Irish Political Prisoners 1960-2000 : Braiding Rage and Sorrow book cover
1st Edition

Irish Political Prisoners 1960-2000
Braiding Rage and Sorrow

ISBN 9780415693103
Published March 31, 2021 by Routledge
1071 Pages 5 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

This is a comprehensive, detailed and humane account of the thousands who came into custody during the years of the Northern Ireland conflict and how they lived out the months, years and decades in Irish and English maximum security prisons.

Erupting in 1969, the Northern Ireland troubles continued with terrible intensity until 1998. The most enduring civil conflict in Western Europe since the Second World War cost almost 4,000 lives, inflicted a vast toll of injuries and wrought much destruction. Based on extensive archival research and numerous interviews, this book covers the jurisdictions of Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and England, providing an account of riots, escapes, strip and dirty protests and hunger strikes. It paints a picture of coming to terms with sentences, some of which lasted for two decades and more. Republicans and loyalists, male and female prisoners, officials and staff, families, supporters, clergy and politicians all played a part – and all were changed. The narrative includes some of the most remarkable events in prison history anywhere – mass breakouts, organised cell-fouling and prolonged nakedness, and hunger striking to the death; there are also accounts of the prisoners’ very effective parallel command structure. The book shows how Anglo-Irish and intra-Irish relations were profoundly affected and how the prisoners’ involvement and consent were critical to the Good Friday Agreement that ended the long war.

The final part of a trilogy dealing with Irish political prisoners from 1848 to 2000 by renowned expert Seán McConville, this is an essential resource for students and scholars of Irish history and Irish political prisoners; it is also a major contribution to the study of imprisonment.

Table of Contents


1. A Chronicle of Choices: 1966-72

2. Cherished Bondage: Republican Paramilitaries

3. Broken Faith: Loyalist Paramilitaries

4. Internment: The First Phase

5. Degradation, Ill-treatment and Torture

6. Tar Baby: Internment under Direct Rule

7. A New Battlefield

8. Loyalist Prisoners and Internees

9. In English Prisons

10. The English Hunger Strikes

11. Life in a Cold Climate

12. State Security and Irish Prisons 1969-1990

13. Subversives: Riots, Hunger Strikes and Escapes

14. The Pope’s Divisions

15. Years of Protest

16. Possibilities of Transfiguration

17. Analogues

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Seán McConville has researched and taught at major universities on both sides of the Atlantic and is currently Professor of Law and Public Policy at Queen Mary University of London, UK. He has published extensively on the history of punishment, as well as contemporary penal administration, including Irish Political Prisoners 1848-1922 (2003) and Irish Political Prisoners 1920-1962 (2014).


"This is penal history with heft, and it is told with panache. It is the capstone of the author’s career and will be an authoritative reference point for years to come."

Ian O’Donnell, Irish Jurist