Victims Of Illegitimate British Devices

Martin Galvin in a latter to the Irish News responds to John Gray September 7,~ “Historical grievances”.   

In his reply ‘Historical grievances’, Mr. Gray feels aggrieved that protestors against British injustice marched on ‘Internment Day’.

He says post-1975 British injustices or in his words “illegitimate devices to lock up Republicans and their supporters for as long as possible,” cannot be “lumped in with Internment”.

It seems a bit late to make this argument. ‘Internment Day’ marches have been taking place for nearly four decades. Having attended and on four occasions spoken at ‘Internment Day’ marches in Belfast, it is unclear why Republicans unjustly locked up today cannot feel lumped in with those unjustly imprisoned in the past under British devices like Internment.

Internment is not merely some best forgotten historical grievance, done and dusted with the release of the last of those imprisoned without charge or trial in 1975.It has direct and symbolic implications today.

British troopers hooded and tortured selected internees, shot down those who got in the way of Internment at Ballymurphy, and opened fire to silence a protest march against Internment on Bloody Sunday. As the “hooded men”, Ballymurphy Massacre and Bloody Sunday families fight for justice, how do we ignore the direct connection between these campaigns and Internment policy? 

Had Britain’s use of sham legal machinery ended in 1975 there may well have been no need for Internment Day marches. British officials, however, discarded one form of injustice and replaced it with another. They felt their interests would be better served by new devices including Diplock Courts, brutal Castlereagh confessions and masquerading political prisoners as common criminals.

Internment Day rallies continued since 1975 because we recognized successive new ‘illegitimate devices’ were part of the same British willingness to impose and justify injustice represented by Internment.

Mr. Gray actually criticizes my speaking in support of the Blanketmen at the Casement Park Internment Day rally in 1979 and contends that their fight against criminalization and the Hunger Strikes which followed had nothing to do with Internment. I make no apology for doing so, or for pointing out the same British willingness to imprison with special laws and brutalize Republican prisoners during Internment and in the H-Blocks.

I make no apology for speaking at the Interment Day rally in 1983, and saying that those denied bail and imprisoned for lengthy periods during that era of Supergrass trials were victims of Internment by remand.

I cannot see why anyone who attended this year’s Internment Day Rally should not be entitled to point out the same truths for any Republican prisoners who are today victims of British injustice or brutality. 

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