|IRA Volunteer Jim Moyne|
Derry man and IRA Volunteer, Jim Moyne, was 29 years-old when he died whilst being interned in the early hours of January 13, 1975. Jim’s family will mark his 40th anniversary with a commemoration next week. Jim’s younger brother, Pat, is now in his sixties and still finds re-living the day he heard his brother had died very difficult to talk about. Jim was a dentist technician when he was interned and Pat described him as ‘a bit of a character’.
‘We lived in 37 Cable Street in the Bogside having moved there from Brooke Street Avenue off Bishop Street where we had lived with my aunt for many years waiting to be housed’, recalled Pat. ‘Jim was my elder brother by four years. My brother Martin was the oldest with Margaret and Michael the younger members of the family. We had a very happy home. I was always very close to Jim throughout his life. We played and socialised together and shared many of the same friends. His friends called him by his nickname, ‘Mossy’.
‘Jim really was a bit of a character with a great sense of humour. He was fun to be around and bounced off others. He was always laughing or smiling and I remember well his devilment and craic. He used to taunt me that I was too sensible and should learn to have fun like him. He was a practical joker and was foolhardy at everything he did. He was extremely kind and generous and would have given or lent those around him anything they needed, that was the way we were brought up and he no doubt inherited these qualities from both my mother and father whom he loved dearly.
‘I always remember Jim drawing and making things at home when we were children. He was very creative and enjoyed working at arts and crafts, this later became a pastime while interned in Long Kesh. He enjoyed football and loved music and going to dances. He loved life and this made it all the more harrowing and difficult to bear when his life was taken from him by the state.’
When asked about his brothers schooling and employment Pat said, ‘he went to the Christian Brothers School and later the Christian Brothers Tech. He served as an apprentice dental technician and was employed by George O’Boyle in Queen Street. He later qualified and remained in this employment until he went on the run.’
The Moyne household was brought up to believe in Irish republicanism. Jim’s family on his father’s side were active anti-treaty republicans and his Uncle Columba was badly beaten by British soldiers at a border crossing near Drumhaggart, Co. Donegal and later died of his injuries.
‘We were taught about Irish history by my father and politics and current affairs were discussed openly in our home. I remember Jim being very socially and politically aware from a young age. He was very passionate about his beliefs’, recalled Pat.
Jim became involved in the republican movement around 18 months before Bloody Sunday and as a result of internment in 1972, Jim went on the run.
‘Jim saw injustice all around him in the early ‘70s in Derry and ignoring it and leading a quiet life was not an option for him. He wanted to challenge and end it. He often pointed out the wrongs of imperialism not only in Ireland but throughout the world and believed that the establishment of a 32-county socialist republic was the only way to guarantee social justice for the people of Ireland’, said Pat.
‘Internment was introduced in the North of Ireland on August 9, 1971. I remember that day well, despite its introduction Jim remained in Derry and lived at home right up until September 1972 after ‘Operation Motorman’. He then decided that it was time to go on the run. My mother and father worried about him throughout this period as we all did.
‘That period was quite unsettling in our lives and we were constantly thinking about him and hoping he was okay. We had some comfort in the fact that we knew that the good people of Derry and Donegal would do all they could for him. He went to Buncrana for a few months but decided to return to Derry and remained in the town until he was lifted on Good Friday the 19th April 1973.
‘Jim was detained as he left a relative’s house in the Bogside by the British Army who had been hiding in a furniture van. He was taken from Derry to Ballykelly where he was badly beaten and suffered a broken neck. He was then taken straight to Long Kesh and we did not get to see him for over six weeks. By this time the injuries he suffered had still not cleared and bruising was still visible at this stage’, said Pat emotionally.
‘While we knew it was always a possibility that Jim would be detained after the introduction of internment it still came as a bit of a shock when it happened. My mother and father were very upset initially but we got a huge amount of comfort from the solidarity of the many other families who were going through the same ordeal as ourselves.’
Soon after his arrest Jim was taken to the Royal Victoria Hospital to have his neck injury which was causing him great difficulty X-rayed.
‘The prison guards refused to take off Jim’s handcuffs so no X-ray was taken. We as a family were very aware that Jim and the other prisoners were being mistreated in Long Kesh and that the conditions within the prison were very poor. This caused anxiety for us all.
‘Nevertheless we got on with it and travelled to Long Kesh for visits regularly on the bus with the other internee’s families. Great relationships and friendships were built on those journeys. This solidarity and spirit helped my mother and father especially to cope with the imprisonment of their son.
‘My sister Margaret and my mother Lily diligently prepared food parcels and clothing for Jim for each visit and I think he loved the attention. I know that he worried about my mother and father often while in prison. He never complained throughout his time in gaol and was always good humoured on visits.
‘Jim had bronchitis a condition which flared from time to time throughout his life. In July 1973 while interned he was transported to the Royal Victoria Hospital where he spent two days in an oxygen tent before being taken back to Long Kesh with little or no rehabilitation.
‘Jim was still in Long Kesh in October 1974 when the camp was burned down and after that riot he along with his friends spent weeks huddled on the mud under makeshift shelters. At that time Jim was also exposed to both CS and CR Gas which may have had a detrimental effect on his respiratory condition.
‘Jim was prone to asthmatic attacks but his condition had been largely controlled outside prison. We had no reason to believe that this condition would eventually lead to his death.
‘Jim throughout his internment was denied medication and medical attention when it was needed. His G.P. Dr McClean was denied access to him and I remember family members having to smuggle essential medication prescribed by Dr McClean into the prison as it was being denied to Jim and he needed it.’
Sadly, Jim died in the early hours of January 13, 1975 and recollecting the death of his older brother is something Pat still finds it difficult to do. ‘Jim suffered a horrific death and I find it extremely hard to talk about it.’
The following statements were released and used as evidence in the inquest which followed Jim’s death from the internees who were in the hut with him.
‘At about 12.40 this morning Jimmy Moyne became ill and asked someone to ring the alarm bell for the medical officer. He was unable to breathe and his face and hands were beginning to turn blue. Some of us knew that he was subject to some sort of serious asthma attacks. Therefore we set the alarm bell ringing and another man in the hut removed a window pane and shouted over to the gate for a medical officer.
Meanwhile the sick man’s condition was beginning to worsen. He had been given a sip of cold water and was standing by one of the bunk beds holding onto the bed clothes. At the start he did not want to be laid down on the bed. When he became too sick he was lifted on to the top bed. At this stage he was going black. His forehead was covered in perspiration. He was given mouth to mouth resuscitation.
‘Since there was yet no sign of the screws it was decided to break the door down. This was done and he was taken to the gate on a mattress. It was only then the screws began to respond to the alarm bell. None of them had even gone to the window to see how he was alive or otherwise. When they realised just how seriously ill he was they asked the men carrying him to put him on the food trolley and wheel him to the prison hospital. It is worth noting that within a minute a number of screws, with a British Army dog handler, came into the hut and had a head count. After 20 minutes they had not given the slightest indication that they were concerned or that they intended to do anything about it. About 30-35 minutes later a prison officer came to the window and told us that Jimmy had been taken to hospital in Belfast and that he was alright. This morning we were told that he died. His death was caused by neglect on part of the screws.’
A fellow Derry internee gave this following statement to the inquest. This is his deposition:
‘I am a detainee in Compound 8 and I knew James Moyne since I was detained on 2nd December 1974. I knew him casually previously. On 12th January, 1975, James was his normal self. He had been running, general exercise, during the day. On Sunday night both of us watched television up to about twenty five to twelve and listened to the news at five to twelve. James then got up and served himself curry. He ate this and was finished about twenty five past twelve. This was Monday morning then. He was talking to Frankie O’Neill. He got up and went to the toilet and came back again. He was very white in the face and started going blue and gasping. He said for someone to get the MO and someone rang the alarm bell. This was between half twelve and twenty five to one. Some of his other mates gave him the respirator, but it did him no good. At this time he was standing up holding on to the top bunk. He was very weak and turning blue and couldn’t speak. He collapsed into the chair and was put onto the bed. At this stage he was given the kiss of life. He was pure black and his eyes were rolling in his head. The bell was ringing for about a quarter of an hour and when no one came to the door it was burst down and James placed on the mattress and carried out. I stayed in the hut; when I later went out I met the mates coming back after handing James over to the prison warders. This was about five to one when they came back.
‘During the time the alarm bell was ringing I called out to one prison officer that a man was dying and in answer to his question I informed him that the man had gone black. That prison officer turned on his heel and walked away, but appeared to be talking through the RT. I did not see that officer again and it was after this that the persons in the compound broke down the door. The respirator I referred to belonged to Mr. Moyne. Apart from the respirator I am not aware of anything present in the hut to deal with Mr. Moyne’s complaint. A window in our hut was broken out for the purpose of calling for help. The persons in the two adjoining huts in the compound also knew we were calling for help and joined in the general alarm. It was approximately 19 minutes after the first bell was sounded that the prison staff joined the persons carrying Mr. Moyne. I know a detainee called Mc Gurk in the same compound about two weeks ago (about the first week in February, 1975) took ill – the alarm bell was sounded and it was checked by watch that help did not arrive for 24 minutes after the bell was sounded.’
Pat then described his own and his family’s reaction to the death of their loved one. ‘Father Desmond Mullan had received a phone call at around 3 o’clock in the morning from the prison chaplain to inform him of Jim’s death. We had no phone in the house at the time. Father Mullan made his way to our family home to inform us of his death. I was with my father when he came to the door. We were in disarray, it was a complete shock. My immediate concern was to find out where Jim’s body was and for more information as Father Mullan had not been told any detail in the original phone call.
‘I made my way to the parochial house and Father Mullan phoned the prison authorities but they refused to give any detail on the whereabouts of the body. They then began to spread misinformation and told us that his body was in three different hospitals. Eventually after six or seven hours we were told to go to Craigavon Mortuary to identify Jim’s body.’
Pat described the days after Jim’s death as traumatic and said the hardest thing for most of the family was that they were not able to say goodbye to their brother and son.
‘The next few days went by very quickly and it was a bit of a blur. It was an extremely traumatic time for all of us. Jim was so young and full of life and it was difficult to accept that he was now dead. It was extremely hard for us to come to terms with the fact that we did not have a chance to say goodbye and that he died within the prison environment. We felt robbed and powerless. Jim had never been charged with any offence. He had not appeared before any court yet he received a death sentence in Long Kesh’, said Pat.
‘Throughout the years that followed there was a constant void in our lives. His life was cut short by state violence and to this day that injustice is hard to bear. Each and every one of us struggled to deal with his death and did so in different ways. My mother was heartbroken and we were very worried about her and my sister Margaret whom he was very close to also. My mother’s saving grace was that she had the arrival of her eldest grand-daughter Bronagh just six months earlier. This helped her so much as she could divert attention to the new child but it would be true to say that she was never the same after Jim’s death and there was sadness in her heart.’
An inquest was held at the Hillsborough Courthouse in Lisburn, February 19, 1975 and Pat described the outcome as a farce.
‘This cover up was even harder to deal with than his death. The lies and deception rubbed salt in our wounds. The attitude of the Red Cap Military Doctor Captain Woods was particularly harrowing. He said that he attended Jim on the night of his death but he hadn’t given him the necessary injection he needed to keep him alive. When he was asked by our family’s solicitor Paddy Duffy why this was the case he said that he did not have the authority to administer it to Jim as he was not in the military and he could only treat soldiers. Our solicitor then asked him if he thought if Jim had received the injection would he have survived and he nonchalantly said ‘Yes’. I remember my sister Margaret immediately querying in the court how a doctor could break his Hippocratic Oath and fail to save a dying man’s life.
‘The Coroner asked the Jury to retire and consider their decision and they asked for the inquest to be adjourned until the next day as most of them had to go to a cattle market in the town that afternoon and they wanted time to consider the verdict. The Coroner refused and said he wanted the decision that day. To everyone’s amazement the jury came back less than 20 minutes later and they decided it was death by natural causes. None of us could believe it; I don’t even think the Coroner could. The verdict was a whitewash and an affront to justice’, said Pat.
When asked if he would like to see a fresh inquest into the death of his brother Pat said he had no faith in the British justice system but refused to rule it out as an option.
‘At the time of his death there were calls for an inquiry but it was not actively pursued. After the way Jim had been treated and the cover up thereafter we did not hold much hope for Justice. A war continued to rage around us and we got on with our daily lives and attempted to cope with what had happened.
‘As for a new inquest I personally have no faith that the British Justice System can or will deliver justice to the victims of state violence. Nevertheless I would not rule out an action to seek a new inquest to expose the cover-up that occurred following Jim’s killing in Long Kesh.
‘I feel it is important to add that Jim has never been acknowledged as a victim of the Troubles. You will not see his name in the book Lost Lives which gives the names of those killed in the conflict. The state continues to refuse to acknowledge its role in the killing of my brother.’
When asked what he thought of the Prison system today he said, ‘for me the degree of civilisation in a society can always be judged by entering its prisons. Unfortunately we still have an extremely long way to go. Medical negligence was standard policy for political detainees in Long Kesh and I do not believe that much has changed in the prisons in Ireland. The internment of people who are deemed unpopular still occurs systematically here, be it by remand or through other mechanisms. That is a true indictment of our current situation.’
Jim Moyne is revered by the Moyne family and by many republicans and on Tuesday January 13 they will honour him with a special 40th anniversary commemoration.
‘We are very proud of Jim and the personal sacrifices he made for his beliefs’, said Pat.
‘We sincerely believe that he did what he could to improve the lives of the people around him and he loved his people. He was a revolutionary and not a reformer. He always did his best for the people of the Bogside and of Derry and he should be respected and remembered for that.’
He went on to say, ‘as a family we will be holding a 40th Anniversary Commemoration at the Bogside/Brandywell monument on the Lecky Road. The monument was erected by the people of Derry as a tribute to Jim and his comrades from the Bogside and Brandywell. The commemoration will be led by us the family and will take place at 7.30pm. I would encourage anyone who knew Jim or those who wish to show solidarity with his family to come along and join us to remember Jim 40 years after his state killing.’