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Tom Murtagh OBE’s new book The Maze Prison: A Hidden Story of Chaos, Anarchy and Politics was launched by Paul Givan MLA, on February 20 at the Lower Maze Social and Recreational Club in Lisburn, County Antrim, which overlooks what remaining buildings of the prison survive.
Paul Givan MLA, whose father was a prison officer at The Maze during The Troubles praised Tom’s book and recalled how it felt to grow up in the home of someone who, like others working at The Maze, was under constant threat and intimidation both inside and outside of the prison. As with many of the 100 or so in attendance, including many ex-prison officers and family members, the book represented a much-needed re-balancing of history, especially in memory of 29 colleagues who were killed during the prison’s 30-year existence, with many more left with long-term injuries or traumatised.
Former Director of the National Offender Management Service Phil Wheatley described The Maze Prison as an important book, he too being concerned that accounts so far had tended to be written from the viewpoint of prisoners and internees, so that again facts so far hidden were now being made available for the first time as a result of Tom’s extensive research.
For his part, Tom Murtagh had many people to thank. He interviewed in depth more than 50 officers of all ranks who served at The Maze and other Northern Ireland prisons and had spent the best part of ten years writing the book after first declining an invitation to do so by Waterside Press because events were still sensitive.
Bryan Gibson, Director of Waterside Press drew attention to the book’s great extent before informing those present that it had originally been more than twice the size before discussions with the author about some of the things he wished to say! The book was attracting considerable attention and indeed had been front page news in Northern Ireland newspapers and featured on the previous evening’s TV.
For more details see the page for the book.