Tuesday, December 19, 2017

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The Truth Will Out

From the 1916 Societies, a review of the prison memoir of Paul McGlinchey.




Paul McGlinchey, since publishing his book The Truth Will Out up until recently, has launched it in several venues across the country.




I had the pleasure of hearing one such launch in the Éalú office in Dungannon. Paul began to introduce his book by explaining how it came about in the first place, that it started out as a personal journal, that after his brother Dominic was murdered, that made him think about life and experiences that he and his family endured. Just in case anything were to happen him, he wanted to leave behind an explanation of his life, to his children from his perspective. He explained that had decided to take on a creative writing class during his time in Portlaoise jail.

One of the writers Philomena Gallagher that had come into to take the class asked him had he done any writing before, to which he produced the journal. Philomena found his story as intriguing and thought that he should think about writing a book about it, though Paul didn’t think it was appropriate at the time and had forgotten about until recently when she had contacted him again.

In the book, it begins with a bit of history about the civil rights movement and the beginning of the Troubles. What family life was like in the McGlinchey household and the impact internment had on their family way of life. Paul takes up the story with after being arrested in South Derry in 1976 how he ended up on the Blanket Protest. Originally Paul had Political Status but because he refused to recognise the courts and was sentenced after the 1st March, he lost it. At 18 years old he had sentenced to 14 years in jail. At this stage, he had no idea that there was a blanket protest underway.

When he got to Long Kesh the prison officers asked him what size of boots he wore and handed him the prison uniform, which he unequivocally refused to wear declaring he was ‘a political prisoner and not a criminal’. He was thrown into the back of the prison van naked and transported to the H-Blocks, where he was then forced to walk to his cell naked in front of all the other prison staff as well as other prisoners. It was the next morning before he realised that there were five others like him that refused to wear a prison uniform including Kieran Nugent who was first to start the blanket protest.


Philomena Gallagher And Paul McGlinchey, 2017. Truth Will Out. Calton Books. ISBN: 9780956417271.

Copies can be obtained via:  philomena1.gallagher@googlemail.com or pmcglinchey123@outlook.com


Paul goes on to describe the different trials and tribulations that the prisoners faced on a daily basis, from a draconian and extremely harsh prison regime. In the beatings they faced will naked and mirror searches. How they overcame it with coming up with ingenious methods of communication and being able to in smuggle in tobacco, material to create their own radios and so on. He also describes how conditions with the prison deteriorated and the harrowing tale of how the Blanket Protest escalated onto the Dirty Protest then the Hunger Strike.

2 comments :

Organized Rage said...

I really liked Paul's book i feel it is one of the best of it's type, it should be read, especially by those who are not Irish republicans as he explains why young men and women like him chose to join Óglaigh na hÉireann and risk all. If he had lived anywhere else in Ireland or the UK in all probability he would have never have been on the wrong side of what passed for 'the law,' let alone gone to war, nor would he have become a political prisoner under what was at the time a brutal prison regime.

Paul is a man who is confident in his own shoes and he makes no attempt to gloss over the fear he felt when on the blanket. The point is it didn’t have to be this way as was shown when the British government eventually all but accepted the prisoners demands.

The Blanket protest went on for so long it is incomprehensible for most of us to understand, year after year in a stinking cell in a totally hostile and brutal environment. Yet Paul's book gives us an inkling about the capacity for human beings to endure for their political beliefs.

Although we should never forget there is no terrible beauty after a war for the individuals who fought, there is just a gaping hole where the dead once resided.

Seasonal greetings to all.
Mick

Steve R said...

Mick,

Did anyone join the provos to just stick it to the Brits, and have no real want or need of Republicanism?