A fictional story based on true events.
The untold story
of women's involvement In the 1980-1981Dirty Protest
and Hunger Strikes In Northern
In 1980/1981 there were major prison protests
by Republican prisoners in Northern Ireland. The British
Government had withdrawn political status for these prisoners
and they became labelled criminals.
In response the prisoners
embarked on the notorious 'Dirty
Protest' - they smeared their excrement on the walls and didn't
This then escalated into a Hunger Strike. There were two
hunger strikes in a short time span. Ten men died - one
of them was Bobby Sands. This became front page news internationally.
prisoners in Armagh jail were also involved in the Dirty
Protest and in the first hungerstrike - yet somehow the
womens story was unreported, untold -
the women were forgotton - written out of history.
Maeve Murphy: "Though I was born and bought up in
Belfast in Northern Ireland, I had no idea of the women's
I came across a pamphlet by the journalist Neil McCaIfferty.
I was shocked not only that there had been women on these
protests, but also at the horrific conditions that they
were being kept in, in a squalor which threatened them
with sterility and disease.
"There were at times fears of
an outbreak of a serious epidemic. This pamplet is now
out of print. The only other book written on the subject
is also out of print.
"I found poignancy in these women going through all of
this and yet being forgotten. I thought it was important
that somehow this story be told.
"I spoke to some of the women who had been on the protest.
I then co-wrote a play with members of a women's theatre
company, Trouble and Strife, called Now and at
the Hour of Our Death, which was set on one day
in Armagh prison (winner of the Time Out Award).
"This was the basis for