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13 July 2000 Edition

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Back issue: MacBride speaks out

SEAN MacBRIDE former Irish republican leader and politician, and today an internationally respected Unitied Nations diplomat, has spoken out against the H-Blocks for the first time. He did this in the course of a newspaper review of Tim Pat Coogan's book, On the Blanket, published in the Irish Press on Thursday 3 July.

MacBride writes: From 1969 to 1976, I repeatedly protested against the methods used by the British forces in the North in dealing with prisoners.

``When the H-Blocks situation developed at the end of 1976 I remained silent. I felt, on the one hand, that it was imposing an intolerable burden on the unfortunate prisoners involved; while on the other hand, it was being exploited for propaganda purposes... I was quite firm in my decision to remain silent on this issue and did so.

``I felt it necessary to review briefly my own attitude and reaction to the H-Block campaign for two reasons. In the first place, I sense that this was the attitude held by a great many people, including Tim Pat Coogan.

In the second place, it reveals the short-sightedness of the British authorities in their savage attempt to break the mental and physical health of the prisoners held by them. It was the intensive brutality of those in charge of British policy in the North which drove Tim Pat Coogan to write On the Blanket. It was the resultant stark, pungent analysis of the H-Block Story as told by Tim Pat Coogan which persuaded me to break my silence.''

An Phoblacht, Saturday 12 July 1980

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1