Maghaberry, Inside Out

Prison Officer David Black was buried today in a military style funeral less the volley of shots. His Union flag draped coffin was escorted to Church flanked by dozens of colleagues some wearing ”medals”…0-66935d35123b
Meanwhile, a prisoner has been found dead in his cell in Maghaberry overnight.
No-one should gloat at Death.
The militant Republican mind will justify and legitimise the kill based on revenge and resistance.  Can’t say a condemning word about David Black personally, having actually met the man unsashed and without crowned cap.   He’d do the rounds in the early days and was the kind that made sure you got your essentials, phone call home, hot water and supper before lock up.   It’s a story that should be told that back in those days of forced integration: prison staff acted swiftly to remove and were scathing of an attempt by loyalists to display a UFF flag on the Christmas dinner table.   I and other Nationalists/Republicans locked up to eat in our cells, much to the annoyance of the screws in a genuine ”that was out of order by the Loyalists” attitude.
We told them. ”You won’t give us use of the canteen any other day, you’re not going to break us with Christmas treats.”   Prisoners were running the wings at the time to the extent were there was a no first strike policy.    We had laughed at the loyalist prisoners who themselves had only placed the painted bed sheet there as a ”jail joke.”   The screws just weren’t in on it.
While the screws thought their forced integration policy was working and everyone was conforming we all knew it would be fight for your life, watch your back and a hard line sectarian policy when sentenced.   I laughed at it although the UFF had murdered my Father one time I was in Gaol.    And it brings a smile to my face even now to recall how we had won relative freedom of movement and trust in a moment in time.   So much so that the Loyalist Officer Commanding told me as I shook his hand the day he was sentenced that he was going to begin by getting a hiding from his own people in the main block for ”mixing with fenians.”   A lot about prison depends on attitude, your own and others, and you get all sorts.   I stood to attention and saluted the screws the day I got sentenced and was moving to the committal /sentenced block, the realm of the Ninja’s.  ”I relinquish command” I said,  as a last wee act of defiance knowing, considering time already spent, I’d be out next week.
For that stunt, saluting and so on and considering my charges, the Ninjas put me in a cell with a Loyalist UVF bomber just jailed as part of a feud.  Plan backfired on them as we both laughed and shook hands both knowing what their game was.   Besides, the Loyalist had more to worry about from other Loyalist’s once he got over into general prison population.   We spent an evening conversing upon politics, war and reason.
Soon after I had left prison and the first wave of militant Republicans and Nationalist’s  [young and old]  reached general population they were ambushed individually by loyalists, beaten, scolded and so on.   Because General prison population [sentenced block] was swollen with Loyalists at the time due to their feuding outside they used the force of numbers to put the croppies down.   The ”Gaol struggle” began there.
Trow  5th November  2012

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