Blanket Men Televised
FOR the first time ever, a television crew was allowed, the week before last, inside the H-Blocks of Long Kesh; but they were not allowed to speak to the men.
Presumably, the British Government were hoping to gain some propaganda victory out of the occasion, but, in fact, the grim conditions of the prisoners and their stark appearance, combined with other film of a jungle of concrete walls, barbed wire and lookout posts, could have done nothing but enhance - in viewers' eyes - the need for the men to receive humane treatment.
The TY crew were from the BBC2 programme Newsnight and their unique pictures were first shown on that programme on Monday evening; and RTÉ screened the same pictures on Wednesday evening. The two `blanket men' are - left - Hugh Rooney (Short Strand) and Kevin Toal (Armagh City).
The men were described by the television commentator as living in `quite unbelievable conditions' and as clearly having a `well defined command structure', shouting messages up and down the wing in Gaelic.
Phoblacht, 1 November 1980