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Once in never out
It is an old Republican principle. But it could also be applied to the attitude the authorities have taken to Ireland’s longest serving political prisoners, Paddy McCann and Colm O’Shea. Jailed for the killing of two Gardai during a bank raid in Roscommon in 1980, as the peace process reached its final stages they were asked to sign up to the Good Friday Agreement. They subsequently put their names on the dotted line. That was ten years ago. So why have they not been released in the meantime, like dozens of other former Paramilitary activists? In an extraordinary, confessional interview, PADDY MCCANN makes his case against the State.
Jason O'Toole, 03 Feb 2009
But I’m gathering you won’t get drugs every day in prison…
Ah, now – this is Portlaoise prison! I could tell you things about here! We have better parties here than you ever had outside! We had Es before anybody else when they first came out! Before John Daly came into jail. He was an innocent skin and he rang up a radio show with his mobile telephone and as soon as he got out of jail he had to be ‘bagged’. Do you know what I mean? He was a pest. He ruined everything.
People have said you’re a bit eccentric?
Of course, eccentric, yes (laughs)! That’s right, they do say that. One man’s eccentricity is another man’s sanity, if you know what I mean.
I also heard that you became spiritual in prison?
I’m a Hindu! I’ve always had an interest in religion and stuff. I thought: the Catholic church is not for me. I’ve studied a lot of books and read a lot on religion while in jail. In 1975 I became a Hindu. I’m a white Hindu as well, which is even worse (laughs)! And I drink and I smoke and I take drugs as well. I do real things – things that people think you shouldn’t do! I chant and say mantras and that. I like incense: I’ve candles lighting all over the place. In fact, morning, noon and night. They take them out and burn them when I’m over in the Drum. I’ve been treated with an awful lot of contempt these last number of years in here. I learned Black Magic and Voodoo – so, I’ve stayed young. I’m only 13 really! I learnt magic. You can do things like that. Did you know that? Are you religious?
You’re undecided?! Man, you’re an idiot! Stop being an atheist. Cram up on some shit. You must have read the name of some god or other by now? Read a good book.
What do you miss most?
I don’t miss anything in particular. Honestly,