one. If you can dismiss these men as ‘criminals’ I have a short story from the Irish lesson and remember well that when Christ was crucified it was in the company of two thieves.

The prison chaplain at the time of the hunger strike came to visit Bobby Sands in his cell not long after he had begun his fast. The priest sought to question Bobby on the morals of his hunger strike, Bobby's only response was to quote the bible:

"Greater Love Than This Hath No Man, Than that he Lay Down His Life for his Friend".


  1. Very strong post Chuckyman. Thank you for that. All major evil is generated by and committed by agents of the state. The Luciferian, criminal financier-controlled state.

  2. Thanks Kev and you are spot on. It was only much later in life that I could look back at that time and identify the real culprits. The British Crown encompasses the inbreeds from the Palace as well as the banksters at the heart of the ‘City of London’. That was the engine of Empire and their power has continued to spread.

  3. Although I remember most of that, the particulars are interesting indeed. Thanks for the clarity for we "yanks" that claim Irish roots! Great post.

  4. I agree with the other commenters--a very interesting post. Back in the 1990s I did a radio show and used to play the song "Bobby Sands MP" by Black 47 on my show a lot. An incredible song and an incredible man's life story.

  5. Hi there Timster. If you are ever interested in getting more of a feel for these events I would recommend a book by David Beresford called “10 Men Dead”. He was given access to all of the smuggled letters to and from the prisoners as well as interviews with many of the survivors. I still find it an emotional time and find it difficult to revisit the emotions of the time.

    The reason I went into the detail (albeit very briefly) is that I believe that the US prison issue will be very much in the headlines in the coming months. Prison labour is already used to help build parts for the Patriot Missile Systems.

    As states go bankrupt they can do one of 2 things, release them or put them to work. This article also gives a window into current practices. What are the chances of prisoner release schemes?

    The plight of prisoners is one that many will not touch. There is no cuddly feel good factor in it for them. For the inmates to have reached that stage is an indication of how bad the situation has gotten.

    I firmly believe that the population in the US will be seen by the bankster class as walking ATM’s to pay off their gambling debts. Fines will be an increasing source of revenue for all levels of government. I expect to see many more going to jail for failure to pay increasing fines or simply for being poor.

    Few could have foreseen the price to pay for a resolution of the Irish blanket and dirty protest. It was truly traumatic for the strikers, their families and for the Irish everywhere. Ultimately it was successful. Sweet revenge was had a few years later on a couple of fronts.

    My desire was to highlight a potential for a changing dynamic in America. This may seem like a small local issue. It has the potential to snowball rapidly. While some of the hunger strikers in Pelican Bay have ended their strike it continues elsewhere.

    As more and more fall through the cracks in society in the coming Depression it will put tremendous pressure on an already straining system. Where that goes should really concern us all.

  6. Thank you Richard. Bobby seems to have inspired many people helped in the main by his humble nature and sincere writings. He is certainly the most famous but they all had their personalities. Francis Hughes was a loss to the army as he had been a very effective fighter. Joe McDonnell was very well liked and respected in West Belfast.

    I have always liked Christy Moore’s work and this time touched him deeply. This was his song for Bobby, “The people’s own MP”
    The most poignant for me is the “The time has come”. It touches on the heartache and ultimate Achilles heel of the strike – the men’s’ families.

  7. I still find it an emotional time and find it difficult to revisit the emotions of the time.

    I'm sure it is, Chuckyman, but thank you for doing so. I appreciate it. You have spurred me on to writing something related that i have been putting off.

    Margaret Thatcher was a truly stupid woman and the truly evil ones, the ones that wanted more violence and confrontation, were behind her; the real culprits, as you say.
    Cheers, mate

  8. I don’t normally do request James but It was your urging in the comments of my last post that made me realise that this topic was worth the candle of writing. I look forward to your latest posting.

    Maggie was a creation of the vampires we all are now aware of. Her nickname with republicans was ‘Tin Knickers’. There were other, less polite, names also. We nearly got her in Brighton and the world may have been a better place if that had succeeded. Unlikely but we can dream.

    In her time she gutted the social contract that had existed since the end of WWII, hollowed out manufacturing and put in place the banksters as the prime mover of the Brit economy. These were not her efforts but those that placed in that position. She set the scene for all that followed.

    When the time came for the next puppet (Mr Gray – John Major who now works for the Carlisle Group) to take her place, a small glimpse of the reality behind the mask was shown. The ‘grey men’ as they were known simply told her that her time was over and she must step down. As simple as that.

    The drones here still love and respect her for her ‘moral fibre’! She and Reagan were the portrayed as the love match from hell. How close to the real agenda was that? When the time comes and she finally goes back to her master I hope to dance a jig on her grave. Long may she burn.

  9. This one is tough to figure.

    Fox and Murdoch announce Al Quaida behind Norway shootings.

    Yes and Jewish anti-muslim Sweden democrat Isaac Nygren got an emai from the shooter one hour before it happened at his residence on a Kibbutz in Israel. Another wild coincidence along with the shooter visiting Elmo Lake Minn where Michele Bachman's husband runs a camp to convert gay people such as the shooter.

    Olof Palme Swedish prime minister gunned down in Stockholm by by Croation hit squad. Vinko Sindicic former Yugoslav hitman in jail for murdering a Croation nationalist makes claim. Gun used by the killer smuggled into the country from the United States. He was a strong critic of apartheid, imperialism and the Vietnam war and believed by some Germans to have been a victim of Yugoslavian operatives. Pro-Palestinian prime minister was declared pentagon public enemy number one.

    Anna Lindh pro-Palestinian (critic of Ariel Sharon) Swedish minister for foreign affairs stabbed to death in shopping mall in 2003 by a Swede of Serb parents who was pronounced insane. Like Palme she had given her body guards the day off. She had announced she would boycott Israel.

    David Horowitz problem with Norway, no problem no mo


  10. I realised when i had written of Attila-the-Hen, that i had used the past tense. I was about to change it to present tense when i thought, 'no, she's already been dead a long time' As for burning, i think it will be a barbeque

    Well, I'd better get to writing, then! Thanks again, Chuckyman

  11. Howdy DM. Travelling incognito I see (grin).

    The whole story coming out of the slaughter in Norway stinks in the absolute lack of mention of the Israhelli and Zionist connections. Now they have locked him away for 4 weeks with only a shyster lawyer to speak to. What of the many witness reports of other shooter(s).

    This false flag will be used again and again to assist in the coming lockdown. While there are still brave and free people anywhere they will oppose the evil of Israhell and their luciferian masters. Death is often the punishment.

    There are worse fates and bowing down in cowardice to these soulless ghouls is about as bad a fate as I can imagine. The Scandinavian people have repeated shown their courage and inner light. We can all say a prayer for the families of the victims.

  12. Agreed James. I’m looking forward to you slicing and dicing the old hag (grin).

  13. what an excellent post chuckyman, it is all heart shining through. I loved it!

    As for what will happen within the US prison system?

    From my understanding of the US prison system, it may as well be called the US slave system.
    From there the question has to be how will the slaves make out demanding rights?

    Rights which are there basic human rights anyway.
    Good luck to them all.
    I do hope it turns out well.

  14. Hi Penny and thank you.

    The situation has been fluid since the time I wrote this. The Pelican Bay Prisoners have called off their strike but prisoners in other California prisons seem to still be striking.

    The statement from Pelican Bay says that they have called off the strike pending good faith actions from the authorities.

    This is only the beginning of a very long road for them.


    Not sure if I left this over here before or not.

  16. It’s really good to hear from you DM. Yep I’ve seen that one but it is still really valid for anyone who hasn’t.

    Suraci had a great post on a similar topic.

    Are you tempted to dip your toes back in the blogging game again?

  17. No I don't have one open right now and I still haven't finished weeding the water melons. I have about said all I know to say anyway. There is still a 30 foot snow pack waiting to melt and run down the Mississippi. I am anxiously watching what happens there.


  18. Hey Dublin Mick, glad your about still :)
    just wanted to let you know I finished that book and boy oh boy an eye opener!!!
    I really enjoyed it.
    I am on to another one now, under the sign of the scorpion, just a few pages in right now, but, it is shaping up to be an interesting read.

    Also reading a HAARP book too

    Oh and chuckyman, it is looking as if Turkey will lead the attack on Syria

  19. Hi there Penny and I’m glad you found EC Knuth’s book rewarding. I don’t normally do rave book reviews but that one was certainly worth it.

    With all the drama going on around at the moment it is burying real headlines from elsewhere. The Global Research site has been useful to avoid the media saturation.

    I spotted your post earlier so I’ll be over shortly to add my tuppence worth (grin).

  20. chuckyman!!!!

  21. Cheers Penny. I’ll pop over.

  22. Hey Chuckyman!
    Just popping by to say Hi!

  23. Hi Penny and thanks for popping by. I’ve been up to my neck with work recently and I’m trying to catch up with everyone again.

  24. 6.0 quake in Washington D.C. 2 nuke plants shut down.


  25. Hi there DM. I was surprised to see the 6 so soon after the one earlier in the day over nearer the west coast. Quite a few aftershocks for the earlier quake. The 2 nuke plants are definitely a worry.

    On another note Japanese docs are now discussing an outbreak of 'blue flu' symptoms related to the massive amount of exposure they have had. Another hit for Clif?

  26. Coming in a bit late on this one, so what else is new. Awesome piece Chucky. I knew about Bobby Sands but just his name. The whole story is truly amazing and worth publicizing.

    I was very preggers with my first when all that was going on and also naive enough to be watching the Royalty crap with a jaundiced eye.

    The PTTTP (The powers that think they be) let the Irish die more than once as we know.

    Regarding the "useless eaters" in the Pelican Bay State Prison, we can give them support but who knows what tactic the buzztards in power take.

  27. Hello again Noor. As always it’s a pleasure to see you drop by.

    That time was a pretty powerful learning zone. To know how twisted the government was from that age is really liberating.

    I draw so much strength and hope from that time and Bobby’s example. When the most outcaste draw together it is surely an example for the wider society.

    The protest is ongoing and according to the updates they are in for a long haul. Dignity in the human condition is a beacon. If we do not hold out the hand of redemption then we are no better than the herd masters that seek to control our every action.