Terrorists, Victims, and Society: Psychological Perspectives on Terrorism and Its Consequences

By Andrew Silke | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 12
Terrorism and Imprisonment
in Northern Ireland:
A Psychological Perspective

JACQUELINE BATES-GASTON
The Northern Ireland Prison Service


INTRODUCTION

When most people think of imprisonment and terrorism in Northern Ireland they think of Long Kesh or the Maze. In fact, in the 30 years of the present 'troubles' other prisons like Magilligan, Belfast and Armagh, which held females, have also played a significant part in containing the greatest numbers of the most difficult and dangerous terrorists in the world. In his report after a mass escape at the Maze in 1983, Sir James Hennessey said that: 'It consists almost entirely of prisoners convicted of offences connected with terrorist activities, united in their determination to be treated as political prisoners, resisting prison discipline, even if it means starving themselves to death, and retaining their paramilitary structure and allegiances even when inside. Bent on escape and ready to murder to achieve their ends, they are able to call on the help of their associates and supporters in the local community and—though increasingly less frequently—to arouse the sympathy of the international community; they are able to manipulate staff and enlist the support of paramilitary organisations in the process of intimidation' (1984).

The physical conflict and terror in the community was mirrored by physical and psychological conflict and terror inside the prisons. A relationship

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