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Sunday, May 3, 2015

The Hunger Strike 1981

Posted by Jim on April 28, 2015

Fast Til Death (May-Oct 1981)

After the ending of the first strike, Bobby Sands, who had succeeded Brendan Hughes as O.C of the H-Blocks became heavily and frantically involved in attempts to bring the prison protest to a principled end on the basis of the five demands.The last thing the prisoners wanted after four years of a gruelling and nightmarish hell was a return to the protest.

It soon became evident however that the Prime Minister of Britain, Margaret Thatcher and the British Government, having secured the ending of the first strike and a potentially explosive situation were more interested in a political victory over the prisoners, and republicans as a whole, than an honourable resolution of the protest.

Subsequently despite intense efforts by Bobby Sands and the other republican leaders, both inside and outside the H-Blocks to avoid it, the prisoners were left politically, with no alternative than to proceed with another hungerstrike.

The second hungerstrike began on 1st March 1981 and was led by Bobby Sands.Unlike the previous strike volunteers would be joining in different stages, thus slowly maximising pressure on the British government.This staggered approach would also avoid a repeat situation where a number of volunteers might die at the same time.The prisoners thinking being, that two or three hungerstrikers dying at once would have no more effect on the Brits than a single death.Another tactical move came the day after the beginning of the fast when the four hundred and twenty five non-conforming prisoners in the H-Blocks called off their dirty protest, thus centralising public and media attention on the plight of the volunteers on hungerstrike.

Another I.R.A prisoner, Francis Hughes, 27, from the village of Bellaghy joined the fast on 15th March.He was later followed by I.R.A volunteer Raymond Mc Creesh, 24, from South Armagh and Patsy O’Hara, 24, from Derry City the officer commanding the I.N.L.A prisoners in the Blocks.They joined their comrades in refusing food on 22nd march.

These four young Irish men in the prime of their lives had grown up knowing nothing but oppression and discrimination in their own country.Contrary to British claims of criminality, the four would never have seen the insides of a prison were it not for the political situation prevailing in Ireland at the time.

An opportunity to dispel the myth that these men were mere gangsters and part of a criminal conspiracy arose when a special election was called for after the death of Independent Nationalist M.P for Fermanagh/South Tyrone, Frank Maguire.It was quickly decided that Bobby Sands should run for this seat on the issue of the H-Blocks unaligned to any political party.The rallying cry of “Don’t let them die” employed during the many rallies held throughout the country became a campaign slogan.The H-Block Commitee were not only calling on nationalist people to elect Bobby as a member of parliament but were urging them to save his life.Or so they thought.

The people of Fermanagh/South Tyrone spoke with a resounding voice when on 9th April 1981, 30,492 of them elected Bobby Sands, by now six weeks without food, as their political representative to the Westminister parliament.Bobby Sands political prisoner, became Bobby Sands M.P. Unbelievable result for a man who was labelled a criminal. Grafitti on the walls throughout the six counties began to decry this fact.

Surely to God Margaret Thatcher and the British government wouldn’t let a fellow M.P starve to death?

Signs looked ominous however when, in response to this victory, a law was drafted in the British House of Commons preventing any more prisoners from standing in future elections.The situation was very bleak indeed.Despite this election result and political pressure from both Ireland and abroad, Margaret Thatcher refused to even enter into negotiations with the political prisoners.

As a direct result of British intransigience Bobby Sands M.P for Fermanagh/South Tyrone, Irish political prisoner, poet and Irish soldier, died at 1:17am May 5th 1981 after sixty-six days without food.

He died as he had lived, an Irish freedom fighter who would rather die than see the cause, for which he ultimately payed the supreme sacrifice, be criminalised.One hundred thousand people turned out for Bobby’s funeral from his terraced home in Twinbrook, West Belfast.Proportionally, on a population basis, it was as though two million people had marched through London.Sympathy messages flowed in from all corners of the globe condemning the British governments position and paying tribute to the courage and selflessness of Bobby Sand’s martyrdom.Serious rioting broke out all over the six counties with many people losing their lives.The British , true to form,still didn’t take heed.

Sadly nine more young Irishmen followed Bobby Sand’s footsteps into martyrdom before the hungerstrike came to an end.Nine more coffins were followed through the narrow streets and country lanes of the six-counties.Nine more families were left broken hearted, after watching their loved ones die a slow and agonising death because of Britains point blank refusal to give them their five just demands, their rights as political prisoners of war.

Francis Hughes died a week after Bobby Sands on 12th May.Patsy O’Hara and Raymond Mc Creesh both died on 21st May.Joe McDonnell died on July 8th.Martin Hurson died July 13th.Kevin Lynch died August 1st.Kieran Doherty died August 2nd.Thomas McIlwee died August 8th and Mickey Devine died August 20th.

The hungerstrike came to an end on 3rd October 1981 after 217 days due to the fact that the Catholic Church, the Dublin government and the S.D.L.P(Social Democratic Labour Party) had all consistently refused to side with the prisoners and found it more politically beneficial to capitulate to the British Government.Thus insufficient pressure was brought to bear on the British by the Irish establishment and it was evident that Margaret Thatcher was quite happy to sit back and watch the entire Republican population of the H-Blocks starve to death.Also by this stage, because of pressure brought upon the families by the Catholic Church, the prisoner’s families had begun to take the prisoners of the fast once they had lapsed into a coma, as was their right.So it looked as though the hungerstrike was on the verge of collapse anyway, when the prisoners released their statement on Octobers 3rd declaring that the hungerstrike was over.

Let’s support Celtic Charity. I’ll see you there.

Posted by Jim on

The 3rd Annual Rockaway Irish Fair; Saturday May 30th – Sunday May 31th

Posted by Jim on

Details will be provided as they come in.

The 17th Annual Staten Ireland Fair; Saturday June 13th – Sunday June 14th 12:00pm til 8:00pm

Posted by Jim on

All Hibernians and their friends come and support your Staten Ireland brothers and sisters.

Further information will be posted as it is received.

Letter to Editor of New York Times Magazine by Michael J. Cummings

Posted by Jim on April 25, 2015

April 21, 2015


Letter to Editor


620 8th Avenue, 6th Fl.

New York, New York 10018



Dear Editor:


Mary Anne Weaver’s recent story on British jihadists (“Why Do They Go?”) referred to Home Secretary May’s remark that Britain is “…now facing the greatest terrorist threat in recent history.” Ms.  Weaver wondered if Secretary May had forgotten the IRA conflict and “the 3000 people who died then.” This seemed and odd and ill suited reference to the IRA.   Almost half of the deaths of the 30 year conflict  were victims of the British Army, the police and loyalist death squads colluding with MI-5.  That fact is amply documented by Anne Cadwallader’s book LETHAL ALLIES and Malcom Sutton’s INDEX OF DEATHS. British-loyalist victims were primarily innocent Catholic civilians while  IRA victims were primarily soldiers, police and members of a government known better for its human rights violations and corruption of justice.  The IRA  reference seemed forced.  There is no reason to  compare the  slaughter of ISIS and the Anglo-Irish conflict; a point upon which  even British security services would agree.


Michael J. Cummings

Albany, New York 12203-1814


Michael J. Cummings, a native of Springfield, Mass., is a graduate of St. Anselm’s College (B. A., 1968)  and  New York University (M. P. A., 1970).   A former member of the National Boards of the Irish American Unity Conference (1996-2013),   the Ancient Order Hibernians  National Board (2001-2008), and  the National Executive of the Irish Northern Aid Committee (1988-1996),  he served six National AOH Presidents ,  5 IAUC  National Presidents  and two National Chairman of INA primarily in  public relations capacities.   He is the only person to serve on the national policymaking bodies  of all three  major Irish American organizations.    He also served on the Commission on Peace and Justice of the  Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany.

Cummings has appeared on American, English and Irish television and radio and his commentary and letters and those of the Presidents have appeared in major American, Irish-American, and Catholic print media. He is a frequent columnist for the weekly IRISH ECHO newspaper

Time for Irish to stop calling Irish Americans Plastic Paddies

Posted by Jim on


by James O’Shea @ IrishCentral

A failure to understand what the Irish American identity means.

How many times have we seen posts on this site from well-meaning Irish Americans only to have them accused of being ‘Plastic Paddies’ by native Irish people.


According to Wikipedia, ‘Plastic Paddy’ is a “pejorative term for members of the Irish diaspora who appropriate (often stereotypical) Irish customs and identity.”

There seems to be a deep antipathy among some Irish-born towards any involvement or interest among Irish Americans or Irish abroad generally in Irish issues.

Most recently there were howls of derision from Ireland when Irish Americans dared to suggest that a situation comedy based on the Irish Famine might not be the smartest thing to do. Howls of Plastic Paddyism ensued.

We might have answered, ”Hey it was our Famine too and we don’t think it was funny.”

Sometimes I believe they seem to think we are all a bunch of overweight construction workers from Cleveland marauding around Ireland and singing “Mother Machree” and chanting “Up the IRA.”

Are there folks who do that? Yes, perhaps, but there are also probably Irish who want to live under “Rule Britannia” again but I don’t consider all Irish with them.

The fact is that the Irish view of Irish America is sadly out of date and deeply unoriginal in many cases. They are the ones who are being hopelessly parochial here.

When you look at some of the great innovations in Irish culture – the modernization of dance (Michael Flatley, Jean Butler – two Irish Americans) the incredible spread of Irish Studies in universities (Notre Dame, NYU the trail blazers), philanthropic investments in Ireland (Chuck Feeney $1.5bn dollars – another Irish American), the peace process (made possible in large part by an American president Bill Clinton and his envoy George Mitchell),  there are so many benchmarks proving that Irish America not only gets it but guides Ireland into a better place.

The fact is that Ireland, despite some recent emigration from Poland etc., is a deeply homogeneous place where the aspect of being Irish is not in the least remarkable as everyone else is too.

Irish parochialism is alive and well in certain quarters, assuming that only Irish from Ireland can be counted a true Irish and all else are ‘Plastic Paddies.’

No Irish American thinks they are Irish in the ‘Irish from Ireland’ meaning of the word. But we do come from a society that encourages and thrives on the fundamental fact that everyone here with the exception of the American Indians came from somewhere else on a boat or plane..

So Irish identity in the American sense is valued and deeply cherished though it primarily relates to the American ethnic experience where others are Italian American, Jewish American etc.

And, yes, Ireland is an emotional touchstone for them, delivering a strong sense that their heritage is both ancient and very modern, the gatekeeper of their ancestral roots.

But that’s not ‘Plastic Paddies’ stuff as it is often labeled. It is a sense of reaching back and connecting in the most powerful way with those who came before.

We Irish Americans are part of a vast mosaic, as Governor Mario Cuomo once said, each ethnic group is part of the tapestry of America, each bringing our own brightest colors to it.

That is what the Irish Americans do. It is not ‘Plastic Paddyism’ no more than what Michael Flatley brought to Irish dance was, what Shane MacGowan, or Ed Sheeran bring to popular music. It is a real and separate arm of Irish identity that only asks that it be identified as such.


Posted by Jim on

A republican activist who has campaigned against sectarian parades in
north Belfast has been arrested and charged in connection with a speech
he made at Easter.

Dee Fennell, a spokesperson and chairperson of the Greater Ardoyne
Residents Collective (GARC), described armed struggle against British
occupation as “legitimate” when speaking to republicans at a gathering
to commemorate the 1916 Easter Rising in Lurgan on Easter Sunday.

In his speech, he said the right to use force to oppose foreign
occupation was “a fundamental principle that cannot and will not be
abandoned by activists involved in our struggle”.

He also compared the British occupation in Ireland in 1916 to the
plight of the Six Counties today.

He said: “The use of arms prior to 1916 was legitimate. The use of arms
in Easter 1916 was legitimate. The use of arms after 1916 was totally

“In the existing political context of partition, illegal occupation and
the denial of national self-determination, armed struggle, in 2015,
remains a legitimate act of resistance.”

Unionists immediately demanded that Mr Fennell be arrested, and last
Monday the PSNI carried out heavy-handed raids at homes in Lurgan and
Ardoyne, taking computers and mobile phones and seizing the 33-year-old
in front of his young children. He was taken for questioning to Antrim
interrogation centre and was subsequently charged with ‘encouraging

His arrest comes as his group is preparing for discussions surrounding
the Protestant marching season and the attempts by the Orange Order to
hold a sectarian parade through the nationalist Ardoyne and neighbouring
areas of north Belfast. The march on July 12th, the anniversary of a
Protestant victory in the 1690 Battle of the Boyne, has for many years
been the most contentious of the marching season.

Mr Fennell’s supporters fear he has now been subjected to effective
internment — indefinite detention without trial. His arrest follows
comments by PSNI Chief George Hamilton last week in which he boasted of
his force’s ‘success’ in locking up the leadership of republican groups
opposed to the powersharing administration at Stormont.

In his speech, Mr Fennell also accused the “unaccountable” PSNI and
British military intelligence of deliberately seeking to target and
intimidate republicans. He accused the British government of using
miscarriage of justice victims Brendan McConville and John Paul Wootton
— still imprisoned over a Continuity IRA attack in 2009 — as
‘political hostages’.

Urging republicans to be more active, Mr Fennell quoted Sinn Fein deputy
leader Maire Drumm, who was shot dead by loyalists in 1976. “It was
Maire Drumm who stated: ‘It’s isn’t enough to shout up the IRA, the
important thing is to join the IRA’,” he said.

“When you leave here today, ask yourself is it enough to support
republicanism or could you be a more active republican. Are you willing
to assist a movement that will bring us freedom?

“Let us cry out we will not accept British Rule, we will not accept
native capitalist rule, we will not accept occupation or partition, we
don’t accept your quisling assembly, armies or police force.”

On Tuesday he was remanded without bail by a court in Craigavon. A crowd
of men and women supporters, who had refused to stand as the judge
entered the courtroom, erupted into applause and cheers as Fennell was
taken out of the courtroom. Outside they unfurled a banner reading ‘End
British Internment’. There were further protests in Belfast and in

The Irish Republican Prisoners’ Welfare Association, which organised the
Easter commemoration, said it viewed the raids and arrest of Mr Fennell
as a “blatant example of the continuance of British political policing
in the Six Counties”.

“Spurred on by Unionist and Loyalist hysteria and assisted by a
pro-British media, the RUC/PSNI through its actions has attempted to
silence a true and genuine Republican narrative by the use of force and
intimidation. They will fail,” they said.

“The commemorative event on Easter Sunday in Lurgan was a fitting and
honourable tribute to fallen IRA volunteers and no amount of British
force and intimidation or Unionist/Loyalist interference should be
allowed to shape how Republicans pay homage to those brave men and women
who have given their lives in the cause of Irish freedom.”

The Republican Network for Unity denounced the decision to charge
Fennell as an “abhorrent case of political policing” and a “blatant
capitulation” to unionists.

“Dee should be immediately returned to his family and all spurious
charges dropped. Republicans must come together to oppose this draconian
attempt at silencing an opinion that doesn’t fall in favour of the

The 1916 Societies said it condemned the “draconian,
politically-motivated arrest and detention of our friend and comrade”.

“We consider the imprisonment of any political activist, for expressing
what are ultimately political sentiments, among the most repressive
measures ever introduced in Ireland by the British government, who
despite best efforts to legitimise their ongoing presence in the Six
Counties remain in occupation of a part of our country against the
wishes of the people who live here.”

Neither Sinn Fein nor the SDLP have commented on the development.

Radio Free Eireann broadcast live every Saturday 12:00pm – 1:00pm at Rocky Sullivan’s 34 Van Dyke Street (at Dwight St.) in Red Hook Brooklyn (718) 246-8050

Posted by Jim on April 24, 2015


Radio Free Eireann is heard on WBAI 99.5 FM and on the web where
it is archived for 10 days..


This week we will be back home at Rocky Sullivan’s of Red Hook. Even before then
you can come to Rocky’s for the pizza and the best pint in New York


Rocky Sullivan’s of Red Hook, 34 Van Dyke Street in Brooklyn.

Come stop by Rocky’s for a pint and listen to the show live. Enjoy some good food and great people.

Unrepentant Finian Bastards

Say farewell to Irish cops in NYPD says former top detective.

Posted by Jim on


Luke Waters calls for US politicians to give illegal immigrants a chance. Photo by: Luke Waters

by Frances Mulraney Irish Central

Luke Waters calls for US politicians to give illegal immigrants a chance. Photo by: Luke Waters

Throughout his 20 years as a member of the NYPD, Irish-born Luke Waters never received anything but glowing reviews from his commanding officers.

His perfect reviews and the help of the Irish NYPD network put him on the path to achieving his dream job as a homicide detective. He was even once temporarily deputized by the FBI so that he could take part in a raid in South America.

He achieved all this despite spending his first three years in New York as an illegal immigrant.

 Dublin-man Luke Waters shares his story in the book “NYPD Green: The True Story of an Irish Detective Working in one of the Toughest Police Department in the World,” released in Ireland yesterday. “I wanted to show the people of Ireland what it’s like when they emigrate,” Luke tells IrishCentral.

Born and raised in Finglas, Dublin, Luke dreamed of following the family career into An Garda Síochana (Ireland’s police force). When a constantly extending summer holiday in New York turned into a complete relocation to the city, however, he found himself on the same journey to the dream job but with a different country’s police force.

 The idea for a book first came from Luke’s friend, Irish journalist Patrick Ryan, who joined him in New York for a ride along. Ryan was intrigued by the war stories and included Luke’s story in “Garda Review” magazine in 2001, encouraging him to go a step further and tell his story from start to finish in a book. “I laughed it off at the time and put it in the back of head,” Luke says.

“The thing that most pushed me over the edge [to write] was – as was a former illegal alien, like everyone else in ’80s – I was sick of when people would die and personal friends, who weren’t as lucky as me [to receive a green card], couldn’t come home for parents’ funerals or anniversaries,” he continues.

“You’d be in bars with them till 4 and 5 in the morning and you don’t know what to say, but you can’t leave them alone so I thought I’d go and let people know my story.”

Luke doesn’t shy away from the problems facing illegal Irish immigrants in the US and the uncertainty that faces them. Despite coming across as the classic NYPD cop throughout “NYPD Green,” an Irishman completely assimilated into US culture with the correct lingo and NYPD jargon, Luke has never lost any of his Irishness with a strong Finglas accent that shows no signs of his years in New York.

“We’re just asking the US government for fairness,” he claims. “My commanders [in the NYPD] felt that I was well beyond capable even though I had been there undocumented.”

“It was [immigration] a lot more lenient in the 80s. Since I came over, especially since 9/11, everything has changed. Security is not as lenient and employers today are reluctant to take that risk with people.”

Luke’s own story is not lacking a bit of luck and plenty of willingness to chance his arm. He won the green card lottery and successfully became a US citizen, but he is aware that he is within a small percentage with this kind of luck.

“It’s just not fair,” he says. “In the last few years, of the 10 million US green cards awarded, there was not even half of one percent given to the Irish.

“Just think of all the Irish people who died fighting wars for the US. Of all of them, the biggest majority of those who died were of Irish descent. We’re just asking the US government for fairness. We’re [the Irish] losing our heritage in the NYPD and in the US…everyone’s culture is very important.”

The loss of Irish representation within the NYPD is something in particular that concerns Luke. Throughout “NYPD Green” we see how his Irish birth helped along the way in his rise through the ranks, and in recent years, this Irish support network has somewhat disintegrated.

“The Irish network within the NYPD is lost,” he tells us.

“There were approximately 50 people from Ireland in the police academy when I joined and I heard lately that amongst the last 15 classes, and there are 1000s of recruits in every class, there was not one person from Ireland.”

Luke Waters straight out of the NYPD academy. Photo by Luke Waters.

Luke Waters straight out of the NYPD academy. Photo by Luke Waters.

NYPD is the most diverse police force in the world, but we’re losing that and losing our heritage.”

“I’m very involved in the NYPD GAA team and we need young members,” he continues. “We need to keep our tradition alive. It’s important that you remember that without all of the Irish ancestors, we would not have had JFK as president or Bill Clinton as president.”

“The likes of Hillary Clinton are talking about [immigration] reform. I’m a former alien and I never committed a crime. I only wanted to work, I didn’t do anything wrong. If these people [his superiors] felt I could do that job, give other people a chance. The likes of Hillary, I hope she would give them a chance.”

“NYPD Green” tells the often gruesome tales of Luke’s time as a NYPD homicide detective in the Bronx, retelling shocking cases and deaths and the ever-present threat posed by drug dealers and abusers. Harrowing stories of the work of a homicide detective litter Luke’s tale, from the deaths of young gang members to that of a newborn baby flung to its death just minutes after birth.

“I talk about the job the way it is,” Luke says, “if people tell me they want to be in the NYPD, then I tell them it’s a fantastic job.”

The politics, red tape and paperwork of the force are evident throughout, however, and anecdotes of police corruption smear Luke’s good memories of his service from time to time.

“There’s politics involved in every job,” he claims. “I try my best to not let it get in the way – the job to investigate … With pay raises, you’re not always happy but you have to get over it, to move on. When I took the job, I knew what the salary was going to be.”

Luke’s previously mentioned luck seems to be aided somewhat by a good sense of humor, something that must also help a homicide detective to face each new case. “There’s good humor in the police department,” he says. “The characters and the cops, you just can’t make them up. You can talk to anyone in the department, everybody gets on well and respects the culture of others.”

In 2012, Luke ended his NYPD career returning to Ireland, this time to Cavan, with his wife and three kids after many years in the US. “They never changed the pint,” he jokes of his Irish return.

“NYPD Green” is a no-holds-barred account of how Luke’s career panned out until this point: death, drugs and corruption but most of all, bravery. The book is set for a US release in the coming months with Simon & Schuster.

The best ways to learn the Irish language for free

Posted by Jim on April 23, 2015

by Frances Mulraney for Irish Central


“Welcome to New York!”: How can you learn Irish without physically going to the Gaeltacht? Photo by: Notre Dame

Learning Irish can be an expensive business if you’re located outside of Ireland. However, thanks to developments in technology, geographical location is no longer a costly obstacle.


Here are some of the best ways to learn Irish for free and some of the measures you can use to integrate the language into your life.

1. Duolingo

Duolingo is the free language learning phone app selected by Apple as iPhone App of the Year 2013, by Google as Best of the Best for Android in 2013 and 2014. It is also the perfect way to learn Irish on the go and for free. Apparently, an average of 34 hours of Duolingo are equivalent to a full university semester of language education.

Even if you’ve only a few minutes to practice each day, this phone app allows you to spend them completing a lesson on the go before getting on with your busy schedule. Irish has quickly become one of the most popular languages offered by the site since it was introduced last August, with almost 600,000 learners to date.

 The course is easily set out and accessible for complete beginners and for those just brushing up on their cúpla focail. It also offers a browser version where you can work on translating texts to practice further. Each question is linked to a discussion forum where learners can discuss wrong or right answers together and help each other learn.

More information can be found at:

2. Clilstore

Clilstore is a collection of content and language integrated learning (CLIL) teaching materials that links videos and their text with suitable online dictionaries.

CLIL is a teaching concept by which learners focus on a subject already familiar to them, such as a hobby, through the medium of the second language. They essentially acquire language skills while dealing with a topic they are comfortable with.

Clilstore currently offers 90 units in Irish over a range of abilities from teaching absolute beginners the words to the Irish national anthem to radio scripts for learners nearing fluency. Each unit contains a video where the pronunciation can be heard, a copy of the audio’s text and the ability to click on a word within this text to search among the compiled online dictionaries. Learners have easy access to a means of using their reading and listening skills and a well-developed dictionary tool in the absence of a teacher.

More information can be found at:

Search results for “faoi” on Clilstore.

3. SpeakTalkChat

A major problem for those attempting to learn Irish is access to other speakers with whom to practice – we can’t all afford lengthy trips to the Gaeltacht (Irish speaking areas of Ireland).

SpeakTalkChat works along the same lines as Clilstore in that it matches users with certain hobbies and interests with others with the same interests who are also learning or fluent in that same language.

Once linked with another user, you can contact them, organize to Skype, discuss your shared interests (or any other topic you like), and all safe in the knowledge that you will be given the opportunity to brush up on your conversational skills. The service also offers groups for Irish where you can meet with other users.

More information can be found at:

4. Social media

Many of us spend too much time on social media, so why not make good use of it and practice as much Irish as we can? Facebook offers its services through Irish and, while it may be difficult to grasp the new terminology to start off with, once you understand what a word means you are never going to forget it. Twitter is also in the process of putting together an Irish language version.

Apart from using the sites themselves through Irish, social media make it incredibly easy to connect with other Irish speakers, many of whom are willing to share their expertise and eager to use the language.

On Facebook, my recommendation would be the group “Gaeilge Amháin” (Irish only). The group is strict on its Irish-language-only policy, but if you’re willing to make the effort, many of its almost 6,000 members will be willing to answer your questions, guide you through your learning experience and act as a fantastic support group.

On Twitter, you can surround yourself with the language by following other Irish speakers. A full list of the language users was compiled by the American Irish-language tech whizz Kevin Scannell (also involved in the Irish version of Gmail among a long list of other achievements) and can be found here, along with a list of some of the best Irish language blogs.

Some of my favorite follows are Maitiú Ó Coimín (@maitiuocoimin), Derek O’Brien (@DirkVanBryn) and (@logainm_ie), who provide witty, entertaining tweets and prove that Irish is a vibrant, creative language while also provides great insight into Irish place names.


5. Irish language media

Even for the advanced learner, the main Irish language media outlets Raidió na Gaeltachta and TG4 can be challenging (although subtitles on TG4 help).

If you’re a fan of pop music why not try Raidió Rí Rá – which mixes chart music with small easily understandable bits of entertainment news – or Deireadh Seachtaine on Dublin station FM104 every Sunday morning (Irish time).

Raidió na Life is also more accessible for the Irish language learner as many of its volunteers are learners themselves. It also plays the most diverse music selection in Dublin with its highly contrasting shows and is well worth a listen for this alone.

TG4 creates some fantastically entertaining TV which will introduce you to Ireland, not just Irish. Top of my list is the channel’s soap opera Ros na Rún – it’s the only soap I will admit to watching.

The most important thing to remember is that practice makes perfect. You may listen for hours and still barely understand anything, but by adding an hour or two of radio or TV listening to your week, in combination with a more practical learning device such as Duolingo, you should begin to see improvements and nothing is better for your pronunciation.

Irish language news website also offers reading comprehensions, crosswords, video tasks and is a fantastic reading resource for advanced learners.

6. Use the Irish language option on your smartphone

As with Facebook, this, too, is a difficult one to begin with. There have been many times I’ve been forced to change my phone back to English for a while to carry out what should have been a simple task.

My advice would be to go through the steps it takes to change the language on your phone, and keep a note of it before you change the language to Irish. This way, you will never get lost if you need to change back to English to discover what “Inrochtaineacht” means. (Accessibility!)

Complete immersion in a language is the best way to learn, which can be incredibly difficult when you’re expected to live your life through English. By making small changes such as this, you can ensure that at least a certain percentage of your day will always utilize your Irish skills.

Take advantage of your phone to use Irish every day.

7. Make use of other online resources

One of the best things about Irish is the incredibly talented and future-thinking group of speakers it breeds. Far from being a dead language as others would have you believe, it has a strong force of resources online from teenage app developers creating an easy-to-use terminology app to the Irish language version of Microsoft office.

A good list of the resources and software available can be viewed at

8. Keep in contact with other learners and attend as many events as possible

This may seem like an obvious suggestion, but it can’t be overstated. Using the language is the only foolproof way to learn.

When I first moved to New York, I was concerned about how my level of Irish would suffer after coming from an environment where it was my majority day-to-day language. Within weeks, I found a vibrant Gaeltacht community within the city and many new friends happy to discuss terminology and grammar points with me. All it took was a bit of bravery on my part in attending events I heard about online.

Attend Irish-language events if possible – it would be incredibly rare for anybody with an interest in learning Irish not to be welcomed with open arms.

If you know somebody who also has an interest, make a pact that you will spend at least an hour a week speaking Irish with them (if not more).

Make sure to get an email address or other contact information from any other speakers you meet with and keep as many email penpals as possible. This is vital if you don’t have easy access to events and will at least remind you that you’re not alone when the Tuiseal Ginideach gets too much.



Or as recommends go to Rocky Sullivans in Red Hook for their Irish lessons. Slainte




Sinn Fein 1916 Commemorative Events 2016

Posted by Jim on April 22, 2015

Irish Hunger Memorial Walk & Talk May 3rd, 2015

Posted by Jim on

Irish Hunger Memorial Walk & Talk

STATUS: This event will occur as scheduled.
WHERE: Irish Hunger Memorial
WHEN: May 3 @ 2:00 pm3:30 pm

Event Details

Join Brian Tolle, designer of the Irish Hunger Memorial, on a special tour of this Battery Park City landmark. A staff horticulturalist will be on hand to discuss the Memorial’s native Irish plantings. Historian Lynn Rogers will tell the story of the Irish immigration during the Great Hunger. Learn about the immigrants’ experience arriving in New York City before Ellis Island and how an Gorta Mór (the Great Hunger) shaped our history, both in Ireland and in New York.

The Irish Hunger Memorial is located at Vesey Street and North End Avenue in Battery Park City. In case of rain, the tour will meet at 6 River Terrace.

O’Donovan Rossa Commemorative 7’s GAA Tournament

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O’Donovan Rossa Commemorative 7’s GAA Tournament

Saturday, June 27 at 10:30am

Gaelic Park, W 240th St, Bronx, New York 10463

Live Traditional Irsh Music at Gramercy Ale House. This week featuring Denny McCarthy

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gramercy-seisiunThe Gramercy House, a new pub in the location formerly The Copper Door, presents the Gramercy House Seisiun, NYC’s newest Irish traditional seisiun.  It kicked off on Wednesday, July 16, 2014 and will continue weekly every Wednesday at 7pm.
Open to ALL musicians/singers and/or folks who may just want to listen, they plan to feature some of NY’s best trad Irish musicians.
Opening night featured John Walsh (guitar), Andrew McCarrick (flute) and Denny McCarthy (fiddle) of Jameson’s Revenge.
To keep up to date on upcoming seisiuns, join the Gramecy Seisiun group on facebook.
The Gramercy Ale House
272 Third Ave. (between 21st & 22nd St.)
New York, NY
(212) 260-1129


Still No Justice – March for Truth Sunday 9th August 2015. Assemble 1.30pm at Springfield Park, Belfast.

Posted by Jim on April 20, 2015

Irish Government is afraid to speak of Easter week

Posted by Jim on April 18, 2015

By Gerry Adams

When the Government first unveiled its commemoration programme for 1916,
it was widely viewed as short-term, shambolic and superficial.

Since then a former leader of Fine Gael put forward the view that the
Rising was not needed and was a civil war.

Following widespread criticism, and in the run-up to the elections, the
Government has brought forward a more fitting commemoration. This is to
be welcomed.

However, there remains vacuity at the centre of the plans. This
Government just doesn’t get 1916. It is an inconvenient issue and you
get the impression that it just wants the commemorations to be out of
the way and to return to business as usual.

Its approach has been to strip away any politics and context to the
Rising: to reduce it to a tragedy in which death and injury was
inflicted equally on all sides, and so all sides must be equally

This is a shallow and wholly self-serving approach to our history.
Devoid of context or politics, the Rising is portrayed as a moment in
history that should be kept in a little glass case and studied; or, in
the view of some in the Redmondite wing of Fine Gael, an unnecessary
moment of madness.

War is brutal. It visits death and injury on all sides. The grief of a
mother and father, brother and sister, or son and daughter is not
diminished by circumstance of that loss. The grief of the family of a
Royal Irish Constabulary member was no different from that of a member
of the Irish Republican Army who fought in the GPO or a civilian killed
on the streets. All have the right to be respected and remembered.


However, it is wrong for the State commemoration to be reduced solely to
an act of remembrance for a collection of individuals. While each has a
story of individual courage and loss, those involved in the Rising were
more than a collection of individuals. They were an army and a movement
with a shared republican politics, shaped by their experience of the
British empire and world war.

Those who took part in the Rising gave their lives and liberty to
deliver the republic enshrined in the Proclamation. A republic built on
the principles of equality and sovereignty, of human rights and civil
liberties, and of unity and nationhood. Principles that remain a
challenge to successive governments in this State.

It is in these principles that we find the Government’s problem with the
commemoration. For this Government, it is easier to deal with the notion
of individual loss and sacrifice than promote the ideas of the

So the Government does not address the inequality, division and lack of
sovereignty that drove a generation of republicans on to the streets.
They even proposed to rewrite the Proclamation and hope we forget that
the original one has been undermined by the actions of successive
governments. Heaven forbid we mention the North or the failure that is

The memory and ownership of 1916 does not exclusively belong to Sinn
Fein, any other party or the Government. The commemoration of the Rising
cannot be limited to a lecture, an exhibition or a parade.


It belongs to the Irish nation, all the people who share this island and
the Irish nation spread across the globe. While the commemoration must
be an opportunity for remembrance, it is also an opportunity for
national renewal, for building a new republic.

In the last election, the Government promised a democratic revolution
and delivered hardship, inequality, continued loss of sovereignty, a
hands-off attitude to the North and the Belfast Agreement. There is a
demand across our nation for change, a demand for the republic promised
in 1916.

Our history cannot be encased in a museum or mausoleum; it is part of
who we are, where we are from and where we want to go.

That is why Sinn Fein developed a programme of events to mark 1916. We
are seeking to encourage communities to engage with their heritage and
to rise to the challenge of delivering a republic for citizens.

It would appear that the Government is afraid to speak of Easter week,
afraid of the challenge that it opens and afraid of the views of

The most fitting tribute to the loss of past generations, including
republicans, British and civilians is to deliver the republic promised
on the steps of the GPO, a 32-county republic in which citizens have
equality and rights and the sovereignty of the nation is protected.

This generation has the opportunity and ability to deliver such a
republic without the sacrifice of previous generations. There is a
peaceful and democratic way to achieve this. But it will require
leadership, determination and putting the needs of the nation above
individual political position.

Maybe the real reason the Government does not want to talk about the
unfinished business of 1916 is that it will remind it of its failure and
remind citizens that they retain the power to make good the


Posted by Jim on

There has been a new spate of racist attacks across Belfast, with the
Polish community being particularly targeted by loyalists.

While anti-Catholic attacks have continued, the number of racist
incidents in Belfast jumped by 50% last year, with over 450 such
attacks. Polish nationals are often singled out by loyalist attackers
as most likely to be Catholic.

Late last month an elderly Polish couple were attacked and verbally
abused on a Belfast bus. Last week three homes belonging to Polish
citizens were attacked in north Belfast.

There was also a devastating arson attack this week on an east Belfast
business followed the appearance of anti-Polish graffiti on a nail
salon, although it is actually owned by a woman from Lithuania.

The Polish government has expressed its serious concern about the
escalation of racist attacks against its citizens living in the North,
while the PSNI police have shown little disinterested.

Honorary consul for the Six Counties, Jerome Mullen, said Polish people
faced an “intolerable situation”, adding “it cannot continue”.

“The Polish community is the largest ethnic community living in Northern
Ireland, they have come here to work hard, to earn a living and to make
a living for their families,” he said.

“To find themselves now at the centre of this particular recent
escalation of attacks on their homes is an appalling situation that has
to be stopped and must be stopped as quickly as possible.”

More than 100 anti-racism campaigners attended a rally in east Belfast
last night in support of the Lithuanian salon owner whose business was
destroyed in an arson attack. Asta Samaliute broke down in tears as
campaigners gathered outside her salon on Castlereagh Street.

Asta’s ‘Glam Factory’ was attacked shortly before midnight on Monday. A
loyalist paramilitary gang forced the shutters up, poured an accelerant
inside and then set it alight. No-one was inside at the time.

The arson attack came just days after graffiti saying “Polish out” was
daubed on the shop front.

Speaking from her salon, which has been extensively damaged by the fire
and smoke, she said she had been left devastated by the attack that may
also put her forthcoming wedding on hold.

“I am supposed to be getting married in four months in Greece, but that
might not go ahead now, I don’t know now,” she said.

“I have been planning my wedding for ages, all my savings went into this
salon and everything is gone. I don’t know now if we can go ahead with
the wedding.”

Asta said her business was a “multi-national salon”, where she employed
two Lithuanian women and another two from Belfast.

Asked what message she had for those responsible, she said: “They really
should be ashamed of themselves”.

“I am trying to make a business, I have worked so hard all my life, I
have put everything into this salon and now it’s all gone,” she said.

Let the Summer Fun begin

Posted by Jim on April 17, 2015

Denny McCarthy's photo.

Britannia Waives Rules on OTR Letters

Posted by Jim on

Martin Galvin with a fuller version of his letter which appeared in the Irish News on 8 April 2015. Martin Galvin is a US Attorney with a long history of campaigning on behalf of Irish republicanism and the rights of nationalists in the North of Ireland.

A chara,

“Britannia waives the rules” was a slogan frequently cited in justice campaigns. It was shorthand for Britain’s readiness to discard any binding pledges or legal rights they later found inconvenient. Reports that the British may prosecute six Republican recipients of written immunity certificates show this slogan still applies in the crown’s dealings with the Irish.

Terms for the release of Republican prisoners and closure for those Republicans, who the crown wanted to make prisoners for pre-1998 actions, were high on the agenda in negotiations. No less an authority than Tony Blair, the British leader in these negotiations, said the OTR issue was “absolutely critical”, “fundamental” and talks could have “collapsed” without a satisfactory settlement.

Negotiations on OTRs continued after the Belfast Agreement and were amplified in the Weston Park Accord of 2001.The British, in Paragraph 20, pledged to take such steps as were necessary to insure that prosecutions for pre-April 1998 actions against members of organizations on ceasefire were “no longer pursued”.

Administrative mechanisms were constructed to carry oral and later written immunity pledges. Top constabulary members were assigned to this agreed process. Republicans who had lived years outside the north returned home and lived openly.

No one would have trusted documents that meant only that the crown is not hunting you today but may hunt you tomorrow.

The British pocketed concessions in return then marked time until it was convenient to undercut OTR pledges. When Gerry McGeough was arrested at his vote count in 2007, campaigners said that if Britannia was allowed to waive the rules and jail him, others would surely pay the price. Seamus Kearney is paying the price in Maghaberry today. Ivor Bell is facing forty year old charges. The crown calculated that these respected Republicans would not get the full support they deserved because they were involved in political campaigns as Independent Republicans.

When John Downey was arrested, immunity certificate in hand, Republicans united. Pat Doherty and others are said to have spearheaded an angry reaction within Sinn Fein. The British accepted the setback, and then orchestrated committee hearings as a political pretext for gifting themselves a new set of rules to play by. Cameron thinks after bludgeoning through cuts in the Stormont House Agreement, he can break Blair’s OTR commitments without bother.

Meanwhile the one-sided secretive scheme of undeclared immunity or impunity for members of the British Army or constabulary who committed or colluded in sanctioned murders is unbroken.

If Britannia gets away with waiving the OTR rules, we must ask who and how many will be next? Why do the British bother if we were really getting closer to a united Ireland?


Martin Galvin

AOH National FFAI Chair on Justice for the Craigavon 2

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In addressing the continued miscarriage of justice by the Diplock Courts of the British government, the National FFAI Co-Chairmen of the Ancient Order of Hibernians in America are requesting the help and support of all of our Brothers, Sisters and supporters of Freedom For All Ireland in bringing closure to the unjust conviction of John Paul Wooten and Brendan McConville in the 2009 murder of PSNI Constable Steven Carroll in Craigavon, Co. Armagh.

Both men have maintained their innocence since the day of their arrest. Despite the fact that the state legal team, charged with handling this case, has failed to prove the charges against Mr. Wooten and Mr. McConville, these men remain prisoners due to an unjust and biased legal system. Their arrest 5 years ago and continued imprisonment was reliant on the word of a very dubious witness, which was proven contradictory and finally discredited by forensic evidence.

Further compounding this case is the fact that the state, for reasons that can only be politically motivated, has refused to afford both men a fair trial. Had the case against John Paul Wooten and Brendan McConville been brought before an American or European court, both men would have been acquitted.

Important Facts that caused the state case against these two men to fail are listed below:

  • The witness, mentioned above, did not come forward for 11 months.
  • This witness was intoxicated when he contacted the PSNI (the Police Service of Northern Ireland).
  • This witness was found to have continuously lied under oath.
  • This witness’s statements were at times contradictory to what was stated earlier.
  • One of this witness’s statements was proven to have been medically impossible.
  • This witness’s identity was hidden from Mr. Wooten’s and Mr. McConville’s legal defense team to prevent proper cross-examination.
  • This witness benefited financially from this involvement in the case.
  • A covert British army unit was found to have been involved in evidence tampering.A tracking device fitted to John Paul Wootton’s car shows that his vehicle at no time went anywhere near the housing estate where the AK47 used in the shooting was later discovered.
  • Data from the tracking device was mysteriously wiped out whilst in the hands of the army. No plausible explanation was given as to why this happened.
  • When the AK47 that was used in the shooting was discovered, a partial fingerprint was found on the internal spring mechanism of the magazine. This fingerprint was checked against the fingerprints of Brendan McConville and John Paul Wootton. No matches were found.

These are just some of the facts of this case. Mr. McConville was sentenced to 25 years, while Mr. Wooten (17 years of age at the time of his arrest) was sentenced to 14 years. The continued imprisonment of these men, despite the failure of the state and its legal team to prove their case against them, is indeed an ongoing miscarriage of justice.

John Paul Wooten, Brendan McConville, with their families and many supporters would be greatly appreciative of any assistance our AOH Brothers, Sisters, and friends feel is appropriate in helping to bring this miscarriage of justice and false imprisonment to a final closure.

bloody sunday 15

Mary Courtney Appearances in NY

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In honor of my friends, the Republican Meehan Family of Bombay St.

Posted by Jim on April 14, 2015

Bombay St 2

The burning of west Belfast’s Bombay Street on in August 1969 marked a pivotal moment in the history of the Troubles. It heralded the deployment of the British Army onto the streets of Belfast, Almost all of the houses on Bombay street were burned by the loyalists the RUCand the Ulster B specials,many others were burned on Kashmir Road and Cupar Street some of the most extensive destruction of property during the riots
Remains of Bombay Street after being torched by loyalists


Bombay St 1

“From the graves of patriot men and women spring living nations.”

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 Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa (1831–1915) was a grocer in Skibbereen, Co. Cork, when he founded in 1856 a literary and political group known as the Phoenix Society, which later merged into the Irish Republican Brotherhood. Imprisoned from 1865 until early 1871, he went to America, where he organized a ‘skirmishing fund’ to finance military operations against the British rule in Ireland and later directed “The Dynamite Campaign,” the first nationalist bombing campaign in mainland Britain, from 1881–5. The British often demanded his extradition from the United States, but it was always refused. He died in New York in 1915, and his Irish Republican Brotherhood comrades brought his body home to Dublin to bury in Glasnevin cemetery. As famous as O’Donovan Rossa was in life, the funeral oration by Patrick Henry Pearse sealed his immortality.

Patrick Pearse’s Graveside Oration for O’Donovan Rossa

1 August 1915 at Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin

It has seemed right, before we turn away from this place in which we have laid the mortal remains of O’Donovan Rossa, that one among us should, in the name of all, speak the praise of that valiant man, and endeavour to formulate the thought and the hope that are in us as we stand around his grave. And if there is anything that makes it fitting that I, rather than some other, rather than one of the grey-haired men who were young with him and shared in his labour and in his suffering, should speak here, it is perhaps that I may be taken as speaking on behalf of a new generation that has been re-baptised in the Fenian faith, and that has accepted the responsibility of carrying out the Fenian programme. I propose to you then that, here by the grave of this unrepentant Fenian, we renew our baptismal vows; that, here by the grave of this unconquered and unconquerable man, we ask of God, each one for himself, such unshakable purpose, such high and gallant courage, such unbreakable strength of soul as belonged to O’Donovan Rossa.

Deliberately here we avow ourselves, as he avowed himself in the dock, Irishmen of one allegiance only. We of the Irish Volunteers, and you others who are associated with us in to-day’s task and duty, are bound together and must stand together henceforth in brotherly union for the achievement of the freedom of Ireland. And we know only one definition of freedom: it is Tone’s definition, it is Mitchel’s definition, it is Rossa’s definition. Let no man blaspheme the cause that the dead generations of Ireland served by giving it any other name and definition than their name and their definition.

We stand at Rossa’s grave not in sadness but rather in exaltation of spirit that it has been given to us to come thus into so close a communion with that brave and splendid Gael. Splendid and holy causes are served by men who are themselves splendid and holy. O’Donovan Rossa was splendid in the proud manhood of him, splendid in the heroic grace of him, splendid in the Gaelic strength and clarity and truth of him. And all that splendour and pride and strength was compatible with a humility and a simplicity of devotion to Ireland, to all that was olden and beautiful and Gaelic in Ireland, the holiness and simplicity of patriotism of a Michael O’Clery or of an Eoghan O’Growney. The clear true eyes of this man almost alone in his day visioned Ireland as we of to-day would surely have her: not free merely, but Gaelic as well; not Gaelic merely, but free as well.

In a closer spiritual communion with him now than ever before or perhaps ever again, in a spiritual communion with those of his day, living and dead, who suffered with him in English prisons, in communion of spirit too with our own dear comrades who suffer in English prisons to-day, and speaking on their behalf as well as our own, we pledge to Ireland our love, and we pledge to English rule in Ireland our hate.

This is a place of peace, sacred to the dead, where men should speak with all charity and with all restraint; but I hold it a Christian thing, as O’Donovan Rossa held it, to hate evil, to hate untruth, to hate oppression, and, hating them, to strive to overthrow them. Our foes are strong and wise and wary; but, strong and wise and wary as they are, they cannot undo the miracles of God who ripens in the hearts of young men the seeds sown by the young men of a former generation.

And the seeds sown by the young men of ’65 and ’67 are coming to their miraculous ripening to-day. Rulers and Defenders of Realms had need to be wary if they would guard against such processes. Life springs from death; and from the graves of patriot men and women spring living nations.

The Defenders of this Realm have worked well in secret and in the open. They think that they have pacified Ireland. They think that they have purchased half of us and intimidated the other half. They think that they have foreseen everything, think that they have provided against everything; but the fools, the fools, the fools! — they have left us our Fenian dead, and while Ireland holds these graves, Ireland unfree shall never be at peace.

Nine months later, Pearse led the Easter Rising and was among the first executed by the British army. At his court martial, he said this:

When I was a child of ten I went down on my knees by my bedside one night and promised God that I should devote my life to an effort to free my country. I have kept that promise. First among all earthly things, as a boy and as a man, I have worked for Irish freedom. I have helped to organize, to arm, to train, and to discipline my fellow countrymen to the sole end that, when the time came, they might fight for Irish freedom. The time, as it seemed to me, did come and we went into the fight. I am glad that we did, we seem to have lost, we have not lost. To refuse to fight would have been to lose, to fight is to win, we have kept faith with the past, and handed a tradition to the future… I assume I am speaking to Englishmen who value their own freedom, and who profess to be fighting for the freedom of Belgium and Serbia. Believe that we too love freedom and desire it. To us it is more desirable than anything else in the world. If you strike us down now we shall rise again and renew the fight. You cannot conquer Ireland; you cannot extinguish the Irish passion for freedom; if our deed has not been sufficient to win freedom then our children will win it by a better deed.

Easter Greetings from Gerry McGeough

Posted by Jim on

 Read at the Nassau Co. NY AOH Easter Commemoration on April 6, 2015
Dia dhaoibh a chaired,
A very Happy Easter to one and all and may I begin by extending special fraternal greetings from Co Tyrone in British Occupied Ireland to our American Hibernian Brethren.
I consider it a great honour to be asked to send a message of solidarity to this year’s Nassau County Easter Rising celebrations. This area of New York has been synonymous with the Irish independence struggle for many generations and reflects the importance of the Irish Diaspora, especially Irish America, in the long struggle for freedom in Ireland.
At various stages in Irish history when the weight of English misrule crushed down hard upon Ireland, the cause of Irish freedom often depended almost exclusively upon the exiled Irish and their descendants overseas. This was the case throughout the 17th and 18th centuries when the Gaelic chiefs, friars and soldiers on the European Continent plotted, supported, instigated and often took part in insurgency against the English in Ireland.
In later centuries, that role fell to the huge Irish population in the United States. It’s not necessary for me to remind you of the legacy of the Fenians, Clan na Gael and great figures like John Devoy and O’Donovan Rossa, suffice it to say that they represent the vibrant Irish-American energy and input that was crucially important to the struggle in the Irish homeland. It’s also worth mentioning that it was to the United States that countless Irish patriots came for support, sustenance and advice when planning Irish freedom.
Many of the signatories of the 1916 Proclamation had either spent time in America or were familiar with the political intricacies and workings of Irish America. Pearse had travelled along the eastern seaboard and often engaged in long discussions with influential Irish Republican stalwarts, such as my fellow Tyrone man Joseph McGarrity, in the run-up to the Rising.
Tom Clarke who hailed originally from Dungannon, close to where I live, knew the United States extremely well and it’s a source of tremendous pride for me to know that this old Fenian was one of the two key figures behind the Uprising of Easter Week 1916. The other, Seán MacDiarmada, was originally a member of the Ancient Order of Hibernians and it is said that his remarkable capacity for plotting, secrecy and intrigue was perfected through his experience with and exposure to the Byzantine inner politics of the A.O.H.
Nor can we overlook the strong Irish American influence that lay behind the Hibernian Rifles, one of the most courageous elements to fight for Irish freedom during that fateful week in central Dublin almost a century ago. Theirs is a story and legacy deserving of much greater attention by historians and Patriots.
Now, in the twenty-first century, our need for a focused, pro-Irish freedom American Diaspora is greater than ever. A United Ireland remains little more than a pipe-dream and never have I seen the fires of nationalist fervour in Ireland as low as they are today. In the twenty-six counties Patriotism in its proper sense is practically a dirty word. In the six-counties young people, even the children of former militant republicans, know virtually nothing about our rich Irish history and tradition of resistance to foreign misrule. It is, sadly, not uncommon to hear young (and not-so-young) people from nationalist/republican backgrounds refer to “here in the United Kingdom” when speaking about the North of Ireland. Incredibly, others openly talk about a place they call “Londonderry”, the ultimate blasphemy for any decent Irish man or woman.
Yet Irish patriots do remain on Irish soil and despite the threats, silence and censorship that have been imposed upon them they are becoming increasingly vocal and critical of the circumstances that allow for the continued, illegal British presence in our country.
Sooner or later these people will find a political voice and it will be to Irish America that they will look for solidarity, guidance and sympathy, just as generations of true Irish Patriots have done for centuries. Once again, mo chairde, it is your duty to close ranks and stand watch in order to insure that the home fires of the ancient Irish Nation are kept burning for future generations. May God Bless you all.
Éirinn go Brách.
Gerry McGeough.


Posted by Jim on April 13, 2015


April 9, 2015

Letters Editor

620 8th Avenue
New York, New York 10018
Dear Editor:  
Katrin Bennhold  deserves a “well done” for her Letter from Europe report “Northern Ireland  and its Fragile Peace“(4/7).  She notes the quandary of securing peace without justice.  British tactics of legal gymnastics,  Parliamentary obstruction, destruction of evidence, refusal to produce files and assassinations have pretty much ruled out justice for nearly 1000 innocent Catholics. But her  succinct 700 word article reveals the stumbling block that must be overcome.  A former Co-Chairman of the N. I. Policing Board pointed out that “..the State and the British played such a violent and vicious part in it they can’t afford to be honest about it.”   “The further a society drifts from the truth”, noted British author George Orwell, “the more it will hate those that speak it.”  That. too, is part of the British plan!
  Michael John Cummings

Will ye no come back again? RIP Ed Brannan, Ohio State AOH Director and Catholic Action Chair

Posted by Jim on

A user's photo.

The Leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising: Sir Roger Casement

Posted by Jim on April 12, 2015

Posted by That’s Just How It Was


Roger David Case (later known as Sir Roger Casement) was born in Doyle’s Cottage, Lawson Terrace, Sandycove, South Dublin. His father was Captain Roger Casement of The Kings Own Regiment of Dragoons. His mother was Anne Jephson (or Jepson) who came from a Dublin Anglican family. They moved to Worthing, England where they lived in “genteel poverty.” While living in England, Rogers mother travelled to Rhyl, Wales to have him re- baptised into The Roman Catholic Faith. His mother died when he was nine years of age. The family then moved back to County Antrim where Casement spent his childhood living with family. By the time Roger was thirteen years of age, his father had also died.

After his father’s death, Roger and his brother Tom and sister Nora were cared for by relatives: the Youngs of Glangorm Castle in Ballymena and the Casements of Magherintemple. They attended the Diocesan School, Ballymena, and they were later enrolled in Ballymena Academy. At sixteen years of age, he left home to travel to Liverpool to live with his Aunt Grace Bannister (his mother’s sister.)

Casement got a job as a clerk in Elder Dempster Shipping Line Company in Liverpool. He remained in this position for three years. Looking for adventure, at the age of nineteen, he set out to find work on one of the ships bound for far off countries.  The captain of a ship called “The Bonney” that was bound for the Congo employed him as a purser. With his experience as a clerk, the captain was of the opinion that Casement was well qualified for the job. A purser is responsible for all administration and supply of goods on the ship,  and frequently the cook and stewards answer to the purser as well. When this trip was completed Casement returned to Africa where he found employment with Belgium’s “Congo International Association.” He then became a companion to artist and explorer Herbart Ward between 1889-1890. Ward wanted someone of experience to manage his affairs while he was on a lecturing tour of United States of America.

When Casement returned to Ireland, he was offered an official post as Acting Director-General of Customs. Leading on from that, his first consular appointment came in 1895. This appointment was to take him to Delagoa Bay in Portuguese East Africa (Mozambique.) At this point in his career, he was very definitely “pro-British;” very much  opposed to the Boars and the Kruger. For these services the was awarded the Queens South African Medal. By June of 1902, the Foreign Office had assigned him to “go into the interior” and send reports of mismanagement of the Congo.  He found evidence of cruelty and mutilation of the Congolese, which the Foreign Office failed to act upon. This upset him greatly. For this work he was rewarded with the Order of Saint Michael and St George.

Following on from these successes, he accepted a consular post at Santos, Brazil 1908, and was then appointed as consular-general to Rio De Janeiro. Next, his success in the field of investigation was to take him to Putumayo Basin, Peru, appointed by the Foreign Office once again to investigate atrocities. Having written up his report by 191, he was rewarded with a knighthood.

Having gained an international reputation for exposing European colonial exploitation of native peoples in Africa and South America, he was well placed to understand how imperialism had been ingrained into all corners of the Globe. For more than twenty years he followed his profession as human rights activist, whereby accolades fell on him like leafs from a tree.

Casement had by this time, however, developed an increasingly anti-imperialist opinion.  He had joined the Gaelic League in 1904, and desperately tried to learn the language. Despite all his efforts, however, he found it difficult to get his tongue around the nuances. He did, however, have a command of several other languages that he had learned in his role as a British Consular.

Since joining the Gaelic League, he had become increasingly committed to the cause for Irish Independence. By 1913, he had retired from his role as a British Consular. He went on to form a friendship with Eoin McNeil, (who became Chief of Staff of the Volunteers) ably assisting him to co-write the Volunteers Manifesto. He also was very impressed by Arthur Griffiths’ Sinn Fein Party, who wanted Home Rule by using a non-violent series of strikes and boycotts.  However, Casement still remained committed to securing armoury for the Irish Volunteers.  Now a committed Irish rebel, in 1914 he travelled to the United States to raise money on behalf of the Volunteers from the large ethnic Irish communities. Through his friendship with Bulmer Hobson (a member of both the Volunteers and the Irish Republican Brotherhood) he was able to establish connections with Clan na Gael.  This organization was a committed and large community of Irish rebels in the USA who saw the need for insurrection in Ireland. Although he was not fully trusted by Clan na Gael, he nonetheless was able to secure a huge amount of funding for the Irish Volunteers.

It has been said, that Sir Roger Casement was the central figure in developing the rebels’ relations with Germany. Travelling to Germany under the guise of working for the Irish Parliament in 1914, he established links with the German Government.

With no love lost between Germany and Britain, the German Government agreed to allow Casement to recruit Irish prisoners of war for transportation to Ireland in its insurrection against British Rule.  However, despite all his efforts, recruitment was poor, as he was perceived as a traitor by many of these men.

Immersing himself at the forefront of the Republican movement in all its varying parts, Casement never quite succeeding in being trusted sufficiently to be granted access to the plans for the Easter Rising. Along with Roger Monteith, Casement was soon back into the role of negotiating terms with the German Authorities. This time Joseph Mary Plunkett had been sent to join him in the negotiations, as the leaders of the inner sanctum of the Irish Military Brotherhood had wanted one of their own there.  They succeeded in a promise of at least one consignment of armoury Armoury.This was said to be 25,000 Russian Rifles and  one million rounds of bullets. This consignment was ispatched on the 9th April, 1916, on board “The Aud.” At this point, Casement considered this one consignment to be totally inadequate, and believed that the Rising would be doomed if it went ahead with insufficient armoury..[Joseph Mary Plunkett was jubilant  that they had succeeded]

Casement believed that the German government was toying with him by only allowing the Irish Leaders one consignment. He thought that the Germans were not fully supporting the Irish cause for Independence. Back in Ireland, the inner sanctum of men( James Connelly, Patrick Pearse, Joseph Mary Plunkett et al.) were of the same opinion. By this time, Casement had used all his guile of diplomacy to persuade the German government to transport him back to Ireland in a submarine.

What the Leaders of the Rising did not know was that, by this time, British Intelligence had been able to intercept messages between the Leaders of the Rising and the German Embassy in New York. They were, therefore, anticipating both the arrival of “The Aud” and the submarine which had Casement on board. Before leaving Germany, Casement confided his personal papers to Dr. Charles Curry, with whom he had stayed at Riederau, on the Ammersee, Zungerbecken Lake in Upper Bavaria.

Some historical documents have Casement arrested on the shore at Banna Strand, Tralee, County Kerry immediately on setting foot on the strand.  Other historical records have him holed up with his two companions who were with him on the submarine: Roger Monteith and John McGoey (an Irish America who had recently joined the republican  movement.) In this version of events, Casement was too weak to travel, and was discovered at McKenna’s Fort (an ancient ring fort now called “Casements Fort” in Rathoneen, Ardfert) and was subsequently arrested.

He had trusted McGoey with being the “runner” to Eon MacNeill in Dublin to convey the news that, in his opinion, the Rising should be called off due to insufficient armoury. . McGoey disappeared, not to be heard of until 1964 when he died in the USA. Casement did eventually manage to get his information to Eoin MacNeill.

History now records that due to inept planning by the rebel leaders and a navigational error by the ships pilot of The Aud, local Irish Volunteers Forces had not been expecting it to land when it did.  It had failed to appear at what they though was their rendezvous point.

What had started as a full operational, equipped Irish Army of Volunteers to take on the might of the British Establishment, had now descended into a fiasco. Both submarine and gunship were captured and Casement was arrested on the 21st April 1916. Fearing leaks, the full knowledge of such sensitive information was not communicated to the authorities in Dublin by the Royal Navy. Therefore, Dublin Castle remained in ignorance of the plans for a Rising.

The Kerry Brigade of the Irish Volunteers might have tried to rescue Casement over the next three days when he was holed up, but was ordered by its leadership in Dublin to “do nothing”.

Casement was charged with treason, sabotage ,and espionage against the Crown. He was taken straight to the Tower of London, where he was imprisoned. His Knighthood was duly stripped from him.

At his very highly published trial, the prosecution had trouble arguing its case; the 1351 medieval Treason Act seemed to apply only to activities carried out on English soil. The Casement Family of Antrim who had helped raise him until he was sixteen years of age; helped fund his trial and appeal.

During the trial and the appeal that took place shortly after, he had been condemned to death. The British Government had found his journals (known as The Black Diaries), and had circulated excerpts from them. Notables of the day who may well have intervened on his behalf, left him floundering for support when these diaries became widely distributed. His homosexuality had sealed his fate. In the fact of socially excepted norms and the illegality of homosexuality in this era, he was a doomed man.

Casement read out a statement at his trial which referred to the statute under which he was charged:

”When this statute was passed, in 1351, what was the state of men’s minds on the question of a far higher allegiance – that of man to God and His Kingdom; and “ I was not tried by my peers.”

On the day of his execution, as an adult he was received and baptised into the Catholic Faith. He was attended to  by Dean Ring and Father Carey. Father Carey called him a “saint.”

Casement was hanged in Pentonville Prison on August 3, 1916, aged 51 years. Sir Roger Casement  was buried in quicklime: the British Authorities’ way of showing their contempt for him.

Since his death, then there has been speculation, debate; forgery theories, and even forensic testing to determine if the handwriting in The Black Diaries was Casement’s.

His sister Nora and cousin Gertrude Bannister went to their graves always adamant that while the handwriting may be his, the contents were accounts of the foul conduct he investigated at Putumayo, Peru. They both insist that the British government got the diaries and forged them to make it look like it was his own experiences he had written about.

Casement’s bones were repatriated to Ireland 1965.  His bones lay in state at Arbour Hill for five days. More than three million people filed past his coffin.  He was given a state funeral and was buried with full military honours in the Republican section with the other heroes in Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin.

The carriage on which Sir Roger Casement was laid in Ireland

The President of Ireland, Eamon De Valera was the only living Rising leader at this time. At over 80 years of age, he attended Casement’s funeral against all medical advice, along with all the other dignitaries of the Government of Ireland and over 30,000 people.

In death as in life, Casement has remained a controversial figure. His bones (or lack off)  have been the subject of yet more discussion and debate between England and Ireland; as late as 1998 the Sinn Féin newspaper An Phoblacht claimed that the coffin was full of stone. This was immediately contradicted by the historian Proinsias Mac Aonghusa .

Leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising: Seán Heuston

Posted by Jim on April 11, 2015

Posted by That’s Just How It Was


Seán Heuston is yet another young man who is scarcely known as one of the leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising.  He does not share the historical iconic status that is accorded to James Connolly or Patrick Pearse, for example.  He was and still remains one of many leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising who is “a shadowy figure” about whom little is known.

Heuston was born in Dublin along with his three siblings.  It has been said that his mother lived with her two sisters in Jervis Street, a slum area of Dublin, during this time.  She  continued to live there with her four children with all three women sharing the care of these four Heuston children.

Seán Heuston was enrolled at the very highly regarded Christian Brothers School.  He was an excellent student and became a fluent speaker in the Irish language — truly a master of the oral and written language.  He excelled at other subjects as well and achieved excellent results in various state examinations.  From there, he went to work for the Great Southern and Western Railways working as a clerk where he was highly respected.

His father has been recorded in the censuses of 1901 and 1911 as not being a member of this household.  He did not, however, disappear from the Heustons’ lives.  Records exist to show that Seán Heuston’s himself wrote to his father some days before he was executed.  His mother, Marie, wrote to her husband after the execution to inform him of the death of their eldest son.  As members of the “urban poor of Victorian Dublin,” it is impossible to trace or penetrate the inner workings of the Heuston social traditions.  They left few, if any, traces behind them.  This is, of course, typical of the poor in this era.  Most would just move on leaving behind no traces.

Culturally, however, there is evidence that education and religion played an important part in the Heuston family.  Seán’s eldest sister, Mary, became a school teacher, and then went on to join a religious order.  Micheál, his younger brother, became a Dominican Priest.

Being a young man who had been noted by his employer’s as having “an upwardly socially mobile trajectory,” he was promoted and transferred to Limerick.  This is where he then joined and became an active member of Na Fianna Éireann, which had been founded by Bulner Hobson and Countess Markievicz in 1909 as a youth organization.  Openly militaristic but not considered to be political, it was hierarchical in nature.  Heuston rose rapidly through the ranks (unknown to his employers, however, as they were staunchly pro-establishment).  It was in Limerick that he, too, became a member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB).  Along with his excellent memory and knowledge of Irish History, his administration skills were soon noticed and put to good use by both Na Fianna Éireann and the Irish Republican Brotherhood.  He used his own native language whenever possible.  His charm and drive were such that he began recruiting young men into both Na Fianna Éireann and the Irish Republican Brotherhood.  Heuston became synonymous with the rapid and successful establishment of Na Fianna in Limerick.

By 1913, Heuston had transferred back to Dublin where he was based at Kingsbridge Station.  His arrival back in the city of his birth coincided with the formation of the Irish Volunteers.  His skills already well known in the hierarchical establishment of the IRB, he received a commission within the new organisation and was given the task of doing what he did best — recruiting and military training of the rank-and-file members.

Records note that he must have led a double life.  By day he was, as ever, the diligent and trusted employee of the Great Southern and Western Railways; by night and at weekends, he was spending his time training the rank-and-file on quasi- military marches in the surrounding Dublin Hills.  His rise through the ranks of the Na Fianna Éireann and the Volunteers was considered to be phenomenal, and he was soon promoted to Director of Training and a member of the Central Council in 1915.

By 1916, Heuston was a full and accepted member of the inner circle of the IRB, and a successful and established leader in the Volunteers.  He held down several roles while continuing to a trusted member of the Great Southern and Western Railways.  Prior to the Easter Rising, he was promoted to be the leader of “D Company” of the First Battalion of the Volunteers in Dublin.  It is not clear if he was on familiar terms with the other leaders of the Easter Rising.  However, what is clear is that he was obviously a trusted Lieutenant of both Pearse and Connolly.  The documents that he was carrying had both Patrick Pearse’s and James Connolly’s names and signatures at the time of his arrest.  This would most probably have contributed to his ultimate fate.

Heuston was the officer commanding the Volunteers in the Mendacity Institution (now renamed Heuston’s Fort) on the south side of Dublin.  He was acting under orders from his commanding officer, James Connolly.  He was told to hold this position with the Volunteers for three to four hours in order to delay the advance of the British Troops.  His job was to disrupt and inhibit any British troop movements toward the city centre General Post Office (GPO) for as long as possible.  This is where the main body of the fighting was taking place, and by inhibiting the British Forces it would give the advantage to the Irish Republican Brotherhood.

Heuston did, in fact, inspire his heavily besieged cohort of Volunteers to continue to hold out for almost three days.  This in spite of the fact that he was hopelessly undermanned.  He had totally inadequate supplies of arms, food and, not least, military experience in live action.  Sending a dispatch to his commanding officer, James Connelly, Heuston wrote that it was impossible to hold out any longer.  Connolly was amazed at their resilience and insisted on sending back a congratulatory note to Heuston, not knowing at that time that Patrick Pearse had ordered a surrender.

Caught by the British troops who spat upon and violated them in the most vicious of ways (because there had only been 26 Volunteers holding off a battalion of 300 British troops), the Volunteers were made to pay dearly for their defiance.  Heuston was  taken prisoner and transferred to Richmond Barracks.  He was tried by court martial on the 7th of May, 1916, and sentenced to be executed the next morning.

On the morning of his execution, Father Albert, O.F.M Cap. was sent for in order that he might pray with Heuston.  This is how he spent his final hours.  Father Albert wrote an account of those hours up to and including the execution (too long and emotional to be printed here).  The following is just a brief snapshot:

“Never did I realise that men could fight so bravely, and die so beautifully, and so fearlessly as did the Heroes of Easter Week. On the morning of Sean Heuston’s death I would have given the world to have been in his place, he died in such a noble and sacred cause, and went forth to meet his Divine Saviour with such grand Christian sentiments of trust, confidence and love!”

Seán Heuston was 25 years of age when he died.  Father Albert was literally a few feet away from his body, having walked all the way with him to the spot where he was to be executed.  He was on-hand to administer the last rights of the Catholic Church by anointing him.

Heuston Station in Dublin is named in his honour.

This says it all.

Posted by Jim on

Who Fears to Speak of Easter Week ? – Opinion Piece from Gerry Adams

Posted by Jim on

When the government first unveiled its commemoration programme for 1916 it was widely viewed as short term, shambolic and superficial.

Since then a former leader of Fine Gael has put forward the view that the Rising was not needed and was a civil war.

Following widespread criticism, and in the run up to the elections the government has now brought forward a more fitting commemoration. This is to be welcomed

However there remains vacuity at the centre of the plans.

This government just doesn’t get 1916. It is an inconvenient issue and you get the impression that they just want the commemorations to be out of the way and to return to business as usual.

Their approach has been to strip away any politics and context to the rising. To reduce it to a tragedy in which death and injury was inflicted equally on all sides, and so all sides must be equally remembered.

This is a shallow and wholly self-serving approach to our history. Devoid of context or politics the Rising is portrayed as a moment in history that should be kept in a little glass case and studied or in the view of some in the Redmondite wing of Fine Gael an unnecessary moment of madness.

Without a doubt war is brutal. It visits death and injury on all sides.

The grief of a mother and father, brother and sister, or son and daughter is not diminished by circumstance of that loss. The grief experienced by the family of an RIC member was no different from that of a member of the IRA who fought in the GPO or a civilian killed on the streets. All have the right to be respected and remembered.

However it is wrong for the state commemoration to be reduced to solely to an act of remembrance for a collection of individuals.

While each is a story of individual courage and loss, those involved in the Rising were more than a collection of individuals. They were an army and a movement with a shared republican politics, shaped by their experience of the British Empire and world war.

Those who took part in the Rising, gave their lives and liberty, to deliver the republic enshrined in the proclamation. A republic built on the principles of equality and sovereignty, of human rights and civil liberties, and of unity and nationhood. Principles that remain a challenge to successive governments in this state.

It is in these principles that we find the government’s problem with the commemoration. For this government it is easier to deal with the notion of individual loss and sacrifice, than promote the ideas of the proclamation.

So the government does not address the inequality, division and lack of sovereignty, that drove a generation of republicans onto the streets of Dublin.

They even proposed to rewrite the proclamation and hope that we forget that the original one has been undermined by the actions of successive governments. Heaven forbid that we even mention the north or the continued failure that is partition.

The memory and ownership of 1916 does not exclusively belong to Sinn Féin, any other party or the government. The commemoration of the rising cannot be limited to a lecture, an exhibition or a parade.

It belongs to the Irish nation, all the people that share this island and the Irish nation spread across the globe.

While the commemoration must be an opportunity for remembrance, it is also an opportunity for national renewal, for building a new republic.

In the last election the government promised a democratic revolution and delivered hardship, inequality, continued loss of sovereignty, a hands off attitude to the North and the Good Friday Agreement. There is a demand across our nation for change, a demand for the republic promised in 1916.

Our history cannot be encased in a museum, or mausoleum it is part of who we are, where we are from, and were we want to go.

That is why Sinn Féin developed a programme of events to mark 1916. We are seeking to encourage communities to engage with their heritage and to rise to the challenge of delivering a republic for citizens.

t would appear that the government is afraid to speak of Easter week, afraid of the challenge that it opens and afraid of the views of citizens.

The most fitting tribute to the loss of past generations including republicans, British and civilians is to deliver the republic promised on the steps of the GPO.

A 32 county republic in which citizens have equality and rights and the sovereignty of the nation is protected.

This generation has the opportunity and ability to deliver such a republic without making the sacrifice of previous generations. There is now a peaceful and democratic way to achieve this. But it will require leadership, determination and putting the needs of the nation above individual political position.

Maybe the real reason that that the government does not
want to talk about the unfinished business of 1916 is that it will remind them of their failure and remind citizens that they retain the power to make good the proclamation.

1916 Memorial Construction at the Cohalan Court Complex in Suffolk County

Posted by Jim on

Please take a moment to read this.  It is important and deserves your attention as we, in Suffolk County take steps to honor and recognize the men and woman who participated in the Easter Rising 99 years ago.

For those who don’t know me, my name is Christopher Thompson.  I am the president of Division # 5, Suffolk County, Catholic Action Chair for Suffolk County, President of the County Louth Society of New York and most recently became President of an entity know as the Suffolk County 1916 Easter Rising Memorial, Inc.  We are a not-for-profit 501(c)(3).  We have been approved by the Suffolk County Legislature to build our memorial at the Cohalan Court Complex in Central Islip, Suffolk County.  We plan to erect a granite and marble monument in the shape of the GPO in Dublin and we have been met with great support.  We have several fund raisers planned in the near future:

On Monday April 6th we will be raising funds at Shandon Court 115 East Main Street, East Islip, New York from 7pm to 9:30 pm.

On April 12, 2015 I will be the guest speaker at the Annual Thomas J. Clarke and Kathleen Clarke Memorial and Communion Breakfast beginning at 9:00 am.

On Sunday May 17th we will be raising funds at Farrell’s of Brooklyn located at: 263 Higbie Lane, West Islip, NY 11795 from 2pm to 6pm

We are discussing selling tickets and raising funds for Irish Night at the Long Island Duck’s game on July 20th at 6:35 p.m.

We also expect to be running several raffles including a drawing for $2,500.00 1st prize, $1,000.00 2nd prize and $500.00 3rd prize with only 150 tickets being sold at $100.00 per ticket.

Additionally, Hon. Barbara Jones, Consul General of Ireland has agreed to endorse this Project and host two (2) events to give us an opportunity to reach across the entire Irish Community for support.

We need your support.  As Hibernian’s we are the back-bone of Irish pride.  Therefore, please let our Hibernian brothers and sisters know about this important Project.  I have included some information for your consideration including a copy of our hand-out, tomorrow’s flyer, the April 12th and May 17th flyers.

Of course, your tax-deductible donations of any size can be mailed to:

Suffolk County 1916 Easter Rising Memorial, Inc.
P.O. Box 395
Babylon, New York 11702

Please let me know if you need additional information, have any suggestions, can provide any help or wish to discuss this further.  I can be reached anytime on my cell phone at: 1-631-747-1187.  Thank you.

Christopher Thompson, ESQ.
33 Davison Lane East
West Islip, NY 11795
Phone: 631-983-8830
Fax: 631-983-8831

Leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising: Patrick Pearse

Posted by Jim on April 9, 2015

Posted by That’s Just How It Was

Pádraig Pearse (Patrick Henry Pearse) is one only a handful of men who have  enjoyed the dubious honour of becoming an iconic status in Irish History  books based on his role in the 1916 Easter Rising.  He was born in Great Brunswick Street in Dublin and had a  brother, Willie, and a sister ,Margaret.  His father, James, immigrated to Ireland from Birmingham in the 1850s and established a stone masonry and sculpture business.

James’ work became so popular that he was commissioned to do sculptures for churches and other and high-profile buildings.  This business flourished and it provide the family with a comfortable middle-class upbringing.  James was a Unitarian but raised his children to be free-thinkers.  James has two children from a prior marriage who, unfortunately, died in infancy.

Patrick Pearse’s mother, Margaret, was from Dublin; but her father’s family, who lived in County Meath, were fluent speakers of the Irish language.  Patrick loved listening to his  great-aunt Margaret speak in the native tongue.  Combined with her story telling in the Irish language, his mother’s influences, and the schooling he received at Christian Brothers on Westland Row, a real love for the native language was instilled in him.  Surrounded by books all his life, Pearse would eventually enter university where he would become a barrister, a poet, writer, and a Irish language school teacher.

Not surprisingly, Pearse soon became involved in the Gaelic revival (Conradh na Gaeilge).  He joined the Gaelic League at 16 years of age.  At the age of 23, he became the Editor of its newspaper An Claidheamh Soluis (The Sword of Light).

Pearse was inspired by such people as Theobald Wolfe Tone and Robert Emmet, both of whom were Protestants with a very clear vision of what a united Ireland should look like.

By 1900, Pearse had been awarded a B.A. in Modern Languages (Irish, English, and French) by the Royal College of Ireland.  He had studied at both the University College of Dublin and University College to gain these awards.  That same year, he was enrolled as a Barrister-at-Law at Kings Inns and was called to the bar in 1901.

Single-minded about education reform and the Irish language in particular, he co-founded Coláiste Éanna (for boys) and Coláiste Íde (for girls) in 1908.  Pearse was devoted to the education of Irish children through the Irish language.  Initially, he regarded educational reform as more important than political independence.  Up until 1912, he had shared a Home Rule platform with many of the Fenians and was openly committed to Irish Independence.  He became increasingly aware that while these platforms were useful in promoting  the cause for Irish Independence, it was a wasted opportunity.  He began to support the use of physical force and the necessity for a “blood sacrifice” if it became necessary (knowing only too well that this would mean outright war on British rule in Ireland).

Pearse joined the Irish Volunteers upon its foundation in 1913.  His knowledge and intelligence soon earned him rapid promotion to its headquarters staff.  He was always a good orator on all of the Home Rule platforms, so it was no surprise that he wrote and delivered the speech at the commemoration of Theobald Wolfe Tone in 1913.

Those who were secretly organizing the Easter Rising were impressed by Pearse’s lifelong commitment to Home Rule and high profile in organizing and delivering speeches at all Irish-related rebel movements.  In May of 1915, he was approached and offered a role with the secret inner sanctum of the Irish army.  Subsequently, he played a very active role in the arrangements for the landing of German arms.

On the 23rd of April, 1916, the Military Council appointed Pearse Commandant–General of the of the Army of Irish Republic and President of the Provisional Government.  During Easter week, Pearse served at the rebellion headquarters, the General Post Office, where he was in titular command only.  It is unlikely that he fired a single shot.  Throughout the conflict, he exuded a calm confidence.  He interpreted his role as that of offering encouragement and addressing the men to sustain morale.  He occasionally mixed with the public, most famously by reading the Proclamation on Easter Monday.  Privately, he agonised over the moral rectitude of what they had undertaken.

The onslaught of missiles and gun shots that had damaged the General Post Office was nothing compared to the fire that swept through the building.  They had no choice but to evacuate the building.  Pearse organized the evacuation.  He was the last to leave.  Deliberating overnight in makeshift accommodation, it was at noon the next day he accepted the majority view of all the leaders that they should negotiate with the British to prevent further slaughter of civilians and save the lives of the Volunteers.  At  2:30 p.m.,  he surrendered unconditionally on behalf of the Volunteers.  These orders were then made public by the Capuchin Friars who would be the “runners” between Patrick Pearse,James Connolly, and Dublin Castle.

Arrested on the spot, Pearse was taken to Richmond Barracks.  He was court martialled on the 2nd of May and transferred to Kilmainham Gaol.  He was attended to by the Capuchin friars.  He faced his death by whistling all the way to the Kilmainham yard.  He was blindfolded executed by firing squad on the 3rd of May, 1916.

While he was in Kilmainham, he wrote letters about why the Easter Rising needed to happen … justifying the need to free Ireland from British rule.

While writing to his mother, Pearse said:

“When we are all wiped out, people will blame us.  In a few years, they will see the meaning of what we tried to do.”

“This is the death I should have asked for if God had given me the choice of all deaths.”

Here is a poem Pearse wrote for his mother:

The Mother

I do not grudge them: Lord, I do not grudge
My two strong sons that I have seen go out
To break their strength and die, they and a few,
In bloody protest for a glorious thing,
They shall be spoken of among their people,
The generations shall remember them,
And call them blessed;
But I will speak their names to my own heart
In the long nights;
The little names that were familiar once
Round my dead hearth.
Lord, thou art hard on mothers:
We suffer in their coming and their going;
And tho’ I grudge them not, I weary, weary
Of the long sorrow-And yet I have my joy:
My sons were faithful, and they fought.

Margaret Pearse (Patrick and Willie’s Mother) joined Sinn Féin after the Easter Rising.  She was elected to Dáil Éireann as a Sinn Féin Teachta Dála (TD) for Dublin Council in the 1921 elections.

Insulting to remember British Army deaths equally during 1916 events

Posted by Jim on


by Niall O’Dowd

Following the Easter Rising, British Army soldiers search a car on Mount Street Bridge over the Grand Canal, in an area of Dublin that had seen fierce and prolonged fighting. Photo by: National Library of Ireland

The families of some British soldiers from 1916 are calling for a memorial in Ireland to the British Army dead in the conflict.

 31 British soldiers were killed in the fighting and the grandchildren of one of them, Captain Frederick Dietrichsen, have called for a permanent memorial.

The British Army memorial is becoming a bit of a movement.

 Writing in the Irish Times on Saturday political editor Stephen Collins approves of this.  He wrote: “The commemorative program for 2016 also recognizes the scale of civilian casualties in Easter 1916, and does not shirk from acknowledging that the British army and police casualties are also worthy of remembrance.”

But are they all equal?

If the shoe were on the other foot would the British equally remember IRA bombers who killed themselves planting bombs during The Troubles or would the Irish government forgive the killers of Garda Jerry McCabe as part of an acknowledgment that all participants and victims were equal in some way?

Should we hail the men who strapped James Connolly to a wheelchair, blindfolded him and executed him?

Or the men from the South Staffordshire regiment who, as commentator John Dorney has written, bayoneted 15 innocent civilians to death?

“Infuriated with the losses they had suffered, on late Friday evening and early Saturday morning, the troops broke into the homes of the locals and shot or bayoneted 15 civilian men whom they accused of being rebels. They killed three men at 170 North Kings Street whose dead bodies were found to have bayonet wounds, then broke into number 172 and killed two men. In number 174 two more were shot dead. Two more civilian men were killed at number 177 and in 27 North King Street another four men, who all worked there at the Louth Dairy were found dead in a basement and one more man was killed at number 91. The fifteenth was shot dead on adjoining Coleraine Street by the British troops.”

Such massacres were routinely carried out by the Black and Tans in later years and they too suffered major casualties in the War of Independence. Shall we hear calls to commemorate their fallen too equally?

Like it or no the British were in Ireland as conquerors, never accepted by the native people. The British Army in 1916 was defending an imperialist possession and was quite ready to kill maim and massacre those who opposed British rule.

In the new Ireland are these aggressors to be considered on a par with the Irish revolutionaries and the Irish citizens who died?

I think not. The Kumbaya theory of history only takes us so far.

It is a bad idea as Sinn Féin TD Peadar Toibin wrote on Twitter: “British Soldiers imposing oppression through violence should not be commemorated equally with volunteers seeking Irish freedom.”

Amen to that.

Leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising: James Connolly

Posted by Jim on April 8, 2015

James Connolly (Séamas Ó Conghaile) is one of the handful of men who share the dubious honour of being placed in the iconic status categories in the Irish history books based on his involvement in the Easter Rising 1916 as well as his role in the Trade Union movement.  He was born in Cowgate 1868 to Irish emigrant parents who had moved there for economic reasons from Monaghan.  Cowgate was a slum area of Edinburgh that did not enjoy a good reputation in Scotland. It was considered to be an Irish ghetto where many, many thousands of Irish settled in an attempt to gain employment. He belonged to the Parish of St Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church, which was nick-named ‘Little Ireland,’ like many other countries all over the world where the Irish would settle .

Educated to the age of eleven years at the local Roman Catholic Primary School, he decided that he would be better off working. He worked at many different labouring jobs, like his father and grandfather before him. He then made the decision to enlist in the British Army like his older brother (who had deeply regretted his own decision).  The military did offer him food, shelter, and a wage; more importantly he would be educated in the art of military life. Like his brother, he lied about his age; he was only fourteen years of age, and his name was listed as Reid in the Army documents.  Entering a grown man’s world at such a young age…

Serving in Ireland for nearly seven years, he would gain the knowledge and experience and education that would serve him well for the rest of his life. This was a very turbulent period in rural Ireland, and he saw and had to do things that would have a profound effect on him. He developed a deep hatred for the British Army which would last all his life. When he heard that his regiment was being transferred to India, he deserted the British Army.

This is when he met a young woman called Lillie Reynolds. They moved back to Scotland and they were married in 1890. They had a few children within years of getting married. He joined the Socialist Movement and aligned himself to Syndicalism, a movement that was thought to have started in France to aid and support all workers. However, as much as he wanted to commit himself to this role of supporting people, he had a young family to keep.  He set up a cobblers shop which failed a month later, not least because his cobbling skills were insufficient. Another reason was that he was strongly active in the socialist movement and he prioritized this work over his Cobbler shop.

At this time his brother John was secretary of the Scottish Socialist Federation. He got sacked, however, from his Edinburgh Corporation job because he spoke out at a rally in favour of a eight-hour day. James then took over John’s role as secretary. This would become a pivotal point in his life because this is where he would meet Keir Hardy who formed the Independent Labour Party in 1893.  During this period he took up the study of Esperanto: a constructed language that was designed to make international communication easier.

It was through his connections in the Trade Union Environment that he heard that the Dublin Socialist Club were looking for full-time secretary, offering a salary of one pound per week. This of course was too good an opportunity to miss out on, so he applied for and got the position. So, just after the birth of his third daughter, Connolly moved his family back to Dublin, Ireland.

Under his leadership, the Dublin Socialists quickly evolved into the Irish Socialist Republican Party, which has gone down in the Irish history books as being of pivotal importance in the early history of socialism and republicans. He was among the founders of the Socialist Labour Party when it split from the Social Democratic federation in 1903.

Always acting in the best interests of the working people wherever they were, he joined Maud Gonne and Arthur Griffiths in the Dublin protest against the Boar War. At this time, he felt that economically he would be better off to emigrate to America. He immediately joined the Socialist Party of America 1906, and founded the Socialist Federation New York 1907.  Then he joined the Socialist Party of America 1909, and the Industrial Workers of the World movement, always wanting the workers to get what was justified.

He and his family moved back to Dublin in 1910, where he would meet up with James Larkin.  Larkin was a fellow Syndicalist (one who wants a economic society owned by the workers; a replacement for capitalism.) He became James Larkin’s right hand man in the Irish Transport and General Workers Union.

He stood twice for the Wood Quay Ward Dublin Corporation, but was unsuccessful. His name in the Dublin Census 1911 lists him as ‘National Organiser, Socialist Party.” In response to the Lockout 1913, he co-founded the Irish Citizen’s Army [ICA]. This is where the skills that he learned in the British Army came to fruition. The Irish Citizen’s Army was made up of approximately 250 men including another ex-British Army man who was one of the co-founders: Jack White.  All of these men were by background, labourers, who understood only too well the brutality that was perpetrated on the striking workers by the Dublin Metropolitan Police. Their goal of establishing The Irish Labour Party grew out of the need to the defend workers and strikers. The political wing of the Irish Trade Union Congress met this need, and he soon became its National Executive. On Trade Union business, he travelled to Belfast, where he met Winifred (Nora) Carney. She became his secretary, and was with him during the week of the Easter Rising.

Connolly considered the Leaders of Irish Volunteers and The Irish Military Brotherhood to be bourgeois, and stood aloof from them.  In his opinion, he considered them to be merely posturing and unconcerned with Ireland’s Independence; thinking that they were unwilling to take divisive action against the British Government and Dublin Castle.

In his attempt to gage a reaction from them, he goaded them by threatening to send the Irish Citizen’s Army to war against the British Empire…alone, if it became necessary.

On hearing this, the Irish Republican Brotherhood, who already had plans in place for an insurgence that very year, made haste to have a discussion with Connolly to see if an agreement could be reached to prevent a disaster happening.

What has now become imperative in Irish history is that Roger Casement (a British Diplomat and an Irish Rebel) had been arrested while disembarking off a German submarine on his way to meet the Volunteers at the gunboat to unload the armoury. Compounding this travesty, MacNeill (Chief of Staff of the Irish Volunteers) on hearing of Casement’s arrest, countermanded the plans for the Easter Rising by advertising in the Independent that all orders given to the Irish Volunteers were rescinded. Confusion reigned throughout this period all over Ireland, with some of the Volunteers already having smashed their weapons and some going off to the Fairytown Races.  However, Pearse, Connolly, Cathal Brugha and all the inner sanctum of the Leaders confirmed that the Easter Rising should go ahead, knowing that their days were numbered by the arrest of Casement.

Connolly’s wife Lillie and his family arrived in Dublin from Tyrone where she had been staying. Accommodation had been found for them in Count Markiewicz’s cottage in the mountains outside Dublin. Connolly now felt able to  address the Citizens Army in Liberty Hall 1916, where he told then that the Irish Citizens Army no longer existed and that they were all now a part of The Irish Republican Army.   He stated that he was the Commandant-General of all the insurgent forces in Dublin.

History now records that Connolly, Pearse, Clarke, MacDermott, and Plunkette made their way up O’Connell Street [was Sackville Street] and based themselves in the General Post Office with all the Volunteers and Cumman na Mbann. They were to make their move at 12:00 PM; at the first stroke of the Angelus, the insurrection was to begin.

Patrick Pearse was the one who read out the Proclamation on the first stroke of the 12:00 Angelus, and so the Easter Rising began.

As mortars, bombs, and bullets rained down on the General Post Office, Connolly proved himself to be inspirational and effective: supervising the construction of defences, determining and adjusting strategy, and summoning reinforcements. That only nine volunteers died in the Post Office during the fighting is said to be a testimony to his talents.

It was only when fire swept through the General Post Office that the order was made to leave the building.  By that time, Connolly was severely wounded.  Even after he had been severely wounded and operated on by Dr O’Mahoney (a prisoner) in the closed off section of the makeshift headquarters, he remained staunchly supportive to his men; speaking to them from a hospital bed that had been wheeled into the troops where they had burrowed down following the excavation of the GPO. In order to prevent further blood loss, the fateful decision was made to surrender.

Patrick Pearse would write of him, “Wounded, still the guiding force of our resistance, nothing would break the will of this man.”

Immediately on surrendering, he was arrested.  Connolly was taken to the Red Cross Hospital at Dublin Castle. For the last fortnight of his life he was attended to by Surgeon Tobin who was greatly impressed by Connolly. He spoke to the world no more. His only visitors: his wife and children, his secretary, and Father Aloysius (Capuchin Friars) would be able to record his feelings and thoughts for the future. His reflections on the struggle would have to be reconstructed from these recollections, which were recorded while he was under terrible emotional stress and physical pain. One thought that he had was that he had a Scottish accent, and that the Irish people would not know why he was there:  “They will never understand why I am here; they will forget that I am an Irishman.”

He was court martialed while he was in Dublin Castle, propped up in bed. The statement that he would present at his court martial would find its way into his secretary’s hands later. His expectation that the Rising’s organisers would be shot, and the rest set free did not happen; as history now records.

At midnight on the 11th May,1916, he was woken to told that he would be executed at dawn the next morning. His wife Lilly and his secretary Nora were sent for; he surreptitiously slipped the hand written notes from his court martial into Nora’s hand. At dawn the next morning, he was taken by stretcher to Kilmainham Goal. Blindfolded, he was lifted into a chair and executed on the 12th May, 1916. He left a widow with seven young children. Fr. Aloysius was by his side.

The note that he surreptitiously slipped to Nora reads as follows:

“I do not wish to make any defense except against charges of wanton cruelty to prisoners.  We went out to break the connection between this country and the British Empire, and to establish an Irish Republic. We believed that the call that we then issued to the people of Ireland, was a nobler call, in a holier cause, than any call issued to them during this war, having any connection with the war. We succeeded in proving that Irishmen are ready to die endeavouring to win for Ireland those national rights which the British Government has been asking them to die for to win for Belgium. As long as that remains the case, the cause of Irish freedom is safe.

Believing that the British Government has no right in Ireland, never had any right in Ireland, and never can have any right in Ireland, the presence, in any one generation of Irishmen, or even a respectable  minority, ready to die to affirm that truth, makes that Government forever a usurpation and a crime against human progress.

I personally thank God that I have lived to see the day when thousands of women and girls were ready to affirm that truth, and to attest to it with their lives if need be.”

Is this one of the best Irish pubs in America? The Irish Times thinks so

Posted by Jim on April 7, 2015


Is Irish Haven the best Irish bar in the East Coast? Photo by: Google Maps

When you think about Irish pubs in America, a few big names might come to mind – McSorley’s Old Ale House, the oldest of its kind in New York; Boston’s music mecca the Black Rose; or The River Shannon in Chicago.

So it came as something of a surprise that one of only two US pubs in the running for the title of Best Irish Pub in the World (Outside Ireland),’ a competition run by Irish newspaper the Irish Times, is a small, admittedly dive-y corner bar hidden away in the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn. The other is a popular New Orleans Irish pub.

Irish Haven, on the corner of 4th Avenue and 58th Street in Brooklyn, was nominated by two different Irish people with very fond memories of drinking there, both of whom lived in the apartments above the pub at different points. One, Morgan Reilly, lived there in the summer of 2012 with 12 other members of the Brooklyn Shamrocks JFC GAA team.

In his entry, he describes it as “an Irish haven in a neighborhood that had become increasingly Asian and Hispanic. It was more important to its patrons than we, a few lads out for the craic for the summer, could ever know” and recounts the kindness of the owners, Maureen and Michael Collins, as they waived an entry fee for watching RTE’s coverage of the GAA championships and plied them with homemade fruit cake.


Another entrant, Helen Nolan Crawley, wrote that the pub was “loved by many, many people both here in New York and those who have returned home.”

So while it might not be a widely-known watering hole, Irish Haven does appear to be a much-loved local and has a good few claims to fame.

Martin Scorsese chose it as a location for “The Departed” (the cranberry juice scene was filmed there), and the TV show “Gotham” recently used the bar’s interior and exterior to shoot the upcoming season.

The scene from "The Departed" filmed at Irish Haven.

The scene from “The Departed” filmed at Irish Haven.

Finn McCool’s in New Orleans, owned by Stephen and Pauline Patterson from Northern Ireland, opened in 2002, making it a relative newcomer to a city with a long and established bar culture. But it has since become a New Orleans mainstay, offering its patrons a place of solace when it rebuilt and re-opened only six months after the city was ravaged by Hurricane Katrina.

“Many of them had lost their homes, their jobs, or both, and those friendships forged at Finn McCool’s literally saved families from being on the street. Today it has built on those ideals of being welcoming and inclusive, and is a thriving, successful and fantastic bar. The owners and regulars went through something that those outside of New Orleans can not even imagine – and came out the other side stronger for it,” wrote Stephen Rea, who nominated the pub.

The Irish Haven and Finn McCool’s are the only Irish pubs in the US to make the Irish Times’ shortlist for best Irish pub in the world. Other contenders include The Wild Rover in Cuzco, Peru; Bubbles O’Leary, a Co. Louth pub that was re-assembled in Kampala, Uganda; The Drunken Poet in Melbourne, Australia; and The James Joyce in Prague.

Leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising: Éamon de Valera

Posted by Jim on April 6, 2015

Éamon de Valera is a man that has enjoyed iconic status in the Irish history books for more reasons than being one of the Leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising. He was born in New York in 1882 to a Irish mother and a Spanish father. His mother originated from Bruree, Limerick, and his father was Juan Vivion De Valera. His mother later re-married and had another son.

Reports over the years have suggested that Catherine and Juan were married on the 18th of September 1881 at St Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church in New Jersey. Archivists, however, have not been able to locate any such marriage certificate at St. Patrick’s Church. Nor have they found any birth, baptismal or death certificate information for anyone called Juan Vivion De Valera. They have even tried looking for an alternative spelling of the name, to no avail. De Valera’s original birth certificate has his name recorded as “George de Valero” and his father is listed as Vivion De Valero. In 1910 however, Eamon De Valera’s first name was change to Edward, and “de Valero” was corrected to De Valera. His father died in very poor circumstances in 1885, leaving Eamon and his mother destitute.  As a consequence of their abject poverty, his Uncle Ned took him back to Ireland at the age of 2 years.  There, he was raised by his grandmother, Elizabeth Coll, who was ably assisted by his Uncle Patrick and his Aunt Hannie.

He attended the local National School in Limerick, and then moved on to Christian Brothers School, Charleville, Co. Cork. At the age of 16 years, he won a scholarship to attend further education. He tried to gain entry to two colleges back in Limerick but was unsuccessful in these applications. He did, however, gain entry to Blackrock College with the assistance of his local priest. He excelled in academic life, and rugby was his chosen sport. At Rockwell College, he played fullback on the first team. This team reach the final of the Munster Senior Club. Subsequently, he went on to play rugby for the Munster Rugby Team. He retained a lifelong interest in rugby, even toward the end of his life when he was nearly blind.

He won “Student of the Year” at Blackrock College, and then went on to win further scholarships. He gained many certificates in education, and then went on to be appointed as a teacher of mathematics at Rockwell College, Co. Tipperary. It was here that he gained the now familiar nick name of ‘Dev,’ as well as ‘the long fellow,’ an affectionate name given by his colleague, Tom ‘O Donnell .

From there, he attended the Royal University of Ireland, graduating in 1904 with a degree in mathematics. He studied for one year at Trinity College, Dublin. Not having a scholarship to continue his education further, he had to leave to earn a living. He then returned to teaching. In 1906 he was appointed as a Mathematics Teacher at Belvedere College  where he would later teach Kevin Barry (a rebel who was executed at the age of 18 years for his role in the War of Independence.) From there, he worked in various colleges: Carysforth Teachers Training College, part time at Maynooth, Castlenock College (teaching under the name “Edward De Valera” there.) He then applied, unsuccessfully,  for a professorship at the National University of Ireland.

Always being a very religious man, he seriously contemplated the religious life, as his half-brother Father Thomas Wheelright had done. At one point, he even approached the President of Clonliffe Seminary in Dublin asking for advice on his vocation to the religious life.

He then joined the Gaelic League, where he would meet many fellow activists, including Sinéad Flanagan, a teacher and a fluent Irish language speaker who was four years his senior. They were married in St. Paul’s Church, Arran Quay, Dublin on January 8, 1910.

Always interested in the culture and language of Ireland, De Valera became an avid speaker for the cause of Irish Independence. He joined the Irish Volunteers in November, 1913. The Irish Volunteers were formed for a number of reasons, not least to try and curtail the brutality of the British Military and the Metropolitan Police on the strikers of the 1913 lock out. The Irish Volunteers also wanted to ensure the enactment of the Irish Parliamentary Party’s Third Home Rule Act, which was being opposed by the Ulster Volunteers .

De Valera took part in the Howth gun running.  After the outbreak of World War 1 in August 1914, he was sworn into the Oath Bound Irish Military Brotherhood by Thomas MacDonagh, and rose through the ranks rapidly. The IRB secretly controlled the central executive of the Volunteers. It was not long before he was elected captain of Donnybrook Company, and by this time the IRB were pushing ahead for an armed revolt. He was subsequently made commandant of the Third Battalion and adjutant of the Dublin Brigade. He opposed secret societies, but he joined this one as it was the only way he could be guaranteed full information on the plans for the Easter Rising.

So it was, that when these plans were put into place for the 24th April 1916, De Valera led his troops through the streets of Dublin to occupy Boland’s Mill on Grand Canal Street. His task was to cover all of the approaches to the  southeastern side of the city.  After a week of fighting, the surrender command from Patrick Pearse and James Connolly was brought to him by one of the Capuchin Friars. He was the last to surrender.

De Valera’s troops occupied Boland’s Mill during the Easter Rising.

He was immediately arrested and taken to a different prison than that of the other leaders. He was then court-martialed and sentenced to death by firing squad.  However, his death sentence was commuted to penal servitude almost immediately after his court martial.

Differing historical accounts vary as to why his sentence was commuted to penal servitude and some of these are listed below; one, or all of these reasons saved the life of the future President of Ireland.  

  1. He was the last man to surrender and he was held in different prison, so his execution was delayed by practicalities.
  2. The US Consulate in Dublin had made representations before his trial to make it known that he was a United States citizen.  Britain were trying to bring the USA into the War in Europe at this time, so it was of paramount of importance not to upset that delicate balance of diplomacy that existed between the two nations.  This fact, however, did not halt the death of Thomas Clarke, who had been an American citizen since 1905.
  3. De Valera was not widely known as a rebel or an activist, and had no Fenian connections. His MI5 file was very slim in 1916. When Lt. Gen. Sir John Maxwell was asked to review his case, he is said to have asked, “Who is he?” He was told that De Valera was unimportant, and consequently, his death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment.
  4. Political pressure was being brought to bear on Lt. Gen. Sir John Maxwell by Prime Minister H.H. Asquith to halt all the executions.

De Valera was the only commandant not to be executed for his role in the Easter Rising. He and his comrades were interred in Dartmoor, Maidstone, and Lewes Prisons in England. They were released under an amnesty in June, 1917. By July, 1917 he had been elected a member of the House of Commons for East Clare.

As the world now knows only too well, De Valera was one of the most dominant political figures of  the twentieth century in Ireland, with his political career spanning over half a century.

He had five sons and two daughters. His son Brian predeceased his parents. Throughout his life, he was known for being a religious man, so it was no surprise that he asked to be buried in a religious habit on his death. According to tradition in Ireland in this era, the deceased should be dressed appropriately, with all areas of the body covered. This practice of being buried in a religious habit in Ireland still holds value in some rural communities.

Leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising: Tomás Séamus Ó Cléirigh

Posted by Jim on April 5, 2015

Tomás Séamus Ó Cléirigh (Thomas James Clarke) was born on the 8th day of March in 1852.  He was  one of the oldest members of the 1916 Rising.  Clarke was also known as Henry Wilson, an alias he used to counteract any publicity that his own name may attract in his role as a revolutionary.  He was one of the foremost leaders of the Rising even though he does not enjoy the same historically iconic status as some of the other leaders.  Clarke was one of the Irish Republican Brotherhood members most trusted by Séan Mac Diarmada.

Both of his parents were Irish, but his father was a sergeant in the British army stationed at Hurst Castle in Milford-on-Sea Hampshire, England.  This is where Thomas Clarke was born.  While still only a young child, his father was transferred to Dungannon, County Tyrone in Ireland.  It was there tha he attended St. Patrick’s National School.  He is thought to have steeped himself in the Irish culture and the history of Ireland.

With unemployment being very high in Ireland at the time, Clarke emigrated to the United States of America where he joined Clan na Gael (family of the Gaels).  This is where he met Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa who had been exiled to the United States because of his links to Fenian movements.  Clarke, an Irish revolutionary by nature, was chosen to go to London to blow up London Bridge.  This had been planned by Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa as part of a Fenian dynamite attack.

It was 1882 when Clarke arrived in London under the alias of Henry Wilson.  However, the dynamite attack did not go as planned.  He was betrayed by an informer and subsequently arrested in possession of explosives.  He was sentenced to 15 years in prison, and he served this time out in some of the most extremely harsh conditions in British jails, including Milbank, Chatham, and Portland.  He wrote his memoirs of this time called “Glimpses of an Irish Felon’s Prison Life” (1922).  On his release, which was called a “ticket of leave,” he once again emigrated to the United States.

Clarke found employment with Clan na Gael leader John Devoy.  He was the promoted to Assistant Editor in its sister paper, Gaelic American.  Through his links with Clan na Gael,  he met his wife, Kathleen Daly.  She was the niece of the veteran Fenian John Daly.  Kathleen was the sister of Edward (Ned) Daly who would also be executed for his part in the 1916 Easter Rising.

Clarke became a citizen of the United States and purchased 60 acres of land in New York.  After he and Kathleen were married, however, they returned to Dublin where they bought a tobacconist / newsagents on Great Britain Street (now Parnell Street) and Amiens Street.  This was his way of trying to maintain a low profile as he was still on a “ticket of leave” from his time spent in British prisons.

Behind this low profile, however, he was a very influential figure in the preparation for the 1916 Easter Rising.  He, along with Belmar Hobson, Denis McCullough, and most notably Seán Mac Diarmada revitalized the Irish Republican Brotherhood.  He was elected to the IRB Supreme Council and in late 1915 co-opted to its Military Council, which was responsible for planning of the Easter Rising.  Clarke worked out the general strategy and Mac Diarmada was responsible for the details.  Clarke was also the main link with John Devoy, Joseph McGarrity, and other supporters in the United States, which was where some of the funding came from.

Clarke was given the honour of being the first signatory of the Proclamation of the Irish Republic by virtue of his seniority and his contribution over many years.  He was stationed in the General Post Office during the Easter Rising with most of the other leaders of the Provisional Government, he opposed the surrender but was outvoted.

Clarke was soon recognized by the British military as one of the leading Commanders.  He was subsequently arrested, court martialed, and held at Kilmainham Goal pending execution.  A message he sent to his wife reads as follows:

“I and my fellow signatories believe we have struck the first successful blow for Irish freedom.  The next blow, which we have no doubt Ireland will strike, will win through.  In this belief, we die happy.”

He, too, was administered too by the Capuchin Friars at this time.  He was executed alongside Patrick Pearse at dawn on the 3rd of May, 1916 in Kilmainham Gaol yard.  His body was dumped in the pit in Arbour Hill and covered in quick lime.

PS — His widow, Kathleen, was elected a T.D. in the first and second Dáil notably speaking against the Anglo –Irish Treaty.  She was also a founding member of Cumann na mBan and was one of only a handful of people privy to the plans for the Easter Rising.  She was a T.D. and a Senator in both Sinn Féin and Fianna Fáil, eventually being elected as the first female Lord.

Leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising: Seán Mac Diarmada

Posted by Jim on April 4, 2015

Seán Mac Diarmada (Sean MacDermott) is yet another one of the 1916 Easter Rising leaders who has remained in the historical shadow of other prominent leaders who have enjoyed iconic status in the history books.  He has been described by some as one of the greatest of the Easter Rising’s leaders.

Mac Diarmada was born Corronmore, County Leitrim in 1883.  He was the son of Donald MacDermot, a carpenter / farmer, and his wife Mary McMorrow.  His father had been a Fenian in Limerick, and it was natural for him to follow in his father’s traditions.  He was educated during the daytime at Corradoona National School, and at night school in Tullinamoyle, County Cavan where he learned bookkeeping and the Irish language (which he spoke fluently).

During his childhood, he was brought up within a landscape that had all the signs of dereliction.  In addition to the ancient sweat houses, Mac Diarmada’s surroundings were characterised by symbols poverty and oppression, such as “mass rocks (where the Catholic mass had to be held due to Catholicism’s prohibition by the British establishment during the Penal Laws era).  Deserted houses and mud huts dotted the land where persecutions had taken place from the time of “The Great Hunger” onwards.

He eventually left County Leitrim, moving first to Scotland and then back to Belfast where he worked a tram driver and doing some work as a barman.

Mac Diarmada was always politically active.  This was due to a combination of factors, including his father’s influence and  and the memories of his childhood in County Leitrim; where he had witnessed the appalling dereliction.  He joined the Gáelic League and the politically moderate Ancient Order of Hibernians. He then joined the Irish Republican Brotherhood and was sworn in by fellow activist Denis McCullough.  He went on to assist with the organisation of the Republican Dungannon Clubs.

Left: Main road through Kiltyclogher, County Leitrim; Right: Seán Mac Diarmada’s boyhood house

Mac Diarmada also acted as an organizer for the Sinn Féin movement.  He became a full-time organizer for the Irish Republican Army (IRB) and managed its newspaper, Irish Freedom.  He was stricken with Polio about this time, which left him with a limp.  Undeterred, he eventually recovered sufficiently to be able to walk with a walking stick to carry on his dream of making Ireland a Free State.

It has been said that he was infiltrating the cultural organizations at this time, such as the Gáelic League and the Gáelic Athletic Association (GAA) recruiting members to the Irish Republican Brotherhood.  Where possible, he would get them elected as officers of relevant committees, thereby creating a body of men who would inherently be under his command.

It has also been said that Mac Diarmada, together with Tom Clarke, McCullough, and Hobson revitalized the Irish Republican Army.  This group would eventually assume virtual control of all Irish groups around 1911.  The outbreak of the first World War saw him campaign against Irishmen joining the British Army.  His strenuous efforts were to gain him a four-month prison sentence under the Defence of The Realm Act.  He served out this sentence at Mountjoy Gaol.

Upon his release, both he and Tom Clarke were co-opted into the IRB Military Council.  It was in this organization that  Mac Diarmada (according to the historian F.X. Martin) played a leading role in the planning of the 1916 Easter Rising.  Martin characterizes him as being the “mainspring” in the planning of the Easter Rising.

Left: Seán Mac Diarmada upon his release from Mountjoy Gaol in 1915

Mac Diarmada was obsessively secretive about his role as planning officer as he knew from experience that past Irish freedom movements had been bedeviled with spies and informers.  Thus, he excluded most of his fellow IRB members from the planning phases.  This would eventually prove to be disastrous, and it would contribute to the confusion surrounding the outbreak of the 1916 Easter Rising.

Although he had no military rank, most possibly due to his disability, Mac Diarmada was recognized as one of the Commanders in charge.  This was largely due to his membership  and signatory of the Provisional Government and his role in the Irish Republican Brotherhood.  He was stationed at the General Post Office throughout the Easter Rising as “one of the Provisional Government.”   In the aftermath of the fighting, he nearly got away by mingling with the crowd.  However, a British officer picked out the man with the  walking stick and declared that “he was the most dangerous man after Clarke.”  Another officer sneered, “So the Sinn Feiners take cripples in their army.”

One historian described him as follows: “Séan MacDiarmada was one of the greatest of the Easter Rising Leaders.  He was so quiet and unassuming that he tends to be forgotten; yet, he was one of the greatest Irishmen that ever lived.”

In a statement prior to his execution he said: “I feel happiness, the like of which I have never experienced.  I die that the Irish nation might live!”

Mac Diarmada was court martialled on the 9th of May, 1916.  On the 12th of May, 1916 at the age of just 33 years, he was executed by firing squad.

Irish Republican Brotherhood Easter Press Release

Posted by Jim on








William James McGuire, President Of The Irish Republican Brotherhood.

For further information please go to:


Or to arrange an In-Depth Interview/ Photoshoot please telephone:


00353871228541 (Primary Contact)

00353872297888 (Alternate)

Leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising: Eámonn Ceannt

Posted by Jim on April 3, 2015

Éamonn Ceannt is a little-known leader of the 1916 Easter Rising. Born in Ballymoe in County Galway, he was one of nine children. His father was an RIC Officer stationed in Ballymoe, and the family were transferred around the country with his father, moving to County Louth, to Drogheada, then to Drumconda in Dublin. He attended the North Richmond Street Christian Brothers School where he was always a keen, intelligent, and interested student.  He excelled in his exams.  This is where he met two other like-minded people such as Séan Huston and Con Colbert. All three would go on to become leaders in the 1916 Easter Rising.

Following his exams, he was offered a position in the Civil  Service.  He turned this position down because he felt he would be working for the British Government.  Instead, he went on to become an accountant with the Dublin Corporation.

They Ceannt family were a religious Roman Catholic family.  It has been said that Ceannts’ religious teaching remained with him for the rest of his life.

Always interested in nationalism and politics, he took part in any event that was of interest to national unity.  In 1899, he joined the central branch of Gaelic League.  It was here that he met the men who would play a central role in the 1916 Easter Rising.

As time went by, he became increasingly involved in the Nationalism movements which led to a very strong interests in his heritage and the Gáelic language. The main purpose of the Gáelic League was to educate the Irish people about their heritage. This is turn led him to believe that Irish people deserved to learn about their own language and culture along with music, dance, poetry, literature, and Irish history.

Ceannt had a strong interest in his heritage and the Irish language.  The main purposes of the league were to educate people on the Irish culture.  This involved reviving the Irish language, Irish music, dancing, poetry, literature, and history. Ceannt was an extremely committed member of the league.  He was an elected a member of the governing body, and by 1905 he was teaching Irish language classes in branch offices of the League.

Along with Edward Martyn, Cennt founded Cumann bPiobain (The Pipers Club) in 1900.  His musical talents earned him respect around the globe, and was even asked to put on a performance for Pope Pius X.  His musical talents did, in fact, win him a gold medal at the 1906 Oireachtas for Irish dance.  Accolades abounded, and he is said to have been instrumental in the Gaelic language being the only language spoken in Cumman na bPiobain.  This, in turn, helped to revive the Irish Music scene.

He met his wife, Frances Mary O’Brennan, through the Gáelic League; they married in 1905.  Their son, Ronan, was born in 1906.

In 1907, becoming increasingly determined to see an Independent Ireland, he joined the Dublin branch of Sinn Fein. By 1912, he was sworn into the Irish Republican Brotherhood by Séan MacDiarmada.  Ceannt knew that this movement was pledged to achieving Irish Independence by whatever means, even using physical force if it became necessary.  As a senior figure of the 1916 Easter Rising, the Irish Republican Brotherhood Military Council met in May 1915 to begin plans for a rebellion.  Ceannt was made a Commandant of the 4th Battalion of the Volunteers.

During the Rising, he was stationed at the South Dublin Union with more than one hundred men under his command.  His second and third in command were Cathal Brugha and W.T. Cosgrove, who went on to become the President Of the Executive Council (Prime Minister) of the Irish Free State from 1922 to 1932.  As a Commandant and a powerful Leader, he held a position so strong that under his command they drove back repeated assaults from the determined British Regiments.  A contingent he placed at Marrowbone Lane were in a position of strength, and the passing British soldiers were mowed down by an enfilade of artillery.  The continued, grinding attacks broke through the Women’s Infirmary leaving Ceannt’s troops vulnerable to attack.  Continued attacks by the British soldiers failed to press home the advantage that they had at this point, despite the fact that Ceannt had twenty-times fewer men.

His troops were skilfully deployed as far away as Rialto Bridge, which was west of the City.  The British troops had to filter into buildings to escape the onslaught from Ceannt’s troops.  Although his troop numbers diminished due to casualties and fatalities, he continued his intense fighting following the Easter Rising on Easter Monday for a week.  He did, however, have to surrender his position when ordered to do so by his superior officer, Patrick (Padraig) Pearse.

After the unconditional surrender by the Irish Brotherhood Military Council (Patrick Pearse surrendered first in order to save the lives of his men), plain clothes detectives known as the “G-men” identified the leaders of the Rising on the first of May in 1916 — Ceannt being one of them.

Always a man who cared about his officers, he tried his best to protect them against British Court Martial.  General Maxwell (who served in the Mahdist War, Sudan, the Boer War, and the 1st World War) was determined to afflict the death penalty on all the leaders of the Easter Rising; but he was prevented from doing so by legal issues.  He is best known for his execution of the leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising.

These legal issues only allowed the death penalty if one was found aiding the enemy, which happened to be Germany at that time.  However, General Maxwell pursued his objective of the death penalty vigorously.  When he was handed letters written by Patrick Pearse to his mother, he had found his loophole at last.  These letters showed that Patrick Pearse had communicated with the Germans.  From that moment, Ceannt and his comrades had to accept that they would face the firing squad.

He left a message for the Irish people which was only allowed to be printed in The Irish Independent in July of 1926 which reads as follows:

“I leave for the guidance of other Irish Revolutionaries who may tread the path which I have trod, this advice, never to treat with the enemy, never to surrender at his mercy, but to fight a finish.  Ireland has shown she is a nation.  This generation can claim to have raised sons as brave as any that went before.  And in the years to come Ireland will honor those who risked all for her honor at Easter 1916.”

Ceannt was held in Kilmainham Gaol until his execution by firing squad on 8 May, 1916, aged 34.

Leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising: Joseph Mary Plunkett

Posted by Jim on April 1, 2015

Posted by That’s Just How It Was on March 28, 2015

Joseph Mary Plunkett (Seosamh Máire Pluincéid) is one of the least known leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising. He is perhaps one of a the few people that Seán Mac Diarmada trusted in the planning of the Rising. Born in 1887 into a very affluent family, he lived in one of Dublin’s most influential neighbourhoods: Fitzwilliam Street.  They also owned a farm in Kimmage, South Dublin. His father was a papal count, and they traveled widely. At a very young age he contracted tuberculosis and spent a lot of time in the warmer climates of Mediterranean North Africa. His mother never wanted to believe that he was as ill his diagnosis would indicate; trusting that time spent in warmer climates would cure him. Tuberculosis would define his whole life and leave him a very weak child and adult.

He was educated in England in early childhood, then in the Jesuits’ Belvedere College, Dublin, and later at Stonyhurst College, Lancashire: a very expensive and elite school. This is where he would acquire some military knowledge from the Officers Training Corps. After Stonyhurst, he returned to Dublin to study at University College Dublin and graduated from there in 1909. Due to his life-long illness, he spent two years traveling in warmer climates after he graduated. Plunkett’s interest in Irish nationalism spread throughout his family, notably to his younger brothers George and John, as well as his father.  Mr. Plunkett allowed his property in Kimmage, South Dublin, to be used as a training camp for young men who wished to escape conscription in England during World War I. The men that went there were instead trained to fight for Ireland.

In the planning stages of the Easter Rising of 1916, armory was brought to Howth by Erskine Childers, a Royal Navy Officer and an Irish Rebel), his wife Molly, and Sir Roger Casement on their Pleasure Yacht, the Asgard. It is said that there were some 900 Mauser M1871-11mm calibre rifles and 29.000 rounds of black power ammunition off-loaded at Howth Harbour. Simultaneously, a smaller number of Mauser rifles were landed at Kilcoole, Co. Wicklow, further down the coast from Howth. These were unloaded by Sir Thomas Myles, Tom Kettle, and James Meredith. These were all professional people: barristers, politicians, and surgeons.  The men were all known to the inner sanctum of the Irish Military Brotherhood. It is no surprise then, that all of this armory was stockpiled at Plunket’s family farm in Kimmage, to be used for training of the Volunteers.

Throughout his life, wherever he was studying, Plunkett took an active interest in Irish Culture and the Gaelic language. He was a co-founder of the Esperanto League where he would meet his fellow peers and comrades of the 1916 Easter Rising. He would become lifelong friends with Patrick Pearse and Thomas MacDonagh. Plunkett shared both Pearse and MacDonagh’s enthusiasm for literature, poetry, and a love of Ireland. MacDonagh tutored Plunkett in the Gaelic language. Their dedication to the cause of Irish culture, language, and independence out-weighted any risks that they could envision on the horizon.

Along with MacDonagh, Plunkett helped found the Irish National Theatre, and was also an editor of The Irish Review.

He joined the Irish Volunteers, and subsequently gained membership to the Irish Republican Brotherhood. Having gained the trust of the inner sanctum of the Irish Military Brotherhood, during the planning of the Easter Rising he was sent to meet Roger Casement (a British Diplomat and an Irish Rebel) in Germany. Casement was there negotiating with the German Government on behalf of Ireland. Casement’s role as emissary was self-appointed. As he was not a member of the IRB, the organisation’s leadership wanted to have one of their own trusted members (Plunkett) to negotiate for German aid. Plunkett was seeking to gain a shipment of arms. His skilful negotiations and charismatic demeanor enabled him to secure a promise of at least one shipment of German arms to coincide with the Easter Rising of the following year.

Having completed this task successfully, Plunkett returned to Ireland jubilant with the promise of at least one shipment of arms. This success led him to be appointed as Director of Military Operations, with overall responsibility for military strategy, though his health prevented him from being terribly active by this time. He, along with Thomas Clarke and Séan MacDermott, was heavily involved in the planning of the Easter Rising.  Plunkett’s health worsened a week prior to Easter, and he had to be hospitalized. He underwent major surgery on his neck glands days before the Rising. Against all medical advice, he struggled out of bed to take part in what he would describe as the frustration of all the secret planning: The Easter Rising. Still bandaged, struggling to cope with the pain, he took his place alongside all of the leaders, the Volunteers, and Cumman na Mbann in the General Post Office. Plunkett was ably assisted by his energetic ‘aide de camp ‘ (a military officer acting as a confidential assistant to a senior officer.) This assistant was none other than Michael Collins, the icon of Irish independence history.

As gunfire and mortars rained down on the General Post Office in Dublin, the leaders held their nerve and fought like for like with the British Military. It was only when fire swept through the GPO that the command was given to evacuate the building. The troops burrowed down in accommodation nearby to discuss their next strategic plan of action. The majority view was that they should surrender to save the lives of the ordinary civilians being wounded and killed.

Upon their surrender, Plunkett was immediately arrested and taken to Kilmainham Gaol. He was subsequently court martialed and sentences to death by firing squad. At his court martial, he pleaded not guilty to the charges (taking part in an armed rebellion that was prejudicial to the Defense of the Realm and his Majesty, the King.) His oath of allegiance was to an Independent Ireland.

His defense:

“I have nothing to say in my defense, but desire to state that the proclamation referred to by Sergeant Burton’s evidence is signed by persons who are not connected with the Irish Volunteers, and the proclamation was not issued by the Volunteers.”

He was found guilty and sentenced to death by firing squad .

The Chapel in Kilmainham Gaol where Plunkett /Gifford were married; with his brothers at home in Dublin ; Grace Gifford

At 1:30 AM on the 4th of May, 1916, Grace Gifford was led into a small chapel at Kilmainham Gaol.  Gifford was Plunkett’s girlfriend; a protestant convert to Catholicism. Plunkett was led hand-cuffed to meet her at the altar. The Chapel was lit by candles, as there was no electricity.  The marriage ceremony was conducted by Fr. Eugene MacCarthy, and attended by twenty-two British Soldiers with fixed bayonets, lining the walls of the small chapel. Grace Gifford had bought a wedding ring the previous day. Plunkett was taken away immediately after the ceremony’s conclusion. Grace Gifford’s sister Muriel was married to Plunkett’s best friend, Thomas Mac Donagh .

Somewhere during the night, leniency was granted to the newly married couple. They were allowed to spend a little time together before he was taken to Kilmainham Stonebreakers Yard at the rear of Kilmainham Gaol.  At dawn, he was blindfolded and executed by firing squad.

In the Irish Times of Friday 5 May, 1916, there appeared the following marriage notice:

“PLUNKETT and GIFFORD – May 4th, 1916, at Dublin, Joseph Plunkett to Grace Gifford.”


Joseph’s brothers, George Oliver Plunkett and Jack Plunkett had joined him in the Easter Rising, and later became important Irish Republican Army men. George was sentenced to death for his part in the Ester Rising, but only served one year in confinement before he was released.

His father’s cousin, Horace Plunkett was a protestant unionist who sought to reconcile unionists and nationalists. Horace Plunkett’s home was burned down by the Anti-Treaty brigade during the Civil War.

Perverting the Course of Justice: The Pensive Quill

Posted by Jim on March 30, 2015

Christy Walsh who is currently hunger striking in pursuit of justice has written to the North’s First Minister, Peter Robinson, and his deputy, Martin McGuinness. A former prisoner, Christy Walsh blogs at The Fundamental Flaws in the Arrest, Trial & Appeals of Christy Walsh and can be contacted at



Messrs’ Robinson & McGuinness

OFMDFM Ministers

GD36 Stormont Castle Stormont Estate Belfast BT4 3TT

23rd March 2015


Dear Messrs’ Robinson & McGuinness


Today marks my 8th day on hunger strike.


Mr Robinson, local media networks have reported your position on crime to be as follows:

“We take the position that if people have committed crimes then they’re answerable, no matter what their position, and if there’s evidence and it’s brought forward then it’s up to due process to determine.”[1] 


Why then, Mr Robinson, with due respect to you, would you believe that the Deputy First Minister, Mr McGuinness, might be subject to scrutiny of the law but Mr Ford or the Crown Prosecutor, Mr McCrudden, are not, despite the compelling prima facie evidence against them? Do you believe the unethical conduct of both the Justice Minister and Prosecutor to be above the law as if immune from culpability because of their privileged positions? If that is true then why do you draw a distinction with Mr McGuinness who, it stands to reason, is privileged with even higher public position?

David Ford is aware that one of the RUC’s most senior intelligence figures throughout the whole Conflict could have testified to my innocence at my trial had the Prosecutor not withheld crucial evidence. In 2009, I gained rare access to Northern Ireland Forensic Science Laboratories to examine their files for myself. While I was at NIFSL I discovered that a report signed by Detective Superintendent John Derek Martindale details how another man had originally been caught in possession of the coffee-jar for which I was convicted.

David Ford is also aware that when the former Lord Chief Justice, Sir Brian Kerr, requested that the Prosecutor bring one of his military witnesses before the court to explain why he had retracted his Trial Testimony under PACE caution, the Prosecutor soon afterwards informed the court that his witness could no longer be traced. Police Detective Gary McMurran, who was present in court, told me that the Prosecutor was lying to the court and he knew this because he had been the person tasked to locate the Soldier. The Detective confirmed to me that he had successfully located the witness contrary to what the Prosecutor had just told the Court. I asked the Detective if he would confirm to my lawyers what he had told me. The Detective agreed to do so and later provided my lawyers with a two page written account of the steps he had taken to locate the military witness. The Detective’s written account concludes that the military witness’s reason for refusing to appear before the Court was because he wanted “the past to stay in the past”.

The reliance by the Justice Minister on the proven discredited word, changed statements, coached evidence, and retracted trial testimony of members of the Parachute Regiment against my 24 year consistent and unshakable account says more about the Minister’s religious or political prejudices than all the fabricated evidence he claims he has against me. Furthermore, refusal of the Justice Minister to refer prosecutorial misconduct to the Criminal Justice Inspectorate sends a clear message to barristers, that, their perverting the course of justice is acceptable because they hold privileged position. Barristers do not view corrupt Police Officers as they would view themselves, as this media report tends to indicate:


“Karen Quinlivan QC said (Here): “The entire conspiracy was designed to ensure police were immune from prosecution.”“It’s difficult to imagine a more fundamental abuse of process of the court, to allow police to manipulate proceedings in order to ensure police officers are protected from criminal sanctions, and to use the same investigation in order to secure the conviction of the victim of the unlawful conduct.[2]


However, the common law does not afford privileged barristers to pervert the course of justice any more than it would police officers, because: “Unless it is specified in law a lawyer is no more exempt for perverting the course of justice as the average citizen.[3]The only body with statutory power to investigate criminal conduct within the Prosecution Service is the CJI, which: “By law, CJI is not allowed to investigate individual cases but it can, when asked by the Minister for Justice, undertake specific pieces of work including investigations and reviews.”[4](Here) The CJI has confirmed to me (Here) that the Minister is fully aware of his statutory powers of referral and provided a list of some cases they had previously investigated at the Minister’s requests. This is irrefutable evidence that the Minister is knowingly and intentionally covering-up unlawful prosecutorial misconduct by refusing to make the proper referral; and he does so at the expense of the “victim of the unlawful conduct”.

Furthermore, we have seen with regard to Loyalists or Republicans, the Police, sparing no resource, will swim the length and breadth of the Atlantic Ocean on the whiff of a rumour or speculation that an audio tape might contain a nugget of evidence. Yet, evidently, when clobbered over the head with real, relevant and available indelible evidence they will do nothing because of the privileged position of the perpetrators’. As a victim of serious crime I have a right for my complaints to be investigated regardless of the political or professional positions of the perpetrators.

I had engaged lawyers to present an array of evidence in open Court, but, at the last minute they ambushed me for reasons only known to them and instead undermined my case on 31st May 2012. During the hearing, Ms Karen Quinlivan, QC, did an extraordinary thing, acting contrary to the best interests of her own client she asked the Court to refrain from considering my case and instead afford the Justice Minister the honours of doing it…again. Did my lawyers fail me because they were in “connivance” with the Minister or because their lives had been threatened by the Minister as Kevin Winters claims? These are serious matters pertaining to the administration of justice that need be addressed as a matter of urgency.

As a man of law, the law has always been on my side even when its human element has not. While the ‘law means whatever those in political power want it to mean in places like Zimbabwe, Saudi Arabia, Burma, Syria, or many similar states, NI is supposed to be a democratic society.


Yours Sincerely


Christy Walsh



Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charlie Flanagan, TD.

Prime Minister, David Cameron, MP.

Shouting in the service of the system

Posted by Jim on March 29, 2015

by Eoin Ó Broin

Eamonn McCann’s Irish Times articles are an odd thing. His casual disregard for the facts is matched only by his willingness to join the establishment chorus against Sinn Féin.

Writing in the Irish Times on 12 March Eamonn made a number of claims which are just plain wrong.

He claimed that Sinn Féin had pulled out of the Stormont House Agreement – not true.

He claimed that trade union pressure forced such a move – not true.

He claimed –albeit under cover of quotes from the DUP and Green Party- that Sinn Féin’s stance on welfare cuts was inexplicable and reckless – not true on either count.

And he implied that Sinn Féin was only now opposing welfare cuts – yet again not true.

He also misrepresented ICTU President John Douglas’s address to the Sinn Féin Ard Fheis – although to be fair he probably didn’t even bother to read the speech.

Such flagrant disregard for the facts –particularly when the subject is Sinn Féin- is commonplace in the right wing media.

But for a left wing activist to trade in such sloppy journalism is surprising… or is it?

Unfortunately Eamon suffers from that Trotskyite pathology of always have to attack your more moderate rival on the left, irrespective of whether the facts support your case.

Exposing ‘reformism’ and highlighting ‘class betrayal’ is the strategic imperative for revolutionary socialists such as Eamonn.

The reason is very simple – according to his analysis Sinn Féin is not a potential ally on the left but the main obstacle to the growth of the Socialist Workers Party and its electoral alliance People Before Profit.

As long as working class voters, in Derry and Dublin, support ‘reformist’ parties such as Sinn Féin then the revolutionary left will remain marginal and the prospects of the overthrow of the capitalist state will remain slim.

So at every opportunity ‘real’ socialists must focus their critical attention on the ‘reformist’ left in order to detach the working classes from their ‘misguided’ support for ‘reformist’ parties.

Commentary on all political events must be squeezed into this narrative. If that requires bending and breaking the facts to suit the pre-ordained script then so be it – all in the service of the revolution.

So what are the facts surrounding the latest crisis in Stormont.

Sinn Féin supports the Stormont House Agreement and we want it implemented in full.

As part of our long standing opposition to Tory welfare cuts we ensured that there would be real protections for those dependent on social welfare.

The DUP, as they so often do, are trying to renege on that deal.

Sinn Féin’s last minute opposition to the Welfare Bill was to ensure that they keep to the commitments to protect existing and future claimants.

The trade union mobilisation on 13 March was in opposition to two aspects of the Stormont House Agreement – the voluntary redundancy scheme and the possibility of a reduction of the rate Corporation Tax.

Eamonn is right when he says that thousands of public sector jobs will go under this scheme.

But what he conveniently fails to mention is that that the British government in Westminster has unilaterally cut the block grant to the Assembly by £1.5bn and has imposed additional financial fines on the Assembly because of our refusal to implement welfare cuts.

The origin of austerity in the North is not the Assembly but the British government in Westminster. They are taking the decision to cut spending. The Executive is then left to pick up the pieces.

Eamonn also fails to mention that if the Executive parties had not reached an agreement at Stormont House the Assembly would have collapsed, Direct Rule would have returned, and the scale and depth of Tory cuts would have been even worse.

Sinn Féin has consistently opposed the Tory cuts agenda being imposed by Westminster. We have also outlined a better way to manage our affairs.

Full transfer of fiscal powers to the Assembly and lifting the restrictions on borrowing from bodies such as the European Investment Bank would provide the Assembly with the tools to chart a more progressive policy path.

In the meantime Sinn Féin are trying to mitigate, as best we can, the worst impacts of the Tory cuts agenda.

You would have thought that a left wing activist such as Eamonn would know all of this and at least offer tactical support to Sinn Féin’s efforts while remaining critical of the Stormont House Agreement.

But then he wouldn’t be able to cry class betrayal and his paymasters in the Irish Times wouldn’t have another anti Sinn Féin voice to publish in their newspaper.

So the interests of Trotsky’s permanent revolution and the southern establishment’s defense of its political and economic privilege coincide in their mutual opposition to Sinn Féin.

Enter stage left Eamon McCann, shouting in the service of the system. How ironic.

Originally published in An Phoblacht in March 2015

Calls for a US stamp to commemorate the 1916 Easter Rising

Posted by Jim on

Paddy Clancy

The American Irish Teachers Association has initiated a petition to the Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Commission in Washington to issue a commemorative stamp celebrating the American Declaration of Independence and the 1916 Proclamation of the Irish Republic.

The United States Postal Service has a valued tradition of issuing U.S. commemorative stamps honoring significant events and distinguished persons. On July 14, 1989 the USPS issued a stamp in collaboration with the French government on the French Revolution. On February 26, 1999 the USPS issued a stamp commemorating Irish immigration, an issuance which was the successful outcome of a massive lobbying campaign by the Irish American community during the 150th anniversary period of Ireland’s Great Hunger.

The American Declaration of Independence is recognized for its great gift to all people in laying the foundation principles for a modern democracy, principles that influenced the aspirations of Irish patriots in their quest for freedom and independence.

 The proposed model for the stamp would have illustrations of the Declaration of Independence and the 1916 Proclamation of the Irish Republic flanking the Light of Liberty under a banner containing the words “Liberty’s Legacy.”

The American Irish Teachers Association is urging all Irish organizations and individuals to write to Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee, 475 L’Enfant Plaza SW, Room 3300, Washington, D.C. 20260-3501 in support of the commemorative stamp celebrating the 1776 Declaration of Independence and the centennial of the 1916 Proclamation of the Irish Republic.

Ballymurphy Massacre families meet with Taoiseach

Posted by Jim on March 28, 2015

Taoiseach Enda Kenny [Irish Prime Minister] has met families of civilians who were murdered by members of the Parachute Regiment in the Ballymurphy Massacre over a three-day period in August 1971.
The Taoiseach was welcomed by families at the location of the shooting dead of four of the eleven civilian at the Manse on Springfield road.  He was shown the close proximity of the murder scene to the then Henry Taggart Army Barracks,  the Taoiseach commented himself that it was not more than 25 yards.  He also took the opportunity to lay flowers at the scene and took a moment for reflection.  This walkabout in Ballymurphy was followed by a private meeting with families and political representative, including Alliance Party, Sinn Fein and SDLP as well as Fr Tim Bartlett representing the Bishops office.
Commenting afterward John Teggart said ”  The meeting went extremely well,  the Taoiseach lived up to his promise to come to Ballymurphy and meet with us, it was an opportunity for him to see firsthand the locations of our loved ones deaths and I think he was moved by it.  We also had the opportunity to brief him on the progress of the campaign and the new evidence that has come to light since we last met in January 2014.”
The new evidence is the report by Dr Laurence Rock former consultant in the RVH casualty department, who has stated that had Joan Connolly received proper medical attention she may have survived her injuries.
The recent acquittal of Terry Laverty who’s case has demonstrated that no “riot” took place and that the Army personnel lied to secure a conviction.
The ordering of Coroner Kitson of the exhumation of Joseph Murphy.
Briege Connolly added that the Taoiseach has committed himself to again fully endorse the independent Panel Proposal and he has agreed to call on British Prime minister David Cameron to meet with the families.  We are delighted to hear that he is making progress on drawing up an all party motion in the Oireachtas, in support of the Ballymurphy Massacre Campaign,  which he will be putting forward at the end of march.
The PSNI and The MOD have consistently delayed and obstructed the disclosure process and documents have been over redacted making them useless in many cases, families raised this with him today. The Taoiseach has reassured the families that he will be raising these issues with the Prime minister as a matter of urgency.   He has already committed the Irish governments full resources to the Kingsmill families in terms of disclosure, which the Ballymurphy families welcome.   The Ballymurphy Massacre families have called on David Cameron to show leadership and follow the example of the Taoiseach in this matter.
John Teggart can be contacted on 02890230222 
The Ballymurphy Massacre Film is being shown today in Rome as part of the Irish film Festival

Britain Continues The War Against The IRA And Sinn Fein Stays Silent

Posted by Jim on March 22, 2015

by The Broken Elbow 3/22/15

The leaked story in today’s Sunday Telegraph reporting the British police’s intention to pursue six IRA activists who had been given so-called ‘comfort letters’ by the Blair government is another indication that the British are determined to continue waging war against the IRA despite the peace process and the reality that the Provisional movement has effectively accepted British rule in Northern Ireland.

This, along with the Cameron government’s expressed intention not to stand over the Blair letters to the so-called ‘On The Run’s’ or OTR’s – IRA suspects given promises of non-prosecution – and the pursuit of Ivor Bell, who will learn in a fortnight whether he will face charges in connection with the disappearance of Jean McConville, amount to a British default both from the spirit of the peace process and the commitments given during good faith negotiations with Sinn Fein and the IRA.

That the British intention to continue to pursue IRA suspects, try them in the courts and then imprison them amounts to an act of war against the IRA is undeniable in the context of the conflict since 1969.

Whereas the IRA’s campaign was characterised in the main by the shooting and bombing of British targets, the British response in the main took the form of trying to put as many IRA members as they could behind bars, using the police and the courts to do so (while the British also shot and killed many IRA members the greater part of their energies was spent trying to imprison them).

The fact that the IRA has completely abandoned violence against the British, has stopped shooting or bombing them and furthermore co-operated in the destruction of its arsenals while the British now trumpet their resolve to keep putting former IRA activists behind bars whenever they can, highlights an unspoken and unacknowledged reality: the IRA has ended its war against the British but the British have not ended their war against the IRA.

This would be completely uncontroversial had the Troubles in Northern Ireland ended in any way other than by a series of negotiated accords with each side making and giving concessions and no side claiming victory over the other.

This latter commitment was the defining principle of the peace process, the oil that greased the wheels: no-one came out and said ‘We Won!’ and by not doing so this enabled the already difficult process of making and demanding concessions to happen.

Implicitly and in an unspoken way, at least in public, the Troubles ended in a draw with every participant agreeing on ways of enabling each other to withdraw from the field of battle. It wasn’t easy and it took a long time to happen but without that agreement it probably never would have.

The fact that the British, or to be precise the Cameron government, are now flouting this principle amounts to a declaration of victory over the IRA and a hollowing out of the core of the peace process.

Had the Provos done something similar, for instance by announcing that the IRA was back in the business of acquiring weapons, how loud would be the cries of anger from London? And from Dublin? How grave would the resulting crisis be for the peace process? How quickly would Unionists have withdrawn from the GFA institutions?

But the Provos haven’t, and they won’t. And nor have they raised as much as a squeak in protest, at least in public, even though one very real consequence could be the abandoning of former comrades to jail time (except when their leader was briefly threatened with the same fate and that protest was quickly put down).

And ultimately it is this silence from Sinn Fein that is making it possible for the British to behave in this way. And by staying silent Sinn Fein is also admitting that the British are right; they won and to the victors go the spoils, including the right to put former adversaries behind bars, peace process or no peace process.

Helsinki Commission hears of Glenanne cover-up

Posted by Jim on March 21, 2015

There has been “dishonourable silence” from the British government on
evidence of deep collusion between the British forces in Ireland and
unionist paramilitaries during the conflict, an Irish human rights
researcher author has told a US congressional panel.

Anne Cadwallader, a former journalist who currently works with human
rights group, the Pat Finucane Centre, testified before the Commission
on Security and Cooperation in Europe on Capitol Hill, discussing the
findings in her 2013 book, ‘Lethal Allies: British Collusion in

The book covers the murders of more than 120 people from 1972 to 1978 in
counties Tyrone, Armagh and Monaghan, providing evidence that Loyalists
killers were helped by members of the then RUC police and the British
Army’s Ulster Defence Regiment.

The murders were linked to the Glennane Gang in Tyrone and Mid-Ulster, a
region that became known as the “Murder Triangle” during the 1970s
because of the number of murders carried out on Catholics.

Ms Cadwallader testified before the committee, also known as the
Helsinki Commission, about a bomb attack on the Step Inn bar in Keady,
County Armagh in August 1976 that killed two Catholics, mother of three
Elizabeth McDonald and 22-year-old Gerard McGleenan.

She told the committee that a paper trail has been found showing that
the bomb was made, transported and detonated with the active involvement
of members of the RUC and the British Army.

“To this day, no one in authority has ever gone to any of the bereaved
families or the injured to acknowledge the state’s involvement in these
horrific crimes,” she told the committee. “The papers establishing the
state’s guilt lay for over 30 years in locked police archives. Those who
knew at the highest levels, and I mean the highest levels, must have
hoped they would never be discovered.”

There has been “deafening silence” from the London government since her
book was published, she said.

“It is, in my view, a most shabby, unworthy and dishonourable silence.
The guilty silence of a disgraced establishment that hasn’t the courage
to face the truth,” she said.

Ms Cadwallader appeared with Geraldine Finucane, widow of lawyer Pat
Finucane who was murdered by loyalists in 1989, and Kieran McEvoy, a law
professor at Queen’s University Belfast.

The Pat Finucane Centre wants the British government to release all
records showing collusion between the British Crown forces and
loyalists, and a public inquiry to be held into Mr Finucane’s killing.

The committee’s chairman, Congressman Chris Smith, remarked that the
British government’s reputation had been tarnished by the refusal to
hold a public inquiry into Mr Finucane’s murder and his committee was
“not gonna let up” until all the information about the killing is “laid
bare” and the people responsible are held to account.

“It is bewildering how a mature democracy like the United Kingdom could
be so obstinate in not letting this information out,” said Mr Smith, who
was chairing his 15th hearing since 1997 on human rights in the north of
Ireland, nine of which involved members of the Finucane family providing

Congressman Brendan Boyle, a member of the commission, described Ms
Cadwallader’s evidence of collusion as “overwhelming”.

“It’s time for Britain to finally deal openly and honestly with this
issue and release all of the evidence,” he said.

Statement from the National President of the Ancient Order of Hibernians Regarding Recent Comments by the Archbishop of New York

Posted by Jim on March 7, 2015

DolanNew York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan is deservedly a tremendously popular figure within the Catholic community and the Irish-American community as well. It is therefore both disappointing and distressing to read his most recent (CNN, March 3) public comparison of the Irish Republican Army with ISIS.

In his statement last month (New York Post, Feb. 17) the Cardinal commended the leadership of Ireland’s bishops for condemning the IRA during the period referred to as The Troubles. One needs to wonder if The Troubles might have been avoided or diminished had those same Irish bishops spoken out to vigorously condemn long-standing institutionalized discrimination in employment and housing in the north of Ireland. How different things might have been had those same bishops stood shoulder to shoulder with their people during the civil rights campaign in British-occupied Ireland, for if they had they would have witnessed first-hand the routinely brutal beatings meted out to unarmed, peaceful demonstrators at the hands of the sectarian Royal Ulster Constabulary.

The fact is that unlike ISIS, the Irish Republican Army never used religion to justify its resistance to Loyalist sectarianism and/or British misrule. Cardinal Dolan’s statement (“everything they were doing was a perversion of everything the Church stood for”) appears to be contradicted by the heroic utterances and activities of many Catholic priests, among them Alex Reid, Des Wilson, Raymond Murray, and Denis Faul. Indeed, Cardinal Tomas O Faich (Thomas O’Fee) was consistently criticized in the media and elsewhere for his “excessive” closeness to militant Irish republicans.

Fortunately, we are into a new era in which the armed struggle has been replaced by a solid determination to make the political system work. Primary focus must now be placed on the fulfillment of the aspirations engendered in the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement, and there is so much that we can partner with Cardinal Dolan in working to achieve. Together we must look to a future in which all of Ireland’s daughters and sons can share in the blessings of equality, justice, and peace.

Brendan Moore
National President,
Ancient Order of Hibernians in America

Michael Cummings letter on British injustice and the C2.

Posted by Jim on March 4, 2015

 Dear Editor:  U. K. Prime Minister Cameron defended British security services which repeatedly interviewed  but failed to detain Mohammed Emwazi aka  ‘Jihadi John’ (“Cameron Defends…” 2/28).   Ironic no? Britain spent most of 1971-1972 throwing hundreds of Irish men and women in jail without arrest, charge or trial and continues to do so today in the case of the Craigavon 2.  Anne Cadwallader’s book Lethal Allies documents those same security services, using loyalist thugs to kill  hundreds of Catholics   labeled as terrorists.  

Mr. Cameron assured the media that there was “robust oversight of the security and intelligence services …and when people commit heinous crimes against British Subjects ” the government ” will do everything it can to put them out of action.” What  happens when it is the security services of the government that commit those heinous crimes? The Royal Ulster Constabulary made good on its threats to kill attorney Rosemary Nelson (1999).  The de Silva Report into the murder of attorney Patrick Finucane (1989) a British Subject and Irish citizen,  cited the security services as doing all they could to pervert the ends of justice.   Those culpable  in those murders have not been “put out of action.” So penetrating is Irish bigotry   even militant jihadists are treated better!!
 Had British ‘security’ services not  spent decades spinning   the N. I.  civil rights protest into a guerilla war, they  might have recognized  the real enemy. 
Michael J. Cummings

Cover Up Cops Not in Parade . A letter by Martin Galvin to the Editors of the Irish News

Posted by Jim on February 26, 2015

Martin Galvin with a letter in today’s Irish News. Martin Galvin is a US Attorney with a long history of campaigning on behalf of Irish republicanism and the rights of nationalists in the North of Ireland.  

A chara,

It seems contradictory to be called ‘anti-agreement’ under the Irish News February 5th headline (TUV leader and ex-Noraid member agree on parade). I can hardly agree when Jim Allister’s biggest argument against infiltrating the PSNI into New York’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade, is outrage over the British constabulary following me, as an Aide to the Grand Marshal.

Recently Bloody Sunday families marched in Derry against the PSNI’s failure to arrest those who shot down their loved ones. CAJ’s report “Apparatus of Impunity?” put the PSNI center stage in gifting de facto immunity to crown force members for shoot-to-kill or collusion murders. SDLP member Dolores Kelly said the PSNI was shielding agents complicit in the 1997 murder of GAA official Sean Brown. A former Scotland Yard constable charged that the PSNI shelved his damning investigation into RUC and UDR collusion in 120 Glennane Gang murders.

Are we expected to applaud this disgraceful record in a parade celebrating our Irish heritage? Must the many relatives of victims who march or watch the parade stomach this!

There are fundamental issues at stake. The parade has a proud history that dates back more than 250 years. Many times, when freedom from British rule for any part of Ireland seemed a hopeless cause, the parade was a beacon of hope and support.

Last year Allister voiced unionist objections about a British constabulary marching amidst Irish flags and “England get out of Ireland” banners. The British dismissed his protests, pursuing old objectives of normalization, criminalization and Ulsterization.

If the PSNI were accepted, so British strategists thought, it would mean their constabulary was now viewed as a normal police force, that those it arrested like Gerry McGeough and Ivor Bell must therefore be criminals, and American scrutiny of British injustice was outdated. It would signal that Americans were starting to forget that six contingents in the parade represented counties where freedom from British rule is still unfinished business.

The British went to great efforts. Last year the PSNI was initially refused. They were permitted entry on the eve of the parade only after Irish parties interceded for them. Photos with Enda Kenny were arranged. It was claimed as a success.

Such claims were premature. They succeeded in reminding Americans about the six contingents which the British want forgotten. Draw your own conclusions about my being elected an Aide.

The PSNI told Allister that its members will not attempt to enter this year’s New York parade. They refuse to say why. Perhaps they will try a last minute u-turn. Perhaps they will try again behind next year’s Aides. It will not matter.
We will not let down those six contingents or the six counties they represent. There is unfinished business.

Jailed activists are on hunger strike

Posted by Jim on February 21, 2015

Anti-austerity activists have embarked on a hunger strike in protest at
their incarceration at Wheatfield prison in Dublin, and are now also
threatening to refuse fluids.

Five protestors were ordered to be locked up for up to 56 days by a
court earlier this week as a result of violating orders to stay away
from sites where water meter installations are taking place.

It was announced today that two of the prisoners, Derek Byrne and Paul
Moore, are now on hunger strike.

In a statement, Derek Byrne said the men have been confined to a cell
for the last three days “on complete lock down” in Wheatfield Prison in
Clondalkin, after being moved out of Mountjoy Jail in Dublin’s north
city centre, because of what he said was “a political decision”.

A number of protests have already taken place in Dublin city and outside
Mountjoy jail against their imprisonment. In the largest display so
far, a crowd of ten thousand gathered at short notice this afternoon in
support of the activists.

“We have taken the steps to go on hunger strike and have been on hunger
strike since yesterday,” Mr Byrne said in a statement.

“If we are not moved back to Mountjoy Training Unit, as we were told we
would be, then on Monday morning we will be taking it further and
refusing fluids until we are moved back to Mountjoy.”

He said it was harder for their families to make the journey to
Clondalkin to visit them.

“Every decision made, from our court cases to our incarceration, has
been of a political nature,” he said.

His two young children are now “in an emotionally distraught state” and
the family is suffering financially. But he said he refused to back down
from a “point of principle”. He also asked for protests at shopping
centers and “silent peaceful candlelit vigils” outside houses owned by
those politicians that he blamed for their incarceration.


The protest in Dublin city centre today was led by the families of
jailed anti-water charge activists and marched to a rally at Mountjoy

A number of organisations including the Anti Austerity Alliance, the
Socialist Workers Party, trade union Unite and Eirigi addressed the
workers outside the Central Bank in advance of the march.

The location of the rally was intended to highlight the disparity
between the treatment of the protestors versus the bankers who escaped
unpunished after perpetrating a fraud which has cost the 26 County state
billions of euro.

The umbrella ‘Right2Water’ campaign urged all those at the march to
remain calm and peaceful.

Another demonstration was also taking place today in Castlebar, where
the annual conference of the governing Fine Gael party is being held. Up
to a thousand protesters gathering outside the constituency offices of
Taoiseach Enda Kenny before marching on the Royal Hotel, where the
conference is taking place.

About 300 members of the groups Right2Water, People Before Profit and
Forgotten Farmers were met by barricades and a large contingent of

Terry Laverty, the Ballymurphy Massacre and a Miscarriage of Justice

Posted by Jim on

Terry Laverty was an 18 year old boy on the evening of 11th August 1971 when he went out onto the streets of the Ballymurphy area of West Belfast. Terry and gone out with his older brother, John Laverty, as this was the start of the British army’s Operation Demetrius internment policy in the North of Ireland. There were troops patrolling the streets of Ballymurphy and during the course of the 11th August 1971, 11 innocent civilians were shot and killed. These included Terry Laverty’s older brother John. Terry and John had become separated during the confusion. The soldiers who killed John Laverty apprehended Terry, threatened him, abused him and took him to Gridwood Barracks. There he was violently beaten. He did not know that he brother was dead. He was held for 56 hours.
Terry Laverty made a confession to the RUC following his torture and was sentenced to six months in the Crumlin Road Jail for riotous behaviour. Since that time Terry Laverty has campaigned for the truth regarding the murder of his brother by the British army and his own wrongful conviction and sentence for a crime he has always maintained he did not commit.
In 2009, on behalf of Terry Laverty, KRW LAW LLP applied to the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) for his conviction and sentence to be examined. Together with the NGOs Relatives for Justice and British Irish Rights Watch, we assisted the CCRC on behalf of Terry Laverty. On this basis the CCRC recommended that Terry Laverty’s conviction and sentence to be reviewed by the courts. Today Terry Laverty’s conviction was quashed and his innocence exonerated and justice, at last, was done
Kevin Winters of KRW LAW LLP said “We have been proud to be instructed by Terry Laverty in his quest for justice to overturn an unlawful conviction following the Ballymurphy Massacre 1971 in which his brother John was murdered by the British Army. Terry Laverty has now had his conviction and sentence for a miscarriage of justice reviewed and quashed after 44 years. His innocence of this crime has been proved, the quest he pursued with his family has been exonerated and this decision importantly informs the on-going quest for answers about that dreadful night in 1971 which became known as the Ballymurphy Massacre of which Terry was a victim and which saw the murder of his brother and other innocent civilians.”

Pat Finucane – The Unanswered Questions

Posted by Jim on February 20, 2015

The following article was written by Belfast lawyer, Peter Madden, the long-time partner of the assassinated criminal solicitor, Pat Finucane. Together they founded and ran the well known Belfast legal firm Madden & Finucane. This article was delivered as a speech to mark the 26th anniversary of Pat Finucane’s death and is a forensic examination of the British government-ordered, de Silva review of the circumstances of his death at the hands of a Loyalist assassination squad at his north Belfast home on February 12th, 1989.


by Peter Madden
12 February 2015
This is an analysis of the de Silva Report dated 12 December 2012

Let me start by stating that, without doubt, the most important conclusion made by de Silva was that the FRU did not know that the UDA was targeting Pat Finucane. It is my view that this conclusion exonerates the FRU for any part in Pat’s murder. FRU is the Force Research Unit which was the British Army agent handling unit in existence at the time of the murder.

In paragraph 21.209 page 414 of Vol 1 de Silva states that

“…Having considered and analysed a great deal more evidence than was available to Justice Cory, I must respectfully differ with inferences he draws in relation to the FRU’s prior knowledge of the targeting of Patrick Finucane. I am firmly of the view that in this instance Nelson withheld critical information from his handlers.”

If FRU is believed by de Silva to have had no targeting information on Pat Finucane then there was no such information to pass up the chain of command to the very top. Ed Moloney gives a very good analysis of this in his online blogBroken Elbow.

Nelson’s Journal gives an account of how Nelson passed all information from the UDA to his handlers in FRU including the targeting of Pat Finucane. Nelson shifts around a bit on different occasions about whether he passed on information or not but this issue alone should be enough to justify the establishment of a Public Inquiry because there is credible suspicion that Nelson did pass on such information to FRU. There are also allegations that FRU people were helping in the targeting of Pat.

The de Silva Review is one man’s analysis of a large amount of material. He has been selective. It is impossible to arrive at the truth unless this material is provided and analysed by others who have an interest in the issues. A public Inquiry with a number of interested parties would allow these interested parties to pursue their own theories and use the relevant material provided to make their own analysis.

There are concerns about the authenticity of much of the documentation he refers to in his report.

There is no indication in the Report as to how he validated the documents he examined.
This is one of the main objections to de Silva’s process. He has gone into minute detail by analysing the documents, particularly the Contact Forms and other intelligence documents without taking a view that some may not be genuine. He has then reached conclusions that may not be true.

More importantly he makes the assertion that he used the intelligence documents as a yardstick to test the validity of other material. He says that he had ” the advantage ” of having contemporaneous intelligence records. He doesn’t say how he knew they were “contemporaneous” and it would be difficult to know unless you ask questions.

At page 390 of volume 1 he states,

“As with all intelligence material, the above information is necessarily limited in its evidential value, though I have not seen any material to suggest there are any doubts as to the accuracy of this information.
Judge Cory, who published his report on 1 April 2004, examined material and he was assured that he was furnished with all information that might bear on the issues he was examining and on that basis he was satisfied that his review was as comprehensive as possible. However, as de Silva has stated in this report, Judge Cory did not get all the material he was assured he would get. He doesn’t say why Cory and Stephens didnt get this material.

In chapter 11 page 250 de Silva refers to new information that has just come to light but he doesn’t say what it is. He refers to Contact Forms ( CFs ) and the Security Service’s “compendium of leaks” published in 1989 but he doesn’t make it clear if this is what he means by new information. CFs were examined by Cory.

Interestingly, Judge Cory’s document review was similar to de Silva’s in that they both had no power to subpoena witnesses nor to require the production of documents and other material. At least Cory didn’t claim to find the truth about what happened because he was clear that conflicts of evidence, which he found, could only be resolved by examining witnesses in a Public Inquiry.

He set out the areas where he could not make any findings and stated that only a Public Inquiry, where documents and witnesses could be examined, could resolve the conflicts and arrive at conclusions. In other words, a review of documents, although useful, was not the end of the matter. Judge Cory’s task was to determine if there was a prima facie case that collusion existed.

Judge Cory’s report was a far shorter exercise resulting in 115 pages compared with de Silva of 800 pages.

de Silva took a view that the papers that he examined were authentic, which in my view makes it a fundamentally flawed process.

In terms of size, the Report is certainly formidable but he has given us is snippet upon snippet of carefully selected material. Unless all the material is examined ( or as much as is legally possible to examine), it is impossible to form a view.

He refers to many documents but annexes only a few. He has picked extracts from others. He doesn’t say why. He refers to certain documents and we are not permitted to read these documents in full, let alone challenge the contents. Nor were we entitled to examine any of the original documents. He refers to documents that we did not know existed. Basically, he has read the documents and come to his own conclusions about the content. He has referred to many documents that we have not seen as if he is the only person who can make sense of them and come to the truth about them. Some of these, as he says, he has redacted and annexed but most have just been referred to in footnotes. We don’t know what other material he has examined. Where is the rest of it?

In view of the fact that there exist over a million pages of documents, he has to be selective. However, we have not been told how he selected the material. There is no explanation for failing to disclose material. We don’t know how many pages of material exists. Over a million could mean closer to two million.

Documents can be verified. Authenticity can be verified. There is a forensic way of doing this. Documents have to be examined in the context and with other documents. You have to know what to look for. If we suspect that a document is forged, we can have the original examined by an expert in that field. If we think that the contents of a document are not credible, we can explore by cross examination, where interested members of the public can see and hear witnesses.
There is an allegation by Ian Hurst ( aka Martin Ingram) that the Contact Forms (CFs) were forged. Ian Hurst was a member of FRU and a whistleblower. This has to be a starting point in any scrutiny of the bona fides of the documentation that was examined by this Review. It is incomprehensible that De Silva can come to a conclusion about this without a thorough examination of the documents and a proper examination of Ian Hurst, who he dismissed as a “Walter Mitty” character, and all those others involved. When you take into consideration that the FRU had a year to “sort out” the documents, this whole area needs examined. This was highlighted in John Ware’s Panorama programme. It took a threat to arrest the GOC General Waters to get Nelson’s intelligence material and the CFs weren’t produced to the Stevens team for nearly a year . Hurst said that the FRU had the material during this time and were doctoring it. As highlighted in Panorama, Stevens’ team thought that the documents were tampered with.Hurst is no Walter Mitty character and I met him in Dublin a few years ago introduced by Greg Harkin. Hurst would be a crucial witness in a Public Inquiry but de Silva dismissed him without even seeing him.
This in itself raises the issue of the “cover-up” of the collusion. It is the accountability escape route. If, for example, there was incriminating material in the Nelson/FRU documents/ recordings/transcripts, there was plenty of time to get rid of it or change it. (p 410 – 415 Vol 1)

This goes to the heart of the matter.

The fact that the Stevens Investigation eventually got the FRU documentation and there was no reference to the targeting of Pat Finucane and no reference to Pat at all until the morning after the murder when Nelson phoned Margaret Walshaw, his handler. All this is very suspicious. At a Public Inquiry, Ian Hurst would not be the only witness on this issue as there are other FRU members including the commanding officers and those up the very short chain of command who could deal with this particular issue. Many of them made statements to the Stevens team.

It is inconceivable that this plot was not known to the FRU. They must have known about it and they must have known that Nelson would be in the thick of it, as chief Intelligence Officer and their only loyalist agent, according to de Silva. Questions would be asked about this at a Public Inquiry. It is just not believable that FRU did not know about the plot. It is believable that they knew about it through Nelson and it is believable that they helped Nelson with targeting Pat as they did with targeting other people and it is believable that they directed the murder and that they doctored the documentation to remove all reference to the targeting of Pat Finucane and to paint a benevolent picture of FRU’s links with Nelson.

There is also the important issue of how far up the chain of command did this plot go. The FRU had a chain of command directly to the top of government and there were very few links in the chain: agent – FRU handler – OC Det – OC FRU – CLF & GOC- Defence Minister – and then to the Joint Intelligence Committee chaired by Margaret Thatcher in London.

Due to the fact that, according to de Silva, Nelson was the British Army’s only loyalist agent, and that he reported to his handlers on a weekly basis, his weekly FRU reports could easily be dealt with at the weekly Joint Intelligence Committee meetings, in London chaired by Margaret Thatcher. It is inconceivable that Nelson was not a focus at these meetings. Nelson in his diary strongly suggests that Thatcher was a personal recipient of intelligence.

There are numerous inconsistencies in the report that cant be left on the shelf.

For example de Silva says FRU was founded in 1982 but other authors such as Mark Urban in “Big Boys Rules” quotes CLF Glover who says he established FRU in 1980 to form a ” triumvirate” with the 14th intelligence and SAS.

Cory says ” In 1985 Brian Nelson walked in off the street to offer his services to the British Army as an agent”. (page 24 Cory Report) whereas de Silva says, quoting Brian Fitzsimmons, [Nelson] “appears not to have become involved in paramilitary activity until May 1984, when he contacted the Army to offer his services as a source of intelligence (para 6.6 at page 99 de Silva Vol 1 ).

Brigadier Arundell David Leaky, on the other hand, a director of Military Operations in the Ministry of Defence who filed an affidavit in injunction proceedings says that “In 1983 Nelson offered his services to the Army as an agent in the UDA”. This document is not referred in de Silva report nor Cory but was published in the “Sunday Tribune” on 14 April 2002 in an article by Ed Moloney. This is an example of the limited nature of the de Silva process. He was limited by virtue of his terms of reference.

So what is the truth of the recruitment of Brian Nelson? And what is the truth about the formation of FRU?

Cory says, “At this time he [Nelson] was a member of the UDA and acting as an Intelligence Officer for that organisation in West Belfast.” (para 1.45 page 24 Cory Report) but De Silva says ” Despite his previous conviction for involvement in serious sectarian violence, the FRU tasked Nelson with rejoining the UDA ( quoting from Nelson’s journal). ( para he was 6.7 page 99 of de Silva Vol 1 )
So was he already in the UDA when he offered his services or was he ” tasked with re-joining the UDA ” after offering his services?

These are important issues because the suspicion is that he was a soldier and then a UDA sectarian killer and that these credentials made him a very good candidate for targeting uninvolved Catholics or republicans . Was this the continuation of the classic Kitsonian death squad? In other words a British military unit using local agents as killers whilst funding and supporting them and directing them.

There is a suspicion by many that Nelson never left the British army and when he went to Germany in 1985, it was not to get away from the UDA but to train with the British Army in Germany before his re- introduction in a more specialised system and when it is alleged he came back to Belfast from Germany in 1987 is it a coincidence that this coincided with a shipment of modern weaponry from South Africa to arm loyalists in a revived murder campaign against Catholics and republicans. There are many questions to be asked about this.
de Silva says that Nelson was not involved in the South African arms shipment in 1987, even though he accepts that Nelson travelled to South Africa in 1985 and discussed arms shipments to the North.

There is an interesting issue about Nelson’s trip to South Africa.
Judge Cory states that FRU paid Nelson’s expenses for the trip but de Silva doesn’t mention that at all in his report. I wonder why? The absence of this crucial bit of information from de Silva’s report is significant.

This is another example of de Silva exonerating FRU and thus the British Government, in the murders Catholics and republicans post 1987. Nelson remained in his targeting role up until his arrest in 1990.

This whole issue would be closely examined at a public inquiry where one document could lead to another and all interested parties would be entitled to examine all the documentation, as well as cross-examine relevant witnesses. None of that happened during the de Silva process.

There is so much information and misinformation in the public domain about Pat’s murder. There has to be public clarification. It can’t be allowed to be swept under the carpet by Cameron and de Silva.

This is just a short narrative of what I think are important areas that have not been properly examined in this review process and which cannot be examined properly until all the documentation is furnished, not just snippets and footnotes.

The following examples are some of the important areas that needs thorough examination in a public forum at a Public Inquiry where there is no hiding place:

the role of the RUC in Pat’s murder, from the death threats to solicitors from Castlereagh and the other holding centres of which Pat bore the brunt, to the RUC briefing by Jack Hermon to Douglas Hogg with false information about Pat’s family members. de Silva published what he says is intelligence material about this. The detail of the contact between the SB and FRU is crucial and requires a full public examination along with the connection between the RUC and the RUCSB.
He published what he calls intelligence which alleges that Pat laundered money for the IRA in the firm where we worked closely together for 10 years. I know this to be completely untrue but I don’t know who concocted it and questions need to be asked about that. He also published allegations that Pat was a finance officer and an intelligence officer in the IRA p 353 Vol 1. He cleverly makes it clear that there is no evidence that Pat was involved with the IRA but I think what is interesting about this is that de Silva published documents in Vol 2 of his report which allege just that. This is a cynical exercise in deception and there can be no excuse for it. He should not have published this material because there was no mechanism in his process for the family members, or me for that matter, to challenge it.
the fact that there was an RUC SB file on Pat which seems to have been packed with fact and fiction. Questions need to be asked about how false information got into this file.
This whole area needs explored as it will show that this intelligence information was faked beforehand to justify the murder and it had to be beforehand as some of it was briefed to Douglas Hogg in November 1988, when Hogg travelled to Belfast to meet the RUC hierarchy, according to de Silva.
the role of the FRU in its entirety and the calling of FRU witnesses to explain themselves and the role of the people in that chain of command.
There was a British army file on Pat and the word “PIRA” next to his name. de Silva accepts the British army explanation that this was only an administrative reference (whatever that means – he doesn’t say what it means) p 409/410 vol 1
In Chapter 15 there is a what is called Propaganda Initiatives by MI5 in which Pat was targeted and where de Silva implies that the targeting of Pat in this initiative was inadvertent. This needs examined because it is new. I never heard of it before the publication of this report.
The various death threats to Pat starting in 1981 which State agents knew about but they decided not to warn Pat about them. Things might have been different if warnings were given.
There is the inconsistency in Gordon Kerr’s role, see p 488 Vol 1 that refers to Cory’s analysis of Kerr’s testimony as misleading and also referred to the highly dubious numerical analysis. de Silva challenges Cory at pages 488/489 and goes into a lengthy analysis of the FRU documentation, again accepting their authenticity and says that his analysis takes him in a different direction to that of Cory p 491. In other words Cory got it wrong, according to de Silva. This requires a full examination at a Public Inquiry as there is a clear conflict between Cory and De Silva on this crucial issue of Kerr’s evidence at NELSON’s trial. Cory said that only a Public Inquiry could resolve this issue.
The role of government ministers who were cleared by de Silva on the basis that the paperwork showed that ministers were not included in the distribution lists of some intelligence reports. de Silva says at p 500 that Government Ministers were not on the distribution list for a particular report and this is just not believable and it is also convenient. He took the view that because he didn’t see any evidence of ministerial involvement that there wasn’t any.

At pages 56-60 of Nicholas Davies book ” Ten Thirty
Three” the author states that Margaret Thatcher was chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee ( JIC ) which met weekly at Downing Street and she ordered a complete review of the security and intelligence set-up in NI ( after the Brighton bomb in 1984 ) and ” from that moment on Margaret Thatcher decided to become far more closely involved in the Irish question. The author states that in her memoir ” The Downing Street Years”, Thatcher said she played a vital role in co-ordinating the services through the powerful and influential Joint Intelligence Committee. The Joint Irish Section (JIS) was strengthened. Interestingly de Silva refers to about half dozen books in his Report including “The Downing Street Years” but not “Ten Thirty Three” which is remarkable since it is based on Nelson and FRU. The British Government took injunction proceedings against the author to stop publication and succeeded in preventing parts of his draft from getting into the final publication. Yet none of this is mentioned in the de Silva Report.

Another area to be examined at a Public Inquiry is the reference to a redacted statement of Alan Simpson who was the RUC officer in charge of the murder investigation where Simpson says two army personnel spent an hour in Pat’s house after the murder ( p 137 Vol 2 ) and although he says that he doesn’t think there was anything sinister in that and that it happens all the time, I think questions have to be asked about it.
Finally, I would like to comment on perception.

According to the Mail Online 25 September 2009,
Sir Desmond De Silva is a member of the Carlton Club, St James Street London. This club was bombed by the IRA on 25 June 1990. Lord Kaberry, who was injured in the attack, died in March 1991 aged 83. Douglas Hogg is a member of this club as is Margaret Thatcher, John Major and Boris Johnson and other Tory notables. Past members were Winston Churchill and Ted Heath. The club describes itself as the oldest, most elite, and most important of all Conservative clubs.” Membership of the club is by nomination and election only. He is also a member of the Naval and Military Club and Brooks club.

So there you have it. Cameron obviously cared little that there might be a perception that de Silva might be biased in some way. It’s unlikely that he would ever be selected to head a Public Inquiry into Pat’s murder due to this perceived bias.

I dont know how many times throughout this report de Silva refers to his ” full public account”. It is not a full account. It is definitely not a public account and it is so flawed in its failure to authenticate documentation that it is not anywhere near an account of the truth.

David Cameron made a statement in the House of Commons on 12 October 2011 that ” the really important thing .. is to open up and tell the truth” but the truth will have to wait for another day.


Posted by Jim on February 18, 2015


by Michael John Cummings

 The 1998 signing of the Belfast Agreement brought an end to the armed conflict in Northern Ireland.    But the pact   had more to do with helping Britain   manage partition without all the bloodshed.  Justice, democracy and the rule of law are still on the long finger. Anxious about the judgment of history, Britain has spent the past decade destroying evidence and scrubbing the truth from its records.   Americans might be surprised to learn that the U. S.   ‘hear no evil, see no evil and speak no evil ‘policy on N. I.   gave cover to British   violence.


The ‘truth’ of Britain’s deeds in the North has always been there for those who chose to see.  The civil rights protest in 1969 exposed the sectarian garrison and a new UK policy unfolded to keep Ireland divided, in flames if necessary, and to prevent the rise of an economic rival.  That policy rollout went something like this.


  • 1969-1976    Army and police are unleashed with the Ballymurphy and Bloody Sunday murders, the McGurk’s Bar and Miami Showband killings,    internment without charge, Diplock courts without juries and daily intimidation of Catholics to drive them into the IRA.   The British Army through its Military Reaction Force, 14th Intelligence and Force Research Units provided all this mayhem including the Dublin-Monaghan bombings killing 33 civilians, mostly women and children.  The strategy worked.  Armed resistance ensued.   The U. S. response to all of this was the cowardly “it was an internal matter.”


  • 1977-1986 Britain sponsors more   loyalist killers.  Loyalist collaborator Robin Jackson alone was suspected of killing 100 Catholics.     The partnership with the Glennane Gang reaped 140 Catholic killings.   Journalist Anne Cadwallader’s book Lethal Allies documents how the corrupt judicial system minimized British culpability.   The changing of Coroners Rules only in N. I. aided the cover-up of their crimes.  America’s Longshoremen union showed how to protest the death of Bobby Sands but the   U. S. Department of State could only whimper. U. S. remains silent while reports from  Amnesty International, British Irish Rights Watch,  the EU, the United Nations,  the European Court of Human Rights, the Association of the Bar of the City of New York document  and question British actions.


  • 1986-1998 Britain increased their   loyalist and IRA informers who alone account for the killing of hundreds.  Keeping the cover for IRA informer Steaknife   necessitated 40 murders and loyalist double agent Brian Nelson, who coordinated the assassination of attorney Patrick Finucane, required a dozen more.    Sir John Steven’s Inquiry documents all this mayhem but took 13 years and 3000 pages (only 20 of which were released).  He recommended 23 police and Army individuals be charged with conspiracy to commit murder.  Still no reaction from the U. S.   In a desperate attempt to incite an IRA response, MI-5 and the Special Air Services (SAS) forces killed    5 elected Sinn Fein Councilor’s and 9 campaign workers.  Their crimes?  Canvassing and poll watching.    The U. S. Secretary of State is silent.   By the time President Clinton issued a visa to Gerry Adams in 1992, the British had begun the cover-up.    But the sinister forces were not done yet.    The corrupt RUC and MI-5 knew where and when the Republican dissidents were to detonate the 1998 Enniskillen bomb but did nothing to stop it.  In 1999 loyalist dissidents assassinated   Lurgan attorney Rosemary Nelson, who had testified in Congress about police threats to her life.  Her death   may well mark the unofficial end of the extra-judicial execution campaign waged for 30 years by Her Majesty’s forces.


Did U. S.  Presidents know of Britain’s role in all the murders?  Did the British lie to U. S. leaders?     Did the U. S. censor by denying  visas to witnesses of   British lawlessness?  Were U. S. deportation and extradition cases brought to persecute those  who were victims of  British cruelty?  President Reagan ignored a congressional embargo of sales of Ruger pistols to the Royal Ulster Constabulary.  Wasn’t that a seal of approval for their role in the killing fields of N. I.?  How could the Departments of Justice and State ignore Mutual Legal Assistance treaty requirements in processing politically motivated subpoenas from the police force that conspired to execute  attorney Patrick Finucane?


Americans deserve better than three decades of relative silence on the conflict in Ireland.  If  the late Congressman Joe Moakley  could  lead fact finding missions to  El Salvador and report  on  army abuses and killings why not such a team for N. I.?  The U. S. sponsored a U. N.  investigation in to  the assassination of Lebanese  leader Rafik Hariri so let’s sponsor one for  the murders of Rosemary Nelson, Pat Finucane and hundreds of other Catholics?  The Department of State should  certify they have read all research and publications concerning the police and military excesses in N. I.  If the British don’t cooperate then all joint military and police training should cease and all MLAT subpoenas from the UK returned.  The British government refuses to hold all those accountable for the killing of Patrick Finucane but we can demand their names and add them to travel and financial sanctions list provided in the “Magnitsky” law.  Since the UK is doing all it can to bury their dirty war, the   congressional Joint Committee on Security and Cooperation in Europe should hold hearings to examine Britain’s   campaign of human rights abuses, extra-judicial executions and corruption of law and justice in the North.


All of this doesn’t nearly make up for three decades of U. S.  silence, excusing British excesses or  looking the other way.  But it is a damn good start.




Posted by Jim on February 11, 2015

New York Attorney and long-time republican activist Martin Galvin shares his opinion on the recent case of the Derry Four, questioning the true motivation behind their case being dismissed and hinting at a continuing policy of British state cover-up.

There can be few wrongs more likely to bring justice into disrepute than innocent men and women sent to prison by forced confessions and perjury. The ‘Derry Four’ case was a chance to prove that crown courts would no longer whitewash those in British uniforms who committed such wrongs. Instead the crown added insult to injury.

The injury to Michael Toner, Gerry Kelly, Gerry McGowan and Stephen Crumlish took place in 1979, when as innocent teenagers they were lifted and made sign fabricated confessions to the IRA shooting of a British Lieutenant.

The insult took place when crown prosecutors called no witnesses against former RUC members for taking these discredited confessions, while ‘Derry Four’ witnesses protested outside the Court with a banner proclaiming ‘Justice Delayed Justice Denied’.

This was no isolated or inconsequential case. After the British shifted from Internment to Diplock Courts, what were termed ‘Castlereagh confessions’ made up the evidence in four out of five political prosecutions. Diplock judges of the day routinely rubberstamped RUC claims that all confessions were voluntary and rejected the testimony of those beaten or threatened. Most victims were denied bail and unjustly sentenced. Many live today with the disqualifications of a conviction, while RUC who beat or threatened them are rewarded with pensions.

The ‘Derry Four’ case was unusual in one respect. They got bail. They fled to escape 15 years in the H-Blocks. Their lives were shattered. It would take almost 20 years before their false confessions and charges would be overturned.

Meanwhile new structures and safeguards were supposed to guarantee a new dawn of justice. Constabulary Boards, Partnerships and an Ombudsman were put in place. A compromised justice ministry was agreed and Barra McGrory appointed DPP.

The ‘Derry Four’ sought justice through these new structures. They went to the Ombudsman in 2005. Years later their file went to the DPP. At each step these victims were not only cooperative but keenly so. Their case tested whether the new safeguards worked and the RUC would no longer be gifted with de facto immunity or impunity for line of duty crimes against republicans.

The case collapsed. The crown said it would call no witnesses, with witnesses literally left out in the cold, protesting the crown’s refusal to call them. There was claimed to be some problematic statement taken long ago. No such statement has been seen by the ‘Derry Four’.

Observers may draw a different conclusion. Observers may conclude that all these heralded safeguards merely safeguard impunity for those who committed crimes, including torture and perjury, in the name of British rule.

Justice for the Craigavon Two

Posted by Jim on

Lessons learnt? The ‘intelligence services’ and the destruction of evidence in the North of Ireland.- By Dr Kevin Hearty PhD Transitional Justice.
The attention of human rights observers and activists in the North of Ireland turned yet again this week to the legacy of the sordid activities of the ‘intelligence services’. Following recent revelations that evidence relating to a notorious RUC ‘shoot-to-kill’ operation in Lurgan in 1982 was withheld and then deliberately destroyed, Director of Public Prosecutions Barra McGrory (Pictured Below) has ordered the PSNI and Police Ombudsman to launch investigations into the matter.
During the RUC operation in question 17 year old Michael Tighe was killed and Martin McAuley seriously wounded after being fired upon by RUC officers who alleged they had been confronted by an armed McAuley emerging from the hay shed. McAuley subsequently received a prison sentence in 1985 for possession of 3 rifles found in the hay shed at the centre of the undercover operation. The conviction was recently quashed on appeal following a successful appeal brought by the Criminal Case Review Commission. During the appeal it emerged that the ‘security services’ had first withheld and then destroyed an audio recording from a listening device in the shed that comprehensively contradicted the RUC’s version of events that they had opened fire on an armed man after issuing a warning. Moreover it also emerged that the then Deputy Head of RUC Special Branch ordered the destruction of tapes and monitor logs relating to the incident in case the disclosure that the RUC had acted outside the law caused ‘deep embarrassment’.
Commenting on the recent revelations when ordering the new investigations McGrory noted “the actions of police and security service personnel in relation to the concealment and destruction of potential evidence requires further investigation as does the identification of all those involved in such actions”. There is little reason to find fault or argument with McGrory’s synopsis of the matter. This was by all accounts a deceitful course of action taken by the intelligence services and police force that involved perverting the course of justice to not only secure an unsafe conviction against one young man but to also ensure the exoneration of those involved in the unlawful killing of another young man. There is clearly a need for an investigation into the case, and that need feeds into a wider need to investigate state violence and wrongdoing during the conflict. The failure of the HET and the constant heel dragging by the British state and PSNI where inquests are concerned will not disguise nor diminish the need to comprehensively ‘deal with the past’. Whether the recently established Historical Investigations Unit will deliver where the HET has thus far failed to, remains a matter of conjecture.
In accepting that the murky dealings of the ‘intelligence services’ in the past need inquiring into, however, one should not assume that such dealings are themselves a thing of the past. Regarding such activity as a product of a bygone area when ‘spooks’ were fighting the ‘dirty war’ may provide peace of mind but empirical evidence suggests it would be misguided and foolhardy. Recent revelations relating to the ‘intelligence services’ campaign against what is termed ‘violent dissident republican’ (VDR) activity points to the continued practice of evidence destruction by the ‘intelligence services’. In an environment where the ‘intelligence services’ have increasingly thwarted whatever threat the residual elements of militant republicanism pose, there may be a prevailing opinion that they should be largely unencumbered to continue doing so. A wider ‘war on terror’ climate that has seen increasingly indiscriminate and bloody ‘terrorist’ attacks – whether in Paris, Belguim, Nigeria, Boston or London – strengthens such as argument. The end it seems may justify the means, even if that means involved perverting the course of ‘justice’ and curtailing human rights on a whim. What this argument fails to overlook is that the means that set out to tackle ‘terrorism’ can often become as dangerous as ‘terrorism’ itself. Where does the line between what is acceptable in an ‘anti-terror’ context and what is unacceptable in an ‘anti-terror’ context get drawn – Gulags? Internment camps? Mass deportation? Censorship of free speech? Denial of the freedom of political expression? Moreover is one type of ‘terrorism’ more dangerous or acceptable than another form? Does ‘VDR’ merit an equal, greater or lesser response than fundamental Jihadi ‘terrorism’? Who decides the answers to these questions and who adjudicates on the fairness of such answers?
Take the use of Regulatory Investigative Powers Act (RIPA) for example. As an ‘anti-terror’ legislative provision, one could be forgiven for thinking its usage would be limited to combating militant Irish republican splinter groups engaged in VDR and against fundamentalist Jihadi groups. The reality is that RIPA has been used to target journalists in relation to tracing their sources (used almost half a million times for this purpose last year alone) and has been used to target those evading paying a TV license fee. RIPA was not enacted for these purposes, just as the Justice and Security Act 2007 was not enacted to target legitimate political opponents of the Good Friday Agreement in the North of Ireland (CAJ has shown that political policing remains a live issue in the North of Ireland post-Patten) and just as the Prevention of Terrorism Act was not designed to detain Iraqi and Palestinians in Britain during the first Gulf War. Empirical evidence, of course, tells a different story. The recent recommendations for strengthening ‘anti-terror’ provisions to include forcing people into internal exile (a modern permutation of the ‘exclusion order’ process debarring Irish republicans from the British mainland) and targeting air lines carrying returning Jihadis is another slip towards the post-9/11 ‘big brother’ state under the auspices of counter-terrorism- your civil liberties and human rights are being taken from you bit by bit but for God’s sake at least be thankful as we are saving you from the omnipresent ‘terrorist’ threat!
Two cases are instructive in showing that the ‘intelligence services’ continue to engage in questionable practices in the North of Ireland. Ironically both of them centre on the same geographical area as the Tighe case. In October of last year Lurgan man Ryan McKenna was acquitted of charges relating to an attempted mortar attack on the PSNI in Lurgan in 2007. He was acquitted after the state offered no evidence against him. In light of the collapse of the McKenna trial there have been claims that the ‘intelligence services’ had interfered with evidence from a covert surveillance operation relevant to the alleged mortar plot. According to McKenna’s solicitor SAS debriefing notes, radio logs and notebooks had been destroyed as well as a soldier statement having parts of it deleted. In the case of the Craigavon 2 a conviction was secured against John Paul Wooton (and Brendan McConville) despite similar interference with evidence by the ‘intelligence services’. During a recent appeal by John Paul Wooton and Brendan McConville it emerged that the ‘intelligence services’ had deliberately deleted evidence from a tracking device attached to John Paul Wootons car. As the claim that John Paul Wooton was a ‘get away’ driver in the Continuity IRA attack that killed PSNI constable Stephen Carroll is central to the case against him questions must be asked in relation to what data was deleted from the device and why? One can assume that if the evidence corroborated the apparent guilt of Wooton it would be produced in court rather than deleted.
Given that the director of the PPS has outlined his views on the destruction of evidence by the ‘intelligence services’ one may expect that an investigation was ordered into the case. Surely, on the basis of McGrory’s own statement, those involved in the deliberate destruction of data from the tracking device on Wooton’s car have been investigated and identified. This has yet to happen and rather than pursuing the ‘intelligent services’ on this matter the PPS actually went to court to have Wooton’s sentence increased. What was unacceptable conduct by the ‘intelligence services’ in 1982, one may deduct from this course of action, is therefore not necessarily unacceptable in 2009. It is hard to identify the logic that underpins such a conclusion. Some questions do however spring to mind.
Is it perhaps that one happened during ‘the war’ rather than in a post-Patten context? The implication of this being that it can now be addressed in an environment where, while causing mild discomfort and the odd red face, it will not limit the current approach of the ‘intelligence services’ in tackling VDR. Could it be that there is a belief that in a post-Patten environment where policing oversight bodies have been set up such a thing is deemed unlikely to happen? CAJ have comprehensively dismissed such a notion in their benchmark research on ‘the policing you don’t see’, while any informed observer would be aware that the remit of accountability bodies in the North of Ireland do not include the activities of the ‘intelligence services’. Might there be a political element to the decision, whereby in a post-9/11 ‘war on terror’ context ‘dissident republicans’ are game for the misdeeds of the ‘intelligence services’? Could it just be possible that, as David Cameron told parliament recently in relation to the Finnucane killing, the mistakes of the past have been learnt as the ‘intelligence services’ now have – to quote Cameron – ‘compliance with human rights and other legal obligations’ enjoying ‘a fundamental place at the centre of activities’. Presumably Cameron was unaware of the Craigavon 2 and McKenna case when he made these comments.
The answer to why there has not been an investigation into the McKenna and Craigavon 2 cases may lie in all of the above- it may conversely lie in none of the above. Who knows? What can be said for certain, however, is that if interference with evidence by the ‘intelligence services’ in 1982 spawned a miscarriage of justice there is no viable argument as to why it cannot have done the same in 2009.


Posted by Jim on

Ballymurphy Massacre Torture Case Conviction Quashed
A man tortured during the Ballymurphy Massacre and who was subsequently convicted of riotous behaviour today had his conviction quashed.
Terry Laverty, and his brother John, were caught up in an attack on their local area by the British Army’s Parachute Regiment, in what has become known as the Ballymurphy Massacre, August 9th to 11th 1971.  The incident claimed 11 lives, including Terry’s brother John. Many others were injured.
Terry Laverty was detained, stripped, beaten, and made to run barefoot over broken glass and through a gauntlet of British Army soldiers who beat him. One soldier told Terry he’d ‘already killed one Irish bastard and that another wouldn’t matter.’ This same soldier put his gun to Terry’s head and pulled the trigger, unknown to Terry the safety was on.  Terry was then taken to Girdwood Barracks and held for 56 hours were he was further tortured.He was then charged with riotous behaviour and brought directly to court in a forced state of undress and with glass still in his bloodied feet, unaware that his brother John had been murdered only yards from where he was assaulted.
In a statement, released through Relatives for Justice Terry Laverty said:
“This is an emotional day. I survived with horrific consequences. My family and I have struggled to get this far. I want to thank my wife and my family who have been there for me throughout the darkest of times as a result of my experiences and who are supporting me to right this wrong.
“My brother John was murdered. I owe it to my family and my brother’s memory to ensure that the lies are challenged and the truth is officially told about what really happened over those three days in August 1971. I believe that the soldier who made reference to killing ‘one Irish bastard’ was the same soldier who killed my brother John.
“My parents went to their grave without the truth being officially acknowledged and told. They had to live with the loss of their son John, and the official lies.
“I can still see my father standing in the public gallery of the court where I appeared after being tortured. I can’t imagine his anguish bearing up and supporting us all, with John’s body still in the morgue. And how he broke that awful news to me and yet also struggled to get bail for me to attend John’s funeral. “My mother’s dignity and love saw us through those darkest of days. “I’ve gained my courage from both of their memories.
“This is a significant step towards righting a terrible injustice and setting the record straight. There remains a distance to go but this is a good first step.
“Finally I want to thank Relatives for Justice for all their help and support and especially Andrée Murphy who has supported me for the past decade.
“I also want to thank my lawyers Kevin Winters, Joe McVeigh and Chris Stanley.”
RFJ’s Deputy Director, Andrée Murphy, said: “This is an important step forward in addressing an egregious violation that by any standard constitutes a war crime. “There will be many others who were also subjected to such torture and hopefully the courage of Terry will give them hope to come forward.” ENDS

Irish American Activists Meet With SOS for NI Teresa Villiers

Posted by Jim on February 9, 2015

The meeting was held and hosted by Brian O’Dwyer at his offices the Law Offices of O’Dwyer & Bernstein.
In attendance representatives of the Irish-American, Ulster and Irish business, artistic, community  and historical organizations. including the Ancient Order of Hibernians in America represented by National President Brendan Moore, National & NYS Board member Dan Dennehy and members from New York area.
Current and longstanding Justice, incarceration, policing, historical inquiries and painfully remaining issues many covered by Anne’s book Lethal Allies like Pat Finucane, Bloody Sunday, Loughlinisland, Ballymurphy were among discussed in an open and clear dialog w SOS and NIO representatives.
The SOS related that 10 weeks of talks often faced collapse and were restored by commitment and patience from  all parties, that it is a preference to remain committed and work harder on the issues of the North, even those that were not seen to agreement.
Very grateful to Brian O’Dwyer and NIO for opportunity to attend, share the views, opinions and suggestions at in round table and clear face to face discussions with SOS Villiers and other representatives of NIO and SOS and NY British consular staff on up to date issues including dealing with the past, victims, Craigavon2, flags, policing, strip search, education, jobs, etc. and no topic was limited and many viewpoints and positions demonstrated by all participants.
The Irish peace process in the USA saw the Offices of ODB as the setting for the 1st meetings with then candidate Bill Clinton on N Ireland. It is gratifying that once again a new level of commitment, dialog and communications has been set at that venue.
Thank you,

Dan Dennehy
National & NYS Immigration:
Ancient Order of Hibernians in America Inc


Posted by Jim on February 6, 2015

A  Belfast Telegraph article by  Ruth Dudley Edwards  mocked Americans  for their support of  Ireland’s struggle for freedom.  Her ire was principally aimed at  Martin Galvin, a Bronx based attorney  selected as an Aide to the Grand Marshal of the 2015  NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade.   He was for decades Publicity Director of the Irish Northern Aid Committee and  a former Editor of the IRISH PEOPLE newspaper.  Ms. Edwards depicts herself  as  a journalist, satirist, free-lance writer and historian.  However, when the  subject is her native Ireland   she is a British apologist, a  character assassin and a propagandist.    She is badly informed on Northern Ireland.
I worked alongside Martin for many years exposing  Britain’s  corrupt and violent  legacy in N.  I.   Ms. Edwards sees  Galvin and “stupid NORAID people” as  arrogant   Americans who had some cheek interfering with Britain’s internal colonial affairs.  Like some  fossil aristocrat  from a DOWNTON ABBEY   episode, she longed  for the days when  internment, censorship,  the police  and the British Army could keep  Catholics in their place in the North.
She claimed NORAID peddled “hate filled propaganda” but offered no examples.  The loyalists were taught to hate Catholics.  The  best example of how well they were taught was the daily attacks in 2001 on  primary school girls at  Holy Cross School in North Belfast.  It’s only parallel in America would be the white supremacists of Alabama taunting and injuring black students seeking  an education.  She has little to say of those like Rev. George Seawright who called for the incineration of Catholics  or the  daily and violent intimidation of Catholics in the workplace.  Loyalists, she insists, are the real  ‘victims.’
Rages Edwards:  Who was Martin Galvin  to appear at a peaceful protest  in Belfast  after Her Majesty’s Government had banned him?  A violent police  rush through  the seated crowd   to stop Galvin resulted in the unlawful and unjustified killing of Sean Downes.  She  glibly excuses his death  as justified by a loyalist judge.    Instead of relying on  press releases, she really should  read  LETHAL ALLIES by Ann Cadwallader, the de Silva report of the murder of attorney Patrick Finucane, or British police reports by John Stalker and Sir John Stevens all of which document  the lawless, corrupt and murderous actions of  the police and British Army.   Galvin did.
She cites Martin’s  support of dissidents  opposed to the  1998 “Good Friday” pact  as encouraging those who months after planted a bomb  in Omagh  killing  29 civilians.   Edwards neglects to mention that British police and MI-5 knew the target and  tracked  the bombers  but chose to do nothing to stop the slaughter. You see  it wasn’t only dissident Republicans who had  doubts about the Agreement.  So  did   MI-5 and the Royal Ulster Constabulary who had the most to lose if peace came to the North.  In 1974 the British Army operatives delivered  and detonated car bombs in the shopping centers of Dublin and Monaghan in the largest mass murder ever  in Ireland.  Britain hides behind the Official Secrets Act and refuses to disclose details of these  ‘ bookend’  bombings which framed the conflict.     Mums the word from Ruth Dudley Edwards!
This conflict would still be raging were it not for  American voices like Martin Galvin’s  opposing  U. S. arms  for the lawless RUC, supporting the MacBride Fair Employment Principles, advocating  for a visa for Gerry Adams, protesting prisoner treatment, demanding an end to internment  and, yes,  raising questions about the ‘reformed’ RUC and the malevolent forces  still covering up the legacy of British misrule.
 Most American and Irish citizens, and I would add, most British Subjects,  know little  of  Britain’s  ham fisted rule in Ulster.   It is that swamp of ignorance in which she thrives and which Galvin sought to eliminate.  His  gritty determination,  personal sacrifice  and   courage are what  makes  America great.  It will one day rid Ireland of those who have divided the people of Ireland and still  work to postpone  reconciliation and peace.
Michael J. Cummings


Posted by Jim on February 5, 2015

Wootton_McConville In addressing the continued miscarriage of justice by the Diplock Courts of the British government, the National FFAI Co-Chairmen of the Ancient Order of Hibernians in America are requesting the help and support of all of our Brothers, Sisters and supporters of Freedom For All Ireland in bringing closure to the unjust conviction of John Paul Wooten and Brendan McConville in the 2009 murder of PSNI Constable Steven Carroll in Craigavon, Co. Armagh. Both men have maintained their innocence since the day of their arrest. Despite the fact that the state legal team, charged with handling this case, has failed to prove the charges against Mr. Wooten and Mr. McConville, these men remain prisoners due to an unjust and biased legal system. Their arrest 5 years ago and continued imprisonment was reliant on the word of a very dubious witness, which was proven contradictory and finally discredited by forensic evidence. Further compounding this case is the fact that the state, for reasons that can only be politically motivated, has refused to afford both men a fair trial. Had the case against John Paul Wooten and Brendan McConville been brought before an American or European court, both men would have been acquitted. Important Facts that caused the state case against these two men to fail are listed below:

  • The witness, mentioned above, did not come forward for 11 months.
  • This witness was intoxicated when he contacted the PSNI (the Police Service of Northern Ireland).
  • This witness was found to have continuously lied under oath.
  • This witness’s statements were at times contradictory to what was stated earlier.
  • One of this witness’s statements was proven to have been medically impossible.
  • This witness’s identity was hidden from Mr. Wooten’s and Mr. McConville’s legal defense team to prevent proper cross-examination.
  • This witness benefited financially from this involvement in the case.
  • A covert British army unit was found to have been involved in evidence tampering.A tracking device fitted to John Paul Wootton’s car shows that his vehicle at no time went anywhere near the housing estate where the AK47 used in the shooting was later discovered.
  • Data from the tracking device was mysteriously wiped out whilst in the hands of the army. No plausible explanation was given as to why this happened.
  • When the AK47 that was used in the shooting was discovered, a partial fingerprint was found on the internal spring mechanism of the magazine. This fingerprint was checked against the fingerprints of Brendan McConville and John Paul Wootton. No matches were found.

These are just some of the facts of this case. Mr. McConville was sentenced to 25 years, while Mr. Wooten (17 years of age at the time of his arrest) was sentenced to 14 years. The continued imprisonment of these men, despite the failure of the state and its legal team to prove their case against them, is indeed an ongoing miscarriage of justice. John Paul Wooten, Brendan McConville, with their families and many supporters would be greatly appreciative of any assistance our AOH Brothers, Sisters, and friends feel is appropriate in helping to bring this miscarriage of justice and false imprisonment to a final closure. bloody sunday 15

Gerry Conlon Memorial Lecture titled ‘ Democratic Bankruptcy’

Posted by Jim on January 25, 2015

So advised Michael Mansfield QC, the defence counsel for the Birmingham Six, to a packed auditorium at St. Mary’s College on the lower Falls Road in Belfast, metres from where Gerry Conlon had grown up. The lecture, titled ‘Democratic Bankruptcy’ had been organised as the first of an annual event in memory of Conlon, one of the Guildford Four wrongly imprisoned for 15 years by the British state, the story retold in the film ‘In the Name of the Father’ (1993). After coping with returning to civilian life after the injustice he had been through, including seeing his father die in prison, Conlon went on to be a campaigner for others wrongfully targeted by the state, and passed away last year of lung cancer at the age of 60. Mansfield was here to talk about ‘a system that at its heart has collusion, between higher politics, the upper echelons of the police, and the media.’

By way of illustrating the momentous effect that Conlon and his comrades had delivered with their successful fight for justice, Mansfield listed a few of the cases since, where the marginalised ‘took mental sustenance from what had gone before’ – the Marchioness disaster in the Thames, where ‘50 people died because of corporate greed,’ and the resolute demand of the families for an inquiry resulted in changes to safety standards. Or the Lawrences, whose perseverance has finally led to two convictions for the murder of their son. ‘They recognised,’ said Mansfield, ‘just like Paddy and Gerry did, that the battle isn’t over when you’re out; that’s when it’s just beginning…’ Doreen Lawrence, now a Life peer in the House of Lords, regularly summons senior politicians and police chiefs to a public hearing where they are asked how many of the new recommendations have been implemented. ‘And they all turn up, because they’re worried about votes of course. And she’s got the moral high ground!’

Mansfield gave as his last example Bloody Sunday. The famous verdict from Saville’s ‘historic inquiry’ was that British paratroopers had fired first, had shot fleeing civilians, and had concocted lies to cover their actions. ‘I was in Derry the day (the Report) was broadcast – and I’m not particularly religious but for me it was spiritual. The whole place erupted.’ Mansfield repeated that the key word was ‘accountability’, what Gerry Conlon and Paddy Joe Hill had fought for, what the families of those murdered on Bloody Sunday had fought for, and the predominant lack of which was the reason for the lecture’s title – ‘Democratic Bankruptcy.’

Michael Mansfield QC, Alex Attwood MLA, Paddy Hill

Michael Mansfield’s comments were bookmarked by his reading of Gerry Conlon’s open letter to Obama, speaking out against Shaker Aamer’s detention and Guantanamo Bay, which Mansfield linked to the continued abuse of the legal system and government power to cover atrocities, as with the perpetually delayed Chilcot Inquiry. The child abuse scandal has been ‘another case where the families have had to set the agenda,’ with the government prevaricating and delaying. Chairs of inquiries have been appointed and then forced to stand down due to conflicts of interest.

Mansfield ended, however, on a positive note, noting that ‘where the system refuses to rectify its own mistakes,’ people’s tribunals have emerged to challenge abuses, as with the ongoing Russell Tribunal on Palestine, where Mansfield sits as a member of the jury, assessing whether Israel’s military has committed war crimes. A similar tribunal was set up by Iranian émigrés in London, in the face of the regime’s failure, and the international legal system’s failure, to account for massacres and mass burials in 1980s Iran. Another inspiring example is the campaign to save ‘one of the most successful hospitals in the UK, in Lewisham’ from closure by Health Minister Jeremy Hunt, where 25,000 took to the streets in protest. The proposal to cut had ‘nothing to do with performance, everything to do with the private finance initiative’, and with regard to the wider legislation mandating further privatisation of the NHS, to do with the ‘nearly 200 … members of the Houses of Parliament with their fingers in the private pie. I think it’s what we would call in the law a conflict of interest.’

Gerry Conlon and Paddy Hill’s time in, and after, prison was illuminated through Hill’s stories and anecdotes. Hill recalled how the Bishop of Leicestershire offered to conduct ‘a few prayers’ before he concluded a visit to the two at Wormwood Scrubs Prison, to be met with ‘a few prayers? It’s not prayers we need, it’s money!’ The Bishop, surprised, dutifully slipped his wallet across the table as they rose to pray while Hill took what he could find – ‘Me and Gerry went back in the jail and got two ounces of weed.. stoned for a week!’

The stories continued and the auditorium laughed, but Hill ended on a sombre tone, saying ‘We have nothing to be guilty about, but we feel so guilty about what happened to our families. Gerry felt the same (particularly for) what happened to his dad Giuseppe.’ Giuseppe Conlon died in prison after his health deteriorated, exactly (and apparently coincidentally) 25 years before tonight’s event. ‘When (Gerry) died, thankfully that burden of guilt was lifted off his shoulders, and he’s now at peace.’

Written by Jack McGinn

Lá Gaeilge: Irish Language Day March 7, 2015

Posted by Jim on


Photo: a sign for the Gaeltacht

Lá Gaeilge: Irish Language Day

Saturday, March 7th, 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

at Glucksman Ireland House NYU

Discover the Irish language in a program designed for learners of all levels, led by Paul Ferris, Hilary Mhic Suibhne, Pádraig Ó Cearúill, and Shane Ó Ruairc.

Followed by the tenth annual Barra Ó Donnabháin Lecture by Dr. Feargal Mac Ionnrachtaigh on “From Cumann Chluain Árd to An LÁ DEARG: Building Gaelic Communities from the Bottom Up in the North of Ireland,” which will be delivered in Irish. Read more and RSVP to the evening event.

About the Instructors:
Paul Ferris, NYU

Paul Ferris is an alumnus of Glucksman Ireland House’s MA Program. He has been an Irish language instructor for NYU’s Speaking Freely program and at Drew University in Madison, NJ. Paul studied Irish at An Acadamh in County Galway and Oideas Gael in County Donegal, and is a former member of the executive board of the North American Association of Celtic Language Teachers.

Hilary Mhic Shuibhne, Irish Language Lecturer, NYU

Born in Limerick, Hilary Mhic Shuibhne has been active in the regional Irish language community since moving to the U.S. in the mid-90’s. She currently teaches Irish language to undergraduates in NYU Irish Studies Program. Having earned her Bachelor’s in Commerce from University College Dublin and trained as a Graphic Designer, Hilary completed her Masters in Irish and Irish-American Studies at NYU.

Pádraig Ó Cearúill, Senior Irish Language Lecturer, NYU

A native of Gaoth Dobhair, County Donegal, Pádraig Ó Cearúill grew up with Irish as his first language. After earning his Bachelor’s degree in Irish Language and History and completing graduate studies in Education at Trinity College, Dublin, Padraig came to New York University in 1995 where he became the Irish Language Lecturer for Glucksman Ireland House and earned his Masters’ degree in Communication and Culture.

Shane Ó Ruairc, Fulbright FLTA, NYU and Drew University

Shane Ó Ruairc is a past teacher of Irish Language in a Gaelcholáiste (Irish Language medium secondary school) in Dublin, he is currently an Irish Language Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant at NYU and Drew University. He has earned a BA in History and Modern Irish from University College Dublin (UCD), as well as two Masters degrees from University College Dublin, one in Irish Language Journalism and Communications and another in 20th Century Irish History.
Made possible through the support of the Department of Gaeltacht Affairs, the government of the Republic of Ireland, through the National Lottery.

Free admission, though seating is limited.  RSVP highly suggested.


Do Irish Lives Matter? Letter to the Editor of the WSJ

Posted by Jim on January 22, 2015

Letters Editor
1211Avenue of the Americas
New York, New York 10036
Dear Editor:
You rightly  note  alarm and skepticism  over the untimely death of Argentinian prosecutor Alberto Nisman (“A Troubling Death in Argentina” 1/20) who was  investigating the 1994 Hezbollah/Iranian bombing of a Jewish Cultural Center in Buenos Aires which killed  85.  He alleged in 2013 the government of Cristina Kirchner was  conspiring  to whitewash  that massacre with a “truth commission”  as part of a diplomatic plea bargain with Iran.
In 1989 in Northern Ireland another officer of the court, solicitor Patrick Finucane, was murdered for being too good at his job representing the many victims of British security forces  collusion with loyalist killers.  Unlike the death of Mr. Nisman,  Finucane’s death was neither  lamented or editorialized  by the WSJ despite the de Silva report confirming the collusion and  citing “the governments sustained effort to defeat the ends of justice.”
Why the difference in  your concern?  The Thatcher government  killed Finucane. But  the 85 deaths in Buenos Aires were the work of Hezbollah and Iran.   One demands you  look the other way while the other yields a platitudinous call to not let “…the killers off the hook.”  How long will Britain remain off the hook and unaccountable for their crimes?  And why don’t Irish lives matter?
Michael J. Cummings

US Irish students may get Birthright-style free educational trips to Ireland

Posted by Jim on January 18, 2015

by James O’Shea

Tens of thousands of young Irish American men and women between 18 and 26 may have the opportunity to spend up to ten free days in Ireland learning about Irish culture and history – if a proposed government initiative gets off the ground. The Irish Times reports that Minister for the Diaspora Jimmy Deenihan has outlined proposals for “an orientation course on what it is to be Irish” for young people with a connection to Ireland, “similar to the Israel Taglit-Birthright scheme which has seen more than 400,000 young Jewish people visit Israel over the past 15 years.” The idea was first framed by Irish American leaders.

 The Deenihan proposal is part of a broader package that also addresses issues such a emigrant voting rights.
The Israeli program, founded in 1999, sends young men and women of Jewish origins to Israel for a ten day immersion in the language, culture, history and modern day life of Israel. To date over 400,000 young adults from all over the world have taken part in Birthright, which began as the initiative of two philanthropists Charles Bronfman and Michael Steinhardt, who shared the belief that it was “the birthright of all young Jews to be able to visit their ancestral homeland.” Participants have come from 66 countries, all 50 U.S. States and Canadian provinces, and from nearly 1,000 North American colleges and universities. To be eligible, applicants must be between the ages of 18 and 26, have graduated from high school, have at least one Jewish parent, and identify as Jewish. Those who have been on prior educational trips to Israel or who have spent more than three months there since the age of 12 are not eligible, and Israeli citizens or those who were born there may only apply if they left Israel before the age of 12. An Irish outreach program would likely involve a similar blend of private philanthropy and government funding and would provide a powerful new linkage between the Irish Diaspora and Ireland at a time when there is much discussion about the future. IrishCentral spoke with Birthright participants to get a sense of how Ireland could model its initiative on the program and what it could do differently. Most lauded the degree of planning involved and the effort made to allow participants to see as much of the country as possible. “The trip was well planned and covered (as in miles) so much of the country. We saw the nature, the culture and the religion all in a week and a half,” said Hana Itkis, a playwright who went on Birthright seven years ago. “I met some amazing people and after spending ten hours on the bus with them for the first couple of days, it already felt as though we were longtime friends. The night we slept in the desert was by far the most memorable evening for me. We camped outside in Bedouin tents, cooked dinner and ran around like wild children. We played music and fell asleep under the stars,” she recalled. In addition to displaying the idyllic and historic aspects of Israel, including Herod’s Temple, the Wailing Wall, and the desert fortress Masada, they said that the trip also exposed them to some of the harsher realities. Lauren Taylor, a 26-year-old film/TV freelancer in Brooklyn, went on Birthright in January 2014 with friends she’d known since the age of 13. “We went to the West Bank border and saw the extremely intimidating security checkpoints regular people have to go through to and from work everyday, or not – sometimes the gates aren’t open and they just can’t get through to the other side,” she said. “It was hard to see and it’s still hard to understand. Being exposed to these things forced me to examine and question the past and to keep hope for the future.” A few past participants who identified as Jewish more culturally than religiously said they found the religious emphasis of Birthright a challenge. “The trip would have been incredible if it wasn’t so focused on religious conversion. The guide should have taken a step back from pushing her views onto us,” Itkis shared. “I think just by exploring and talking to some of the locals I gained a better sense of what the country was going through, rather than sitting in a circle and discussing whether or not I would shoot down a child running at me with a bomb. But the general consensus seems to be that the program offers a small taste of everything Israel has to offer. “It felt like we were constantly getting on the bus and off of it and I could have spent days at the Dead Sea, not just a mere 3 hours. I wanted to sink my teeth into it,” Taylor said. But then again, that may be just the point. “I guess they want that, so you go back,” she added. It also provides a unique chance for young American Jews to bond with each other and with their Israeli counterparts. Michelle Ronay, a lawyer in Chicago, went on Birthright five years ago when she was 21 and found the experience to be so positive that she still volunteers with an afiliated organization. “I loved Birthright and overall,” she said. “For me, the best parts of the trip were being able to talk and bond with the young Israelis who accompanied us. We were able to ask them probing questions about Israel’s politics, religion, culture, etc and likewise, they were fascinated by our American culture. Naturally we didn’t agree on every topic, but I think Birthright is very smart to have Israelis accompany Americans on the trips. It does a great job driving home the sense of the diaspora yet also reminding us of the similarities we share. “Not only are you ultimately bonding with Israelis who are your age, you are also bonding with other American Jews. For many people on the program, it was the first time they ever got to be with other Jews and not feel like a minority.”

Blair, On The Runs And Gerry Mcgeough: Criminalising Republicanism Through The Back Door

Posted by Jim on January 16, 2015

Sean Bresnahan looks at the OTR issue.

a Tyrone republican who frequently contributes to online discourse.



Much ado the past few days about Blair, ‘On The Runs’ and the peace process, but let’s keep in mind that without the Troubles there would have been no OTRs to begin with. And also that some should have profited from this scheme but instead were thrown to the wolves by their own, likely deemed unworthy of inclusion by an arbitrary decision-making process that excluded potential adversaries at the behest of the Sinn Fein leadership.

Many in the Unionist community take issue that a ‘deal’ on OTRs was reached at all, when the truth is the scheme did not go anywhere near far enough. My issue with OTRs is not that it let anyone off the hook but that it didn’t go far enough and (like everything else the leadership negotiated) we got the short end of the stick.

Like everything else it was done on Britain’s terms with a carrot thrown in to keep us happy – or more accurately to keep THEM happy and to secure their position, with no threat of two years in gaol for some. The greatest leadership in history my arse. Spin that yarn to Gerry McGeough, who spent two years in Maghaberry thanks to their ineptitude. Or was it ineptitude? Perhaps something more was afoot.

The dogs in the street know McGeough was shafted to put him out of the picture politically, while Michelle Gildernew, the Adamsite darling, could only be the better-positioned for it. God forbid an independent-minded voice within the republican movement. A calculated political move which raises its own set of questions regarding the relationship of the leadership to the state and a disgrace from start to finish – from the original selection convention in June 2000 to the carting away in the back of a police car at the count in Omagh nearly seven years later. I’d venture the two are connected at some point, if only in terms of the agenda being served.

That aside, the reasoning in McGeough being gaoled is it sets his actions as an IRA Volunteer inside the paradigm of an acceptable British law. In this narrative McGeough is breaking the law and being suitably punished whereas state agents, like his direct opponent, are elevated to a higher moral plateau – as are the mechanisms used to ensure a conviction. That OTRs pose a threat to this narrative is the source of the recent hullabaloo.

The key aim of the British is to frame the conflict as a criminal undertaking and the arrest, political show-trial and unsafe ‘conviction’ of those like Gerry McGeough is part of its strategy. Many, out of blind loyalty to the leadership and its pathetic negotiating abilities, are sadly content to go along with that, regardless of how it impacts on the legitimacy of men like Pete Ryan, Jim Lynagh, Martin McCaughey and their actions.

This approach would see such men happily subjected to British Diplock Courts today, if they’d somehow managed to escape the death-trap set for them, went on the run and returned home years later thinking it was safe to do so – absent of course that all important letter, which some were deemed worthy of and others not. Would Jim and Pete have been deemed worthy? Would Martin? Who knows but who would trust it.

Some would have it they should just be grateful no matter, sure what’s two years away from your family and loved one’s anyway. That’s the pitiful notion those like Sinn Fein Councillor Michael McIvor promote when publicly claiming McGeough done alright and should be thankful for his lot – whether they see it or not.

Constitutional issues aside, the 1998 Agreement was poorly negotiated around such issues as prisoner-releases and conflict-related ‘offences’. It created a situation whereby it was acceptable practice for a British Diplock Court to try and convict this man, and others such as Scotchy Kearney, using all the various legal manipulations and lowering of the standards of ‘law’ long employed against and objected to by republicans.

That some now accept the legitimacy of these legal processes is a victory for Britain and a shafting of the IRA Volunteers who stood up against and called such reactionary ‘laws’ for what they were and are – repression. That ‘letters of comfort’ are set to be withdrawn while the republican leadership continues to sit in Stormont is just the broom-handle being rammed up their backsides all the harder.

Under the British-imposed narrative, in which republicans now acquiesce, the state had a right to prosecute its violence whereas republicans had none – not even to defend themselves and their community. The evidence around Bloody Sunday, collusion in the murder of Pat Finucane and the refusal to grant inquests into a plethora of state killings speaks for itself, the British justice system is designed to protect its own and set them apart from ‘terrorists’ like Gerry McGeough, who are to be gaoled while the state and its agents walk free.

Those who consider the underhand mechanisms employed to stick McGeough and his like behind bars as acceptable fare, and anything other than the product of inept negotiating at best, the deliberate removal of a political foe at worst, are either fooling themselves or are that far removed from the republican struggle they no longer care about the broader picture.

What amounts to the effective collapse of the OTR scheme, at the behest of political Unionism, serves the same end for Britain as the gaoling of McGeough and Kearney, to show republicans their place within the British law, which can be altered and employed against them at will, if and when required. The only difference on this occasion is that ordinary Volunteers were not alone in being shafted, this time the leadership was shown its place in the order of things too.

The Scandal of Free Speech

Posted by Jim on January 15, 2015


January 15, 2015

Letters Editor


1211 Avenue of the Americas

New York, New York 10036


Dear Editor:

In  “The Scandal of Free Speech” (1/13)  you note that the practice of  killing blasphemers came to an end during the Enlightenment and that free speech survives in America  thanks to the  First Amendment to our Constitution.  Much  American blood was spilled to assert that right against British tyranny in 1776.  In recent decades   British  Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher inspired those who would silence the voice of others and showed the   world  her  deadly  contempt for  free speech.


She was so enraged by the speeches of Sinn Fein candidates and elected officials that  the British Army Special Air Services teams were unleashed to assassinate 6 elected Sinn Fein Councilors and 9 campaign workers.  Those speaking in defense  of victims of British injustice infuriated her.  Her   Minister Hogg in Parliament  claimed “some lawyers were too close to the IRA ”and within months Belfast attorney Patrick Finucane was killed with the collusion of  MI-5 and  loyalist thugs.  Inspired by their success murdering Finucane,  10 years later the same sinister security (sic)  forces  murdered Lurgan  lawyer Rosemary Nelson by the  weapon of choice, a car bomb.  Her crime?  She  testified  before Congress about police corruption and murder.   Her testimony, in part, expressed a fear for her life.  She, too, was Charlie!!


Allegations of systematic anti-Catholic discrimination or police corruption could not be heard by the British public. Ms.  Thatcher  instructed  the BBC to silence the voices of Sinn Fein representatives whether they were talking about the price of milk or police and judicial malfeasance.  Her greatest fear was  letting  Sinn Fein  speakers or ex-prisoners  speak in the U. S.   For decades Britain literally dictated to the U. S.  Departments of State and Justice a policy of arrest and immigrant harassment of potential speakers.    The Iron Lady  even convinced the Bush administration to deny a visa to Gerry Adams, the elected head of a legal political party, an elected Member of Parliament, an author and a man who has never been convicted of any crime!!  He survived one assassination attempt by British agent Brian Nelson.  He, too, was Charlie!


Ms.  Thatcher knew the lawless, sectarian and violent colonial appendage called Northern Ireland could only tolerate so much truth and free speech.  She was willing to  do anything to limit it.  She was  willing to kill someone for their political or legal views that conflicted with the official spin on N. I.  So how does she differ from those who  butchered the journalists and Jews in Paris?




Michael J. Cummings

A Citizens’ Initiative for 2016

Posted by Jim on January 10, 2015

A group of concerned individuals has established “Reclaim the Vision of
1916–A Citizens’ Initiative for 2016,” in order to reassert the
political principles and objectives that animated the 1916 Rising and to
show their continuing relevance for Ireland today.

In 1916 the Proclamation of the Irish Republic declared the right of the
Irish people to the ownership of Ireland and to the unfettered control
of Irish destinies. They wanted to realise this in a sovereign,
independent Irish democracy that would have the welfare of all the
citizens as its guiding principle. This vision has never been achieved,
and the Irish people have borne the consequences of this failure.

We believe that the 100th anniversary of the Rising presents an
opportunity to open a meaningful dialogue among the citizens about the
principles of 1916 and how they can be applied to the task of building
an Irish democracy in the twenty-first century. In a genuine Republic
the people would have full control over their own lives; the common good
would be at the centre of decision-making; and all the citizens would
reap the benefits of a fully human society.

Reclaim the Vision of 1916 intends to organise three national events: a
National Parade of Celebration on Sunday 24 April 2016, a national
seminar in the spring of 2016, and a significant publication. It is
hoped that many individuals and groups throughout the country will
affiliate to the Initiative and participate in the national events, as
well as organising their own activities. We invite those who are
interested in joining us in this project to contact us now, and we wish
to co-operate with those who share our concerns and are organising their
own events.

The Citizens’ Initiative has set out its ideas and aspirations in a
Proclamation for a New Irish Republic, together with a Political
Statement. Alongside the programme outlined above we want to encourage
wide discussion and debate about the ideas contained in these documents.

The Proclamation for a New Irish Republic states:

We affirm that the only solution to this failure and crisis will be
found in a sovereign, independent Irish democracy that puts the common
good at the heart of government and where sovereignty rests with the
people and democratic power is exercised by them.

We want Ireland to develop a culture that fosters and encourages
independence of thinking and action. We recognise that there may be
differences between us about how our vision can be implemented, but we
insist that everyone who believes in the democratic right of the people
to govern themselves should support our shared struggle for a better
society for all.

In such a democracy, the common good would come before the freedom of
capital and the markets or the pursuit of private profit. The wealth of
the country belongs to the people, and the natural resources, industries
and services must be utilised in the interests of all the people and
subjected to their democratic control.

At the end of this initiative we hope there will be a deeper
understanding of the need for a real Irish democracy and what that would
mean, and that as many people as possible will have been drawn into the
circle of discussion, thinking, and participation.

Reclaim the Vision of 1916–A Citizens’ Initiative for 2016 will be
officially launched at a public rally in Dublin at Easter 2015. We will
be contacting the widest range of individuals and groups to discuss
these ideas and to see how we can work together to ensure that the
centenary of the 1916 Rising is properly celebrated.

Signed: Robert Ballagh, Finbar Cullen, Eugene McCartan

Remember Irish Republican Political Prisoners

Posted by Jim on December 18, 2014


For tips on writing to IPOWs see



Cards can be mailed in bulk envelope to prisons, separated into individual floor/landing groupings  (**Please message us for further information re: individual affiliation).  Individua lenvelopes are not recommended, as they may be confiscated.  Please print recipients’ name inside the cardalong with your own return address.

Open Letter from Martin Galvin

Posted by Jim on

New York’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade was a symbol of Irish achievement and traditions when such symbols were few. It was a beacon of hope for Irish freedom when such hopes seemed unattainable. As one who cherishes this parade, I was grateful and honored to be nominated as Aide to the Grand Marshal by BronxCountyAOH. Cardinal Dolan being Grand Marshal, made it more special. It is therefore disappointing that anyone should hype controversy by misrepresenting my beliefs and background.

It is certainly true that I support freedom for all of Ireland and have marched with banners and badges proclaiming “England out of Ireland!” These are fundamental principles of the AOH and St. Patrick’s Day Parade. The reporter need not have gone back years to get speeches in Ireland or America. Two weeks ago I spoke for Irish freedom in Tyrone remembering close friend and former Bronx resident Liam Ryan, one of the hundreds of British collusion murder victims. Why is it ‘controversial’ to want freedom for all Ireland?

It is also true that for almost twenty years I was one of the leaders of Irish Northern Aid and for fifteen years editor of the IRISH PEOPLE NEWSPAPER. Those who flooded the streets in front of British Consulates, filled legislatures for the MacBride Principles, and packed Irish-American Candidates Forums never got due credit. They made Ireland an American issue until leaders like President Clinton were willing to take the groundbreaking question from me about a visa for Gerry Adams. I take pride in what was accomplished working with the AOH and many Irish-American organizations. During those years the same pro-British propagandists that claimed top Republicans in Ireland were ‘mindless godfathers’, claimed that money we gave families of political prisoners was funding the IRA. Why should discredited British claims from so many years ago matter now?

It is finally true that after I led a 1983 American fact-finding tour which embarrassed the British, the Thatcher government tried to ban me from returning with a second tour in 1984.Sinn Fein leaders said we must not to allow this censorship ban to succeed and be used to silence other Americans. When I was called upon by Gerry Adams, the Royal Ulster Constabulary opened fire with plastic bullets. They murdered one man and

wounded scores more. Britain was condemned and put one man on trial for murder. After I was arrested alongside Martin McGuinness at Free Derry Corner in 1989 and shipped back under military guard, the British sent me a letter saying it had all been a mistake. Why should British murders or admitted mistakes be resurrected against my nomination today?

It is categorically untrue that I support armed actions today by any IRA or as your writer puts it, “denounce the Sinn Fein leadership as traitors.” The Irish Central’s own Nuzhound on December 14th reprinted an interview I gave the DERRY JOURNAL in Ireland. The headline, “Conditions do not exist for a return to violence” could not be clearer. That reporter bothered to speak to me before publishing. Readers of the Irish Voice may also recall seeing a full page of photographs of the October 26th Woodlawn AOH Awards Event, which was attended by some prominent American supporters of Sinn Fein. Why can Irish Republicans not respectfully disagree on some issues while working together where there is common ground?

I personally believe that the British did not intend the Good Friday deal as an open door to freedom for the six counties but as their chance to nail the door shut. Why is it wrong or controversial to point out British injustices and speak for new political strategies to overcome proven British bad faith?

As noted, I cherish the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and what it means to the Irish. I am grateful to Bronx County AOH for nominating me. I do not understand why my presence as one of the Aides to Cardinal Dolan should cause any controversy. Indeed it would only be controversial if we forgot there will be six counties represented in this parade who are still denied freedom in Ireland!



Irish government accused of blocking Irish diaspora vote referendum

Posted by Jim on

Casey Egan

Despite longstanding promises that the Irish government would this week debate and decide on the question of a presidential vote for Irish living abroad, they have failed to do so.

Sinn Féin Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh criticized the government for failing the Irish diaspora again, by not following up on their commitment to implement the Constitutional Convention’s recommendation to hold a referendum on voting rights in Presidential elections for Irish citizens abroad.

Senator Ó Clochartaigh noted that the recently appointed Minister for the Diaspora Jimmy Deenihan “has been traveling extensively, giving the impression that a decision on this was imminent. It is clear that he has failed to impress this on his Cabinet colleagues who have once more kicked these rights to touch.”

 “Sinn Féin had been advocating for these rights for a very long time and we would also like to see the debate extended to voting rights in Dáil & Seanad elections also,” he added in a statement. “We also need to address the issue of representation for the diaspora in the Seanad itself.”

According to, a 2006 study of countries that allow their emigrants to vote included:

– 21 African nations

– 13 North and South American countries

– 15 Asian countries

– 6 Pacific countries

– 36 European countries.

Sixty-five of these countries allow for external voting for everyone, while about 25 place restrictions on it, based on such factors as to whether they intend to return permanently or how long they have been away. Citizens in the US can vote no matter how long they stay away, while citizens of Britain are disqualified after fifteen years away.

Some countries, like France, reserve seats in their parliaments for citizens who live abroad, while others vote in the constituency in which they used to live. Other countries only allow for votes in national or presidential elections.

Emigrant advocacy groups had been actively campaigning this week. We’re Coming Back is planning to hold a #toastforavote event on Friday, which already has almost 600 attendees.


This Poem was written by Gerry McGeough in 1989 when he was being held as an Irish Republican political prisoner in Germany. He was inspired to write the piece after having learned about the assassination of fellow Tyrone Republican Liam Ryan by loyalist gunmen operating in collusion with British State forces in the North of Ireland. The poem was read today at an event commemorating the 25th anniversary of Liam’s death.

Posted by Jim on December 6, 2014

To the Fallen Heroes of Tyrone A Tribute




In the silent hours, we retrace the years

And remember them, with pride and tears

The fallen ones, who have gone to rest

Our gallant comrades, they were our best




They gave their lives, for cause and home

Defending Éireann, and green Tyrone

Against foreign might, and Saxon ways

They sacrificed, their golden days




Honour was theirs, and courage too

Withstanding the many, though they were few

They craved not laurels, nor sought they fame

In quiet dignity, they endured all pain




Soldiers were they, who knew no fear

They gave their all, for the land they held dear

Some died together, others alone

But we guard them all, in bushy Tyrone




From heathery hills, to meadows of green

And deep wooded glens, to the lough water’s sheen

Their names are alive, their memories revered

And by traitors and foes, are eternally feared




And they speak to us yet, though their voices are still

They speak to our hearts, and convey us their will

Comrades never despair, get confused or give in

It’s for Ireland we fight, and for Éireann we’ll win




We shall never forget them, the brave and the true

But honour and praise them, for all they did do

We salute them with pride, for they were our own

Our comrades who died, Volunteers from Tyrone.


Martin Galvin gave this speech Nov. 29, 2014 at the Commemoration for Liam Ryan, his friend, in Ardboe, County Tyrone

Posted by Jim on December 1, 2014


A chairde

Today we stand together. Family members and close friends, each with deep personal feelings and memories of Liam Ryan, stand alongside others too young to have known him. All of us can feel anger at his murder. Surely, it is murder when the vaunted British crown forces arrange killings by loyalist proxies and paid agents. It is murder, even when the murder victim was, like Liam Ryan a Republican, or like Michael Devlin in the company of a Republican, or as other families here know, the parent or aunt of a Republican. All of us can be angered by the British policy of murder cover-up. European Law says that the families of state murder victims have a right to justice. Britain deems such rights null and void when the victims are Republicans or justice means ending the one-sided immunity or impunity for British troopers or constabulary. Even today families of the victims are still denied justice, still denied truth, still stonewalled and still told lies. Even an Ombudsman or Coroner, who makes the mistake of actually trying to get truth, soon finds they will be denied the funds or documents to do it. All of us –and I do not want  to be misinterpreted as speaking about armed actions in the different conditions and circumstances of today-but we are not here for any sorry initiatives, not here to demean  his legacy  by  apologies –all of us are here to honor the memory of a true patriot with pride. There is today another ongoing round of talks. Last year’s Haas talks have become this year’s Hart talks. We frequently hear words like parity of esteem and equality. We will not accept a “parody of esteem” where we are expected to hide our grief, our anger, and our pride  in this brave soldier, lest we give offense to others who believe Republicans in Ireland are not entitled to such feelings. To understand Liam Ryan, first understand the times in which he lived. He was born before the British shifted from  one party Orange rule, to granting shared space tied to an immovable DUP anchor, where  every legitimate demand for justice, as Gregory Campbell so crudely said, can be treated  like toilet paper. Liam was born before civil rights marches. Because he was a Ryan from Ardboe, and where his parents sent him to Church and school, that was enough to mark him as suspect, second class and someone the six county state could best do without. They did their best to send this message with a whole system to deny nationalists jobs, housing, and gerrymander votes.  Just to be sure he understood, the crown forces would remind him when they met him on the road. It is easy to understand why when people speak of the beginnings of civil rights in the six counties, they speak of marches in Coalisland or Dungannon or the first housing sit- in by a Tyrone family. It was easy to understand why when British troopers proved they did not come to back civil rights but to impose Internment, and to shoot down those who got in the way at Ballymurphy, or protested in Derry, that Liam came to believe you would not never get civil rights from a regime ready to answer civil right protests with Bloody Sunday. He came to see that the injustices he lived under were no accident but were allowed by the British because they served British interests. He went to New York where I would come to know him. He found a new life where being a Ryan from Ardboe, did not count against him and indeed often counted for him. He found work with the power company Con Edison. He had sisters and cousins nearby. He found an apartment near Gaelic Park where he spent Sundays. He found Tyrone Societies and Clan na Gael. And who could have blamed him if he enjoyed this new life and put thoughts of Tyrone or the six counties behind him or perhaps attended a few protests outside the British Consulate or given some money for Republican prisoners. We would have been glad to get it. That was not Liam. You could take Liam Ryan out of Tyrone but never take Tyrone out of Liam Ryan. The struggle and injustices here were never out of his thoughts. His dream was always to live and raise a family in a Tyrone where the injustices he lived under were a thing of the past. He dedicated his life to help make that so. He worked in Clan na Gael and with Irish Northern Aid. He was one of those men and women from the six counties who were a constant inspiration and reminder to all of us.  They were the vanguard of everything we in America did to raise money for the families of political prisoners or to build American political support for Irish issues. He made his home a refuge and landing spot for others. There I would first come to hear of Gerry McGeough. He cannot be here because he is under threat of Internment by License. Gerry McGeough like Ivor Bell, or Seamus Kearney and others are living reminders that the British will go back 30 or 40 years and have no shortage of money to trump up charges against some Republicans. They then tell us there is no money to arrest the Bloody Sunday troopers, or give the Ballymurphy Massacre families an inquiry, or take any steps which threaten the blanket immunity or impunity for British troopers and constabulary. There I first met Lawrence McNally who would die alongside Liam‘s cousin Pete and Tony Doris. Their car was fired upon until it burst into flames. They still cannot get an Inquest. I remember asking why Lawrence had given instructions to be buried in Monaghan instead of Tyrone. I was told so that that so he could be buried and mourned without his grave and family being abused by crown forces. The next day I saw Pete Ryan’s family jeered and taunted about barbecues and barely let out of their homes to bury him. How right Lawrence had been. I even met John Crawley there on one occasion and Liam for once was wrong about John. He said we would not see John for a very, very long time. Then about six weeks later he rang and told me to turn on the news. There was John coming off the Marita Ann in handcuffs near the spot in Kerry where they caught Roger Casement. Sometimes when the struggle was at a high point and intense Liam would get very quiet. He would say he was wondering how things were with Pete or Jim referring to Jim Lynagh. He would say it with genuine concern and worry about those who were under great pressure. He had what I will describe as a great pointed sense of humor. He would tell jokes that had a great deal of subtle wisdom and insight behind them. As he was preparing to come back and open the Battery he was arrested in New York for sending weapons to the IRA. He faced a possible jail sentence. His lawyer, friends including myself pressured him to apologize as is customary in American courts. He told us he had done no more than one of his relatives who had helped Erskine Childers bring arms into Dublin for the Easter Rising. Finally he agreed to make an apology in the American court. Liam told the Judge that the only apology he wanted to make was to apologize to the IRA Volunteers who did not get the weapons. Judge Sifton who had no Irish connections but who presided over several Irish trials smiled and said that the Irish accused like Liam were unlike the criminals who came before him and let him go with unsupervised probation. He came back to Tyrone and opened the Battery. Whenever I would call and tell him I would be visiting Ireland he would always begin by saying” we will have you up at the Battery for a free drink.” I was banned from the north and the British had used my presence to attack a peaceful rally in Belfast. So we could meet in Dublin, or more likely Monaghan, but not in the Battery Bar in Ardboe, County Tyrone. When I met him he would always laugh that “it would do no harm to have the Brits watching for you on the road and you not coming, and add that maybe it will help someone on another road where no one is watching.” Once when he asked me to speak at a Clan na Gael Easter Commemoration. I asked what I should say. He joked that I should get up right after they read the Proclamation of 1916. Remind everyone that when those great Irish patriots were about to sign, six of them stood up. They said there was one among them who must have the honor of signing first, because he had suffered the most, waited the longest and worked the hardest to make that day possible. Remind them it was a Dungannon man Thomas Clarke. Ask why the indefeasible right to freedom vanishes before it got as far as Dungannon. Then tell them that now is no time for anyone to stand back. Tell them that people in the six counties are still suffering, waiting and working for the end of British rule and now  is the time when the exiled children in America should unite with people across Ireland to give them that freedom . He said it as a joke but it stuck with me as one of the best Easter speeches I ever heard. “We will have you up at the Battery for a free drink,” Liam joked when I telephoned him twenty-five years ago to say I would be traveling to Dublin for weekend meetings between the Irish Northern Aid executive and Sinn Fein leadership. “Our friends have been about this last week,” he continued.  It meant that the Royal Ulster Constabulary backed by British troopers had been patrolling heavily in the Ardboe area. He added, “I may be back in the Bronx with you but will say more when I see you.”  These words were ominous. For Liam to hint at leaving Ardboe meant that he was under serious threat which he would not talk about on a likely tapped telephone line, but would explain when we met. I would never see him again.  The following evening the crown forces which had been flooding the Ardboe area, would suddenly disappear.  At closing, as Liam Ryan stood by the door, a loyalist death squad would arrive at precisely the correct time and place.  Liam Ryan would be murdered as he attempted to slam the door shut and protect those patrons still inside.  It was taken for granted that the British crown forces had given the intelligence, cleared and shielded the arrival and escape of the murder gang. The RUC would eventually arrive, with smug smiles not bothering any pretense of sympathy, as they dismissed any chance that anyone might ever be caught or identified. There was a phrase often used on newscasts about incidents which had all the hallmarks of the IRA. Liam’s murder had all the hallmarks of a crown directed collusion murder. How could crown collusion in so many murders at such a high level of cooperation over so wide an area and so long a time continue without the knowledge and approval of the British at the highest levels? There is now another round of talks that is supposed to tell us agreed formulas and legal mechanisms to deal with past events like Liam Ryan’s murder. Shakespeare had a fictional character named Lady MacBeth who wandered at night trying to wash away the stain of murder. We have a character named Theresa Villiers who tries to wash away the stain of British shoot-to-kill and collusion murders by cutting off funds, denying inquiries and pretending that Britain needs agreement from the DUP before it can comply with International Law by giving us the truth. It did not work for Lady MacBeth and will not work for Lady MacBeth Villiers. I cannot speak of him without remembering that he was murdered because he wanted freedom for all of Ireland so deeply. Many hoped that the Good Friday agreement had opened the door to this freedom. It seems clear that the British saw it as a way to nail the door shut. We are less than 18 months from the centenary of the Easter Rising, and that pledge of freedom, which Liam Ryan always said should apply as much to Thomas Clarke’s county as anywhere else. You and the people across the six counties have suffered the most, waited the longest, and worked the hardest .You have it within to produce patriots like Liam Ryan who can inspire others thousands of miles away. Now is the time to push so that the freedom Thomas Clarke signed up for in 1916 for all of Ireland can finally make its way to Thomas Clarke’s county and to the rest of Ireland.

Irish government warns undocumented not to return home at Christmas

Posted by Jim on November 26, 2014

by James O’Shea @irishcentral November 24,2014

Fears that some undocumented Irish will be stranded at home if they return for the holidays.
Irish immigration groups and Irish Foreign Minister Charlie Flanagan are warning Irish immigrants who are undocumented not to return home for Christmas as the Obama executive order documents will not be available until spring 2015 at the earliest.
In a tweet on Sunday Minister Flanagan stated:
Kieran O’Sullivan, a counsellor at the Irish Pastoral Centre in Boston told the Irish Times that undocumented returning home for Christmas would be making a major mistake.

“I’ve heard from people who are thinking of going home to Ireland for the holidays and family events,” he said.

“We have issued a general note of caution on such travel and the point we want to make is that anyone about to leave the USA should first speak to an immigration attorney.

“Leaving the US carries great risk if an individual does not consult an experienced immigration attorney,” said the pastoral center.

In order to travel to Ireland undocumented would need the Employment Document Authorization (EDA), which will be given out by the Obama administration after background checks and a cleared application.

With that in hand they will need advanced parole, given on humanitarian grounds when the person can show difficult circumstances back home such as an illness or funeral. The rules covering advanced parole will also be issued next year.

At this point there is no definitive date for the issuance of the EDAs and the advanced parole documents, but experts say it will take at least nine months if not longer.

To qualify for the EDA undocumented must prove that they have:

– have a U.S. citizen or LPR (Legal permanent resident) child as of November 20, 2014
– continuously resided in the United States since before January 1, 2010
– are physically present in the United States on November 20, 2014 and at the time of applying
– have no lawful immigration status on November 20, 2014.

Undocumented immigrants with questions can contact centers run by the Irish Apostolate USA, which is supported by the Department of Foreign Affairs, in Boston, New York, San Francisco, Seattle, Ocean City, Milwaukee, Baltimore, San Diego and Chicago for more information.
> Fr. Sean Mc Manus
> President
> Irish National Caucus
> P.O. BOX 15128
> Capitol Hill
> Washington, DC 20003-0849
> Tel. 202-544-0568
> Fax. 202-488-7537

We shall never forget

Posted by Jim on September 10, 2014

            When 9/11 arrives, remember the living
Home page image

They sacrificed their health. Photo by MATT MOYER

In a little more than a week, we will mark the 13th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.

Here in New York, the names of those killed in the attacks will be read aloud by their family members, friends and coworkers. Across the country, Americans will gather at memorials to honor the memories of those who died.

As a nation, we rightly resolved to never forget the attacks. But the truth is, we haven’t entirely kept that promise.

What many Americans may not know is that as the nation recovered, a public health disaster was just beginning to unfold. Thousands are sick because of the attacks, as well as the rescue and recovery operations that continued for months afterward.

In the days approaching this Sept. 11 and on the day itself, we ask Americans to remember all the victims of that terrible day — those who lost their lives, and the thousands of living victims who are sick and dying from illnesses and injuries, some of which have taken years to fully manifest.

We all know the outlines of the story. After 9/11, Americans from all 50 states rushed to Ground Zero to help in any way they could. Thousands of people worked in extremely hazardous conditions, often without proper protective equipment.

As they labored, the site smoldered, and rescue and recovery workers breathed in a toxic stew of chemicals, asbestos, pulverized cement and other health hazards released into the air when the towers fell.

The dust cloud that so unforgettably rolled through lower Manhattan after the attacks settled in homes, offices, buildings and elsewhere — exposing tens of thousands more to the same toxins.

Thirteen years later, more than 30,000 9/11 responders, as well as survivors of the attacks and area residents and workers, have an illness or injury caused by the attacks or their aftermath, and over two-thirds of those have more than one illness.

Many are disabled and can no longer work. They are suffering from a host of chronic diseases: asthma, obstructive pulmonary disease and gastroesophageal reflux disease, to name but a few.

Medical research has identified more than 60 types of cancer caused by 9/11 toxins. At least 2,800 people have been diagnosed with cancers caused or made worse by the aftermath of the attacks, a number that is sure to grow in the years to come.

More than 800 New York Fire Department members and more than 550 New York Police Department personnel are struggling with serious 9/11-related illnesses, many of them cancers, and have had to retire from their jobs for health reasons.

That is in addition to the more than 70 firefighters and 60 NYPD officers who have died from their 9/11-related illnesses.

Memorials and monuments to our losses continue to be built across the country in Arizona, Florida, Maryland, New Jersey and elsewhere. This outpouring of commemoration — not just in metal and stone, but in solemn ceremonies and prayer vigils, stair climbs and other events — is important to the American spirit. It is a source of comfort for those who lost loved ones and shows that the nation truly remembers those who lost their lives.

But sadly, there is still little mention that 9/11 is, on a daily basis, impacting the health of thousands of living Americans every day. That needs to change.

This Sept. 11, as Americans gather to honor and remember those who lost their lives that day, we are calling on the organizers of these memorials — governors, mayors, city councils and neighborhood and civic groups throughout America — to recognize the living victims of the attacks as well.

As your town or neighborhood holds a 9/11 remembrance, we hope you will remember and mention the thousands who struggle every day with illnesses or injuries caused by the attacks. These heroes need your support, too.

Alles is national legislative director with the Uniformed Fire Officers Association. Slevin is vice president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association. Both are members of the 9/11 Health Watch board of directors .



We shall never forget
We shall keep this day,
We shall keep the events and the tears
In our minds, our memory and our hearts
and take them with us as we carry on.

Timeshare for Sale or Rent 10 mins. from Disney and Universal in Celebration Florida

Posted by Jim on August 25, 2014

AOH member has advised us that their timeshare is for sale or rent in Mystic Dune 5 Star Resort. The two bedroom condo sits on PGA alternate Golf course with screened in porch opening on course. The Resort is 10 mins. away from Disney Gate and Universal. Condo can sleep 8, has full Kitchen, washer/dryer, dinning room, huge living room with big screen TV, Master Suite has separate bath with whirlpool tub. Resort has 5 pools, offers miniature golf, basketball, tennis and fitness center. Country Club has fully stocked Pro-Shop, light snacks and sandwiches, full Restaurant offering 5 Star menu and Conference and Banquet Hall. The cost to buy Deeded Condo is $11,000.00 per Unit. The cost to rent is $1,000.00 per Unit per week. Anyone wishing more information on these properties contact Jim@BrooklynIrish for forwarding info.

Cushendall killings : Villagers call on Britain to apologise for sectarian killings

Posted by Jim on April 30, 2014

Residents of a quiet Antrim seaside village have used the 83rd anniversary of the sectarian murder of three local men to call on the British government to apologise for its role in the slaughter.
On June 23, 1922, a British army and Special Police battalion entered Cushendall, singled out three young nationalists and dragged them up an alley, where they were shot dead.
The murders of John Gore, John Hill and James McAllister were in reprisal for the IRA murder the previous day of Field Marshal Henry Wilson — the man who ordered the pogroms against Northern Catholics throughout the early 1920s.
Wilson was shot dead in London by the republicans Reggie Dunne and Joseph O’Sullivan, who had served in the British army during World War I. Both men were later hanged.
A subsequent British government inquiry into the Cushendall killings dismissed claims from soldiers and police that they had been fired upon first.
The English official FT Barrington-Ward, who headed the investigation, concluded: “No one except the police and military ever fired at all.”
Medical reports revealed powder burns on the dead bodies, indicating the victims had been shot from close range.
However, the then Northern unionist government, led by Ulster Unionist James Craig, rejected the findings and held its own inquiry into the shootings.
The Northern government dismissed all the evidence given by residents of Cushendall implicating the British army and police and accepted the soldiers’ claims that they had been fired upon first.
After the killings, Britain’s Liberal government — at the behest of TP O’Connor, the Westmeath-born MP for Liverpool — threatened to publish the findings of Barrington-Ward’s inquiry.
However, the Liberals were replaced at the next election by the Conservative Party, which was more sympathetic to the Ulster Unionist administration.
One of the first acts carried out by the new Tory government was to place the details of the Barrington-Ward inquiry under the Official Secrets Act, barring it from view for 50 years.
Historian Michael Farrell best explains the cover-up in his book Arming the Protestants.
He writes: “O’Connor was told that the British government had commissioned the report only because British troops had been involved.
“The Northern government showed no concern to discipline its forces and stamp out reprisals and seemed oblivious to the effect this must have on the Catholic population. The British coalition government made only a very feeble effort to get Craig’s government to take action. Their Conservative successors did nothing at all.”
Barrington-Ward’s report was again due to be made public in 1972 but publication was delayed for a further 25 years because of the Troubles.
It was not until 1997 that the people of Cushendall became fully aware of the horror that had occurred in the village on June 23, 1922.
Sinn Féin councillor Oliver McMullan has led the calls for the British government to apologise for its role in the three murders.
He said: “These were innocent men killed by British troops in cold blood.
“The British government’s own inquiry ruled that the only people to open fire in Cushendall that night had been the military.
“If the then Northern government was satisfied that the soldiers had been fired upon first, why were the circumstances surrounding the shootings covered up for 75 years?
“The people of this village are owed an apology.”
Relatives of John Gore, John Hill and James McAllister still live in the north Antrim area, as do the families of two other men wounded on the night, Danny O’Loan and John McCollum.
Two Cushendall men whom the Special Police falsely accused of opening fire on the military and prompting the murders were forced to flee to the United States, fearing for their lives.
Several other nationalists in the village, including Oliver McMullan’s grandfather, were threatened by the Special Police with death.
Mr McMullan said a British government apology would go some way to lifting the shadow of the murders that has hung over his village for close to a century.
He said: “A few years ago, locals clubbed together and put up a plaque commemorating the lives of John Hill, John Gore and James McAllister.
“Their needless deaths are something we always have in the back of our minds.
“It was certainly the biggest sectarian murder ever to occur in Cushendall and one of the worst in the Glens area.
“An apology won’t bring them back but it at least will give some comfort to the families of those murdered.
“The British government should recognise the role its forces played in what were nothing more than sectarian state killings.”

From James Connolly’s “Songs of Freedom”

Posted by Jim on March 12, 2014

We Only Want the Earth

“Be moderate,” the trimmers cry,
Who dread the tyrants’ thunder.
“You ask too much and people By
From you aghast in wonder.”
‘Tis passing strange, for I declare
Such statements give me mirth,
For our demands most moderate are,
We only want the earth.

Our masters all a godly crew,
Whose hearts throb for the poor,
Their sympathies assure us, too,
If our demands were fewer.
Most generous souls! But please observe,
What they enjoy from birth
Is all we ever had the nerve
To ask, that is, the earth.

The “labor fakir” full of guile,
Base doctrine ever preaches,
And whilst he bleeds the rank and file
Tame moderation teaches.
Yet, in despite, we’ll see the day
When, with sword in its girth,
Labor shall march in war array
To realize its own, the earth.

Rocky Sullivan’s kicking off Irish language Classes every Tuesday at 7:00pm

Posted by Jim on January 10, 2014

Tuesday, January 21st
At 7:00 p.m., we’re kicking off a new
Irish language beginners’ class
then a new,
more advanced class
takes over at 8:00 p.m., to be followed by our
set dancing class at 9:00 p.m.
and our weekly trad seisiun at 10:00 p.m.

34 Van Dyke Street (at Dwight Street) Brooklyn, NY



The Brooklyn Irish

Posted by Jim on November 15, 2013

Posted on November 4, 2013 by

Although Irishtown had been known as Brooklyn’s most recognizable, infamous waterfront neighborhood for Irish immigrants in the mid 1800s, it was the city’s long waterfront property that stretched both north and south of Irishtown that was heavily settled by the Famine Irish. In truth, Irishtown could only be seen as the capital amidst the long stretch of Brooklyn waterfront neighborhoods facing the East thp-merseyRiver and Manhattan.

By the census year of 1855, the Irish already made up the largest foreign-born group in New York. This constituted a dramatic shift in the ethnic landscape of Brooklyn. In just ten years, the amount of Irish-born inhabitants had jumped from a minimal amount, to 56,753. Out of a total population in Brooklyn of 205,250, its newly arrived Irish-born inhabitants made up about 27.5%.

The impact of such a large amount of immigrants in a short period of time may be difficult to imagine, but it must be remembered that these newly-arrived were not only all from one ethnic background, but they were also terribly destitute, bony from intense starvation, malnourished, disease-ridden, uneducated and untrained people that came from an outdated medieval agrarian community. On top of all of this, at least half of them did not speak English and instead spoke Gaelic and were landing in a culture that was traditionally hostile to their form of religion: Catholicism.

digging for potato during famine

Famous sketch from the 1840s of an Irish mother digging with her children desperately to yield a crop in time to save their lives.

The Great Hunger in Ireland of 1845-1852, or what is commonly, if not erroneously called the “Potato Famine,” caused over 1.5 million (if not more) Irish tenant farmers to flee for lack of food.

“Few newcomers had the resources to go beyond New York and therefore stayed for negative reasons,” said Ronald H. Bayor and Thomas J. Meaghan in their book, The New York Irish. “Most… had no other options… The best capitalized Irish immigrants were those who did not linger in New York, but went elsewhere, making New York and other harbor cities somewhat atypical of the rest of Irish America.”

The waterfront neighborhoods of antebellum Brooklyn was such a place. These neighborhoods of mostly English Protestants and old Dutch aristocracy were quickly overwhelmed by these Catholic “invaders” crippled by diseases, starving and with a legacy of rebelliousness, secrecy, violence and faction fighting within their fiercely communal cooperations. In short, these great numbers of Brooklyn immigrants were in no way interested in assimilating into the incumbent Anglo-Protestant culture.

Since 1825 and the opening of the Erie Canal, Brooklyn had begun to boom as the New York Ports along the Hudson and East Rivers now had access to the great and rising cities in the midwest and beyond.

A color drawing from 1855 looking west toward Brooklyn's Navy Yard. Just beyond it in the area that looks shaded was "Irishtown." The New York Times described it in an 1866 editorial thusly, "Here homeless and vagabond children, ragged and dirty, wander about."

A color drawing from 1855 looking west toward Brooklyn’s Navy Yard. Just beyond it in the area that looks shaded was “Irishtown.” The New York Times described it in an 1866 editorial thusly, “Here homeless and vagabond children, ragged and dirty, wander about.”

Soon, New York become the busiest port city in the world. There was labor work to be had in Brooklyn, in the manufacturing and loading and unloading of goods to be sent around the country and around the world.

Brooklyn was broken down into wards at that time, and although much of the population lived along the waterfront, there were plenty of other neighborhoods inland that were heavily populated by the English and Dutch before the Great Hunger. But the newly arrived Irish immigrants did not go inland, they stayed along the waterfront where the labor and longshoremen jobs were.

One neighborhood in particular gained fame, though it is not as much known today as it was then:


Fifth Ward

The Fifth Ward from an 1855 Fire Insurance Map, where Brooklyn’s Irishtown is located by the Navy Yard. It was called Vinegar Hill (from the 1798 rebellion in Ireland) even before the Great Hunger.

Located in the old Fifth Ward, Brooklyn’s Irishtown never gained the kind of infamous popularity that Manhattan’s Five Points garnered (as I previously wrote about in Code of Silence), it was nonetheless the center of the immigrant, working class slums and the brawling, closed-off culture of the wild Irish.

Located on one side next to Brooklyn’s Navy Yard that built ships and on the other side with the ferry companies connecting Brooklyn to Manhattan across the East River, Irishtown was centrally located.

Although Irishtown was the face of Brooklyn’s Irish community, it did not even have the distinction of having the most amount of Irish-born (which exclude American born of Irish stock) in it during the 1855 census. The dock and pier neighborhoods of Brooklyn were not just in the Fifth Ward, they were spread from the waterfront in Williamsburg north of Wallabout Bay all the way down to Red Hook and the Gowanus Canal.

During this time, there are three other wards that outnumber Irishtown in total Irish-born of the 1855 census. Cobble Hill, the Fulton Ferry Landing and southeast of the Navy Yard, north of Fort Greene Park. The brownstones of Brooklyn Heights are still considered mansions for the rich Brooklyn landowners at this time, but later will be divided and subdivided for the working class Irish.

The densest area of Irish-born is obviously from the Navy Yard, both  inland and on the water to the Fulton Ferry Landing, but surprising numbers existed in the north along the Williamsburg waterfront and south in Cobble Hill, Red Hook and the Gowanus Canal. In fact, 47.7% of the total population of Red Hook in 1855 is Irish-born.

  • *Census for the State of New York for 1855 (Ward#, area, Irish-born residents)
  • Ward 1 (Brooklyn Heights 2,227)
  • Ward 2 (now known as DUMBO 2,967) 
  • Ward 3 (East of Brooklyn Heights 1,964) 
  • Ward 4 (south of DUMBO 2,440) 
  • Ward 5 (Irishtown 5,629) 
  • Ward 6 (Fulton Ferry Landing 6,463) 
  • Ward 7 (Southeast of Navy Yard, north of Fort Greene Park 6,471) 
  • Ward 8 (Gowanus 1,717) 
  • Ward 10 (East of Cobble Hill 6,690) 
  • Ward 11 (West of Ft. Greene Park, south of Irishtown 4,985) 
  • Ward 12 (Red Hook 3,332) 
  • Ward 13 (East of Navy Yard where current Williamsburg Bridge is 2,036) 
  • Ward 14 (North of Williamsburg Bridge along waterfront 4,314) 
  • In these wards, Irish-born constituted 32% of Brooklyn’s total population

In fact it is Brooklyn’s most famous Irish-American toughs, the White Hand Gang that originated not in Irishtown, but in and around Warren Street in Cobble Hill and Red Hook at the beginning of the 20th Century.

So, it is right to assume that masses of Famine Irish landed and settled around the more famous neighborhood of Brooklyn’s Irishtown, but it is the general waterfront area from Williamsburg down to Gowanus, in the pier neighborhoods of the fastest growing port and industrial areas of the city where the majority of them settled. In fact, of the 56,753 Irish-born in Brooklyn in 1855, about 51,000 of them lived in the waterfront neighborhoods.


Long before Ellis Island took in immigrants, Southern Manhattan’s Battery Park did. After disembarking there, many Irish immigrants took the ferry to Brooklyn or moved from the slums of Manhattan to the Brooklyn waterfront for the jobs on the docks and piers there.

And they just kept coming, well after the famine ended. With connections in Brooklyn, Irish-born brought their extended families and friends to New York over the coming years, funding new passages to the city helping keep the Brooklyn working class Irish poor for many years to come.

By 1860, Brooklyn was the largest city in America with 279,122 residents, a large portion of which were either Irish-born or of Irish stock as it is still some years ahead of the considerable amounts of Jewish and Italian immigration to Brooklyn later in the century.

By the census of 1875, the population of Irish-born in Brooklyn jumps to 83,069. In 1880, the U.S. census, which counted both place of birth and parents’ birth place as well, estimated that one-third of all New Yorkers were of Irish parentage. By 1890 as Brooklyn neighborhoods were expanding east and south, the amount of people with Irish stock is at 196,372.

AOH Kings County Board meeting 4th Monday of the month at 8:00PM in the Baile na nGael 2750 Gerritsen Ave. B’klyn 11229

Posted by admin on June 1, 2013


Meetings to be held in the Baile na nGael on 2750 Gerritsen Ave. Brooklyn, NY 11229 on the last Monday of the month at 8:00pm unless otherwise indicated.


All County Board members and all Division Presidents and Vice Presidents are required by County By-Laws to attend County Board meetings. All Division Officers should attend and all members are invited to attend. Current Travel cards are required for entry to meetings, those, that can’t attend a meeting, should notify the County President or Vice President at least 24 hrs in advance.


County Officers are as follows:

President: John O’Farrell Div. 35

Vice President: Frank Thompson Div. 12

Recording Secretary: Steve Kiernan Div. 12

Financial Secretary: Tom Crockett Div. 35

Treasurer: Randy Litz Div. 22

Standing Committee: Mike Gaffney Div. 35

Marshall: Jim Healy Div. 12

Sentinel: Joe Glynn Div. 19


We hope that all members of the A.O.H. in Brooklyn work as tireously for this Board as they have for the past Boards.
Slainte, Jim Sullivan, Immediate Past President Kings County and N.Y. State District Director

AOH Div.19: No report given

Posted by Jim on September 22, 2011

LAOH Div. 6: no report on next meeting

Posted by Louise Sullivan on

LAOH Div.22: no report given for next meeting

Posted by Louise Sullivan on

AOH Div.22: No report given

Posted by Jim on

Division 21 Breezy Point/Rockaway Beach( Membership meetings are held on the last Tuesday of every month at the Knights of Colombus 333 Beach 90th St.,Rockaway Beach NY. Meetings start promptly at 8:00pm.

Posted by Jim on September 21, 2011

Contact: for prayers or announcements of fundraisers, etc. please contact or

Posted by admin on July 7, 2011

Pray for the following people and their families: The people and children who suffered with the aftermath of  the Hurricane Sandy and the floods that it brought (Midland Beach, South Beach, New Dorp, Sheepshead Bay, Coney Island, Gerritsen Beach, Breezy Point, Rockaways, Broad Channel and Long Beach), the courageous people of the Short Strand section of Belfast, political prisoner Martin Corey. If anyone wants to have us remember a loved one in our prayers, contact us at

AOH Div. 12 ( : Meeting are held on the 3rd Thursday of the month at 8:00 PM in the K of C # 1251 Dongan Council 8122 5th Ave. (718)745-9175 Bay Ridge – All members should attend

Posted by admin on June 20, 2011

Division 12 Elected Officers are:

President – Kevin Mahoney

Vice- Pres. – Frank Thompson

Recording Sec’t – Steve Kiernan

Financial Sec’t – Tim O’Shea

Treasurer – Tom MacLellan

Marshall – ?

Sentinal – ?

LAOH Div 19 : Next meeting will be ? @ 8:00 PM at 2750 Gerritsen Ave.(718) 891-6622) Brooklyn, NY 11229 if available

Posted by Louise Sullivan on June 20, 2010

LAOH County Board Meetings: All County meetings will take place on the 2nd Wed. of each month at 2750 Gerritsen Ave. B’klyn, NY 11229 (718) 891-6622. There has been no notification of the next meeting.

Posted by admin on

Have a Happy Summer. Don’t forget the Coney Island Great Irish Fair in September


President – Joanne Gundersen Div 22

Vice Pres – Judy Rose Div 22

Rec Sect – Rose Coulson Div 22

Treasurer – Mary Hogan Div 6

Historian – Katherine Keane Div19

Miss&Char – Bridie Mitchell Div 6

Cath Act – Tricia Santana Div 19

Mist Arms – Margaret McEneaney Div 19

Sentinel – Ann Marie Bendell Div 19

AOH Div. 35: Meetings the third Weds. of each month at 8:00 pm in the K of C #126, Columbus Council (718)336-8117, located at Quentin Road & Nostrand Ave. Brooklyn, NY 11229

Posted by Louise Sullivan on