A brilliant place, they taught Irish there, which under the Northern Ireland special Power’s Act was illegal and if caught you risked getting six months in Crumlin Road Jail.
It was also a home for Irish culture, i.e. dancing and music, but as the troubles / war was erupting in Northern Ireland in the early 1970s it became the meeting place for the Association for Legal Justice who championed republican / nationalist prisoners rights.
The Association also investigated shootings carried out by the British Army / RUC and hit squads,
My sister Rita Kelly was a founding member of the Association of Legal Justice. She would later help to establish the Irish National Caucus in Washington DC, which was to introduce the Sean McBride Principles to the U.S senate and Congress which were to be followed by any American Company who were investing in Northern Ireland and that included work equality and justice. This is now law in the US, and is the basis for the Equality Commission in Northern Ireland.
Other founding members were, Fr Brian Brady, who was Dean in Trench House College for teachers in West Belfast, Pascal O’Hare and P.J. McGrory solicitors. Gerry Kelly’s (MLA) father was also involved. Other founding members followed which included my brother Oliver Kelly, Solicitor.
Oliver was in Longh Kesh at the time and he sent out several statements to the Association of Legal Justice from other internees who had been abused and tortured by the British/RUC. All of this information was sent to the Irish government who did nothing to help or support the prisoners. As a matter of fact my brother Oliver was arrested on the morning of internment and completed his law society exams in Long Kesh October 1971 and became a qualified solicitor. He was released from internment in December 1971 but was re-arrested in March 1972 and was one of the last internees to be released. Once again the free state stood idly by
If walls could talk the Ard Scoil could tell many stories from the beginning of a romance at one of the many Ceili dances , to sustaining our Irish culture and language, many happy nights.
But also many sad days as we read the statements from Long Kesh and the witnesses to the many murders committed by the British Army the RUC and their murder gangs of the UVF and other loyalist gangs