The IRA leaders planned to sabotage the escape tunnel they endorsed, but let the prisoners build it to prevent them from taking drugs.

DUBLIN — IRA prisoners in the notorious Maze prison in Northern Ireland encouraged by leaders to build a prison escape tunnel in 1997, but the commanders secretly planned to sabotage any escape attempts, and only endorsed the project to raise morale. god and keep prisoners off drugs.

IRA leadership has planned to thwart any attempt to use the tunnel because they fear the escape of the IRA’s tough men could upset the fragile balance of the peace process. , the newly published reports said.

The Irish Times says that IRA leaders in the prison have supported the peace process that culminated in the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, and fear that a tunnel would allow inmates who oppose it to escape. . However, they did see value in the effort “as a form of occupational therapy to keep prisoners busy and drug-free”.

The strange revelation is in a series of papers and documents dating from 1991 to 1998 and recently released by the National Archives of Ireland service. Although articles have been released to the media and hard copies are available for viewing in Dublin, they are not yet available online.

When the partially completed tunnel was discovered by wardens in 1997, Breidge Gadd, a member of the Northern Ireland Probation Council, told Seán Ó hUiginn, head of the Anglo-Irish Secretariat in Belfast, that the tunnel has been completed, Leader of the IRA in prison “didn’t intend” to allow it to be used, Irish Times report.

Ó hUiginn said in an internal memo that Gadd told him that the republican leadership in the prison had always intended to intervene “to stop the escape attempt just before the tunnel was completed.”

The Irish independence said that Ó hUiginn wrote that Gadd had criticized “the complacency in the British government’s response to the recent attempt to flee, arguing that the incident would lead to a great deal of political outrage and resignation.” of the minister in any other jurisdiction.”

“At the same time, Ms. Gadd believes, from recent interactions with inmates, that the work on the tunnel is not a serious escape,” the paper noted.

“She understood that the work had been approved by the leadership of the republic in the Labyrinth but then, for various reasons, had no intention of allowing it to be completed,” wrote Ó hUiginn.

“The project would be valuable as a form of occupational therapy to keep inmates busy and drug-free,” Gadd said.

The memo notes that the Republican command structure will be aware that, if the escape is successful, the prisoners involved will most likely be re-incarcerated shortly thereafter and will find themselves back in prison. return to prison and pay a severe punishment, all at a time, conceivably, an extended ceasefire could send many of their colleagues out.

“Also, Republican commanders, supporters [Sinn Féin leader Gerry] Adams, and the political wing of the movement, were worried about the involvement of some hardline Republican inmates in the escape attempt who were eager to see a full-scale return of IRA violence. and those who could be expected to stir up trouble wrote Ó hUiginn.

The Republican leadership in the prison, he added, “must also be aware of the propaganda value of even a failed prison break.”

“Whether they expose prison administrators or merely allow certain details to get their attention is unimportant. One way or another, they will cancel the surgery. “

HM Prison Maze, dedicated to paramilitary prisoners, is considered by many to be one of the safest prisons in the world, with armed guards in guard towers, 15-foot perimeter fences and individual “H-Blocks” surrounded by 18-foot concrete walls.

In September 1983, it remained the site of the largest mass break-in in British history when 35 prisoners escaped in what became known as the “Great Jailbreak”. The IRA leaders planned to sabotage the escape tunnel they endorsed, but let the prisoners build it to prevent them from taking drugs.


ClareFora is a Interreviewed U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. ClareFora joined Interreviewed in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing:

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