Experience in political conflict. (Loyalists and Prison Officers speak.)

The discussion on Experiences of political conflict took place today at the Waterfront Hall. The excellent play by Martin Lynch The Chronicles of Long Kesh has generated a lot of discussion about that particular aspect of our history. While the prison story here is dominated by the provisionals, the loyalist and prison officers experience has yet to be fully told in our literature and plays. Billy McQuinston a former loyalist prisoner introduces himself and speaks of his experience. He is joined by fellow loyalist prisoner Billy Hutchinson who is indignant about how loyalism is seen in the play and more generally, he says:

I spent 16 years in Long Kesh and every day I was a political prisoner. Everyday, when I got out of bed, I had to think about how I behaved and how I didn’t behave. I had to fight against screws who actually tried to take my dignity away…

he continues:

We had a cause, and it was a legitimate cause. I think people need to recognise that.

Brian Erskine who was a prison officer tells a little of his story.

  • wild turkey


    A technical point. Is there any way to improve on the sound quality and/or provide (and I am not taking the piss here) subtitles.

    Interesting panel and from the little bits I can access and understand, an interesting talk. But a lot of the sound is incomprensible.

    That said ,and per my previous comment on Jenny Muir, persist in this type of blogging.

    Discussions such as this current post, IF widely disseminated and discussed, have the potential to achieve far more benefit, understanding and ultimate positive outcomes than Eames/Bradley… and they cost a lot less.

  • Kathleen

    If I can I’ll write it out. WT I listened to it there again and if you turn up your volume, you can more or less catch it. We’d been to Armagh to cover the conference, and by the time we got to this event, we didn’t have much power left, with no power point and we couldn’t link into their sound system, and we had to film under very strict conditions, but we got what we could. Thats why the PO video is a little out of focus, not enough power in the battery, unfortunately we’re not the BBC…..:)

  • wild turkey


    thanks for your prompt reply. No need to write it out. You work hard enough, have better things to do… and have a life! Yes?

    Just a suggestion for future posts using similar technology. If there is way to get a direct audio/video link to the speakers mikes.. do it! Also, speakers could be encouraged ( by appealing to their vanity perhaps) to speak into the mike.

    It is midnite. My 8 yr old son and 9 yr old daughter are about to have an air hockey final before bedtime. Priorities.

    Y’all take care.

  • USA

    I agree with the comments about the potential, I also agree with the comments about the problems with audio. I could hardly make out a word.
    I could make out Noel Thompsons voice asking stupid questions and starting arguements again.
    Difference between you and the BBC Kathleen is that you were there covering this.
    Keep up the good work.

  • willis


    Is Martin Lynch going to show his own version elsewhere? NVTV perhaps? You did a good job given the constraints, but I hope that the limitations you were working under were for a good reason.

  • Steve Biko

    I think Billy Hutchinson made some decent points about the establishment of special category status (which was a loyalist initiative by Gusty Spence).

    I think he also has a point about the general portrayal of Loyalism (both in the play and in wider terms) – Granted Loyalism has done itself no favours with the likes of Adair, White, Wright etc etc but there is a whole swath of Loyalists who were ideological and as dignified and politically/community led as their republican counterparts, sadly they were out shouted by the knuckle draggers.

    I think if society as a whole took greater notice of the experience of ex prisoners on both sides, we may have a more mature political system, I think it would be fair to say that politically motivated ex prisoners through dialogue with each other and through the community led programmes they created and are involved in, paved the way for the GFA and the belated SF/DUP powersharing.

    Obviously there is great disagreement over the legitimacy of the conflict and I for one share that difficulty. However it is plain for me to see that it has been the insistence and consistency of the work of ex prisoners that we never go back there again. Politicians have not quite been so consistent – but I suppose they were not directly living with the consequences.