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                                             Searc's Web Guide to 20th Century Ireland - Dessie Ellis (born 1953)

Dessie Ellis was born and educated in Dublin. He was arrested in 1981, charged with possession of explosives and was sentenced to ten years imprisonment in Portlaoise Prison.
On November 14th, 1990, after thirty-five days on hunger-strike, Dessie Ellis became the first person extradited from the Irish Republic to the United Kingdom under the 1987 Extradition Act. He was flown to England and imprisoned in Brixton Prison before being tried on charges of conspiracy to cause explosions in the United Kingdom and with having explosives with intent to endanger life or cause serious damage to property between 1981 and 1983, in spite of the fact that he was in Prison in Ireland during these dates.
At committal proceedings on February 14th, 1991 two further charges under the Offenses against the Person Act and the Criminal Damage Act were added to the charges against Ellis. These were later dropped and on October 30th, 1991 Ellis was found not guilty by jury. After the trial he was arrested under the Prevention of Terrorism Act and served with a United Kingdom Exclusion Order.
Dessie Ellis was elected to Dublin City Council for Sinn Féin in 1999 and retains his seat on Dublin City Council.
Dessie Ellis' poem Christmas Card, composed while he was on hunger-strike in Portlaoise Prison in November, 1990, is published here for the first time. ©
Dessie Ellis
Dessie Ellis

Christmas Card
How still you sit upon the floor*
The symbol of an ancient lore
Sent to me with a special wish
'For Someone Special', we can't resist
A loved one lost to an ancient gaol
That claims the body but not the soul.
Countless others have gone before
In human terms we can't ignore.
You came to me to cheer me up
But all you did was stir it up,
Opened my heart to the world anew
Long kept safe and bottled up.
Now I'm vunerable once again
The product of a long lost yearn
Longing for the taste of love
That blossomed once but ne'er forgot.
No fault of mine but that of fate
My country beckoned and set the pace
Ne'er to grovel to another race
That thinks it's part of a master race.
How dare you begrudge me this
Especially as life is full of twists
And for the record lets put it straight
Oisín's** blood has me in this place.
Oh I could send you on your way
And purge the memories of yesterday
Safe and sound and in my cell
Dormant until you come again.

*Referring to the fact that there was nothing in the cell on which to place the card except on the floor where Ellis himself was lying.
** Oisín was the son of the mythological Finn McCool, leader of the Fianna, a band of warriors in Irish mythology.
© Searc's Web Guide 1997-2008

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