Far From Groundbreaking Study

Nuala Perry with an unpublished letter to the Irish News. Nuala Perry is a long standing republican activist and former prisoner. She currently campaigns on behalf of republican prisoners.

On the 23rd of January the Irish News carried an interview by Ex-prisoners Tommy Quigley and Paul O Neill.

The crux of their interview relates to a recent research study into the plight of Ex-Political prisoners. The research paper ‘An Unaddressed Legacy’ was commissioned and conducted in 2014 by academics Peter Shirlow and Ciaran Hughes.

This study, which is described in the interview as ‘ground breaking’, has been credited with producing findings that paint a ‘bleak picture’. A picture so disturbingly bleak that, not only did it reveal responses that suggest, almost 17 years after a ‘historic settlement’ only 12% of the participants believed that the ‘Peace Process’ had made life easier, 98% reported they still struggled with financial problems, while issues of discrimination relating to employment and other areas rated quite high. It also led those being interviewed to claim that, a correlation exists between the factors that produced these findings, the rise of ‘dissident activity’ and 800 hundred votes being cast in Ardoyne.

Grim as these recent research findings are, they are definitely not ‘ground breaking’ nor are they new.

In fact, similar commissioned studies with similar findings and by at least one of these authors are on record going back a considerable amount of years.

Where this study does differ however, is in the fact that, when this programme of research was underway in 2014, and the terms relative to the outcome, apathy and fatalism were being bandied about, and reiterated by Coiste na nlarchimi in their submission for funding to the Haass talks.

The leadership of Sinn Fein, through a process of high flown rhetoric were assuring their electorate, which undoubtedly included those making the funding submissions, as well as those who took part in the recent research that, since the ceasefire people are now enjoying a quality of life unthinkable 20 years ago.

Double speak on this scale not only creates ambiguity, it leads to a policy of political fudging that can flutter on the breeze without providing one shred of tangible evidence to support the positive terminology of having ‘moved on.’.

The danger of this type of window dressing lies in the fact, it gives rise to apathy and this type of apathy and not the bizarre ‘dissident’ theory, alluded to in the Quigley, O'Neill interview. Maybe the most feasible explanation as to why 800 people voted for an alternative candidate in Ardoyne.

What does remain unthinkable and totally tangible and contrary to the spin, is the fact that, 17 years after a ground-breaking ‘Agreement’ allegedly based on equality, the criminal tags and their offshoot criminal clauses still bizarrely remain.

The extent to which they remain is evident in another commissioned study, this time the report was at the behest of the OFMDFM.

This study, which was carried out by George Quigley, and resulted in recommendations for the removal or a caveat to the unfair and restrictive stipulations in the ‘Equal’ Employment legislation (1998) was rejected outright by the then Minister of Finance and Personnel, Peter Robinson, (now First Minister), who claimed, ‘There were already adequate procedures in place for dealing with those with criminal records.’

The fact these barriers to employment and practically every other aspect of former political prisoners lives look set to remain, acts as a damning indictment as to what was supposedly achieved here.

These barriers also provide a support mechanism for their primary function, which is to perpetuate an enduring legacy of criminalisation which ensures, that for the majority of former political prisoners, the quality of life that others boast, will forever remain unthinkable.


  1. What about the fact the IRa has said it will deal with those people that campaign for innocent prisoners! I can't remember any republican group threatening human rights people! This was always the job of the state and the loyalists ! Why have remained so silent, these activists deserve our support from a shower of gangsters runing about Belfast!
    Has nobody the courage to stand against them! They are making criminals out of the prisoners!

  2. Ps I don't even think the provisional movement went this low! Bring back Gerry Adams all is forgiven! Sad times!

  3. Excellent Nuala. Selective editing from the Irish News letters column is sadly nothing new, yet the same eedjits and their endless spiel on every issue going, from Cahal McGlade to Manus McDaid, is given a free run every time. It's the issue that's the problem and not your letter, they don't want this issue rearing its ugly head. Maith thu

  4. 20 years + since the ultimate betrayal of the republican cause those who did the heavy lifting have with the exception of the chosen few been moved out and replaced with bright new faces sometimes referred to as ceasefire soldiers, its ongoing and today the "movement "is now as british as Finchley implementing brutal austerity cuts on an already downtrodden population without as much as a red face or an apology from Decciebroy Kearney,one does,nt need to be an Einstein or employ spikes research group to see that we are far from an island of equals and that is going to become much more glaringly obvious in the coming months when quisling $inn £eind implement welfare reform and their spokesmenwomen\women tell the plebs to get on their bike in Norman Tebbit fashion,it is possible that ex republican prisoners facing hardship will be referred to the Haig fund by those suits in Stormont its not as unbelievable as what has already happened..

  5. Che
    There is no interconnection between what
    I was writing about and what you appear
    to have taken issue with.

    You are perfectly entitled to make your
    point. I just don't see the relevance.

  6. Suppose my point is prisoners, their families are forced to accept well below what they are entitled to! Although your article looks into the past! But the fact is this is happening today, nothing to do with Sinn Fein ! But a new crowd of shite keeping people in their place and breaking their idea logical spirt! I think that might be the idea of it! Ex prisoners could offer such an insight to the brutal of human nature but the are unable to do cz they are broken ! The current prisoners can possibly illustrate this! So if you use your research you may be able to make changes that could help current prisoners!

    Sorry if u find this irrelevant !

  7. Good article and well said Nuala.

  8. Che,
    I don't find your comment irrelevant. I just can't find the relevance to this piece.

    My letter/piece was in response to an interview, an interview which I thought was misleading and hypocritical in relation to the position of former prisoners.

    I disagree with you about Sinn Fein. The situation of former prisoners and the prisoners of today has everything to do with Sinn Fein.
    The country was left like a running sore and the meagre pseudo concessions that we are just about allowed will never be the entitlement of POWs post 1998. Sinn Fein made sure of that.

    The Provisionals were not one solidified homogeneous group and the majority of them would not be applauding your call, for the return of Adams.

  9. Interesting. But paedo facilitating seems to be no impediment to becoming Taoisteach. The rest will just have to accept their employment realities.

  10. Che,

    even with your clarification I am still unsure of what point, you are making. SF being part of the British government would say it has more to do with them rather than nothing.
    The prisoners are there for the age-old reason militantly opposing said government. SF is keeping their Queens peace and holds no problem with branding any republican view that is not theirs as criminal.

    Republican prisoner issues then or now are the same, once upon a time SF agreed with the stand a prisoner took when he said the Brits would have to nail the uniform to his back. Today the same SF is happy to supply the nails and tend to roam free nailing and branding republicans as criminals.
    They give new meaning to Political Special Category Status, SF good republicans all others criminal republicans.

    It is the intangible presented as tangible the shinny coins of a hierocracy absolving themselves of their own sins rewriting the republican bible as with any perceptive cult replace the truth with any good yarn.
    Cast out those who did not convert and deny those who dare challenge the book of Adams. Insist upon labeling freethinkers as anti-peace-criminals.

    The violence once encouraged and glorified by SF summed up as a failure on their part, a legacy they created which is now a political embarrassment to the saintly party.
    The militant republican hype run out of steam not that it was/is destined to boil instead it just simmers on the edge of obscurity.
    The same obscurity republican prisoners live under which is nothing new as in the past it was only drastic action taken by prisoners received attention well after the fact.

    Given the Brits record on the treatment of republican prisoners, it is no secret, it used to be if we stay silent, we are guilty and now the party prefers the silence.

    On your call for the return of the king how do you bring back someone who never went away, he took shelter in the south but still calls the shots.

  11. Too true! Being a paedo never stopped
    entry into youth work in Clonard, even
    though there is a stipulation, which
    applies to convictions and line of work.
    Should have said that Larry, before
    you applied for the guards.

  12. Need to get the PC mob onto the heightism issue before I can apply. Paddy Adams was so wrong in C-Wing 1982, 'everyone's making money at this but us' Gerry and his buddies were doing very well.

  13. Larry,
    Given his history, no surprises there. Trash merchants!

  14. I think you put it better than I did Tain Bo. Well said !

  15. Nuala,

    I still haven’t a baldy what point Che is making, I am assuming it is a fanciful notion (unless I am missing the sarcasm) that Adams could resolve the prison issue.

    That did not work so well for the prisoners in 81 when Adams claims he was having a snooze and Bangers was talking of “no deal” prolonging the suffering of the Hunger Strikers, their families and the prisoners. No harm to Che but run away Adams all is not forgiven.

  16. Tain Bo,
    I think his initial comments relate to the statement in last Fridays Irish News.

    On the basis of what appeared in the paper in relation to prisoners Che claims, those who wrote the statement are worse than Adams & Co.

    Entitled as he is to form his own opinion. It cannot be linked to this piece as they are entirely different issues.

  17. Nuala,

    Adams and company have that market cornered it is one thing doing the dirt on prisoners but betraying the hunger strikers you can’t get any lower.

    I was yarning with a friend and both agree that Adams has outlived his purpose. The invitations from Washington are no longer in the post might be a good indication that the yanks with influence are putting safe distance between themselves and SF.

    It could be a good show watching the cult unravel once Adams disappears (pun intended) the braying sheep without their Sheppard and the den of wolves’ hungry for power will be at each other’s throats.

    With Adams out of the spotlight, he will be content playing on his trampoline if he bounces high enough he can see the office of Taoiseach but the gravity of his questionable past will always hang around his neck. Too many skeletons in the SF closet and more will pop out SF now have to add the New Yorker magazine to their list of anti-peace dissident criminals.

  18. Tain,

    New Yorker Against the Peace Process - the list gets longer and longer

  19. Anthony,

    apparently, the New Yorker is a bit rigid when it comes to fact checking and editing. SF should be happy they made that list albeit for the right reasons.

    The usual lines are threadbare and that will certainly ensure the list will continue.

  20. Tain,

    I was just explaining that to somebody else today. They are something else when it comes to fact checking