A new mural, above, on the international wall commemorates the fortieth anniversary this year of the ‘Burning Of Long Kesh’ or the ‘Battle Of Long Kesh’, which took place on the night of October 15, 1974 and day of the 16th (when British Army units retook the camp).
The most comprehensive account available on-line of the conditions at the camp prior to the riot, the burning, and the battle on the morning of the 16th appears to be this 2004 piece in An Phoblacht by Joe Doherty and Christy Keenan. (For a virtual tour of the camp, see this video. Seamus Keenan’s Over The Wire (on again this month at the Derry Playhouse) attempts to recreate the scene.) Other accounts include those by Ronan Bennett, another inmate, in The Guardian, and by ‘Peter’, a British Army soldier, at Shared Troubles. Here is a brief BBC News report from the 16th.
All accounts mention the use of gas and Republican accounts state that CR was used on the morning of the 16th in addition to CS throughout, dropped from helicopters as at the top of the mural. The Guardian, in 2005, confirmed that CR had been authorized for use in controlling riots and was available at the prison. CR is a carcinogen (WP) and in a post on his blog Mairtin Óg Meehan suspects that exposure to CR is a cause of recent cancers among former prisoners. For some statistics based on interviews with prisoners, see this page at Clones Fáilte.
In the lower left corner is a quoted telegram from Fr. Denis Faul, Fr. Raymond Murray: “To international Red Cross … Visited Long Kesh today with others … Request immediate investigation into use of CR gas … sub-human conditions … SOS … come immediately …” 20 Oct. 1974. These two wrote an 80-page report on the conditions at the camp following the event, entitled The Flames Of Long Kesh. See this 1999 An Phoblacht page for an image of the shelters constructed after the battle.
The photograph which the central part of the mural reproduces is HU 70205 from the Imperial War Museum’s collection, though this is dated as October 1972.
The artists can be seen at work on the mural in an image from yesterday’s Leonard Peltier post ‘Obama Holds The Key‘.
Click and click again to enlarge (to 1900 x 1304)
Copyright © 2014 Extramural Activity
Camera Settings: f8, 1/640, ISO 200, full size 3164 x 2172
text: X01721 CR gas used against POWs