The 1944 IRA hunger strike

Seventy-five years ago this week, IRA sentenced prisoners in Crumlin Road ended a hunger-strike that had begun just over forty days earlier, on the 22nd February 1944. The hunger strike was the latest in a sequence of prison protests that had included a strip strike in mid-1943 and an earlier hunger strike by the female prisoners in Armagh Gaol in the winter of 1943. After the IRA finally began its long delayed campaign in England in January 1939, it had failed to reinvigorate the campaign by transferring its focus to the north. By the middle of 1943, in the face of the loss of key personnel and lack of resources and with no imminent prospect of a Versailles style post-war conference, the emphasis shifted to the prisons and publicity coups in what IRA Chief of Staff Hugh McAteer later described as an attempt to ‘preserve the spirit’ of the movement.

The circumstances of the IRA in the north, at this point, were now considerably removed from that of the generation who were active from 1916 to 1922. From the Easter Rising onwards, conflict with the British authorities and then Free State and Northern Ireland authorities had indeed seen many republicans interned or sentenced to terms in prison. Despite the widespread republican experience of internment and imprisonment between 1916 to 1924, the typical period of incarceration was more often measured in months than years and few faced extended periods in prison. Only a handful of republicans were imprisoned for longer periods, some serving terms in prisons in Britain for a number of years after the general amnesties that followed the signing of the treaty in 1921.

The existing sentencing policy applied in the north from the mid-1930s onwards saw republicans given prison terms for offences that only warranted a fine for others. This discrepancy increased wildly after 1936, first when Eddie McCartney was given a ten year sentence and then when the Treason Felony Act was invoked to hand lengthy prison sentences to the northern IRA leadership. That Act hadn’t been used since the 1880s, which was the previous period in which republicans experienced similarly long terms of imprisonment with the likes of Tom Clarke serving fifteen years in jail.

Long term prisoners create a particular set of circumstances. Using ‘criminalisation’ as a tactical response to present insurgency as illegitimate isn’t exactly new but it does bring its own complications. It may not be explicit state policy but long term insurgent prisoners are designed to be hostages with the prospect of early release held out as an incentive to ending an active insurgency campaign. While the immediate benefit to the state is removing key insurgents from active involvement for extended periods of time that has to be balanced against other factors. Once imprisoned they are able to take part in in-depth internal debates on strategy and tactics with other imprisoned leaders, are able to engage with an audience outside the prisons and often attract support as a prisoner from individuals and organisations who wouldn’t otherwise openly support the insurgency itself. As had happened in the 1890s, the publicity attracted by long term prisoners began to far outweigh any tactical purpose in holding them in jail.

By early 1944, the republican prisoners in A wing in Crumlin Road included the likes of Jimmy Steele and Hugh McAteer who had been imprisoned on multiple occasions and already spent six or seven years each in jail (Steele had first been in prison in 1923). Many others had served various short terms prior to receive lengthy sentences since 1940. Internees, housed in D wing in Crumlin Road, Derry Gaol, Armagh Gaol and (in 1940-41) on the Al Rawdah, had to contend with the uncertainty of internment – no trial or charges also meant no defined period of imprisonment. The internees’ only (vague) salvation was that political pressure or events would eventually bring their release. The fear for sentenced prisoners was that they would not get released in the same way. The creation of two separate prisoner communities (interned and sentenced) created the potential for internal dissent and conflict over strategy and tactics inside and outside the prisons that might bring their release.

In March 1943, the IRA’s Adjutant-General Liam Burke issued an edition of An t-Óglach for the first time in many years (it’s circulation was confined to IRA members). This included an article on ‘Unity’ with the prisons specifically mentioned: “Too often in the past we have allowed ourselves to be divided by some petty grievance or worse still by some false rumour manufactured by enemy agents. In order to satisfy personal spites or ambitions we have allowed that element of disunity to creep in among us. This is very often obvious in the Prisons where Volunteers, living together in confinement for long periods, find too much time to brood on every petty grievance that arises.” There is also an article on Guerilla Warfare that pointed out the legitimate status accorded to ‘Guerillas’ since the 1899 Hague Conference.

AntOglachMarch1943

Burke (who had escaped from Crumlin Road in 1941) was re-arrested and returned to Crumlin Road in April 1943. There were of course IRA prisoners and internees held at various locations on either side of the border and a number of long-term sentenced prisoners from the sabotage campaign in British prisons. By 1943, the IRA’s leadership had mostly relocated to the north and, from early summer, became increasingly focused on the prisons.

Both the 1943 strip strike and Armagh Gaol hunger strike had delivered sharp lessons in terms of mobilising political support outside the prisons. The key focus on the prison campaigns was to obtain political status (eg see Republican News, July 1943 below). So in February 1944 a hunger strike began, with teams of three joining in stages, first beginning with McAteer, Liam Burke (by now O/C of the republican prisoners) and Pat McCotter. The prison authorities delivered food and milk to their cells every day, hoping to tempt the prisoners to come off the strike by leaving the food there in front of them. The will power required to continue the strike, in the cold cells of Crumlin Road, with food in easy reach, must have been formidable.

RepNewsJuly1943

The prison staff also continued to subject the strikers to two to three searches a week, including strip searches, despite the fact they were no longer allowed out of their cells. On day four of the strike (26th February), David Fleming and Jimmy Steele joined the hunger strike with the second team, Steele had participated in previous hunger strikes including in 1936, Fleming was to participate in later hunger strikes. The first of the hunger strikers had already been moved to the prison hospital by the 16th March, by which time eighteen men had joined the strike, including Joe Cahill on the 9th March. On the 16th March, William Lowry, the Home Affairs Minister in Stormont, reported to Stormont that the “…condition of these men is only what could be expected after such a prolonged period without food. The Government cannot accept any responsibility for the actions of these men whose present condition is solely due to their own voluntary abstention from food“. He described hunger striking as a malignant and criminal practice and insisted that the medical treatment the prisoners were receiving was entirely satisfactory. Lowry went on to say, “…Their own relatives at an appropriate time, for example when death is imminent, will be duly notified.

The hunger strikers were joined for a week by 100 internees in Derry prison in mid-March. By the 22nd March, the Irish Times was reporting that Liam Burke, Pat McCotter, Hugh McAteer and Jimmy Steele were all weak after 30 days on hunger strike and had abandoned the strike. That story was not true but, as it was the latest in a series of inaccurate reports on the strike, it was becoming painfully obvious to the IRA prisoners that the censorship was preventing the strike having any impact on public opinion. When the forty day mark was passed, the IRA staff debated the futility of continuing when the chance of fatalities was now growing ever higher. On the forty-fourth day (6th April), the strike was called off. It seems, from Joe Cahill’s account in his biography A Life in the IRA, that the decision was not made by the hunger strikers themselves, as he puts it that a decision was “…taken to bring them off.” One key failure of the hunger strike was to secure parallel political status for internees and sentenced prisoners as there was no concurrent release of internees and sentenced prisoners in 1945. It wasn’t until 1950 that the last three sentenced prisoners, McAteer, Burke and Steele, were released.

The 1944 hunger strike may well never be commemorated or receive any significant attention yet it marks a significant stage in the development of republican tactics. A number of those involved in hunger strikes and prison protests of the early 1970s, such as Billy McKee and Prionsias MacAirt, had been in Crumlin Road at the time of the 1944 hunger strike. Others prominent activists in the early 1970s were also veterans of the 1940s, like Jimmy Drumm, Joe Cahill, Albert Price, Charlie McGlade and Harry White. The 1943/44 protests were Irish republicans first real experience of long term imprisonment in the twentieth century. They contain the roots of later republican thinking and experience that provides a context for prison protests, including the structure of hunger strikes and the role of publicity that became central to events in the 1970s and 1980s.

Thanks to Dr Breandán Mac Suibhne for the discovery of the March 1943 edition of An t-Óglach.

Internment during the British royal visit to Belfast, 1951

The Unionist government rarely used the  Special Powers Act to intern political opponents between 1945 and its re-introduction in 1956. One of the only occasions on which it did so was in May 1951 to coincide with a visit to Belfast by members of the British royal family. The Unionist government had used internment in a similar way on various occasions in the 1930s. The public outcry in 1951 appears to have determined that future uses of internment would be unofficial, such as during another such royal visit in May 1953, when the RUC instead questioned or put specious charges against leading republicans to detain them during the visit.

In 1951, on the night of 30th May, the RUC carried out a series of raids in which they arrested thirteen republicans and detained them under the Civil Authorities (Special Powers) Act. Forty-eight hours beforehand, a bomb had gone off outside Cullingtree Road RUC barracks. It had not been planted by the IRA, yet those arrested were mostly involved with the IRA including the Belfast Battalion O/C Jimmy Steele and Adjutant, Joe Cahill, and other prominent members like Joe McGurk and Liam Burke. Sinn Féin in Belfast had been planning a non-violent protest against that royal visit that was to take place on the night of the 31st May.

The RUC then publicly announced that they had issued internment orders for thirteen republicans under the Special Powers Act coinciding with a visit by the British Queen to Belfast.  The RUC announced that they were going to hold the men for seven days under the Special Powers Act as a ‘security measure’ (see press on 30th May 1951).

Opposition to both the visit and the reintroduction of internment was not confined to republicans. Harry Diamond (who sat in Stormont as an MP for the Irish Labour Party) sent a statement protesting the detentions to King George saying:

In face of your Labour Government’s denunciations of Soviet tyranny will you by your presence here countenance these Totalitarian acts?

Diamond was refused permission to raise the detentions in Stormont but he interrupted another debate to say that:

This is a police state, because we have seen in the last 24 hours that there is no civil liberty here, and that men can be dragged from their beds and interned without trial.

The Belfast District Committee of the Gaelic League also protested the royal visit:

This Committee, representing 5,000 Irish speakers of all denominations in the city, wishes emphatically to protest against the visit of the Royal representative of the country that is holding part of Ireland in subjection. Furthermore we wish to reassert the inalienable right of the people of Ireland to the unfettered control of their own destinies.

There was also a statement issued under the byline of the Adjutant, Belfast HQ, IRA, that stated:

In connection with the forthcoming visits of the King and Queen, we wish to make our position clear. We resent this visit but we are not prepared to take any action at the moment. If the police carry out any further raids and arrests and give unnecessary provocation to the nationally-minded people, we shall be forced to take action to stop these raids. We call upon all Irish-minded people to boycott this proposed visit and to support us in any action we deem fit.

Meanwhile, Jimmy Steele and the other twelve republicans were brought to the prison on Crumlin Road, taken to the reception area and processed into the remand area in C wing. They were photographed and had their fingerprints taken (for some of the thirteen this was the third time this had happened since their arrest). Despite being imprisoned under an internment order, for the seven days they were held there, the republicans were subject to remand conditions. That meant taking exercise with the remand prisoners observing the ‘five yards apart’ and ‘silence’ rules, the number 2 diet and no association or other ‘privileges’. Remand prisoners were also limited to two cigarettes in the morning and two in the evening.

With so much collective experience of the various regimes including juvenile, remand, sentenced, penal and internee, Steele, McGurk, Cahill, Burke and the others quickly objected and notified the prison authorities that they wouldn’t accept the remand conditions. The response of the authorities was to inform them that, if they did not comply with the order, they would be returned to their cells. As they refused to comply with the remand regulations, they were returned to their cells and all privileges withdrawn. It had been early on Tuesday morning when they had been detained and they were to remain confined to their cells once they refused to observe the five yards apart and silence rules. The internees only got out of their cells on the Sunday morning to attend mass in the prison chapel. The next day, Monday 4th June, they were informed that they were being released again, in ten minutes time. As they walked out through the wicker gate of Crumlin Road, at about 12pm a plane bearing their royal majesties had already left the runway at Aldergrove that morning and was half way to London. That evening, Jimmy Steele and Joe Cahill issued a statement on behalf of themselves and Liam Burke, Patrick Doyle, Joe McGurk and Jack McCaffrey.

They put a direct challenge to the Unionist Minister of Home Affairs:

“We challenge you, Brian Maginness, to produce the evidence on and to state publicly:

(a) The nature of the act which you suspect was about to be committed (the Minister’s detention order stated that they were persons suspected of being about to act in a manner prejudicial to the peace and to the maintenance of order):

(b) The evidence upon which suspicion was grounded and the person or persons from whom such evidence emanated;

(c) Why, if such evidence was available, was not that specific charge framed against us?

The nature of your reply, if any, should determine not only the future of our own liberties, both physical and economic, but the liberties of all man and women working towards the ideal of a free, independent Irish Republic for the thirty-two counties.”

There was no answer forthcoming from the Unionist government.

Mass escape from Derry Jail, 2oth March 1943

On the 20th March 1943 the IRA staged a mass escape through a tunnel from Derry Jail. The escape was one of a series of high profile actions by the IRA in the north in the first half of 1943. The escape itself is well covered by an episode of the TG4 series, Ealú. This article looks at the wider context of the escape in terms of the 1940s IRA campaign.

Information about the escape was only disclosed to the Chief of Staff McAteer and the Northern Command Adjutant Jimmy Steele at an IRA army convention held in Ballymacarret in February 1943. McAteer and Steele had themselves escaped from Crumlin Road in January 1943. Finance for the Derry escape had already been (unwittingly) procured in a hold-up in Strabane on 2nd February by Jim Toner, O/C Tyrone, and his adjutant, Joe Carlin which netted £1,500[1]. The outside operation  was to be planned by Steele, Liam Burke, Harry White and Louis Duffin. Toner and Jimmy Clarke would help organise back-up. Word was sent in that the escape was to take place on the Saturday morning, 20th March, at 8.30am.

The planning of the Derry escape had begun in October 1942 when a tunnel was started in the cell of Harry O’Rawe and Jimmy O’Hagan[2]. The month previously, Tom Williams execution had coincided with a military campaign in the north by the IRA (the first formal northern offensive since 1922). A fifteen foot shaft had been sunk and then an eighty foot tunnel burrowed out towards a house in Hardinge Street and all the spoil disposed of. Communication in and out of the jail was by secret text between the lines of letters to Annie Hamill by her fiancé, Paddy Adams, who was O/C of the prisoners (she was also a sister of another internee, Sean Hamill). The tunnel was now nearing completion having gone through all manner of problems including water-logging, a collapse (nearly killing Billy Graham), and even having to dig under a coffin. The excavated soil from the tunnel even clogged the drains which had to be cleaned out but didn’t arouse suspicion.

Twenty men were to attempt to escape, to be supported by waiting IRA units in Derry and across the border in Donegal. Selection was based on those who would commit to reporting back for duty to the IRA, north of the border, once they had escaped. Once the twenty had passed through the tunnel, any other internée was free to follow them and make their own way to safety. It was hoped as many as eighty might escape.

For use in the Derry escape, Liam Burke had went to Currans to hire a furniture lorry and driver on the 18th March. The cost of the hire was to be £9 (this was paid to the firm after the escape). He and Jimmy Steele were to travel up to Derry in the lorry with the driver, called Davy, who was unaware of their true mission.

The lorry was going to be left at the corner of Abercorn Place, so that the escapers, who were expected to emerge in Harding Street, could run down and jump into the back. The escape was confirmed for 8.30 am on the Saturday morning. There were three flights of steps at the top of Abercorn Place, where it met Harding Street, which prevented the lorry being moved to just outside the house where the tunnel would emerge but also meant that it wasn’t close enough to arouse suspicion. Liam Burke was to position himself at the top of the steps to guide any escapers to the lorry.

The tunnel had been propped with bits of wood salvaged from around the prison plus sandbags made from pillow cases. In total 15 tons of clay had been removed for the tunnel. The sound of digging it up had often been masked by music practice. The tunnel itself had been completed before the IRA had organised the getaway vehicles and so there was a nervous wait inside the prison by the internees who were itching to get out[3]. The exit was in the coal bunker of Joseph Logue’s house in Harding Street.

The next day, Friday 19th March, Steele and Burke were picked up by the lorry which then began the drive up to Derry. On the way, the driver Davy wasn’t very talkative. He then stopped off at the main door of an RUC station in Castledawson, parked up the van, and went inside. Steele, sitting in the front seat, and armed with a revolver, had no idea whether the driver had recognised him (his niece worked for the same firm)  or become suspicious and was, at that very moment, giving him away to the RUC. It can’t have been too far from his mind how Hugh McAteer, the previous October, had accepted an invitation to an old school friend’s house only to deliver himself, the Chief of Staff of the IRA, straight into the hands of the waiting RUC without a fight.

To make matters worse, Steele was sitting at eye level right beside a wanted poster that said:

Royal Ulster Constabulary, Reward of £3,000. The above Reward, or proportionate amounts thereof, will be paid to the person or persons furnishing information to the police leading to the arrest of any one or more of the persons whose photographs and descriptions are given hereunder, and who escaped from Belfast Prison on the morning of 15th January, 1943.”

Under the text were pictures and descriptions of himself, Hugh McAteer, Ned Maguire and Pat Donnelly. Eventually, though, Davy returned to the van, got in and drove off (it turned out he had got lost and went looking for directions).  When they reached Derry, Steele produced his revolver and told Davy that his van was being commandeered by the IRA. Davy looked at the revolver and then told Steele that it wasn’t necessary as he was an IRA supporter. He even pointed out that he could drive the van better than anyone else so it would be better if he stayed with them[4]. Steele explained why the furniture van was being commandeered but Davy agreed to remain with them and help out with the escape. As it was, he was the best placed to act as the getaway driver[5] anyway.

Steele and Burke had arranged to be billeted in a safe house in the city. Other members of the Belfast IRA had arrived separately, in twos and threes, to help in the escape.

On the morning of the escape, the prisoners found that the mouth of the tunnel had been blocked. As time wound down to the escape the idea had begun to take hold that the authorities’ failure to uncover the tunnel was a rouse and the plan was simply to shoot the internees as ‘escapers’ as they emerged from the tunnel. So, on discovering the tunnel blocked, they assumed the escape was over. Outside, Steele and Burke were unaware of any of the dramas inside the prison as the agreed time of 8.30 am approached. By now, the prisoners had realised that the tunnel was blocked by two bags of coal which were then transported back through the tunnel and into the prison clearing the way for the escape.

The prisoners then began to emerge from the tunnel and, much to the Logue family’s shock, ran through the house into the road. Kevin Kelly remembers that Joseph Logue had stood with one leg in his trousers in the parlour as they ran through. When he reached the street he saw Liam Burke and Chips McCusker and, even sixty years later, remembered the feeling of elation and how fresh the air was after being inside (Derry Jail was notoriously dark and damp). Kelly himself says:

You could never describe the feeling.”

Burke then handed Kelly a revolver and directed him towards the van in Abercorn Place where Steele was still sat in the front with the driver.

Back in the Logue’s house, Sean Hamill was keeping watch over the Logues as the other members of the escape team emerged from the tunnel. He remained there until the last man came out, even then delaying to make sure no-one else was going to emerge[6]. Kelly had jumped into the back of the lorry while some others delayed in Abercorn Place. To free up space Steele and Burke were going to stay in the city, rather than leave with the lorry, and Ned Maguire took over in the lorry’s cab with the driver for the next part of the escape bid[7].

A young girl who noticed the escapees in the street went to the prison gates and informed the staff (who were already suspicious that something was going on). By the time the warders discovered the tunnel, 21 men had passed through it and had escaped. Fourteen of them climbed onto the lorry. Some, including Harry O’Rawe[8], Hubert McInerney, Brendan O’Boyle, Chips McCusker and Billy Graham didn’t go on the lorry and made their way to Letterkenny on foot[9]. Sean Hamill had remained in the Logues to prevent them raising the alarm. By the time he left the house, the lorry had already driven off. Having previously spent time in the city (he had originally been picked up and interned there), Hamill then decided to stay in Derry on the run, and felt able to make his way across the border. O’Boyle was the last official escapee[10], while Jimmy O’Rawe, the last to escape through the tunnel, was the first non-official member of the escape team to go through the tunnel and the only non-official escaper to get out. He didn’t know Derry well and was picked up during the blackout on Sunday night by the RUC.

Those in the lorry drove off[11], making the four and half mile journey to Carrigans where they were to cross the border with the intention of linking up with the waiting IRA unit on the other side. The journey was pretty uneventful and the apprehension and tension among the escapers in the back exploded in a yell of triumph when they crossed over the border at Carrigans and travelled on to St Johnston where they were supposed to be met by another lorry. Instead, nine ended up surrendering that night to pursuing Free State soldiers and Gardaí. They were re-interned (a certain naivety still existed among northerners about the capacity of Fianna Fáil to support the unionist government), this time in the Curragh. A famous photograph shows eleven men captured by Free State soldiers in the back of a lorry.

Photo showing prisoners re-captured by Free State soldiers in Donegal (published in Tim Pat Coogan's The IRA.

Photo showing prisoners re-captured by Free State soldiers in Donegal (published in Tim Pat Coogan’s The IRA.

Having left the lorry (it was eventually found in Sion Mills), Steele and Burke made an uneventful train journey back to Belfast. Steele was dressed in his Auxiliary Fire Service uniform while Burke was dressed as a priest. After they arrived back in Belfast, the £9 was forwarded to Currans to pay for the hire of the lorry.

Some, like Kevin Kelly, believed the timing of the escape was wrong and they should have gone out in the evening to take advantage of the blackout and then night-time. Within a week only three of the 21 were still at liberty. Lessons from the May 1941  and January 1943 escapes from Crumlin Road had not been learned, like not using getaway cars or trying to co-ordinate with outside help, with obvious consequences (in contrast, it was months before any of the May 1941 or January 1943 escapees were recaptured).

Strategically, the IRA appeared to have an eye, either consciously or subconsciously, on the propaganda value of an escape over the immediate practical contribution freeing 21 experienced volunteers would make to its northern campaign. As the IRA’s centre had shifted to the north in the early 1940s, a growing emphasis was put on positioning the question of Irish unity on the agenda of any expected Versailles-style conference that might happen after the world war. The IRA’s sabotage campaign in Britain had started in January 1939, but by September the start of the world war held out the prospect that a British reverse might be a catalyst to the re-establishment of the Irish republic as declared at Easter 1916 (the IRA’s ultimate objective).

As the possibility of British defeat receded, attitudes changed and, different dynamics emerged, first with the German invasion of Russia[12], and then with US entry into the war. The latter in particular, created the hope of a Versailles-style conference. And this is not as far-fetched as it now sounds. Irish unity had been an active issue in the public discussions of US support for the allies and then participation in the war. And until the Yalta conference in 1945, it was assumed there would be a negotiated end to the war. In Belfast, the IRA, under Hugh McAteer, had issued a number of public statements about the deployments of US troops in the north in 1942 and 1943 hoping to gain some headlines in the US. In his historical novel, An Ulster Idyll, Vincent McDowell (himself a 1940s internee) captures the general thinking among republicans in 1942:

“They could look forward to peace eventually and some kind of normality, but the IRA hoped that they would have a place in the final peace conference, and that the question of Irish unity would be raised, hopefully with the help of the Americans.”

McAteer, in the Sunday Independent in 1951[13] wrote that by the middle of April 1943 the IRA leadership were openly admitting to each other that the military offensive begun in September 1942 was failing:

“…we acknowledged to each other what we had long felt in our own hearts – that the possibility of our plans in the North succeeding was out of the question for the present. The propaganda value of the Derry escape, as evidenced by the many popular ballads, was tremendous; the practical result very small. The mass of the people were thoroughly disillusioned by the attitude of the 26-County Government towards us in the North; hundreds of our more experienced men were imprisoned or interned. The pattern of our work was thus clear. We had first of all to preserve the spirit of the movement, even if we could achieve nothing more concrete, and, secondly, to keep ourselves out of the jails as long as possible, and even this was becoming more difficult.”

By April 1943 then, the IRA’s northern offensive had largely petered out and by the middle of that year there was a clear shift towards dealing with prison issues. McAteer’s statement about the IRA’s thinking in March and April 1943 may also reflect growing public confidence in the possibility of an outright allied victory following Stalingrad and El Alamein and the realisation that a post-war conference to settle territorial claims and disputes was now looking unlikely.

With the possibility of a Versailles-type settlement gone, as McAteer states, the priority was now “..to preserve the spirit of the movement”. That set the stage for next big propaganda coup of the IRA, its 1943 Easter Commemoration in Belfast, which I’ll cover another day.

[1] McEoin (Harry), p133

[2] There are various accounts, including in Harry and The IRA in the Twilight Years, also an episode of the TG4 series, Ealú: To Hell and Back.

[3] Kevin Kelly, interviewed on Ealú.

[4] Hayes, 2004, 69

[5] Hayes 2004, 69

[6] Information as related by Sean to his son Féilim.

[7] Based, in part, on Hugh McAteer’s account (Sunday Independent 13.5.1951)

[8] O’Rawe had stood and watched Eamon Ó Cianáin and others escape over the wall in Crumlin Road in May 1941, only for warders to arrive and end his chances of escape. O’Rawe had helped wrestle the warders away from Gerry Doherty who was the last man over the wall on that occasion.

[9] As Chips McCusker was standing with Liam Burke when Kevin Kelly emerged from Logue’s, those who didn’t go in the lorry appear to have chosen not to do so either to divide the escapers up to evade capture or due to lack of space (McAteer, writing in 1951, implies that they were left behind).

[10] Coogan 1970 The IRA, 185

[11] According to Liam Burke’s account in The IRA in the Twilight Years, the driver and Ned Maguire took the lorry to the border, himself and Jimmy apparently staying the city.

[12] In Ar Thóir mo Shealbha Tarlach Ó hUid describes how a loose collaboration between the broad left in Belfast and the IRA in 1940 came apart over differing opinions over the ending of the German/Soviet pact with the German invasion of Russia. Joe Cahill (in Anderson’s 2002 biography of him A Life in the IRA) also relates that the moods in the prison and relations between warders and prisoners ebbed and flowed with the fortunes of the war and the changing alliances.

[13] Sunday Independent 20th May 1951