6000 Days by Jim (Jaz) McCann


Jim McCann’s book which describes seventeen years of his life imprisoned in Crumlin Road

Jail and the H-Blocks (Long Kesh) represents an important contribution to the genre of prison
writing, in his case as an IRA Volunteer whose activities did not cease once he was under
lock and key.
He was sentenced to twenty-five years for attempting to
kill an RUC police officer.
He was sentenced in a Diplock Court (no jury, one
judge, with controversial rules of evidence), used for
those whose offences are considered anti-state and
politically motivated. However, the British government
withdrew political status from the republican prisoners
in an attempt to criminalise them. Authorities attempted
to physically force the prisoners to comply and they
resisted. Their cells were bare and they had only one
blanket in which to cover their nakedness and maintain
McCann endured years on the blanket protest and
personally knew Bobby Sands, who became an MP
whilst on hunger strike in 1981, dying after sixty-six
days; and he writes intimately about another hunger
striker Joe McDonnell whose presence long after his death haunts this memoir.
McCann also writes in nail-biting detail about his involvement and role in the mass escape
from the ‘impregnable’ H-Blocks (described as the most secure prison in Europe) when
armed IRA men overpowered prison staff in H7 and shot their way to freedom.
Now a school Vice-Principal in West Belfast he remains a political activist and a supporter of
the peace process.

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