Saturday, 15 August 2009

New Ceartais Meeting - Tuesday August 25th @ 7pm

An important CEARTAIS meeting will be held in conjunction with the National Republican Ex-Prisoners' Network, COISTE NA n-IARCHIMI at the 174 Trust on the Antrim Road in North Belfast on Tuesday 27th August, 2009 @ 7pm.

Where former Long Kesh Prisoners will present compelling evidence about events prior to, during and the aftermath of the infamous CR Gas Attack perpetrated against them by the British Army on October 15th, 1974. CEARTAIS will also be outlining an update on it's campaign to achieve justice for former Political Prisoners and their families who have been affected by the above assault. Many of who now suffer from cancer-related illnesses.
Gach Daoine Failte/Everyone Welcome

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Ceartais Meeting

Ceartais will be holding a meeting/lecture about our Campaign to obtain the truth behind a CR gas attack by the British Army inside Long Kesh which took place on October 15, 1974.
The meeting will take place as part of the West Belfast Feile on Wednesday, August 5, 2009 at the Culturlann on the Falls Road. It will be facilitated by Belfast RNU and we thank them for their help in spreading our message to achieve justice for those families and relatives of former POWs', many of who have since died from the effects of CR gas.
Everyone welcome / Gach Daoine Failte

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Latest Response's To Ceartais Queries

Above are the latest responses to some Ceartais queries........

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Fógraí bháis: Marshall Mooney

Former Political Prisoner; Marshall Mooney RIP
THE death has taken place of veteran Belfast republican Marshall Mooney. Marshall’s remains were taken to Whitecliff Crescent en route from Killough to Roselawn Cemetery. The coffin, flanked by a republican guard of honour and led by a piper, proceeded to the local memorial garden.Sinn Féin Councillor Maire Cush chaired the proceedings and Annie Cahill recited a decade of the Rosary. The main speaker was West Belfast MP Gerry Adams. Wreaths were laid on behalf of the extended republican family.
Born in little Edward Street in the historic ‘Half Bap’ district of Belfast on 9 April 1947 to Francis and Susan Mooney, Marshall moved to the then new estate of Ballymurphy in the early 1950s before eventually settling in the Turf Lodge estate from 1961 onwards. Marshall had seven sisters – Teresa, Susan, Helen, Mavourneen (RIP), Margaret (RIP), Anne (RIP) and Pat – and one brother, Paul.As it did on so many of his generation, the events of 1969 and the latest wave of pogroms against Catholics in the North of Ireland had a radicalising effect on Marshall.
He joined the Republican Movement and was initially active in the Clonard area. After the introduction of internment in August 1971, Marshall joined the Ballymurphy unit of the IRA – ‘B’ Company, 2nd Battalion, of the Belfast Brigade. Marshall was imprisoned without trial in the early 1970s. While interned he tried to escape from Cage 6 one Christmas Eve along with Tommy Tolan, Marty O’Rawe and Gerry Adams.Gerry Adams reckons it was Marshall’s bald spot that got them caught as the searchlight reflected off his head. The Screws saw this and caught Marshall first. In true Marshall fashion, he tried to deflect attention from the others but, unfortunately, all the would-be escapees were spotted.Marshall was released in the mid-1970s and played a considerable role in the reorganisation of the IRA that took place at this time.
Marshall was not only a republican in the philosophical sense, he also applied his republicanism on a day and daily basis in a very practical way as well. Constantly concerned with building better communities and creating a better life for all people, the military cessation of 1974 enabled Marshall to concentrate on using his natural gifts and ability at mediation and resolving conflict.Marshall had a talent for not only putting people at ease as soon as he entered a room but also for getting people to resolve their differences in an amicable and agreed fashion. Marshall took particular delight in working with young people, especially in the Whiterock area, and in helping many young people throughout Ireland in creating better lives for themselves.
Instrumental in the design and development of the local Community Safety Forums, Marshall, as always, was willing to consider a particular project in relation to how it improved or bettered the quality of life for people. It was important to Marshall that people felt better in their lives after they had engaged with him.
Ceartais – a group set up by republican ex-POWS to highlight the use of CR gas on the prisoners in Long Kesh on October 16, 1974 – once again has another name to add to the ever-growing list of ex-POWS who have died of cancer.Jim McCann, a friend and comrade who spent time with ‘Big Mick’ in Long Kesh, said:“The fact that the British Army used CR gas during the burning of Long Kesh is well-documented by the POWs affected, by prison officers of all ranks, by loyalist prisoners, by British soldiers and by senior British civil servants at a meeting with the then O/C of the internees, George Gillen (RIP).“Unfortunately, the unwillingness of the British Government to release the results of blood samples taken from the prisoners when asked nearly 10 years ago at our request means that any chance of early diagnosis by medical staff was denied to the long list of prisoners like Marshall who have died or who are trying to cope with the cancers they obtained in Long Kesh many years ago.”
To his wife Ann, to his children Conor, Laura, Linda, Ann, Marshall and Ciara, and to the wider extended family, we send our deepest sympathy.The Republican Movement has lost a brave and gallant activist. Marshall Mooney is away to join the ‘Big Battalion’ up in the sky.
The above article was printed in AP/RN; 4/6/09

Friday, 22 May 2009

CR gas - Chemical Warfare in Ireland

This blog comes to you from Cork City. Earlier today Big Marshall got a fine send off from all of his friends and comrades in the Upper Springfield/Ballymurphy area and the many others who attended the funeral from across Belfast and farther afield. I was very honoured to deliver the funeral oration.

Among those in the cortege was Jim McCann, a former Long Kesh prisoner who, as I mentioned before, has for years has been campaigning to get the truth behind the British Army’s use of CR gas – a highly toxic chemical agent - in the aftermath of the burning of Long Kesh in 1974.Jim and the Ceartas group, he and other former prisoners established several years ago, believes that the British government cleared the use of CR Gas against prisoners.

According to Ceartas over 50 former prisoners, have died as a result of cancer.Jim believes that this high incidence of cancer is linked directly to the use of CR gas in Long Kesh in 1974 and has uncovered significant information to confirm this.Marshall knew of all of this and was concerned at the role CR gas may have played in his own cancer.35 years ago Long Kesh was the main prison holding republican POWs. Hundreds of internees, remand prisoners, and sentenced prisoners were held there. Over 1000 republicans in total. There were also several hundred loyalist prisoners.

The summer of 1974 was a period of great tension between the republican prisoners and the prison administration over prison conditions. A decision by the prison governor on the evening of October 16th to send British troops into the prison in breach of an agreement with the prisoners, saw republicans destroy the camp.The following morning during intense hand to hand fighting with heavily armed British soldiers hundreds of prisoners were seriously injured. The British Army also used low flying helicopters to pump in gas in an effort to incapacitate the prisoners.We quickly realised that this gas was different from the CS normally used. The effects were more severe.

CR Gas was developed in the late 1950 and early 60s by the British Ministry of Defence. Its full name is dibenzoxazepine. It is said to be up to ten times more powerful that CS gas and causes temporary blindness, uncontrollable coughing and gasping for breath, loss of body motor control, intense burning of the skin and immediate incapacitation. It is a suspected carcinogen, that is, it can cause cancer. The British government has claimed that it never used CR ‘operationally’ but it is known that CR Gas was kept at Long Kesh at that time.

The Guardian newspaper reported in March 1974 that ‘the chemical has already been issued to Long Kesh military guards and will be used in the event of serious rioting.’

A report in the Observer newspaper 4 years ago said that ‘The British government secretly authorised the use of a chemical riot control agent, to be used in prisons at the height of the troubles … CR gas was permitted from 1973 to be used on prison inmates in the event of an attempted mass breakout.’

And three years ago Daily Ireland interviewed former British soldiers who admitted that CR Gas was used in Long Kesh in October 1974.Should we be surprised by any of this? No.Marshall Mooney certainly had concerns that his illness could be linked to the CR gas.

In the time ahead this blog intends to ask questions on this issue. Jim McCann has done great work. If anyone out there wants to help you can contact Ceartas at:


Posted by Gerry Adams MP

Monday, 18 May 2009

Big Marshall

This blog believes that every day brings its own challenges and possibilities and opportunities. That’s what makes life so interesting. The trick is to live every day as if it was your last day. And to live every day as a beginning. In other words to begin again. Every day. I didn’t intend to write all that. It just flowed into the computer.

I suppose its big Marshall’s fault. Marshall has just died. He is a friend of mine. We were internees in Long Kesh together. He died of cancer in the early hours of Sunday morning. The problem is that a lot of my friends are dying. Big Duice fell to cancer a month ago. Cormac before that. And Siobhán. And Cleaky. Seando is battling away like a good un. And Moke. And Jeff. Most of these comrades have two things in common. They are all relatively young. Mid fifties to sixty-ish. Except for Siobhán, all of them are former Long Kesh prisoners. Siobhan was in Armagh Women’s Prison.

Marshall is about the same age as me. Maybe, a year older. He is one of the good guys. In Long Kesh a bunch of us tried to escape a couple of times. A lot of the time we had to abandon our plans. Sometimes in the most hilarious circumstances.

Marshall and me were the worlds most unsuccessful escapees. We tried digging tunnels. Cutting the wire. Disguising ourselves. Of course we weren’t on our own. We were part of that very honourable penal tradition that gave the world Papillion and Larry Marley and other great escape merchants. Marshall and I were caught together once.

In the early hours of Christmas Day. Four of us cut our way out of Cage Six and were slowly slicing our merry way through a forest of razor wire towards freedom when the alarm went up. We got extra time for our trouble. Todler, who is also dead, always said that it was Marshall who gave us away.

Marshall had a little bald spot at the back of his head. He was very conscious of this. Todler said that the search lights on the prison wall reflected off Marshall’s bald spot and alerted the prison regime that something was afoot. Marshall denies this of course. Me? I think Todler was right.The fact is that Marshall was spotted first. He, and we, were hugging the ground in single file, crawling away from Cage Six. When Marshall was spotted he jumped up from where he was, in an effort to distract attention from the rest of us.‘Ho, ho, ho’ he bellowed at the surprised prison warders. ‘Ho, ho, ho. Happy Christmas’.

He then started to walk away from where we were lying, undetected. Of course he didn’t get very far. Sirens screamed. Search lights arced and punctured the Christmas darkness. Flairs lit up the Long Kesh sky line.British soldiers and prison officers sped up and down watchtowers and walkways, shouting and swearing as Marshall continued with his Daddy Christmas routine.‘Good King Wenceslas last looked out on the feast of Stephen ….’ he crooned. The screws were not amused. Especially when, eventually, the rest of us joined Marshall. They didn’t take kindly to our Christmas carolling. You couldn’t blame them. Anyway the long and the short of it was we spent the festive season in the punishment block. Ach is é shin sceal eile. That’s another story.

Marshall was also there when Long Kesh was burned down. Big boys made us do it. To be fair it wasn’t just me and Marshall. All the political prisoners played their part, internees and sentenced prisoners, alike.

During that episode the British army pumped CR gas into the prison camp. Many of us were familiar with CS gas but CR gas is even worse. I felt as if I was drowning when it was fired at me and Todler. It was like my lungs were filling up with water.Jim McCann, one of the prisoners at that time, has been campaigning on that issue. According to his research 12 per cent to 15 per cent of the prisoners affected in the camp have since contracted various forms of cancer, including leukaemia and other lung diseases.

Big Marshall was in the thick of all that. Maybe there is no connection between his death from cancer and the deaths of our other friends and I certainly don’t want to be upsetting any of their families. Especially Marshall’s clann, at this sad time. But I do know that Marshall was concerned about the CR gas and his illness. He said so recently.

This blog will return to the CR gas issue later this week. For now it is time to grieve for Marshall and to celebrate his life. He was a man who cared deeply about Ireland. About his community. About his family. To them all goes our sympathy and condolences. To his wife Ann, children Conor, Laura, Linda, Ann, Marshall and Ciara and to the wider family circle. Tá Marshall ar slí an fhirinne anios Go ndeanfaidh Dia trocaire air.

Posted on Gerry Adams' Leargas Blog on May 18th, 2009

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

What Really Happened at Long Kesh?

The following article has just been uploaded to the Bobby Sands Trust Website to highlight the Ceartais Campaign.

CEARTAIS is a lobby group of former Long Kesh Prisoners and their families who are campaigning to reveal the truth behind the exposure of Long Kesh prisoners to CR gas used by the British army on October 15th, 1974, during the disturbances and burning down of the prison camp by inmates. Currently the organisation has almost finalised compiling the list of those held captive during the CR attack. Over Easter Ceartais will be lobbying republicans during Easter Commemorations for support.


Ceartas (the Irish name for Justice) is the brainchild of former Long Kesh POW Jim McCann who for years has campaigned to get to the truth behind the British Army attack on prisoners during the burning of Long Kesh in October 1974. Along with Charlie Mawhinney, Joe Doherty and Mairtín Óg Meehan, McCann aims to “lift the curtain of secrecy that the British Government has thrown over its use of chemical weapons against unsuspecting prisoners”. One of the motivating factors for the former prisoners is the high incidence of cancers among former POWs who were targeted in the gas attacks.

McCann explains: “In 1974, republican POWs were being constantly harassed by the prison authorities so in October we took action.” This action saw hundreds of POWs burning the Long Kesh Cages and taking over the camp. In response, the British Army was deployed and, in the course of two days of fighting, hundreds of prisoners were seriously wounded when British soldiers fired rubber bullets at point-blank range and beat them with batons. However, it was the use of gas what campaigners believe was the highly toxic CR gas that has caused more concern in the long term. As the fighting between the British Army and the POWs intensified, the prisoners were driven into the playing fields at the centre of the camp. Once there, helicopters flew overhead and dropped clusters of gas. The operation to use CR gas was authorised under guidelines codenamed Snowdrop.

British Government documents obtained by Ceartas quote an AW Stephens, Head of the British Ministry of Defence’s DS 10, describing Snowdrop as “the contingency plan developed to deal with hi-jacking and other serious armed terrorist incidents” with members of the SAS – transported in helicopters – trained to carry out the operation.

Many of those gassed, who had suffered the effects of CS gas during rioting on the streets of the Six Counties, described completely different sensations when engulfed by the Long Kesh gas. “We were left completely incapacitated,” says McCann. “I remember having this sensation that I was drowning.”

According to McCann, “approximately 12 per cent to 15 per cent of the prisoners affected in the camp at that time have since contracted various forms of cancer, including leukemia and other lung diseases.”

Ceartais maintains that there is further evidence of a cover up in relation to the use of CR gas. In the days and weeks after the fighting was quelled, prisoners had their blood tested with samples being taken by British Ministry of Defence (MoD) technicians without explaining why they were doing these tests. “My medical records for 1974 have mysteriously gone missing,” says Jim McCann. “Through my solicitor I have been able to get my medical records for the whole time I was in prison except for the year 1974. Nor has anyone admitted to taking blood samples from the prisoners”.

CR gas was developed as a riot control weapon through the late 1950s and into the early 1960s by the British Government. When it tried to market this gas to the United States military it was refused on the grounds that “not enough was known about its carcinogenic and mutanogenic effects”.

In other developments, in response to a parliamentary question from Labour Party MP Ken Livingstone, then Armed Forces Minister John Spellar, also of the Labour Party, admitted that “some 200 hand-held spray devices containing CR were held at HM Maze [Long Kesh] at that time”. ‘The Guardian’ newspaper reported in March 1974 that “the chemical has already been issued to Long Kesh military guards and will be used in the event of serious rioting”. And writing in The Observer in 2005, journalists Craig Morrison and Martin Bright disclosed: “The British Government had secretly authorised the use of a chemical riot control agent to be used in prisons at the height of the Northern Ireland Troubles.”

Jim McCann explains: “We want the floodgates to open as we slowly attempt to put the jigsaw together piece by piece because we have been fobbed off and lied to for far too long.“

The curtain of secrecy in which the British Government is attempting to shroud the truth in is full of holes and although it is already too late for some of us we are refusing to let the injustices continue.”

Ceartais also thank, Danny Morrison and the Bobby Sands Trust for highlighting our ongoing campaign