The Dublin Anti-Internment Committee organised an information table on Internment outside the Kilmainham Jail Museum on Sunday 11th September 2016. The purpose of the exercise was to make tourists and other visitors aware of the ongoing repression and civil rights abuse that is going on in Ireland which is internment by another name. As their leaflet points out, Republicans opposed to the British colonialism or to economic attacks on their communities and who organise against them are being targeted in a process that sees them arrested, charged with ‘terrorist’ offences, refused bail (or granted only attendant by ridiculous restrictions) and then, when the case against them collapses much later and they are freed, they will still have spent years in jail.
The Dublin Committee, affiliated to the Anti-Internment Group of Ireland, mobilised outside the former jail in the afternoon, displayed their banners and gave out leaflets to passers-by, tourists and visitors (not all who were from outside Ireland, by any means).
Kilmainham Jail is a Dublin prison with an important history. It was built before the Great Hunger and housed female and male prisoners, including children. Insurgents and political activists from the United Irishmen, they Young Irelanders, the Fenians, the 1916 Rising, the War of Independence and the Civil War had been kept here, including those being deported to Australia. Robert Emmet and Anne Devlin were kept prisoner here, as were Charles Stewart Parnell and most of the Irish Parliamentary Party’s leadership. All fourteen of the 1916 sixteen executed were judicially killed in this jail and women activists were jailed here after the 1916 Rising and during the Civil War.
The Jail closed in 1924 and was falling into disrepair; the State invited tenders for its demolition but felt that those they received were too expensive and so just left the building abandoned to ruin. However a local restoration committee got going, raised some money and began repair and restoration work with volunteer labour, skilled and unskilled.
In 1966, in time for the 50th anniversary of the Easter Rising, the restoration committee handed over the building to the State which, since then, has seen a huge attendance with nearly 330,000 visitors last year. Recent works moved the front entrance of the museum to the former courthouse building next door and a reported €5 is being spent on revamping the facility.