Why prison authorities took Irish bibles away from republican inmates
Published 29/08/2014 | 00:00
Irish Bibles were confiscated from prisoners because of fears they were being autographed and sold to raise money for republican groups.
In August 1981 it was agreed that inmates at the Maze would be allowed a personal copy of the Bible, translated into Irish. However, copies signed by prisoners were soon becoming "highly prized" in some circles.
A briefing note states: "Earlier this year the search teams at Maze Prison began to confiscate Bibles in which prisoners had allowed, or invited, numerous prisoners in the republican grouping to write their names and in most cases sentences and home areas on the fly leaves. This was not just one or two prisoners' signatures, but some 117 names."
The note stated the reasons for confiscation were that the prisoners had misused their Bibles. However, it added there were security implications if a prison officer's name and address could be slipped into the Bible and then passed out of the jail.
Officials also warned there was a "propaganda and fundraising potential", and decided that if the prisoner removed the marked pages, the Bible could be sent out of the prison.