stand behind

The Men Behind the Wire

The Men Behind The Wire is an Irish republican song written and composed by Paddy McGuigan of the Barleycorn folk group in the aftermath of the imposition of Internment without trial of some Irish republicans associated with Provisional Sinn Féin as well as others unconnected with militant republicanism who had been arrested by mistake in Northern Ireland in 1971.

The lyrics record the raiding of homes by the British Army and the Royal Ulster Constabulary and the arrest of individuals who were detained without trial in Long Kesh, a prison in Northern Ireland subsequently known as the Maze Prison. The central message of the song was contained in the last line of the chorus,

armoured cars and tanks and guns, came to take away our sons, but every man must stand behind, the men behind the wire

In other words, it was a call for the nationalist community to show 'solidarity' with the 'men behind the wire' of Long Kesh.

Though regularly sung in the 1970s and early 1980s, the song is less often heard now, and more associated with extreme republican movements like the Continuity IRA and the Real IRA than with Provisional Sinn Féin and the Provisional IRA, in the aftermath of the 'cecession' of acts of violence of the latter, and the entry of Sinn Féin into a power-sharing executive governing Northern Ireland under the Belfast Agreement.

A cover version has been done by loyalist singers telling the story of a paramilitary member who is arrested for an act of "bravery" and could not be happier to serve with his fellow loyalist heroes.

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