RSF Supports Gabriel Mackle In His Defence Of His Republican Identity

A Statement regarding a prison issue by the President of Republican Sinn Féin, Des Dalton.

Republican Sinn Féin salutes Gabriel Mackle on his courageous defence of his distinct identity and autonomy as an Irish Republican POW within the Maghaberry prison. Irish Republican POWs have historically had to run the gauntlet of British and 26-County state attempts to criminalise them and deny them their identity, shamefully on this occasion this latest injustice comes at the hands of those purporting to be fellow Irish Republicans. To compound the injustice is the fact that it was the CABHAIR supported prisoners who won the right of Republican prisoners to have their separate identity accepted by the prison regime. The CABHAIR supported prisoners led the dirty protests which resulted in the August 2010 Agreement.

This attempt to deny Gabriel Mackle his own political identity and autonomy brings only shame to those who have a hand in it. By cloaking their actions in the name of Republicanism they sully that noble banner. A statement issued under the name of “Republican Prisoners, Roe 4” in Maghaberry prison by the group styling itself Saoradh is quite simply a tissue of lies and calculated smear, designed to hide what is really happening here.

In an attempt to smear Gabriel Mackle the statement cites his previous membership of the British Army’s Royal Irish Regiment. This is a matter of public record. Irish Republican history is littered with instances of Irish patriots who having served in the British Army subsequently gave honourable and heroic service to the cause of Irish freedom, James Connolly, Michael Mallin and Tom Barry are notable examples.

This statement cannot disguise the reality of what is going on in Maghaberry. Gabriel Mackle’s right, a right inherent to all Republican POWs, to maintain his own political identity is being attacked. Historically this right has always been respected by Republican prisoners regardless of organisation. However, this latest move to deny Gabriel Mackle this right echoes the actions of the Provisionals who in 1986 forced Republican prisoners who refused to renounce their Republican principles and abandon their allegiance to the All-Ireland Republic off prison landings.

Today it seems similar tactics are being employed by a grouping that it seems will not tolerate any alternative views. When these people speak of unity we now can see what they really mean. They are simply Provo - lite, aping the tactics and mindset of the Provisionals. They will be no more successful in their attempts to intimidate faithful Irish Republicans than the reformist Provos were before them.

We will not be intimidated or deflected from our work. Over the decades we have seen many such groupings styling themselves as Republican come and go. Republican Sinn Féin and the Republican Movement long predate them and will long outlast them. This year we mark 100 years since the historic 1917 Ard Fheis at which Sinn Féin adopted a Republican constitution. We are proud of our history of unbroken continuity of principle and organisation.

Over the course of that century faithful Irish Republicans have defended that constitution from those who have attempted to subvert it, in 1921, 1926, 1946, 1969/70 and 1986. We will remain steadfast in our allegiance to the All-Ireland Republic of Easter and determined in our pursuit of our Republican goals. Once more we salute Gabriel Mackle and pledge him our continued solidarity and support.

Maith thú Gabriel.


  1. The Saoradh statement indicates it was not so much a political disagreement but a refusal of the individual to follow agreed community guidlines (anti-bullying, anti-intimidation etc). Where can we determine the truth of it?
    It was probably a mistake to bring up his previous BA participation in the statement, given the rich training ground it had proved for countless Republicans before.

  2. DaithiD,

    there was a charter in the blocks which people were expected to abide by. It is probably the same in Maghaberry.

    As regards his former BA participation, most former BA that I was aware of in the IRA were BA before the conflict broke out. If the guy was a member of the BA after, say, the hunger strikes, then eyebrows will be raised.

    So, overall, it is probably a bit more nuanced than it at first glance seems. The rights or wrongs of it we might never be able to determine. It seems to me that if RSF is prepared to stand over the guy, then that should probably be the determining factor.

  3. Mackers was there not a Royal marine connected to the IRA charged last month with arms offences. Aside - would you care to elaborate or the old blocks charter and what it entailed.

  4. There was indeed Emmett and the possibility always exists that they were republicans planted there.

    The Charter basically was drawn up in the late 80s and amounted to a code of living. No discrimination, bullying etc; emphasis was on sharing and tolerance. It covered all aspects of prison life. It meant the wings ran on automatic pilot and the IRA structure was not as prominent or interventionist.

  5. AM

    The charter supposedly created a level playing field to counter any elitism or discrimination against those who broke under interrogation or took a deal, but, it only kicked in once a person was cleared by the IRA to come onto the wings. I assume this guy is being viewed as a potential informer -the effective informers we have seen are those less obvious -even to the point as they were the ones giving the orders. Ex-supergrasses and others who named names where allowed on to the wings but I recall one informer from west Belfast being refused entry because his safety could not be guaranteed. A former Tyrone OC who volunteered to be an informer was allowed on because the Brits did not want him. I also recall a lot of hoods being allowed on to make up numbers in the Crum to fight Loyalists -they were known as the Hallion Battalion. You will recall there was also a very dedicated republican protestant from the Loyalist Tigersbay area of Belfast.

    The bigger picture is what draws my attention- I recall the comment made by a frequent poster on this site saying how those who do not meet dissidents approval will be dealt with when they get their 32 county socialist republic --who would be safe in their pure blooded elitist republic?

  6. Christy, its good that those who broke under interogration were factored in. I always thought the brutality of an interogation was usually inversely proportional to the evidence the cops had before hand. They would apply more leverage to those with less evidence etc, so it was not uniform for all volunteers. Also the events before they picked up, poor Eamon Collins got pulled at the worst possible time for any volunteer one would think.As for the 'dealt with' threat, were older republicans just better at PR? This sort of thing read awful.

  7. Daithi

    People made statements for various reasons and not always because they were beaten, some thought they were being noble in taking the blame so others would not be charged etc.

    I think older republicans were wise or realistic enough to know that if there is a threat of retribution after a united Ireland then that would just cause unionists and others to fear it even more. Some dissidents can show proficiency in regurgitating socialist ideology without actually having digested its meaning first.

    In addition the current lot do not seem to have studied other 'revolutions' where 'enemy' combatants switching sides had its own propaganda value. In the same way that informers can be demoralizing to republicans. Whatever about Mr Mackle's identity crisis, not one of the current lot have done anything worth spending 1 day in jail for much less numerous years -they are not going to achieve anything but cause more familess loss and hardship, whoop it up for liberty!

  8. Daithi D,
    Poor Eamon Collins...obviously you never met the cunt.

  9. Niall, I am aware of the damage he did, I only mean at the point he was picked up as a suspect for the Newry police station bombing by colleagues of those who died. It must of been an awful thing to face. He may have been a cunt, but there have been cunts that did worse than him that lived,and get lauded to this day infact.And like Team America eloquently pointed out, there is also a range of dicks and arseholes that had their part to play too.

  10. Mackers,

    The 'charter' or whatever it was worked very well. Can you imagine Big Bobby Storey, Brendan Mead or any of the rest of our physically impressive lads with huge connections on the outside and egos to match on the inside throwing their weight about in a confined environment like the H-Blocks over a lengthy period of time? Wee men would have been driven to commit murder. Apparently loyalist C.O.s had lesser mortals polishing their boots on the loyalist wings. Dog eat dog and all that. The environment within the H-Blocks shortly after the hunger strikes was a credit to any outfit anywhere on the globe, and the smallest of midgets would have felt safe and at home there. And very proud to be there amongst those present. RESPECT. A long way from tout-tables of the 70s and elitism which doesn't bare thinking about now knowing what we do. Untouchables indeed lol.

    Daithi D / Nial

    Regarding Eamonn Collins. I never met him but I read his books and I have a little knowledge, if very limited, of the area. He was a pretty smart individual who was thought enough of to read the Easter statement out in Crossmaglen. A customs officer too. He should probably NEVER have been placed in a prominent up front position like he was unless the IRA had other people in similar positions there and felt able to risk it, a no loss situation. I think his biggest flaw was his ego. He remained in the area after having gone supergrass and retracted. Being permitted to remain there at home should have been recognised as respect enough afforded to him. No other area would or could have been strong enough or able enough to accept and protect someone in his position at that time, back safe at home in the way he was offered. He however didn't see it that way and went on a personal campaign of continually insulting and attacking the IRA and individuals locally. Some of whom he had probably never met himself. But he took time to visit their graves and ridicule good people below the sod. In his books all Eamonn Collins said was the IRA had at least 30 families in S. Armagh running things. Hardly a revelation. I am certain the Brits would be aware that certain families were/are very prominent. Maybe he should have said as little in the barracks as he did in his books?

  11. Larry,

    there is much in what you say about Collins. Giving evidence on behalf of the Sunday Times in a libel case was perhaps what led to his brutal demise.

    I have met many people who agreed to go supergrass and then retracted. They were on the republican wings. I think for the most part they folded in a moment of extreme stress and then pulled themselves together. Whitey Bradley in his book referred to one of them as a traitor and I reviewed the book, saying the guy was weak rather than treacherous. I am also of a view that in many cases the difference might have been marginal: many who passed as "sound" might have given another day or whatever could have turned as well.

    I reckon Niall might be more critical of the supposed arrogance of Collins rather than the fact that he folded as such. He had a reputation for sneering at and looking down on others and thought he was their intellectual superior.

    His book was very good but still self serving.

    Today, if I meet any of those who went supergrass and then retracted, I never let it figure in how I treat them. A couple of them I like very well.

    One of the people who had a very human understanding of their fragility and stress was Storey. He discussed them with me and I thought there was a lot in what he had to say.

    And pschhologically, they did hard time even on our wings.

  12. Mackers

    When you mention Bobby Storey in that context and I reflect on my own memory of him, it is indeed a good job the IRA had people of that kind in the right positions. Perhaps it is something we would do well to remember whilst constantly focusing upon the likes of Scap Donaldson and Liam and the total capitulation to the DUP. (Wee note to self). They were indeed amazing times back in the day. I would have no problem with any soul who broke in the barracks. It is what the barracks is designed to do. Who knows what personal issues led to it. One of the best jokes I heard was about that fella Torrens Knight was it? Who was jailed for shooting a load of RCs in a pub somewhere. He was labelled the 'ice-man' by the media. A fella said he was called the ice man because he MELTED in the barracks! lol

  13. Christy,

    that's true. A person first had to get on the wing before the charter operated.

    That West Belfast guy,, if it is the same one, I think he was on the wings and then put off after a while. I wasn't there when it happened.

    There were a few hoods on the wing and they were great craic and went about much like the rest of us.

    Purist republicanism is very akin to religion to me. Something to be given a wide berth. In essence the purist can't stand blemish and will move to eradicate it. So, when people become the blemish that don't fit the world of the pure, genocide suddenly looks a good solution.

  14. AM,
    You're right about my perception of Collins and that is exactly what I was referring to. He was so arrogant that that was exactly what lead to his death. Of course he went through the interrogation centres like so many Republicans but he had history with the British security services before that and he had mental health issues long established....he had the equivalent of a mental breakdown before he crossed the line....his personality was quite dominant and he was extremely selfish...Eamon Collins was about Eamom Collins...his family didn't even count either as his antics before arrest can testify to that....I stand over my comment...he was nothing more than a selfish cunt.

  15. AM must be a different informer -the one I am talking about came on while we were out in the yard -the IO's had their talk with him first and then told him to leave. He had fits of heavy sobbing across the yard.

    Yes some of the hoods were entertaining. Certainly up on the Blocks everybody moved about freely regardless of background history or affiliation. Although there was a suppressed undercurrent of resentments at times -2 elites in particular I remember being very friendly with some people and when the person left the cell or someplace the elitist would quip "touting bastard" behind their back. That always made me more distrustful of the elitists because of how deceptive they could be.

    The issue around Mr Mackle highlights further the futility of dissident factions as the true purists that will bring about a 32 county socialist republic -it is questionable if there are even 32 like-minded individuals in any given faction. Mr Mackle's background is the least of their problems -at least they know his.