A Low Stooping Branch
Kevin Doyle’s interesting article Silence Now Pervades has brought up some personal memories of how low the Branch would stoop. When I got released from the H Blocks in August 1981 I was based in Dublin out of the National H Block office in Mountjoy Square, kindly loaned by the esteemed Architect and writer Uinseann MacEoin.
I was never stopped by the Branch when on my own. But if I had people with me I would get stopped and they would be questioned and myself ignored. I remember a group of people over on a fact finding mission from Belguim. We got pulled when leaving the H Block office. And a young female member of the group was in shock, and started giving me strange looks. Coz in Belgium its only ‘bad’ people that get stopped by the Police.
When the H Block campaign ended. The Branch did the same tactics to anyone involved in the Free Nicky Kelly campaign. I also remember a lot of the activists telling me that when they 1st got involved in the H Block campaign, the Branch called to their homes and harassed them for a few weeks in an attempt to put them off from working in the Campaign.
In 1982 I got a job working in a Hotel in Wicklow. I was there for about 2 months and busy organising a union in the place as the owners were from the William Martin Murphy and never tolerated a union in the place. I was doing great in secret and had over half the staff committed to joining. One night I was out near the front of the building in the store room, when a Branch car pulls up and actually thought I was up to no good. When I told them I worked there they left. That was a Thursday, When I came in for work on the Monday, I was told the hotel was cutting back and they were so sorry but they had to terminate my employment there and then. The Branch told them who I was of course. The Owners must have shit bricks LOL.
I got another job in a Dublin hotel where Charlie Haughey had a free use of the penthouse suite, which the staff had nicknamed ‘the Monto’ after the famous red light district of Dublin, due to the many ladies of the night that visited there to entertain the politicians and their cronies.
After about 6 months working there, some Arab Sheik oil billionaire came to stay. And he had insisted that his 30 bodyguards be with him, supposedly armed. I believe this as the Sheik was there on invite from the Irish Government. Anyway, they posted 10 armed Branch men to guard the Bodyguards. I came in to work nightshift at midnight and seen the place crawling with them. I didn't know any of them.
At 2 am one of the head Branch men came in to inspect the place and to make sure things were going fine. He turned chalk white when he saw me and had me grabbed and pinned down by a few of the lowly Branch men. 'Why are you here? ... who is with you? ... where are they?’ etc. Blind panic. I was pissing myself laughing at him as he had lost the plot.
One of the lowly one's said 'Sir I think he works here'.’ And he motioned for them to let me go. He went and told the owners of course. But the place had a union so they couldn't sack me for no reason. But for the next 3 months I worked there, the management were finding fault with everything I did. I left due to my band starting a Dublin show that was to run 8 times a week. I bet they were relieved. I wasn't an isolated case as they did this and still do it to everyone.