Family of IRA volunteer Jim Moyne ‘proud of sacrifice’ 40 years on

Pat Moyne pictured at his brother Jim's graveside at the City Cemetery yesterday morning. Jim died in Long Kesh forty years ago. DER0115MC056
Pat Moyne pictured at his brother Jim's graveside at the City Cemetery yesterday morning. Jim died in Long Kesh forty years ago. DER0115MC056

Derry man and IRA volunteer, Jim Moyne, was 29 years-old when he died whilst being interned in the early hours of January 13, 1975.

Jim’s family will mark his 40th anniversary with a commemoration next week.

Jim Moyne.

Jim Moyne.

Jim’s younger brother, Pat, is now in his sixties and still finds reliving the day he heard his brother had died very difficult to talk about.

Jim was a dentist technician when he was interned and Pat described him as “a bit of a character”.

“We lived in 37 Cable Street in the Bogside having moved there from Brooke Street Avenue off Bishop Street where we had lived with my aunt for many years waiting to be housed,” recalled Pat.

“Jim was my elder brother by four years. My brother Martin was the oldest with Margaret and Michael the younger members of the family. We had a very happy home. I was always very close to Jim throughout his life. We played and socialised together and shared many of the same friends. His friends called him by his nickname, ‘Mossy’.

“Jim really was a bit of a character with a great sense of humour. He used to taunt me that I was too sensible and should learn to have fun like him. He was a practical joker and was foolhardy at everything he did.

“ He was extremely kind and generous and would have gave or lent those around him anything they needed, that was the way we were brought up and he no doubt inherited these qualities from both my mother and father whom he loved dearly.”

The Moyne household was brought up to believe and be proud of being Irish republicans. Jim’s grandfather on his father’s side were active anti-treaty republicans and his uncle Columba was badly beaten by British soldiers at a border crossing near Drumhaggart Co.Donegal and later died of his injuries.

“We were taught about Irish history by my father and politics and current affairs were discussed openly in our home.

“I remember Jim being very socially and politically aware from a young age. He was very passionate about his beliefs,” recalled Pat.

Jim became involved in the republican movement around 18 months before Bloody Sunday and as a result of internment in 1972, Jim went on the run.

“Jim saw injustice all around him in the early 70s in Derry and ignoring it and leading a quiet life was not an option for him. He wanted to challenge and end it. He often pointed out the wrongs of imperialism not only in Ireland but throughout the world and believed that the establishment of a 32 county socialist republic was the only way to guarantee social justice for the people of Ireland,” said Pat.

“Internment was introduced in the North of Ireland on August 9, 1971. I remember that day well, despite its introduction Jim remained in Derry and lived at home right up until September 1972 after ‘Operation Motorman’.

“He then decided that it was time to go on the run. My mother and father worried about him throughout this period as we all did. He went to Buncrana for a few months but decided to return to Derry and remained in the city until he was lifted on Good Friday April 19, 1973.

“Jim was detained as he left a relative’s house in the Bogside by the British Army who had been hiding in a furniture van. He was taken from Derry to Ballykelly where he was badly beaten and suffered a broken neck. He was then taken straight to Long Kesh and we did not get to see him for over six weeks,” said Pat emotionally.

Soon after his arrest Jim was taken to the Royal Victoria Hospital to have a severe neck injury x-rayed.

“The prison guards refused to take off Jim’s handcuffs so no X-ray was taken.

“We as a family were very aware that Jim and the other prisoners were being mistreated within Long Kesh and that the conditions within the prison were very poor. This caused anxiety for us all.

“Nevertheless we got on with it and travelled to Long Kesh for visits regularly on the bus with the other internee’s families. Great relationships and friendships were built on those journeys. This solidarity and spirit helped my mother and father especially to cope with the imprisonment of their son.

“My sister Margaret and my mother Lily diligently prepared food parcels and clothing for Jim for each visit and I think he loved the attention. I know that he worried about my mother and father often while in prison. He never complained throughout his time in gaol and was always good humoured on visits.”

Jim had bronchitis a condition which flared from time to time throughout his life. In July 1973 while interned he was transported to the Royal Victoria Hospital where he spent two days in an oxygen tent before being taken back to Long Kesh with little or no rehabilitation.

Jim was still in Long Kesh in October 1974 when the camp was burned down and after that riot he along with his friends spent weeks huddled on the mud under makeshift shelters. At that time Jim was also exposed to both CS and CR Gas which may have had a detrimental effect on his respiratory condition.

“Jim was prone to asthmatic attacks but his condition had been largely controlled outside prison. We had no reason to believe that this condition would eventually lead to his death.”

Sadly, Jim died in the early hours of January 13, 1975 and recollecting the death of his big brother is something Pat still finds it difficult to do.

“Jim suffered a horrific death and I find it extremely hard to talk about it.

“Fr. Desmond Mullan had received a phone call at around 3 o’clock in the morning from the prison chaplain to inform him of Jim’s death. We had no phone in the house at the time. Fr. Mullan made his way to our family home to inform us of his death. I was with my father when he came to the door. We were in disarray, it was a complete shock. My immediate concern was to find out where Jim’s body was and for more information as Fr. Mullan had not been told any detail in the original phone call.

“I made my way to the parochial house and Fr. Mullan phoned the prison authorities but they refused to give any detail on the whereabouts of the body. They then began to spread misinformation and told us that his body was in three different hospitals. Eventually after six or seven hours we were told to go to Craigavon Mortuary to identify Jim’s body.”

Pat described the days after Jim’s death as traumatic and said the hardest thing for most of the family was that they were not able to say goodbye to their brother and son.

“Jim had never been charged with any offence. He had not appeared before any court yet he received a death sentence in Long Kesh,” said Pat.

“Throughout the years that followed there was a constant void in our lives. His life was cut short by state violence and to this day that injustice is hard to bear. Each and every one of us struggled to deal with his death and did so in different ways,

“My mother was heartbroken and we were very worried about her and my sister Margaret whom he was very close to also. My mother’s saving grace was that she had the arrival of her eldest grand-daughter Bronagh just six months earlier. This helped her so much as she could divert attention to the new child but it would be true to say that she was never the same after Jim’s death and there was sadness in her heart.”

An inquest was held at the Hillsborough Courthouse in Lisburn, February 19, 1975 and Pat described the outcome as a farce.

“This cover up was even harder to deal with than his death. The lies and deception rubbed salt in our wounds. The attitude of the Red Cap Military Doctor Captain Woods was particularly harrowing. He said that he attended Jim on the night of his death but he hadn’t given him the necessary injection he needed to keep him alive.

“When he was asked by our family’s solicitor Paddy Duffy why this was the case he said that he did not have the authority to administer it to Jim as he was not in the military and he could only treat soldiers. Our solicitor then asked him if he thought if Jim had received the injection would he have survived and he nonchalantly said ‘Yes’.

“To everyone’s amazement the jury came back less than 20 minutes later and said death by natural causes. None of us could believe it; I don’t even think the Coroner could.”

When asked if he would like to see a fresh inquest into the death of his brother Pat said he had no faith in the British justice system but refused to rule it out as an option.

Jim Moyne is revered by the Moyne family many republicans and on Tuesday January 13 they will honour him with a special 40th anniversary commemoration at the Bogside/Brandywell monument on the Lecky Road at 7:30pm.

“We are very proud of Jim and the personal sacrifices he made for his beliefs,” said Pat.

“We sincerely believe that he did what he could to improve the lives of the people around him and he loved his people. He was a revolutionary and not a reformer. He did his best for the people of the Bogside and of Derry and he should be respected and remembered for that. I would encourage anyone who knew Jim or those who wish to show solidarity with his family to come along and join us to remember Jim 40 years after his state killing.”