Billy Keane

Wednesday 30 July 2014

Who could begrudge daring bid for freedom by this adventurous Thelma and Louise?

Published 04/11/2013|02:00

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TODAY we bring you the true and shocking story of a mass prison break-out. The last escapee was shot down at a dramatic stakeout on Friday last, in front of women and children, just outside Belfast, at the foot of Cave Hill, where the United Irishmen hid out in the days when they were on the run from the British.

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There is some controversy up north as to the proper title for the escapees. Some favour the Cave Hill Six and more are for the Ben Madigan Six. Ben Madigan isn't some brave republican hero who fought against the odds for Irish freedom. Ben Madigan is actually another name for Cave Hill. You have to be very careful up north when it comes to such matters. Such was the scale of atrocities and injustices, I'm pretty sure the iconic Cave Hill is gone already, so for the purposes of this thrilling tale, we name the escapees as The Ben Madigan Six.

All six were of Indian extraction. Their ancestors hailed from the famed Anaimalai Hills in the Western Ghats of the Kerala and Tamil Nadu region of Southern India. All six were frisky, noisy and feisty. The Ben Madigan six escaped from their detention centre on the Antrim Road on October 22 last. It is said nearby fireworks were the catalyst.

Maybe the six thought the place was being bombed.

Sources and informed sources say the breakout was instigated by Roxy and Jade, two militant Thelma and Louise types, who were constantly stirring up the inmates.

Four of the Ben Madigan Six were recaptured shortly after the escape. One was rugby tackled by a guard and another was shot by a tranquilliser dart. Two more of the escapees just gave up and returned back to the compound of their own free will. They were hungry it seems.

Roxy and her friend Jade were made of stronger stuff.

The friends were unarmed and naked but somehow they managed to avoid detection. They hid out in the woods. Belfast's Thelma and Louise were clever and resourceful, living off bananas and fruit. They stayed out of sight and the mild Indian summer must have reminded the two friends of The Western Ghats. The line from Thelma to Louise comes to mind: "You said you 'n' me was gonna get out of town and for once just really let our hair down. Well darlin', look out 'cause my hair is comin' down!"

It was the routine that broke them more than anything else.

Food at the same time every day, the lack of privacy, locked up in a confined space and lights out when adults should still be up having fun.

More say the Ben Madigan Six were safer here as they were in great danger back in their own country. Their tribe is in the process of being wiped out. Either way, the six were in the lock-up in the Antrim Road and they wanted to see what Belfast had to offer by way of good times.

Those first few days were carefree and full of hope.

There was no Plan B. It was life as is should be, some sort of life without bars, if only for a short glimpse of the outside world.

But try as they might the friends did not meet any males.

Still, it was so good to be free.

The people of Belfast fell in love with the Indian escapees. It seems the natives have some experience in aiding fugitives.

Then the inevitable happened. Jade got careless. She tossed back her beautiful silver and black hair in the freshening winds at Merville Garden Village and drank in the sea air. They took her down at that very moment, by Belfast Lough.

SHE was back behind walls and electric fences just a few minutes later. But Roxy was still free and she swore she would never go back.

By now all of Belfast was looking for her. Roxy's luck ran out on Friday last. An informer called the authorities and she was trapped in Ben Madigan Park at the foot of Cave Hill.

Roxy climbed on the highest tree in the park. Kids on half-term watched enthralled and scared at the same time, praying Roxy would not fall to her death, as she climbed ever higher.

Her guards did not climb the tree. It was far too dangerous. They were too heavy. Roxy was only a slip of a wee thing but even so would the uppermost thin-stemmed branches hold her weight. Roxy was spooked and reckless. It seemed certain she would fall to her death. They tried to talk her down but Roxy refused.

The sharpshooter was sent up on a hydraulic heist. He took careful aim. Roxy was hit. Down she tumbled from a great height, banging off branches as she fell and her descent was only partially broken by the last of the russet and gold autumn foliage.

Mothers covered kids' eyes. Roxy was unconscious.

There was a crew waiting on the ground with a safety net. Roxy was saved. Roxy lives. She was hit by a tranquilliser dart. It was the only way to get her off the tree safely.

Roxy was reunited with her friends in Belfast Zoo.

The Lion Tailed Macaque monkeys, forever to be known as The Ben Madigan Six, are back chattering non-stop. It wouldn't take a Dr Dolittle to figure out what it is they are talking about.

Irish Independent

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