subscribe to the RSS Feed

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Presidential Address to RSF Ard Fheis

Posted by Jim on December 4, 2016

 
 Address by Des Dalton to the 2016 Republican Sinn Fein Ard Fheis.
A Chathaoirligh, a Theachtai is a chairde go leir. Fearaim cead mile
failte romhaibh ar fad ag an Ard-Fheis seo.
You are all most welcome to the 112th Ard-Fheis of Sinn Fein. We gather
in national conference once more to review what has been an historic
year, decide policy and formulate our plans for the coming year.
This past year marked the Centenary of the 1916 Rising and an
opportunity for us all as Irish Republicans to reaffirm our faith as
well as to engage with the message of 1916 for the Ireland of the 21st
Century. For Irish Republicans 1916 is not merely an historical event to
be marked. It is unfinished business. Ireland remains partitioned and
the north-eastern corner of our nation remain under British occupation.
Its ultimate goals have yet to be achieved and we can only truly honour
it by working for those ideals.
The revolutionary generation of 1913 to 1923 are an example of what
people can achieve when they come together in pursuit of a common goal
and ideal. For the Ireland of today people should draw on that
inspiration in facing the social and economic war that has been waged on
them by both partition states. As Irish Republicans, we draw inspiration
from the past as we look to the future. By articulating authentic Irish
Republicanism, by working on the ground throughout the 32 Counties and
abroad we are keeping alive the ideals and ideas that inspired the men
and women of 1916. We put forward with confidence our alternative to the
failed and discredited partitionist system, a system that was imposed on
the Irish people by threat of immediate and terrible war in 1921.
Irish Republicans viewed this year’s centenary of 1916 as something to
be embraced. It was heartening to see so many young people interested in
learning more about their history. Thousands of Irish people travelled
from all over the world to be here to celebrate and remember the Rising.
The political establishment moved to sanitise 1916. The “Wall of Shame”
unveiled in Glasnevin Cemetery on April 3 carries the names of British
soldiers and police who were killed during the rising. What
self-respecting nation commemorates those who died in the pay and
service of its enemy. Would the French erect monuments to the German
occupation forces or the Vichy French who collaborated with them? The
answer of course is no and nor are they expected to, why is Ireland
expected to behave any differently to any other nation? Here a man who
engaged in a legitimate protest was denied his right to protest by a
foreign diplomat and despite this was charged and given a suspended
sentence. We salute Brian Murphy, a grandson of 1916 Veteran, faithful
member of the Second Dail and President of Sinn Fein Cathal O
Murchadha.
Instead they attempt to reduce 1916 to an historical curiosity,
replacing serious engagement with the ideas and philosophy of 1916 with
historical pageantry. Dressing in costume is meant to replace a deeper
understanding of the thinking and ideology that lies behind the
proclamation. Earlier this year Dublin City Council erected a banner on
the Bank of Ireland in College Green containing images of constitutional
nationalist leaders including John Redmond who vehemently opposed the
rising. This is just a very blatant example of the political elite’s
attempt to rewrite Irish history by writing out those who are
inconvenient to theirnarrative. They are saying yes if you insist we
will mark the centenary but we will do it on our terms and we will
decide for you the people who are worthy of being remembered.
With the renewed interest in 1916 have come renewed attacks on the
reputation of Padraig Mac Piarais. He is presented in some quarters as
a caricature, his more extreme critics accuse him of promoting a “cult
of death”. Even some who would regard themselves as radical or on the
left have fallen into this trap. This is nothing new, Pearse has long
been a target of such attacks. Some have attempted to elevate Connolly
while denigrating Pearse. But invariably once Pearse has been undermined
they then turn on Connolly also. Both Pearse and Connolly are indelibly
linked in both historical and ideological terms, their vision and
philosophy of the New Ireland as set out in the 1916 Proclamation, show
they are two sides of the same coin. Those who attack Pearse of course
never engage with his writings because to do so would expose the lack of
substance and depth to their arguments.
Pearse and Connolly do not lend themselves to repackaging by the
political establishment. Their writings display an analysis and argument
that contains both strength and sophistication that defies the best
efforts of the Leinster House and Stormont political elites to sanitise
them. They were unambiguous in their determination to break the chains
of British imperialism and spoke and wrote in the clearest and most
direct fashion about the type of Ireland that should emerge from the
revolution they were setting in train. We honour both Pearse and
Connolly proudly for who they were and what they represent.
On February 20, we launched our programme of events for the centenary at
a Seminar entitled Who Fears to Speak of Easter Week. Commemorations
took place all over Ireland and abroad as usual over the Easter weekend.
On Easter Monday despite the concerted efforts of the 26-County Special
Branch to intimidate and force us off the streets Republican Sinn Fein
took their rightful place outside the GPO where a crowd of thousands
were given an unequivocal message of traditional Irish Republicanism.
The national 1916 Centenary commemoration took place on Saturday, April
23. This event attracted a crowd of 2,000 according to The Irish Times.
The historian
Eunan O’Halpin wrote that the Republican Sinn Fein “speakers drew on a
very traditional republican lexicon, using terms such as ‘Free State’,
’26 counties’ and ‘six counties'”. O’Halpin said RSF: “Speakers
reiterated the purist republican view that the only legitimate Irish
parliament was the all- island, First Dail which first met in January
1919, from which RSF and the Continuity IRA claim descent.”
In comparison, he cast the Provo event in a more negative light: On
Sunday, Sinn Fein’s (sic) listeners had to make do with brief snatches
from Thomas Davis’s milk-and-water 19th century nationalist ballad A
Nation Once Again. Where were the once-familiar The Boys of the Old
Brigade, Take it Down From the Mast, Sean South, or Old Mountbatten Had
a Boat, all songs used to rally the republican faithful which I often
heard on Dublin streets when the Provos were in their pomp? If Adams is
right, and ‘they haven’t gone away, you know’, they seem nevertheless to
have lost their voices.”
Over the following weeks four provincial commemorations as well as
events in England, Scotland, the United States and Europe were held. In
Ulster, a massive RUC/PSNI operation was mounted in the aftermath of the
opening of the Republican Garden of Remembrance in Kilwilkie estate in
Lurgan. This operation exposed the reality of British occupation in
Ireland in 2016. It also gave the lie to those who say that the
Six-County State is a normal democratic society. Arbitrary arrest and
internment continue to be used against Irish republicans for simply
commemorating our patriot dead.
A ten-year-old boy was among those questioned in the operation. The ten-
year-old is believed to be the youngest ever in the history of the
conflict to be cautioned in regard to a parade.
The father of the two brothers and an older brother were among those
arrested, while their mother was cautioned before being allowed to
travel home.
We saw it as imperative that we gave the lead in commemorating the
sacrifice of the men and women of 1916. As the only political
organisation still committed to the undiluted gospel of revolutionary
Irish Republicanism and the re-establishment of the All-Ireland Republic
of Easter Week it is our duty to ensure that the message of 1916 is
carried forward and acted upon.
The forces of reaction and revisionism are attempting to rob us of our
history, of its meaning and relevance to make our people compliant and
subservient to the present-day forces of political and economic
imperialism. Instead we must reaffirm ownership of that history.
In the years to come other significant centenaries of that revolutionary
decade will be marked. Next year we will be proudly commemorating the
centenary of the first Irish Republican to give his life on hunger
strike, Tomas Aghas as well as the historic by-elections which paved
the way for the First Dail.
Some of these centenaries will be uncomfortable to say the least for the
political elites in both parts of partitioned Ireland. This is because
they challenge the foundation myth of the 26-County state. The denial of
the 1918 General Election – the last occasion the Irish people acting as
a unit expressed their democratic will – the suppression of the by the
British First Dail and subsequently the All-Ireland Republic in the
counter-revolution of 1922-23, exposes the undemocratic origins of the
two partition states.
These two states were imposed by the British Government’s threat of
“immediate and terrible war” not the democratically expressed will of
the Irish people. Writing in the Sunday Business Post on March 28 Tom
McGurk wrote powerfully about history and narrative that the 26-County
political class would prefer not to talk about. Firstly, McGurk
addressed the issue of partition: “…any concept of the nation was
truly forgotten by Dublin as Northern nationalists were simply
abandoned. Left to the total control of their political enemies in a
six-county gerrymandered statelet, their lot under the Stormont
parliament was to be much worse than ever was under Dublin Castle. So
much for cherishing all the children of the nation equally.”
He then turned his attention to the legacy of the counter-revolution:
“The bitterness was to last generations, largely because of the methods
with which the republicans were defeated. In particular, the new Free
State army – militarily equipped by the British, and within its ranks
many World War One British soldiers and men who had never fought in the
War of Independence – were often to outdo even the Black and Tans in
their savagery. The Free State government executed 77 republicans (many
without trial), andthousands more were jailed for years. Even after the
Civil War ended, the determination to destroy any vestige of
republicanism continued as the thousands of republicans on the losing
side were made persona non-grata. They were forbidden to have any state
jobs and consequently huge numbers were driven into exile in Britain and
the US. […] Even many of the 1916 widows and families were treated
with disdain. Whatever the tricolour flew over at the end of it all, it
was certainly neither a republic or a nation.”
The Decade of Centenaries is an opportunity to address a legacy the
effects of which the Irish people still live with one hundred years
later. It is time to disturb the comfortable and address ghosts of our
history whom have never been laid to rest.
Writing in his column in the Sunday Independent on January 3 Gene
Kerrigan made an analogy between the present political and economic
forces and those that prevailed 100 years ago: “In any circumstance in
which a country is ruled by outside forces there will be a political
entity that will prosper by mediating between the rulers and the
subjects. That was the role Redmond and the Parliamentary Party played.
Make concessions to us, which will boost our popularity among the
masses, or you risk building support for more radical forces. As it was
back then, so it is now. The outside rulers who exert authority over
this country are not the tribunes of any empire. They are: a) the
technocrats of the European Central Bank; b) the bankers, who tell the
State how they want to be regulated and who take it for granted that the
State will pick up the bill when they screw up the financial system. And
c) the anonymous executives of massive corporations, so powerful they
negotiate their tax payments and strategic employment plans directly
with the State. We don’t have a photo of prime minister Asquith tickling
John Redmond’s neck, like he was rewarding a dependable pet. But we do
have such a picture of a French politician tickling Enda Kenny’s neck,
while our Taoiseach (sic) giggled happily.”
The 26-County election has come and gone and has left in its wake the
usual Leinster House political horse-trading which has resulted in a
hybrid Fine Gael/Independent coalition. While words like transformation
and radical change are bandied about, when the hyperbole is stripped
away very little has changed. How little has changed was shown by the
very marked reluctance by any of the parties or independents to
contemplate forming a new 26-County administration because each know
that whatever the composition of the next administration the policies
would essentially remain the same because economic policy is not decided
in Leinster House but by the EU, IMF and the ECB.
That was definitively established over the past five years. The two big
centre right parties of Fianna Fail and Fine Gael have nothing to
separate them in terms of policy. As the historian Diarmaid Ferriter
pointed out on RTE Radio 1’s election coverage there are very few of
those elected who can truly be described as politically radical either
politically or economically. Many of
the so-called independents come from the political gene pool of either
Fianna Fail or Fine Gael while the Provisionals only principle is to
replace Fianna Fail as the leaders of the opposition. As Vincent Browne
pointed out in his column in The Irish Times on February 24: “Nothing of
consequence will change in Irish society with this election. Over one
million people will continue to live in deprivation; nearly one in five
of everyone in employment will continue to be paid pittances; thousands
of poorer people will die prematurely (this was estimated a decade ago
to be around 5,000 annually); us – rich people – will crash the queues
for preferential healthcare, others will be left on trollies and waiting
lists; schools will make no significant difference to the life chances
of children and young adults; only the few will exert any influence on
public policy; our democracy will remain hollow.”
Browne is damning in his assessment of the even mildly radical, let
alone revolutionary intentions of the Provos: “Hundreds of thousands
will vote for Sinn Fein thinking this will make a significant
difference to the distribution of income, wealth, power, influence,
cultural capital, social capital – they will be disappointed. It is not
that Sinn Fein is a threat to the established order, it is that Sinn
Fein wants to become part of the established order.”
Browne quotes from the radical vision of Ireland set out in the Eire
Nua programme of the late 1970s and contrasts it with limited vision of
the Provos today and finds little to differentiate them from the other
Leinster House establishment parties: “…one wonders why they [the
Provos] don’t just merge with Fine Gael, along with the Labour Party,
Fianna Fail, Renua and Shane Ross?”
On the what is described as the ‘left’ of 26-County politics is a mish
mash of parties and individuals, some may be well intentioned and
sincere while others are more interested in gaining political hegemony
and control over the progressive forces that have arisen around the
anti-austerity movement on issues such as water charges etc than any
vision of a New Ireland.
Le deanai foilsiodh an Polasai Oideachais Gaeltachta agus roinnt
moltai maithe ann ach, mar a duramar anuraidh, nil aon mholtai ann
maidir le dushlan ceart agus, le haitheantas da reir, a bheith ag
baint le curaclam Gaeilge na hArdteiste. Nil tagairt da laghad ann do
chursai tri Ghaeilge ar an triu leibheal, mar shampla ni feidir
le duine og staidear a dheanamh ar abhair ar nos Ceimic no
Cuntasaiocht. Ta an chuma ar an sceal freisin go bhfuil an stat o
dheas ag iarraidh ar mhuintir na Gaeltachta fein, gan aon tacaiocht
on stat, a gcuid pleananna teanga fein a reiteach.
Recently the Dublin Department of Education finally published the
Gaeltacht Education Policy with some worthwhile initiatives but, as was
feared here last year, the policy has not come up with a challenging
Leaving Cert Irish language curriculum, with associated recognition for
native speakers and Gaelscoil students, to arrest the alarming decline
in standards. As we all know the Leaving Cert drives standards all
through the system. Neither is there any reference to the development of
Third Level courses through Irish in such subjects as Chemistry and
Accountancy. It seems, in this and in it’s Gaeltacht language planning
initiatives, that the Dublin Government and the state apparatus is
handing all responsibility for the Irish language over to the Gaeltacht
people themselves with miniscule resources and with no accountability on
the state itself. There is nothing in any of these initiatives to show
that the Dublin establishment intends anything but a continuation of the
downgrading and marginalisation of Irish, in other words, death by a
thousand cuts.
Meanwhile Irish Republican prisoners continue to suffer at the hands of
the British state in Maghaberry. Since the Provos surrendered the right
to political status for Republican POWs that had been secured following
the deaths of the ten hunger strikers in the H-Blocks of Long Kesh in
1981. The recent call
by Ulster Unionist Stormont member Doug Beattie to end the separation
of Republican prisoners shows how the unionist establishment continually
fail to draw on the lessons of history. Irish history is littered with
the failed attempts of the British Government to criminalise Ireland’s
historic struggle for national independence. This attempt will be no
more successful than any of those in the past. We salute the Republican
prisoners in Maghaberry.
I would also like to take this opportunity to salute the three
Republican Sinn Fein activists arrested and charged before the non-jury
Special Criminal Court in September. All three, have been given bail
conditions which deny them the right to engage in their normal political
activities including attending the Ard-Fheis. This is a blatant attempt
to silence these political activists who have played leading roles in
issues such as the anti-water charges campaign. We extend our solidarity
to Jonathan Hawthorn – a member of the outgoing Ard Chomhairle – Donall
O Ceallaigh and Jimmy Geraghty.
As Irish Republicans we have always recognised the EU for what it is. It
is a club of former imperial powers whose purpose is the consolidation
of their power. It is imperialism in a modern form. Republicans have
consistently argued against Ireland’s participation in this project. In
Ireland we have experienced both forms of imperialism and still do. In
the Six Counties British military occupation represents the old
imperialism while in the 26 Counties we have seen the social and
economic ravages of the new imperialism of the EU.
The result of the British referendum towards Brexit was of course
welcomed by Irish Republicans. On two levels, firstly it exposed the
inherent fissures that exist within the so-called United Kingdom. From
our point of view it will hopefully hasten its demise. We welcome the
likelihood of a referendum on Scottish Independence. Secondly it strikes
a blow against the EU project and gives encouragement to other
progressive forces throughout Europe.
Unfortunately, the British right were allowed to frame the debate, there
are of course very progressive arguments to be advanced against the EU
but they were lost in a cacophony of right wing voices clamouring for
position within the British Tory party etc. We are proud of our record
of consistently
opposing the construction of a militarised and undemocratic superstate
in every referenda held in the 26 Counties since 1972. This is the only
position Irish Republicans can hold if we are serious about creating an
independent Ireland based on the principles of the 1916 Proclamation.
Talk of a United Ireland is meaningless; we have had unity under British
Rule and indeed under the EU both parts of Ireland were largely under
the same EU law. The sovereignty and independence of the Irish people is
the goal of Irish Republicanism. There is no point in removing the
shackles of British imperialism only to replace them with political and
economic imperialism of the EU.
Ireland is part of Europe and has been for thousands of years. As Irish
Republicans, we draw on a political philosophy whose roots are within
the European Enlightenment of the 18th century. This European culture of
music, literature and philosophy predates and transcends the EU.
Far from looking inward we as Irish Republicans are looking outward and
into the future. We have a vision of the type of Ireland we wish to
create. We believe Eire Nua provides the framework within which such a
new Ireland can be constructed by all sections of the Irish people.
We are entering a period of radical change which presents opportunities
for those committed to fighting for real political and economic
democracy not only within nations but between nations. A community of
free nations as envisaged by James Connolly. Within such a community of
free nations an All-Ireland Federal Democratic Socialist Republic could
take its rightful place.
As we celebrate the centenary of the 1916 Rising it is time to reject
the failed politics of Leinster House and begin in earnest the task of
making the All-Ireland Republic of 1916 a reality. The 1916 Proclamation
sets out unambiguously the principles upon which such an Ireland should
be founded. Eire Nua provides the programme to transform that Republic
from an abstract ideal to a tangible reality for all sections of the
Irish people, north, south, east and west. Writing in his column in the
Sunday Independent on March 6 Gene Kerrigan does see signs of hope that
a younger generation are not falling for the jaded politics of the
Leinster House politics class: “Perhaps reflecting on the 1916 centenary
has something to do with it. Perhaps more of us know that others of our
kind once had higher hopes.” In this centenary year, we must strive for
an Ireland where the old and the sick are not forced to rely on the
kindness of strangers to survive, where a terminally-ill man or a
heavily-pregnant woman are forced to walk the streets by day because
they are denied the basic right of a roof over their head, where the
social fabric of the nation is shredded in both partition states to
protect the interests of the bankers and their cronies. Pearse,
Connolly, Clarke, Mac Diarmada and their comrades did not view Ireland
and her people as a commodity to be sold to the highest bidder, they saw
the Irish Nation as something sacred in which they invested their lives.
We can only truly honour them by seeking an Ireland that truly reflects
the 1916 Proclamation.”
In marking the Centenaries of momentous and defining events in our
revolutionary history let us come into communion with the spirit of that
heroic generation. The revolutionary generation of a century ago were
men and women of vision. They showed us by their example what can be
achieved by ordinary people when they unite together based on principle
and idealism.
By drawing on the lessons of our history let us set about the task of
building a New Ireland that reflects the high ideals of the 1916
Proclamation.
Victory to the All-Ireland Republic An Phoblacht Abu

Sinn Fein renews focus on Irish unity

Posted by Jim on

Sinn Fein has published a discussion document, ‘Towards a United
Ireland’, to lay out the rationale for reunification in terms of the
economy, public services and reconciliation.

The party says it has a vision of a new Ireland which would be built on
the principles of equality and inclusion. It would require a new
constitution and Bill of Rights and a discussion on symbols and emblems
to reflect an inclusive Ireland, the safeguarding of British citizenship
and recognition of the unionist identity.

The party also said that a constitutional model other than a single
unitary state might be needed to ensure the highest democratic standards
and safeguards.

Speaking at the launch of the document, deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald
said the party wanted to stimulate debate on the matter. She said that
she would be open to discussions on Ireland joining the British
Commonwealth if unionists were to compromise on reunification.

Sinn Fein MEP Matt Carthy said he would like to see a referendum in the
next political term, adding later it could be within two years.

On the cost of reunification Mr Carthy said the departments of finance
north and south should carry out an analysis. The Six County Minister
for Finance Mairtin O Muilleoir, who attended the event, said
reunification would mean a benefit of 35 billion pounds between now and
2025.

According to the document, the issue of affordability has been subject
to “wild speculation”. It criticised the British government for refusing
“to fully open the books” as to what the North costs the British
exchequer.

Calling it the “unaffordability myth”, Sinn Fein challenged the 24
billion pounds figure some commentators claim is spent by the Britain on
the North, and put public spending in the 18 to 20 billion pounds range,
with revenue generated within the North around 15 billion pounds, a far
smaller and more affordable shortfall.

Sinn Fein said “over-estimates of the North’s fiscal deficit are a
political ploy aimed at closing down any debate on Irish unity”. It
estimated that the actual annual deficit is between #2.7 billion and
#5.1 billion.

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams, in a statement launching the document,
asked: “Would anybody with the benefit of hindsight, propose the
partition of Ireland as a measure to resolve conflict, build a
prosperous and fair society or to reconcile people?

“Partition is a failure. A miserable divisive failure. It created
decades of economic decline in the north and in the south, including
forced emigration.

“Partition broke essential trade links across the island, sustained
decades of conflict and injustice and established two conservative
elites north and south. The lack of equality and plurality in politics
led to unjust governance and discrimination. The revolutionary social,
economic, and cultural promise of 1916 was replaced by a conservative
counter revolution. During the years of conflict, raising unity was
dismissed by some as tacit support for armed struggle. The conflict is
over.”

A Sinn Fein spokesperson also called for a united soccer team. “Irish
sports teams are stronger and better when they are all-Ireland teams,”
they said. “Look at the success of our rugby teams and golfers. As an
all-Ireland organisation the GAA is unmatched by any other sports
organisation. Support for an all-Ireland soccer team is growing. We are
stronger and more successful together.”

Mr Adams pointed out that the Taoiseach had addressed the possibility of
a referendum on Irish unity, and that the the Fianna Fail leader Micheal
Martin had acknowledged that the Brexit vote means that the north should
have a special status within the European Union.

“When the issue of reunification is raised in the Dail, as it is
regularly by Sinn Fein, the response is that now is not the time to talk
about this. The closing down of the debate on unity is akin to saying
that we cannot talk about the future,” he said.

“The imposition of Brexit, despite the vote of the people in the north,
underlines the undemocratic nature of partition and the unequal
relationship between London and Belfast.

“The future constitutional position of the north lies in the hands of
the people of the north and of the south. The Good Friday Agreement
obliges the Irish and British governments to legislate for unity if that
is the choice of the people north and south. So now is the time to look
to the future. We can redefine the relationships across the island and
between Ireland and Britain. This is an exciting time when we can create
a new Ireland.”

The Sinn Fein leader argued that greater plurality and inclusion in the
political process would “radically change the current political status
quo” and act as a challenge for all parties, but that there was a
particular onus on the Dublin government to begin to plan for unity by
drafting a green paper on the issue.

He said Dublin needed to “become a persuader for unity” to drive the
process and build the maximum agreement and to secure and win a border
poll.

“Brexit has demonstrated again the failure of partition. Now is the time
to look to the future and to talk about, to plan and to deliver a new
and united Ireland,” he said.

“Sinn Fein will be flexible on the shape of the united Ireland. The
people of this island have the opportunity, not afforded to many
generations, to build a new Ireland.”

ANOTHER SAD EXAMPLE OF ANTI-CATHOLIC BIGOTRY

Posted by Jim on

The article below from the News Letter ( Belfast) is yet another sad example of anti-Catholic bigotry in Northern Ireland.
The Free Presbyterian Church (of Northern Ireland) is the driving force behind the opposition to the Pope’s possible visit to Northern Ireland. That denomination was founded by Reverend Ian Paisley in 1951, eventually becoming his political power base and the foundation-stone of his politcal party, the DUP (Democratic Unionist Party) which he founded in 1971 to oppose the historic Ulster Unionist Party. Noted for its anti-Catholic bigotry, the DUP would eventually seize power from the Ulster Unionist Party (which itself was far from being pro-Catholic).Arlene Foster defected from the Ulster Unionst Party on December 18, 2003 to join the proudly anti-Catholic DUP. Paisely would later go on to moderate his position and to share power with Sinn Fein. Apparently , because he was seen to be “going soft on Catholics” he was eventually pushed out of both his Church and politcal party.
Arlene Foster now leads the DUP and is the First Minister of Northern Ireland.It remains to be seen if she will strongly condemn the bigoted opposition of her supporters to the Pope’s visit. She should show decisive leadership and condemn without equivocation or reservation this latest poisonous manifestation of the enduring anti-Catholic bigotry that still exists in a significant section of the Protestant/Unionist community in Northern Ireland.Arlene Foster must act as the co-leader (with Martin Mc Guinness) of “ The Beloved Community, “ as envisioned by Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. The Beloved Community is the very antithesis of the sectarian community.
—Fr. Sean Mc Manus

DUP councillor: Evangelicals should speak out against papal visit

John Finlay, DUP councillor, Ballymoney

Letter to the Editor. News Letter (Belfast). Saturday, December 3, 2016

John Finlay, DUP councilor, Ballymone
After Enda Kenny met with the pope at the Vatican on Monday, he wasted no time in tweeting that a papal visit to Ireland in 2018 was now more likely than ever.

Immediately, the main talking point was whether he would include Northern Ireland in his itinerary.

It was stated that such a visit would be hugely symbolic and a key piece of the peace process jigsaw. Pope John Paul II had been unable to cross the border in 1979 for security concerns, and the Vatican therefore viewed this as “unfinished business”.

The media, true to form, were ecstatic about all this, and sound-bites from the great and the good in church and state were eagerly sought and obtained. Rarely have we heard such excitement from certain church “leaders”.

Needless to say, the usual ecumenical suspects were quick to issue gushing statements of adulation about the wonderful and ever so humble Pope Francis and how universally welcome he would be. Michael Kelly of the ‘Irish Catholic’ said that while there might be small protests, these would be by “fringe elements”.
As an evangelical Protestant, I will not be welcoming a papal visit, and I know I am not alone.

Despite all the pandering to the Pope by senior figures in the main Protestant denominations, the fact remains that many within the Presbyterian, Church of Ireland and Methodist churches are totally opposed to the Pope’s claims and teachings, and to any visit.

It is all very well to assert, as some people have done, that the Pope’s visit should be welcomed on grounds of civil and religious liberties. I can understand that the Roman Catholic people would want to see their leader, but the reality is that no papal visit can be low-key or merely pastoral, for the Pope claims temporal and spiritual power over the whole earth.

He claims to be Vicar of Christ on earth, but the Reformers and Puritans correctly identified him as an enemy of Christ and of the Gospel.

It is worth reminding ourselves of the solemn words of the Westminster Confession of Faith where it states as Chapter 25 para 6, “There is no other head of the Church but the Lord Jesus Christ. Nor can the Pope of Rome, in any sense, be head thereof; but is that Antichrist, that man of sin, and son of perdition, that exalts himself, in the Church, against Christ and all that is called God”.

Those words will be dismissed by some as the bigoted ramblings of a past age, but our Protestant forefathers had a better understanding of these matters than today’s largely secular and spiritually confused society. I stand where they stood.

It is imperative that all evangelical Protestants in church and state speak out clearly against the planned 2018 visit.
The voice of opposition must be heard.

Anti internment convoy this Saturday!

Posted by Jim on November 30, 2016

 
A slow moving convoy from Newry to Dublin to highlight internment will take place next Saturday 3rd December.
The convoy will highlight the ever increasing internment by remand of republicans in the occupied six counties and the twenty six counties.
The continued internment of Tony Taylor from Derry without charge and the miscarriage of justice of John Paul Wootton and Brendan McConville will also focus on the day.
The convoy will commence at B&Q in Newry at 11am and will head south along the M1 taking in Dundalk, Drogheda, Julianstown, and Whitehall arriving at Garden of Remembrance Parnell Square Dublin at approximately 1pm.
A march will then commence at 2pm and travel along O’Connell Street to the GPO where a public meeting addressed by a number of prominent speakers will take place.
The event is co-organised by Duleek Independent Republicans and the Anti-Internment group of Ireland. All are welcome to participate and all flags and banners are welcome.

Two Distinguished Labor Leaders to Receive World Peace Prize

Posted by Jim on November 29, 2016

John Sweeney, AFL-CIO President Emeritus and Elizabeth Powell, Secretary-Treasurer, APWU

JOHN SWEENEY ELIZABETH POWELL

CAPITOL HILL. Tuesday, November 29, 2016—— The recipients of the 2016 World Peace Prize, “Roving Ambassadors for Peace” have been announced.

The Prize will go to two leading members of the American Labor Movement: AFL-CIO President Emeritus Mr. John Sweeney and Ms. Elizabeth Powell, Secretary-Treasurer, American Postal Workers Union (APWU).
Fr. Sean Mc Manus — President of the Capitol Hill-based Irish National Caucus and Chief Judge of the World Peace Prize Awarding Council (WPPAC)— said: “I have the honor of being the Chief Judge of the World Peace Prize Awarding Council (headquartered in Seoul, South Korea), and was pleased to be able to propose both John and Elizabeth for the Award on the basis that if one works in solidarity for justice for working men and women, one is, indeed, working for peace. I was delighted that our 14-member panel of international and interfaith judges unanimously agreed. We strongly believe that the Labor Movement should be recognized as powerfully contributing to world peace—based on equality and justice. That is, also, why the 2015 World Peace Prize –Top Award was presented to AFL-CIO President Trumka. The ‘Roving Ambassador for Peace’ is the second-tier Award.”

The presentation of the “Roving Ambassador for Peace” award will take place on Tuesday, February 14, 2017 at 2:30 -4:30 PM at the AFL-CIO Headquarters, 815 16th St., N.W., Washington D.C. 20006.

Fr. Mc Manus explained: “The World Peace Prize was initiated in Seoul, South Korea in 1989 by the
visionary Reverend Dr. Han Min Su, a Presbyterian Minister who has dedicated his life to promoting world peace by bringing together East and West and representatives of all the major world religions: Judaism, lslam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Catholicism, Protestantism, Russian Orthodox and Zoroastrianism.

Fr. Mc Manus concluded: “John Sweeney personifies the strong and proud record of Irish-Americans in the history of the Labor Movement’s struggle for justice. Elizabeth Powell, a strong and proud African- American, is the first woman to hold the position of Secretary-Treasurer in the APWU. She personifies the Dream of Martin Luther King Jr. as she blazes the trail for justice, equality and peace, thereby building up the ‘Beloved Community’— the term Dr. King made famous.”

A failed prison

Posted by Jim on November 28, 2016

After five deaths at the jail in the past year, prisons campaigner
Alec McCrory raises concerns about the situation in Maghaberry.

The problems in Maghaberry are systemic ones. Recent suicides are not
explained simply by neglect or failure to follow guidelines for the
management of vulnerable prisoners. No, it goes much deeper into the
system where there is a lack of empathy and basic respect for prisoners.

Screws are not social workers, fair enough, yet they are required to
work with people who suffer from mental health problems and serious
addictions. Also, the level of educational attainment amongst prisoners
is frighteningly low and is reflected in their inability to articulate
concerns and grievance.

The relationship between staff and prisoners is based on a power
differential. This unequal relationship is not conducive to building
understanding and trust between human beings. Every conceivable social
prejudice towards prisoners is present in the general workforce in
Maghaberry; prisoners are scum and are unworthy of proper treatment. A
basic training regime for new recruits does nothing to alter these
prejudices at the individual or collective level.

For example, I was up visiting a friend today and nothing seems to have
changed regarding the attitude of some staff members. A female screw
with a well earned reputation for being a bigot was her usual abrasive
self. Although this was a minor issue it is reflective of the hostility
that exists within that institution which is responsible for many of the
problems we see today. I would not trust that woman with the care of a
dog to say nothing of prisoners for whom she has the upmost disdain.

During the exchange I noticed she was not displaying an identification
number on her uniform. When I challenged her on this she said it was
none of my business and that she was not answerable to the likes of me.
I reminded her that a court ruling last year required all members of
staff to wear numbers for identification purposes and that the
compliance date was long past: to which she merely shrugged her
shoulders. Why an ignoramus such as this is allowed to engage with the
public is typical of the blase attitude of those responsible for
managing the prison.

Finally, Maghaberry requires a complete overhaul at every level of the
system. This will only happen when the political parties at Stormont
begin to take the matter seriously. Successive reports have damned the
prison as being totally unfit for purpose. As prisons are now a devolved
matter, the responsibility for the present crisis sits squarely on the
shoulders of the local parties; the major portion resting with the
devilish DUP/Sinn Fein coalition. How many more deaths must there be,
how many more damming reports, how many more protests before this
nightmare institution is put to rights?

American family accuse PSNI of cover-up

Posted by Jim on

The family of a US citizen killed by the RUC (now PSNI) police in 1997
have accused those involved of being part of a “conspiracy of silence”.

Police Ombudsman Michael Maguire this week confirmed an inquest finding
that it was “highly probable” that one or more RUC members were
responsible for the injuries which contributed to John Hemsworth’s
death.

Mr Hemsworth was left with a broken jaw and bruising to his neck and
back following the assault. He suffered a stroke six months later and
died on New Year’s Day 1998, at the age of 39.

The attack happened during a night of rioting in west Belfast linked to
the Drumcree dispute in Portadown, where the RUC attempted to force a
sectarian Orange Order parade down the nationalist Garvaghy Road.

Members of the dead man’s family pursued the case for 18u years despite
being repeatedly fobbed off by the Six County authorities. The resulting
inquest and an investigation by the Police Ombudsman’s office confirmed
John Hemsworth was in the same location as the PSNI members at the time
of the fatal assault.

Mr Hemsworth’s daughter Danielle welcomed the Police Ombudsman’s
findings but said they were “deeply upset and concerned” that those
responsible continue to evade accountability and justice.

“At the very minimum if these serving officers cannot recall the assault
on my daddy, despite numerous investigations and an inquest, then are
they really fit to serve as police officers?”, she said.

Her mother Collette Hemsworth said it had been an “emotionally
exhausting journey in establishing the truth and the facts surrounding
John’s death”.

“I was robbed of my loving husband and my daughter of her devoted
father,” she said.

“Nothing can ever replace that aching gap in our lives. The cherished
memories we have of John remain with us every single day. He was a
wonderful human being who would not have harmed a living soul and yet he
was so cruelly set upon.”

The victim’s brother Paul Hemsworth said his father died without seeing
the completed report.

“The RUC officers’ lack of co-operation since this time has led to an
18-year delay,” he said. “My brother was in the wrong place at the wrong
time. Let this be on the RUC officers’ conscience.”

Relatives for Justice director Mark Thompson said it was astonishing
that none of the PSNI men interviewed could recall the incident. “We
find this situation beyond incredible,” he said.

Parades body reappointed

Posted by Jim on November 23, 2016

Claire Simpson.Irish News (Belfast). Wednesday, November 23, 2016

THE Orange Order has hit out at the reappointment of the existing Parades Commissioners, saying the Secretary of State’s decision “amounts to nothing more than rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic”.

James Brokenshire announced on Monday that he has reappointed the five commissioners – Anne Henderson, Sarah Havlin, Paul Hutchinson, Colin Kennedy and Geraldine McGahey – for up to three years, subject to review in a year’s time.

He said he would also phase in “staggered appointments” to the commission over the next three years.

However, the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland said it was frustrated by the move and said new parading legislation was needed.

“While the commissioners have over the years made some illogical, stupid and unjust decisions, including rewarding dissident violence; their reappointment amounts to nothing more than rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic,” it said.

“Mr Brokenshire’s statement offers no hope that the current debacle will be replaced with fair and equitable legislation. It ignores the wishes of the leadership of unionism, all of whom have stated that the current legislation is not fit for purpose, underscoring that politics has failed the Orange family in respect of creating a level playing field for parading.”

The Grand Lodge said recent resolutions to contentious parades, including in Ardoyne in north Belfast, “were in spite of the Parades Commission, not because of them”.

“Indeed, their existence hindered solutions,” it said.

TUV leader Jim Allister said he was “disappointed” by the reappointments and added that laws around parades need to change.

“Fundamental legislative change is imperative to establish a presumption in favour of traditional routes and parades on main arterial routes, as they are a shared space,” he said.

Brokenshire calls on the executive to ‘play part’ in dealing with past

Posted by Jim on

John Manley. Irish News (Belfast). Tuesday, November 22, 2016

THE secretary of state has called on the Stormont executive to “play their part” in ensuring any process for dealing with the past is a success.

Nationalists have blamed the British government’s ‘national security veto’ for stalling progress, while disagreement between the DUP and Sinn Féin is thought to be holding up funding for historical inquests.

Writing in The Irish News today, James Brokenshire, pictured, says that since he took office in July many victims and survivors have voiced their disappointment and occasional anger at the failure to agree on a process for dealing with the past.

He says the British government is committed to implementing the Stormont House Agreement’s “balanced and proportionate structures” for dealing with legacy issues and that everyone in the north has a stake in making the new institutions work.

The secretary of state also signals the likelihood of a forthcoming public consultation but says the success or failure of the process does rest solely with the British government.

“It will not hinge on a national security ‘veto’ – that simplistic characterisation fails to recognise that the UK government has agreed to disclose all relevant material it holds to the Historical Investigation Unit, with appropriate, independent oversight of its onward transmission to ensure lives are protected today,” he writes.

Mr Brokenshire’s comments come against the background of a freshly published report on legacy by UN Special Rapporteur Pablo de Greiff which concluded that national security concerns cannot override the state’s obligations to provide information about the past.

The SDLP’s Alex Attwood described the secretary of state’s argument on national security as “disingenuous”.

“The national security veto is about London blocking disclosure on anything they think they don’t want to put into the public domain,” he said.

“To portray it otherwise dowses not build confidence this late in the conversation.”

Remembering JFK – the assassination took place 53 years ago today

Posted by Jim on November 22, 2016

@IrishCentral

John F Kennedy and Jackie in the motorcade on that fateful day in November 22, 1963.

John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the United States’ only Catholic president—the count is now running 44-to-1, which by any bookmaker’s cheat sheet are pretty amazing, skewered odds—once said: “There are three things in life: God, human folly, and laughter. The first two are beyond our comprehension, we must make the best of the third.” On November 22, 1963 the laughter died, not only for JFK, but also for the United States of America.

 

For most baby boomers, there are two dates that stick out in their minds—November 22, 1963 and September 11, 2001. Both moments of unbelievable national tragedy. But maybe 11/22/63 was a little tougher because all Americans knew the man. He barely won the 1960 election—although the following year over 60% of Americans said they voted for him—but he brought something special to the White House—a beautiful young family, laughter, culture and class. Whatever you feel about Kennedy, the rest of the world saw this man who represented the United States of America and what they felt was simple—hope.

Uniquely Irish

Kennedy was uniquely Irish. He was the great-grandchild of immigrants from County Wexford. Thanks to his family’s great wealth he never suffered poverty or hard discrimination—save for those Boston Brahmins who thought him “Shanty Irish”—but in his gut he was a Fenian. In this day of draft-dodging political cowards—“Chickenhawk” is the perfect description—he used his father’s influence to get into the United States Navy during World War II. As the skipper of the PT-109 in the hotly contested Solomon Islands his plywood boat was cut in half by a Japanese destroyer during night action and he was violently flung back on the bridge, ruining his back for the rest of his life. He gathered his crew around him, saving a badly burnt crewmate by slipping a belt under his arms, putting the belt in his teeth, and towing the man to an island. For his valor he was awarded the Navy and Marine Corp Medal and the Purple Heart. That’s a far cry from recent presidents who were outright draft-dodgers or hiding out in safe places like the Texas National Guard.

A Triumphant Year

The last year of Kennedy’s life was a whirlwind. In October 1962, he faced down the Russians over missiles in Cuba. The generals wanted war, but the President, who knew war firsthand, managed a negotiated settlement which the world saw as a win for the young President.

The first half of 1963 brought unparalleled success to Kennedy. On June 11, 1963, he gave a nationally televised speech about Civil Rights where he called upon Americans to give equal rights to their fellow Negro citizens because “We are confronted primarily with a moral issue. It is as old as the Scriptures and is as clear as the American Constitution.”

In 1964 Lyndon Johnson would pass JFK’s Civil Rights Bill just as it was written by Kennedy. On June 26, 1963, Kennedy gave his famous “Ich bin ein Berliner” speech in Berlin which built up the hopes of the population of Berlin while warning the Russians that their time would come.

Home to Ireland

Immediately after Berlin, he flew to Ireland, where he was greeted on the tarmac at Dublin Airport by President Eamon de Valera.

The RTE feed is one of unabashed pride as it reads: “Welcome Mr. President.”

Kennedy went on to address the Irish Parliament, the Dáil, but the thing that stands out on that Dublin visit is that he took the time to visit Arbour Hill where 14 of the sixteen martyrs of the Easter Rebellion are buried in a mass grave. He is the only American President to pay his respects to these murdered leaders. It is poignant to see him reading the names of the patriots on the side of the grave as  Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister) Seán Lemass, who knew many of these men, walks at the President’s side.

Kennedy took pride in his Irishness as one can see from this clip when the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem sang “We Want No Irish Here” for the President. Liam Clancy’s cheeky introduction manages to elicit a huge smile out of the President.

JFK said goodbye to Ireland at Shannon Airport in County Clare, but promised “I’ll come back in the spring,” but he had already lived his last spring.

Tragedy Strikes, Then Dallas

August was to prove a momentous month for Kennedy. On August 5, 1963, he signed the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, which made the world safer for every human being, but just four days later tragedy struck when his infant son, Patrick Bouvier Kennedy, died two days after his birth.

Mrs. Kennedy disappeared for months but reemerged in November for a two-day political tour of the Texas cities of San Antonio, Houston, Fort Worth and Dallas.

JFK was greeted by fantastic crowds in supposedly hostile territory and you can see the President obviously enjoying himself as he and the First Lady work the crowds. In his last speech, he issued a prescient warning saying we live in “a very dangerous and uncertain world.”

On the arrival of Air Force One at the ironically named Love Field in Dallas, the President and Mrs. Kennedy again worked the crowd, but, in the background there can be seen a Confederate flag stubbornly flying, reminding the world that not everyone approved of his Civil Rights agenda. Twenty minutes later the President was shot and a shocked nation listened to Walter Cronkite, in tears, give the terrible news of the assassination of the nation’s 35th president.

John F. Kennedy was President for less than three years, but in that short span of time he pointed the nation towards the 21st century. He steered the nation to outer space and the moon explaining that “We do these things not because they are easy, but because they are hard.”

JFK set about fulfilling President Lincoln’s promise to the slaves at home and promoting peace abroad, sending American volunteers around the world serving in the Peace Corp.

He was not without his faults. He was a man with a weakness for the flesh, but he did not blatantly brag about it. He tried to lift a nation and push it forward—and he succeeded. That’s why 53 years after his death he is still fondly remembered around the world, especially in the small island nation which gave the world his family.

UN report: Security cannot override state’s obligations to information

Posted by Jim on


John Manley. Irish News. Monday, November, 21, 2016

National security concerns cannot override the British state’s obligations to provide information about the past, a hard-hitting UN report has concluded.
The report, by UN special rapporteur Pablo De Greiff  has been welcomed by campaign group Relatives for Justice, which says the report echoes calls for the Lord Chief Justice Declan Morgan’s plan on legacy inquests to be resourced and implemented.
Mr De Greiff’s report on the “promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence” was compiled on the back of two visits to the north over the past 12 months.
It comes in the midst of a logjam on dealing with the past.
Despite widespread acknowledgement that the legacy element of the Stormont House Agreement should be implemented, the process has snagged due to a British government national security veto coupled with a hold-up in the release of funding from Stormont for historic inquests.
The UN special rapporteur recommends that support is given to the Lord Chief Justice’s inquest proposals, while saying that national security considerations should “not override obligations stemming from the right to truth”
Relatives for Justice director Mark Thompson, left, said the report was “excellent”.
He said it underlined the need for a process for dealing with the past that was “comprehensive, fully inclusive, robust and above all independent”.
“We welcome his commentary and advices around fully inclusive processes and the need for thematic processes including examination of structural violence and the needs of the injured as well as the bereaved,” he said.
“In particular we welcome his commentary on reparations for victims in which he states these issues should be tackled seriously and systemically.”
Mr Thompson said Mr De Greiff had called for the full implementation of the mechanisms  agreed at Stormont House, including the provision by the British government of “effective resources enabling them to function correctly”.
“Noting persistent failures around independence, namely the HET [Historical Enquiries Team] and delays around inquests, he has underlined the need for independence and adequate resourcing in all mechanisms to deal with the past as critical to their success,” he said.
“We agree that the issue of inclusiveness around victims, should be based on a human rights framework.
“This must not be sectarian or driven by sectional interests that seek to separate victims and their needs, which has to date promoted and fostered division – we welcome the comments which seek to promote bridge building.”
Mr Thompson also noted how Mr De Greiff addressed the “absence of a gender lens” in his report, noting how “the majority of those killed were male and those left picking up the pieces were women”.
Sinn Féin welcomed the report. Party spokesperson on legacy issues, Jennifer McCann said it was comprehensive in detail and the party would take time to study its content.
“What is clear is that an international body such as the UN has placed the British government’s failure to deal with past in any comprehensive manner in the dock,” she said.
“Sinn Féin and others have agreed mechanisms to deal with the past which the British government have so far refused to implement.
“The British government need to take heed of this report and implement its recommendations in full, including issues which Sinn Féin has highlighted such as disclosure, resourcing of mechanisms and the need to adequately fund legacy investigations and inquests.”UN report: Security cannot override state’s obligations to information

How the RUC protected the UDA

Posted by Jim on November 19, 2016

————————————————————————–
A big arms find in UDA’s Belfast HQ in 1981 proved embarrassing for a
British government resisting calls to outlaw the group but trying to
appear even-handed. An extract from ‘A State in Denial: The British
Government and Loyalist Paramilitaries’ by Margaret Urwin.
————————————————————————–

In terms of the politics of proscription [of the UDA], we have always
regarded the existence of such denials as more important than their
accuracy. – C. Davenport, NIO official

On 26 May 1981, at the height of tensions over the IRA/INLA hunger
strike, the RUC searched the headquarters of the UDA in Newtownards
Road, Belfast, and discovered the following weapons: one Thompson
sub-machine gun, six home-made Sten guns, a .45 revolver and 550 rounds
of ammunition. According to official records UDA man Robert McDevitt was
arrested, while Andy Tyrie was merely interviewed. However, The Irish
Times stated that two men were arrested along with Tyrie. The discovery
prompted a debate amongst top civil servants, ministers and the chief
constable. If involvement in outright sectarian murders was not
sufficient cause to ban the UDA, would catching the organisation
red-handed, with a deadly arms cache in its headquarters, be enough?
Surely a Rubicon of sorts had been crossed?

This certainly triggered a flurry of internal memos between senior NIO
officials. Assistant Secretary Stephen Boys-Smith, wrote to P. W. J.
Buxton about the arms discovery, noting Buxton’s views at a meeting with
the secretary of state the previous day regarding UDA proscription.
Buxton had told Humphrey Atkins:

“The UDA is not now engaged in violence although it might be ready to
resort to or encourage violence in extreme situations. The organisation
reflects certain strands of the thinking of the Protestant community and
it would be a substantial step to proscribe it.”

This statement was simply untrue. The UDA was, at that time, engaged in
violence. In March, it killed Paul Blake, a Catholic, and – just ten
days before the arms find – another Catholic, Patrick Martin. Buxton
also ignored the high-profile attempted murder of the McAliskeys.

Some senior NIO officials had certainly been expecting an upsurge in UDA
violence in response to the election of IRA hunger-striker Bobby Sands
in the Fermanagh/south Tyrone by-election held on 9 April 1981. David
Blatherwick had written to D. J. Wyatt in April stating that they were
aware ‘that the UDA is currently considering a major escalation in
violence as a response to Sands’ victory’.

At a meeting on 1 June Atkins expressed concern that the police had
failed to make arrests following the discovery of the arms and had not
sought extensions of detention while pursuing their enquiries.
Justifiably, he worried that the police would not be seen to have acted
as might have been expected had a similar discovery been made elsewhere,
rather than at UDA headquarters.

In a note to John Blelloch, deputy secretary, NIO, dated 3 June, Buxton
reported on his questioning of the chief constable, Sir John Hermon, the
previous night about the failure to bring charges; he had put it to
Hermon that he could have used Section 9 of the Northern Ireland
(Emergency Provisions) Act 1978 to do so.

Buxton had advised that Section 9 provided that when arms were found ‘in
premises of which a person was the occupier and which he habitually used
otherwise than as a member of the public’, that might be accepted as
sufficient proof of illegal possession of arms, unless the person could
prove ignorance. The section reversed the onus of proof – under Section
9 a person was not presumed innocent until proven guilty, but rather had
to prove their innocence. Hermon had agreed that it had proven useful in
other cases. In what appears to be a barely veiled criticism of the
chief constable, Buxton advised Blelloch that ‘Hermon still needs to
focus on the continued possibility of laying charges’.

It was a busy time for Buxton. In a long memo to the secretary of
state’s private secretary, he discussed the arms discovery and echoed
the secretary of state’s regrets that it was dealt with at divisional
level without reference to RUC headquarters.

Either Andy Tyrie had very strong powers of persuasion, or the RUC
regarded arms finds in the loyalist community very differently from arms
finds in the republican community. After the local detective chief
superintendent had taken him and the relevant UDA keyholders in for
questioning, they had satisfied their interrogators they had no
connection with or knowledge of the arms and were soon released without
charge, including McDevitt. Buxton reported that the chief constable had
conceded that it might have been ‘convenient’ to hold them for a couple
of days, but, he added, the action taken, ‘professionally speaking’, was
defensible. He explained that the UDA was a tenant of the property, not
the owner, and the NIO had been unable to establish the status of other
properties in which the UDA had an interest. He argued that if the UDA
were proscribed, it would cause the organisation no difficulty to
‘declare themselves under another name’ and re-register properties under
that name.

Buxton then presented the pros and cons of proscription. Points in
favour were that statements by Andy Tyrie in recent months had come
close to admissions of direct involvement in the ‘direction of
terrorism’. In The Washington Star the previous week, Tyrie had defended
assassinations and taken responsibility for ‘the small offensive unit
called UFF’. The arms find at UDA headquarters lent tangible credence to
these statements. Inaction by the government would put its credibility
and that of the RUC at risk when they claimed an even-handed approach to
law enforcement, he said. Proscription would please the Irish government
and Irish-American circles and might act as a ‘sweetener’ to the
‘beleaguered Catholic community’.

The points against proscription were that Tyrie had played a ‘generally
helpful’ role in stabilising loyalist opinion. If the UDA were to be
proscribed, he would lose control, creating a ‘second front’ for the
security forces when they were fully stretched on the main front,
combatting the IRA. They could expect disturbances in Protestant areas,
just when the marching season was beginning; the conviction of UDA
wrongdoers would be more difficult, given the ‘general disaffection’ and
drying up of intelligence sources. It would alienate the ‘Protestant
community’, even those who had no sympathy with the UDA; the
organisation had just unveiled some worthy plans for a new political
movement – proscription would probably nip that in the bud.

Buxton imparted the views of Hermon, who he said was firmly of the view
that this was an inopportune time to proscribe the UDA. In Hermon’s
view, two conditions would have to be satisfied – the politico-security
scene must be quiet (meaning that the hunger strike crisis must be
past), and the UDA should have developed politically to a point ‘where
the mass of dormant membership and the “social welfare/community worker”
elements had been syphoned off, leaving a rump of hard men (loosely
speaking the UFF) and an ordinary criminal fringe ripe for
proscription’.

The chief constable had warned Buxton that, if the government decided to
proceed with proscription, it could not count upon his support, and he
hoped to be given the chance to state his views before a final decision
was taken, preferably at a meeting with the secretary of state. Although
not quite a veto, this does seem to be the chief constable exerting an
undue influence on government policy. If ministers decided not to
proscribe for the moment, Hermon would be glad to be quoted in support
of the decision. His chief argument was the ‘demonstrable efforts of the
RUC to bring members of the UDA to book and the obstacles which
proscription would place in their way in the future’.

Buxton agreed that a strong argument could be advanced about the
prosecution of UDA members and suggested it was proof of the RUC’s bona
fides in claiming an even-handed approach and no sanctuary for the UDA.
He suggested that, in security terms, proscription would be
counterproductive and politically would tend to aggravate rather than
ease intercommunal tensions and provoke demands for similar action,
which they would be very reluctant to take at present, against
‘supposedly similar’ republican organisations. He concluded by
recommending that the secretary of state should not proscribe the UDA
but should keep the matter under close review, agreeing with Hermon that
if Atkins felt unable to accept his recommendation, he should invite the
chief constable to present his case before a final decision was made.

Boys-Smith, in a most revealing memo, wrote to Blelloch on 5 June,
reminding him of a remark by Atkins that proscription would ‘deprive the
security forces of the access which they presently had to those members
of the UDA who were also active in terrorism’.

As can be seen from the de Silva report into the murder of Pat Finucane,
around 85 per cent of all UDA intelligence information was coming from
the various branches of the British security forces at this time.
Clearly the ‘access’ worked in both directions, and to the UDA’s
benefit. According to a BBC Panorama programme, Lord Stevens, during his
investigations, arrested 210 loyalist paramilitary suspects, of whom 207
were agents or informants for the state.

A document included in de Silva’s report, headed ‘Collusion between the
security forces and loyalist paramilitaries’, observes that the flow of
intelligence to the UDA increased significantly around the time of the
Anglo-Irish Agreement: ‘However, it is assessed that research of
intelligence dating from previous years would be likely to reveal a
similar picture to that given in the attached document.’ Boys-Smith
appreciated that proscription would alienate sections of the ‘Protestant
community’ and agreed that it ‘would not be right at present to
proscribe the UDA’, although he noted that Atkins had again expressed
concern at how the discovery of arms at UDA headquarters and the
associated police action would be interpreted, especially if the UDA was
not proscribed. ‘He feared the Government and police would not appear
impartial, and that, even if there were good grounds for not bringing
prosecutions, they were not ones which would necessarily be understood
in the Catholic community or generally in Great Britain or elsewhere.’

The chief constable, he advised, had called on the secretary of state
later that day. Atkins remarked that Hermon was opposed to proscription
‘at this stage’ as he ‘thought it would be unhelpful to the preservation
of security’. He accepted the chief constable’s advice but told Hermon
he was ‘concerned about the perception of events’, both in terms of the
discovery of arms and the subsequent arrests and about the continuing
police investigation. Boys-Smith commented that the secretary of state
had to be mindful of ‘the questions which would be asked of him in
Parliament and by his colleagues and others in Great Britain’. While he
was ready to answer the suggestion that the UDA should be proscribed
‘because of the misdeeds of a few of its members’ and he had up to then
believed he could do so effectively, the discovery of arms created ‘a
different situation’. The UDA as a whole was seen to be involved, and
Atkins worried that ‘questions about its future were bound to be
raised’. Many people would assume that the UDA’s ‘Chairman’ (Tyrie) and
other officers could be held responsible; ‘this might be the case
particularly with those who knew of Section 9 of the Northern Ireland
(Emergency Provisions) Act 1978’.

Boys-Smith observed that Atkins had suggested the criticism would be
muted if there were arrests and prosecutions. He appreciated that
prosecutions were only possible if there was a reasonable chance of
conviction, but believed ‘a legitimate prosecution which failed in the
courts might be better than no prosecution at all’. He stressed to
Hermon the sensitivity of the situation and the importance of taking
action which would minimise the harmful reaction.

The chief constable reiterated that he did not believe UDA proscription
at the present time was the right way to go and asserted:

“Most UDA members did not act illegally and the organisation was not
active in violence. Only a small core of its members was involved in
terrorism or illegal activities and they were not a sufficient reason
for proscription. There was a good record of success against Protestant
extremists which would be hindered rather than helped by proscription.”

Hermon conceded that ‘the immediate aftermath of the discovery of arms
had been badly handled by his officers’ – the release of the three
suspects ‘had been premature, given the context in which the arrests had
been made, and the decision had not been referred to a suitably senior
level in the Force … He did not believe that charges could be brought
against the officers of the UDA’, notwithstanding Section 9 of the
Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Act and was opposed to
prosecutions that would result in acquittals. He had assured Atkins that
enquiries ‘were being pursued urgently and energetically’ to try to
identify those who might be involved and to arrest and detain them for
questioning.

While politicians such as Atkins might have claimed ignorance of the
true nature of the UDA, no such excuse was available to Hermon. As chief
constable, he had full access to Special Branch intelligence and would
have been well aware of the widespread involvement of the UDA in
assassinations, bombings, extortion and intimidation.

In the month before the arms find, NIO official D. F. E. (Frances)
Elliot drafted a letter to a Mr McNamara of Liverpool in answer to his
letter requesting the proscription of the UDA, dated 25 March. Ms Elliot
explained that the secretary of state was not, at present, going to
proscribe the UDA. She wrote that the decision was based:

“on the difference between an organisation as such being engaged in
terrorist activities (as for example, the PIRA or the UFF, both of which
are proscribed) and individuals (who also happen to be members of an
organisation) committing crimes.”

This oft-repeated disingenuous and subtle distinction was based on two
false premises. First, the UFF was not a separate organisation but
merely a cover name for the UDA. Second, it assumes that ‘individuals’
who carried out acts of terror were acting alone and were not being
directed by leaders of the UDA.

Michael Canavan of the SDLP persisted in his efforts to have the UDA
proscribed. On 1 June he wrote again to the secretary of state with new
information to bolster his case, referring to seventeen members of the
UDA convicted of terrorist offences; an Ulster Television Counterpoint
programme detailing UDA gun-running from Scotland; the judicial
comments, not only of Justice Murray at the trial of the killer of
Alexander Reid, but also of Justice McDermott (3 April), Justice Rowland
(18 April) and Justice Doyle (24 March and 28 May); and armed attacks on
at least five persons, one fatal.

Having taken the decision not to proscribe the organisation, officials
struggled to decide whether or not to inform Canavan of this. In a
remarkably cavalier response to Canavan’s dogged and justifiable
concern, C. Davenport of the Law and Order Division of the NIO advised
against informing him, noting that ‘interest in the UDA has gone off the
boil’.

LOUGH FOYLE INTEGRAL TO IRELAND’S NATIONAL TERRITORY

Posted by Jim on November 18, 2016

LOUGH FOYLE INTEGRAL TO IRELAND’S NATIONAL TERRITORY – 1916 SOCIETIES

The 1916 Societies note renewed claims of ownership by the British government, in the words of six-county Secretary of State James Brokenshire in the British House of Commons, to the ‘whole of Lough Foyle’, a disputed Irish waterway bordering Derry and Donegal contested since the time of partition.

The claims of James Brokenshire and the state he represents, the so-called United Kingdom, are an outworking of the continued violation of Irish national sovereignty by that same state. They are wholly without foundation given Britain has no democratic title in Ireland. Lough Foyle, as all of Ireland and her territorial waters, belongs as of right to the Irish people and to them should be returned.

The 1916 Proclamation declared the right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland, holding that right as sovereign and indefeasible, a position endorsed by overwhelming majority through the historic 1918 Election. With that in mind and like all Britain’s claims to Irish territory, this latest grab for the Foyle and her resources represents the imposition of force in defiance of democracy for British imperial gain.

Britain, then, should abandon not only her claims to Lough Foyle but with it her claim to the Six Counties, which remains integral to the Irish Nation regardless those claims. Their sovereignty restored, the Irish people, through democratic engagement among and between their number, can then agree new constitutional arrangements for a modern all-Ireland republic.

The British government must end its involvement in the internal affairs of our nation, that our right to self-determination might proceed without impediment. An independent all-Ireland republic, as freely agreed by our people, can at that point go forward by national referendum, restoring the ownership of Ireland to the people of Ireland as remains their inalienable right.

As the great James Connolly once asserted, Britain ‘has no right in Ireland, never had any right in Ireland, and never can have any right in Ireland’. It remains ever thus. Britain, then, should drop her undemocratic claims to our country and leave, allowing a peaceful tomorrow for the Irish people in a democratic republic for all.

By 1916 Societies November 18th, 2016

Disgraceful Failure to Address PSNI make-up

Posted by Jim on November 17, 2016

Brian Feeney. Irish News (Belfast).Wednesday,November 16, 2016

You might wonder what republican and nationalist representatives on the Policing Board are for.

A few years ago it emerged they had been asleep at the wheel while the PSNI[Police Service of Northern Ireland] operated a revolving door policy of recruiting through an agency former RUC personnel, many of whom had trousered [pocketed] huge redundancy payments. Many of them were given sensitive back -office work which could have involved investigating former colleagues or blocking investigation.

Those representatives haven’t been much help to Dr Michael Maguire the Police Ombudsman when he faced obstruction by the PSNI especially in the provision of evidential documents. He had to sue the previous chief constable to obtain certain documents.

They have been worryingly silent on the current low levels of Catholic recruitment after the three-year recruitment freeze ended a couple of years ago. In the tranche of recruits in 2015 only 77 of the 400 new police were Catholic. Around the same time as that figure was revealed  in September 2015 the PSNI committed an equally revealing PR gaffe when they said they were very anxious to recruit more women and ‘people from west of the Bann’. Wrong: the priority is to recruit more Catholics and guess what? Women can be Catholics too.

One of the basic principles of the Patten report was that the PSNI should ensure that its composition was not dissimilar to the society which they police. After the idiotic decision by Owen Paterson, under Unionist pressure,  to abolish 50-50 recruitment Catholic take-up has fallen consistently. The Catholic total in the PSNI is now stuck at 30 per cent compared to the Catholic percentage of the population now around 46 per cent and growing.

There’s another vital aspect that’s often overlooked. Well, in fact always overlooked by nationalist representatives on the Policing Board. How many Catholics are in senior command and management positions in the PSNI? Last year’s complaints about lack of women recruits came at a time when the most senior woman in the police, the deputy chief constable, was retiring. It was commented that there were only two women chief superintendents in the PSNI. No one, certainly not on the Policing Board, regretted the tiny number of Catholics in senior positions.

Here are the figures. According to the PSNI monitoring of the religious breakdown supplied to the Equality Commission, there are 506 people of the rank of inspector and above. Of those 92, or 18 per cent are Catholic, 396 or 78 per cent Protestant. Taking the total police service, full and part-time, which is 7,221, seven per cent are inspector or above,  yet only 1.2 per cent of the total are Catholic. Eight per cent of Protestants in the police are inspectors or above,  but only 4 per cent of Catholics. Not good is it?

Now you can understand how this has come about. After all, most of those in senior ranks will have been serving in the RUC or some other force for more than the 16 years the PSNI has been in existence. Nevertheless what, if any, action plan is there to accelerate Catholic officers to make up the shortfall in higher ranks? For women there is a gender action plan “to ensure their progress in regard to female career development.”

Given the evidence that Catholics are less likely to apply to join the police, are less likely to be successful in their application,  and more likely to leave early, this imbalance is certain to persist well into the future. Unless there’s a radical change to recruiting policy, in 10 years time when there’s a nationalist voting majority we’ll arrive at the bizarre situation where the Protestant minority is in a substantial majority at all levels in the police. At present it is arithmetically impossible for the situation to change.

The silence among nationalist and republican representatives about the recruiting crisis, for that’s what it is, is a disgrace. It seems that because they have invested so much political capital in supporting the police they feel they can’t criticize its functioning however unsatisfactory. This failure to hold the PSNI to account, and not simply about the egregious religious imbalance, is particularly acute in the case of Sinn Féin which has most to lose as they sit there demonstrating that the Policing Board is a paper tiger.

Republicanism strained by one-way peace traffic

Posted by Jim on November 15, 2016

Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness has renewed a controversy over his party’s
‘outreach’ efforts after he was spotted at a royal reception in London
in which the English queen Elizabeth Windsor unveiled a new painting of
herself.

Windsor was joined by Mr McGuinness as she unveiled the new portrait to
celebrate her role in the peace process on Tuesday. DUP leader Arlene
Foster, 26 County Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald and Windsor’s
husband, ‘Duke of Edinburgh’ Philip Mountbatten, were also on hand as
the painting was revealed to the gala event.

McGuinness applauded as the monarch pulled the satin cover off the
painting at a reception in Chelsea on Tuesday. He later posed beside the
portrait by Belfast-born artist Colin Davidson and again shook hands
with the queen, recreating the historic moment in 2012 which was said to
have inspired the portrait. He said: “I think she’s made a tremendous
contribution to support the whole process of peace and reconciliation.”

Sinn Fein has said its engagements with the English royals are part of a
process to recognise and respect the unionist tradition in Ireland. But
Mr McGuinness’s attendance at such royal events, including a banquet at
Windsor Castle two years ago, has repeatedly angered his party’s
traditional support.

The failure of unionists to reciprocate is the source of much of the
frustration, and the DUP’s campaign to inhibit use of the Irish language
in the north of Ireland is one example which was again highlighted this
week.

DUP minister Peter Weir adopted a new policy which sets out “the
principal language is English” and ended the use of Irish in
correspondence from the Six-County Department of Education. Official
letters had previously been written in both English and Irish, but the
use of Irish would is now deprecated.

Sinn Fein’s Niall O Donnghaile – who sits on the Irish Seanad – said the
DUP had politicised the language.

“When you have a minister for education, who has a statutory obligation
to promote and enhance the development of Irish medium education, taking
the decision to shut out the visibility of Irish and saying it will be
an English-only department, then that is ill intent, that is negative
and that is politicising.

“The DUP are punishing thousands of children from every religious and
cultural background.”

Responding to the development, Mr McGuinness admitted that some within
the DUP “hate anything Irish”.

He said: “There’s a cohort of people within the DUP who hate anything to
do with the Irish language”, adding: “We have to deal with the reality
that the political institutions we’re part of are institutions that
bring into government people who have different views about many of
these matters.”

NO FRESH START

Sinn Fein is facing mounting internal pressure over the failure of
last year’s ‘Fresh Start’ agreement on dealing with the past conflict.
There have also been conflicting messages over whether the party is
ready to make a historic decision to take up its seats in Westminster
parliaent.

While Martin McGuinness has refused to rule out the possibility, party
leader Gerry Adams has again insisted this week it wouldn’t happen.

“We were elected – and it was my great honour to represent the people of
Belfast for a long time – to not take our seats in the British
parliament,” he said.

“It is a foreign parliament. It is not our parliament and we owe no
allegiance to the English queen. We wish her well and we wish the people
of Britain well.”

During sharp exchanges in the Dublin parliament, opposition Fianna Fail
leader Micheal Martin said Sinn Fein’s approach was a “curious form of
abstentionism because they have never abstained from taking the salaries
or the expenses from Westminster or the Saxon shilling”, which he
estimated at “a couple million”.

He claimed that a principled form of abstention would be to abstain
altogether. Mr Adams said Mr Martin “would not be an expert on
principles”, adding: “you should look in the mirror” — referring to
Fianna Fail’s continued abstention on key votes in the Dublin parliament
order to sustain the Fine Gael-led minority government.

Demand the release of Tony Taylor

Posted by Jim on

By Cait Trainor

Tony Taylor, a Derry Republican has now been interned for 7 months.

Tony is a normal family man with a wife, children and responsibilities
just like everyone else, he has been interned at the behest of the
British Secretary of State in Ireland and has no charge against him, he
has no case to answer and he has no trial to face. So why exactly is
Tony Taylor in Jail? Why was he taken from his home and placed
indefinitely in a prison cell? He certainly doesn’t know why nor does
his family or lawyers; his predicament can be summed up with only one
word – Internment!

This is a word that in 2016 people are hesitant to use, it has an
emotive history in Ireland, where hundreds of people in the 70’s had
been wholesale subjected to internment. There are even those who
somewhat support Tony who are at pains to avoid using this word when
talking about Tony’s case, yet anyone with the faintest knowledge of
British abuse again Irish Republicans will know that internment is
exactly what Tony is a victim of.

It is no secret that Tony Taylor is an ex Republican political prisoner
and indeed is still a proud and active Republican. Tony had served 3
years previously in Jail and was released in 2014. Tony was a member of
Republican Network for Unity, a perfectly legal Political organisation
and he contributed significantly to the local politics in Derry raising
issues such as benefit cuts, prison conditions and policing issues.

It is precisely this, Tony’s politics which has led to his internment.
Ireland in 2016 is a cold house for Republicanism, anyone who doesn’t
rubber stamp the good Friday agreement is a threat to the state, state
sanctioned harassment is a daily occurrence for Irish Republicans and in
Tony’s case it would seem to me that the extreme of internment has been
used against him to try and make him toe the political line.

Of course we have seen this before, in the last few years a number of
high profile interments have taken place such as that of Martin Corey
and Marian Price, Tony is just the latest victim and undoubtedly he
won’t be the last. The revocation of Tony’s licence is justified
ostensibly with the line that he is a “risk to the Public”. Any
justification they are using to intern Tony is of course subject to
secrecy with neither Tony nor his legal team able to see any evidence
against him, which of course means he cannot be defended against any
allegations.

The current climate worldwide allows governments to act in this secret
and abusive way, the general public are happy to believe that these
“measures” are taken for their protection that “they” must have a good
and valid reason for doing it and that is as far as their thinking goes.
This apathy of the general public is essential for governments carrying
out this sort of abuse and so it’s up to us all to highlight to the
general public why they should be concerned, such is the apathy that
these secret agencies do not even need to go through the bother of
creating trumped up charges.

Tony Taylor is a victim of the secret Police and agencies working in
Ireland, instead of transparently enforcing the rule of law and being
subject to public scrutiny as ordinary police agencies do, their modus
operandi is to operate beyond and above the law in order to suppress
political dissent, anyone who comes under the scrutiny of the secret
police can expect to be arbitrarily arrested and detained without due
process.

The internment of Tony Taylor strikes at the very heart of democracy and
the right to a fair trial. The use of secret evidence and secret police
is not something that anyone would expect in the western world in 2016,
yet is going on in Ireland; this should be enough for any citizen to
publicly question what is going on.

It is now time that the media investigated this case that those
concerned with human rights issues demand an explanation as to why Tony
Taylor has been taken from his home and incarcerated due to secret
evidence that we cannot see. I question the secret evidence, is there
evidence at all? Or is this a well-rehearsed ploy to stifle political
dissent?

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do
nothing.”

PSNI harassment claims a second life

Posted by Jim on

A west Belfast man has died in troubling circumstances after being
arrested and questioned for over ten hours by the PSNI last week.

The family of Paddy Green have demanded answers after a stop-and-search
operation became a life-threatening and ultimately fatal encounter.

Mr Green had been driving to his brother’s house when he was stopped by
the PSNI. Despite seeking attention, Mr Green was refused treatment for
what was an urgent condition. Instead, his detention at PSNI Musgrave
Barracks was extended overnight to allow his interrogation to continue.
It was only when his condition deteriorated the following morning that
he was taken to the Royal Victoria Hospital. He passed away on
Wednesday, a week after his arrest.

The Police Ombudsman’s office have said that they are “making
preliminary enquiries”. Mr Green’s family said they have questions about
the care he received in police custody.

“He should have been taken to hospital straight away,” they said. “As a
family we’ve questions that need answered and we can only hope that the
police ombudsman is able to provide us with those answers.

“It’s too late for our family, but it needs properly investigated so no
other family have to go through what we are now.”

Mr Green’s death at the hands of the PSNI is the second to be
investigated by the Police Ombudsman in the last two months. In
September, Gerard ‘Maco’ McMahon died in hospital hours after being
arrested in Belfast city centre, also in suspicious circumstances.

They come amid a fresh wave of PSNI harassment against nationalists,
particularly in west Belfast, where the force has been conducting an
aggressive campaign of stop-and-search operations and arrests.

It also comes amid revelations over the PSNI’s use of military-style
training methods. A report by the Policing Board raised concerns about
what it said was a “pseudo militaristic” boot camp at a police college
in east Belfast, where recruits are grouped into “squads” and required
to march in formation.

Responding to the report, Sinn Fein’s Gerry Kelly said “a police officer
isn’t a member of the army; a police officer is a member of the
community”.

Saoradh said its activists would be undeterred by the increasing
oppression from the PSNI. They said they would continue with plans to
hold a commemoration fot IRA Volunteer Patricia Black next Sunday, which
they said was being targeted by the PSNI.

“Saoradh activists will not be intimidated by paid lackeys of British
Imperialism intent on disrupting us as we plan to commemorate our
martyred dead,” they said.

“Instead we remain committed to staying true to the ideals they fought
and died for. Courageous Volunteers like Patricia Black, who took the
war to Britain at the tender age of 18 and lost her life in the
process.”

McSorley’s Old Ale House: “Good ale, raw onions, and no ladies.”

Posted by Jim on November 11, 2016

McSorley’s Old Ale House (photo by Leonard J DeFrancisci)

As we trudge ever more quickly into the depths of the twenty-first century, it is a comfort to know that some places never change. (Willingly, anyway.) On a quiet stretch of East 7th Street, in the shadow of the domed St. George Ukrainian Catholic Church and the starkly modern 41 Cooper Square, stands an institution which seems to have been forgotten by time. Or rather, an institution which has resisted time’s effects for more than a dozen decades. “Good ale, raw onions, and no ladies.” That’s McSorley’s Old Ale House. Other than a brief experiment serving liquor in 1905-6, they’ve served nothing but ale since their founding. And until they were legally forced to do so in 1970, they never allowed women inside the bar. Everything about McSorley’s is a throwback to a bygone era, and a relic of a New York that exists now only in black-and-white photographs.

NY Times, January 11, 1937

McSorley’s claims to have been founded in 1854 by John McSorley of County Tyrone in Northern Ireland. He arrived in New York City in 1851, fleeing the potato famine ravaging the country at that time. Three years later, he opened the doors of “The Old House at Home” at 15 East 7th Street. The exact year is debatable, as city records show the location as a vacant lot as late as 1861, but you’d be hard-pressed to win an argument on the issue with any of McSorley’s faithful. Suffice it to say that the bar is old. Very old, actually, by the standards of a city where profit and necessity ensure a turning over of buildings, streets, and entire neighborhoods on a fairly regular basis.

“McSorley’s Bar” by John Sloan, 1912

The ale house retained the name “The Old House at Home” until 1908, when its sign was blown down in a storm. It was replaced with a new sign, reading “McSorley’s Old Time Ale House,” and other than dropping the word “Time” at some point, the name has stuck ever since. Two years later, in 1910, John McSorley died in his apartment above the bar at age 83, and his son Bill took over for him, treating the bar as a shrine to his father.

Inside, it is said that not a single piece of memorabilia has been removed from the walls since Bill took over in 1910. A chandelier hanging over the bar is spangled with dozens of fragile wishbones. Starting with World War I, soldiers have hung the bones on the lamp to give them luck before leaving for war. The bones left behind symbolize the patrons who never made it back to reclaim their bones. They have become something of a holy relic in McSorley’s, and it wasn’t until the Health Department put its foot down in 2011 that the owners, reluctantly and begrudgingly, swept a century of dust from the lamp. The wishbones which survived the cleaning process were hung back above the bar as a memorial to those McSorley boys never to return.

The chandelier in 2004 and after its cleaning in 2011

1920 saw the bar’s survival threatened, as Prohibition went into effect. McSorley’s limped along by serving “near beer” to its cadre of loyal patrons until the law was struck down in 1933. In 1936, Bill McSorley sold the bar to policeman Daniel O’Connell, who retired from the NYPD to run it. McSorley would die in 1938, followed in 1939 by O’Connell, who left the bar in the charge of his daughter Dorothy O’Connell Kirwan. Honoring a promise to her father, Dorothy never entered the bar except when it was closed on Sundays, and left its management to her husband Harry.

McSorley’s as photographed by Berenice Abbott, who received special permission to be allowed in.
November 1, 1937.

In 1940, an author for the New Yorker named Joseph Mitchell wrote the first of several articles and stories revolving around McSorley’s and its peanut gallery of patrons. These would eventually be compiled into a book in 1943, entitled “McSorley’s Wonderful Saloon.” The book and articles brought increased attention to the little old bar in the East Village, and its reputation as a local institution began to be cemented.

In 1964, while traveling through Ireland, Dorothy and Harry Kirwan’s son Danny had his car break down. A young man by the name of Matty Maher picked him up and helped him get back on his way. In gratitude, Danny promised Matty that if he ever came to New York, he’d give him a job. Matty took him up on his offer, becoming a waiter and bartender and McSorley’s that very year. He would eventually go on to buy the bar from Danny in 1977, and he continues to run it to this day.

NY Times, January 3, 1937

The 1960s were a time of great and rapid change in the New York and the world, and McSorley’s, for once, couldn’t avoid being swept up in the tumult. In 1969, Karen DeCrow and Faith Seidenberg of the National Organization for Women sued to be allowed into McSorley’s Old Ale House on the grounds of gender discrimination.

NY Times, June 16, 1966

On June 25, 1970, Judge Walter R. Mansfield declared that, as a public establishment, McSorley’s could not legally prevent women from entering. The bar attempted to appeal, going so far as to turn women away at the door even after the law was supposed to have gone into effect. But on August 10th, they could fight it no longer: Mayor Lindsay arrived with an army of reporters as the first women in history walked through the doors and past the potbellied stove of McSorley’s Old Ale House.

NY Times, August 11, 1970

Most of the first women to enter the bar were what were then called “militant feminists” who were more interested in the politics of their actions than in the taste of liederkranz and ale. In fact, the first day of a coed McSorley’s also marked the bar’s first coed fight. A young male patron showed a lewd poem he’d written on a napkin to NOW Vice President Lucy Komisar. Offended, she tried to snatch it from his hand. He retaliated by calling her an unprintable name and dumping a mug of beer over her heard. The man was thrown out, and a dripping-wet Ms. Komisar, when asked by the bartender if she was having a good time, replied, “Not particularly, but politics is not always enjoyable.” Perhaps as a sign of resistance to this forced integration of the sexes, McSorley’s didn’t build a designated women’s restroom until 1986.

Minnie II, resident cat of McSorley’s
(photo from Flickr by Skyliner72)

McSorley’s Old Ale House remains planted on East 7th Street, much as it has for generations. They may now have to allow women inside, but little else has changed: sawdust on the floor, memorabilia on the walls, cold beer on the taps … and cats in permanent residence. The felines were even featured in one of John Sloan’s paintings of the bar in 1928. In 2009, Maher and McSorley’s were on the receiving end of a lawsuit filed by New Jersey resident Cheryl Sibley (a woman!) who claimed to have been mauled by the bar’s current resident cat, Minnie II. Owner Matty Maher insisted that he had no knowledge of the attack and didn’t know how the lady could have been attacked, seeing as how health laws prevent Minnie from being in the drinking areas of the bar during open hours.

Cats in McSorley’s, by John Sloan, 1928

“It may have been this beast over here,” he joked in an interview with the New York Post, pointing to a stuffed jackalope on the wall. “There have always been cats at McSorley’s, and there always will be.” Sticking steadfastly to tradition: the old McSorley’s way.

Woody Guthrie at McSorley’s

Posted by Jim on


Annual Fenian Commemoration Nov. 13, 2016

Posted by Jim on November 8, 2016

 

THE NATIONAL IRISH FREEDOM COMMITTEE  (CUMANN NA SAOIRSE NAISIUNTA)
  WILL HOLD THEIR ANNUAL FENIAN COMMEMORATION
NOVEMBER 13, 2016 @ 10:OOAM
AT THE FENIAN MONUMENT IN CALVARY CEMETARY, QUEENS, NY
the monument was erected in 1907 in Memory of the Irish Revolutionary Brotherhood
this years commemoration will be in memory of all the men and women of 1916
for further information or to confirm your attendance, please call  845 492 7198.
or visit:    irishfreedom.net

James Connolly-Let Us Free Ireland!

Posted by Jim on November 5, 2016

Image may contain: 1 person

James Connolly-Let Us Free Ireland!

Let us free Ireland! Never mind such base, carnal thoughts as concern work and wages, healthy homes, or lives unclouded by poverty.

Let us free Ireland! The rackrenting landlord; is he not also an Irishman, and wherefore should we hate him? Nay, let us not speak harshly of our brother – yea, even when he raises our rent.

Let us free Ireland! The profit-grinding capitalist, who robs us of three-fourths of the fruits of our labour, who sucks the very marrow of our bones when we are young, and then throws us out in the street, like a worn-out tool when we are grown prematurely old in his service, is he not an Irishman, and mayhap a patriot, and wherefore should we think harshly of him?

Let us free Ireland! “The land that bred and bore us.” And the landlord who makes us pay for permission to live upon it. Whoop it up for liberty!

“Let us free Ireland,” says the patriot who won’t touch Socialism. Let us all join together and cr-r-rush the br-r-rutal Saxon. Let us all join together, says he, all classes and creeds. And, says the town worker, after we have crushed the Saxon and freed Ireland, what will we do? Oh, then you can go back to your slums, same as before. Whoop it up for liberty!

And, says the agricultural workers, after we have freed Ireland, what then? Oh, then you can go scraping around for the landlord’s rent or the money-lenders’ interest same as before. Whoop it up for liberty!

After Ireland is free, says the patriot who won’t touch socialism, we will protect all classes, and if you won’t pay your rent you will be evicted same as now. But the evicting party, under command of the sheriff, will wear green uniforms and the Harp without the Crown, and the warrant turning you out on the roadside will be stamped with the arms of the Irish Republic. Now, isn’t that worth fighting for?

And when you cannot find employment, and, giving up the struggle of life in despair, enter the poorhouse, the band of the nearest regiment of the Irish army will escort you to the poorhouse door to the tune of St. Patrick’s Day. Oh! It will be nice to live in those days!

“With the Green Flag floating o’er us” and an ever-increasing army of unemployed workers walking about under the Green Flag, wishing they had something to eat. Same as now! Whoop it up for liberty!

Now, my friend, I also am Irish, but I’m a bit more logical. The capitalist, I say, is a parasite on industry; as useless in the present stage of our industrial development as any other parasite in the animal or vegetable world is to the life of the animal or vegetable upon which it feeds.

The working class is the victim of this parasite – this human leech, and it is the duty and interest of the working class to use every means in its power to oust this parasite class from the position which enables it to thus prey upon the vitals of labour.

Therefore, I say, let us organise as a class to meet our masters and destroy their mastership; organise to drive them from their hold upon public life through their political power; organise to wrench from their robber clutch the land and workshops on and in which they enslave us; organise to cleanse our social life from the stain of social cannibalism, from the preying of man upon his fellow man.

Organise for a full, free and happy life FOR ALL OR FOR NONE

Guy Fawkes was killed trying to restore a Catholic to British throne

Posted by Jim on

 

IrishCentral
Guy Fawkes became synonymous with the Gunpowder Plot, His failure has been commemorated in England since 1605.

Guy Fawkes became synonymous with the Gunpowder Plot, His failure has been commemorated in England since 1605.

As the famous English folk verse “The Fifth of November” goes:

 

Remember, remember the Fifth of November,
The Gunpowder Treason and Plot,
I know of no reason
Why the Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot.

Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes, ’twas his intent
To blow up the King and Parli’ment.
Three-score barrels of powder below
To prove old England’s overthrow;
By God’s mercy he was catch’d
With a dark lantern and burning match.
Hulloa boys, Hulloa boys, let the bells ring.
Hulloa boys, hulloa boys, God save the King!

George Washington called Guy Fawkes Day a grave insult to America’s Catholics. After the Revolution, America stopped celebrating it. Today millions of British will celebrate it with “Bonfire Night.”

Guy Fawkes (April 13, 1570 – January 31, 1606) died trying to restore a Catholic to the throne of England. The Guy Fawkes gunpowder plot of 1605 has been famous ever since.

Fawkes was born and educated in York. His father died when Fawkes was eight years old, after which his mother married a Catholic.

Fawkes later converted to Catholicism and left for the continent, where he fought in the Eighty Years’ War on the side of Catholic Spain against Protestant Dutch reformers. He traveled to Spain to seek support for a Catholic rebellion in England but was unsuccessful. He later met Thomas Wintour, with whom he returned to England.

Wintour introduced Fawkes to Robert Catesby, who planned to assassinate King James I and restore a Catholic monarch to the throne. The plotters secured the lease to an undercroft beneath the House of Lords, and Fawkes was placed in charge of the gunpowder they stockpiled there.

Prompted by the receipt of an anonymous letter, the authorities searched Westminster Palace during the early hours of November 5, 1605, and found Fawkes guarding the explosives. Over the next few days, he was questioned and tortured, and eventually he broke. Immediately before his execution on January 31 Fawkes jumped from the scaffold where he was to be hanged and broke his neck, thus avoiding the agony of the mutilation that followed.

Fawkes became synonymous with the Gunpowder Plot, the failure of which has been commemorated in England since November 5, 1605. His effigy is often burned on a bonfire, commonly accompanied by a firework display

‘We will not be broken’

Posted by Jim on

A statement from Saoradh member, Damhnic Mac Eochaidh, read out at the
demonstration against British/PSNI harassment in Belfast, and also one
by 15-year-old Ailise ni Mhurchu from west Belfast, on the with PSNI
stop and search procedures she has ednured while going to and coming
from school.

A chairde,

Can I first of all begin by thanking you all on behalf of Saoradh for
attending here tonight. It is to be commended that we have such a good
turnout here, given the short notice and cold weather.

As Republican activists, no quarter is given and none should be asked
for. We have taken the conscious decision to embark on a life of
struggle, a life committed to achieving Freedom for our country and
betterment of the lives of the working class. We seek to remove the twin
evils of occupation and capitalism as we achieve liberation. We make no
apologies for that, and are aware of the intimidation, harassment,
hardship, imprisonment and possible death that awaits us.

Accordingly, we face an enemy that is willing to use the tools at its
disposal. Fists, batons, tasers, plastic bullets and live ammunition are
but equipment to the Crown Forces. Their real tools are the various
forms of legislation they utilise in futile attempts to break the
Republican Struggle. Legislation that has been imposed on us by a
foreign parliament at Westminster with no right to be in Ireland.

RIPA. The Terrorism Act. The Justice and Security Act. Stop and
Searches. Home Invasions. Arrests. Malicious Charges. Miscarriages of
Justice. Collusion. The murder of Irish citizens, the most recent just a
few weeks ago in our city centre.

These are all separate components of the British War Machine in Ireland,
supported by unknown numbers of MI5 operatives. All of which is
supported by a Sinn Fein/DUP coalition at Stormont, implemented by their
unionist “justice” minister. We continue to resist all these mechanisms
of British Rule.

In the course of their war on our communities, Britain and the Stormont
State has now taken to attacking and threatening the families and
children of activists. Not content with threatening the lives of their
parents, stealing their toys and consoles, confiscating laptops with
important exam coursework and wrecking their homes, the PSNI have now
specifically targeted children for harassment.

The children of activists, many of whom not yet in their teens, now find
themselves being the victims of stop and searches on their way into
school. They are being targeted on their way to GAA, soccer, boxing or
Irish dancing practice. Their hurling coaches are being threatened with
arrest for carrying sticks. Even on holiday, they are targeted by
whichever secretive arm of the Crown Forces MI5 deem appropriate. Is
this part of the process to pressure children into becoming informers
that Gerry Kelly has publicly stated he approves of?

It is no coincidence that this targeted harassment of children has
coincided with the recent launch of Saoradh. It is in the interests of
the State, of reformists and of the establishment clergy that there is
no national, articulate and radical Revolutionary Movement that will
organise to oppose their collective agenda. This, allied with the
efforts of the gutter press, condemnation from reformists and the
hysteria of political unionism are the age-old combination of forces
that has traditionally railed against progressive, socialist, Republican
alternatives. Those who support the armed wing of unionism need to
publicly explain their endorsement of those who abuse our children, and
be honest as to the responsibility they bear with regards to passing
information to the PSNI on activists and their children.

We are here, Saoradh are here, along with other welcome organisations
and individuals, to state that nothing will break us. We will not be
strangled at birth. The advantage of movements such as ours is our
resilience and the strength of comradeship. Our activists, our families
and our children have the collective strength and internal support to
withstand these attacks. We also want to appeal to the public, anyone
who is the victim of harassment, intimidation or approaches and thinks
they are alone. You are not alone, contact Saoradh and we will assist
and support you.

They have nothing in their whole imperial arsenal that can break the
spirit of one Irishman who doesn’t want to be broken.

—————————————————————

Ailise ni Mhurchu

I am glad to get the opportunity to speak here tonight about my
experiences of British stop and search powers. The first time I was
stopped and searched was I was 11 years old on and it happened on Lanark
way. I was frightened being surrounded by so many members of the PSNI.
At that time I didn’t realise that this would become the norm for my
family. 5 years later, I’ve now overcome those fears.

I’ve been in my daddy’s car during most of the stop and searches and
have got used to it. I’m still only 15 years old and still at School.
I’m now in my important GCSE years and have recently experienced stop
and searches while being brought to school and some times being late. I
find it difficult trying to explain why I be late. Outside of my family
I feel like a lone voice, especially among those whom I feel have a duty
to protect me as I have done no wrong.

I’ve now began to question why is this happening? and why these PSNI
people are not challenged by any politicians? As a 15 year old, I am now
speaking out and I would hope more and more people who should know
better would speak out against these stop and searches. I see the PSNI
as an oppressive force denying me my freedoms as a human being.

I just want to finish by saying in the words of Martin Luther King, “In
the end we will remember, not the words of our enemies, but the silence
of our friends”.

Political interference wrecked Maghaberry prison deal

Posted by Jim on

Amid fresh protests over abuses at Maghaberry Prison, a key mediator in
an agreement struck in 2010 to ease tensions at the jail has admitted
the deal collapsed as a result of unionist political pressure.

One of the deal-brokers said former Justice Minister David Ford failed
to enforce a deal to limit controversial measures such as prisoner
strip-searches, because he was under obligation to the DUP.

“I do believe there is interference in the sense, in our view, the then
Minister of Justice was probably beholden to the likes of the DUP for
his position as Minister for Justice and I think that probably resulted
in him lacking the resolve to tackle this matter head-on,” mediator and
trade unionist Peter Bunting, has said.

He was speaking to a parliamentary committee in Dublin on the
implementation of the Good Friday Agreement. It was told available
technology had done away with the need for invasive body searches, one
of the more controversial issues at the jail, but the agreement to end
them was abandoned.

Strip searches remain part of everyday life in the jail. Prisoners are
also isolated for extended periods – with one prisoner being locked up
23 hours a day for five years – and denied education. Mr Bunting said
strip-searching was being used as a “tool to suppress people” in the
Roe House wing of the prison, where republican political risoners are
housed.

David Ford, who was replaced as Justice Minister earlier this year, has
denied acting on behalf of the DUP in the role. Mr Bunting and another
mediator met with Mr Ford’s successor Claire Sugden in May, and were
assured a speedy review on the agreement’s implementation, but he said
they have heard nothing back since then.

“There is both a sectarian attitude and there is political interference
towards these people,” he said.

Senator Frank Feighan, who sits on the committee and who visited the
prison, said he was concerned over political interference with the
minister for justice. “If that was happening down here it would be a
serious national scandal,” he said.

The Irish Republican Prisoners Welfare Association welcomed the
insights.

“Despite Republican Prisoners doing everything in their power to ensure
the terms of the agreement were met, when it was quickly reneged upon
by the Maghaberry administration, Ford insisted the blame lay with the
Republican Prisoners,” they said.

“When he was asked to provide evidence of how the Republican Prisoners
had reneged on the agreement, he had the audacity to claim threats
against staff on social media had resulted in him drawing the
conclusion that Republican Prisoners had reneged on the agreement.

The IRPWA also expressed concerned that despite an initial meeting with
the new British Minister for Justice, they have yet to hear a word back
from her after six months.

Judge rejects letters in former NYC St Paddy’s Day parade chair defense

Posted by Jim on November 4, 2016

Former Parade and Celebration Committee chairman John Dunleavy, waving to the crowds at a St. Patrick's Day Parade.

Former Parade and Celebration Committee chairman John Dunleavy, waving to the crowds at a St. Patrick’s Day Parade.Irish America Magazine

Debbie McGoldrick

@IrishCentral

The Bronx Supreme Court judge who will decide the outcome of the ongoing lawsuit over the New  York City St. Patrick’s Day parade said he will not consider a pleading letter sent last week by the attorney representing the plaintiff, former Parade and Celebration Committee chairman John Dunleavy, sources told the Irish Voice.

 

Judge Robert Johnson received two recent letters from Dunleavy’s attorney Francis X. Young and John Tully, who was nominated to succeed Dunleavy as committee chairman late last year.  Johnson was assigned the case after the retirement of Judge Alexander Hunter, who in May heard oral arguments from Young and Mitch Mandell, the attorney representing the defendants, St. Patrick’s Day Parade board chairman Dr. John Lahey and director Frank Comerford.

On October 26, Young sent a letter to Johnson, a former Bronx district attorney, requesting that the sides be allowed to put forth oral arguments again.  Young wrote that the sides failed to come to agreement on an “order to show cause” on how to proceed during a meeting in the judge’s chambers on September 6.

“Almost two months since we appeared before your honor, we still do not have a resolution of the fourth order to show cause. Defendant Lahey continues to ignore the bylaws and does exactly as he pleases,” Young wrote.

“I ask that we be permitted an opportunity to come back and put forth our arguments on the record so that your honor can render a decision.”

Johnson also received a prior letter from Tully, who said the Parade and Celebration Committee that he heads stands “ready to assist the court in any way in its decision-making process. We have not sought to intervene directly in the matter to avoid complicating the issues before you.”

Tully’s letter said the committee was formed in adherence with the bylaws of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade Corporation which oversees the parade and which Lahey heads.

“No one disputes that the purpose of the corporation is to run the New York City St. Patrick’s Day parade.  Nor does anyone claim that the Parade Committee is independent from or supersedes the corporation,” Tully wrote.

“It is indisputable that the corporation is responsible for and has ultimate authority over the parade.  It is also indisputable that since its inception, the corporation ran the parade through the Parade Committee and that the Parade Committee reports to the corporation.”

Tully’s letter added that his committee was “not permitted to perform our legal roles for the 2016 parade. We deferred any argument so as not to distract from the 2016 parade, pending resolution of this lawsuit.

“Our Parade Committee has an obligation to make every effort to perform our duties consistent with the wishes of the affiliated organizations who were empowered by the bylaws to elect the Parade Committee. The corporation has not allowed us to perform our duties. The sooner this issue is decided by the court, the better for us all.”

Meanwhile, the grand marshal for the 2017 parade, Northwell Health President and CEO Michael Dowling, will be formally introduced during a reception at the Irish Consulate in New York on Thursday, November 17.

Get together honoring Greg Sean Canning Nov 19th 2016

Posted by Jim on November 3, 2016


 Good Morning Brothers & Sisters,
The Brothers of Brevard County have scheduled an “Evening Celebrating Greg Sean Canning” at Meg O’Malley’s on Saturday November 19th 2016 at 630pm.  This is a casual dress (come as you are) event to show Greg Sean appreciation for all he has done for the Ancient Order of Hibernians in the Southern States and mostly for the Brothers and Sisters of Florida.
Please try to put this date and time on your calendar to come and enjoy, celebrate and thank our Immediate Past President, Former National Director, Deputy National Organizer, Current State of FL Secretary…….. and newly recognized Life Member of the Ancient Order of Hibernians.
Address of Meg O’Malley’s:
812 E New Haven Avenue
Melbourne, FL  32901
(321) 952-5510
See you there!!

Invest NI briefed First Minister Arlene Foster while on her solo US business trip

Posted by Jim on

Gareth McKeown. Irish News ( Belfast).Wednesday, November 2, 2016

INVEST NI has said it briefed First Minister Arlene Foster on the Republic’s “poaching” of investment while on an American trade mission without Martin McGuinness.

It has been normal practice for the two joint heads of the Northern Ireland Executive to visit the US together, but in September Mrs Foster embarked on a four-day trade mission without the deputy First Minister.

At the time the Executive Office said there was nothing unusual about the pair travelling individually overseas, but it has now emerged important information about investment opportunities in the north may have been shared without the deputy first minister present.

The confirmation from Invest NI comes after the First Minister accused the Republic’s government of talking down the north’s economy and attempting to “poach our investors” at the DUP party conference on Saturday.

While the DUP did not respond to a request for information on any briefing between the First Minister and Invest NI, the latter confirmed discussions had taken place about a “specific approach” made by the Republic’s Industrial Development Authority (IDA).

“The First Minister became aware of the specific approach adopted by the IDA during a recent visit to the US, with Invest NI, where she met with potential investors,” Invest NI said.

The response from Invest NI has also shed light on the direct competition between the body and the IDA for investment, indirectly referenced during the First Minister’s address.

“Invest Northern Ireland competes for inward investment with over 100 other development agencies, including IDA. It is clear from the already published Irish Government Contingency Framework that it planned to ‘intensify [marketing] in key sectors…and identify the potential for new FDI arising from the UK leaving the EU’,” they said.

Following Minister Foster’s comments on Saturday the deputy first minister said he was “surprised” by the remarks made in relation to IDA representatives poaching Northern Ireland business.

Speaking on RTÉ’s This Week, Mr McGuinness said: “I was very surprised to hear Arlene say that at her party conference, given that earlier this week she and I met with a Chinese invest and we were accompanied by the Chief Executive of Invest NI, and this wasn’t mentioned.”

When contacted on Tuesday the IDA said it was “not in a position to make any further statements regarding this issue at this time”.

The Department of Foreign Affairs also chose not comment on the latest development.

“It is normal for ministers to be briefed by Invest NI on overseas visits where there is the potential to attract investment,” Sinn Fein said in a statement on Tuesday night.

“Martin McGuinness will travel to the United States next week and will receive specific briefings from Invest NI during the course of the visit.

“If individual ministers are travelling abroad it is obviously not possible to conduct joint briefings .

“However, any politically sensitive or significant briefing given to the First Minister would normally be shared with the deputy First Minister.”

“If such a briefing was provided, we will be asking why this was not shared.”

Foster speech devoid of a single policy

Posted by Jim on


Brian Feeney. Irish News (Belfast). Wednesday, November 2, 2016

It wasn’t very edifying, was it, the DUP conference, that is?

The low point was the party leader’s speech lashing out in all directions except one – Sinn Féin – to hide the fact that she had nothing to say.

You might have noticed that the only person interviewed on BBC NI on Monday was Peter Weir about his attempt to sneak the 11 plus back into education by the back door.

Out of the window goes the Northern Ireland curriculum for 10 and 11-year-olds.

As for the main event at the conference, Arlene Foster’s speech, it was the knockabout stuff that used to be ‘the pravince’[province] of the conference clown Sammy Wilson. Instead Arlene took it upon herself to insult opposition politicians in her most vulgarian terms.

You didn’t hear any criticism of their policies or grounds for opposing her. Rather she tried to ridicule them in a pretty strained, far-fetched comparison with an ancient TV sitcom [Steptoe and Son] obviously chosen to be instantly recognisable to her mostly ancient adoring audience.

While she obviously has nothing but contempt for Colum Eastwood [SDLP leader] as a lightweight, Arlene Foster evidently really doesn’t like Mike Nesbitt [ Ulster Unionist Party ( UUP) leader]. Any reference to him—even in the caricature she chose for him—was made with a dismissive snarl in the corncrake- contralto she reserves for people she believes ought to be swatted away.

If anything could be taken from that portion of her speech—apart from its unbecoming comportment for someone who is first minister— then it is her clear intent to destroy the UUP.

Two recent converts to the DUP from the ranks of UUP councillors confirmed that intent.

That was the only policy announcement, oblique though it was.

Strange that a Party’s leader’s speech was devoid of a single policy on a matter of substance.

Repeating that she wants to make The North a better place is hardly cutting edge.

The whole performance was, leaving the obligatory DUP nastiness aside for a moment, superficial.

There was no insight or imagination.

As others have noticed, no vision. Repetition of clichés like no ‘hard border’, complete nonsense like the ‘biggest economic opportunity for decades’, and of course, parroting ‘Brexit means Brexit’ which even Theresa May now tries to avoid saying because of the jeers the meaningless phrase provokes.

It’s not been a good week for Foster. She kicked off the preliminaries to her conference with an acute case of foot in mouth disease when she announced that being trolled on social media made her harden her opposition to equal marriage and that she intended to misuse “Petitions of Concern” to block change.

That’s despite the Fresh Start Agreement containing promises to reform the petition procedure.

Then she had to row back frantically to deny that DUP policy was decided by online abuse.

Then she told the BBC she knew ‘plenty of people in that community’,  namely the gay community, who opposed equal marriage. Do you believe that? The only statement omitted from this back-tracking was to claim, ‘Some of my best friends are gay.’

She didn’t think for a minute that her whole distasteful speech— and her earlier promise to block any change towards equal marriage— or her refusal to discuss any change in abortion law,  or say if she’d give her party a free vote,  make it easy for any Irish official, as she claimed, ‘to talk down Northern Ireland’.

Who would want to open shop in a place where someone like Arlene Foster is First Minister,  whose first set piece speech after Brexit  is abusive and uninspiring? Apart from her antediluvian views on morality and human relations, there is her denial of the reality that The North is going to be dramatically worse off because of her craven loyalty to a Conservative government,  which has no idea what course they’re going to follow aside from sweetheart deals with sectors of industry and finance to compensate for the 20 per cent tariff the EU will slap on them after the UK leaves the single market.

Ironically the only people here likely to benefit from the financial speculators who have already discounted the pound by the 20 per cent margin are traders in border towns where a substantial majority of the people vote Sinn Féin [ It is now much cheaper for people in the Irish Republic to cross the Border and buy stuff in Northern Ireland].

Tom Hayden: Man of Principles

Posted by Jim on November 1, 2016

Tom Hayden: Man of Principles
A champion of the Mac Bride Principles

CAPITOL HILL. Wednesday, November 2, 2016—— Tom Hayden (76) who died on October 23 will not only be remembered as the 1960s and 1970s peace activist, but also as an ardent Irishman.

This according to Fr. Sean Mc Manus, President of the Capitol Hill-based Irish National Caucus.

Fr. Mc Manus said: “I had the honor of getting to know Tom quite well through our campaign for the Mac Bride Principles— a corporate code of conduct for American companies doing business in Northern Ireland. Tom was a most impressive man. As a Californian Assemblyman (1982-92), and as a State Senator (1992-2002) he – along with Senator John Burton— played a key role in having our Mac Bride Principles Bill passed into Californian State law. I testified along with Tom, and other Mac Bride activists before the California legislature in Sacramento in 1987.

Eventually, in March 1999 we got the Mac Bride Principles passed into California state law.”
Fr. Mc Manus explained: “For all his perceived radicalness, Tom was also a very practical political leader. The Irish National Caucus launched the Mac Bride Principles on November 5,

1984. Some in Ireland — who regarded themselves very radical — at first rejected the Mac Bride Principles because the Principles were not “radical” enough. But Tom Hayden — Mr. Radical Himself— had no such misconception. He immediately saw the intrinsic power of our Mac Bride Principles—for all their moderation and reasonableness— and he embraced them steadfastly.”

Fr. Mc Manus continued: “The Mac Bride Principles have been passed into law by 18 States and dozens of town and cities. The Principles were passed twice by the Republican-controlled U.S. Congress and signed into law in 1998 by Democratic President Bill Clinton. The Mac Bride Principles are universally seen as having played a key role in the promotion of fair employment in Northern Ireland.”

HOLY LAND PRINCIPLES

Fr. Mc Manus concluded: “Of course, as is now well known, the success of the Mac Bride Principles led to our launching—on International Human Rights Day, December 10, 2012— the Holy Land Principles— a corporate code of conduct for the 544 American companies doing business in Israel/Palestine.

The Holy Land Principles are   pro-Jewish, Pro-Palestinian and Pro-Company.  They do not call for quotas, reverse discrimination, divestment, disinvestment, or boycotts.

The Principles do not try to tell the Israelis or the Palestinians what to do. The Principles only ask American companies doing business in the Holy Land to sign the Holy Land Principles.

Since 1972, Shareholder advocacy has become very popular in the United States, and since then very many Shareholder Resolutions/Proposals have been filed with many American companies on all imaginable sorts of social issues. Except one! Until we began filing Holy Land Principles resolutions, no American company had ever been confronted about its fair employment in the Holy Land. It was the elephant in the (board) room. Now that has changed. The Holy Land Principles are an idea whose time has come: the big existential question for American companies that can no longer be ignored.”

The Effects of Great Britain’s Exit from the European Union on the Irish Border

Posted by Jim on

 

The Effects of Great Britain’s Exit from the European Union on the Irish Border

Monday, November 14, 2016, 6:00 PM

Presented by
Dr. Ruan O’Donnell, University of Limerick

The lecture will take place in the Reception Room of Kellenberg Hall,
Molloy College
1000 Hempstead Avenue
Rockville Centre, NY 11571-5002

A light dinner will be served.
There is no cost for the event. All are welcome.

Please RSVP

This event is hosted by Brehon Law Society of Nassau County,
Brehon Law Society of New York and the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick on Long Island.

For further information contact Brian O’Keefe, President,
Brehon Law Society of Nassau County, 516 398-2471 or
Catherine Tully Muscente, Molloy College, 516 323-4710.

ALSO

Please join us for a tour of the
Lexington Avenue Armory – Home of the Fighting 69th!

Tour and Lunch
11am – 1 pm

Saturday, November 12
10 am Departure from Molloy College ( Shuttle Bus)

11 am Tour of Armory
12 pm Lunch provided

1pm return to Molloy

$30 per person
Space is limited to 15 people

Anyone wishing to attend but prefers to meet us in NYC at the Armory, you are welcome to do so.

$15 without bus

Visit our website: http://connect.molloy.edu/irishstudiesinstitute

Catherine Tully Muscente
Director, Irish Studies Institute
Molloy College
1000 Hempstead Avenue, P.O. Box 5002
Rockville Centre, NY  11571-5002
516.323.4710
cmuscente@molloy.edu

Hurricane Sandy 4 years ago and still destrying houses in Gerritsen Beach Brooklyn with the help of Mayor DiBlahblahblah and Build it Back Corp. AOH Division 35 family fights for their home in Brooklyn. They are not the only family fighting but they are certainly in the forefront of the 2nd Battle of Brooklyn.

Posted by Jim on October 28, 2016

 

Brooklyn family’s house floods after Build It Back workers trigger sprinklers while wrapping up year-long work on Hurricane Sandy repairs

Family’s house floods as workers wrap up Hurricane Sandy repairs
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Friday, October 28, 2016, 12:48 AM
New York’s home rebuilding effort after Hurricane Sandy is under water — and so is one Brooklyn family who found their home flooded again four years after it was ravaged in the storm due to missteps by the city program.Amber and Jim Sullivan have been waiting for a year for the Build It Back program to finish work on their Gerritsen Beach home so they can move back in. They encountered delays after the city decided regulations required them to install a sprinkler system in the home.They were finally planning to move home this weekend — and then workers inadvertently triggered the sprinklers, causing the home to flood. Now, they say the bottom floor has to be gutted, and they don’t know when they’ll be able to return.“It’s a hot mess, is what it is,” said Amber Sullivan, 40.

NYC PAPERS OUT. Social media use restricted to low res file max 184 x 128 pixels and 72 dpi

Amber Sullivan and her family have waited a year for the repairs to be finished on their home, only to have it flood a second time the week before they were set to move back in.

(Debbie Egan-Chin/New York Daily News)

“I just don’t get it. It’s been over a year,” she said. “It’s incompetence. That’s what it is when I think about it.”

The case is just one example of the stumbles that have thrown Build it Back off track, leading Mayor de Blasio to admit last week he would not fulfill his promise to finish the program by the end of this year.

Only 44% of homes in Build It Back are finished. The city says that by the end of the year, 90% of program participants will either have construction underway or have received a check to pay them back for work they funded themselves.

Officials have not set a new deadline to get the entire program, which now includes about 8,500 homes, completed. Meanwhile, the program has gone $500 million over budget, which city taxpayers are on the hook to make up.

NYCHA has paid $3.1M for expenses submitted by Sandy consultants

Sullivan and her family paid out of pocket to fix most of the damage themselves after Sandy flooded the home in 2012. But they turned to Build It Back for help to elevate the house for storm protection to avoid skyrocketing flood insurance premiums, in addition to fixing a bathroom.

The elevation was done quickly, and the couple and their teenage daughter, who have been renting an apartment in Marine Park, Brooklyn, expected to return home in April.

After the Build It Back program raised the family's home, the city determined the house was now three stories high and required a sprinkler system.

After the Build It Back program raised the family’s home, the city determined the house was now three stories high and required a sprinkler system.

(Debbie Egan-Chin/New York Daily News)

Then red tape got in the way: Officials decided that because of the elevation, the house now counted as three stories, so regulations required a sprinkler system to be installed, Sullivan said.

“We fought them and fought them and fought them on the sprinkler system. They finally said if you stop fighting, you’ll get in faster,” she said. “We finally just threw up our hands.”

NYCHA paints over Brooklyn housing project’s toxic mold issue

Work dragged on for months, for reasons the family says were never fully explained.

NYC PAPERS OUT. Social media use restricted to low res file max 184 x 128 pixels and 72 dpi

The bottom floor now must be gutted after workers for the government program accidentally triggered the newly installed sprinkler system, flooding the house.

(Debbie Egan-Chin/New York Daily News)

“There’s really been no explanation for our delays,” said Jim Sullivan, 40.

The sprinkler requirement has been one of a slew of regulatory mandates that threw up hurdles to completing the program. Also slowing things down: the need to get permits for demolition, make elevated homes wheelchair accessible, clear up preexisting problems like lead paint and asbestos, and resolve discrepancies with certificates of occupancy

On Thursday, the City Council passed legislation to allow homes to be demolished without the usual permit, and to let repair and elevation work to begin without first resolving unrelated building code violations, in another effort to speed up the process.

NYC PAPERS OUT. Social media use restricted to low res file max 184 x 128 pixels and 72 dpi

Jim Sullivan said after everything he wishes he would have taken out a loan to hire his own contractor for the home.

(Debbie Egan-Chin/New York Daily News)

Besides regulations, the program has faced a bottleneck because officials tried to move so many homes forward at the same time, but there were only a limited number of architects and contractors who could do the work. Meanwhile, construction costs surged across the industry.

At the Gerritsen Beach home on Melba Court, the Sullivans were finally seeing light at the end of the tunnel when a construction crew putting finishing touches on the home set off the sprinklers, sending water cascading through the floor of an upstairs bedroom into the ground level.

City officials say they quickly got to work repairing the damage, including removing the downstairs ceilings and insulation, and the family should be able to move in by the end of next week.

The couple and their teenage daughter are expected to move back next week, but fear more delays on construction.

The couple and their teenage daughter are expected to move back next week, but fear more delays on construction.

(Debbie Egan-Chin/New York Daily News)

“We’re working expeditiously to fix that and put them back in their house,” said Build It Back spokesman Matt Viggiano.

The family is skeptical, saying they’ve been given false deadlines before.

“At the rate they’ve been doing work, it could be months,” Jim Sullivan said.

He now regrets even going to the program for help.

“In retrospect, I kind of wish I had just taken out a loan on the house or something and hired my own guy,” he said. “With all the aggravation, the stress, the actual impact on my family’s lives — in my opinion it was a mistake.”

A Short History of the Hibernian Rifles 1912-1916

Posted by Jim on October 27, 2016

a granite plaque on the wall of the Fransiscan's Foreign Mission Office in Dublin marking the site of a hall where The Hibernian Rifles, Na Fianna Éireann and other republican groups used to hold meetings.
A granite plaque on the wall of the Fransiscan’s Foreign Mission Office in Dublin marking the site of a hall where The Hibernian Rifles, Na Fianna Éireann and other republican groups used to hold meetings.

by Padraig Og O Ruairc

 

Occasionally when reading about the Irish revolution 1913-1923 you come across fleeting references to Republican organisations who don’t usually register on the historical radar. These groups include the Clan Na Gael Girl Scouts, Clann Maeve, St. Patrick’s Ambulance Association, the Irish National Guard and the Hibernian Rifles.

 

Usually these groups are born of splits with more prominent organisations, have a limited membership and last only a few years. If these groups had distinct political aims and philosophies by studying them we may be able to gain a better idea of the character of republicanism during the Irish revolution. The history of the Irish Citizen Army has underlined the socialist and more radical republican element of the 1916 rising without which some historians might have tried to portray the rising as purely nationalist; an Irish struggle against England which would be a gross oversimplification.

The Hibernian Rifles have never received more than a few lines in any book dealing with the 1916 Rising and I hope that this brief study will give us some fresh perspectives

The more recent focus by historians on Cumann Na mBann and women in the Irish Citizen Army has highlighted the role of women and Irish suffragettes in the republican struggle. The Hibernian Rifles have never received more than a few lines in any book dealing with the 1916 Rising and I hope that this brief study will give us some fresh perspectives.

 

The Ancient Order of Hibernians

 

A Hibernian march c.1880.
A Hibernian march c.1880.

The Ancient Order of Hibernians (A.O.H.) is a Roman Catholic political association founded by Irish immigrants in New York in 1836. It claims to be descended from earlier secret societies in Ireland namely ‘The Defenders’ and ‘The Ribbonmen’ and to have existed as early as 1641 but there is little or no evidence to support this claim. The chief aims of the association are to work for the independence of Ireland and to promote and preserve the Catholic faith. The A.O.H. is a sectarian, conservative, Catholic and nationalist body.

 

Hibernianism is effectively a green version of ‘Orangeism’ and its political character apart from its support for Irish independence has little in common with Irish republicanism, which is a far more radical and non-sectarian philosophy. Terence Mac Sweeney denounced Hibernianism and its sectarian character in his book Principles of Freedom: ‘English politicians to serve the end of dividing Ireland have worked on religious feelings in the north with the aim of destroying Irish unity…Hibernianism created an unnatural atmosphere of sectarian rivalry in Ireland’

 

The Hibernian Rifles emerged originally as a split from the Ancient Order of Hibernians

The A.O.H enjoyed a good deal of support as a political force in Ireland and Irish communities in America during the nineteenth century. But divisions of a political nature emerged in the A.O.H., in the early 1900’s and the body split into the ‘Board of Éireann’ (B.O.E.) and the ‘Irish American Alliance’ (I.A.A.) in 1907. Officially the split was the result of a dispute on whether to register as a ‘Friendly Society’ but this was for PR purposes and masked the political nature of the split. The I.A.A was most successful in America where it had strong links with Clann Na Gael which would suggest that it was under the control, or at least under the influence of, the Irish Republican Brotherhood.

 

The B.O.E. was fully in support of John Redmond and the Irish Parliamentary Party. The political connections of these respective factions indicates that the split in the A.O.H. was clearly between physical force republicans and constitutional nationalists. The I.A.A was generally regarded as being less sectarian than the B.O.E. J.J. Walsh a member of the Irish Volunteers in Cork who later joined the Hibernian rifles in Dublin commented on the two Hibernian groups saying, ‘They were in opposition on many matters, but the later body (I.A.A.)  was the more national.’

 

The Founding of the Hibernian Rifles

 

The Hibernian Rifles were started as a military auxiliary to the I.A.A between 1912 and 1913 when John Joseph Scollan moved from Derry to Dublin after being appointed national director of the I.A.A. At this time the I.A.A. had three ‘divisions’ (title for local branches of Hibernians, despite the name they were civilian not military in nature) in Dublin, “The Red Hand” division in Brunswick St., “Clann Na Gael” division in Parliament St. and “O’Connell” division in Rathfarnham.

 

A number of divisions also existed in provincial towns. Scollan noticed that the constitution of the Hibernians in the United States made provision for a military Hibernian organisation. “I decided to organise a company in each division to be known as the Hibernian Rifles which correspond to the American organisation. I started a unit in each division and succeeded in getting about twenty men to join in each. These were all highly selected men. At this time the total number of members of the divisions were 80, 100 and 150, approximately so that a unit of 20 men was a good beginning. “The first recruiting advert for the force appeared in the militant labour newspaper “The Worker” on the 22nd of November 1913.

 

It stated that membership was open to “all Catholic Irishmen of good character” This was in line with membership criteria for the I.A.A at the time. However this requirement was dropped in all subsequent recruiting adverts in “The Worker” and “The Hibernian” newspapers. J.J. Scollan claims that the Hibernian Rifles were a non-sectarian body that its constitution “did not bar anyone from joining. It was a semi-public organisation open to all religions of all natures”.

 

The national board of the I.A.A. were supposed to be in command of the Hibernian Rifles but Scollan was in effect the commander in chief, directing and controlling the force. Statements from former members of the Hibernian Rifles and reports in “The Hibernian” newspaper give the rank system as riflemen, captain, vice commandant and commandant. Each company selected its own officers and non-commissioned officers based on the American organisations system. J.J. Scollan held the rank of Commandant and was the driving force and Commander in Chief of the organisation.

 

The Hibernian Rifles did not have an official uniform and as a result lost a few members to the Irish Volunteers and Irish Citizen Army which were more attractive to prospective recruits

John J. Walsh had been a prominent member of the Irish Volunteers and the G.A.A. in Cork, because of his Volunteer activities he was transferred to Bradford and eventually dismissed from his civil service job. In  May of 1915 he had been barred from residing in Cork he then moved to Dublin and joined the Hibernian Rifles and was promoted from rifleman to Vice Commandant in the movement because of his experience in the Irish Volunteers.

 

Other prominent leaders in the organisation were Captains Breslin and Garret. Sean Millroy was another very active member of the Hibernian Rifles and may have  held a commission though his specific rank is not known. Sympathetic ex-British soldiers provided instruction in foot drill and other military training. The Hibernian Rifles did not have an official uniform and as a result lost a few members to the Irish Volunteers and Irish Citizen Army which were more attractive because they had uniforms. (The author has additional information on the Hibernian Rifles and military uniform not included here.)

Recruiting the Riflemen

 

Recruitment was largely from the I.A.A. divisions but the first adverts began to appear in the militant labour newspaper “The Irish Worker” from the 22nd of November 1913 onwards. Adverts were also placed in the I.A.A. newspaper “The Hibernian” which was published from June 1915 until March/April 1916 and was edited by Scollan. It had a steady national circulation of about 2,500 copes between November 1913 and April 1916. “The Hibernian” serialised the “Roll of Honour” listing those who had been killed, wounded, imprisoned , deported or served with exclusion orders for republican activity.

 

The paper also carried adverts and notices for the Irish Volunteers. The R.I.C. and D.M.P. maintained a close watch on the rebel group and kept police intelligence files on Scollan., Millroy, Keeting and other members of the force. They were concerned with the circulation of Scollans “sedatious” newspaper and in 1919 The D.M.P. applied to the attorney general to have “The Hibernian” suppressed because it was not registered in accordance with Newspapers Libel and Registration act of 1881.

 

The Hibernian Rifles was a predominantly working class group, who raised money for the strikers of 1913. Some of them went on to join Connolly’s Citizen Army

With the rise of Edward Carson’s unionist “Ulster Volunteer Force” Scollan dectected “a feeling abroad that something of a counteraction should take place and this resulted in recruiting for our units becoming much easier.” By late 1913 the Hibernian Rifles had established units in Armagh, Belfast, Castlebar, Cork, Dingle and Dundalk. None of these local branched of the Hibernian Rifles ever had a membership greater than thirty or thirty five.

 

During the 1913 lockout the fledgling Hibernian Rifles sided with the workers on strike because the majority of their membership were workers connected to the I.T.G.W.U. Their rivals in Hibernianism the B.O.E. and the Roman Catholic bishops both actively condemned the strike and supported the employers. J.J Scollan as head of the Hibernian Rifles applied to the branches of the A.O.H. (I.A.A.) in the United States for funds to support the strikers and received over one thousand dollars in support. This money was used to augment the strikers pay and members of the Hibernian Rifles received a strike pay of twelve to fifteen shillings per week.

 

A number of rifleman who were involved in the strike later left the Hibernian Rifles to join the Irish Citizens’ Army which had been formed during the strike as the army of militant labour. When the Irish Volunteers were established in 1913 the Hibernian Rifles were hostile to the new group because some members of the Volunteer executive had taken a prominent anti-union stance during the lockout. The bitterness still surrounding the lockout and Redmondite / B.O.E involvement in the Irish Volunteers ensured that Scollan and the Hibernian Rifles maintained much stronger ties with James Connolly and the Irish Citizen Army until the Irish Volunteers split in 1914.

 

Getting the rifles

 

Initially the Hibernian rifles had no arms, but were anxious to get hold of some. After the creation of the Irish Citizen Army and Ulster Volunteer Force Scollan wrote to the Hibernian organisation in America seeking arms “They did not supply any and all we received was a supply of text books (American Military) which were not of much use to us. We improvised broom handles to act as rifles and with these we practiced aiming at targets. In 1914 the Hibernian Rifles soon found a rather unusual source of weaponry – British Army. “There was a division of Enniskillen Fusiliers based in Dollymount outside the city and from them we were able to purchase about one hundred rifles to get some money.” (The same regiment were to be shown the business end of these rifles in the 1916 rising!)

 

The main source for weaponry was to buy or steal rifles from British soldiers

In addition, the Hibernian Rifles in Dublin, held about twelve shotguns and thirty Italian rifles. The Skippers Alley unit of the Hibernian Rifles had taken a number of Italian rifles from Redmond’s Irish National Volunteers but these were of an old design and without ammunition so they were only used for arms drill. The Hibernian Rifles purchased whatever firearms they could as well as manufacturing their own modified shotgun cartridges using three lead tags from post bags as shot, and converting blank ammunition purchased from British soldiers into live rounds to suit the Lee Enfield rifles.

 

While most Irish Volunteer units were still training with Hurleys (or “Tipperary Rifles” as they were dubbed) the Skippers Alley Unit of the Hibernian Rifles were quite fortunate to drill and train with real Italian rifles even if the ammunition was not available! The Hibernian Rifles also manufactured some canister grenades but otherwise hand no explosives. British surveillance of the Hibernian Rifles estimated that they had about 140 men and 25 rifles.

By 1914 the I.A.A. had acquired a hall at number 28 North Fredrick Street which became the headquarters and main drill hall of the Hibernian Rifles. The hall was also used by the Keating branch of the Gaelic League and the north inner city sluagh of Fianna Éireann used by Sean Heuston. The Clann Na Gael Girl Scouts founded in 1911 by sisters May and Elizabeth Kelly also used the hall for training and May Kelly the O/C of this group was attached to the Hibernian Rifles unit during Easter Week. The hall was increasingly used as overnight accommodation by Irishmen returning to Britain to escape military conscription and by Irish Volunteer’s visiting Dublin before 1916 rising.

 

The Irish Volunteer split in 1914 after John Redmond’s Woodenbridge speech ensured that the Irish Volunteers were now largely free from the influence of the anti-trade union body and the B.O.E. Hibernians who remained loyal to the Home Rule party and followed them into the Irish National Volunteers. The split did not affect the Hibernian Rifles and Citizen Army who developed a new attitude toward the I.R.B. dominated more radical Irish Volunteers as all three groups were united in their opposition to British recruitment and conscription in Ireland.

 

Members of the Hibernian Rifles were actively involved in anti-recruiting activity, attending parades and public meetings organised by Connolly, the I.R.B, and the Irish Volunteers. Sean Millroy was arrested in June 1915, along with Francis Sheehy Skeffington and Séan Mac Diarmaida, for making an anti-recruitment speeches and was sentenced to three months imprisonment with hard labour.

 

J.J. Scolan as Commandant of Hibernian Rifles was involved in financing much more direct anti-war activities. Connolly informed Scollan that the British military were building “Q” ships in the shipyards of Belfast, and that he needed to get this information to the German ambassador in the United States. “Q” ships were small civilian ships usually less than 400 tons, which were made to look run down, painted in the colours of neutral countries, and given false names.

 

These ships were then equipped with concealed naval weaponry including four inch guns, twelve pounder artillery guns and later depth charges. “Q” ships would fly the flag of a neutral country when a U boat approached and open fire. Connolly proposed sending his daughter Nora to deliver the information in person but did not have the funds to pay her passage. Scollan agreed to pay the fare with I.A.A. funds but said he would need to show something in exchange for the money. Scollan paid the thirty pounds fare for Nora in exchange for thirty Italian service rifles. Connolly held a number of these rifles for training the Irish Citizen Army, but they were of little practical use for fighting because no ammunition was available for them. Nora Connolly delivered the message and as a result the “Q” ships were not as great a success in combating submarine warfare as the British had hoped.

 

JJ Walsh who held talks with Eoin McNeill, The O’Rahially and Desmond Fitzgerald at McNeill’s house in Herbert park to try and arrange a working relationship between the Hibernian Rifles and Irish Volunteers
JJ Walsh who held talks with Eoin McNeill, The O’Rahially and Desmond Fitzgerald at McNeill’s house in Herbert park to try and arrange a working relationship between the Hibernian Rifles and Irish Volunteers

Scollan had some connections with the early Sinn Féin party, and gave a lecture to the Michael Dwyer Cumann on December 16th 1914 entitled “Treason in Ireland”. The content of the lecture seems to have been quite radical “Many more of us through God’s grace shall live to see the Union Jack of England down in the dust and our own immortal green interwoven with orange and white of the Irish republic waving proudly and victoriously over the land”.

 

The Hibernian Rifles and the Easter Rising

 

With the exception of Thomas Mac Donough the I.R.B. element that controlled the Irish Volunteers did not trust the Hibernian Rifles. Mac Donough had made advances to Scollan suggesting that the Hibernian Rifles should be amalgamated with the Irish Volunteers. Mac Donough had also urged the Hibernian Rifles to participate in the O’Donovan Rossa funeral. Divisions of the Hibernian Rifles from around the country assembled in Dublin August 1915 for the funeral and paraded one hundred and fifty strong carrying fifty rifles. They led the I.A.A. divisions and the ladies auxiliary divisions who dipped the American flag at the funeral. The Hibernian section of the funeral was placed under the command of the O Rahially, an executive member of the Irish Volunteers.

 

The I.R.B. element that controlled the Irish Volunteers did not trust the Hibernian Rifles and did not tell them of the planned Rising, but they learned of it from James Connolly.

In autumn 1915 Scollan and J.J. Walsh held talks with Eoin McNeill, The O’Rahilly and Desmond Fitzgerald at McNeill’s house in Herbert park to try and arrange a working relationship between the Hibernian Rifles and Irish Volunteers. While cooperation with Irish Volunteers and the Irish Citizen Army increased as 1916 approached, the Hibernian Rifles remained a separate and independent group.

 

Scollan learned of plans for a rising from Connolly “Connolly and I were in close association and through him I understood that it was intended to have an insurrection, but I had no idea of when it would take place. “It is not clear whether Connolly was alluding to his own plans for a rising of the Irish Citizen Army which he had threatening since the outbreak of the great war, or whether he imparted the information to Scollan after he had been co-opted into the I.R.B. military council and told of their plans for a rising.

 

On Palm Sunday, with days before the rising, there was a mobilisation of volunteers at Fr. Mathew Park in Fairview after an alarm went out the British military were about to forcefully disarm the  Irish Volunteers. Previous British raids had suppressed republican papers and printing presses such as “The Gael” and had attempted to shut down Connolly’s newspaper the Workers Republic. After hearing of the alert twenty members of the Hibernian rifles assembled to aid the Volunteers, at 28 North Frederick Street and proceed in twos and threes to Phibsborough where a number of Irish Volunteer companies were assembled. The raid proved to be a false alarm and the mobilisation was dismissed.

 

On Easter Sunday the Hibernian Rifles held their usual Sunday parade in North Frederick Street and carried out their routine training. They had received no mobilisation orders from either Connolly or the I.R.B. military council. If Scollan had not received any definite orders from either Connolly or Mac Donough it is unlikely that any of the provincial units of the Hibernian Rifles had received mobilisation orders either.

On Easter Sunday 1916, the Hibernian Rifles held their usual Sunday parade in North Frederick Street and carried out their routine training but when they saw that insurrection had broken out the following day, they volunteered their services.

After reading McNeills countermanding order for the Irish Volunteers Scollan suspected that something serious was afoot and ordered the Dublin units of the Hibernian rifles to parade again at midday the following day. That evening Patrick Pearse, his brother William and Thomas Mac Donough met in Number 28 North Frederick Street and sent courier’s with new mobilisation orders to Volunteer companies, however the Hibernian Rifles had still not been informed of the planned rising.

 

The General Post Office (GPO) in Dublin shortly after the Easter Rising.
The General Post Office (GPO) in Dublin shortly after the Easter Rising.

At midday on Easter Monday Scollan and about sixty members of the Hibernian Rifles paraded at the hall in North Frederick street. When the information came to Scollan that the volunteers had seized the G.P.O. his men got very anxious about what to do. “I addressed them and told them that as far as I knew this fight which was just starting was unofficial, but as it had started we should join in and take our place in it. At the same time I said that if any man did not wish to volunteer for the fight he was at liberty to go home”.

 

Between twenty and thirty riflemen voted to join the fight, all were armed. Scollan sent a written message to Connolly in the G.P.O. that he was ready with the assistance and was awaiting orders. Connolly sent a reply saying he was glad of the assistance and that the Hibernian Rifles should remain in position and await further orders. Scollans men began commandeering food and supplies from local shops.

 

Scollan went to J.J. Walsh’s tobacco and newsagents shop in Blessington Street to seek the assistance of his Vice Commandant. He found Walsh proceeded to Walsh’s sisters house off Clonliffe Road where Walsh kept his rifle and Irish Volunteer uniform. The pair then returned to North Frederick Street. At 4.pm Scollan sent a second message to Connolly stating that he was still awaiting orders that his men were getting restless for something to do. Scollan suggested that the Hibernian Rifles could occupy Leavy’s Pub on the junction of Upper Dorset Street and Blessington Street. Connolly again stated they should remain in position and await orders.

 

At midday Connolly sent orders to the Hibernian Rifles to proceed to the G.P.O. The Hibernian Rifles were put under the temporary command of The O’Rahilly who ordered the group to break and barricade all the windows on the upper floors. Walsh was stationed at the telegraph desk on the second floor. He had a good knowledge of Morse Code and was able to pose as a government superintendent and sent out queries about the rising in an effort to obtain information. He was only able to receive a few sketchy pieces of information which he reported to Plunket and Pearse.

 

Connolly detailed Scollan to check reports of British troops in the area while other members of the Hibernian Rifles began constructing barricades in the streets. On Easter Monday evening in the G.P.O. Pearse commissioned Jack Stanley proprietor of the Gaelic press to issue and official bulletin. Stanley seized O’Keefe’s Printworks Halston Street and printed “Irish War News” a four page news sheet, printed Tuesday morning which had “STOP PRESS!” on the back page announcing the establishment of the Irish Republic. Although the famous 1916 Proclamation of the Irish Republic does not name the Hibernian Rifles as participants in the rising Irish War News lists them as part of the “Dublin Division of the Army of the Republic”.

 

Between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m. on Tuesday morning a contingent of Nine Volunteers from Maynooth who had slept the night in Glasnevin cemetery, arrived at the G.P.O..  Scollan and eighteen riflemen accompanied them downstairs to the armourer’s department where they were issued with home-made tin can grenades by Jim O’Neill a member of the Irish Citizen Army. Connolly addressed the mixed party and instructed them to go towards the Haypenny Bridge where the toll collector, indifferent to the revolution erupting around him, was still on duty and demanded the halfpenny toll for each man. Needless to say he did not get it.

 

The group made their way unhindered along the west end of Fleet Street and up through Crane’s Lane. Upon entering Shorthall’s beside the Exchange Hotel the group captured two men using the telephone to send information to the Curragh Military camp concerning republican troop movements and positions. Sean Millroy picked up the telephone and listened as the operator in the Curragh continued to relay valuable information on British troop movements blissfully unaware of the change of events at the other end of the phone line. Millroy was then dispatched back to the G.P.O. to report the information. The Riflemen and

 

Volunteers now occupied the roof of the Exchange Hotel and began barricading houses immediately adjacent to it. The area around City Hall appeared to be under British military control and the Hibernian Rifles and Volunteers engaged superior numbers of British forces in rooftop sniping. That afternoon groups of the Irish Fusiliers and Enniskilling Fusiliers advanced and prepared to storm the Exchange Hotel. The attack was repelled with rifle and shotgun fire. From the roof Scollan estimated they had inflicted over twenty serious casualties on the British military forces. During the attack Edward Walsh a member of the Hibernian Rifles sniping from the roofs was shot through the stomach.

 

About 4.30 p.m Scollan’s group was coming under increasing pressure received orders to retire to the G.P.O. and were helped by a number of sympathetic citizens to make their journey. They took the wounded Edward Walsh with them and he died that evening in the G.P.O. leaving a widow and two children. At this point number of the Hibernian Rifles were separated from the main body during the retreat and wandered into British military forces around Dame Street where they were taken prisoner. On Thursday morning Connolly instructed Scollan to make his way to Broadstone station to report on conditions there.

 

Scollan was challenged by a British sentry at the station and questioned by a British officer inside. Scollan claimed he was a stranger in Dublin, and was at the station to try and find his way about. He was taken prisoner and transferred to Ship Street Barracks the following day. He was kept in custody and fed on British military rations of bully beef and hard biscuit until the rising had ended. The remaining members of the Hibernian Rifles surrendered with the G.P.O. garrison at Parnell Street on the 29th of April on Friday May 6th Scollan was transferred to Richmond barracks before being transported to England by cattle boat and interned in Wandsworth prison.

 

Aftermath of the Rising and legacy

 

In July 1916 Scollan was transferred to Frongoch Internment camp in Wales where at least seven other Riflemen who had fought in the rising were interned. Scollan was appointed camp treasurer until he was transferred to Reading jail on October 30. Michael Collins was then elected to fill his position. Scollan and Hibernian Riflemen interned in Frongoch were released under the general amnesty at Christmas 1916. J.J. Walsh was less fortunate, being singled out for courtmartial and sentenced to ten years penal servitude because of his previous role in the Irish Volunteers. Walsh was released with the remaining republican prisoners on June 15th 1917.

The more conservative and sectarian Board or Erin Hibernianism largely disappeared in Ireland with the failure of the Home Rule Party in 1918. They could not adapt their religious or political beliefs to the non-sectarian Republican ideals of the 1916 Proclomation and the rising which soon grabbed the attention of a majority of the people in Ireland. Republicans had begun to openly attack the Board of Erin Hibernian halls and their meetings by 1920 because of their continued support for the John Redmond’s House Rule Party.

 

The more conservative and sectarian Board or Erin Hibernianism largely disappeared in Ireland with the failure of the Home Rule Party in 1918. Little is known of the Hibernain Rifles group after 1916.

A number of members of the Ancient Order of Hibernians were executed by the IRA on suspicion of being British Spies and the IRA in Belfast found themselves in conflict with armed Hibernians. Today the Ancient Order of Hibernians have almost completely died out in the 26 counties of southern Ireland and have a very small presence in some areas of the 6 counties in the north of Ireland where they still hold marches on Roman Catholic feast days.

Little information is available on Hibernian Rifles after the general release of prisoners after December 1916. While groups such as the Irish Citizen Army retained a large degree of independence from the Irish Volunteers after the Irish Republican Army had been formed in the rebellion, the Hibernian Rifles disappeared completely as a separate military group and became part of the First Battalion Dublin Brigade of the I.R.A. with its re-organisation in 1917. Number 28 North Frederick Street remained a hotbed of rebel activity between 1917 and 1918 and R.I.C. raids were made on the hall only to be resisted by former members of the Hibernian Rifles now serving as I.R.A. Volunteers.

Most of the Hibernian Rifles veterans remained active until the Civil war. One example is Francis Devine who continued military activities with E Coy. 1st Batt. Of the Dublin Brigade I.R.A. After his release from prison he served as a company quartermaster and assisted in the reorganising and training of I.R.A. companies. He was interned for three months under the defence of the realm act for his republican activities and later assisted Harry Boland in canvassing for Sinn Féin in Armagh during the 1918 elections. Devine was on continuous active service from 1919 until truce in July 1921 supplying arms for ambushes and commanding armed patrols. He opted to take a neutral position during the Civil War.

After his release and return to Dublin at Christmas 1916 J.J. Scollan noted “There was a decided change in the outlook of the people. Whereas they were hostile to us when we were being deported, they were now friendly and sympathetic.” “The Hibernian” newspaper was not re-established by Scollan after his release in 1916 and the Irish Branches of the Irish American Alliance were amalgamated into the Sinn Féin political party that developed in 1917. Sinn Féin annexation of the I.A.A. ended political journey, toward republicanism away from sectarian nationalism, that the Irish American Allicance and the Hibernian Rifles has been making since their split with the Board of Érin – Ancient Order of Hibernians in 1907.

 

Padraig Og O Ruairc is a PhD student at the University of Limerick. He has published a number of books and articles on the War of Independence & Civil War in Clare and Limerick. His most recent book “Revolution – A Photograph History of Revolutionary Ireland 1913 -1923” was short listed for the Best Irish Published Book category in the 2011 Irish Book Awards.

Greetings Brother Sir Knights of Columbus Council #126,

Posted by Jim on October 25, 2016

 

 

          A friendly reminder that the Fourth Degree ~ Long Island Assembly #703 will be holding it’s monthly meeting at Columbus Council #126 this Wednesday October 26, 2016 @ 7:45 PM. It would be nice to have a STRONG showing by the Fourth Degree members of Columbus Council #126. So for those members that have not attended a Fourth Degree meeting since becoming a member, I ask you to PLEASE make an effort to attend.

 

Fraternally,

Sir Knight Eddie Velinskie

Long Island Assembly #703 Officer

Columbus Council #126 ~ 4th Degree Liaison 

Military Retiree Appreciation Day

Posted by Jim on

On Saturday October 29, 2016 @ 8:00 AM the Fort Hamilton Army Base is having a Military Retiree Appreciation Day at the Theatre including continental breakfast. Also a health fair after and Luncheon for $15 at the community club.

British State of Denial is plain for all to see

Posted by Jim on October 20, 2016

“ Members of Congress cannot understand The Troubles in Northern Ireland if they do not grasp the fundamental truth about British Government  policy that is explained in this article by Brian Feeney:
official documents… reveal what was going on as Britain disengaged from the empire, and how the policies employed in decolonization were transferred here[Northern Ireland]… They knew exactly what to do. In The North, as in all those previous theatres, they picked one side and armed them against the other. It wasn’t just collusion: it was collaboration.’ This article is compulsory reading for all Staffers concerned with the Irish issue.”
— Fr. Sean Mc Manus, President, Irish National Caucus.
British State of Denial is plain for all to see
Brian Feeney. Irish News (Belfast). Wednesday, October 19, 2016

At a time when the First Minister has been photographed standing beside a convicted armed robber who admitted on radio in 2013 to be the Bangor boss of a criminal conspiracy – the UDA[Ulster Defense Association] – two new books throw light on the origins and operation of government policy which made the UDA the Northern Ireland Office’s [NIO] favourite terrorist organisation and turned a blind eye to UVF[Ulster Volunteer Force] murder gangs.

Ian Cobain’s The History Thieves and Margaret Urwin’s A State of Denial both mined huge piles of official documents to reveal what was going on as Britain disengaged from the empire and how the policies employed in decolonization were transferred here.

Cobain points out that most politicians posted here in the seventies had experience of military action in World War II but were at a loss to know how to deal with what became known as ‘low intensity operations’. However,  the military they looked to for advice had vast experience of exactly that in Malaya, Kenya, Cyprus and Aden. Indeed some of the senior officers had just left Aden to the Yemenis two years before arriving in The North. They knew exactly what to do. In The North, as in all those previous theatres, they picked one side and armed them against the other. It wasn’t just collusion: it was collaboration.

Both Cobain and Urwin allow the British government to condemn itself out of the mouths of its own officials in the documents they quote. When the UDR[Ulster Defense Regiment]was expanded in 1972 the Ministry of Defense knew ‘we will be largely arming one section of the community’. Then again they did that with the Turks in Cyprus and had great fun setting the Chinese and Malays against each other. In all places the group the British collaborated with did the dirty work for them.

In August 1974 after a two-hour discussion between Merlyn Rees’s Permanent Secretary and the UDA and UVF on the future of the UDR, the regiment was expanded into two full-time battalions. The NIO accepted this decision was exactly what the UDA had proposed. Why not? The UDA was carefully and deliberately kept legal until 1992. Margaret Urwin shows in NIO and Ministry of Defence documents that the British were well aware of the fact that most UDA weapons came from the UDR but saw no problem in dual membership. Furthermore a briefing document in September 1976 stated ‘the UDA…denies responsibility for sectarian murders and terrorist bombings or claims them in the name of the UFF, a proscribed and essentially fictitious organisation…’.In another document Urwin shows a senior civil servant successfully arguing for a licensed firearm for the UDA bodyguard of the UDA leader. After all, why not be consistent?

Urwin’s use of British public records shows how one-sided the military operation was throughout. Apart from the well-known one-sided use of internment – 18 months after internment was introduced before the first loyalist was interned – there was one-sided use of screening and searches. For example—in six months from September 1975 to March 1976—1,994 people were ‘screened’ (arrested and held at least four hours) of whom 118 were Protestant. Yet during this period 100 people were killed by Republicans and 78 by Loyalists.

Cobain and Urwin show that those policies, arming one side, internment, screening, mass house searches, community punishment, were all essential components of British  policy as they fought colonial wars in the fifties and sixties. In a previous book Cruel Britannia,  Cobain described how the interrogation methods and torture perfected in the colonies were used here in the seventies and eighties.

The big difference  is that —unlike the colonies where Cobain shows civil servants, soldiers, MI5 and Special Branch in their hundreds were engaged in systematically destroying literally tons of documents describing the nefarious and inhuman actions of British troops and police—here, thankfully, the documents survive because The North was part of the UK and the government could hardly destroy its own archives.

Rocky Sullivan’s – Last Call

Posted by Jim on

 

Address: 34 Van Dyke St, Brooklyn, NY 11231

Phone: (718) 246-8050

LAST CALL

As many of you are aware we are being forcibly removed from our current location at the end of this month.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank all our customers for your patronage over the last 21 years. We would like to especially thank all of you who have offered assistance to us in our present circumstances.
Last Call will be on Thursday October 27th, if you would like to stop in one last time.
Once again, thank you.

Athrú Sceidil / Change of Schedule

Mar a deir Chris, fuair muid “barántas faoisimh ón Ghobharnóir” agus beimid ag Rocky’s seachtain amháin eile.

As Chris says, we received a “warrant of reprieve from the Governor” and we will be at Rocky’s for another week.

Beidh rang eile againn ag Rocky’s, oíche Mhairt seo chugainn, 25ú Deireadh Fómhair.

We will have another class at Rocky’s, next Tuesday night, October 25th.

Ina dhiaidh sin, ag tosú ar 1 Samhain, leanfimid ar aghaidh ag The Irish Haven (5721 4th Ave Brooklyn) ar feadh tamaill.

After that, starting on November 1st, we will continue at The Irish Haven (5721 4th Ave Brooklyn) for a while.

Le cúnamh Dé, fillfimid go dtí an “Rocky’s Nua” i gCorrán Dearg aríst roimh Lá Althaithe!

God willing, we will return to the “New Rocky’s” in Red Hook again before Thanksgiving!

AOH KINGS COUNTY BOARD FALL/WINTER 2016 NEWSLETTER

Posted by Jim on

 

Dear Fellow Hibernians

     On behalf of the Officers of the Kings County Board, I hope to find all in good spirit while serving our Saviour, Our Nation and Irish-American Community.  We are getting into a very busy season with numerous events being held by various Hibernian Divisions and other Irish Heritage groups.  I’m going to list what I have.  I know there must be numerous of others, if you can share, that would be very appreciated.  Also, it is understandable that attending all these events is an impossibility.  Having said that, if you are able to attend, participate, donate, take out a journal ad if applicable or give an acknowledgement to the honorees or causes of the events, that should be accepted warmly.  Attending these events is always fun, sometimes spiritual and plenty of good fellowship.

     Some of these events are advertised on the www.NYAOH.Org website. Also events can be found on the AOH Facebook page(s) and some can be found on www.BrooklynIrish.com.

 

# October 21st, The 141st AOH Queens County Dinner Dance

     Located at Russo’s on the Bay, starting at 7:00 pm.   John Tully and Mary Hogan, amongst the honorees.

 

# November 5th, NY AOH State Meeting

     Meeting starts at 10:00 am at the Albany Hilton, in Albany.

     Also, Testimonial Dinner honoring State President Tim McSwiney

     Mass at 4:00 pm, Cocktails at 5:00 pm and Dinner at 6:00 pm.  Dinner is $100 per person.  Journal        ads accepted, please check State website for details for prices and deadlines.

 

# November 11th, AOH Yonkers Dinner Dance

   Located at Westchester Manor, starting at 7:00 pm.  Celebrating their 125th year.  $100 per person

     Contact Kevin Ellis (914) 844-4123 for attendance and journal ads.  Deadline is October 28th.

 

# November 13th, Kings County Division 19 Dinner

     Starting at noon at the Baile na nGael, $35 per person.  Honoring Steve Terrwilliger on the erection of the Veteran Flag Pole, which is in front of the Baile na nGael along with the new wall.  Steve spearheaded the project and saw it to fruitition with a dedication event held earlier this year.

 

# November 19th, AOH Peekskill Div 18 Dinner Dance

     $70 per person.  Journal ads accepted.  Please view State website for contacts and details.

 

# November 20th, AOH Bronx County Dinner Dance

     Located at Rory Dolan’s from 3:00 pm to 7:00 pm at $70 per person.

     Among the Honorees is John O’Connell, the Editor of the National Hibernian Digest

     Contact Bob Nolan 347-880-1403  nolanbxbp@hotmail.com

     Or Martin Galvin  718-665-1800

      Payments of attendees or accepted journal ads is before November 10th.

 

# Feb. 11th, Kings County Div 35 Dinner Dance

     Located at Knight fo Columbus Columbus Council #126.  $40 per person

     Honoring the Hibernian of the Year, Eddie Velinskie.

     Contacting me, Steve Kiernan, would be fine.  Details to follow..

 

November 6th, Commodore Barry Club Annual Social

     Located at Saint Patrick’s Auditorium in Bay Ridge from 4:00 pm to 8:00 pm, $30 per person

     The Club is honoring member Peter Lovett

 

November 10th, Saint Patrick’s Society of Brooklyn meeting

     Located at Dyker Park Golf Course, 7:30 pm to 10:30 pm, free for members, $50 for non-members.

     Contact a member for intentions on attending and/or joining.

 

December 10th, Richmond County Pipes and Drums 40th Year Anniversary Dinner

     Located at LiGreci’s Staaten, from 7:00 pm to 11:00 pm. $65 per person

     Contact a member before November 1st, for attendance and/or Journal ads

 

NYC Saint Patrick’s Day Parade news:

Nothing to report.  New Judge hearing case.  Affiliates still haven’t been notified by Corporation or Committee with respect of updated Affiliate list and for payment.  As of this newsletter, no new update to report.  Next Affiliate Meeting in November.

 

The Kings County Officers would like to wish Marc Reilly of Division 12 congradulations on being the Kings County AOH 2017 Aide to the Grand Marshall at the Irish-American Saint Patrick’s Day Parade in Park Slope.  Details of Installation to follow.

 Also being honored at the same Irish-American Saint Patrick’s Day Parade is County Officer James O’Leary.  He will represent the Grand Council of the Emerald Society.

Well deserved recognition for both, congrats.

 

As always, please try and attend meetings at your Division and all are invited to the County Meetings.

Next County meeting is Monday October 24th, at the Baile na nGael with a 7:30 pm start

 

Division 12 meetings are normally the 3rd Thursday of the month and is held at the Leif in Bay Ridge, unless  changed by President Jerry McCabe.

 

Division 19 meetings are normally the 4th Wednesday of the month and is held at the Baile na nGael, unless changed by President Joseph Glynn.

 

Division 35 meetings are normally the 3rd Tuesday of the month and is held at the Knights of Columbus Columbus Council #126, unless changed by President Eddie Murphy.

 

The Kings County Board

Will be selling tickets to the Brooklyn Nets Irish Heritage Night

Brooklyn Nets vs The Pelicans

Thursday January 12th, 2107

$60.00 per ticket

More to follow, contact any County Officer for tickets

 

Sincerely, In Our Motto

Steve Kiernan, President

AOH Kings County Board

The Ancient Order of Hibernians Calls on “Jeopardy!” for an On-Air Apology for Alex Trebek’s Comments Defaming those of Irish Heritage.

Posted by Jim on

 

New City, New York – 10/19/16 – The Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH)

 

The Ancient Order of Hibernians condemns the outrageous comments made by host Alex Trebek on the episode of “Jeopardy!” which aired on 10/18/16. During the contestant interview section, Mr. Trebek queried contestant SHANNON DILLMOREShannon Dilmore on his Irish connection given his first name of “Shannon”.  Mr. Dillmore stated that he has visited all 26 Counties of the Republic of Ireland and has hill walked all of its highest peaks.    It was at this point that Mr. Trebek took it upon himself to ask Mr. Dillmore “Were you sober when you did it?”

 

We are sure the Jeopardy research staff can provide voluminous material to Mr. Trebek and the show’s producers documenting the bigoted history behind the cliché of conflating Irishness with Drunkenness. As a show that prides itself on its educational value, specifically as regards children, we find such an insensitive and prejudiced remark by the public face of Jeopardy inexcusable. We question if Mr. Trebek would utter such a defaming remark if the target was another heritage. We note the sad irony that the show’s creator Merv Griffin was himself an Irish American; Mr. Trebek who makes a comfortable living off of Mr. Griffin’s legacy should be ashamed for defaming the heritage Mr. Griffin expressed great pride in.

 

The Ancient Order of Hibernians calls for Mr. Trebek and “Jeopardy!” to immediately issue a full and complete on-air apology to the Irish community for his crass, denigrating remark. We also ask our membership and members of the broader Irish American community to contact “Jeopardy!” Productions at (310) 244-8855 to express their anger at this defamation targeting people of Irish heritage and demand an on-air apology from Mr. Trebeck.

 

###ENDS###

 

About the Ancient Order of Hibernians

 

Founded in 1836 with some 40,000 members covering 38 states, the Ancient Order of Hibernians is the oldest and largest Irish-Catholic Organization in the United States

 

Contact information (press members only):

 

Neil F. Cosgrove, National Anti-Defamation Chairman

Ancient Order of Hibernians

(845) 499-8546 Neil.Cosgrove@AOH.com

DUP-headed department spent up to £7k changing boat’s Irish name

Posted by Jim on October 19, 2016

DUP-headed department spent up to £7k changing boat's Irish name
The Banríon Uladh has been renamed the Queen of Ulster

Connla Young

IT cost almost £7,000 for a DUP-headed Stormont department to change the name of a fisheries patrol boat from Irish into English.

Nationalists reacted angrily last month after new agriculture minister Michelle McIlveen revealed the name of the Irish Sea vessel had been translated from ‘Banríon Uladh’ to ‘Queen of Ulster’.

The DUP minister said the decision was taken because the department has a “single language policy”.

She also said the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs – previously the Department of Agriculture – had a “fresh identity”.

Irish language group Pobal said at the time it “deplored” the name change.

Mid Ulster SDLP assembly member Patsy McGlone last night said he had now learned that the cost of changing the name was £6,835.

Details were revealed in a response to an assembly question.

“It was petty in the first place to go about changing the name of a boat but to waste taxpayers’ money makes it even more ridiculous,” he said.

“Aside from the slight it is to Irish speakers, it says a lot for parity of esteem for other people’s culture and languages around Stormont and government in general.”

A department spokesman said: “The change of lettering was carried out at a scheduled annual maintenance event involving repairs, repainting and antifouling.”

The boat was originally named by former Sinn Fein agriculture minister Michelle Gildernew after it was bought in 2010

Jeopardy and Trebek defaming the Irish

Posted by Jim on

Tim Myles Past NY State Chair FFAI reports.

     On today’s(10/18/16) Jeopardy game show the host, Alex Trebek defamed the Irish. At the point in the show where he interviews the contestants, he said to the reigning champion whose name is “Shannon”, Alex said with a name like that you must have a connection to Ireland. I’m sure these questions are somewhat rehearsed. Shannon stated that he has hill walked all of the highest points in each of the 26 counties of the republic and he also said that he could say he’s seen every inch of those counties. That was nice, but Alex T brought it down when he asked Shannon if he was sober when he did all that. That was certainly a defaming comment and I would suggest that the AOH should ask for an on air apology for that terrible comment by Alex Trebek. The show airs daily nationally on the ABC network.
Neil Cosgrave Natl. AOH Chair Anti- Irish Defamation Committee responds.
I have a call into Jeopardy productions 310-244-8855. What would help is if we can get multiple call in to them tomorrow expressing our outrage
 
Neil

Top US cops called in to investigate IRA informer known as Stakeknife

Posted by Jim on October 18, 2016

Bedfordshire Chief Constable Jon Boutcher (left) is leading Operation Kenova, the investigation into the activities of the alleged Army agent known as Stakeknife.

Bedfordshire Chief Constable Jon Boutcher (left) is leading Operation Kenova, the investigation into the activities of the alleged Army agent known as Stakeknife.Police Service of Northern Ireland

The officer leading the Stakeknife investigation has been assembling a group of some of the most senior figures in international policing to act as advisors on the case.

Bedfordshire Chief Constable Jon Boutcher, who is heading Operation Kenova, an investigation into several IRA murders and the role of alleged Army agent known as Stakeknife, has been gathering an outside detective team of nearly 50 officers as well as an Independent Steering Group.

NYPD Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence and Counter-terrorism John Miller and Mike Downing, Deputy Chief of the Los Angeles Police Department, will join the group, which will also include Kathleen O’Toole, part of the Patten Commission, former Police Ombudsman Dame Nuala O’Loan, Iain Livingstone, who is Deputy Chief Constable with Police Scotland, and Nick Kaldas a former Deputy Commissioner of Police in New South Wales who has been working with the UN.

Said Boutcher: “Each of those members has experience of complex investigations that will have engaged similar legal challenges and have involved historical cases.”

He said the group is to act as a “sounding board” or “critical friend.”

“There is an absolute determination to get to the truth for the families,” he said – and he promised “a meaningful, honest, authentic investigation to get to the heart of what happened”.

Stakeknife is the code name for the Army agent who infiltrated the IRA, operating inside its “internal security,” the division of that organization responsible for the interrogation of suspected informers often leading to execution.

Freddie Scappaticci, a Belfast republican interned in the 1970s, has denied he was the agent, ITV.com reports.

The investigating team will begin by assessing relevant documents and information held across the intelligence agencies—Military, MI5 and the then RUC Special Branch.

Boutcher has been meeting families to brief them on the progress and has also assembled a Victims Focus Group to advise the investigation.

“I am committed to doing all I can to find the truth for the victims and their families. It is them who we should be thinking of throughout, said Boutcher, when he received the appointment in June.

“It must be extremely hard to have listened to various commentaries within the community and the media about how and why their loved ones died. I hope this investigation ultimately addresses the uncertainties

65-2 An Official Communication from the Uniformed Firefighters Association #48 of 2016

Posted by Jim on October 17, 2016

 
WTC Retired Firefighter Paul Santoro Engine 259

Wake:

Viewings will be Tuesday, October 18th from 2pm-4pm and 7pm-9pm

Lindenhurst Funeral Home 424 South Wellwood Ave Lindenhurst NY  11757 631-957-0300

Funeral:

Wednesday, October 19th at 11am Our Lady of Perpetual Help 210 South Wellwood Ave Lindenhurst NY  11757 631-226-7725

All Off-Duty Members should attend in Class A

50 Years Later, Recalling a Manhattan Blaze That Killed 12 Firefighters

Posted by Jim on

The tragedy claimed the lives of 12 firefighters. Credit Larry Morris/The New York Times

Oct. 17 is a sad day for the New York Fire Department. Monday is the 50th anniversary of the fire that, until the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack, claimed more firefighters’ lives than any other disaster in the city.

The short trip that the firefighters made from nearby firehouses on Oct. 17, 1966, started around 9:30 p.m. when they headed to a fire at a building on East 22nd Street, just east of Broadway.

Despite the heat and smoke they encountered, firefighters who were there said the source of the blaze — its “seat,” in firefighters’ parlance — had not been obvious. Several firefighters were sent around the block, to 23rd Street, and told to pull a hose through a drugstore there in an attempt to approach the fire from the rear. They went in, and never made it out.

Photo

Firefighters removed their helmets as the body of a colleague was removed from the site of a 1966 fire at 22nd Street and Broadway in Manhattan. Credit United Press International

What was burning in the 22nd Street building, a subsequent investigation showed, was paint and lacquer that had been stored in the basement by an art dealer. What the firefighters who went into Wonder Drug & Cosmetics, at 6 East 23rd Street, across from Madison Square Park, had no way of knowing was that the store and the 22nd Street building shared a basement, and that an interior basement wall had recently been moved to give the 22nd Street building more underground storage space.

That meant that the drugstore’s thick floor was poorly supported, and as the fire burned below it collapsed, sending 10 firefighters plunging into the basement. Two others were caught by the flames that quickly roared up to the first floor through the huge hole left by the collapse.

The five-story building that housed the drugstore is long gone. In its place is a high-rise apartment building that covers 22nd to 23rd Streets. On its 23rd Street wall is a bronze plaque that reads, “In tribute to our comrades,” with the date of the fire and the name and rank of each of the 12 victims.

The Fire Department’s current commissioner, Daniel A. Nigro, whose father was a captain in the department, visited the scene the day after the fatal fire, and speaks often of the tragedy.

Photo

A funeral service for four of the firefighters was held on Oct. 21, 1966, at St. Thomas Church in Midtown Manhattan. Credit Neal Boenzi/The New York Times

“It made a lasting impression on me,” Mr. Nigro said last week.

He attended the funeral of several of the men a few days later, which he recalled as “a very sad day.”

Mr. Nigro became a firefighter three years later and was assigned to a Midtown Manhattan company. At the time, he said, the deaths were “still on the minds of the firefighters in that area.”

The memory has not faded. “Any time I go on 23rd Street, which is fairly frequent, whoever I’m with, I tell them” about the fire, Mr. Nigro said, adding, “Every once in a while, I see somebody who was there, and we talk about it.”

Every Oct. 17, firefighters who helped battle the blaze, department commanders and current members of the companies whose members died gather in front of the bronze plaque for a solemn ceremony for what is remembered as the 23rd Street Fire. They will do so again on Monday.

Brexiters should know consequences of ignoring Ireland

Posted by Jim on

By Brian Feeney (for Irish News)

Charlie Flanagan tells us the Irish government will seek ‘legal
recognition of the unique status of the north and the circumstances on
the island’.

However, he was talking in terms of the free movement of people and
goods on the island.

That seems to be what the Taoiseach’s planned ‘All-Island Civic
Dialogue’ seems to be concentrating on too.

(You daren’t call it an ‘All-Ireland Civic Dialogue’ in case you offend
unionists who aren’t turning up anyway).

Most experts think that will be a tall order. In the last week the
indications are that other EU members are lining up to make negotiations
as difficult as possible for the British government after Theresa May
and her ministers’ aggressive and provocative remarks at her party’s
rally in Birmingham.

The Conservative Brexiteers really know how to make friends and
influence people. May and her immediate xenophobic entourage are the
only people who count.

That’s clear now. Our proconsul, her local little Englander Sir Echo, is
her political lapdog who has worked with her during his years at the
Home Office where her authoritarianism was evident in every statement.

Our proconsul takes care to use exactly the same words as May, for
example ‘no borders of the past’, without having a clue what that means
in the future or how it will be implemented.

What we know for sure is this. May and her braying conference place
immigration at the top of the agenda.

Control of numbers means leaving the single market and probably the
customs union too. She, and of course her local lapdog, witter on about
the Common Travel Area, deliberately confusing it with free trade in
goods which it certainly isn’t.

How the two are going to be equated in Charlie Flanagan’s ‘legal
recognition’ is a mystery when Britain leaves the single market.

Puzzling enough as that conundrum is, there’s another more profound
political conundrum.

How do you retain the right to pursue the aspiration towards Irish unity
to be operated by a border poll as provided in the Good Friday Agreement
when the north isn’t in the EU? So far only the Taoiseach has made a
passing reference to this problem in an important speech a couple of
weeks ago.

Suppose post Brexit, in a decade with an inevitable nationalist voting
majority here especially as economic hardship bites, suppose people did
vote for Irish unity: how would that work when the north isn’t in the
EU? How does it join?

The Taoiseach compared the problem to West Germany’s position after 1989
when the wall came down. It joined with East Germany which was admitted
automatically after 1990 to the EEC as it then was.

Could the north do the same and if so, what would the Scottish
government think if the same arrangements weren’t available to Scotland?
Would other EU members agree? Would Spain want similar arrangements to
incorporate Gibraltar as their price?

Charlie Flanagan and the Irish government need to start thinking about
how they incorporate such a process as the German one into the ‘legal
recognition of the unique status of the north’ instead of just talking
about trade.

The Irish government goes on about how a hard border will cause
difficulties for the peace process. Fair enough.

What will cause incomparably more difficulty is if the carefully worded
deal in the Good Friday Agreement about how to advance Irish unity
peacefully and democratically is casually set aside unilaterally by the
British government with no concern for the inevitable consequences.

Let’s state quite simply what they are. A boost for republican
dissidents, destabilisation of Sinn Fein’s political position and
general nationalist outrage that a British government has once again
reneged on a deal, in this case an international agreement.

The Irish government has to start making these points explicitly because
the Brexiteers in this horrible British government care nothing of the
consequences for the north of their rush towards a UKIP-lite position.

Cutting immigration is the number one priority in order to steal UKIP’s
clothes and undermine Labour. Dublin should remind them of the
consequences of ignoring Ireland.

Attacks on Catholics continue

Posted by Jim on

An arson attack on a flat in north Belfast was a sectarian bid by
loyalists to burn out Catholics living in the area.

A bin was pushed against the door of a ground floor flat on Ligoniel
Road and set alight at around 1.25am on Thursday morning.

The death threat ‘KAT’ had been spray-painted outside the property,
which is in a predominantly loyalist area. ‘KAT’ is an abbreviation for
‘Kill All Taigs [Catholics]’.

The blaze damage the ground flat and an upper apartment. Three people
were treated for smoke inhalation, but the targets of the attack escaped
serious injury.

Meanwhile, there was shock when two loyalists who nearly killed a young
Catholic man in an “animalistic” sectarian attack in Derry were this
week given only suspended sentences.

Judge Barney McElholm admitted the victim was lucky to be alive as he
allowed two Waterside men to walk free for their part in the attack,
which took place in the predominantly Protestant Fountain area of the
city.

Darren Dougherty and Robert Lyttle, both 24, were charged with assault
and assault occasioning actual bodily harm respectively.

The court heard the victim was attacked by a group of six-seven males
who were said to have shouted sectarian abuse such as “you Fenian
bastard” during the 2014 attack. CCTV footage played in court showed
Lyttle kicking the victim six times as he lay on the ground and
Dougherty on top of him as girls attempted to break it up.

Passing sentence, Judge McElholm said the attack could have proved fatal
and the victim could have sustained “serious and permanent brain
damage.”

Addressing both defendants, Judge McElholm said: “Both of you need to
take a long hard look at yourselves.” Dougherty was a given three months
jail sentence suspended for two years and Lyttle was given a nine month
jail term suspended for two years

The mask slips again for North’s political justice system

Posted by Jim on

A court has thrown out politically-motivated charges against a prominent
County Tyrone republican after British prosecutors abandoned the case.

David Jordan was accused of trying to kill a member of the Crown forces
in May 2008 in an attack later claimed by the breakaway ‘Real IRA’, but
the case was withdrawn during a hearing in Strabane this week.

Last month Mr Jordan was appointed as the first chairman of newly
established anti-agreement political party Saoradh – which is Irish for
liberation.

Mr Jordan, who denied any part in the 2008 attack, said he was
previously questioned about it eight years ago and released without
charge. He described the decision to charge him as “vindictive” .

Restrictive bail conditions imposed on Mr Jordan included a ban on
having a mobile phone or accessing the internet. He was also ordered to
report to the PSNI daily, abide by a curfew and wear an electronic tag.

He described the timing of his arrest as “suspicious”.

“It put me off the road for ten and a half months,” he said. “I feel it
is part of a campaign on the part of the British to stabilise the six
counties.

“Any vocal opposition to the status quo in the six counties is met by
internment by remand and stringent and draconian bail conditions.”

ANTI-INTERNMENT CAMPAIGN

Meanwhile, pressure is growing for the release of Derry political
activist Tony Taylor. Protests are due to take place in Dublin and
Glasgow on Saturday, October 29 by anti-internment groups in both
countries.

In March this year, Mr Taylor was arrested while on a family outing in
Derry following order for his internment by then Direct Ruler Theresa
Villiers, who claimed he was a risk to the public. He has been held at
Maghaberry prison since then without charge or trial.

This week, prominent Derry priest Fr Paddy O’Kane lent his support to
the campaign for Taylor’s release.

“The case simply boils down to this,” he wrote. “They should either
charge him or release him. The fact is however they are in no rush to do
so and seem quite happy to simply sit on their hands and keep Tony
locked up. That is where the injustice lies.”

Sinn Fein has also renewed its calls for the release of the Derry man.
In a recent meeting with the current Direct Ruler James Brokenshire,
Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness said he told him the continued detention
of the Derry man was “unacceptable” and made it clear that, in the
absence of due process, he should be “released immediately.”

Irish rugby legend Anthony Foley found dead in Paris hotel

Posted by Jim on

from Irish Central

Munster coach Anthony "Axel" Foley died suddenly in Paris.

Munster coach Anthony “Axel” Foley died suddenly in Paris.

Former Ireland captain and Munster Rugby coach Anthony Foley passed away suddenly in the team’s Paris hotel on Saturday night, the night before Munster were to play Racing 92, in a European Champions Cup tie.

 

Foley (42) died of a suspected heart attack and was found dead in his hotel room. It is reported by the Mail on Sunday that Foley, known as Axel, shared a quiet drink with his colleagues before retiring early to bed. He was pronounced dead at the scene after he failed to attend an early morning meeting.

As a mark of respect the Sunday game was rescheduled and Munster fans gathered at the stadium, Stade Yves du Manoir, to hold an impromptu vigil for the rugby hero.

Foley captained the Ireland rugby team three times during a 62-cap career and skippered Munster to Heineken Cup glory in 2006, over Biarritz in Cardiff. Back-rower Foley made a try-scoring international debut against England in the 1995 Six Nations and from 2000 to 2005 that he became established as a key figure in Ireland’s team.

In 2008 he retired leaving Munster as the club’s most-capped player with 194 appearances for the provincial side.

Foley is survived by his wife Olive and his two children. Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs have confirmed that they are providing consular assistance through Ireland’s Embassy in Paris.

Former Irish captain and teammate Ronan O’Gara, who is now a coach at Racing 92, spoke of the loss of an “incredible man.” O’Gara and Foley were long time team mates and won two Heineken Cups and a Celtic League with Munster and a Triple Crown with Munster in 2004.

He tweeted:

Former Ireland coach Donal Lenihan spoke of the “shock and horror” of Foley’s death and said he was a man “destined to play rugby.”

Eddie O’Sullivan who coached Foley, on the Ireland team, told Off the Ball “What he brought was a phenomenal rugby brain to the game. It wasn’t just his ability to play. He had a great skill set… He knew that nuance that keeps teams on track and steers them to victory.”

He added “I’ve no doubt in my mind, that he was going to take on Munster again a few years down the track… He was going to coach Ireland, I’ve no doubt about that. From a rugby point of view, it’s a dreadful loss to Irish rugby.”

2nd Annual Military Veterans Appreciation Day BBQ.

Posted by Jim on October 14, 2016

Greetings folks, on Sunday November 06, 2016 from 12:00 PM till 4:00 PM @ Columbus Council #126 we will be having our 2nd Annual Military Veterans Appreciation Day BBQ.

The cost for both is $15.00 PP and will include Beer, Wine & Soda.

There is no charge for Columbus Council #126 Military Veterans, but we do ask that if you are bringing a Military Veteran that you please pick up the cost for them.

All payments must be submitted by Tuesday November 01, 2016 11:00 PM as we are only having enough food on hand for those who submit payments or names. Please no day of event walk ~ in’s.

Columbus Council #126 Military Veterans please submit your name by Tuesday November 01, 2016 11:00 PM.

Please contact Eddie Velinskie @ 347-210-1249

AOH Metropolitan Conference Fall Meeting

Posted by Jim on

October 15 @ 11:00 am2:00 pm

MEETING NOTICE

The next NY Metro Conference Fall 2016 Meeting to be held on Saturday October 15, 2016. This meeting is going to be held in the new home of AOH Division #21 located at 4 Roxbury Blvd, Breezy Point, NY. The meeting will be starting promptly at 11:00 AM, and we are looking forward to seeing you all at this meeting. If you are unable to attend, please do your best to send another Brother Hibernian from your Division or County to this meeting. We have many issues and topics that need to be discussed and it’s important that we all attend this meeting.

DIRECTIONS

 

AOH Division #21 Hall

4 Roxbury Blvd

Roxbury, NY 11697

 

From the Belt Parkway get off exit 11S Flatbush Ave South. Continu down Flatbush Ave for about 2 Miles and go over the Marine Park/Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge. Stay in the right lane going over the bridge and take the first exit over the bridge “Breezy Point”. Proceed down that road to the 2nd Traffic Light. Make a right and stop at the security gate, tell the security guard that you are going to the AOH Hall for a meeting. If the security guard is not aware for the AOH Hall tell them that you are going to the old “Pebbles Pub”. Proceed past the security gate straight, park your vehicle and it’s a short walk to our hall.

Willie Frazer dubs walkers at Tyrone GAA fundraising event ‘republican scum’

Posted by Jim on October 13, 2016

 

Willie Frazer dubs walkers at Tyrone GAA fundraising event ‘republican scum'
Members of Dungannon Thomas Clarke’s GAA club have walked 100 miles from Dublin to Dungannon

John Monaghan

LOYALIST victims campaigner Willie Frazer has branded participants in a fundraising walk for a Tyrone GAA club as “dissidents” and “republican scum.”

The walk for Thomas Clarkes GFC began at Arbour Hill Cemetery in Dublin on Wednesday at the burial place of the club’s patron, a key figure in the 1916 Easter Rising, and finished on Sunday in Dungannon with a 5k run and a programme of family entertainment at O’Neill Park.

The proceeds from the fundraiser will go towards a planned new club complex – including a new main pitch, seated stand and floodlights, modern pavilion, as well as indoor training and playing facilities – to co-incide with its centenary next year.

However, at the weekend Mr Frazer posted a video on social media in which he lashed out at the event.

“Apparently some dissidents and their colleagues are walking from Dublin to Dungannon to commemorate 100 years ago the boys leaving Dungannon to go to the Rising.

“I know some of them would certainly need to do a bit of walking when you see the cut of them.

He added: “It is a total and utter disgrace that these people are allowed to go out to commemorate terrorists. Apparently they have walked from Dublin but they probably got the bus to Keady.”

The Co Armagh victims campaigner then went on to claim most of those involved “are dissidents” and urged viewers of his video-post to “find out how these people have been given permission to walk 40 miles in Northern Ireland without anybody saying it is contentious.”

He said: “We can’t walk a few hundred yards without it being contentious.

“There is the Thomas Clarke (sic) GAA club as well…it is not them but obviously they must be connected in some way or another.

Mr Frazer added: “If it is anything to do with the 1916 Rising they will probably be running as that is what most of them did during the Rising.”

In a separate post showing posters from the GAA club highlighting the event, Mr Frazer said: “This is what a walk of real shame looks like by Republican scum taking place this weekend. They made sure to take the long road so not too have come past Markethill. Lol”

The postings led to a number of derogatory comments about the fundraiser from Mr Frazer’s supporters, including one which read: “A landmine wouldn’t go amiss.”

Other online comments ridiculed Mr Frazer’s video, with one woman stating: “Ahh have you ever heard so much bitterness? There’ll be an army there alright to meet them, #TsC25K army which is totally inclusive regardless of religion, nationality and any politics whatsoever.”

Thomas Clarkes GAC chairman Damian Cahalane told The Irish News the club was aware of the video but would not be commenting.

Classes at Rocky’s / NUASHONRÚ: Ranganna ag Rocky’s

Posted by Jim on

Tá Rocky’s ag aistriú!

 

Rocky’s is moving!

 

Ach ní bheimid i bhfad.

 

But we won’t be far.

 

Fuair Chris baile nua dúinn atá 300 troigh ónár n-ionad láithreach.

 

Chris found a new home for us that is 300 feet from our present location.

 

Béidh ár rang deireanach againn sa “Sean-Rocky’s” an tseachtain seo chugainn, oíche Mháirt, 18ú Deireadh Fómhair.

 

We will have our last class in the “Old Rocky’s” next week, October 18th.

 

Ina dhiaidh sin, leanfimid ar aghaidh ag an Irish Haven, 5721 Ceathrú Ascaill, Brooklyn, ag tosú ar 25ú DF, go osclaítear an “Nua-Rocky’s”,  i  Mí Shamhna,  le cúnamh Dé.

 

After that, we will continue at the Irish Haven, 5721 Fourth Avenue, Brooklyn, starting on Oct, 25th, until the “New Rocky’s” is opened, in November, God willing.

 

Scaip an scéal!

 

Spread the news!

Dublin needs to fight all-Ireland Brexit case

Posted by Jim on October 12, 2016

Brian Feeney. Irish News (Belfast). Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Charlie Flanagan tells us the Irish government will seek ‘legal recognition of the unique status of the North and the circumstances on the island’. However he was talking in terms of the free movement of people and goods on the island. That seems to be what the Taoiseach’s planned ‘All-Island Civic Dialogue’ seems to be concentrating on too. (You daren’t call it an ‘All-Ireland Civic Dialogue’ in case you offend Unionists who aren’t turning up anyway).

Most experts think that will be a tall order. In the last week the indications are that other EU members are lining up to make negotiations as difficult as possible for the British government after Theresa May and her ministers’ aggressive and provocative remarks at her party’s rally in Birmingham. The Conservative Brexiteers really know how to make friends and influence people.

May and her immediate xenophobic entourage are the only people who count. That’s clear now. Our proconsul, her local little Englander Sir Echo, is her political lapdog who has worked with her during his years at the Home Office where her authoritarianism was evident in every statement. Our proconsul takes care to use exactly the same words as May, for example ‘no borders of the past’, without having a clue what that means in the future or how it will be implemented.

What we know for sure is this: May and her braying conference place immigration at the top of the agenda. Control of numbers means leaving the single market and probably the customs union too. She, and of course her local lapdog, witter on about the Common Travel Area, deliberately confusing it with free trade in goods which it certainly isn’t. How the two are going to be equated in Charlie Flanagan’s ‘legal recognition’ is a mystery when Britain leaves the single market.

Puzzling enough as that conundrum is, there’s another more profound political conundrum. How do you retain the right to pursue the aspiration towards Irish unity to be operated by a Border Poll, as provided in the Good Friday Agreement,  when the North isn’t in the EU? So far only the Taoiseach has made a passing reference to this problem in an important speech a couple of weeks ago. Suppose post Brexit—in a decade with an inevitable Nationalist voting majority—  especially as economic hardship bites, suppose people did vote for Irish unity,  how would that work when the North isn’t in the EU? How does it join?

The Taoiseach compared the problem to West Germany’s position after 1989 when the wall came down. It joined with East Germany which was admitted automatically after 1990 to the EEC as it then was. Could the North do the same,  and , if so, what would the Scottish government think if the same arrangements weren’t available to Scotland? Would other EU members agree? Would Spain want similar arrangements to incorporate Gibraltar as their price?

Charlie Flanagan and the Irish government need to start thinking about how they incorporate such a process as the German one into the ‘legal recognition of the unique status of the north’ instead of just talking about trade. The Irish government goes on about how a hard border will cause difficulties for the peace process. Fair enough. [But] what will cause incomparably more difficulty is if the carefully worded deal in the Good Friday Agreement—about how to advance Irish unity peacefully and democratically— is casually set aside unilaterally by the British government with no concern for the inevitable consequences.

Let’s state quite simply what [the consequences] are:A boost for republican dissidents, destabilisation of Sinn Féin’s political position and general Nationalist outrage that a British government has once again reneged on a deal, in this case an international agreement.

The Irish government has to start making these points explicitly because the Brexiteers in this horrible British government care nothing of the consequences for the North of their Gadarene rush towards a UKIP-lite position. Cutting immigration is the number one priority in order to steal UKIP’s clothes and undermine Labour.
Dublin should remind them of the consequences of ignoring Ireland.

Dialogue, not deflection

Posted by Jim on October 11, 2016

Pauline Mellon on the Ardoyne parades dispute, from her blog,
‘The Diary of a Derry Mother’.

Let me take you out of Derry tonight and into the heart of North Belfast
to a place called Ardoyne. Ardoyne has been at the centre of a lot of
controversy recently following negotiations to dismantle the Twadell
Protest Camp. The Protest Camp was set up in July 2013 in opposition to
a parade ruling to restrict an Orange Order Parade. What was effectively
an act of trespass on the part of the protesters ended up costing the
taxpayer a staggering #21 million to police, with the the camp located
close to the nationalist Ardoyne area. Yes folks you’ve read that
correctly, at a time when health, education and welfare budgets were
being slashed, #21 million was spent on policing an illegal camp.
Welcome to Starship Norn Iron!

A few weeks ago it emerged that negotiations to dismantle the Twadell
camp were not only ongoing but at an advanced stage. Key to these
negotiations were two gentlemen in particular, the Reverend Harold Goode
and Derry ‘business’ man Jim Roddy MBE. The Reverend Harold Goode is
well known for his input in situations of a sensitive nature but I fail
to see where Jim Roddy fitted here, in fact I’m equally curious as to
what line of business he is in.

Let me clarify, it is not my intention to dismiss Jim’s efforts, on the
contrary, his temerity is to be commended. With the removal of the
Twadell camp marking the first phase of a possible many Jim now has the
task of engaging with residents who are clearly unhappy with the process
and the outcome of the negotiations both he and others played a pivotal
role in. So on that note, Good Luck Jim!

The angry scenes in Ardoyne last weekend dominated news headlines and
singled out one Ardoyne resident in particular, GARC spokesperson Dee
Fennell. In a spate of unbalanced media reporting Fennell has been
heavily criticised and labelled a bully for his forthright manner
towards local clergy member Fr Gary Donegan. What some press outlets
have failed to show or mention is that Fennell’s input came about as he
tried to diffuse a potentially volatile situation involving irate
residents. This is clear from the unedited version of video footage
which appeared online. In the ‘edited version’ the media didn’t show Mr.
Fennell pointing out to Fr Donegan how local residents were unable to go
about their business, and how the allowing of this parade was not
welcomed by a lot of people in the area. As someone who has crossed
swords (online debate) with Fennell in the past and with no axe to
grind either way I feel that Fennell is being used as a scapegoat to
deflect from a deal which excluded residents from a process they should
have been central to. Something which has has been confirmed by one
Ardoyne resident I am friendly with. Not much of a fresh start!

As the dust settled I was surprised to read that Father Gary Donegan
stated that the ‘confrontation with protesters’ on Saturday reminded him
of the Holy Cross dispute. Oddly, I don’t remember any news reports from
Saturday showing people throwing bombs at children trying to get to
school. It would seem that Father Gary is playing his part in trying to
move the focus away from the issue of contention residents face, which
is they don’t want a loyalist parade in their area. If you’re reading
this Father Donegan I would suggest a period of reflection followed by a
concerted effort to engage with your flock, and this time the entire
flock. After all if I’m not mistaken does Catholic not mean universal
and all encompassing because if I’m right then helping exclude residents
from the process wasn’t very Catholic of you.

To understand why people are feeling angry particularly those who were
prevented from going about their daily business on Saturday those quick
to condemn them should have a cursory glance at Article 8 of the
European Convention on Human Rights. This article provides for the right
to have your family, private life, home and correspondence respected.
Article 9 provides for the right to freedom of thought, conscience and
religion, so those parishioners of Father Donegan’s who couldn’t attend
his church, in their own area, or who are being lambasted by the media
for expressing an opinion are having their human rights violated. But
hey why let facts get in the way of deflection!

One of the things that saddened me most this weekend was the scene with
the older man who was clearly frustrated by the way he and his community
had been treated, a man who has since been described as a heckler. Where
was Father Gary’s Christianity as he stood glaring at this older man? It
seemed that Father Donegan was incapable of understanding that this man
was upset and moreover, incapable of responding to him. This was a long
way from when the same Father Donegan was interviewed for an article
called ‘Faith on the Interface’ when he said “the fact that his
parishioners did not have to endure the return parade reduced tension on
the Catholic side.” When my husband watched Fr Gary’s performance on the
news, he said “if ever there was a poster boy for atheism it’s yer man
there.” If the picture had of been in black & white I would’ve guessed
it was back at the time when no one could say boo to man of the cloth,
and just look where that ended up!

As people watch the biased news reports singling out individuals as
bullies or hecklers maybe they should look at what the people of Ardoyne
have had to endure. There were nearly 100 lives lost in the parish
during the troubles and there was the Holy Cross issue and the attacks
on School children. Added to this has been the violence meted out
against residents during successive marching seasons. Violence such as a
leading loyalist ramming his car into a crowd of people injuring a 13
year old girl, and those incidents barely scratch the surface of what
they have endured.

The reality now for the people of Ardoyne is that a precedent has been
set for the return leg of the Orange Order march. As it stands residents
are now in limbo as to what happens next and unsure of what they will
have to ‘endure’. To address this there needs to be immediate dialogue
between the negotiators and local residents, particularly those
initially excluded from the process,. With this I do hope a broad
consensus can be reached. I would also hope that those buying into the
outcome of the alleged consultation on the issue consider that the views
of community groups, most of which are politically weighted, are no
substitute for the views and input of the people who live in the area.
The people who will have to endure the aftermath of each deal imposed
upon them and the precedent it sets.

 

Johnny ‘Mad Dog’ Adair’s Hallion Battalion – where are they now?

Posted by Jim on October 8, 2016

 

By Ciaran Barnes

Published 05/10/2016

Jonathan Adair in the UFF Christmas calendar
Jonathan Adair in the UFF Christmas calendar
The death of Jonathan Adair from a drugs overdose is the latest curse to befall members of a young sectarian gang his father Johnny Adair shaped in his own image.

 

Known as the ‘Hallion Battalion’, the UDA unit was being groomed to eventually take over ‘C Company’ from the shaven-headed terror boss.

But its members are now either in the grave, prison or exiled from their former lower Shankill power base.

Not a single one of these UDA ‘young guns’ was present at Adair Jnr’s funeral in Scotland.

Instead it was left to the terror gang’s old-timers like ‘Skelly’ McCrory and John White to bury their pal Johnny Adair’s oldest child.

Sunday Life today looks at what became of the ‘Hallion Battalion’s’ leading members, and how their associations with Adair led each to either prison, exile or an early death.

2016-09-23_new_24883892_I5.JPG  

JONATHAN ADAIR: Died of a drugs overdose one day after being freed from prison for motoring offences.

At the time of his death the 32-year-old was awaiting trial on drugs charges.

He had previous convictions for heroin dealing and wrecking the home of a woman who refused to sell him cannabis.

Jonathan fled the Shankill Road in 2003 after his father’s  ‘C Company’ faction was purged by the mainstream UDA.

He was being groomed for a senior role in the unit and had been pictured for a UFF calendar wearing a balaclava and carrying a machine-gun. A year earlier he was kneecapped by the terror gang for hitting a woman during a filling station robbery and breaking into the home of a pensioner.

n grab of Wi_2.jpg

WILLIAM HILL:  A violent ‘C Company’ member who hero-worshipped Johnny Adair and ended up being convicted of murder.

The 32-year-old is due for release in the new year after serving a minimum 13-year life sentence for beating chef David Cupples to death outside the old Girdwood Army barracks.

Hill, who had spent the night taking drugs and drinking in a ‘C Company’ shebeen, mistook his victim for a Catholic.

Popular David was walking along Clifton Park Avenue for an early morning shift when he was set upon by the frenzied sectarian thug.

Hill beat the innocent Protestant with a brick, and the following day threatened staff at a nearby service station to delete CCTV footage that recorded him at the premises the night before.

After the UDA thug was jailed it emerged he had carried out pipe-bomb attacks on the north Belfast office of SDLP politician Alban Maginness and the home of rival loyalist John ‘Grugg’ Gregg.

y Life News _4.jpg

WAYNE AND BENJI DOWIE: The brothers were among two-dozen Johnny Adair loyalists who fled the Shankill when his faction was exiled by the UDA in February 2003.

Two years later Wayne, 36, was cleared of the UDA feud murder of Jonathan Stewart during a Christmas party in north Belfast.

The 2002 killing was carried out by a ‘C Company’ gunman because the victim was related to a loyalist who had fallen out with Adair.

His brother Benji, 35, was jailed for five years in 2004 for conspiracy to sell crack cocaine and heroin alongside Jonathan Adair.

Despite their associations with ‘C Company’ resulting in them being exiled from Northern Ireland, the Dowie brothers remain in awe of Adair.

In 2003 Wayne Dowie told reporters: “From when I’ve been growing up he’s been the biggest loyalist in my eyes. As Ulster’s young men we looked up to Johnny. We idolised him.”

N McCULLOUGHMu.jpg

ALAN ‘BUCKY’ McCULLOUGH: His body was found in a shallow grave at Mallusk in June 2005 two months after he left a safe house in Bolton to return to the Shankill Road.

The 21-year-old, who idolised Johnny Adair, was among the ‘C Company’ members who fled their Belfast home in February 2003 after being attacked by the mainstream UDA.

He moved to the north-east of England, but was unable to settle and sought assurances from the UDA that he would be safe if he  returned to Northern Ireland.

Within a month of moving back to the Shankill McCullough disappeared. The body of the dad-of-one was discovered one month later.

Leading UDA member Mo Courtney — a former close friend of Johnny Adair — was convicted of the manslaughter of McCullough and sentenced to eight years in prison.

n UDA Murderer.jpg

ANDREW ROBINSON: The knife maniac is serving a minimum 20-year life sentence for the horrific murder of his fiancée Julie-Ann Osbourne in 2000.

The 38-year-old stabbed his helpless girlfriend 50 times and left her body impaled to the floor of their Shankill Terrace home.

Robinson slaughtered Julie-Ann, 22, because she threatened to leave him and take their baby daughter Melissa with her.

At the time of the killing the thug was a ‘C Company’ enforcer who treated Johnny Adair as a god-like figure.

Robinson — who had an appalling record of domestic violence against his partner — was tasked with carrying out punishment attacks for the UDA.

He was behind bars when Adair’s faction fled the Shankill in 2003.

However, he will not be able to return there when he is freed from prison such is the revulsion towards him for murdering Julie-Ann

day Life Use O.jpg

DEE COLEMAN: The only member of Johnny Adair’s ‘Hallion Battalion’ who is still with the mainstream UDA.

The 32-year-old was behind bars when his then he ro was forced from the Shankill by the mainstream UDA.

But rather than join him in Scotland on his release, Coleman opted to remain in Northern Ireland within the ranks of the terror organisation.

Coleman’s stint in a juvenile jail came about after he was convicted of involvement, aged just 14, in a UDA gun attack on rival UVF supporters during the 2000 loyalist feud.

He was caged again in 2007, this time for six years, for trying to extort £5,000 from an undercover policeman who he thought was a builder.

Coleman, who is currently the UDA’s second-in-command on the lower Shankill, wed two weeks ago in a lavish ceremony.

Man who got legal aid to challenge Brexit believes it will also fund an appeal

Posted by Jim on

Raymond McCord at Belfast High Court during his case opposing Brexit.
Photo Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press

Sam McBride .News Letter. (Belfast). Friday, October 7, 2016
cif he loses the High Court action.

Lawyers for Raymond McCord, whose son was murdered by the UVF in 1997, are asking the Belfast court to stop the entire UK leaving the EU because a majority in Northern Ireland did not endorse that decision.

In a case which has potentially momentous constitutional ramifications for the UK, Ronan Lavery QC told the High Court on Tuesday that it should interpret the Good Friday Agreement

to mean that it was impossible for Northern Ireland to be taken out of the EU against the wishes of its people.

Yesterday the case – as well as a concurrent but separate case which was brought by politicians and human rights groups – concluded in court, with the judge reserving judgement but promising to “immediately” consider the issues.

TUV leader and veteran QC Jim Allister has said that he will eat his hat if the cases succeed.

Speaking to the News Letter about how he got legal aid for the Brexit case, Mr. McCord said: “I was turned down and I appealed it.

“My solicitors had to go and sit in front of the Legal Aid Commission – it wasn’t that I just put in an application and it was granted.

“At the appeal, my solicitors had to state their case. The legal aid was given and the panel had to believe that there was both merit in the case and a chance of success.”

Mr McCord criticized Paul Frew, the DUP chairman of the Assembly’s Justice Committee, for questioning the decision to grant legal aid for such a case.

He said that Mr. Frew is “entitled to have an opinion”, but said that he should have come to court to hear the case before deciding whether or not it had merit.

When asked if – in the event that the High Court finds against him – the legal aid will also cover an appeal to the Court of Appeal, Mr McCord said: “I believe that it does. I’m pretty certain of that.”

When asked if he intended to pursue an appeal if he loses, Mr. McCord said that it was “one possibility”, adding: “I feel strongly about it.”

In court yesterday during less than an hour of final legal arguments, the judge was told that there had been agreement between the parties that if there is a costs order imposed by the court those costs will be capped – regardless of whether the government or the applicants are asked to pay for the proceedings.

The court was told that this was the same approach which has been taken in the case taken in London, which is due to be heard later this month.

‘We are the authors of this struggle’

Posted by Jim on

The oration delivered by Francie Mackey, chairman of the Irish
Republican Prisoners Welfare Association, at the Hunger Strike
commemoration in Duleek organised by the Duleek Hunger Strike Monument
Committee on Saturday, 17th September.

As Irish republicans we know we are right. But we must equally know and
accept that we are not winning this struggle. To sacrifice your life
with the implicit trust that your comrades will fully utilise that
sacrifice to attain the ultimate objective can only be reciprocated by
the fullest efforts to do exactly that.

The Hunger Strike brought to a climax the role that the imprisonment of
PoW’s has on the overall Republican Struggle. The repressive confinement
forged a bond that became unbreakable despite the massive efforts of the
British establishment to do so.

One could argue that the Hunger Strike was the most defining republican
battle since the Civil War. For just like the Anglo Irish Treaty in 1921
the policy of criminalisation was a strategic British effort to
fundamentally undermine the sovereign legitimate basis of the republican
struggle itself.

The Five Demands were essentially a metaphor for Irish Independence.
This is what the ten republican and republican socialist volunteers died
for. There exists today on this island republican PoW’s in
incarceration. They exist because the British government, in connivance
with Irish allies, continues to violate our national sovereignty.

But the same unity of purpose that existed in 1981 does not exist today.
We need to address this. There can only be one national army and those
taken prisoner for its activities are national prisoners. The practice
of republican POW’s being somehow relegated to the status of a given
prison landing is a farce.

To claim that republican PoW’s are aligned to a given political or
welfare group reduces the national army to the status of a militia. To
have a policy of discrimination for the welfare of PoW’s families based
on what landing their relative or spouse reside on is an obscenity.

This entire approach represents a deeply flawed understanding of what
republicanism is all about and what the Hunger Strikes endeavoured to
achieve.

To claim to be a republican, to claim to honour the memory of the Hunger
Strikers carries with it an onerous responsibility. The Hunger Strikers
did not die for glory, let alone hollow homage. No matter where we stand
in their name we must give an account of ourselves in the most honest
terms. As of now this account is exceptionally weak and disunited.

Republican history is replete with examples of when republicans came
together in common cause to maximise the political effects of their
combined efforts. This being the Centenary Year of the 1916 Easter
Rebellion that event naturally comes to mind. But the Hunger Strike of
1981 is no less an example.

In an almost tragic irony, with the perceived differences we conjure
between ourselves, it was the British establishment who always viewed us
as one. And in doing so they treated us in kind. For the British,
Volunteers of the Republican Movement and the Republican Socialist
Movement were united in criminal intent against British interests in
Ireland.

And to extend this irony it was the unity of purpose between the
Republican Movement and Republican Socialist Movement which defeated
their policy of criminalisation within their prison system. This took
great effort and sacrifice. But it took unity of purpose first. Failing
to recognise this is a criminal dereliction in itself.

We cannot write the history of the Hunger Strike by looking back. Ours
is not an academic struggle. Events like the Hunger Strike and the 1916
Rising were the chapters of their time. We are now the authors of this
struggle in the here and now.

To begin this task there are certain realities we must face. Firstly, we
must adopt a concept of winning this struggle. We are not here to uphold
a tradition or praise glorious defeats. It is not our place to stand on
the coattails of previous generations and claim some form of apostolic
lineage to them. We are not here to bequeath our failures to the next
generation.

Secondly, although the core principle for which we struggle remains our
constant, the political environment in which we struggle for it, is
constantly changing. That means that republicans must adapt. Our message
must adapt. Our language must adapt and our strategies must adapt.

We have to abandon the fallacy of believing that simply being right is
enough. We need to stop deluding ourselves that by calling ourselves
something different it somehow makes us different, let alone relevant.
We must recognise that because the British presence in our country is
even more entrenched, all that has gone before has failed.

Thirdly, and crucially, we must take collective responsibility for the
circumstances in which Irish republicanism finds itself. And in so doing
we must recognise that a collective approach to addressing this is the
only viable way forward. Blaming others is not a solution.

A collective approach means a democratic approach. That requires us
sitting down as equals and mapping a way forward. In such a process
making our core message relevant to our people is key. For too long
republicans have looked upon the Irish people as mere spectators to the
struggle for independence. To struggle for the Irish people we must
struggle with them. An Irish Republic is not a monument to the dead but
a home of peace and justice for the living.

When we go into our communities our message must first and foremost make
sense. Communities which are suffering from discrimination, drug abuse
and debt exploitation are not in tune with the narrative of a green or
socialist utopia. In their lives they need solutions. The task for
republicans is to make our solutions at community level integral to our
national struggle.

This is the debate that republicanism must engage with itself. Our
identity should be sourced in the radicalism of our message and not in a
set of insipid initials. Through genuine comradeship and professionalism
we must create a radical policy platform that propels the core
republican message into modernity.

As Bobby Sands said, everybody has their part to play and this is no
less true for this necessary project. This policy platform cannot and
will not be developed by some backroom committee. The democratisation of
the Republican Movement is essential to its future progress.

Republicanism is not a spectator sport. It needs everyone to play its
part and to do so in unison with our fellow republicans, socialists and
social activists. The simple dynamic of allowing the better argument to
democratically prevail will serve us well. We have nothing to be afraid
of open and honest debate. We won’t have all the answers nor do we need
to.

This process has begun. The door is open. You are invited to step
through.

Beir Bua

Tributes paid to hunger strikers

Posted by Jim on

A large crowd turned out in tribute to the H-Block Martyrs of 1981 when
the 1916 Societies held their annual National Hungerstrike Commemoration
on Sunday last, October 2nd, in Galbally, County Tyrone.

Thousands travelled from across Ireland travelled to the republican
heartland, where a march and commemoration to the graveside of Volunteer
Martin Hurson was held for the ten men who laid down their lives on the
1981 hungerstrike, for their fellow prisoners, their ‘Five Demands’ and
ultimately for Irish freedom.

Local republican Noel McKeown chaired proceedings, which opened with a
song in memory of the hungerstrikers and a reading of the 1916
Proclamation in Irish.

Wreaths in memory of the hungerstrikers were then laid on the grave of
Martin Hurson, with Joe McNulty from Dungannon, who shared a cell with
Martin during the Blanket Protest, laying a wreath on behalf of ‘Friends
and Comrades’.

Tommy McKearney, a former Blanketman who himself endured the horrors of
H-Block and spent 55 days on hungerstrike in 1980, gave the main
oration, speaking of a need for republicans to challenge modern
imperialism, which continues to blight Irish society not only in the
north but across all of Ireland’s 32 counties.

Describing the Stormont Assembly as ‘a symptom of British imperialism’,
with the ‘shoneen parliament’ in the south ‘which trades on Ireland’s
sovereignty for its own narrow purposes’, he appealed for republicans to
‘take inspiration from the hungerstrikers and their legacy, which
continues to show for all the nobility of our cause – a cause we must
see through to the end’.

He told those gathered to “rally the forces” against British
imperialism.

Branding Stormont a “venial, futile, powerless institution”, he also hit
out at the Dublin parliament, which he said was “devoid of character”
and “trading on the sovereignty of its people”. In an attack on Sinn
Fein he told the men, women and children gathered that republicanism is
a cause “that stands above and beyond the selfish pursuit of self
aggrandisement”, adding that a “genuine republican” would “give what
they have without concern for personal safety, personal advancement or
personal career”.

“We are challenged to find the unity of purpose and bring together the
currents, forces and streams of people,” he added.

“We must rally the forces and rally the people that will break the
chains that bind us. We can do it and we will do it. We have the ability
and let there be no doubt this can be done.

“And where there is doubt let us draw inspiration from those not only
buried in this graveyard but the living who stand among and beside us
here today – you the republican people of Ireland, who have stood
fearlessly in the face of opposition and remain determined to accomplish
the Irish Republic for which so many gave of their lives, among them
Martin Hurson and his comrades who died on the hungerstrike.”

Drumcree Orangeman seek Ardoyne-style ‘deal’

Posted by Jim on

An Orange Order parade which was forced through the Ardoyne area of
north Belfast last weekend has reopened the north’s biggest parading
dispute.

A senior Orangeman has hailed what he said was the “resolution” of the
Ardoyne parade standoff. He said it could offer fresh hope for a similar
deal over the Portadown parade, for years the cause of intense riots and
linked to a number of sectarian murders of Catholics.

Last Saturday morning, one of the north’s most contentious parades took
place amid a huge policing operation as the PSNI forced the
anti-Catholic Orange Order through a nationalist and republican
community in north Belfast.

Orangemen hailed the march as a victory for their three-year
intimidatory protest at nearby Twaddell Avenue, where there had been
frequent disturbances and occasional violence. The illegal three-year
camp had been maintain on government property by the paramilitary UVF,
but has now been removed.

Orangemen now believe a precedent has been set for a ‘return’ parade
along the nationalist Garvaghy Road in Portadown, 18 years after the
Parades Commission decided to ban it.

“It was great to see our brethren in north Belfast finally getting back
home at the weekend,” said Darryl Hewitt, Portadown District Grand
Master. “We are of course still looking to finish our return parade from
1998, but it will take a lot of goodwill on both sides before that can
happen. However, we have seen it happen at Ardoyne, so who knows.”

In a statement, the nationalist Garvaghy Road Residents Coalition said
they would reject any attempt by Sinn Fein to broker a similar agreement
in Portadown, and said renewed parade protests at Drumcree would be
insensitive.

“Since 1998, and particularly from the start of this millennium, the
rerouting of contentious marches away from the Garvaghy Road by the
Parades Commission has meant that our community – and the wider
community – has enjoyed successive peaceful summers,” they said in a
statement.

“Demanding to complete the 1998 parade is not only completely absurd, it
is also highly insensitive and demonstrates a continued refusal by the
Orange Order to assume any responsibility for the violent events
associated with Drumcree in the 1990’s.”

In nationalist north Belfast, while Orangemen celebrated, there was
anger that loyalist intimidation at the protest camp had been rewarded.
Although there was some relief that the loyalist camp was being taken
down, there was strong criticism for Sinn Fein’s support for an
agreement which saw them no longer oppose sectarian parades through
Ardoyne.

As he made his way once the parade had passed, local priest Fr Gary
Donegan was loudly condemned by members of the Greater Ardoyne Residents
Collective (GARC).

Fr Donegan, who controversially replaced the more activist local priest
Fr Aidan Troy in 2008 and had prominently supported the Orange parade,
was greeted by residents with chants of “shame” and angry
recriminations.

In an unrelated incident at the same location, a local journalist also
became embroiled in a verbal dispute with a local man. The exchanges
were caught on video and condemned in the mainstream media as an example
of the “thuggery” of the GARC, which it described as a “dissident”
organisation.

SDLP Assembly member Nichola Mallon described the scenes as “vile and
frightening”, while Sinn Fein’s Gerry Mr Kelly said it was a “disgrace”
that GARC members had barracked Fr Donegan, “the same man was up every
night for the last two-and-a-half years in the area trying to make sure
that no more of our young people would get caught up and enter the
criminal justice system.”

Kelly praised the local Crumlin and Ardoyne Residents Association for
their support for for the Orange Order march, and said it heralded a new
era for Ardoyne. “Now we have the potential to move forward. I want this
to open up many more good relationships,” he said.

There was inevitable triumphalism for the Orange Order. “It was a very
good weekend not just for the Orange institution, but the community in
Belfast,” said Rev Mervyn Gibson said the Assistant Grand Master. He
credited the loyalist protest with the breakthrough. “I think if you
hadn’t had the protest camp you wouldn’t have got the agreement, because
it would have been forgot about,” he said.

TORIES LURCH TOWARDS THE EXTREME

Posted by Jim on

British Prime Minister Theresa May has drawn comparisons to Margaret
Thatcher after she outright rejected Irish and Scottish concerns over
Brexit and moved to quash the right of Irish and other EU citizens to
live and work in Britain and the north of Ireland.

Signalling an unbending line in negotiations with the European Union,
she said the Brexit referendum in favour of leaving the EU was a
rejection, not just of the EU, but of the entire social and economic
order.

In a hard-right speech to her party’s conference in Birmingham last
weekend, she came out strongly in favour of the Brexit vote, which she
said was a vote not just to change Britain’s relationship with the EU,
but “a change in the way our country works – and the people for whom it
works – forever.”

In June, England and Wales voted in the referendum to quit the EU, while
the Six Counties of Ireland under British rule, and Scotland, voted to
remain.

May this week set a deadline of the end of March for triggering Article
50, to irreversibly begin the British exit from the EU. She also
declared that there would be no possibility for any of the “four
nations” — with the Six Counties implicitly identified as one ‘nation’
of the four — to prevent it.

“There is no opt-out from Brexit. And I will never allow divisive
nationalists to undermine the precious union between the four nations of
our United Kingdom,” she declared, without irony.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said she was “fanning the flames of
xenophobia and hatred in our communities and trying to blame foreigners”
for her party’s own failures. Scotland’s Nicola Sturgeon said May’s
speech and the policies she laid out were “the most disgraceful display
of reactionary rightwing politics in living memory”.

Opposition parties also said the Conservatives had shown themselves to
be racist and narrow-minded by calling for companies to make public the
names of non-British workers they employ, including Irish workers. And
for the first time ever, there are now questions over the immigration
status of Irish citizens living and working in the north of Ireland.

But Jeffrey Donaldson, the DUP MP for Lagan Valley, welcomed the “clear
timetable” for Britain’s exit from the union.

“I do think we need to get on with it now,” he said. “Further
uncertainty and a further period where people don’t know what’s going to
happen, where there isn’t a negotiating process that people can focus
on, doesn’t help anyone. I think it’s good that we’ve got now a clear
timescale to move this forward.”

Ireland’s leading expert on Brexit warned Britain’s new hardline stance
on exiting the EU could bring a remilitarisation of the border between
the Six and 26 Counties.

“My worst fears have been realised. It is somewhat staggering what they
are doing in the UK,” said Edgar Morgenroth, a research professor and an
adviser to the Dublin government on Brexit.

“This hard Brexit line by London potentially imperils the Common Travel
Area. The British can decide to allow Irish people to travel to the UK.
They can do what they want. But we can’t reciprocate under the EU
rules.”

Any decisions on new policy with Britain will be taken collectively by
Ireland with the other remaining EU countries, he noted. He said he
believed a “soft border” is likely now out of reach because it is
incompatible with May’s plans.

“There is a lot of deviousness happening in their public statements from
the British side, saying that we want to maintain a soft border and then
doing the opposite. It is not consistent. They are trying to portray the
situation in a different way than it really is,” he said.

The Dublin government has announced that it is setting up a civic
dialogue to be held in Dublin, on November 2nd. It will involve
political parties, business groups and non-governmental organisations
from both parts of the Ireland, although the DUP has said it will
boycott it.

This week, the High Court in Belfast heard evidence that Brexit will
have a “catastrophic” impact on the peace process in the north of
Ireland. Lawyers for the father of a loyalist paramilitary murder victim
warned Brexit would cause constitutional upheaval and demands for a
united Ireland.

Referring to the terms of the Good Friday Agreement, Ronan Lavery QC
said: “A change so profound as withdrawing Northern Ireland from the
European Union requires the consent of the people of Northern Ireland.”

Sinn Fein is one of the parties to the legal challenge. It is also
organising protests at Brexit in border areas, from Derry to North
Louth, as part of the ‘Border Communities against Brexit’ umbrella
group.

Martin McGuinness, Sinn Fein’s deputy first minister for the Six
Counties, said Britain was facing a “head-on collision” with the EU over
Brexit, and suggested the north of Ireland was likely to be “collateral
damage”. He predicted that the London government’s demands in
negotiations with Europe would not be met, making it less likely that
Brussels will let the open border remain.

“We have all been concerned for some time at the direction the
government is going to take,” he said. “It is very disturbing.”

Brexit would have ‘profound political significance’ for North, court hears

Posted by Jim on

Victims’ rights campaigner Raymond McCord, who is challenging
the constitutional authority of the British government to take
Northern Ireland out of the European Union.
File photograph: Matt Kavanagh/The Irish Times

Gerry Moriarty. (Belfast). Thursday, October, 2016

Executing Brexit would be an “act of profound legal and constitutional as well as political significance” for Northern Ireland, Belfast High Court was told on Thursday.
In the final day of the three day judicial review, a lawyer challenged the argument made by lawyers for the British government and the Northern Executive that quitting the European Union would have no impact on the 1998 Belfast Agreement.

David Scoffield, QC, who is representing a group of politicians and human rights groups, said that the “North-South machinery” of the agreement was “designed and required to implement EU policies and programs”.

That would make “no sense” if Northern Ireland was no longer a member of the EU, said Mr. Scoffield. In winding up his argument, Mr. Scoffield said that the triggering of Article 50 by the British government to begin taking the United Kingdom out of Europe would be an “act of profound legal and constitutional as well as political significance.”

Mr. Scoffield referred to how Tony McGleenan, QC, acting for the British government, had argued that after the EU referendum result, the “ship had sailed” in terms of Brexit. Mr. Scoffield said, however, the ship “has not sailed” until Article 50 was triggered.
He contended that it was for the Westminster parliament, rather than the British prime minister by ministerial prerogative power, to activate Article 50 as is scheduled to happen by the end of March next year. “Article 50 once it is triggered, there is no way back as far as Northern Ireland is concerned,” he said.

Mr. Scoffield is representing a cross-political, cross-community group that includes the SDLP and Alliance leaders, Colum Eastwood and David Ford, former Sinn Féin Minister John O’Dowd, Greens Assembly member Steven Agnew, former Progressive Unionist
Party leader Dawn Purvis, the Committee on the Administration of Justice (CAJ) and the Human Rights Consortium.
‘Make position known’

Mr Scoffield also contended that the Northern Ireland Office and the Northern Secretary James Brokenshire <http://www.irishtimes.com/search/search-7.1213540?tag_person=James%20Brokenshire&article=true> must speak to the interests of Northern Ireland. “The Northern Ireland Office must take a position on whether Brexit is good or bad for Northern Ireland and make its position known to the Westminster government,” said Mr Scofffield.

He added that Mr Brokenshire’s role “was to speak for Northern Ireland’s interests and to do so he must be properly informed”.

A number of legal challenges to the Brexit vote are also taking place in Britain. These could be relevant to the ultimate determination of High Court <http://www.irishtimes.com/search/search-7.1213540?tag_organisation=High%20Court&article=true> judge Mr Justice Maguire <http://www.irishtimes.com/search/search-7.1213540?tag_person=Mr%20Justice%20Maguire&article=true> who is hearing the case. He said the court was likely to reconvene at a later stage.

Good Friday Agreement

Victims’ campaigner Raymond McCord, whose son Raymond junior was murdered by the Ulster Volunteer Force <http://www.irishtimes.com/search/search-7.1213540?tag_organisation=Ulster%20Volunteer%20Force&article=true> in 1997, is also a party to the judicial review.

His lawyer Ronan Lavery <http://www.irishtimes.com/search/search-7.1213540?tag_person=Ronan%20Lavery&article=true>, QC, argued that as a result of the Belfast Agreement, Northern Ireland has special constitutional status within the United Kingdom.

He said that when the British and Irish governments endorsed the Belfast Agreement of Good Friday 1998 they signed up to the people of Northern Ireland having a “veto” over any change to the constitutional position of Northern Ireland.

Taking Northern Ireland out of the EU without consent would breach that veto, he contended.

Outside the court on Thursday, Mr McCord said he was “delighted” with the way his case had proceeded and he believed his legal team had presented a strong constitutional case.

“I believe the court has the power to say that Brexit can’t go ahead in Northern Ireland,” he said.

Mr McCord said that 56 per cent of people in Northern Ireland voted to remain in the EU and that vote must be respected. He took his case on behalf of his son and on behalf of other victims, he said.

“I think justice is better served by being in the European Union. Europe has helped victims of this country and has helped people to come together as well,” he added. “I don’t believe the British government would help victims the way Europe has.”

USA broadcast schedule & online streaming of Irish, British & Euro sports

Posted by Jim on October 7, 2016

Friday, October 07, 2016
Guinness Pro12 Rugby 2:30pm Connacht v Ulster beIN Connect
World Cup Qualifier 2:45pm Portugal v Andorra ESPN3 & Deportes
World Cup Qualifier 2:45pm Belgium v Bosnia & Herzegovina Fox Soccer Plus
World Cup Qualifier 2:45pm France v Bulgaria ESPN3
World Cup Qualifier 2:45pm Hungary v Switzerland ESPN3
AVIVA Premiership Rugby 2:45pm Bath Rugby v Sale Sharks NBCsports.com
World Cup Qualifier 2:45pm Netherlands v Belarus Fox Sports 2
World Cup Qualifier 2:45pm Luxembourg v Sweden FS2Go
World Cup Qualifier 2:45pm Greece v Cyprus FS2Go
World Cup Qualifier 2:45pm Estonia v Gibraltar FS2Go
World Cup Qualifier 2:45pm Latvia v Faroe Islands FS2Go
Soccer Friendly 4:00pm Cuba v USA ESPN2
Saturday, October 08, 2016
Scottish League Cup 8:00am Bala Town v Alloa Ath FSP
AVIVA Premiership Rugby 10:00am Harlequins v Northampton Saints NBCSN
World Cup Qualifier 12:00pm Montenegro v Kazakhstan ESPN3
World Cup Qualifier 12:00pm Azerbaijan v Norway Fox Soccer Plus
World Cup Qualifier 12:00pm Armenia v Romania FS2Go
World Cup Qualifier 12:00pm England v Malta ESPN3 & Deportes
World Cup Qualifier 2:45pm Poland v Denmark ESPN3 & Deportes
World Cup Qualifier 2:45pm N. Ireland v San Marino ESPN3
World Cup Qualifier 2:45pm Slovenia v Slovakia ESPN3
World Cup Qualifier 2:45pm Germany v Czech Republic Fox Sports 2
World Cup Qualifier 2:45pm Scotland v Luthania Fox Soccer Plus
Sunday, October 09, 2016
Scottish League Cup 8:00am Queen of the South v Linfield FSP
Soccer Friendly 9:00am Rusia v Costa Rica ESPN3 & Deportes
AVIVA Premiership Rugby 11:00am Saracens v Wasps NBCSN
World Cup Qualifier 12:00pm Ukraine v Kosovo Fox Sports 2
World Cup Qualifier 12:00pm Wales v Georgia Fox Sports 1
World Cup Qualifier 12:00pm Israel v Liechtenstein ESPN3
World Cup Qualifier 12:00pm Finland v Croatia ESPN3 & Deportes
World Cup Qualifier 2:45pm Iceland v Turkey ESPN
World Cup Qualifier 2:45pm Moldova v Ireland ESPN3
World Cup Qualifier 2:45pm Serbia v Austria ESPN3
World Cup Qualifier 2:45pm Macedonia v Italy Fox Sports 2
World Cup Qualifier 2:45pm Albania v Spain Fox Sports 1
Monday, October 10, 2016
World Cup Qualifier 2:45pm Andorra v Switzerland FS2Go
World Cup Qualifier 2:45pm Belarus v Luxembourg FS2Go
World Cup Qualifier 2:45pm Bosnia-Herzegovina v Cyprus FS2Go
World Cup Qualifier 2:45pm Sweden v Bulgaria Fox Sports 2
World Cup Qualifier 2:45pm Netherlands v France Fox Sports 1
World Cup Qualifier 2:45pm Estonia v Greece ESPN3
World Cup Qualifier 2:45pm Gibraltar v Belgium ESPN3
World Cup Qualifier 2:45pm Latvia v Hungary ESPN3
World Cup Qualifier 2:45pm Faroe Islands v Portugal ESPN3 & Deportes
Tuesday, October 11, 2016
World Cup Qualifier 12:00pm Kazakhstan v Romania Fox Sports 2
World Cup Qualifier 2:45pm Poland v Armenia Fox Sports 2
World Cup Qualifier 2:45pm Slovakia v Scotland FS2Go
World Cup Qualifier 2:45pm Denmark v Montenegro ESPN3
World Cup Qualifier 2:45pm Norway v San Marino ESPN3
World Cup Qualifier 2:45pm Czech Republic v Azerbaijan FSP
World Cup Qualifier 2:45pm Lithuania v Malta FS2Go
World Cup Qualifier 2:45pm Slovenia v England ESPN
World Cup Qualifier 2:45pm Germany v N. Ireland ESPN3 & Deportes
World Cup Qualifier 4:00pm Bolivia v Ecuador beIN Sports
Soccer Friendly 8:00pm USA v New Zealand ESPN
Friday, October 14, 2016
Scottish Premier League 2:45pm Inverness CT v Rangers FSP
Saturday, October 15, 2016
English Premier League 7:30am Chelsea v Leicester City NBC Sports
English Premier League 10:00am Bournemouth v Hull NBC Extra
English Premier League 10:00am Manchester City v Everton NBC Extra
English Premier League 10:00am Stoke v Sunderland NBC Extra
English Premier League 10:00am West Brom v Tottenham NBC Extra
Scottish Premier League 10:00am Celtic v Motherwell CelticFC.TV
English Premier League 10:00am Arsenal v Swansea NBC Extra
English Premier League 12:30pm Crystal Palace v West Ham NBC Sports
Sunday, October 16, 2016
English Premier League 8:30am Middlesbrough v Watford NBC Sports
English Premier League 11:00am Southampton v Burnley NBC Sports
Monday, October 17, 2016
English Premier League 3:00pm Liverpool v Manchester Utd NBC Sports

Deplorable anti-Irish bigotry encouraged

Posted by Jim on October 6, 2016

“Finally, don’t forget no DUP politician has ever endorsed sharing power with nationalists or republicans, or ‘rogues and renegades’ as Arlene Foster blurted out. She’s photographed last week with a caption describing the men alongside her as members of the UDA, an illegal organisation that preys on the Unionist community but only shares power with Sinn Féin because she must. Some of her MLAs still won’t speak to Sinn Féin MLAs. Does she encourage them to show some reconciliation? What do you think?”
Brian Feeney (Belfast). Wednesday, October 5, 2016

A writer in the Irish Times on Saturday produced a useful phrase the Dutch have: plaatsvervangende schaamte. It translates as, the shame you feel on behalf of others. You have to feel it because the people who should be ashamed have no shame.

Unfortunately it’s a phrase that doesn’t apply to many Unionists.

Is there no Unionist who is ashamed of what their politicians get up to, or in some cases fail to get up to? There’s no doubt last week’s revelation that a DUP minister changed a boat’s name from Irish to English made some unionists cringe but none of them will say so publicly. Gerry Kelly was spot on. As he said, ‘it is downright bigotry and anti-Irish’.

Most people dismissed it as petty and vindictive but it’s more than that. It betrays a particular mindset which should be out of place nowadays but despite all the talk of reconciliation and a shared society that attitude of mind is widespread among Unionists. No Unionist stepped forward to deplore the obliteration of an Irish name. What made that failure even worse were the spurious excuses and explanations presented. That an Irish name somehow contravened health and safety, that it contravened naval and mercantile regulations. Those inventions showed even DUP apologists knew the real reason for the decision was indefensible so they concocted false reasons.

People complain the phrase ‘Unionist leader’ is an oxymoron. For DUP MLA readers that means the two words contradict each other for Unionists never show any leadership. There’s a major flaw in that complaint because it assumes if they were showing leadership they’d do the right thing. The fact is that Unionists do show leadership, and a DUP minister expunging an Irish name shows the way to party blockheads— in the decreasing number of Unionist controlled councils —that it’s okay to denigrate the Irish language, music, games, literature.

Few in Unionist positions of leadership ever step in to condemn bigotry or naked anti-Irishness for the simple reason some of them agree with it. They don’t know how to defend it because it’s unacceptable in a civilised society, so they device cock-eyed reasons for their actions so preposterous that their followers know they’re specious. They do it because they can get away with it.

The same behaviour applies to the now dismantled squalor at Twaddell. The media agree that no Unionist politician could be seen on Friday or Saturday, as the Orangemen began their last forlorn march up the Crumlin Road. However when the camp was being established there were plenty of Unionist politicians to be seen egging on the dupes in their caravan, standing on a platform as usual with known members of the UVF and UDA. Unionists agreed with the protesters.

The absence of Unionist politicians at the weekend is an indication to the hardliners that no Unionist politician supported the compromise that led to the agreement. Afterwards some appeared to express approval but no one can accuse any of them of complicity when it emerges there’ll be no more return marches.

Finally, don’t forget no DUP politician has ever endorsed sharing power with nationalists or republicans, or ‘rogues and renegades’ as Arlene Foster blurted out. She’s photographed last week with a caption describing the men alongside her as members of the UDA, an illegal organisation that preys on the Unionist community but only shares power with Sinn Féin because she must. Some of her MLAs still won’t speak to Sinn Féin MLAs. Does she encourage them to show some reconciliation? What do you think?

Will Arlene Foster tell her minister to stop disgracing the party by painting out Irish words? Are you kidding? Will she instruct bonehead councillors to show respect for diversity because it could rebound on Unionists in Republican dominated councils? No chance.

The DUP is opposed to the concept of diversity. The party never endorsed the Good Friday Agreement or any of its concepts. They oppose its concepts shamelessly. How do we know? Actions speak louder than words. See Matthew 7:16. By their fruits you will know them. Do you gather grapes from thorns or figs from thistles?

Free Tony Taylor

Posted by Jim on October 4, 2016

Tony Taylor – The Facts

Tony Taylor was released from prison in 2014 after having served three years in custody, with four further years on Licence. Tony, as a member of the Republican Network for Unity, contributed to local politics in Derry by peacefully raising benefit cuts, prison conditions and policing issues. Tony complied with the terms of his licence, including reporting his activities to the NI Probation Board.

Tony was detained by police in Derry on October 17, 2015 and interviewed over two days at Musgrave Street Station about alleged republican activity based on MI5 “Intelligence”. He was unconditionally released pending a report to the PPS.

On 10th March 2016 Tony, while out shopping with his wife and children, was taken by the PSNI and returned to Prison. The Northern Ireland Office said his licence was revoked by the Parole Commission because of the risk he posed to the public. Tony’s solicitor, Aiden Carlin, has confirmed that this “risk to the public” was based on an MI5 assessment, and the same “Republican Activity” for which Tony was questioned and unconditionally released in October 2015.

Three weeks after Tony was returned to prison the Secretary of State admitted that her original order revoking his licence had been illegal. The recommendation to return Tony to prison had been made without even contacting the Probation Board. Tony remained in prison.

In July the P.P.S. concluded its examination of the file on his arrest and questioning in October 2015, and directed that Tony would not face prosecution.

Tony Taylor remains in prison for the same reasons of a “risk to the public” for which he has been:

Detained and questioned for two days in October 2015

Unconditionally released by the PSNI

Told by the P.P.S there will be no prosecution.

 

ORANGE PARADE ‘RETURNS’ AFTER 3 YEARS

Posted by Jim on October 1, 2016

An Orange Order parade was forced through the greater Ardoyne area in
north Belfast this Saturday morning amid a military-style policing
operation and a bitter war of words among nationalists.

PSNI armoured vehicles had lined the route from early this morning and
helicopters hovered overhead as the massive security operation swung
into place.

Loyalists cheered as hundreds of Orangemen made their way up the Crumlin
Road, parading through the nationalist communities of Ardoyne,
Mountainview and the Dales. A protest against the parade by the Greater
Ardoyne Residents Collective (GARC) was limited to 60 participants by
the Parades Commission.

GARC spokesperson Damien ‘Dee’ Fennell said that the provocative Orange
march had been “resurrected” by a deal between Sinn Fein and the
loyalist paramilitary UVF. He said the it was something that “the people
of this area thought was dead and gone”, and denied claims by Sinn Fein
that it had local support.

The agreement between the Sinn Fein-supported Crumlin Ardoyne Residents’
Association (CARA) and three Orange lodges has deeply divided the
community. GARC has claimed that 85% of residents are opposed to all
Orange marches, and have accused Sinn Fein of “trampling over the rights
of residents”.

“If there is widespread community support for this deal, then why is all
this security needed?” Mr Fennell asked.

After three years of intimidation, this morning’s ‘return’ parade should
see the final removal of the long-running campsite operated by loyalists
at the Twaddell interface. The agreement also sees a “moratorium” placed
on future return Twelfth parades in the area, in return for Sinn Fein’s
support for outward parades.

Last night, a march and rally by nationalist residents brought several
hundred onto the streets in a demonstration of support for GARC. Sinn
Fein and clergymen had urged local residents to stay home and to support
their agreement to allow the sectarian parade through.

GARC’s protest went ahead despite false reports and messages online that
it had been cancelled. Mr Fennell said there had been a ‘dirty tricks’
operation, but that it had “failed miserably”.

“Not only have we proven a point that we can demonstrate peacefully as
we always have done,” he said. “We’ve also proven that there is
overwhelming support for GARC analysis and rejection by the the vast
majority of residents for SF/UVF deal.”

Last night saw another heavy deployment of PSNI as the protest march and
rally made its through the nationalist community. Protesters marched
through Ardoyne before finally reaching PSNI lines at the Estoril Park
and Balholm Drive where a short rally was held before dispersing.

Mr Fennell said: “Hundreds of residents turning out here tonight to
reject that deal to protest against the continuation of ongoing parades
dispels the myth put forward by Sinn Fein, the clergy and their friends
within the state establishment that GARC has no support in this area”.

“GARC came out tonight peacefully and radically to display the
opposition that exists to sectarian parades and this deal,” he said.

He also blasted restrictions placed on last night’s protest march by the
Parades Commission as a “disgrace”.

“We have 250 loyalists parading through this area with the blessing of
Sinn Fein,” he said. “And we’ve had several hundred residents restricted
from part of their own area. After lobbying by Sinn Fein. I think it’s a
disgrace and as the [previous] speaker put it, I think Sinn Fein has
been bought by British gold.”

In response, Sinn Fein’s Gerry Kelly accused GARC of “provoking
confrontation”.

“There are many genuine people who are exercised about the issue of
Orange parades,” he said. “But there are also people associated with
GARC who don’t want a resolution to parading and who are associated with
anti-peace process political parties.

“It is Sinn Fein’s view we need less evening parades, not more. Our
community does not need any more of our young people ending up in prison
as happened following a similar parade some years ago.

“Sinn Fein believes the agreement is a huge step forward. It represents
the best opportunity to resolve an issue once and for all, which has
plagued this community over many, many years.”

In a statement issued in return, GARC said several of its members had
received criminal records after Mr Kelly publicly called on people to
demonstrate against Orange marches from the mid-90s onwards.

‘Where is Kelly’s call for Loyal Orders to withdraw their continued
demands to march through this area?,” they asked.

“Sinn Fein are all over the place on this issue. It seems their hatred
of anyone seeking to go against their appeasement policy is clouding
their judgement regarding who is really responsible for the ongoing
problem of unwanted sectarian parades – The Loyal Orders.”

Holy Land Principles Resolution Presented at FedEx

Posted by Jim on

 

Capitol Hill. Wednesday, September 28, 2016— For the first time in its history, the multinational delivery and courier services company, FedEx, has had a shareholder resolution presented at its annual meeting regarding the company’s fair employment in Israel/Palestine.

On Monday, September 26 at FedEx Annual Shareholders’ Meeting in its national headquarters, Memphis, TN., the company was asked to sign and implement the Holy Land Principles.

The Holy Land Principles — an 8-point corporate code of conduct for American companies doing business in Palestine/Israel— are pro-Jewish, pro-Palestinian and pro-company. The Principles do not call for quotas, reverse discrimination, disinvestment/divestment or boycotts—only for fair employment by American companies. The Principles are based on the very effective Mac Bride Principles, which have powerfully advanced fair employment for Catholics in Northern Ireland. Please visit HolyLandPrinciples.org for more information. In particular, view the Animated Internet Video, which presents the issue in a very compelling way. It is the big existential question for American companies in the Holy Land that no longer can be ignored.

Fr. Sean Mc Manus— President of the Capitol Hill-based Holy Land Principles. Inc. and Irish National Caucus— said: “Shareholder resolutions, as we’ve come to know them, sprouted in 1972 and, since then, they have become almost compulsory for the Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) community, for faith-based justice and peace communities and for all those concerned with Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) issues. We say our only modest claim is that Holy Land Principles are filling a vacuum that was crying out to be filled. FedEx proves our claim. It was founded in 1971, yet September 26 was the very first time a resolution was presented regarding their fair employment in Palestine/Israel. How extraordinary is that. Talk about the elephant in the (board) room!”

Fr. Manus continued: “But FedEx is not the only case. Indeed, that was par for the course with all the American companies doing business in the Israel/Palestine. Until we launched the Holy Land Principles on International Human Rights Day, December 10, 2012, none of the 545 American companies doing business there had ever been confronted with the issue of their fair employment. (Oxygen Biotherapeutics, now called Tenax Therapeutics has signed the Holy Land Principles on February 1, 2013).

The Resolution on FedEx received over 4 Million votes, 4,423,358 (2.63%) with 41,937,491 abstentions. At close of business on September 27th, the value of FedEx shares was $177.30. So the value of the share votes for Holy Land Principles represents $784,261,373.40. The value of abstentions was $7,435,517,154.30. Therefore, the combined total of money not supporting FedEx was over $8 Billon ($8,219,778,527.70) and, therefore, a total of 46,360,849 votes not supporting FedEx.

Fr. Mc Manus concluded: “Of course, the vote for the Holy Land Principles would have been much larger had this issue not been so flagrantly and disgracefully ignored by the American media over all these years, and neglected, too, by the American public— consumers, stakeholders and shareholders, especially the faith-based and SRI communities.”

Next year Holy Land Principles, Inc. will file a Resolution calling on FedEx to disclose the breakdown of its workforce, using the nine job categories which are utilized in the U.S. Department of Labor’s EEO -1 Report (Equal Employment Opportunity): 1. Officials and managers; 2. Professionals; 3. Technicians; 4. Sales; 5. Office and clerical; 6. Craft Workers (skilled); 7. Operatives (semiskilled); 8. Laborers (unskilled); 9. Service workers.”

The history thieves

Posted by Jim on September 26, 2016

———————————————————
Investigative journalist and author, Ian Cobain, has published a new
book examining Britain’s record of covert government actions and
cover-ups. Included in “The History Thieves: Secrets, Lies and the
Shaping of a Modern Nation” are accounts of Britain’s colonial wars in
the 1960s and ’70s, the rise of mass surveillance, and a chapter
dealing with Britain’s dirty war in Ireland. The following is an
excerpt.
———————————————————-

“On the evening of Monday 8 January 1990, a group of British detectives
decided that they had done enough for one day. It was getting late now,
and some of the officers had been working for thirteen hours on a
complex and politically fraught investigation that was being conducted
against a backdrop of escalating violence.

Northern Ireland’s savage little war had just entered its twenty-second
year. Eighty-nine people had died the previous year. One, Pat Finucane,
a lawyer, had been shot fourteen times after gunmen used sledgehammers
to smash down his front door while he was having Sunday dinner with his
wife and three children. Another was Loughlin Maginn, a father of four
who was shot dead at his home in a village south of Belfast. It was the
circumstances surrounding these murders, along with a string of others,
that the police team led by John Stevens were investigating. At just
past 9 p.m. they flicked off the lights of their incident room, locked
up, and left the building.

The facility from which they were working was no ordinary police
station. It was located beyond the chain-link fences, the razor wire and
the CCTV that protected a seventeen-acre complex that the Royal Ulster
Constabulary (RUC) operated on the outskirts of Carrickfergus, a coastal
town twelve miles north of Belfast. Known as Seapark, the complex was
home to forensic science laboratories, exhibit stores, a suite of
offices and no end of confidential archives. It was one of the most
secure policing facilities anywhere in the world.

Twenty minutes later, four members of Stevens’ team who had been
conducting inquiries elsewhere arrived back at the incident room,
intending to lock some paperwork away for the night.

First they smelt the smoke. Then they saw the flames. The entire
incident room was ablaze and they rushed to raise the alarm. Sarah
Bynum, one of the detective constables, later recalled: ‘There were a
number of fire alarm points in the building and I went to one and I
smashed it with the heel of my shoe and nothing happened. I ran down to
another one and smashed that and again nothing happened.’

A heat-sensitive intruder alarm had also failed. Bynum raced to the
guardhouse at the entrance to the complex, where an armed officer from
the RUC was on duty. ‘My first word to him was to call for the fire
brigade and he replied that the phones were down. I then told him to get
on his radio to call for help and his reaction was one of almost
disinterest, of: “Well what do you expect me to do about it?”‘ By the
time the fire was eventually extinguished, the team’s desktop computers
had melted into pools of metal and plastic; steel filing cabinets had
buckled, and the documents inside had incinerated.

Whoever started the fire clearly intended to destroy every scrap of
documentary evidence that the police team had gathered.

The immediate suspects were not members of one of Northern Ireland’s
paramilitary groups, however, but British soldiers. Stevens and his team
were convinced that the arsonists were from the Force Research Unit – a
shadowy British Army Intelligence Corps body known as ‘the FRU’ that
worked closely with MI5 and Special Branch, the intelligence wing of the
RUC. They also suspected that detectives from Special Branch had helped
the FRU to slip into the high-security complex and break into their
office.”

This of course was just one of many incidences throughout the Long War
when the documented records of the British authorities in the north-east
of Ireland, civil, military and paramilitary, were “accidentally” or
deliberately destroyed, or simply went missing. Invariably these losses
coincided with research being carried out by third parties from the
United Kingdom or in the wake of some notable atrocity.

Of further interest to Irish readers will be Cobain’s detailed
examination of the activities of Brian Nelson, the Abu Musab al-Zarqawi
of UK terrorism in Ireland. The former British soldier from Belfast
began his murderous career by taking a blowtorch to a young, disabled
Irishman named Gerald Higgins, proceeding to torture him to near-death
in 1974 (he succumbed to his injuries several weeks later). At the time
Nelson was a member of the UDA-UFF, a militant pro-Britain or “loyalist”
faction, while also serving as an agent for the Royal Ulster
Constabulary (RUC), the UK’s regional paramilitary police force. In 1985
he was recruited by the British Army’s Intelligence Corps (IntCorps)
while temporarily living in Germany.

Returning to the Six Counties and the UDA-UFF, the Belfast man led a
reign of terror against the Irish nationalist community the likes of
which had not been seen since the late 1960s and early ’70s. Under the
direction of the counter-insurgency strategists of the RUC, IntCorps and
MI5, the Security Service in London, the agent transformed the
“loyalist” gangs into a body of organised death squads spreading murder
and mayhem across the north-east of the country. Answering to his
immediate superiors in the infamous Force Research Unit (FRU), one of
the many acronyms making up the British intelligence agencies, he became
the United Kingdom’s most effective weapon in its war with the
(Provisional) Irish Republican Army and the population supporting it.

“Soon he was appointed as the intelligence officer for the UDA in west
Belfast, playing a central role in selecting and locating targets for
assassination. Although he occasionally kept this information to
himself, Nelson would frequently pass details of these planned murders
to the FRU.

In June 1985, Nelson embarked upon the most extraordinary operation of
his undercover Army career. The UDA’s leadership asked him to help
arrange a deal with Armscor, apartheid South Africa’s arms corporation.
A unionist from Armagh who had emigrated to Durban and was working for
the company had been identified as a possible source of weaponry, and
Nelson was asked to meet this man. The FRU not only encouraged him to do
this, it paid for his airline tickets to South Africa and met his hotel
bills. One of Nelson’s FRU handlers, a man whom he knew as Ronnie, had
told him: ‘You’ve really hit the big time here Brian.’ While some have
claimed the FRU sponsored this arms-trafficking enterprise in order to
intercept the weapons and prevent them from falling into loyalist
paramilitaries’ hands, others suspect that the FRU, and some of their
political masters, were determined to help arm Ulster’s loyalists.

In Durban, Nelson examined a number of weapons, and was particularly
taken with an automatic shotgun called the Striker which ‘could be used
to devastating effect . . . in close-quarter combat’. Armscor made it
clear that it would accept a cash sale, but also wanted to know whether
the UDA could provide it with one of the latest generation of
ground-to-air missiles that were under development at Shorts, an
aircraft and armaments factory in east Belfast.

Armscor provided weapons to loyalist paramilitaries in a trafficking
operation that was financed by a #325,000 robbery from a bank in
Portadown, thirty miles south-west of Belfast. The corporation’s
European agent, an American called Douglas Bernhardt, had learned that a
large cache of arms held by a Lebanese militia in Beirut had come onto
the market. Bernhardt arranged for the arms to be loaded into a
container, which was shipped to Belfast via Liverpool, accompanied with
bills of lading and notes of origin that indicated it held ceramic floor
tiles.

The weapons arrived at Belfast docks in late December, and were smuggled
into the country undetected. Early the following month, at a farmhouse
in County Armagh, the arsenal was divided three ways between the UDA,
the UVF and a third loyalist paramilitary group, Ulster Resistance. The
UDA lost its entire portion within minutes: its share of about 100
weapons was loaded into two hire cars, which were stopped and seized at
a nearby police roadblock. Some of the UVF’s weapons were also recovered
over coming weeks, but most remained in the group’s hands, and
transformed the loyalists’ firepower over the years that followed. The
portion that went to Ulster Resistance was never captured, however. Nor
were these weapons decommissioned during the peace process: they remain
hidden today.

…the consequence was that loyalists’ access to high-calibre weapons –
and their ability to slaughter both republicans and uninvolved Catholics
– changed immediately. In the six years prior to the importation of the
South African weapons, from January 1982 to December 1987, loyalists
killed seventy-one people. In the seven years afterwards, from January
1988 to 1 September 1994, loyalists killed 229 people.”

The British state in the north of Ireland, civil and military, put guns
and explosives into the hands of British terrorists one with purpose and
one purpose only: to kill as many Irish men, women and children as
possible. That it did so in the forlorn hope of achieving some sort of
militarily victory over the Irish Republican Army is no excuse. As Niall
Stanage, an editor with the US politics’ site, The Hill, wrote way back
in 2002:

“The British state has been conspiring to murder its own citizens in
Northern Ireland.

That is the only credible conclusion that can be drawn from the evidence
that has seeped slowly into the public domain over the past decade. It
now seems clear that members of the security forces, acting in cahoots
with loyalist paramilitaries, have facilitated sectarian and political
killings.

Nationalists in Northern Ireland are being told what they have always
known – that the police and army have been actively working against
them. From their perspective, the chief surprise is that a false image
of Northern Ireland’s political landscape – in which impartial security
forces have held the line against “mindless terrorists”, “gangsters” and
“psychopaths” – has endured for so long.”

Families walk away from humiliation meetings

Posted by Jim on

Families of victims of state killings have announced that they will be
suing the British government, DUP leader Arlene Foster and Sinn Fein’s
Martin McGuinness as the London and Belfast regimes again stonewalled
their demands for legacy inquests.

The move followed a walk out from a meeting on Monday with the new
British governor in Ireland, James Brokenshire, of the families of
eleven people killed in the 1971 Ballymurphy Massacre. Brokenshire
claimed the British government could not afford the costs of holding the
inquests.

About fifty inquests are pending but stalled. They relate to almost a
hundred deaths, some of them going back four decades.

The next day, they gathered with other families at Stormont to protest
against the failure of the British government to comply with its
international human rights obligations with respect to legacy inquests,
and hand-delivered notice of their legal challenge to the offices of new
British Secretary of State. Similar letters were also delivered to the
offices of Stormont’s First Minister Arlene Foster, Deputy First
Minister Martin McGuinness, and to the Six County Department of Justice.

“How many more secretaries of state do families have to meet before they
get justice for their loved ones?” the Ballymurphy Families group group
said in a statement following their dramatic walkout.

It was their first meeting since Brokenshire became the Secretary of
State and families were hopeful that he would advance their inquests.

They gave an emotional account of what happened to their loved ones in
August 1971 after which they asked him directly to intervene and provide
funding and resources to allow their inquests to resume.

However, Brokenshire, like his predecessors, simply referred the matter
back to the Stormont Executive, and denied the British government was
responsible. The families were so angered by his intransigence the
walked out, ending the meeting after 45 minutes.”

Speaking afterward, the group’s spokesman, John Teggart, whose father
was among ten people shot dead in August 1971, said that the families
were disgusted by the minister’s attitude.

“It was a terrible meeting,” he said. “James Brokenshire refused to
answer many of our questions and it was just going round and round in
circles.

“It was just the same old, same old. The families poured their hearts
out about what had happened to their late relatives and were basically
pleading for him to release the funding, but it was going nowhere.

“We explained that there is a wide range of families waiting for these
inquests and the inquests don’t need litigation. Lord Justice Weir said
in January our inquest is ready to and can be started within the year.

Mr Teggart pointed an accusing finger at the Democratic Unionist Party
as “representative from the other six parties were at meeting supporting
the families.” He said the DUP was blocking the funding from going
through the Executive.

Briege Voyle, whose mother was Joan Connolly was fatally shot four times
said: “What do we have to do for these people to see sense?

“We need this funding released right away. Campaigners Mary Murphy and
Joe Corr have died in the past few weeks. We need our inquests which
were granted in 2011 started now, not just for us, but for all the
ninety five families. James Brokenshire needs to make that decision
now.”

Earlier this month, the North’s most senior judge Sir Declan Morgan
called on political leaders to sort out the contentious funding issue
for legacy inquests.

His request for ten million pounds to fund a five-year programme that
would deal with controversial Troubles’ deaths was blocked by the DUP.

Outstanding inquests into more than 80 deaths that took place during the
30-year conflict have yet to be heard.

SDLP West Belfast MLA, Alex Attwood, said that the British government
seemed to be giving the the DUP a “veto” on a legacy issue.

“Victims and survivors, their grief and their needs, should not be
subject to a shallow veto,” he said. “If the DUP can veto funding for
inquests, they or others could try to do so again and attempt to veto
other proposals to achieve truth, justice and accountability. Where
would we be then? This cannot be allowed to happen.”

Sinn Fein’s legacy spokeswoman Jennifer McCann said the Ballymurphy
families had been “let down”.

“The British government has failed to uphold commitments made in the
Stormont House Agreement on how to deal with the legacy of the
conflict,” she said.

Nichola Baxter, whose cousin Craig McCausland was killed by loyalist
paramilitaries in 2005, said the families were being denied closure.

“I come from a unionist background. We are waiting 11 years for an
inquest and therefore a death certificate, simple things that the law
says we are entitled to as families,” she said.

“There are answers we’re not getting and it’s the same for everybody
here, some people are waiting longer than 11 years and it’s an absolute
disgrace.”

British Penetration of Irish-American Groups

Posted by Jim on September 8, 2016

CAPITOL HILL. Thursday, September 8, 2016

Recently released British/Northern Ireland Office (NIO) State Papers have caused considerable interest, and have given further insight into how the British Embassy spied on Irish-Americans.

The Papers were released the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI), and cover the period 1980 to 1989. The Papers were released under the “30/20 rule”— the phased release of official documents that were previously secret for 30 years, but are to be released after 20 years.( Google PRONI CAIN for the released Papers).

As always, such released Papers are of intense interest to historians, the media and all those concerned about the history of The Troubles in Northern Ireland. Not, of course, that the full truth is ever revealed by the British Government.

Fr. Sean Mc Manus—President of the Capitol Hill-based Irish National Caucus— whose life-long work always features in such Papers, said : “ This time the Papers are of particular interest for a two-fold reason : (1) they reveal how deeply worried the British Government was about our Mac Bride Principles campaign (which they accurately state is ‘ largely instigated by the Irish National Caucus’; and (2) the Papers reveal how the British Embassy penetrated and spied on Irish-American organizations.

Irish American Unity Conference

One of the released papers, titled “Irish American Unity Conference [IAUC],” consists of a report dated October 10, 1985, by the British Embassy to the Head of the Civil Service in Northern Ireland, Ken Bloomfield. (Yes, the same Mr. Bloomfield, whom another released State Paper  exposed as outrageously stating  that the Catholics in West Belfast are “ alienated from normal civilized behavior.”). The Paper gives a Report on the IAUC meeting in Philadelphia, August 23-25, 1985, and explains how one of the IAUC Members, Steve Ryan,  monitoring the meeting was spying for the British Embassy. The Report lists a number of those present at the meeting, several members of Irish Northern Aid, and others, including  Bob Linnon who would become the president of the IAUC(1987-1995), and a Ms. Patricia O’Hagan,  Chairperson of the New York IAUC.

The Report exposes, “the IAUC’s … intense rivalry with Fr. Sean Mc Manus and the Irish National Caucus, ” and that “… the meeting revealed a deep hatred of Father Sean Mc Manus among the IAUC elite.”  The Report states Ms, O’Hagan, “declared she ‘hated’ McManus.’

When asked to comment, Fr. Mc Manus said: “I have a life-long policy of not responding to personal attacks. But I have to make an exception in this case as it is not really a personal attack but one gloried in, and  recorded by the British Embassy. It is sad and pathetic that at the height of the Mac Bride Principles campaign—which I initiated with Sean Mc Bride’s personal consent  and which I launched on November 5, 1984— that the Brits could report that another Irish organization was spending its time in attacking me. How absurd and traitorous is that!

I Do Not Take It Personally

Fr. Mc Manus explained: “However, I do not take all that stuff personally. My “feelings” are not hurt because on the Irish issue I don’t do feelings. I do analysis and discernment: because of my life-long experience and background, I can figure out from whence come the constant, systematic  attempts to sabotage my work. And it has ALWAYS come, one way or another, from the British Embassy,  and, at least in the early years, from the Irish Embassy. Thus it has always been. For example, I follow a rule of thumb, which is also a good religious principle: if one never had a personal confrontation or had personally offended a person, then an attack from such a person can never be “personal.” Something else is always behind it. In all my 44 years in America, and in all my Irish activity, I’ve never had a personal fight or a nasty confrontation with any person on the Irish issue. And even though I have received hundreds of thousands of letters, phone-calls an emails, not one person has ever outlined to me what they disagreed with in my work. And that is because no genuine Irish person could reasonably oppose the main pillars of my life’s work on Irish justice. However, any time anyone contacted me to make individual suggestions as to how I could do my work better, I always listened with great respect and attention. And I will always be eternally grateful for the huge and splendid individual and collective support I’ve received over all these years.”

Ms. Patricia O’Hagan

Fr. Mc Manus continued: “Regarding Ms. O’Hagan: I had never heard of her and I’ve no idea who she is. Therefore, I know her attack was not personal. She was — willingly or unknowingly —used by one of the aforementioned Embassies. It also must not be forgotten that Denis Donaldson, a British Agent was later in the late 90’s placed in charge of the Irish Northern Aid Office in New York City. So for a crucial period, a British Agent was telling members of Irish Northern Aid and other Irish organizations what to believe and what to do. In fairness, it could be said Michael Flannery was probably too old to be held responsible, but the younger New York City Irish Northern Aid leaders and spoke persons, and those in charge of the Irish People newspaper, must surely accept some responsibility and blame. I know if I had placed a British Agent in charge of the office of the Irish National Caucus, I would never hear the end of it, nor should I.”

Fr. Mc Manus concluded: “However, in all of this pathetic stuff, the central issue is: By what right and under what law is the British Embassy — or, indeed, the Irish Embassy— entitled to spy on Americans who are exercising their Constitutional rights? What has the State Department to say about this? What if the Soviet/Russian or China embassies were spying and recruiting spies in the United States, would the State Department be silent?”

Mayor Di Blah, Blah, Blah again proves he is not a mayor of the whole city

Posted by Jim on

New York Mayor enrages Irish over St. Patrick’s Day parade violence claim

J’Ouvert takes place in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn, throughout the night before the West Indian Day Parade, held every Labor Day.

“I’m outraged… this is a libel against the Irish community in this town,” lawyer Brian O’Dwyer, Chairman of the Emerald Isle Immigration Center, said.

“There were some hooligans we took care of, but there was never year-after-year of people being killed, shot and stabbed,” O’Dwyer added.

The mayor also compared the festival’s violence to the Puerto Rican Day parade, angering the city’s Puerto Rican community.

“This is disrespectful — this is shameful for him to say that. The Puerto Rican Day Parade has never got a death, killing, bloodshed,” State Senator Ruben Diaz said.

Even his own Police Chief Bill Bratton disagreed with his boss, saying St.Patrick’s and other parades dealt only with “quality of life issues.”

That is true and de Blasio knows it. I don’t know what weed de Blasio was smoking.

Someone forget to tell him that the last shooting or serious violence connected to the St. Patrick’s Day Parade was an IRA hit in 1923 on the informer “Cruxy”O’Connor by Pa Murray of the Cork IRA after “Cruxy” was identified and followed at the parade.

Since then there have been issues with the parade, God knows, but never gun violence. The worst was beer showers and boos for Mayor David Dinkins when he marched with a gay group in 1991.

Why does de Blasio choose to lump in the Irish parade with the murderous events at the J’Ouvert carnival, where two people were shot dead, one a young girl who objected to being fondled by a pervert?

Gangs use J’Ouvert as a time to settle scores, marring the celebration. As in other years, deadly violence broke out.

At 3:45 am on Monday, at Flatbush Avenue and Empire Boulevard in Crown Heights, Tyreke Borel, 17, was shot in the chest. He later died at Kings County Hospital, sources said.

At 4:15 a.m., Tiarah Poyau, 22, was fatally shot in the eye at Washington Avenue and Empire Boulevard, police said.

Poyau’s LinkedIn page showed that she was an international tax intern at PricewaterhouseCoopers and an aspiring accountant. She listed St. John’s University as her undergraduate and graduate school.

These are terrible tragedies and the clear and obvious thing to do is cancel J’Ouvert until the community and police can get their act together. Two deaths in a year when the police presence was higher than ever before is more than enough to warrant this. No one attending is safe, as these two killings make clear.

Instead, de Blasio announces the parade can go on. “I think it was very clear yesterday that we were not including the option of ending something which has gone on for decades and decades,” de Blasio said at a news conference with police officials. “We have to find out a way to make it safer.”

De Blasio’s PC mentality blazer is getting worse the longer he is in office, and he now cannot distinguish fact from political correctness.

There’s a huge difference between ensuring people are not publicly drunk (the main issue with the St. Patrick’s Day parade) and shooting dead two unarmed citizens, as happened in Brooklyn.

De Blasio implies an equivalence that is plain nutty but this mayor is well known for having strange demons to exercise.

He refused to appoint an Irish community liaison, has rarely ever attended an Irish event other than keeping the community waiting until the last moment to announce an Irish community breakfast on St.Patrick’s Day, and arrives incredibly late at St.Patrick’s services.

Saying the St. Patrick’s Day parade has been violent is nonsense.

Indeed, there is marvelous security provided for marchers and the public by the hundreds of volunteers who staff the parade and the police who provide security.

This mayor has shown his tin ear and total contempt for the Irish once again.

Arlene’s aberrations are really annoying

Posted by Jim on September 7, 2016

Brian Feeney. Belfast Telegraph. Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Let’s be clear at the outset. Máirtín Ó Muilleoir is quite right to raise the question of EU funds for Peace IV and INTERREG which have produced £1.5 billion and £820 million respectively since the ceasefires in 1994.

Another £500 million are due from these funds in the next four years. Ó Muilleoir’s question is whether the UK Treasury will guarantee that money. So far they have said they will underwrite only any plans signed off before November even if the UK gets out of the EU before the money is paid over.

That kind of money is vitally important for the north because of the jobs it supplies particularly in impoverished districts and also to people affected by the Troubles across the north. It’s pretty obvious as Ó Muilleoir says that if the money is not forthcoming hundreds of jobs will go. Now equally it’s a lot easier to sign off on schemes already planned than to anticipate schemes which might come on stream in the next four years so he’s doing his job to try to nail down the Treasury to meet the British share of money the EU has promised.

You have to wonder why Arlene Foster felt it necessary to step into this area. Her intervention contributed nothing except to get herself on TV. She said she was ‘disappointed’ and that Ó Muilleoir was ‘causing alarm among the business community’. Let’s leave aside the fact that as a successful businessman in his own right the finance minister has a lot more hands-on experience in business than Arlene.

Is this the same Arlene Foster who signed a joint letter with Martin McGuinness on August 10 standing her Leave campaign on its head by registering concern about the north’s access to EU funds and agricultural support? She also signed up to pointing out that the ‘north is uniquely vulnerable to the loss of EU funding’ and ‘recognised the possibility that it cannot be guaranteed that outcomes that suit our common interests are ultimately deliverable’. Hmm.

So it’s OK for Arlene to say it but not Ó Muilleoir? Accused of doing a U-turn by implicitly admitting that advocating Leave vote was a major miscalculation – which it was – she subsequently said a letter from the Treasury in August provided ‘clarity’ in relation to EU funding. It didn’t. It provided what concerns Ó Muilleoir, namely a guarantee that anything sent in before November is OK. After that who knows? Not Arlene. Foster’s sniping  raises again a wider matter. She seems to have no concept of sharing power. She seems to regard herself as prime minister able to control other ministers. In reality, by interfering and sniping she diminishes the office of first minister. Engaging in inter-party political banter demonstrates she can’t see the wood for the trees and shows she hasn’t yet learnt the difference between being first minster and an MLA.

If every statement by a Sinn Féin minister or a UUP MLA that annoys her leads her to yield to the irresistible urge to tweet a reply or issue a press statement then she shows no sense of priority let alone gravitas. All her utterances assume equal importance (or unimportance) so no-one can distinguish between what she thinks important enough for the first minister to comment on and what is another cheap trivial shot.

In the end her inability to button her lip reinforces what a report last week for the Centre for Democracy and Peace Building found, that is the executive is so divided with fundamentally different views about how to respond to Brexit that it will be extremely difficult to agree a position. The fact that Foster and Ó Muilleoir met the secretary of state for Brexit separately last week proves that.

Nonetheless we come back to the fundamental point which is that Arlene Foster got it wrong, the voters in the north rejected her case and she’s still in denial. It’s Ó Muilleoir who’s accurately expressing the concerns of the majority in the north. Perhaps that’s why Foster was so piqued by the positive reception his remarks received.

It seems her signing up to her U-turn letter on August 10 was an aberration.

Trevor Ringland might learn something by watching 66 Days

Posted by Jim on September 6, 2016

Letters to Irish News (Belfast).

Fr Joe McVeigh. Tuesday, September 6, 2016
Trevor Ringland, a man with very fixed unionist views, clearly does not like republicans or republicanism. As a unionist he is pro-monarchy and anti-republican. That’s his choice, which limits greatly his understanding of the world. He describes republicanism as a ‘flawed ideology.’ And suggests that the 10 men died for ‘a flawed ideology’.

Mr Ringland began his letter – ‘Hunger strikes sadly a recurring theme of Irish republicanism’ (August 29) – by stating “I probably won’t watch 66 Days…” Such a negative approach to begin with suggests that he is not open to learning and discovering the mind of republicans. He goes on to condemn the hunger-strikers for ‘taking their own lives for a political cause’.

The use of hunger strike as a weapon to obtain justice has a long history in Ireland and indeed in other countries like India where it was used by Mahatma Gandhi. In Ireland it was used as a means of protesting against injustice in Celtic times and was known as troscadh (fasting on or against a person) and cealachan (achieving justice by starvation).

It is important to put the hunger strike in context.

In 1976 the British Labour government introduced a new policy of criminalisation. From then onwards republican prisoners sentenced would be required to wear prison uniform and conform to new prison rules. When the prisoners refused to conform to this new regime they went on a protest of wrapping themselves in a blanket and refusing to be forcibly taken to the toilets.

In August 1978, Cardinal Tomás O’Fiaich visited the H Blocks in Long Kesh prison to see the situation for himself. Afterwards he stated: “I was shocked by the inhuman conditions prevailing in H Blocks 3, 4, and 5, where over 300 prisoners are  incarcerated. One would hardly allow an animal to remain in such conditions, let alone a human being…The stench and filth in some of the cells, with the remains of rotten food and human excreta around the walls, was almost unbearable. The nearest approach to it that I have seen was the spectacle of hundreds of homeless people living in sewer pipes in the slums of Calcutta. From talking to them it is evident that  they intend to continue their protest indefinitely and it seems they prefer to face death rather than submit to being classed as criminals. Anyone with the least knowledge of Irish history knows how deeply rooted this attitude is in our country’s past.”

The British condemned the cardinal’s remarks. The cardinal was ridiculed in the British press, where it was often noted that he came from Crossmaglen in south Armagh.

The refusal by Margaret Thatcher and the British government to respond to the cardinal’s appeal for justice and mercy led to the first hunger-strike in 1980. When it ended with the promise from the British to introduce reforms a second hunger strike led by Bobby Sands began. In his diary he outlined the reasons why they resorted to the second hunger strike in 1981. From his point of view to accept the new regime would have been to criminalise the entire struggle for Irish freedom. The protesting prisoners hoped that the British would be forced to change their attitude as a result of world opinion and introduce a humane regime in Long Kesh summarised in the five demands.

The prisoners on the fast were acting in solidarity and in the cause of justice and human dignity.

Mr Ringland, being a monarchist, would not understand. I think Mr Ringland should go to see 66 Days.

He might learn something and he might learn to be a little more respectful of others who differ from him politically.

Fr Joe McVeigh

Co Fermanagh

A beautiful poem for my friend Billy Sheehan upon his recent death

Posted by Jim on September 4, 2016

 

“Death is nothing at all, I have only slipped away to the next room."

The poem was popularized by the Carmelite monks in Tallow, County Waterford.

 

Death is nothing at all
I have only slipped away to the next room.
I am I and you are you.
Whatever we were to each other,
That, we still are.

Call me by my old familiar name.
Speak to me in the easy way
which you always used.
Put no difference into your tone.
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.

Laugh as we always laughed
at the little jokes we enjoyed together.
Play, smile, think of me. Pray for me.
Let my name be ever the household word
that it always was.
Let it be spoken without effect.
Without the trace of a shadow on it.

Life means all that it ever meant.
It is the same that it ever was.
There is absolute unbroken continuity.
Why should I be out of mind
because I am out of sight?

I am but waiting for you.
For an interval.
Somewhere. Very near.
Just around the corner.

All is well.

Nothing is past; nothing is lost. One brief moment and all will be as it was before only better, infinitely happier and forever we will all be one together with Christ.

James O’Shea

*Originally published in March 2015. 

Passing of Bill Sheehan of Kings County Division 19.

Posted by Jim on

Dear Fellow Hibernians,
It is with great sadness that I report of the passing of Bill Sheehan of Kings County Division 19.
Today we lost a loyal Hibernian.  Though hampered by illness for years, he was always counted on and relied on in many Hibernian events.
We lost a Hibernian Brother and a true friend.
Details to follow when we receive them.

Sadly reported,
Steve Kiernan, President
AOH KINGS County Board

AOH Kings County Div. 35 Dinner/Dance Oct. 14th

Posted by Jim on September 2, 2016

AOH 35 Dinner

A reckless Tory right is wrecking the Northern Irish peace process

Posted by Jim on

Talk of scrapping the Human Rights Act is part of a pattern of insensitivity.

By Liam McNulty. New Statesman. Friday, September 2, 2015

As the Cabinet reconvenes in Chequers after the summer recess, the preparations for Brexit are top of the agenda. Yet amongst all the various options being considered by government ministers, there is one critical aspect of Britain’s disengagement from the European Union which has barely figured at all in the official debate – the impact on Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic.

Such an omission is a symptom of the parochial insularity characterizing the Tory right’s drive for Brexit, and is of a piece with Westminster’s historically disdainful attitude towards Ireland.

A history of after-thoughts

The political historians Alistair B. Cooke and John Vincent once wrote in their study of the Home Rule crisis of the 1880s that the “Irish policies of British governments at Westminster cannot be explained in terms of Irish circumstances. They must be explained in terms of parliamentary combinations.”

In other words, domestic British politics trumps whatever impact Westminster policy may have across the Irish Sea. This was true of their immediate subject, and it was an analysis confirmed for the subsequent 1910-1914 Home Rule crisis in a more recent study, Ronan Fanning’s Fatal Path.

As summed up by one reviewer, Fanning established that for Asquith and Lloyd George “the essential issue…was never Ireland but was, rather, their own party advantage and, above all, their personal career advantage. Both had to spend more time calculating the consequences of their policies for internal British politics, and their own positions, than for Anglo-Irish relations.”

The same indictment applies to the Tories who, by instrumentalizing Ulster Protestant resistance to Home Rule (playing “the Orange Card” in the infamous words of Lord Randolph Churchill), brought Ireland to the brink of civil war in order to destroy their Liberal rivals.

These events have been prominent in the public consciousness in Ireland during the “decade of centenaries” and in this year especially, one hundred years after the Easter Rising.

Though the stakes are not of the same magnitude, now too can the Tory Party be accused of treating Ireland as an after-thought. The gamble of a European referendum that showed scant regard for the consequences of exit for decades of careful conflict resolution.

 The 56 per centers

The new Prime Minister, Theresa May, treads a treacherous, though hopefully not fatal, path as she deals with the fall-out of the European referendum for Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic.

During the referendum, the then Secretary of State, Theresa Villiers, took a Leave position, even as the Irish government and most of the North’s political parties warned it would be disastrous. Her position was unsustainable after 56 per cent of Northern Ireland and a clear majority of its parliamentary constituencies voted for Remain, and she has been replaced by the pro-Remain May ally James Brokenshire.

Brokenshire now has the unenvious task of raising Northern Ireland’s situation in a heated Cabinet argument about Brexit, the terms of which have been framed with little or no reference to the situation across the Irish Sea.
May and Brokenshire’s current bind is this. Though keeping conspicuously quiet throughout the referendum campaign, May has been keen to shore up her right flank by disavowing any notion that the decision to leave the EU would be undone on the sly: “Brexit,” she has repeated, “means Brexit.”
On one level this is meaningless, since in any referendum with a binary choice it is nigh-impossible to identify the individual motivations of the millions who voted for one or other side.
Yet it is simply inescapable that the mood music of the referendum was the desire to limit immigration from the EU into the United Kingdom.

The Human Rights Act tripwire
It is this commitment, at the very least, that the Tory right in the Cabinet expects to be upheld. Though May was quick to reassure Stormont that “nobody wants to return to the borders of the past”, what this means in practice is far from clear.

Fears that May will opt for a form of Brexit-lite, in the form of remaining in the European Economic Area (EEA) – implying some sort of freedom of movement – has had the right wing playing hardball over the summer.

A particularly reckless example of this was Liam Fox’s call in late July for the UK to leave the European customs union in order to seek bilateral trade deals with individual states. The Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charles Flanagan, expressed himself to be “very surprised” at the comments, and Fox was promptly shot down by Downing Street.

A pattern of narrow British insensitivity is forming. Arguably more serious again are the recent comments by Liz Truss, May’s Justice Secretary, who has reconfirmed support for the Tory’s election manifesto commitment to replace the Human Rights Act with a British Bill of Rights.

The Human Rights Act 1998 incorporated the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR) into UK law and, if the intention with a British Bill of Rights is to leave the ECHR, it could have grave implications for the whole Northern Ireland settlement.

Though the principle of consent underpinning any changes to Northern Ireland’s constitutional position applies only to the option of a united Ireland, the general spirit of consent and bilateralism could be violated by England and Wales’s unilateral action.

More to the point, the Good Friday Agreement presupposes joint EU membership and adherence to the ECHR. As Ian McBride has recently written: “During the 1990s the EU provided a stage on which Irish and British politicians met as equals. The wider context of European integration also took much of the heat out of the border issue. It made the idea of a region whose inhabitants had the right to be ‘Irish, British, or both’ easier to imagine.”

The ECHR does not just have a symbolic presence in the peace process, but provides practical safeguards designed to ensure there can be no return to the majoritarian Unionist domination of the past.

The arrogance of Brexit

Whatever its faults, the Agreement governs relations in a region of the United Kingdom and should be treated seriously in the discussions around Brexit. Moreover, it is a bilateral treaty with the Irish government, lodged after its ratification with the United Nations.

That such a settlement could be so casually jeopardized in a fit of sour isolationism and post-imperial arrogance demonstrates once more the British Government’s disregard for its international obligations. It is particularly galling in the Irish case that Britain’s involvement and obligations were unwanted and unasked for in the first place by a majority of the island’s inhabitants.

It should give Unionists pause for thought that Northern Ireland, once more, is only an incidental detail in a Westminster power-play.

Perhaps this crisis will, in James Connolly’s words “throw the Irish people back upon their own resources” and provoke discussion of an internal solution to the Irish question.
An optimistic prognosis now, perhaps. Yet, as the Brexit wagon trundles ever onwards, it is a conversation that will become increasingly necessary.

HONEST AND TRANSPARENT DEBATE NEEDED ON UNITED IRELAND – PATRICK DONAHOE

Posted by Jim on September 1, 2016

A welcome off-shoot from the recent ‘Brexit’ referendum in Britain is that talk of a United Ireland has come again to the fore of political discourse all across Ireland – even in the mainstream of the 26-Counties – coupled also with more favourable polling numbers regards the prospect of Irish Unity.

Radio stations such as Newstalk took reporters onto the streets and asked the general public their opinions. Unsurprisingly there was a warm response to the notion of a reunified Ireland, but lacking from the discourse was an honest addressing of the facts – with experts plucking figures from thin air and passing them off as gospel in relation to the annual deficit the Six Counties accumulates and that Britain supposedly bridges as an act of charity (from £6-14 billion!).

Regardless, it’s worth noting that Ireland as a singular entity ceased being a net contributor to Britain in 1911 – Britain a few years later shedding itself of the non-contributory part of Ireland and keeping the industralised North (which at the time of partition generated 75 percent of the economic output on the island and was wealthier per head than any part of Britain).

The decision to divide Ireland was sold at the time, and to this day, as a gesture of goodwill and love for their loyal patrons who died in World War I. I’d argue otherwise and say that, like every other decision, it was an act of self-interest done purely on an economic basis.

Just as the reasons given for partition have been distorted, so too are the arguments as to why it should be maintained. As noted earlier, various experts continue to trot out random figures for the prospective tab the 26-Counties would need to pick up in the event of Irish reunification. All are false and indeed English economist Michael Burke, in a report using the British government’s own ONS data from 2013, showed that the annual fiscal deficit was closer to £730 million and not anywhere near the £10 billion quoted by many.

Findings by the University of British Columbia also forecast a €36 billion injection into the economy (over eight years) upon an end to trade barriers internal to Ireland and a corresponding harmonisation of the tax systems in the event of Irish Unity, highlighting that we would operate better as a single economy with a single tax code, currency, public services, governmental bodies etc.

All of this has been ignored by the chattering classes since new-found interest on the merits of a United Ireland emerged in wake of the Brexit vote – which is disappointing but not at all surprising.

In Scotland likewise, Britain refuses transparency on key issues and as with the North uses smaller regions to bolster England’s economic health at their expense, distorting the picture. A prime example is Scottish whisky. Hugely popular worldwide and with a large market in North America, it contributes £4.5 billion per annum to the UK Exchequer. The vast majority of that total is not attributed to Scotland as the UK state attributes it to the point where it leaves the UK itself – which conveniently is largely England.

There are similar goings-on in the North, which distorts appearances and impacts on those seeking a reasoned decision on where they see their future. As with the ‘love bomb’ David Cameron threw at Scotland during the referendum campaign in 2014 – just as with Ireland in 1922 – their desire to keep Scotland was not based on any spirit of benevolence towards Scotland or her people.

It was purely with self-interest in mind for England, mirrored in this country with corporate interests such as gold mines in Tyrone and fracking in Fermanagh. The reality is that, despite protesting otherwise, Britain does have selfish and economic reasons for staying in Ireland. Indeed this would explain the lack of transparency in the figures she makes available.

It is difficult for republicans to counter the ‘voodoo economics’ perpetuated by Britain to maintain the Union when the media ignores known facts when discussing the matter. What hope then that the dodgy bookkeeping distorting the debate in the pro-union camp’s favour will ever be seriously looked into? That Britain has no right to govern here in the first place aside, we should be making the case for reunification when and where we can, demanding transparency from our opponents so people can at least be armed with the facts.

Nelson Mandela once said, ‘let your choices be defined by your hopes and not your fears’. Making a positive case for Irish Unity is in my opinion vital to the campaign for a national referendum on Irish Unity. Should we succeed towards that objective and take part in such an act of self-determination, deciding our country’s constitutional future, we must ensure our arguments are clear and coherent and that we indeed appeal to the hopes, not the fears, of the Irish people.

Patrick Donahoe is a former Organiser with the 1916 Societies and current Secretary of the Sean Heuston Society in Dublin.

West Belfast was bleak and poor, but never uncivilised

Posted by Jim on

Allison Morris. Irish News (Belfast). Thursday, September 1, 2016

The Belfast of my childhood was bleak. There’s no point in trying to dress it up as anything other than that. It was grey and at times terrifying but it was also all I knew.

Being a child growing up in what was then effectively a war zone isn’t in any way normal.

Our house regularly shook from the tremor of bomb blasts. At times I was woken with the shudder of the rattling windows or the sound of automatic gunfire.

The deaths of the hunger strikers were marked by the banging of old metal bin lids on the pavements outside our house.

The first dead body I ever saw was that of Kieran Doherty, his family lived at the top of our street and I could hear the adults around me speaking about him in hushed tones.

I’ve always been nosey, an essential quality in a reporter. I sneaked away and positioned myself in the queue of mourners outside the Doherty home.

I’d my wee brother by the hand – I was supposed to be minding him – when I reached the top of the queue a man said to another, “there’s two kids here, what will I do?”

I remember as clearly as if it were yesterday he said, “let them in, she should see, everyone should see”.

Watching my dad cry when my cousin was murdered. Being stopped and having your school bag searched by British soldiers on your way to school. The endless funerals, there were so many funerals.

It’s not a normal way to grow up, the look of horror on my own children’s faces when I tell them stories of my childhood makes me realise how far removed it is from the life they’ve lived post peace process.

When I look at what is happening in the world today, the plight of children in Palestine, Syria and Iraq, little bodies washed up on beaches and realise I was actually quite lucky. Their wee lives make my childhood look like a Disney cartoon.

Then last week the release of state papers from 1987 brought it all back to me, the stuff seared in my memory and some events that had been lost in the annals of time.

It was a time when the world I lived in was filled with death and destruction but as a teenager my thoughts were filled with discos, boys and puffball mini skirts.

Sir Ken Bloomfield, a man I interviewed at home a few years ago and found to be welcoming, full of stories about the fascinating experiences he’d had in his lengthy career, made the most horrendous slur on my community.

In a memo to former secretary of state Tom King the then head of the civil service said west Belfast had a “ghetto mentality” and a large section of the population was alienated from “normal civilised behaviour”.

And I didn’t recognise the place he was referring to. Abnormal yes, but there were historic, political reasons for that. Terrified, yes, poor, most definitely, it was an economic waste ground, although current deprivation statistics would indicate there’s much still to be done in that respect. But uncivilised – that I dispute.

We were raised with food in our bellies, shoes on our feet and a sense of right and wrong.

My mother would have walked us around burning buses to make sure we availed of an education never offered to her, not even a riot would deter her.

This description of my friends and family as ‘uncivilised’ angered me in a way a 30-year-old dispatch never should.

The memo was in fact saying that any investment in west Belfast needs to take into account the wider perception of the people who live there.

Mr King was warned not to anger the unionist community by being seen to reward the poor people of my community.

Look at it like that and what chance did we really stand? Being misruled by people who treated us like savages and penalised us so as not to anger a unionist community they had helped pit against us.

When those who govern are conspiring against an entire community and yet still we thrived and survived, that’s something to look back on with pride.

What’s a Diddicoy?

Posted by Jim on August 30, 2016

What’s a Diddicoy?

caravan

What once are derogatory, offensive terms often change in time. “Irish” was once a terrible and oppressive thing to be called. In the ports of New York, Boston and New Orleans and in the Pennsylvania mines, the Appalachian mountains and anywhere else in the United States after the Famine, to be named such a thing was akin to spitting in your face. The Irish were clan-like, fiercely communal people who fenced themselves off from the incumbent Anglo-Saxon culture.

They worked hard, sure. But they played like animals. Bare-knuckle fist fighters that fought each other for the spirit in it and the fun. For blood and boast. Pride in the prowess of their ancient surnames. Gamblers that played a foreign card game called “faro” with words that harkened to an ancient language. The language of a nomadic Celtic past that had been banished from the mainland of Europe centuries earlier by Julius Caesar. Pushed to the Western-most islands of the continent. Now pushed passed the isle of Ireland, they took to the sea and landed in a new world. Born to soldier and brawl.

 

Like the Irish in the 19th and early 20th centuries, African-Americans have fenced themselves off from the Anglo-Saxon culture. Many have mixed their race with whites, whether on purpose or of rape. If there is one thing that mystifies the people of homogenous countries, it is the idea of the typical American being of mixed race. An entire country of mostly mixed-blooded people clashing together to make the most powerful culture the world has ever known. All were once desperate to leave their homogenous cultures like traveling gypsies running from war or famine, or were enslaved, only to land in a mish-mash of mixed raced people.

That is a Diddicoy. A mixed-blooded gypsy.

In Ireland still to this very day, a group known generally as Travelers roam the boreens (country roads) in caravans challenging each other to bare-knuckle fights for the right to boast. One-on-one they fight with almost no rules between them, other than honor. Some of them are part Romani, some of them are not sure if they have any true Romani gypsy blood as they almost all carry Celtic or Norman surnames like the Joyce’s and the Doherty’s. There are many derogatory terms for them like Tinkers, Pikeys or the Pavee and of course, Diddicoys.

In Chapter 7 of Light of the Diddicoy, the first book in the Auld Irishtown trilogy, an immigrant is shot at 25 Bridge Street, the saloon that the White Hand Gang calls headquarters under the Manhattan Bridge in Brooklyn, 1915. Detective William Brosnan, a 53-year old Dubliner turned New York cop investigates as the immigrant takes his last breath on the floor among the mortar hods and shovels in the corner of the saloon.

The candles that light the saloon flicker when the front door is opened and the sounds of the trolleys rushing overhead along the Manhattan Bridge rail tracks breaks the silence inside. Brosnan is attempting to extract information from Paddy Keenan, himself a native of a small town outside Kilkenny, Ireland and the saloon’s tender. When Keenan, who is known as the gang’s Minister of Information, refuses to part with any knowledge of the shooting, Brosnan slams his hand on the bar and looks upstairs where the office of the gang’s leader is, Dinny Meehan. Brosnan then points his finger at Keenan and says, “This gang ain’ nuttin’ but a bunch o’ thiefs an’ diddicoys, anyhow. They’re days’re numbered, ye heard it from me right here and now!”

It takes a Dublin jackeen who knows English slang to describe the gang as Diddicoys, as the word comes from the derogatory description of a mix-blooded Romani-gypsy, particular to England. But a good description it is. You see, I spent three and a half years reading articles about the White Hand Gang and its members. When you pull police reports and death certificates and any description you can find of the lifestyle and habits of the Irish-American gangsters along the Brooklyn waterfront of the era, you find out a lot about them.

What I found in them that is most glaring is a complete lack of regard for law, as most gangsters do, of course. Actually, calling it a “lack of regard” isn’t strong enough. Not close enough. I would rather describe it as a complete distrust in law.

IMG_0171An excellent description of the mentality of the people who lived in what used to be called Irishtown in Brooklyn, which nowadays we call DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) and Vinegar Hill, was Willie Sutton’s book Where the Money Was. He said the people who lived where he grew up didn’t believe in even the most basic organizations such as hospitals because it was said “they’d give ye the black box.” This black box symbolized death and the reason the Irish always got it was because the hospital administrators didn’t believe the Irish were worth the bed. And when someone more upstanding arrived at the over-crowded hospital, they had to make room. So they gave the black box to the Irish to give the bed to more law-abiding, respected citizens. Sounds crazy and superstitious, but that was his description. And I found a consistency to that in my own research of the White Hand Gang members of Brooklyn’s Irishtown.

famine photoAfter reading so much about these gangsters and coming across Sutton, the greatest bank robber of his time, I began to put it all together. It suddenly made sense: These Irish-Americans were the offspring of victims of possibly the worst, most atrocious and horrific miscarriage of justice the world has chronicled. They were the Famine-Irish that settled originally along the waterfront in Brooklyn. The ones that survived the casket ships and the Great Hunger of 1845-1852, An Gorta Mor, it’s called in Irish. It was law that starved their people and their children to an emaciated death in the ditches and road-side graves back in Ireland. Over a million dead and a million more sent to places like the Five Points in Lower Manhattan and “Auld Irishtown” in Brooklyn. Their tenant farms replaced by cattle, a more suitable income for English landowners in Ireland.

It was law that sent them to foreign lands. And it would be law that instilled the greatest distrust in them.

It would not be unlikely to assume that some, if not many, of the original Famine-Irish were actual gypsies, for there is a great relation to gypsy culture and the gangsters of Irishtown in Brooklyn. Not just in the disbelief in man-made law, but the superstitions, the thieving from the established people, the tradition of bare-knuckle fighting, the powerful belief in honor and, of course, the great Code of Silence that pervaded men and women who lived underneath the bridges in Brooklyn.

Unknown-2There are countless examples of a gangster getting shot and refusing to name his perpetrator. “I got mine, I’ll make sure he gets his” was usually the answer. The Traveller community in Britain and Ireland still think this way. They do not seek law to settle their disagreements, they seek blood. Whether it be retribution or a challenge. Just as was done in Irishtown and the Diddicoys of the White Hand Gang. A challenge is a challenge. One-on-one. Man against man with no weapons and no rules. Just a pair of fists and a man’s will. That was the character of the people of Auld Irishtown.

Eamon

Bittersweet ceremony unites tragic Ballymurphy family

Posted by Jim on August 28, 2016

A priest has spoken about God’s “perfect timing” after he officiated at
the joint funeral mass of a man murdered by British soldiers and the
wife who campaigned in his memory, despite them dying exactly 45 years
apart.

Joseph Murphy, who was buried with his wife Mary on Thursday, was one of
the 11 victims of the Ballymurphy Massacre which happened during the
introduction of internment without trial in August 1971.

Ten people, including Mr Murphy, a priest who had gone to the aid of one
of victims and a 50-year-old mother of eight children were shot dead by
British soldiers in west Belfast. Inquests have yet to be concluded into
the killings.

An eleventh victim, who does not come under the terms of the inquest,
Paddy McCarthy, died from a heart attack after a soldier allegedly put
an empty gun into his mouth and pulled the trigger.

It is believed that most if not all of the killings were carried out by
members of the British Parachute Regiment. The incident took place
months before the same regiment was involved in the Bloody Sunday
killings, which resulted in the deaths of 14 innocent civilians.

Last October, as part of the Ballymurphy inquests, the coroner ordered
that Mr Murphy’s body be exhumed so that an investigation could be
carried out into his family’s belief that he was shot on two occasions
by the British army.

In hospital before his death, Mr Murphy told his family he was first
shot in the upper thigh on the streets of Ballymurphy, but soldiers then
brought him into the nearby Henry Taggart barracks and shot him again
through his open wound.

A suspected bullet fragment found among his remains after his exhumation
supported his dying comments, and this will be a factor in the inquests
into his killing.

With other members of the Ballymurphy families, his widow Mary
campaigned for decades to establish the truth behind the killings. It
had been her hope that a second funeral Mass could be heard for her
husband before he was re-interred.

However, Mrs Murphy died from cancer on August 22nd, the same date that
Mr Murphy died from his injuries in 1971.

“Little did she think that he would be buried 45 years to the day when
he was first buried,” said officiating priest Fr Darach Mac Giolla
Cathain.

“More than that, that she would have the grace when she died that they
would be side by side in the church and be laid to rest together,” he
added. “God’s timing really is perfect.”

Their daughter has spoken of her mixed emotions that her beloved parents
were laid to rest together.

Janet Donnelly, said that the family had found out only the day before
her mother’s funeral that the Coroner’s Office were releasing their
father’s remains to them.

“The original plan was to have daddy buried and for our mummy to be
there. Our mother was a woman of great faith. When our daddy’s body was
exhumed in October she insisted that there was a priest present and that
there were prayers at the graveside. She wanted him to have a proper
funeral when the time came for him to be reburied. Little did we know
that he would be waiting for her in the chapel 45 years from the day of
his original funeral.”

After her husband’s death Mary Ellen Murphy was left to raise nine
children alone – three of her children have already passed away. She
remained in the same house in Ballymurphy Parade until her own death.

“After daddy passed away our mummy raised us on her own. She did what a
lot of women back then had to do: she just got on with it, she worked
non-stop. She had a house shop, she sold candy apples and she took any
work she could get, that’s what people did back then. Her faith carried
her through those hard years, she said her Rosary every day.

“It is bittersweet.. we’re happy because she always wanted to see him
buried again and we promised her it would happen.”

Janet says all the Ballymurphy families know the truth about their loved
ones, but it’s vital that the truth is put on record.

“We want an inquiry, we need for the rest of the world to know what
happened to the victims of the Ballymurphy Massacre. It’s about
justice. In years to come when people look back on history we want it
stated clearly in black and white that our loved ones were innocent
victims.

“Now that mummy has passed away it’s even more important for the
inquests to be heard as our witnesses are dying… there’s money sitting
there for inquests, it needs to be released.”

Bryson sought revenge for Dervock band — report

Posted by Jim on

A dispute over a sectarian loyalist parade through the mainly
nationalist town of Rasharkin last week is being linked to the “leak” of
private messages targeting Sinn Fein Assembly member Daithi McKay.

Loyalist blogger Jamie Bryson is being accused of taking revenge against
Mr McKay, who was forced to resign his post earlier this month, after he
helped lobby the Parades Commission to prevent a notorious loyalist band
from taking part in the County Antrim parade.

According to the Sunday Life newspaper, Bryson reportedly told his
cronies that by leaking private messages from Mr McKay about his
appearance before a Stormont committee, he could end his political
career and also bring pressure for a full public inquiry into the
scandal over the sale of properties in the north of Ireland.

The controversy over the Rasharkin parade began when independent
councillor Padraig McShane was spat at and taunted by masked loyalists
during a parade in nearby Ballycastle on July 12. Mr McShane suffered a
serious head injury when he was violently arrested in the subsequent
scuffle.

Last week, after coming under nationalist pressure, the Parades
Comission refused permission for the band involved, the ‘Dervock Young
Defenders’, to march in last week’s Rasharkin parade. That march passed
off relatively peacefully on Friday, August 19th.

Bryson is a prominent loyalist marcher and ‘flags’ protestor who has a
reputation as a publicity-seeker. His insistence that he was not
responsible for the transcript ‘leak’ won few believers, and he lost
further credibility when he claimed some messages he received from McKay
had been removed from the transcript, a claim he then failed to
substantiate.

Refusing to comment further, he says: “My focus is on the legal
preparation for the pending application to the Secretary of State asking
for a full public inquiry into NAMA (the Dublin government’s National
Asset Management Agency).”

Mr McKay was forced to resign last week because the messages showed that
he communicated inappropriately with Bryson on how to present his
testimony to the Stormont Finance Committee investigating NAMA’s
dealings in the North. Through the account of another Sinn Fein member,
Bryson was advised how to present his evidence of corruption against the
DUP leader Peter Robison without being interrupted or blocked by DUP
committee members.

The loyalist was called to the committee after making a number of online
allegations relating to 7 million pounds in an offshore bank account
linked to the deal which had allegedly been earmarked for a politician
in the Six Counties.

Bryson told the committee that former DUP leader Peter Robinson was to
receive a payment upon its completion. Robinson, who has since quit
politics, continues to deny that he was to profit from the sale of the
portfolio to the American company Cerberus.

Sinn Fein has made clear that Mr McKay had been acting on his own
initiative and had “paid the price”. Speaking in Derry’s Bogside, Mr
McGuinness blasted McKay’s actions as “profoundly disturbing” and also
derided allegations that he was part of a conspiracy to damage the
former DUP leader.

“Does anybody think for one minute that I would even contemplate being
involved in anything that would involve someone like young Bryson, who
has effectively got his own agenda which is about ill will towards Peter
Robinson,” he said.

Sinn Fein’s current Finance Minister in the Six Counties, Mairtin O
Muilleoir, also issued a statement making clear he had “absolutely no
knowledge” of the communications, and rejected calls to step aside while
Stormont’s Finance Committee holds an investigation into the ‘back
channel’ communications.

Although the current DUP leader Arleen Foster said the messages were a
“disgraceful attempt to impugn and discredit” her former colleague, her
party has indicated it is ready to move past the controversy.

Meanwhile, Sinn Fein has selected Daithi McKay’s predecessor at Stormont
to replace him. Philip McGuigan returns to the assembly, having
previously served as a Sinn Fein Assembly a decade ago, representing
North Antrim at Stormont from 2003-2007. The father-of-four is currently
a Sinn Fein representative on Causeway Coast and Glens Council.

“Impromptu BBQ & Get Together” ~ Saturday September 03, 2016 @ 7:00 PM, Columbus Council #126

Posted by Jim on

Columbus Council 126

Address: 3051 Nostrand Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11229

 

Greetings LAOH & AOH. On Saturday September 03, 2016 @ 7:00 PM, Columbus Council #126 will be having an “Impromptu BBQ & Get Together” in the council yard & hall. The cost will be $10.00 PP for the food & soft drinks. The Tap Room will also be open and has 2 new air conditioner units for your comfort & they work very well, so you may need a light jacket or sweater.

 

If you are interested in attending, please contact me by 11:00 PM Thursday September 01, 2016 as I will be picking up the food on Friday. Please include number of guest attending with you. I am only picking up enough food for those folks who have responded as attending.

 

Please contact me via this email, phone text or call.

 

Thank you,

Eddie Velinskie

347-210-1249

Don’t take them down.

Posted by Jim on August 27, 2016

‘DON’T TAKE THEM DOWN’

The chairman of a County Antrim Gaelic sports club has resigned after it
voted to remove entrance gates dedicated to the memory of two Irish War
of Independence martyrs in order to secure a grant from a
unionist-controlled council.

Eddie Haughey quit after members of Oisin Glenariffe hurling club took
the decision in a secret ballot at a special meeting last week. It is
understood the managers of two of the club’s teams have also resigned.

The club’s grounds are named after two IRA men, Charlie McAllister and
Pat McVeigh, who were killed during a gun battle with B-Specials near in
Glenariffe in May 1922 – months after the Anglo-Irish Treaty was signed.

The Glens of Antrim club had sought 180,000 pounds from Causeway Coast
and Glens Borough Council to help build a new community centre on its
land. Unionist councillors moved to block the funds as part of an effort
to remove the erase the memory of the two local heroes. The DUP claimed
that the gates leading onto the site would “re-traumatise” people.

On Tuesday night, following the club’s decision to submit to the DUP
demands to remove the gates, the council narrowly approved the funding
when it met in Coleraine.

Sinn Fein councillor Cara McShane noted the council approval placed no
conditions, such as the gates having to be moved. She accused the DUP of
“political posturing” and seeking to use “any means possible to treat
people in this part of the borough as second class citizens.”

She said there is no political agenda in the building of the centre.
“The last thing anyone wants is for this facility, which is a
much-needed in a rural community, to be used for political
point-scoring. People are very emotional,” she said.

There have already been calls for the club’s decision to be reversed.
Ballycastle based councillor Padraig McShane accused the council of
“intransigence”

“The club members should not have been put in that position,” he said.
“They were put in this position because of the unrelenting anti-Irish
sentiment of Causeway Coast and Glens council.”

Mr McShane urged the GAA community in the Glens to stay unified.

“I wish Glenarriffe and all the fellow Gaels the very best,” he said. “A
unity of purpose will see us rise a monument fitting to the two
volunteers

The success in the US of the MacBride Principles played a key role in a new Fair Employment Act in 1989

Posted by Jim on August 26, 2016

Éamon Phoenix. Irish News (Belfast). Thursday, August 25, 2016
Seán MacBride

THE success of the campaign for the MacBride Principles in the US encouraged the British government to introduce a new Fair Employment Act in 1989.

Named after Nobel Peace Prize recipient Seán MacBride, the fair employment principles act as a corporate code of conduct for US companies doing business in Northern Ireland.

State papers show how Sir Antony Acland, the British Ambassador to the US, wrote to Northern Ireland secretary Tom King in 1987 about continuing controversy in the US around fair employment in Northern Ireland.

Acland said US interest in Northern Ireland had declined following the signing of the Anglo- Irish Agreement and was “no longer anywhere near the top of most American politicians’ agenda”.

But he said among several areas for concern fair employment was “the most difficult” and “finally, and most important, MacBride”.

Acland welcomed King’s decision to “shift the emphasis of British efforts [in the US] away from the Principles” and to the MacBride campaign’s impact on investment in Northern Ireland.

On the MacBride campaign, the ambassador’s view was that “even with increased resources, we would have little or no chance of halting the campaign altogether. We shall still be dealing with legislators who see no reason to change their embedded view of NI”.

David Fell, head of the Stormont Department of Economic Development, circulated a confidential memo on MacBride commenting on the British ambassador’s remarks.

He acknowledged that in face of the mounting campaign, “the credibility of HMG’s commitment to fair employment is now a major objective”.

“An important consequence”, he wrote, “has been the need to secure real progress on fair employment on the ground”.

But he added: “It must be pointed out that, for whatever reasons, there has been no new US investment in NI since 1984.”

In his view, a political decision was required whether to adopt a laissez-faire approach to MacBride or continue resistance which would be very costly.

In reply to Acland in November

RADIO FREE EIREANN will broadcast this Saturday August 27 – Noon-1-pm New York time or 5pm-6pm Irish time on WBAI 99.5 FM

Posted by Jim on August 25, 2016



RADIO FREE EIREANN will broadcast this Saturday August 27 – Noon-1-pm  New York time or 5pm-6pm Irish time on WBAI 99.5 FM or WBAI.ORG or anytime after the program concludes on WBAI.ORG/ARCHIVES

 Kate Nash, whose brother was one of the Bloody Sunday murder victims in Derry,will discuss the announcement that a four year constabulary investigation has ended and what it means to the families in their decades long fight to bring British troopers to justice.

Independent Councillor Padraig McShane will give us the latest developments on the funding controversy surrounding the Gaelic Athletic field at McAllister-McVeigh Memorial Park where Unionists witheld funding because the park is named for Irish patriots killed almost a century ago.He will also discuss the recent Orange parade in Ballycastle.

We will also feature a discussion of a new documentary film on the groundbreaking Irish band “BLACK 47”

Go to RADIO FREE EIREANN’S  new web site, RFE123.ORG  where you can read written transcripts of last weeks  headline making interviews with Belfast Republican Dee Fennell on a public debate challenge with Gerry Adams TD and author and political commentator Anthony McIntyre’s  discussion of the continuing fallout from the “Brysongate” scandal.

Follow us on Twitter.

John McDonagh and Martin Galvin  co- host.

Radio Free Eireann is heard Saturdays at 12 Noon New York time on WBAI 99,5 FM and wbai.org
It can be heard at wbai.org  in Ireland from 5pm to 6 pm or anytime after the program concludes on WBAI.ORG/ARCHIVES listed in date and time order.

Come to the AOH Irish Festival at Nickerson Beach on Sept. 18

Posted by Jim on

 

The Ancient Order of Hibernians in Nassau County, N.Y., are proud to announce their 44th annual Feis & Irish Festival, to be held at Nickerson Beach, 880 Lido Blvd., Lido Beach, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 18.

 

Young and old and in between will be sure to have a fabulous time with live music all day long, entertainment and attractions, including Irish step dancing, bagpiping, Irish vendors, traditional Irish singing, children’s games, Irish language, Irish art, Gaelic Cúl Camp and plenty of food and beverages. $10 per person. Children under 16 get in free.

 

This year’s honoree will be renowned Hibernian and long time Feis & Festival chairman and treasurer Jack Ryan, a member of AOH Division 15 in Massapequa, an AOH Nassau County Board officer and New York State AOH officer.

 

Catholic Mass will be celebrated at 11 a.m.

 

For more information, call (646) 481-3347 or visit www.NassauAOHfeis.com

 

Come enjoy all that’s best about the Irish! Come to the Feis & Festival on Sept. 18.

 

About our honoree:

 

John M. (Jack) Ryan joined the AOH in 1973 at Division 15 in Massapequa Park. He served the division as president, vice president, recording secretary and sentinel. In 1976 he was a founding member of the Tara Pipe Band and serves as a drum major. He served on the Division’s Board of Trustees for 20 years.

 

Jack joined the Nassau County Feis Committee in 1975 and has served as general chairman, piping and drumming chairman and currently serves as the corporate treasurer. He has served on the County Board as president, vice president, recording secretary and treasurer. He is now serving as chairman of the standing committee. In 1991 he was elected as aide to the grand marshal of the NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade. He has been awarded National Life Membership in the Order.

 

On the state level, Jack served two terms as state director of District Six, and has also served as state organizer and Catholic Action chairman. For the last 10 years he has served as the state chairman of Veterans Affairs.

 

Jack is married to the former Noreen Keenan of the Bronx. They live in Massapequa Park. The couple has four daughters: Patricia, Kathleen, Noreen and Mary Ellen. They are the proud grandparents of 13 children.

You are invited to a private friends and family screening of How To Defuse A Bomb: The Project Children Story on Friday August 26th, 2016 at Thomas P Morahan Waterfront Park in Greenwood Lake NY at 8pm. This feature-length documentary film tells the story of Project Children’s work helping children caught-up in the Northern Ireland Troubles. Featuring exclusive contributions from Bill Clinton and Martin McGuinness and narrated by Oscar nominated actor Liam Neeson, the personal stories of the now-adult children are positioned within the wider political story of how Washington struggled to deal with Northern Ireland and Irish-America’s complex relationship with home.

Posted by Jim on

Evidence shows man who shot Michael Collins met him before ambush

Posted by Jim on August 22, 2016

Casey Egan

 

New information has emerged in recent years about the man believed to have shot Ireland’s revolutionary leader Michael Collins, including the revelation that he had previously met “the Big Fella” twice.

Denis “Sonny” O’Neill, a former Royal Irish Constabulary and IRA officer who fought on the Anti-Treaty side in the Irish Civil War, was at Beal na Blath  94 years ago today, on August 22, 1922, for the ambush that took Collins’ life.

According to pension records published by Ireland’s Military Archives and analyzed by the Irish Independent, he claimed that his presence that day was an accident.

“We accidentally ran into the Ballinablath [sic] thing. We took up a position, and held it there until late in the evening,” he said in a sworn statement delivered in 1934 when he was applying for a military pension.

The Collins party had been delayed and O’Neill and his comrades were about to abandon the ambush when they heard the Collins group approaching.

Collins leaped from the car and began firing when they came under fire. He was shot by a single bullet through the head and died instantly.

O’Neill also had two personal encounters with Collins while working with the IRA during the War of Independence. The first in 1920, when he was introduced to Collins and a number of his confidantes; the second in 1921, when he was entrusted to deliver a message to Collins from London.

That these records survive is remarkable in itself, given that a 1932 government order directed all files pertaining to the Civil War be burned.

O’Neill, described in army intelligence files from 1924 as “a first class shot and a strict disciplinarian” and “undoubtedly a dangerous man,” was born in Timoleague, Co. Cork in 1888.

He served in the RIC and as a marksman for the British Army in WWI, but was discharged after being shot in the arm.

Back in Ireland, he rose through the ranks of the IRA thanks to the access granted him by his RIC past. In the Irish Civil War he fought on the Anti-Treaty side. The pension files paint a picture of a man on the run after the war ended, never staying in the same house two nights in a row.

Years later he settled in Tipperary, becoming a peace commissioner and a director of elections for Sinn Fein and Fianna Fail. He died in 1950.

All of this information about O’Neill was included in the second cache of Military Pensions Archives published by the Irish Defense Forces and just made available online.

Between 1924 and 1949, the Irish government made those who had fought or performed intelligence work in the War of Independence and the Irish Civil War eligible for pensions.

In order to receive benefits, however, they had to provide evidence, personal testimony and second hand testimony of their service.

Because of this, the records are exceptionally detailed. The portion released, for example, includes 1,158 individual pension records, 77 administrative files and 173,000 scanned documents, letters and photographs. The site also includes a map of activity during the 1916 Easter Rising and a photo identification project

Originally published in 2014.

AOH asks for Help the Flood Victims in Louisiana

Posted by Jim on

Help the Flood Victims in Louisiana

20 August 2016:

Radio Free Eireann WBAI 99.5 fm in NY

Jim Sullivan announced on today’s show that the National Board of the AOH is asking those who wish to help the flood victims in Louisiana to contact the Archdiocese of New Orleans to make a donation through Catholic Charities Appeal.

Please call 504-523-3755 to make a donation. Thank you!

Mickey Devine – Died August 20th, 1981

Posted by Jim on August 20, 2016

 

[Image]

 

A typical Derry lad

TWENTY-seven-year-old Micky Devine, from the Creggan in Derry city, was the third INLA Volunteer to join the H-Block hunger strike to the death.

Micky Devine took over as O/C of the INLA blanket men in March when the then O/C, Patsy O’Hara, joined the hunger strike but he retained this leadership post when he joined the hunger strike himself.

Known as ‘Red Micky’, his nickname stemmed from his ginger hair rather than his political complexion, although he was most definitely a republican socialist.

The story of Micky Devine is not one of a republican ‘super-hero’ but of a typical Derry lad whose family suffered all of the ills of sectarian and class discrimination inflicted upon the Catholic working-class of that city: poor housing, unemployment and lack of opportunity.

Micky himself had a rough life.

His father died when Micky was a young lad; he found his mother dead when he was only a teenager; married young, his marriage ended in separation; he underwent four years of suffering ‘on the blanket’ in the H-Blocks; and, finally, the torture of hunger-strike.

Unusually for a young Derry nationalist, because of his family’s tragic history (unconnected with ‘the troubles’), Micky was not part of an extended family, and his only close relatives were his sister Margaret, seven years his elder, and now aged 34, and her husband, Frank McCauley, aged 36.

CAMP

Michael James Devine was born on May 26th, 1954 in the Springtown camp, on the outskirts of Derry city, a former American army base from the Second World War, which Micky himself described as “the slum to end all slums”.

Hundreds of families – 99% (unemployed) Catholics, because of Derry corporation’s sectarian housing policy – lived, or rather existed, in huts, which were not kept in any decent state of repair by the corporation.

One of Micky’s earliest memories was of lying in a bed covered in old coats to keep the rain off the bed. His sister, Margaret, recalls that the huts were “okay” during the summer, but they leaked, and the rest of the year they were cold and damp.

Micky’s parents, Patrick and Elizabeth, both from Derry city, had got married in late 1945 shortly after the end of the Second World War, during which Patrick had served in the British merchant navy. He was a coalman by trade, but was unemployed for years.

At first Patrick and Elizabeth lived with the latter’s mother in Ardmore, a village near Derry, where Margaret was born in 1947. In early 1948 the family moved to Springtown where Micky was born in May 1954.

Although Springtown was meant to provide only temporary accommodation, official lethargy and sectarianism dictated that such inadequate housing was good enough for Catholics and it was not until the early ‘sixties that the camp was closed.

BLOW

During the ‘fifties, the Creggan was built as a new Catholic ghetto, but it was 1960 before the Devines got their new home in Creggan, on the Circular Road. Micky had an unremarkable, but reasonably happy childhood. He went to Holy Child primary school in Creggan.

At the age of eleven Micky started at St. Joseph’s secondary school in Creggan, which he was to attend until he was fifteen.

But soon the first sad blow befell him. On Christmas eve 1965, when Micky was aged only eleven, his father fell ill; and six weeks later, in February 1966, his father, who was only in his forties, died of leukaemia.

Micky had been very close to his father and his premature death left Micky heartbroken.

Five months later, in July 1966, his sister Margaret left home to get married, whilst Micky remained in the Devines’ Circular Road home with his mother and granny.

At school Micky was an average pupil, and had no notable interests.

STONING

The first civil rights march in Derry took place on October 5th, 1968, when the sectarian RUC batoned several hundred protesters at Duke Street. Recalling that day, Micky, who was then only fourteen wrote:

“Like every other young person in Derry my whole way of thinking was tossed upside down by the events of October 5th, 1968. I didn’t even know there was a civil rights march. I saw it on television.

“But that night I was down the town smashing shop windows and stoning the RUC. Overnight I developed an intense hatred of the RUC. As a child I had always known not to talk to them, or to have anything to do with them, but this was different

“Within a month everyone was a political activist. I had never had a political thought in my life, but now we talked of nothing else. I was by no means politically aware but the speed of events gave me a quick education.”

TENSION

After the infamous loyalist attack on civil rights marchers in nearby Burntollet, in January 1969, tension mounted in Derry through 1969 until the August 12th riots, when Orangemen – Apprentice Boys and the RUC – attacked the Bogside, meeting effective resistance, in the ‘Battle of the Bogside’. On two occasions in 1969 Micky ended up at the wrong end of an RUC baton, and consequently in hospital.

That summer Micky left school. Always keen to improve himself, he got a job as a shop assistant and over the next three years worked his way up the local ladder: from Hill’s furniture store on the Strand Road, to Sloan’s store in Shipquay Street, and finally to Austin’s furniture store in the Diamond (and one can get no higher in Derry, as a shop assistant).

British troops had arrived in August 1969, in the wake of the ‘Battle of the Bogside’. ‘Free Derry’ was maintained more by agreement with the British army than by physical force, but of course there were barricades, and Micky was one of the volunteers manning them with a hurley.

INVOLVED

At that time, and during 1970 and 1971, Micky became involved in the civil rights movement, and with the local (uniquely militant) Labour Party and the Young Socialists.

The already strained relationship between British troops and the nationalist people of Derry steadily deteriorated – reinforced by news from elsewhere, especially Belfast – culminating with the shooting dead by the British army of two unarmed civilians, Seamus Cusack and Desmond Beattie, in July of 1971, and with internment in August. Micky, by this time seventeen years of age, and also politically maturing, had joined the ‘Officials’, also known as the ‘Sticks’.

He became a member of the James Connolly ‘Republican Club’ and then, shortly after internment, a member of the Derry Brigade of the ‘Official IRA’.

‘Free Derry’ had become known by that name after the successful defence of the Bog side in August 1969, but it really became ‘Free Derry’, in the form of concrete barricades etc., from internment day. Micky was amongst those armed volunteers who manned the barricades

Typical of his selfless nature (another common characteristic of the hunger strikers), no task was too small for him.

He was ‘game’ to do any job, such as tidying up the office. Young men, naturally enough, wanted to stand out on the barricades with rifles: he did that too, but nothing was too menial for him, and he was always looking for jobs.

Bloody Sunday, January 30th, 1972, when British Paratroopers shot dead thirteen unarmed civil rights demonstrators in Derry (a fourteenth died later from wounds received), was a turning point for Micky. From then there was no turning back on his republican commitment and he gradually lost interest in his work, and he was to become a full-time political and military activist.

TRAUMA

Micky experienced the trauma of Bloody Sunday at first hand. He was on that fateful march with his brother-in-law, Frank, who recalls: “When the shooting started we ran, like everybody else, and when it was over we saw all the bodies being lifted.”

The slaughter confirmed to Micky that it was more than time to start shooting back. “How” he would ask, “can you sit back and watch while your own Derry men are shot down like dogs?”

Micky had written: “I will never forget standing in the Creggan chapel staring at the brown wooden boxes. We mourned, and Ireland mourned with us.

“That sight more than anything convinced me that there will never be peace in Ireland while Britain remains. When I looked at those coffins I developed a commitment to the republican cause that I have never lost.”

From around this time, until May when the ‘Official IRA’ leadership declared a unilateral ceasefire (unpopular with their Derry Volunteers), Micky was involved not only in defensive operations but in various gun attacks against British troops.

Micky’s commitment and courage had shone through, but no more so than in the case of scores of other Derry youths, flung into adulthood and warfare by a British army of occupation.

TRAGIC

In September, 1972, came the second tragic loss in Micky’s family life. He came home one day to find his mother dead on the settee with his granny unsuccessfully trying to revive her.

His mother had died of a brain tumour, totally unexpectedly, at the age of forty-five. Doctors said it had taken her just three minutes to die. Micky, then aged eighteen, suffered a tremendous shock from this blow, and it took him many months to come to terms with his grief.

Through 1973, Micky remained connected with the ‘Sticks’, although increasingly disillusioned by their openly reformist path. He came to refer to the ‘Sticks’ as “fireside republicans”, and was highly critical of them for not being active enough.

Towards the end of that year, Micky, then aged nineteen, got married. His wife, Margaret, was only seventeen. They lived in Ranmore Drive in Creggan and had two children: Michael, now aged seven and Louise, now aged five.

Micky and his wife had since separated.

In late 1974, virtually all the ‘Sticks’ in Derry, including Micky, joined the newly formed IRSP, as did some who had dropped out over the years. And Micky necessarily became a founder member of the PLA (People’s Liberation Army), formed to defend the IRSP from murderous attacks by their former comrades in the sticks.

In early 1975, Micky became a founder member of the INLA (Irish National Liberation Army) formed for offensive operational purposes out of the PLA.

The months ahead were bad times for the IRSP, relatively isolated, and to suffer a strength-sapping split when Bernadette McAliskey left, taking with her a number of activists who formed the ISP (Independent Socialist Party), since deceased.

They were also difficult months for the fledgling INLA, suffering from a crippling lack of weaponry and funds. Weakness which led them into raids for both as their primary actions, and rendered them almost unable to operate against the Brits.

Micky was eventually arrested on the Creggan. In the evening of September 20th, 1976, after an arms raid earlier that day on a private weaponry, in Lifford, County Donegal, from which the INLA commandeered several rifles and shotguns, and three thousand rounds of ammunition.

ARRESTED

Micky was arrested with Desmond Walmsley from Shantallow, and John Cassidy from Rosemount. Along on the operation, though never convicted for it, was the late Patsy O’Hara, with whom Micky used to knock around as a friend and comrade.

Micky was held and interrogated for three days in Derry’s Stand Road barracks, before being transported in Crumlin Road jail in Belfast where he spent nine months on remand.

He was sentenced to twelve years imprisonment on June 20th, 1977, and immediately embarked on the blanket protest. He was in H5-Block until March of this year when the hunger strike began and when the ‘no-wash, no slop-out’ protest ended, whereupon he was moved with others in his wing to H6-Block.

Like others incarcerated within the H-Blocks, suffering daily abuse and inhuman and degrading treatment, Micky realised – soon after he joined the blanket protest – that eventually it would come to a hunger strike, and, for him, the sooner the better. He was determined that when that ultimate step was reached he would be among those to hunger strike.

SEVENTH

On Sunday, June 21st, this year, he completed his fourth year on the blanket, and the following day he joined Joe McDonnell, Kieran Doherty, Kevin Lynch, Martin Hurson, Thomas McElwee and Paddy Quinn on hunger strike.

He became the seventh man in a weekly build-up from a four-strong hunger strike team to eight-strong. He was moved to the prison hospital on Wednesday, July 15th, his twenty fourth day on hunger strike.

With the 50 % remission available to conforming prisoners, Micky would have been due out of jail next September.

As it was, because of his principled republican rejection of the criminal tag he chose to fight and face death.

Micky died at 7.50 am on Thursday, August 201h, as nationalist voters in Fermanagh/South Tyrone were beginning to make their way to the polling booths to elect Owen Carron, a member of parliament for the constituency, in a demonstration – for the second time in less than five months – of their support for the prisoners’ demands.

 

RADIO FREE EIREANN will return to regular programming – Noon-1-pm this Saturday New York time

Posted by Jim on August 19, 2016

  Belfast Republican Dee Fennell , will discuss how an Irish Republican Prisoners Welfare Association leaflet criticizing the PSNI Constabulary has generated a public challenge for  Republican community debate with Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams.

Newly elected  Ancient Order of Hibernian National  Director Dan Dennehy will discuss the AOH’s new initiatives on Irish immigration, including special issues relating to former Republican prisoners, and the importance of the appointment of an Immigration Senator in the Irish Senate.

 

Go to RADIO FREE EIREANN’S  new web site, RFE123.ORG  where you can read written transcripts of last weeks  headline making interviews with Tyrone Republican Gerry McGeough and Richard O’Rawe’s discussion of the movie on Bobby Sands.

Sands film opens at 16 more cinemas

Posted by Jim on

Gareth McKeown. Irish News (Belfast). Friday, August, 19, 2016

THE critically acclaimed documentary Bobby Sands 66 Days has become one of the widest released documentaries in Irish cinema history and will open at a further 16 theatres today.

The film, based on the life of IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands, pictured, is heading into its third week of release and is now playing at 41 cinemas across Ireland.

In the north further screenings have been added for the controversial documentary in Omagh, Downpatrick, Armagh and Craigavon.

Since its release 66 Days has proven hugely popular with cinema goers recording the Republic’s highest opening weekend returns for an Irish-made documentary.

In the north it came fifth in the box office chart for opening weekend, with more cinema-goers seeing the documentary than viewing Star Trek and Ghostbusters.

Written and directed by Ardoyne-born director Brendan Byrne the documentary is based around extracts from the late republican’s prison diaries as read by west Belfast actor Martin McCann.

The 27-year-old IRA man died after 66 days on hunger strike in the Maze prison in May 1981.

East Derry’s Sinn Féin MLA Caoimhe Archibald has welcomed the additional Irish screenings of the “important” documentary.

Since its release 66 Days has attracted criticism in some unionist quarters after receiving tens of thousands of pounds in public funding from the BBC and Northern Ireland Screen.
Tom Elliott, the MP for Fermanagh and South Tyrone, the constituency where Sands was elected just month before his death, labelled the decision to screen the film in Enniskillen as “divisive”.

AOH is not forgetting Louisiana flood victims

Posted by Jim on August 18, 2016

The AOH is not forgetting the LA flood victims. Please do what you can.
For those who would like to help the flood victims of Louisiana, the Archdiocese of New Orleans is asking that people who want to make a monetary contribution to do so through Catholic Charities. They can be reached at 504-523-3755.

For any Hibernians or others who wish to put together a trailer or truck with supplies, we encourage you to contact Catholic Charities as well.

Here are the items that are most needed:

1. BOTTLED WATER (SINGLE SERVE, JUGS, CAMELS OR THE LARGE DISPENSER CONTAINERS)
2. BABY FOOD AND POWDERED MILK, NONPERISHABLE FOOD ITEMS (CANS WITH PULL TOP LIDS)
3. DISPOSABLE DIAPERS (KIDS AND ADULTS)
4. RUBBER BOOTS (ALL SIZES – EVEN KIDS) AND DISPOSABLE RAIN PONCHOS
5. GLOVES (ALL TYPES) AND DUST/SURGICAL MASKS BY THE BOX
6. HANDSANITIZER AND LIQUID SOAP; WET WIPES (THE BIG CONTAINERS)
7. PET FOOD, KITTY LITTER AND PET CRATES (ALL SIZES)
8. FIRST AID KITS (TO PREVENT INFECTION DURING CLEAN UP)
9. BOX FANS TO ASSIST WITH DRYING ITEMS
10. MOPS, LARGE PLASTIC PUSH BROOMS, BUCKETS, BLEACH AND DAWN DISH SOAP (THE BIGGER THE BOTTLES THE BETTER) DAWN IS THE BEST CLEANING ITEM FOR REMOVING MOLD AND MILDEW.
11. SPONGES, PAPER TOWELS AND RAGS
12. TRASH BAGS AND BOXES; LARGE TRASH CANS
13. UTILITY KNIVES WITH EXTRA BLADES FOR CUTTING SHEETROCK OUT OF THE AFFECTED HOUSES AND BUSINESSES
14. DAMP RID (ALL CONTAINER SIZES)
15. BATTERIES (ALL SIZES)
16. SHEETS AND TOWELS
17. TOYS FOR CHILDREN

Eleven years ago, many Hibernians throughout the nation gave generously to help those of us like myself in New Orleans who had been ravaged by the floods following Katrina. Our divisions down here are coming together to help our fellow brothers and sisters., and we welcome whatever assistance you all can render.

With faith in the foundations of our Motto, I remain,

John D. Fitzmorris III
President – Orleans Parish Division 1 (Archbishop Philip M. Hannan Division)
State Secretary
National Catholic Action Chair

Michael Collins (Irish leader)

Posted by Jim on

Michael Collins (Irish: Mícheál Ó Coileáin;[2][3] 16 October 1890 – 22 August 1922) was a soldier and politician who was a leading figure in the struggle for Irish independence in the early 20th century. Collins was an Irish revolutionary leader, politician, Minister for Finance, Director of Information, and Teachta Dála (TD) for Cork South in the First Dáil of 1919, Adjutant General, Director of Intelligence, and Director of Organisation and Arms Procurement for the IRA, President of the Irish Republican Brotherhood from November 1920 until his death, and member of the Irish delegation during the Anglo-Irish Treaty negotiations. Subsequently, he was both Chairman of the Provisional Government and Commander-in-chief of the National Army.[1] Collins was shot and killed in an ambush in August 1922 during the Irish Civil War.

Early years

Born in Sam’s Cross, near Clonakilty, County Cork, Collins was the third son and youngest of eight children. Most biographies give his date of birth as 16 October 1890, but his tombstone cites 12 October 1890. Referred to in a British secret service report as “brainy”, the Collins family were part of an ancient clan, widely spread over County Cork. They had republican connections that can be traced back to the 1798 rebellion.[4]

Collins’ father, Michael John (1816–1896), was a farmer by profession. A mathematician in his spare time, he had been a member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) movement. The elder Collins was 60[5] years old when he married Mary Anne O’Brien, then 23,[6] in 1876.[7] The marriage was apparently happy. They brought up eight children on a 90-acre (36 ha) farm called Woodfield, which the Collins had held as tenants for several generations.

On his death bed, his father (who was the seventh son of a seventh son) predicted that his daughter Helena (one of Michael’s elder sisters) would become a nun. She later did, known as Sister Mary Celestine, based in Whitby.[8] He then turned to the family and told them to take care of Michael, because “One day he’ll be a great man. He’ll do great work for Ireland.” Michael was six years old when his father died.[9]

Michael Collins at the age of 8 with his family.

Collins was a bright and precocious child with a fiery temper and a passionate feeling of Irish nationalism. He named a local blacksmith, James Santry, and his headmaster at Lisavaird National School, Denis Lyons, as the first nationalists to personally inspire his “pride of Irishness.” Lyons was a member of the IRB, while Santry’s family had participated in, and forged arms for, the rebellions of 1798, 1848 and 1867.[4][10]

There are a number of anecdotal explanations for the origin of his nickname, “The Big Fellow”. The most authoritative comes from his family, stating that he was so called by them while still a child. It had been a term of endearment for their youngest brother, who was always keen to take on tasks beyond his years. It was certainly already established by his teens, long before he emerged as a political or military leader.[11]

At the age of thirteen he boarded at Clonakilty National School. During the week he stayed with his sister Margaret Collins-O’Driscoll and her husband Patrick O’Driscoll, while at weekends he returned to the family farm. Patrick O’Driscoll founded the newspaper The West Cork People and Collins helped out with general reporting jobs and preparing the issues of the newspaper.[12]

Collins as a young recruit.

After leaving school at fifteen, Collins took the British Civil Service examination in Cork in February 1906,[13] and was then employed by the Royal Mail.[14] In 1906, he moved to the home of his elder sister Hannie (Johanna) in London where he became a messenger at a London firm of stockbrokers, Horne and Company.[13] While living in London he studied law at King’s College London.[15] He joined the London GAA and, through this, the IRB. Sam Maguire, a republican from Dunmanway, County Cork, introduced the 19-year-old Collins to the IRB.[16] In 1915 he moved to the Guaranty Trust Company of New York where he remained until his return to Ireland the following year[17] joining part-time Craig Gardiner & Co, a firm of accountants in Dawson Street, Dublin.[18]

Easter Rising

The struggle for Home Rule, along with labour unrest, had led to the formation in 1913 of two major nationalist paramilitary groups who would launch the Easter Rising: the Irish Citizen Army was established by James Connolly and the Irish Transport and General Workers Union (ITGWU), to protect strikers from the Dublin Metropolitan Police during the 1913 Dublin Lockout. The Irish Volunteers were created in the same year by the IRB and other nationalists in response to the formation of the Ulster Volunteers (UVF), an Ulster loyalist body pledged to oppose Home Rule by force.

An organiser of considerable intelligence, Collins had become highly respected in the IRB. This led to his appointment as financial advisor to Count Plunkett, father of one of the Easter Rising‘s organisers, Joseph Mary Plunkett. Collins took part in preparing arms and drilling troops for the insurrection.

The Rising would be Collins’ first appearance in national events. When it commenced on Easter Monday 1916, Collins served as Plunkett’s aide-de-camp at the rebellion’s headquarters in the General Post Office (GPO) in Dublin. There he fought alongside Patrick Pearse, James Connolly, and other members of the Rising leadership. The Rising is generally acknowledged to have been a military disaster, yet the insurgents achieved their goal of holding their positions for the minimum time required to justify a claim to independence under international criteria.[19]

Captured Irish soldiers in Stafford Gaol after the failed Easter Rising. Collins is fifth from the right with an ‘x’ over his head.

Arrested along with thousands of other participants, Collins was subsequently imprisoned at Frongoch internment camp in Wales.

Collins first began to emerge as a major figure in the vacuum created by the executions of the 1916 leadership. He began hatching plans for “next time” even before the prison ships left Dublin.[20]

At Frongoch he was one of the organisers of a program of protest and non-cooperation with authorities, similar to that later carried on by IRA internees of the 1980s. The camp proved an excellent opportunity for networking with physical-force republicans from all over the country, of which he became a key organiser.[21][22]

While some celebrated the fact that a rising had happened at all, believing in Pearse’s theory of “blood sacrifice” (namely that the deaths of the Rising’s leaders would inspire others), Collins railed against the military blunders made, such as the seizure of indefensible and very vulnerable positions like St Stephen’s Green, which were impossible to escape from and difficult to supply. Public outcry placed pressure on the British government to end the internment. In December 1916, the Frongoch prisoners were sent home.

1917–1918

Before his death, Tom Clarke, first signatory of the 1916 Proclamation and widely considered the Rising’s foremost organiser, had designated his wife Kathleen (Daly) Clarke as the official caretaker of Rising official business, in the event that the leadership did not survive. By June 1916, Mrs. Clarke had sent out the first post-Rising communiqué to the IRB, declaring the Rising to be only the beginning and directing nationalists to prepare for “the next blow.” Soon after his release Mrs Clarke appointed Collins Secretary to the National Aid and Volunteers Dependents Fund (NAVDF) and subsequently passed on to him the secret organisational information and contacts which she had held in trust for the independence movement.

Michael Collins and Arthur Griffith

Collins became one of the leading figures in the post-Rising independence movement spearheaded by Arthur Griffith, editor/publisher of the main nationalist newspaper The United Irishman, (which Collins had read avidly as a boy.) [21] Griffith’s organisation Sinn Féin had been founded in 1905 as an umbrella group to unify all the various factions within the nationalist movement.

Under Griffith’s policy, Collins and other advocates of the “physical-force” approach to independence gained the cooperation of non-violent Sinn Féin, while agreeing to disagree with Griffith’s moderate ideas of a dual monarchy solution based on the Hungarian model.[23] The British government and mainstream Irish media had wrongly blamed Sinn Féin for the Rising. This attracted Rising participants to join the organisation in order to exploit the reputation with which such British propaganda had imbued the organisation. By October 1917 Collins had risen to become a member of the executive of Sinn Féin and director of organisation for the Irish Volunteers. Éamon de Valera, another veteran of 1916, stood for the presidency of Sinn Féin against Griffith, who stepped aside and supported de Valera’s presidency.[23]

First Dáil

Members of the First Dáil
First row, left to right: Laurence Ginnell, Michael Collins, Cathal Brugha, Arthur Griffith, Éamon de Valera, Count Plunkett, Eoin MacNeill, W. T. Cosgrave, Kevin O’Higgins (third row, right)

In the 1918 general election Sinn Féin swept the polls throughout much of Ireland, with many seats uncontested, and formed an overwhelming parliamentary majority in Ireland. Like many senior Sinn Féin representatives Collins was elected as an MP (for Cork South) with the right to sit in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom in London. Unlike their rivals in the Irish Parliamentary Party (IPP), Sinn Féin MPs had announced that they would not take their seats in Westminster but instead would set up an Irish Parliament in Dublin.[24]

Before the new body’s first meeting, Collins, tipped off by his network of spies, warned his colleagues of plans to arrest all its members in overnight raids. De Valera and others ignored the warnings on the argument that, if the arrests happened, they would constitute a propaganda coup. The intelligence proved accurate and de Valera, along with Sinn Féin MPs who followed his advice, were arrested; Collins and others evaded incarceration.

The new parliament, called Dáil Éireann (meaning “Assembly of Ireland”, see First Dáil) met in the Mansion House, Dublin in January 1919. In de Valera’s absence, Cathal Brugha was elected Príomh Aire (‘First’ or ‘Prime’ Minister but often translated as ‘President of Dáil Éireann’). The following April, Collins engineered de Valera’s escape from Lincoln Prison in England, after which Brugha was replaced by de Valera.

No state gave diplomatic recognition to the 1919 Republic, despite sustained lobbying in Washington by de Valera and prominent Irish-Americans and at the Paris peace conference. In January 1919 the Dáil ratified the Irish Republican Army‘s (IRA) claim to be the army of the Irish Republic. The IRA had begun a military campaign coincidentally on the same day as the Dáil’s first sitting with the Soloheadbeg Ambush, and the IRA’s respect for the Dáil’s authority was highly conditional. (The Irish Volunteers began to be referred to as the IRA since their internment at Frongach. Up until the Civil War, the two terms were used interchangeably.)

Minister for Finance

Michael Collins as Minister for Finance.

In 1919 the already busy Collins received yet another responsibility when de Valera appointed him to the Aireacht (ministry) as Minister for Finance.[25] Most of the ministries existed only on paper or as one or two people working in a room of a private house, given the circumstances of a brutal war in which ministers were liable to be arrested or killed by the Royal Irish Constabulary, British Army, Black and Tans or the Auxiliaries at a moment’s notice.

Despite that, Collins managed to produce a Finance Ministry that was able to organise a large bond issue in the form of a “National Loan” to fund the new Irish Republic.[26] According to Batt O’Connor, the Dáil Loan raised almost £400,000, of which £25,000 was in gold. The loan, which was declared illegal by the British, was lodged in the individual bank accounts of the trustees. The gold was kept under the floor of O’Connor’s house until 1922.[27] The Russian Republic, in the midst of its own civil war, ordered Ludwig Martens the head of the Soviet Bureau in New York City to acquire a “national loan” from the Irish Republic through Harry Boland, offering some jewels as collateral. The jewels remained in a Dublin safe, forgotten by all sides, until the 1930s, when they were found by chance.

War of Independence

The Irish War of Independence in effect began on the day that the First Dáil convened, 21 January 1919. On that date, an ambush party of IRA volunteers from the 3rd Tipperary Brigade including Séamus Robinson, Dan Breen, Seán Treacy and Seán Hogan, attacked a pair of Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) men who were escorting a consignment of gelignite to a quarry in Soloheadbeg, County Tipperary. The two policemen were shot dead during the engagement. This ambush is considered the first action in the Irish War of Independence.[28] The engagement had no advance authorisation from the nascent government. However, Collins in Dáil discussion of the incident implicitly accepted responsibility on behalf of the IRB. The legislature’s support for the armed struggle soon after became official.[21][29]

Harry Boland (left), Michael Collins (middle), and Éamon de Valera (right).

From that time Collins filled a number of roles in addition to his legislative duties. That summer he was elected president of the IRB (and therefore, in the doctrine of that organisation, de jure President of the Irish Republic). In September, he was made Director of Intelligence for the Irish Republican Army which now had a mandate to pursue an armed campaign, as the official military of the Irish nation. With Cathal Brugha as Minister of Defense, Collins became Director of Organisation and Adjutant General of the Volunteers.

Collins had spent much of this period helping to organise the volunteers as an effective military force, concentrating particularly on driving the RIC out of isolated barracks and seizing their weapons. In the early 20th century this permanently armed police force was, in effect, the principal representation of the British state in large parts of rural Munster and Connaught and with their withdrawal, republicans felt able to establish their own institutions. In turn, though, the retreat of the RIC drove the British towards more radical and violent responses: simultaneously alienating already weak support for British rule in the populace but also increasing the military pressure on the volunteers.

Collins was determined to avoid the massive destruction, military and civilian losses for merely symbolic victories that had characterised the 1916 Rising. Instead he directed a guerrilla war against the British, suddenly attacking then just as quickly withdrawing, minimising losses and maximising effectiveness.[30][31]

As the war began in earnest, de Valera travelled to the United States for an extended speaking tour to raise funds for the outlawed Republican government. It was in publicity for this tour that de Valera (who had been elected Príomh Aire by the Dáil) was first referred to as “President”. While financially successful, grave political conflicts followed in de Valera’s wake there which threatened the unity of Irish-American support for the rebels. Some members of the IRB also objected to the use of the presidential title because their organisation’s constitution had a different definition of that title.[21][23][32]

Back in Ireland, Collins arranged the “National Loan”, organised the IRA, effectively led the government, and managed arms-smuggling operations. Local guerrilla units received supplies, training and had largely a free hand to develop the war in their own region. These were the “flying columns” who comprised the bulk of the War of Independence rank and file in the south-west. Collins, Dick McKee and regional commanders such as Dan Breen and Tom Barry oversaw tactics and general strategy. There were also regional organisers, such as Ernie O’Malley and Liam Mellows, who reported directly to Collins at St Ita’s secret basement GHQ in central Dublin.[33] They were supported by a vast intelligence network of men and women in all walks of life that reached deep into the British administration in Ireland.[34][35]

Collins inspects a soldier.

It was at this time that Collins created a special assassination unit called The Squad expressly to kill British agents and informers. Collins was criticised for these tactics but cited the universal war-time practice of executing enemy spies who were, in his words, “hunting victims for execution.” Campaigning for Irish independence, even non-violently, was still targeted both by prosecutions under British law entailing the death penalty and also by extrajudicial killings such as that of Tomas MacCurtain, nationalist mayor of Cork City.

In 1920 the British offered a bounty of £10,000 (equivalent to GB£300,000 / €360,000 in 2010) for information leading to Collins’ capture or death. He and the national forces continued to evade capture and carried out strikes against British forces, frequently operating out of safe-houses in the vicinity of government buildings, such as Vaughan’s and An Stad.

The Crown responded with escalation of the war, with the importation of special forces such as the “Auxiliaries“, the “Black and Tans“, the “Cairo Gang“, and others. Officially or unofficially, many of these groups were given a free hand to institute a reign of terror, shooting Irish people indiscriminately, invading homes, looting and burning.[21][36]

In 1920, following Westminster’s prominent announcements that it had the Irish insurgents on the run, Collins and his Squad killed several British secret service agents in a series of coordinated raids. In retaliation, members of the Royal Irish Constabulary went to Croke Park, where a G.A.A. football match was taking place between Dublin and Tipperary. The police officers opened fire on the crowd and as a result, killed twelve and injured sixty. This event became known as Bloody Sunday. A stampede of panicking British operatives sought the shelter of Dublin Castle next day. About the same time, Tom Barry’s 3rd Cork Brigade took no prisoners in a bitter battle with British forces at Kilmichael. In many regions, the RIC and other crown forces became all but confined to the strongest barracks in the larger towns as rural areas came increasingly under rebel control.[37][38]

These republican victories would have been impossible without widespread support from the Irish population, which included every level of society and reached deep into the British administration in Ireland. This pattern of guerrilla success against sophisticated imperialist powers would be repeated around the world in the early 20th century.[39]

At the time of the ceasefire in July 1921 a major operation was allegedly in planning to execute every British secret service agent in Dublin, while a major ambush involving eighty officers and men was also planned for Templeglantine, County Limerick.[21][40]

Truce

In 1921 General Macready, commander of British forces in Ireland, reported to his government that the Empire’s only hope of holding Ireland was by martial law, including the suspension of “all normal life.”[41]

Political considerations regarding Westminster’s global foreign policy ruled out this option: Irish-American public opinion was important to US support for British agendas in Asia. Closer to home, Britain’s efforts at a military solution had already spawned a powerful peace movement, demanding an end to the slaughter in Ireland. Prominent voices calling for negotiations included the Labour Party, the London Times and other leading periodicals, members of the House of Lords, English Catholics, and famous authors such as George Bernard Shaw.[42][43]

Still it was not the British government which initiated negotiations. Individual English activists, including clergy, made private overtures which reached Arthur Griffith. Griffith expressed his welcome for dialogue. The British MP Brigadier General Cockerill sent an open letter to Prime Minister Lloyd George that was printed in the Times, outlining how a peace conference with the Irish should be organised. The Pope made an urgent public appeal for a negotiated end to the violence. Whether or not Lloyd George welcomed such advisors, he could no longer hold out against this tide.[21]

In July, Lloyd George’s government offered a truce. Arrangements were made for a conference between British government and the leaders of the yet-unrecognised Republic.

There remains considerable controversy as to the two sides’ capability to have carried on the conflict much longer. Collins told Hamar Greenwood after signing the Anglo-Irish Treaty: “You had us dead beat. We could not have lasted another three weeks. When we were told of the offer of a truce we were astonished. We thought you must have gone mad”.[44] However he stated on the record that “there will be no compromise and no negotiations with any British Government until Ireland is recognised as an independent republic. The same effort that would get us Dominion Home Rule will get us a republic.”[45] At no time had the Dáil or the IRA asked for a conference or a truce.[46]

However the Dáil as a whole was less uncompromising. It decided to proceed to a peace conference, although it was ascertained in the preliminary stages that a fully independent republic would not be on the table and that the loss of some northeastern counties was a foregone conclusion.[47]

Many of the rebel forces on the ground first heard of the Truce when it was announced in the newspapers and this gave rise to the first fissures in nationalist unity, which were to have serious consequences later on. They felt they had not been included in consultations regarding its terms.[48][49]

De Valera was widely acknowledged as the most skillful negotiator on the Dáil government side and he participated in the initial parlays, agreeing the basis on which talks could begin. The first meetings were held in strict secrecy soon after the Customs House battle, with Andrew Cope representing Dublin Castle’s British authorities. Later, de Valera travelled to London for the first official contact with Lloyd George. The two met one-on-one in a private meeting, the proceedings of which have never been revealed.[21][50]

During this Truce period, de Valera sued for official designation as President of the Irish Republic and obtained it from the Dáil in August 1921.[51] Not long after, the Cabinet was obliged to select the delegation that would travel to the London peace conference and negotiate a treaty. In an extraordinary departure from his usual role, de Valera adamantly declined to attend, insisting instead that Collins should take his place there, along with Arthur Griffith.[52][53]

Collins strenuously resisted this appointment, protesting that he was “a soldier, not a politician” and that his exposure to the London authorities would reduce his effectiveness as a guerrilla leader should hostilities resume. (He had kept his public visibility to a minimum during the conduct of the war; up to this time the British still had very few reliable photographs of him.)[54]

The Cabinet of seven split on the issue, with de Valera casting the deciding vote. Many of Collins’s associates warned him not to go, that he was being set up as a political scapegoat. Following intense soul-searching and all-night consultations with his most trusted advisors, he resolved to attend “in the spirit of a soldier obeying orders.” In private correspondence he foresaw the catastrophe ahead: “Let them make a scapegoat or whatever they like of me. Someone must go.”

Anglo-Irish Treaty

Collins in London as delegate to the Anglo-Irish Treaty negotiations.

The Irish delegates to London were, upon de Valera’s insistence, designated as “plenipotentiaries”, meaning that they had full authority to sign an agreement on behalf of the Dáil government. The Treaty would then be subject to approval by a vote of the full Dáil.

The majority of the Irish Treaty delegates, including Arthur Griffith (leader), Robert Barton and Eamonn Duggan (with Robert Erskine Childers as Secretary General to the delegation) set up headquarters at 22 Hans Place in Knightsbridge on 11 October 1921 and resided there until conclusion of the negotiations in December. Collins shared quarters at 15 Cadogan Gardens with the delegation’s publicity department, secretary Diarmuid O’Hegarty, Joseph McGrath as well as substantial intelligence and bodyguard personnel including Liam Tobin, Tom Cullen, Ned Broy, Emmet Dalton and Joseph Dolan of The Squad.[55]

The British side was represented by PM Lloyd George, Colonial Secretary Winston Churchill and F. E. Smith, among others. Two months of arduous wrangling ensued. The Irish delegation made frequent crossings back to Dublin to make progress reports and confer with their Dáil colleagues. However, Collins in his correspondence and subsequent Dáil debates expressed the delegates’ frustration at being unable to obtain clear instructions as to whether or not they should accept the terms on offer and sign the Treaty.[21][56]

In November, with the London peace talks still in progress, Collins attended a large meeting of regional IRA commanders at Parnell Place in Dublin. In a private conference he informed Liam Deasy, Florence O’Donoghue and Liam Lynch that “there would have to be some compromise in the current negotiations in London. There was no question of our getting all the demands we were making.” He was advised by Lynch not to bring this out in the full assembly. Reviewing subsequent events, Deasy later doubted the wisdom of that advice.[57]

The negotiations ultimately resulted in the Anglo-Irish Treaty which was signed on 6 December 1921. The agreement provided for a Dominion status “Irish Free State“, whose relationship to the British Commonwealth would be modelled after Canada’s. This was a compromise, half-way between an independent republic and a province of the Empire.

The settlement essentially vacated the Treaty of Limerick of 1688 and overturned the Act of Union by recognising the native Irish legislature’s independence. Under a bicameral parliament, executive authority would remain vested in the king but exercised by an Irish government elected by Dáil Éireann as a “lower house“. British forces would depart the Free State forthwith and be replaced by an Irish army. Along with an independent courts system, the Treaty granted a level of internal independence that far exceeded any Home Rule which had been sought by Charles Stewart Parnell or by his Irish Parliamentary Party successors John Redmond and John Dillon.

It was agreed that counties with a large unionist population, concentrated in a relatively small area in eastern Ulster, would have a chance to opt out of the Free State and remain under the Crown. An Irish Boundary Commission was to be established to draw a border (which ultimately came to encompass a six-county region.) Inclusion in the Free State was to be subject to a vote of the majority population in each county. Collins anticipated no more than four counties would join the northeastern statelet, making it economically un-viable, and that this would facilitate the reunification of all 32 counties in the foreseeable future.[58]

While it fell short of the republic that he’d fought to create, Collins concluded that the Treaty offered Ireland “the freedom to achieve freedom.” It essentially offered a chance to remove the gun from Irish politics and to seek further independence through a native government and legislature.[59] Nonetheless, he knew that elements of the Treaty would cause controversy in Ireland. Upon signing the treaty, Birkenhead remarked “I may have signed my political death warrant tonight”. Collins replied “I may have signed my actual death warrant”.[40]

Treaty debates

This remark encapsulated his acknowledgement that the Treaty was a compromise that would be vulnerable to charges of “sell-out” from purist Republicans. It did not establish the fully independent republic that Collins himself had shortly before demanded as a non-negotiable condition. The “physical force republicans” who made up the bulk of the army which had fought the British to a draw would be loath to accept dominion status within the British Empire or an Oath of Allegiance that mentioned the King. Also controversial was the British retention of Treaty Ports on the south coast of Ireland for the Royal Navy. These factors diminished Irish sovereignty and threatened to allow British interference in Ireland’s foreign policy.

Collins and Griffith were well aware of these issues and strove tenaciously, against British resistance, to achieve language which could be accepted by all constituents. They succeeded in obtaining an oath to the Irish Free State, with a subsidiary oath of fidelity to the King, rather than to the king unilaterally.

It is now generally believed that had the nationalist leadership united in support of the Treaty, there would have been no split in the army such as to precipitate civil war. However immediately on the delegation’s return from London, de Valera led a vocal charge against the delegates, whom he called “traitors”.

This was despite the fact that de Valera, the nationalists’ most able negotiator, who had refused strenuous pleas from Collins, Griffith and others to lead the London negotiations in person, had been fully informed of the process at each stage. He had also refused the delegates’ continual requests for instruction, and in fact had been at the centre of the original decision to enter negotiations without the possibility of an independent republic on the table.[21][60]

However, there remains a school of thought which considers de Valera’s protests to have been reasonable and motivated by deep moral objections, and which sees Collins in a negative light, as having irresponsibly signed away the nation’s interests due to incompetence or a self-serving agenda. The Treaty controversy split the entire nationalist movement. Sinn Féin, the Dáil, the IRB and the army each divided into pro- and anti-Treaty factions. The Supreme Council of the IRB had been informed in detail about every facet of the Treaty negotiations and had approved many of its provisions, and they voted unanimously to accept the Treaty with the single notable exception of Liam Lynch, later COS of the anti-Treaty IRA.[61]

The Dáil debated the Treaty bitterly for ten days until it was approved by a vote of 64 to 57.[62] Having lost this vote, de Valera announced his intent to withdraw his participation from the Dáil and called on all deputies who had voted against the Treaty to follow him. A substantial number did so, officially splitting the government. This set the stage for civil war.

A large part of the Irish Republican Army opposed the Treaty. Some followed the political lead of anti-Treaty TDs, others acted on their own convictions, with more or less equal suspicion of politicians in general. Anti-Treaty IRA units began to seize buildings and take other guerrilla actions against the Provisional Government. On 14 April 1922, a group of 200 anti-Treaty IRA men occupied the Four Courts in Dublin under Rory O’Connor, a hero of the War of Independence. The Four Courts was the centre of the Irish courts system, originally under the British and then the Free State. Collins was charged by his Free State colleagues with putting down these insurgents, however he resisted firing on former comrades and staved off a shooting war throughout this period.[63][64]

While the country teetered on the edge of civil war, continuous meetings were carried on among the various factions from January to June 1922. In these discussions the nationalists strove to resolve the issue without armed conflict. Collins and his close associate, TD Harry Boland were among those who worked desperately to heal the rift.[21][65]

To foster military unity, Collins and the IRB established an “army re-unification committee”, including delegates from pro- and anti-Treaty factions. The still-secret Irish Republican Brotherhood continued to meet, fostering dialogue between pro- and anti-Treaty IRA officers. In the IRB’s stormy debates on the subject, Collins held out the Constitution of the new Free State as a possible solution. Collins was then in the process of co-writing that document and was striving to make it a republican constitution that included provisions that would allow anti-Treaty TDs to take their seats in good conscience, without any oath concerning the Crown.[66]

Northern Ireland

After the Treaty was signed, loyalist conservatives combined to wage a violent campaign against Irish nationalist insurgency in the northeastern counties comprising Northern Ireland. The Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) was created at this time, along with the notorious “Specials”: a force of amateur and retired soldiers, who some have claimed were given a free hand to terrorise and kill Catholics.[67][68]

In Northern Ireland there were continual breaches of the Truce by “unauthorised loyalist paramilitary forces”. The predominantly Protestant, Unionists government of Northern Ireland supported policies which discriminated against Catholics in, which, along with violence against Catholics, led many to suggest the presence of an agenda by an Anglo-ascendancy to drive those of indigenous Irish descent out of the northeast counties.[21][69]

At the same time London was stepping up pressure on the Provisional Government to take aggressive military action against anti-Treaty units in the south.

In March, Collins met Sir James Craig, Prime Minister for Northern Ireland, in London. They signed an agreement declaring peace in the north which promised cooperation between Catholics and Protestants in policing and security, a generous budget for restoring Catholics to homes which had been destroyed, and many other measures.[70]

The day after the agreement was published, violence erupted again. A policeman was shot dead in Belfast and in reprisal, police entered Catholic homes nearby and shot residents in their beds, including children. There was no response to Collins’s demands for an inquiry. He and his Cabinet warned that they would deem the agreement broken unless Craig took action.[71]

In his continual correspondence with Churchill over violence in the north, Collins protested repeatedly that such breaches of the Truce threatened to invalidate the Treaty entirely.[72] The prospect of a renewal of the war with England was imminent. The prospect was real enough that on 3 June 1922 Churchill presented to the Committee of Imperial Defense his plans “to protect Ulster from invasion by the South.” [73]

Throughout the early months of 1922, Collins had been sending IRA units to the border and sending arms and money to the northern units of the IRA. Collins joined other IRB and IRA leadership in developing secret plans to launch a clandestine guerrilla war in the northeast. Some British arms that had been surrendered to the Provisional government in Dublin were turned over by Collins to IRA units in the north. In May–June 1922 Collins and IRA Chief of Staff Liam Lynch organised an offensive including both pro- and anti-Treaty IRA units along the border area. Because of this, most northern IRA units supported Collins and 524 individual volunteers came south to join the National Army in the Irish Civil War.

Collins, with the support of Griffith and the Cabinet, kept up a “three-tier strategy of public, political and military pressure” regarding northern outrages.[21] Negotiations with the London and Belfast governments continued, with numerous promises made and broken along the lines of the March 1922 Agreement. Within days of a public commitment by Dublin not to send troops into the northeast, Churchill sent 1000 British troops into a village called Pettigo that straddled the border between the Irish Free State and Northern Ireland. The troops shelled the village and fired on Free State troops, killing three. On 5 June a group of B-Specials sprayed the Mater Hospital in Belfast with machine gun fire. Collins’s demands for a full, joint inquiry were flatly refused by Churchill.[74]

In the midst of all this, Civil War in the south broke out and put Collins’s plans for the north on hold. He was killed before he could pursue them any further.

Provisional government

Michael Collins addresses a crowd in Cork on Saint Patrick’s Day, 1922.

De Valera resigned the presidency and sought re-election but Arthur Griffith replaced him after a close vote on 9 January 1922. Griffith chose as his title “President of Dáil Éireann” (rather than “President of the Republic” as de Valera had favoured.) [75]

The Dáil Éireann government still had no legal status in British constitutional law. The provisions of the Treaty required the formation of a new government, which would be recognised by Westminster as pertaining to the Free State dominion that had established by the Treaty.

Despite the abdication of a large part of the Dáil, the Provisional Government (Rialtas Sealadach na hÉireann) of the new Free State was formed with Arthur Griffith as President of the Dáil and Michael Collins as Chairman of the Provisional Government Cabinet (effectively Prime Minister). Collins also retained his position as Minister for Finance.[76]

In British legal theory Collins was now a Crown-appointed prime minister of a Commonwealth state, installed under the Royal Prerogative. To be so installed he had to formally meet the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland Viscount FitzAlan the head of the British administration in Ireland. The republican view of the same meeting is that Collins met FitzAlan to accept the surrender of Dublin Castle, the official seat of British government in Ireland. Having surrendered, FitzAlan still remained in place as viceroy until December 1922.

The Provisional Government’s first obligation was to create a Constitution for the Free State. This was undertaken by Collins and a team of solicitors. The outcome of their work became the Irish Constitution of 1922.[77] Although revised in the 1930s, the present Constitution of Ireland (Bunreacht na hÉireann [78]) remains largely Collins’s work.

Collins drew up a republican constitution which, without repudiating the Treaty, would include no mention of the British king. His object was that the Constitution would allow participation in the Dáil by dissenting TDs who opposed the Treaty and refused to take any oath mentioning the Crown.

Under the Treaty, the Free State was obliged to submit its new Constitution to Westminster for approval. Upon doing so, in June 1922, Collins and Griffith found Lloyd George determined to veto the provisions they had fashioned to prevent civil war.[79]

These meetings with Lloyd George and Churchill were bitterly contentious. Collins, although less diplomatic than Griffith or de Valera, had no less penetrating comprehension of political issues. He complained that he was being manipulated into “doing Churchill’s dirty work”, in a potential civil war with his own former troops.[80][81]

Pact elections

Negotiations to prevent civil war resulted in, among others, “The Army Document” published in May 1922 which was signed by an equal number of pro- and anti-Treaty IRA officers including Collins, Dan Breen, and Gearóid O’Sullivan. This manifesto declared that “a closing of ranks all round is necessary” to prevent “the greatest catastrophe in Irish history.” It called for new elections, to be followed by the re-unification of the government and army, whatever the result.

In this spirit and with the organising efforts of moderates on both sides the Collins-de Valera “Pact” was created. This pact agreed that new elections to the Dáil would be held with each candidate running as explicitly pro- or anti-Treaty and that, regardless of which side obtained a majority, the two factions would then join to form a coalition government of national unity.

A referendum on the Treaty was also planned but it never took place. The Pact elections on 16 June 1922 therefore comprise the best quantitative record of the Irish public’s direct response to the Treaty. The results were pro-Treaty 58 seats, anti-Treaty 35, Labour Party 17, Independents 7, Farmers party 7, plus 4 Unionists from Trinity College, Dublin.[82]

Assassination of Sir Henry Wilson

Six days after the Pact elections, Sir Henry Wilson was assassinated on 22 June 1922 in broad daylight on the steps of his London home by a pair of London IRA men. A British Army field marshal, Wilson had recently resigned his commission and been elected an MP for Northern Ireland. He had a long history as one of the chief British leaders opposing Collins in the Irish conflict. At that time Wilson had served as military advisor to the Northern Ireland government led by James Craig, in which role he was seen to be responsible for the B-Specials and for other sources of loyalist violence in the north.

The order to shoot Wilson has been attributed to Irish leaders including Collins and Rory O’Connor, but with dubious authority. Although unquestionably killed by the two IRA men—who were captured and confessed—no one has ever taken responsibility for ordering the shooting. While Wilson had certainly been a potential target for Collins’s “Squad” during the War of Independence, all outstanding orders had been summarily cancelled when those forces stood down at the Truce. O’Connor explicitly denied any involvement, as did the IRB on behalf of Collins and Arthur Griffith on behalf of the Provisional Government. No direct statement appears to have been made on the subject by Collins in the two months that he survived Wilson.

The debate concerning Collins’s involvement continued in the 1950s, when a number of statements and rebuttals on the subject were published in periodicals. These were re-printed with additions in Rex Taylor’s 1961 book Assassination: the death of Sir Henry Wilson and the tragedy of Ireland. Participants in that discussion were Joe Dolan, Florence O’Donoghue, Denis P. Kelleher, Patrick O’Sullivan and others.[83][84]

Civil War

Main article: Irish Civil War

Michael Collins gave the order to bombard the Four Courts with artillery shells in an attempt to remove Anti-treaty IRA. This was to be the start of the Irish Civil War.

The death of Sir Henry Wilson caused a furor in London. Powerful conservative voices who had opposed any settlement with the Irish rebels drowned out moderates, with calls for a violent response. Under this pressure, Churchill issued an ultimatum demanding that the Provisional Government end the anti-Treaty occupation of the Four Courts or face a full-scale military invasion.[85]

A few days later, anti-Treaty IRA men kidnapped J.J. “Ginger” O’Connell, a Free State general. These two developments led to the Provisional Government’s 27 June 1922 order serving notice on the Four Courts garrison to surrender the building that night or face military action “at once”.[86]

Collins’ position in this conflict was extraordinary indeed. “A majority perhaps” of the army he’d led in the War of Independence were now ranged against the Free State, which he represented. In addition the force which by the will of the electorate he was obliged to lead had been re-organised since the Truce. Formed from a nucleus of pro-Treaty IRA men, it had evolved into a more formal, structured, uniformed National Army that was armed and funded by Britain. Many of the new members were World War I veterans and others who had not fought on the nationalist side before. It was now ten times the size of the force which had won independence, yet heavily populated with former British Army personnel. Collins’s profoundly mixed feelings about this situation are recorded in his private and official correspondence.[87][88][88][89][90][91]

Michael Collins as Commander-in-Chief of the Irish National Forces.

Artillery was provided to Mulcahy and the Free State Army by the British in anticipation of a siege. Emmet Dalton, a former British officer of Irish origin who was now a leading Free State commander and close associate of Collins, was placed in charge of it.

There is no definite record as to who gave the order to begin shelling the Four Courts. Historians have only presumed that it was Collins. There is only anecdotal evidence as to how and when the ultimatum was served on the anti-Treaty garrison, whether adequate time was allowed the Four Courts men to surrender, or whether shelling began precipitately while the garrison was loading up their arms to leave the building. Further study remains to be done on this most critical event of 1922, which actually started the Civil War in earnest.[91][92]

Fierce fighting broke out in Dublin between the anti-Treaty IRA and the Free State troops. Much of O’Connell Street suffered heavy damage, the Gresham Hotel was burned and the Four Courts reduced to a ruin. Still, under Collins’ direction, the Free State rapidly took control of the capital. By July 1922 anti-Treaty forces held much of the southern province of Munster and several other areas of the country. At the height of their success they administered local government and policing in large regions.[93] Collins, Richard Mulcahy, and Eoin O’Duffy decided on a series of seaborne landings into republican held areas, which re-took Munster and the west in July–August.

Also in July, Collins set aside his title as Chairman of the Provisional Government to become Commander-in-Chief of the National Army.[94] There is controversy about this change, especially in view of subsequent events: what, if anything, it said about his relationship with the Cabinet; what role, if any, others in the government may have played in it; what connection it had, if any, with the tragedy which followed.[91][92]

Civil War peace moves

There is considerable evidence that Collins’s journey to Cork in August 1922 was made in order to meet republican leaders with a view to ending the war.[95][96][97] If so, it would explain a good deal that remains mysterious about the journey.

The question of his involvement in peace negotiations is hotly debated by historians. It has ramifications for opposing political viewpoints about him and especially about his death. If this was a peace mission, it was without any record of official involvement and sanction from the Provisional Government Cabinet. However this is not necessarily out of keeping with the general nature of peace negotiations in wartime. The first contacts with British negotiators had been “a dead secret,” even from many of his associates.[98] Nor was it unknown for Collins to make bold, controversial moves on his own initiative. Private and personal correspondence indicates that there was less than perfect trust and cordiality between Collins and some members of the Dáil. There was considerable friction between ministers on the conduct of the war and the treatment of anti-Treaty combatants.[99]

A remarkable number of meetings that included leading figures on both sides took place in Cork on 21–22 August 1922.[100] In Cork city, Collins met with neutral IRA men Seán O’Hegarty and Florence O’Donoghue with a view to contacting Anti-Treaty IRA leaders Tom Barry and Tom Hales to propose a truce. The anti-Treaty side had called a major convocation of officers to Béal na Bláth, a remote crossroads, with ending the war on the agenda.[101]

Michael Collins and Richard Mulcahy at Arthur Griffith‘s funeral, a few days before Collins’ own death.

De Valera was present there, and his assistant reported that a meeting between him and Collins was planned. The People’s Rights Association, a local initiative in Cork City, had been mediating a discussion of terms between the Provisional Government and the anti-Treaty side for some weeks.[21][102]

Peace terms were detailed in Collins’s correspondence and diary. Republicans would be obliged to “accept the people’s verdict” on the Treaty but could then “go home without their arms. We don’t ask for any surrender of their principles.” This indicates that Collins favoured a policy of amnesty, without sanctions. It is alleged that anti-Treaty veterans of the War of Independence might be offered a choice of taking their place either in Free State Army, in the civil service, or even in clandestine operations against para-militaries in the north.[103]

This is significant in view of the draconian policies, including execution without trial, that were pursued by the Free State government following on the deaths of Collins and Arthur Griffith within days of each other. The deaths of Collins and Griffith marked the end of Free State efforts to reunite the victorious War of Independence forces via a negotiated settlement.[104]

Death

Michael Collins body lying in hospital after he was shot dead at Béal na Bláth.

Collins’s death remains a mystery for a number of reasons. The only witnesses were Free State Army members of his convoy and the anti-Treaty ambushers. As all of these were participants, their accounts may not be objective. No two witnesses’ statements match and many are contradictory.[105] There is no complete record of the people involved and none of the witnesses were ever questioned by the authorities. Their accounts have been handed down through newspapers, biographers, private documents and personal contacts. One version suggests Collins was to meet with De Valera and discuss ways to end the conflicts.[citation needed]

The remainder of this section lists only those facts most generally agreed. Even some of these are disputed in some sources.

In August 1922, the Civil War seemed to be winding down. The Free State had regained control of most of the country and Collins was making frequent trips to inspect areas recently recovered from anti-Treaty forces.[106]

Collins’s grave, Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin

His plan to travel to his native Cork on 20 August was considered particularly dangerous and he was strenuously advised against it by several trusted associates. County Cork was an IRA stronghold, much of it still held by anti-Treaty forces. Yet he seemed determined to make the trip without delay. He had fended off a number of attempts on his life in the preceding weeks and had acknowledged more than once, in private conversation, that the Civil War might end his life at any moment. On several occasions Collins assured his advisors “they won’t shoot me in my own county,” or words to that effect.

On 22 August 1922 Collins set out from Cork City on a circuitous tour of West Cork. He passed first through Macroom then took the Bandon road via Crookstown. This led through Béal na Bláth, an isolated crossroads. There they stopped at a local pub, now known as the The Diamond Bar,[107] to ask a question of a man standing at the crossroad. The man turned out to be an anti-Treaty sentry. He and an associate recognised Collins in the back of the open-top car.[108]

As a result, an ambush was laid by an anti-Treaty column at that point, on the chance that the convoy might come through again on their return journey.[109]

Between 7:30 and 8PM, Collins’ convoy approached Béal na Bláth for the second time. By then most of the ambush party had dispersed and gone for the day, leaving just five or six men on the scene. Two were disarming a mine in the road, while three on a laneway overlooking them, provided cover. A dray cart, placed across the road, remained at the far end of the ambush site.

Shots were exchanged. Collins, who suffered a head wound, was the only fatality. Almost every other detail of what happened is uncertain, due to conflicting reports from participants and other flaws in the record.

A replica of the Crossley Tender in Collins’ convoy on the day of his death in a replica of the road where it happened on display at the Michael Collins Centre, Clonakilty[110]

Some of the details most disputed among the witnesses are: how the shooting started, what kind of fire the convoy came under, where the ambushers’ first shots struck, where Collins was and what he was doing when he was hit, whether anyone else was wounded, whether the armoured car‘s machine gun was fully functional throughout the engagement, who moved Collins’ body, and who was nearby when Collins fell.

Many questions have been raised concerning the handling of Collins’s remains immediately following his death. Among them are the inordinately long time the convoy took to cover the twenty miles back to Cork City, who searched his clothes, and what became of documents he was known to have been carrying on his person (such as his field diary, which did not turn up until decades afterward).

The medical evidence is also lacking. There are imperfect records as to which doctor examined the body; whether an autopsy was performed, and, if so, by whom; which hospital his body was taken to, and why; and, most importantly, what was the precise number and nature of his wounds.

Writers on the subject such as J. Feehan and S.M. Sigerson have called for a full forensic examination of Collins’s remains in order to attempt to settle at least some of these controversies concerning his end.[111][112]

Aftermath

Sean Collins behind the coffin of his brother Michael.

Collins’s body was transported by sea from Cork to Dublin. He lay in state for three days in Dublin City Hall where tens of thousands of mourners filed past his coffin to pay their respects, including many British soldiers departing Ireland who had fought against him. His funeral mass took place at Dublin’s Pro Cathedral where a number of foreign and Irish dignitaries were in attendance. Some 500,000 people attended his funeral, almost one fifth of the country’s population at that time.[21]

No official inquiry was ever undertaken into Collins’s death and consequently there is no official version of what happened, nor are there any authoritative, detailed contemporary records.[113]

Funeral of Michael Collins in the Pro-Cathedral, Dublin (contemporary newspaper depiction of the state funeral)

In this vacuum, independent investigations and conspiracy theorists have put forward a number of suspects as having executed or ordered his death, including an anti-Treaty sharpshooter, members of his own escort, the British secret service, or de Valera himself.

De Valera is alleged to have declared in 1966, “It is my considered opinion that in the fullness of time history will record the greatness of Michael Collins; and it will be recorded at my expense.”[114]

A number of books have been devoted entirely to the study of Collins’ death (in chronological order): The Day Michael Was Shot by Meda Ryan, The Shooting of Michael Collins: Murder or Accident? by John M Feehan, The Dark Secret of Béal na mBláth by Patrick Twohig, and The Assassination of Michael Collins: What Happened at Béal na mBláth? by S.M. Sigerson.

Personal life

Collins on his bicycle.

Collins’s elderly father inspired his fondness and respect for older people. His mother, who had spent her youth caring for her own invalid mother and raising her own brothers and sisters, was a powerful influence. The entire management of the Collins farm fell to her, as her husband succumbed to old age and died. In a society which honoured hospitality as a prime virtue, Mrs Collins was eulogised as “a hostess in ten thousand.” Her five daughters avowedly doted on their youngest brother.[9][21]

The Collins home’s spirit of self-sacrifice, welcome and inclusiveness later proved key in his capacity to unify people of all genders and walks of life and orchestrate them in an effective, enthusiastic, cooperative force for Irish self-determination.[115] Collins’s revolution was also a family affair. He continued to work closely with his brothers throughout the independence struggle and with cousins such as Nancy O’Brien, one of his most important moles in the British administration.[21]

He was very much a “man’s man”, fond of rough-housing and outdoor sports. Having won a local wrestling championship while still a boy, he is said to have made a pastime of challenging larger, older opponents, with frequent success. A very fit, active man throughout life, in the most stressful times he continued to enjoy wrestling as a form of relaxation and valued friendships which afforded opportunities to share athletic pursuits.[21]

Intensely hard-working, Collins could be abrasive, demanding, and sometimes inconsiderate of those around him. Yet he frequently apologised for his own temperament, with gestures such as confectionery and other small gifts, sometimes delivered at great personal risk in Dublin’s wartime environment.[116][117]

Unlike some of his political opponents, he was characterised by many close personal friendships within the movement. It has been justly said that while some were devoted to “the idea of Ireland”, Collins was a people person whose patriotism was rooted in affection and respect for the people of Ireland around him. Among his famous last words is the final entry in his pocket diary, written on the journey which ended his life, “The people are splendid.”[118][119][120]

His personal warmth and charm were combined with an uncanny ability to inspire confidence in a wide range of people. No other Irish leader of the time matched his remarkable ability to recruit people of every kind to the movement, win their trust and loyalty, pinpoint their capacities and unite them in coordinated action that was of maximum value to the cause.[121]

Collins was a complex man whose character abounded in contradictions. Although Minister of Finance and an accountant by pre-war profession, he seems never to have pursued personal profit; indeed was sometimes during the war all but homeless. While clearly fond of command and keen to take charge, he had an equal appetite for input and advice from people at every level of the organisation, prompting the comment that “he took advice from his chauffeur.” [122] Although acknowledged by friends and foes as “head centre” of the movement, he continually chose a title just short of actual head of state; becoming Chairman of the Provisional Government only after the abdication of half the Dáil forced him to do so. While his official and personal correspondence records his solicitous care for the wants of insurgents in need, during the war he showed no hesitation in ordering the death of opponents who threatened nationalist lives.[123]

Certainly a man of fierce pride, his pride was tempered by a sense of humour that included a keen sense of the absurd in his own situation.[124] While mastermind of a clandestine military, he remained a public figure. When official head of the Free State government, he continued to cooperate in the IRA’s secret operations. He was capable of bold, decisive actions on his own authority, which caused friction with his colleagues, his falling out with Cathal Brugha, for example; but at critical junctures he could also bow to majority decisions which were profoundly disadvantageous and dangerous to his own interests (such as his appointment to the Treaty negotiating team.)

These may constitute contradictions in his character. Yet they are also contradictions of the unique position he occupied, in a time of social upheaval, when the usual parameters and paradigms of society are in a state of flux.

Relationships with women

Kitty Kiernan

The formative role of the many strong, competent, loving women around him produced a man who deeply respected women and thrived on female company of all ages. It manifested also in sensitive, nurturing care toward those he was responsible for. His appointment as aide-de-camp to 1916 Rising organiser Joseph Plunkett, whose chronic health problems were a challenge to his presence at the GPO HQ, is indicative of these qualities. Both his official correspondence and countless personal memoires record empathy and sensitivity in his personal attention to the needs and hardships of Volunteers and their families.[21]

Collins’ lifetime exactly coincided with a period of aggressive, mass agitation for women’s rights. The female suffrage movement was in Ireland often closely linked with the campaign for Irish independence. Many proponents belonged to both camps. Full enfranchisement for women became enshrined in the 1916 Proclamation, the legal founding document of the Republic of Ireland. This was the political climate Collins grew up and prospered in. Yet he remained one of the few orators of the time who used gender-inclusive language in his speeches and explicitly acknowledged women’s contributions and concerns on a regular basis therein.[125][126]

Collins’s predecessor in the independence movement, Charles Stuart Parnell, was defeated by a sexual scandal. Collins’s detractors have occasionally attempted to raise similar issues. He was reported to have sown some wild oats during his teen career in London [127] (albeit while living under the roof of an older sister) but no scandal concerning his sexual life has ever been substantiated.

Collins’ intimate connections appear to have been no less healthy, vigorous, and well-conducted than other aspects of his life. His relations with women were affectionate and provided no evidence either of inexperience, excess or aberration.[128][129]

At the same time, he may be said to never have been without female companionship. He carried on relationships and written correspondence with a number of women such as Susan Killeen and “Dilly” Dicker, who also worked with him in positions of great trust during the struggle for independence. Their correspondence shows that they remained on friendly terms until the end of his life.

In 1921-22, he became engaged to Kitty Kiernan and made plans for a normal family life after the war. 241 letters of their voluminous correspondence survive. These provide an important record not only of their intimacy, but also of his daily life.[130]

Their letters detail his exhausting schedule during the concurrent national crisis and also document the challenges the couple faced in finding time together under the circumstances. In so doing they make it quite doubtful that he could have simultaneously devoted much attention to additional liaisons. Allegations of affair(s) with English society women at this same time are unsubstantiated, and fraught with suspicious political connotations. Those concerning Hazel Lavery originate chiefly with that lady herself, and are unsupported by evidence.[131]

Commemoration

Memorial cross at Béal na Bláth.

An annual commemoration ceremony takes place each year in August at the ambush site at Béal na Bláth, County Cork, organised by The Béal na mBláth Commemoration Committee. In 2009, former President of Ireland Mary Robinson gave the oration. In 2010 the Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan, Jnr became the first Fianna Fáil person to give the oration. In 2012 on the 90th anniversary of the death of Collins, the Taoiseach Enda Kenny gave the oration, the first serving head of government to do so.

There is also a remembrance ceremony in Glasnevin Cemetery at Collins’s grave on the anniversary of his death.

The Central Bank of Ireland released gold and silver commemorative coins on 15 August 2012 which feature a portrait of Michael Collins designed by Thomas Ryan based on a photograph taken not long before his death.[132]

Legacy

Love of Ireland by John Lavery.

Collins bequeathed to posterity a considerable body of writing: essays, speeches and tracts, articles and official documents in which he outlined plans for Ireland’s economic and cultural revival, as well as a voluminous correspondence, both official and personal. Selections have been published in The Path to Freedom (Mercier, 1968) and in Michael Collins in His Own Words (Gill & Macmillan, 1997). In the 1960s, Taoiseach Seán Lemass, himself a veteran of the 1916 Rising and War of Independence, credited Collins’s ideas as the basis for his successes in revitalizing Ireland’s economy.

Societies

The Collins 22 Society established in 2002 is an international organisation dedicated to keeping the name and legacy of Michael Collins in living memory. The patron of the society is Ireland’s former Minister for Justice and TD Nora Owen, grand-niece of Michael Collins.

In popular culture

Films

Bust of Michael Collins at Merrion Square Park, Dublin, Ireland.

The 1936 movie Beloved Enemy is a fictionalised account of Collins’s life. Unlike the real Michael Collins, the fictionalised “Dennis Riordan” (played by Brian Aherne) is shot, but recovers. Hang Up Your Brightest Colours, a British documentary by Kenneth Griffith, was made for ITV in 1973, but refused transmission. It was eventually screened by the BBC in Wales in 1993 and across the United Kingdom the following year.

In 1969, Dominic Behan wrote an episode of the UK television series Play for today entitled ‘Michael Collins’. The play dealt with Collins’ attempt to take the gun out of Irish politics and took the perspective of the Republican argument. At the time of writing the script, the troubles had just begun in Northern Ireland and the BBC were reluctant to broadcast the production. An appeal by the author to David Attenborough (Director of Programming for the BBC at that time) resulted in the play eventually being broadcast; Attenborough took the view that the imperatives of free speech could not be compromised in the cause of political expediency.

An Irish documentary made by Colm Connolly for RTÉ Television in 1989 called The Shadow of Béal na Bláth covered Collins’s death. A made-for-TV film, The Treaty, was produced in 1991 and starred Brendan Gleeson as Collins and Ian Bannen as David Lloyd George. In 2007, RTÉ produced a documentary entitled Get Collins, about the intelligence war which took place in Dublin.[133][134]

Collins was the subject of director Neil Jordan‘s 1996 film Michael Collins, with Liam Neeson in the title role. Collins’s great-grandnephew, Aengus O’Malley, played a student in a scene filmed in Marsh’s Library.

In 2005 Cork Opera House commissioned a musical drama about Collins.[135] “Michael Collins” by Brian Flynn had a successful run in 2009 at Cork opera house and later in the Olympia Theatre in Dublin.

Infamous Assassinations, a 2007 British documentary television series, devoted its third episode to the death of Collins.

Songs

Wax figure of Michael Collins at the National Wax Plus Museum, Dublin, Ireland.

Irish-American folk rock band Black 47 recorded a song entitled “The Big Fellah” which was the first track on their 1994 album Home of the Brave. It details Collins’s career, from the Easter Rising to his death at Béal na Bláth. Irish folk band the Wolfe Tones recorded a song titled “Michael Collins” about Collins’s life and death, although it begins when he was about 16 and took a job in London. Celtic metal band Cruachan recorded a song also titled “Michael Collins” on their 2004 album Pagan which dealt with his role in the Civil War, the treaty and his eventual death. Also a song by Johnny McEvoy, simply named “Michael”, depicts Collins’s death and the sadness surrounding his funeral.

The poem “The laughing boy” by Brendan Behan lamenting the death of Collins was translated into Greek in 1961 by Vasilis Rotas. In October of the same year, Mikis Theodorakis composed the song “Tο γελαστό παιδί” (“The laughing boy”) using Rotas’ translation. The song was recorded by Maria Farantouri in 1966 on the album “Ένας όμηρος” (“The hostage”) and became an instant success. It was the soundtrack of the movie Z (1969). “The laughing boy” became the song of protest against the dictatorship in Greece (1967–1974) and remains to date one of the most popular songs in Greek popular culture.

Play

Michael Collins (Irish: Mícheál Ó Coileáin;[2][3] 16 October 1890 – 22 August 1922) was a soldier and politician who was a leading figure in the struggle for Irish independence in the early 20th century. Collins was an Irish revolutionary leader, politician, Minister for Finance, Director of Information, and Teachta Dála (TD) for Cork South in the First Dáil of 1919, Adjutant General, Director of Intelligence, and Director of Organisation and Arms Procurement for the IRA, President of the Irish Republican Brotherhood from November 1920 until his death, and member of the Irish delegation during the Anglo-Irish Treaty negotiations. Subsequently, he was both Chairman of the Provisional Government and Commander-in-chief of the National Army.[1] Collins was shot and killed in an ambush in August 1922 during the Irish Civil War.

Early years

Born in Sam’s Cross, near Clonakilty, County Cork, Collins was the third son and youngest of eight children. Most biographies give his date of birth as 16 October 1890, but his tombstone cites 12 October 1890. Referred to in a British secret service report as “brainy”, the Collins family were part of an ancient clan, widely spread over County Cork. They had republican connections that can be traced back to the 1798 rebellion.[4]

Collins’ father, Michael John (1816–1896), was a farmer by profession. A mathematician in his spare time, he had been a member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) movement. The elder Collins was 60[5] years old when he married Mary Anne O’Brien, then 23,[6] in 1876.[7] The marriage was apparently happy. They brought up eight children on a 90-acre (36 ha) farm called Woodfield, which the Collins had held as tenants for several generations.

On his death bed, his father (who was the seventh son of a seventh son) predicted that his daughter Helena (one of Michael’s elder sisters) would become a nun. She later did, known as Sister Mary Celestine, based in Whitby.[8] He then turned to the family and told them to take care of Michael, because “One day he’ll be a great man. He’ll do great work for Ireland.” Michael was six years old when his father died.[9]

Michael Collins at the age of 8 with his family.

Collins was a bright and precocious child with a fiery temper and a passionate feeling of Irish nationalism. He named a local blacksmith, James Santry, and his headmaster at Lisavaird National School, Denis Lyons, as the first nationalists to personally inspire his “pride of Irishness.” Lyons was a member of the IRB, while Santry’s family had participated in, and forged arms for, the rebellions of 1798, 1848 and 1867.[4][10]

There are a number of anecdotal explanations for the origin of his nickname, “The Big Fellow”. The most authoritative comes from his family, stating that he was so called by them while still a child. It had been a term of endearment for their youngest brother, who was always keen to take on tasks beyond his years. It was certainly already established by his teens, long before he emerged as a political or military leader.[11]

At the age of thirteen he boarded at Clonakilty National School. During the week he stayed with his sister Margaret Collins-O’Driscoll and her husband Patrick O’Driscoll, while at weekends he returned to the family farm. Patrick O’Driscoll founded the newspaper The West Cork People and Collins helped out with general reporting jobs and preparing the issues of the newspaper.[12]

Collins as a young recruit.

After leaving school at fifteen, Collins took the British Civil Service examination in Cork in February 1906,[13] and was then employed by the Royal Mail.[14] In 1906, he moved to the home of his elder sister Hannie (Johanna) in London where he became a messenger at a London firm of stockbrokers, Horne and Company.[13] While living in London he studied law at King’s College London.[15] He joined the London GAA and, through this, the IRB. Sam Maguire, a republican from Dunmanway, County Cork, introduced the 19-year-old Collins to the IRB.[16] In 1915 he moved to the Guaranty Trust Company of New York where he remained until his return to Ireland the following year[17] joining part-time Craig Gardiner & Co, a firm of accountants in Dawson Street, Dublin.[18]

Easter Rising

The struggle for Home Rule, along with labour unrest, had led to the formation in 1913 of two major nationalist paramilitary groups who would launch the Easter Rising: the Irish Citizen Army was established by James Connolly and the Irish Transport and General Workers Union (ITGWU), to protect strikers from the Dublin Metropolitan Police during the 1913 Dublin Lockout. The Irish Volunteers were created in the same year by the IRB and other nationalists in response to the formation of the Ulster Volunteers (UVF), an Ulster loyalist body pledged to oppose Home Rule by force.

An organiser of considerable intelligence, Collins had become highly respected in the IRB. This led to his appointment as financial advisor to Count Plunkett, father of one of the Easter Rising‘s organisers, Joseph Mary Plunkett. Collins took part in preparing arms and drilling troops for the insurrection.

The Rising would be Collins’ first appearance in national events. When it commenced on Easter Monday 1916, Collins served as Plunkett’s aide-de-camp at the rebellion’s headquarters in the General Post Office (GPO) in Dublin. There he fought alongside Patrick Pearse, James Connolly, and other members of the Rising leadership. The Rising is generally acknowledged to have been a military disaster, yet the insurgents achieved their goal of holding their positions for the minimum time required to justify a claim to independence under international criteria.[19]

Captured Irish soldiers in Stafford Gaol after the failed Easter Rising. Collins is fifth from the right with an ‘x’ over his head.

Arrested along with thousands of other participants, Collins was subsequently imprisoned at Frongoch internment camp in Wales.

Collins first began to emerge as a major figure in the vacuum created by the executions of the 1916 leadership. He began hatching plans for “next time” even before the prison ships left Dublin.[20]

At Frongoch he was one of the organisers of a program of protest and non-cooperation with authorities, similar to that later carried on by IRA internees of the 1980s. The camp proved an excellent opportunity for networking with physical-force republicans from all over the country, of which he became a key organiser.[21][22]

While some celebrated the fact that a rising had happened at all, believing in Pearse’s theory of “blood sacrifice” (namely that the deaths of the Rising’s leaders would inspire others), Collins railed against the military blunders made, such as the seizure of indefensible and very vulnerable positions like St Stephen’s Green, which were impossible to escape from and difficult to supply. Public outcry placed pressure on the British government to end the internment. In December 1916, the Frongoch prisoners were sent home.

1917–1918

Before his death, Tom Clarke, first signatory of the 1916 Proclamation and widely considered the Rising’s foremost organiser, had designated his wife Kathleen (Daly) Clarke as the official caretaker of Rising official business, in the event that the leadership did not survive. By June 1916, Mrs. Clarke had sent out the first post-Rising communiqué to the IRB, declaring the Rising to be only the beginning and directing nationalists to prepare for “the next blow.” Soon after his release Mrs Clarke appointed Collins Secretary to the National Aid and Volunteers Dependents Fund (NAVDF) and subsequently passed on to him the secret organisational information and contacts which she had held in trust for the independence movement.

Michael Collins and Arthur Griffith

Collins became one of the leading figures in the post-Rising independence movement spearheaded by Arthur Griffith, editor/publisher of the main nationalist newspaper The United Irishman, (which Collins had read avidly as a boy.) [21] Griffith’s organisation Sinn Féin had been founded in 1905 as an umbrella group to unify all the various factions within the nationalist movement.

Under Griffith’s policy, Collins and other advocates of the “physical-force” approach to independence gained the cooperation of non-violent Sinn Féin, while agreeing to disagree with Griffith’s moderate ideas of a dual monarchy solution based on the Hungarian model.[23] The British government and mainstream Irish media had wrongly blamed Sinn Féin for the Rising. This attracted Rising participants to join the organisation in order to exploit the reputation with which such British propaganda had imbued the organisation. By October 1917 Collins had risen to become a member of the executive of Sinn Féin and director of organisation for the Irish Volunteers. Éamon de Valera, another veteran of 1916, stood for the presidency of Sinn Féin against Griffith, who stepped aside and supported de Valera’s presidency.[23]

First Dáil

Members of the First Dáil
First row, left to right: Laurence Ginnell, Michael Collins, Cathal Brugha, Arthur Griffith, Éamon de Valera, Count Plunkett, Eoin MacNeill, W. T. Cosgrave, Kevin O’Higgins (third row, right)

In the 1918 general election Sinn Féin swept the polls throughout much of Ireland, with many seats uncontested, and formed an overwhelming parliamentary majority in Ireland. Like many senior Sinn Féin representatives Collins was elected as an MP (for Cork South) with the right to sit in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom in London. Unlike their rivals in the Irish Parliamentary Party (IPP), Sinn Féin MPs had announced that they would not take their seats in Westminster but instead would set up an Irish Parliament in Dublin.[24]

Before the new body’s first meeting, Collins, tipped off by his network of spies, warned his colleagues of plans to arrest all its members in overnight raids. De Valera and others ignored the warnings on the argument that, if the arrests happened, they would constitute a propaganda coup. The intelligence proved accurate and de Valera, along with Sinn Féin MPs who followed his advice, were arrested; Collins and others evaded incarceration.

The new parliament, called Dáil Éireann (meaning “Assembly of Ireland”, see First Dáil) met in the Mansion House, Dublin in January 1919. In de Valera’s absence, Cathal Brugha was elected Príomh Aire (‘First’ or ‘Prime’ Minister but often translated as ‘President of Dáil Éireann’). The following April, Collins engineered de Valera’s escape from Lincoln Prison in England, after which Brugha was replaced by de Valera.

No state gave diplomatic recognition to the 1919 Republic, despite sustained lobbying in Washington by de Valera and prominent Irish-Americans and at the Paris peace conference. In January 1919 the Dáil ratified the Irish Republican Army‘s (IRA) claim to be the army of the Irish Republic. The IRA had begun a military campaign coincidentally on the same day as the Dáil’s first sitting with the Soloheadbeg Ambush, and the IRA’s respect for the Dáil’s authority was highly conditional. (The Irish Volunteers began to be referred to as the IRA since their internment at Frongach. Up until the Civil War, the two terms were used interchangeably.)

Minister for Finance

Michael Collins as Minister for Finance.

In 1919 the already busy Collins received yet another responsibility when de Valera appointed him to the Aireacht (ministry) as Minister for Finance.[25] Most of the ministries existed only on paper or as one or two people working in a room of a private house, given the circumstances of a brutal war in which ministers were liable to be arrested or killed by the Royal Irish Constabulary, British Army, Black and Tans or the Auxiliaries at a moment’s notice.

Despite that, Collins managed to produce a Finance Ministry that was able to organise a large bond issue in the form of a “National Loan” to fund the new Irish Republic.[26] According to Batt O’Connor, the Dáil Loan raised almost £400,000, of which £25,000 was in gold. The loan, which was declared illegal by the British, was lodged in the individual bank accounts of the trustees. The gold was kept under the floor of O’Connor’s house until 1922.[27] The Russian Republic, in the midst of its own civil war, ordered Ludwig Martens the head of the Soviet Bureau in New York City to acquire a “national loan” from the Irish Republic through Harry Boland, offering some jewels as collateral. The jewels remained in a Dublin safe, forgotten by all sides, until the 1930s, when they were found by chance.

War of Independence

The Irish War of Independence in effect began on the day that the First Dáil convened, 21 January 1919. On that date, an ambush party of IRA volunteers from the 3rd Tipperary Brigade including Séamus Robinson, Dan Breen, Seán Treacy and Seán Hogan, attacked a pair of Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) men who were escorting a consignment of gelignite to a quarry in Soloheadbeg, County Tipperary. The two policemen were shot dead during the engagement. This ambush is considered the first action in the Irish War of Independence.[28] The engagement had no advance authorisation from the nascent government. However, Collins in Dáil discussion of the incident implicitly accepted responsibility on behalf of the IRB. The legislature’s support for the armed struggle soon after became official.[21][29]

Harry Boland (left), Michael Collins (middle), and Éamon de Valera (right).

From that time Collins filled a number of roles in addition to his legislative duties. That summer he was elected president of the IRB (and therefore, in the doctrine of that organisation, de jure President of the Irish Republic). In September, he was made Director of Intelligence for the Irish Republican Army which now had a mandate to pursue an armed campaign, as the official military of the Irish nation. With Cathal Brugha as Minister of Defense, Collins became Director of Organisation and Adjutant General of the Volunteers.

Collins had spent much of this period helping to organise the volunteers as an effective military force, concentrating particularly on driving the RIC out of isolated barracks and seizing their weapons. In the early 20th century this permanently armed police force was, in effect, the principal representation of the British state in large parts of rural Munster and Connaught and with their withdrawal, republicans felt able to establish their own institutions. In turn, though, the retreat of the RIC drove the British towards more radical and violent responses: simultaneously alienating already weak support for British rule in the populace but also increasing the military pressure on the volunteers.

Collins was determined to avoid the massive destruction, military and civilian losses for merely symbolic victories that had characterised the 1916 Rising. Instead he directed a guerrilla war against the British, suddenly attacking then just as quickly withdrawing, minimising losses and maximising effectiveness.[30][31]

As the war began in earnest, de Valera travelled to the United States for an extended speaking tour to raise funds for the outlawed Republican government. It was in publicity for this tour that de Valera (who had been elected Príomh Aire by the Dáil) was first referred to as “President”. While financially successful, grave political conflicts followed in de Valera’s wake there which threatened the unity of Irish-American support for the rebels. Some members of the IRB also objected to the use of the presidential title because their organisation’s constitution had a different definition of that title.[21][23][32]

Back in Ireland, Collins arranged the “National Loan”, organised the IRA, effectively led the government, and managed arms-smuggling operations. Local guerrilla units received supplies, training and had largely a free hand to develop the war in their own region. These were the “flying columns” who comprised the bulk of the War of Independence rank and file in the south-west. Collins, Dick McKee and regional commanders such as Dan Breen and Tom Barry oversaw tactics and general strategy. There were also regional organisers, such as Ernie O’Malley and Liam Mellows, who reported directly to Collins at St Ita’s secret basement GHQ in central Dublin.[33] They were supported by a vast intelligence network of men and women in all walks of life that reached deep into the British administration in Ireland.[34][35]

Collins inspects a soldier.

It was at this time that Collins created a special assassination unit called The Squad expressly to kill British agents and informers. Collins was criticised for these tactics but cited the universal war-time practice of executing enemy spies who were, in his words, “hunting victims for execution.” Campaigning for Irish independence, even non-violently, was still targeted both by prosecutions under British law entailing the death penalty and also by extrajudicial killings such as that of Tomas MacCurtain, nationalist mayor of Cork City.

In 1920 the British offered a bounty of £10,000 (equivalent to GB£300,000 / €360,000 in 2010) for information leading to Collins’ capture or death. He and the national forces continued to evade capture and carried out strikes against British forces, frequently operating out of safe-houses in the vicinity of government buildings, such as Vaughan’s and An Stad.

The Crown responded with escalation of the war, with the importation of special forces such as the “Auxiliaries“, the “Black and Tans“, the “Cairo Gang“, and others. Officially or unofficially, many of these groups were given a free hand to institute a reign of terror, shooting Irish people indiscriminately, invading homes, looting and burning.[21][36]

In 1920, following Westminster’s prominent announcements that it had the Irish insurgents on the run, Collins and his Squad killed several British secret service agents in a series of coordinated raids. In retaliation, members of the Royal Irish Constabulary went to Croke Park, where a G.A.A. football match was taking place between Dublin and Tipperary. The police officers opened fire on the crowd and as a result, killed twelve and injured sixty. This event became known as Bloody Sunday. A stampede of panicking British operatives sought the shelter of Dublin Castle next day. About the same time, Tom Barry’s 3rd Cork Brigade took no prisoners in a bitter battle with British forces at Kilmichael. In many regions, the RIC and other crown forces became all but confined to the strongest barracks in the larger towns as rural areas came increasingly under rebel control.[37][38]

These republican victories would have been impossible without widespread support from the Irish population, which included every level of society and reached deep into the British administration in Ireland. This pattern of guerrilla success against sophisticated imperialist powers would be repeated around the world in the early 20th century.[39]

At the time of the ceasefire in July 1921 a major operation was allegedly in planning to execute every British secret service agent in Dublin, while a major ambush involving eighty officers and men was also planned for Templeglantine, County Limerick.[21][40]

Truce

In 1921 General Macready, commander of British forces in Ireland, reported to his government that the Empire’s only hope of holding Ireland was by martial law, including the suspension of “all normal life.”[41]

Political considerations regarding Westminster’s global foreign policy ruled out this option: Irish-American public opinion was important to US support for British agendas in Asia. Closer to home, Britain’s efforts at a military solution had already spawned a powerful peace movement, demanding an end to the slaughter in Ireland. Prominent voices calling for negotiations included the Labour Party, the London Times and other leading periodicals, members of the House of Lords, English Catholics, and famous authors such as George Bernard Shaw.[42][43]

Still it was not the British government which initiated negotiations. Individual English activists, including clergy, made private overtures which reached Arthur Griffith. Griffith expressed his welcome for dialogue. The British MP Brigadier General Cockerill sent an open letter to Prime Minister Lloyd George that was printed in the Times, outlining how a peace conference with the Irish should be organised. The Pope made an urgent public appeal for a negotiated end to the violence. Whether or not Lloyd George welcomed such advisors, he could no longer hold out against this tide.[21]

In July, Lloyd George’s government offered a truce. Arrangements were made for a conference between British government and the leaders of the yet-unrecognised Republic.

There remains considerable controversy as to the two sides’ capability to have carried on the conflict much longer. Collins told Hamar Greenwood after signing the Anglo-Irish Treaty: “You had us dead beat. We could not have lasted another three weeks. When we were told of the offer of a truce we were astonished. We thought you must have gone mad”.[44] However he stated on the record that “there will be no compromise and no negotiations with any British Government until Ireland is recognised as an independent republic. The same effort that would get us Dominion Home Rule will get us a republic.”[45] At no time had the Dáil or the IRA asked for a conference or a truce.[46]

However the Dáil as a whole was less uncompromising. It decided to proceed to a peace conference, although it was ascertained in the preliminary stages that a fully independent republic would not be on the table and that the loss of some northeastern counties was a foregone conclusion.[47]

Many of the rebel forces on the ground first heard of the Truce when it was announced in the newspapers and this gave rise to the first fissures in nationalist unity, which were to have serious consequences later on. They felt they had not been included in consultations regarding its terms.[48][49]

De Valera was widely acknowledged as the most skillful negotiator on the Dáil government side and he participated in the initial parlays, agreeing the basis on which talks could begin. The first meetings were held in strict secrecy soon after the Customs House battle, with Andrew Cope representing Dublin Castle’s British authorities. Later, de Valera travelled to London for the first official contact with Lloyd George. The two met one-on-one in a private meeting, the proceedings of which have never been revealed.[21][50]

During this Truce period, de Valera sued for official designation as President of the Irish Republic and obtained it from the Dáil in August 1921.[51] Not long after, the Cabinet was obliged to select the delegation that would travel to the London peace conference and negotiate a treaty. In an extraordinary departure from his usual role, de Valera adamantly declined to attend, insisting instead that Collins should take his place there, along with Arthur Griffith.[52][53]

Collins strenuously resisted this appointment, protesting that he was “a soldier, not a politician” and that his exposure to the London authorities would reduce his effectiveness as a guerrilla leader should hostilities resume. (He had kept his public visibility to a minimum during the conduct of the war; up to this time the British still had very few reliable photographs of him.)[54]

The Cabinet of seven split on the issue, with de Valera casting the deciding vote. Many of Collins’s associates warned him not to go, that he was being set up as a political scapegoat. Following intense soul-searching and all-night consultations with his most trusted advisors, he resolved to attend “in the spirit of a soldier obeying orders.” In private correspondence he foresaw the catastrophe ahead: “Let them make a scapegoat or whatever they like of me. Someone must go.”

Anglo-Irish Treaty

Collins in London as delegate to the Anglo-Irish Treaty negotiations.

The Irish delegates to London were, upon de Valera’s insistence, designated as “plenipotentiaries”, meaning that they had full authority to sign an agreement on behalf of the Dáil government. The Treaty would then be subject to approval by a vote of the full Dáil.

The majority of the Irish Treaty delegates, including Arthur Griffith (leader), Robert Barton and Eamonn Duggan (with Robert Erskine Childers as Secretary General to the delegation) set up headquarters at 22 Hans Place in Knightsbridge on 11 October 1921 and resided there until conclusion of the negotiations in December. Collins shared quarters at 15 Cadogan Gardens with the delegation’s publicity department, secretary Diarmuid O’Hegarty, Joseph McGrath as well as substantial intelligence and bodyguard personnel including Liam Tobin, Tom Cullen, Ned Broy, Emmet Dalton and Joseph Dolan of The Squad.[55]

The British side was represented by PM Lloyd George, Colonial Secretary Winston Churchill and F. E. Smith, among others. Two months of arduous wrangling ensued. The Irish delegation made frequent crossings back to Dublin to make progress reports and confer with their Dáil colleagues. However, Collins in his correspondence and subsequent Dáil debates expressed the delegates’ frustration at being unable to obtain clear instructions as to whether or not they should accept the terms on offer and sign the Treaty.[21][56]

In November, with the London peace talks still in progress, Collins attended a large meeting of regional IRA commanders at Parnell Place in Dublin. In a private conference he informed Liam Deasy, Florence O’Donoghue and Liam Lynch that “there would have to be some compromise in the current negotiations in London. There was no question of our getting all the demands we were making.” He was advised by Lynch not to bring this out in the full assembly. Reviewing subsequent events, Deasy later doubted the wisdom of that advice.[57]

The negotiations ultimately resulted in the Anglo-Irish Treaty which was signed on 6 December 1921. The agreement provided for a Dominion status “Irish Free State“, whose relationship to the British Commonwealth would be modelled after Canada’s. This was a compromise, half-way between an independent republic and a province of the Empire.

The settlement essentially vacated the Treaty of Limerick of 1688 and overturned the Act of Union by recognising the native Irish legislature’s independence. Under a bicameral parliament, executive authority would remain vested in the king but exercised by an Irish government elected by Dáil Éireann as a “lower house“. British forces would depart the Free State forthwith and be replaced by an Irish army. Along with an independent courts system, the Treaty granted a level of internal independence that far exceeded any Home Rule which had been sought by Charles Stewart Parnell or by his Irish Parliamentary Party successors John Redmond and John Dillon.

It was agreed that counties with a large unionist population, concentrated in a relatively small area in eastern Ulster, would have a chance to opt out of the Free State and remain under the Crown. An Irish Boundary Commission was to be established to draw a border (which ultimately came to encompass a six-county region.) Inclusion in the Free State was to be subject to a vote of the majority population in each county. Collins anticipated no more than four counties would join the northeastern statelet, making it economically un-viable, and that this would facilitate the reunification of all 32 counties in the foreseeable future.[58]

While it fell short of the republic that he’d fought to create, Collins concluded that the Treaty offered Ireland “the freedom to achieve freedom.” It essentially offered a chance to remove the gun from Irish politics and to seek further independence through a native government and legislature.[59] Nonetheless, he knew that elements of the Treaty would cause controversy in Ireland. Upon signing the treaty, Birkenhead remarked “I may have signed my political death warrant tonight”. Collins replied “I may have signed my actual death warrant”.[40]

Treaty debates

This remark encapsulated his acknowledgement that the Treaty was a compromise that would be vulnerable to charges of “sell-out” from purist Republicans. It did not establish the fully independent republic that Collins himself had shortly before demanded as a non-negotiable condition. The “physical force republicans” who made up the bulk of the army which had fought the British to a draw would be loath to accept dominion status within the British Empire or an Oath of Allegiance that mentioned the King. Also controversial was the British retention of Treaty Ports on the south coast of Ireland for the Royal Navy. These factors diminished Irish sovereignty and threatened to allow British interference in Ireland’s foreign policy.

Collins and Griffith were well aware of these issues and strove tenaciously, against British resistance, to achieve language which could be accepted by all constituents. They succeeded in obtaining an oath to the Irish Free State, with a subsidiary oath of fidelity to the King, rather than to the king unilaterally.

It is now generally believed that had the nationalist leadership united in support of the Treaty, there would have been no split in the army such as to precipitate civil war. However immediately on the delegation’s return from London, de Valera led a vocal charge against the delegates, whom he called “traitors”.

This was despite the fact that de Valera, the nationalists’ most able negotiator, who had refused strenuous pleas from Collins, Griffith and others to lead the London negotiations in person, had been fully informed of the process at each stage. He had also refused the delegates’ continual requests for instruction, and in fact had been at the centre of the original decision to enter negotiations without the possibility of an independent republic on the table.[21][60]

However, there remains a school of thought which considers de Valera’s protests to have been reasonable and motivated by deep moral objections, and which sees Collins in a negative light, as having irresponsibly signed away the nation’s interests due to incompetence or a self-serving agenda. The Treaty controversy split the entire nationalist movement. Sinn Féin, the Dáil, the IRB and the army each divided into pro- and anti-Treaty factions. The Supreme Council of the IRB had been informed in detail about every facet of the Treaty negotiations and had approved many of its provisions, and they voted unanimously to accept the Treaty with the single notable exception of Liam Lynch, later COS of the anti-Treaty IRA.[61]

The Dáil debated the Treaty bitterly for ten days until it was approved by a vote of 64 to 57.[62] Having lost this vote, de Valera announced his intent to withdraw his participation from the Dáil and called on all deputies who had voted against the Treaty to follow him. A substantial number did so, officially splitting the government. This set the stage for civil war.

A large part of the Irish Republican Army opposed the Treaty. Some followed the political lead of anti-Treaty TDs, others acted on their own convictions, with more or less equal suspicion of politicians in general. Anti-Treaty IRA units began to seize buildings and take other guerrilla actions against the Provisional Government. On 14 April 1922, a group of 200 anti-Treaty IRA men occupied the Four Courts in Dublin under Rory O’Connor, a hero of the War of Independence. The Four Courts was the centre of the Irish courts system, originally under the British and then the Free State. Collins was charged by his Free State colleagues with putting down these insurgents, however he resisted firing on former comrades and staved off a shooting war throughout this period.[63][64]

While the country teetered on the edge of civil war, continuous meetings were carried on among the various factions from January to June 1922. In these discussions the nationalists strove to resolve the issue without armed conflict. Collins and his close associate, TD Harry Boland were among those who worked desperately to heal the rift.[21][65]

To foster military unity, Collins and the IRB established an “army re-unification committee”, including delegates from pro- and anti-Treaty factions. The still-secret Irish Republican Brotherhood continued to meet, fostering dialogue between pro- and anti-Treaty IRA officers. In the IRB’s stormy debates on the subject, Collins held out the Constitution of the new Free State as a possible solution. Collins was then in the process of co-writing that document and was striving to make it a republican constitution that included provisions that would allow anti-Treaty TDs to take their seats in good conscience, without any oath concerning the Crown.[66]

Northern Ireland

After the Treaty was signed, loyalist conservatives combined to wage a violent campaign against Irish nationalist insurgency in the northeastern counties comprising Northern Ireland. The Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) was created at this time, along with the notorious “Specials”: a force of amateur and retired soldiers, who some have claimed were given a free hand to terrorise and kill Catholics.[67][68]

In Northern Ireland there were continual breaches of the Truce by “unauthorised loyalist paramilitary forces”. The predominantly Protestant, Unionists government of Northern Ireland supported policies which discriminated against Catholics in, which, along with violence against Catholics, led many to suggest the presence of an agenda by an Anglo-ascendancy to drive those of indigenous Irish descent out of the northeast counties.[21][69]

At the same time London was stepping up pressure on the Provisional Government to take aggressive military action against anti-Treaty units in the south.

In March, Collins met Sir James Craig, Prime Minister for Northern Ireland, in London. They signed an agreement declaring peace in the north which promised cooperation between Catholics and Protestants in policing and security, a generous budget for restoring Catholics to homes which had been destroyed, and many other measures.[70]

The day after the agreement was published, violence erupted again. A policeman was shot dead in Belfast and in reprisal, police entered Catholic homes nearby and shot residents in their beds, including children. There was no response to Collins’s demands for an inquiry. He and his Cabinet warned that they would deem the agreement broken unless Craig took action.[71]

In his continual correspondence with Churchill over violence in the north, Collins protested repeatedly that such breaches of the Truce threatened to invalidate the Treaty entirely.[72] The prospect of a renewal of the war with England was imminent. The prospect was real enough that on 3 June 1922 Churchill presented to the Committee of Imperial Defense his plans “to protect Ulster from invasion by the South.” [73]

Throughout the early months of 1922, Collins had been sending IRA units to the border and sending arms and money to the northern units of the IRA. Collins joined other IRB and IRA leadership in developing secret plans to launch a clandestine guerrilla war in the northeast. Some British arms that had been surrendered to the Provisional government in Dublin were turned over by Collins to IRA units in the north. In May–June 1922 Collins and IRA Chief of Staff Liam Lynch organised an offensive including both pro- and anti-Treaty IRA units along the border area. Because of this, most northern IRA units supported Collins and 524 individual volunteers came south to join the National Army in the Irish Civil War.

Collins, with the support of Griffith and the Cabinet, kept up a “three-tier strategy of public, political and military pressure” regarding northern outrages.[21] Negotiations with the London and Belfast governments continued, with numerous promises made and broken along the lines of the March 1922 Agreement. Within days of a public commitment by Dublin not to send troops into the northeast, Churchill sent 1000 British troops into a village called Pettigo that straddled the border between the Irish Free State and Northern Ireland. The troops shelled the village and fired on Free State troops, killing three. On 5 June a group of B-Specials sprayed the Mater Hospital in Belfast with machine gun fire. Collins’s demands for a full, joint inquiry were flatly refused by Churchill.[74]

In the midst of all this, Civil War in the south broke out and put Collins’s plans for the north on hold. He was killed before he could pursue them any further.

Provisional government

Michael Collins addresses a crowd in Cork on Saint Patrick’s Day, 1922.

De Valera resigned the presidency and sought re-election but Arthur Griffith replaced him after a close vote on 9 January 1922. Griffith chose as his title “President of Dáil Éireann” (rather than “President of the Republic” as de Valera had favoured.) [75]

The Dáil Éireann government still had no legal status in British constitutional law. The provisions of the Treaty required the formation of a new government, which would be recognised by Westminster as pertaining to the Free State dominion that had established by the Treaty.

Despite the abdication of a large part of the Dáil, the Provisional Government (Rialtas Sealadach na hÉireann) of the new Free State was formed with Arthur Griffith as President of the Dáil and Michael Collins as Chairman of the Provisional Government Cabinet (effectively Prime Minister). Collins also retained his position as Minister for Finance.[76]

In British legal theory Collins was now a Crown-appointed prime minister of a Commonwealth state, installed under the Royal Prerogative. To be so installed he had to formally meet the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland Viscount FitzAlan the head of the British administration in Ireland. The republican view of the same meeting is that Collins met FitzAlan to accept the surrender of Dublin Castle, the official seat of British government in Ireland. Having surrendered, FitzAlan still remained in place as viceroy until December 1922.

The Provisional Government’s first obligation was to create a Constitution for the Free State. This was undertaken by Collins and a team of solicitors. The outcome of their work became the Irish Constitution of 1922.[77] Although revised in the 1930s, the present Constitution of Ireland (Bunreacht na hÉireann [78]) remains largely Collins’s work.

Collins drew up a republican constitution which, without repudiating the Treaty, would include no mention of the British king. His object was that the Constitution would allow participation in the Dáil by dissenting TDs who opposed the Treaty and refused to take any oath mentioning the Crown.

Under the Treaty, the Free State was obliged to submit its new Constitution to Westminster for approval. Upon doing so, in June 1922, Collins and Griffith found Lloyd George determined to veto the provisions they had fashioned to prevent civil war.[79]

These meetings with Lloyd George and Churchill were bitterly contentious. Collins, although less diplomatic than Griffith or de Valera, had no less penetrating comprehension of political issues. He complained that he was being manipulated into “doing Churchill’s dirty work”, in a potential civil war with his own former troops.[80][81]

Pact elections

Negotiations to prevent civil war resulted in, among others, “The Army Document” published in May 1922 which was signed by an equal number of pro- and anti-Treaty IRA officers including Collins, Dan Breen, and Gearóid O’Sullivan. This manifesto declared that “a closing of ranks all round is necessary” to prevent “the greatest catastrophe in Irish history.” It called for new elections, to be followed by the re-unification of the government and army, whatever the result.

In this spirit and with the organising efforts of moderates on both sides the Collins-de Valera “Pact” was created. This pact agreed that new elections to the Dáil would be held with each candidate running as explicitly pro- or anti-Treaty and that, regardless of which side obtained a majority, the two factions would then join to form a coalition government of national unity.

A referendum on the Treaty was also planned but it never took place. The Pact elections on 16 June 1922 therefore comprise the best quantitative record of the Irish public’s direct response to the Treaty. The results were pro-Treaty 58 seats, anti-Treaty 35, Labour Party 17, Independents 7, Farmers party 7, plus 4 Unionists from Trinity College, Dublin.[82]

Assassination of Sir Henry Wilson

Six days after the Pact elections, Sir Henry Wilson was assassinated on 22 June 1922 in broad daylight on the steps of his London home by a pair of London IRA men. A British Army field marshal, Wilson had recently resigned his commission and been elected an MP for Northern Ireland. He had a long history as one of the chief British leaders opposing Collins in the Irish conflict. At that time Wilson had served as military advisor to the Northern Ireland government led by James Craig, in which role he was seen to be responsible for the B-Specials and for other sources of loyalist violence in the north.

The order to shoot Wilson has been attributed to Irish leaders including Collins and Rory O’Connor, but with dubious authority. Although unquestionably killed by the two IRA men—who were captured and confessed—no one has ever taken responsibility for ordering the shooting. While Wilson had certainly been a potential target for Collins’s “Squad” during the War of Independence, all outstanding orders had been summarily cancelled when those forces stood down at the Truce. O’Connor explicitly denied any involvement, as did the IRB on behalf of Collins and Arthur Griffith on behalf of the Provisional Government. No direct statement appears to have been made on the subject by Collins in the two months that he survived Wilson.

The debate concerning Collins’s involvement continued in the 1950s, when a number of statements and rebuttals on the subject were published in periodicals. These were re-printed with additions in Rex Taylor’s 1961 book Assassination: the death of Sir Henry Wilson and the tragedy of Ireland. Participants in that discussion were Joe Dolan, Florence O’Donoghue, Denis P. Kelleher, Patrick O’Sullivan and others.[83][84]

Civil War

Main article: Irish Civil War

Michael Collins gave the order to bombard the Four Courts with artillery shells in an attempt to remove Anti-treaty IRA. This was to be the start of the Irish Civil War.

The death of Sir Henry Wilson caused a furor in London. Powerful conservative voices who had opposed any settlement with the Irish rebels drowned out moderates, with calls for a violent response. Under this pressure, Churchill issued an ultimatum demanding that the Provisional Government end the anti-Treaty occupation of the Four Courts or face a full-scale military invasion.[85]

A few days later, anti-Treaty IRA men kidnapped J.J. “Ginger” O’Connell, a Free State general. These two developments led to the Provisional Government’s 27 June 1922 order serving notice on the Four Courts garrison to surrender the building that night or face military action “at once”.[86]

Collins’ position in this conflict was extraordinary indeed. “A majority perhaps” of the army he’d led in the War of Independence were now ranged against the Free State, which he represented. In addition the force which by the will of the electorate he was obliged to lead had been re-organised since the Truce. Formed from a nucleus of pro-Treaty IRA men, it had evolved into a more formal, structured, uniformed National Army that was armed and funded by Britain. Many of the new members were World War I veterans and others who had not fought on the nationalist side before. It was now ten times the size of the force which had won independence, yet heavily populated with former British Army personnel. Collins’s profoundly mixed feelings about this situation are recorded in his private and official correspondence.[87][88][88][89][90][91]

Michael Collins as Commander-in-Chief of the Irish National Forces.

Artillery was provided to Mulcahy and the Free State Army by the British in anticipation of a siege. Emmet Dalton, a former British officer of Irish origin who was now a leading Free State commander and close associate of Collins, was placed in charge of it.

There is no definite record as to who gave the order to begin shelling the Four Courts. Historians have only presumed that it was Collins. There is only anecdotal evidence as to how and when the ultimatum was served on the anti-Treaty garrison, whether adequate time was allowed the Four Courts men to surrender, or whether shelling began precipitately while the garrison was loading up their arms to leave the building. Further study remains to be done on this most critical event of 1922, which actually started the Civil War in earnest.[91][92]

Fierce fighting broke out in Dublin between the anti-Treaty IRA and the Free State troops. Much of O’Connell Street suffered heavy damage, the Gresham Hotel was burned and the Four Courts reduced to a ruin. Still, under Collins’ direction, the Free State rapidly took control of the capital. By July 1922 anti-Treaty forces held much of the southern province of Munster and several other areas of the country. At the height of their success they administered local government and policing in large regions.[93] Collins, Richard Mulcahy, and Eoin O’Duffy decided on a series of seaborne landings into republican held areas, which re-took Munster and the west in July–August.

Also in July, Collins set aside his title as Chairman of the Provisional Government to become Commander-in-Chief of the National Army.[94] There is controversy about this change, especially in view of subsequent events: what, if anything, it said about his relationship with the Cabinet; what role, if any, others in the government may have played in it; what connection it had, if any, with the tragedy which followed.[91][92]

Civil War peace move

There is considerable evidence that Collins’s journey to Cork in August 1922 was made in order to meet republican leaders with a view to ending the war.[95][96][97] If so, it would explain a good deal that remains mysterious about the journey.

The question of his involvement in peace negotiations is hotly debated by historians. It has ramifications for opposing political viewpoints about him and especially about his death. If this was a peace mission, it was without any record of official involvement and sanction from the Provisional Government Cabinet. However this is not necessarily out of keeping with the general nature of peace negotiations in wartime. The first contacts with British negotiators had been “a dead secret,” even from many of his associates.[98] Nor was it unknown for Collins to make bold, controversial moves on his own initiative. Private and personal correspondence indicates that there was less than perfect trust and cordiality between Collins and some members of the Dáil. There was considerable friction between ministers on the conduct of the war and the treatment of anti-Treaty combatants.[99]

A remarkable number of meetings that included leading figures on both sides took place in Cork on 21–22 August 1922.[100] In Cork city, Collins met with neutral IRA men Seán O’Hegarty and Florence O’Donoghue with a view to contacting Anti-Treaty IRA leaders Tom Barry and Tom Hales to propose a truce. The anti-Treaty side had called a major convocation of officers to Béal na Bláth, a remote crossroads, with ending the war on the agenda.[101]

Michael Collins and Richard Mulcahy at Arthur Griffith‘s funeral, a few days before Collins’ own death.

De Valera was present there, and his assistant reported that a meeting between him and Collins was planned. The People’s Rights Association, a local initiative in Cork City, had been mediating a discussion of terms between the Provisional Government and the anti-Treaty side for some weeks.[21][102]

Peace terms were detailed in Collins’s correspondence and diary. Republicans would be obliged to “accept the people’s verdict” on the Treaty but could then “go home without their arms. We don’t ask for any surrender of their principles.” This indicates that Collins favoured a policy of amnesty, without sanctions. It is alleged that anti-Treaty veterans of the War of Independence might be offered a choice of taking their place either in Free State Army, in the civil service, or even in clandestine operations against para-militaries in the north.[103]

This is significant in view of the draconian policies, including execution without trial, that were pursued by the Free State government following on the deaths of Collins and Arthur Griffith within days of each other. The deaths of Collins and Griffith marked the end of Free State efforts to reunite the victorious War of Independence forces via a negotiated settlement.[104]

Death

Michael Collins body lying in hospital after he was shot dead at Béal na Bláth.

Collins’s death remains a mystery for a number of reasons. The only witnesses were Free State Army members of his convoy and the anti-Treaty ambushers. As all of these were participants, their accounts may not be objective. No two witnesses’ statements match and many are contradictory.[105] There is no complete record of the people involved and none of the witnesses were ever questioned by the authorities. Their accounts have been handed down through newspapers, biographers, private documents and personal contacts. One version suggests Collins was to meet with De Valera and discuss ways to end the conflicts.[citation needed]

The remainder of this section lists only those facts most generally agreed. Even some of these are disputed in some sources.

In August 1922, the Civil War seemed to be winding down. The Free State had regained control of most of the country and Collins was making frequent trips to inspect areas recently recovered from anti-Treaty forces.[106]

Collins’s grave, Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin

His plan to travel to his native Cork on 20 August was considered particularly dangerous and he was strenuously advised against it by several trusted associates. County Cork was an IRA stronghold, much of it still held by anti-Treaty forces. Yet he seemed determined to make the trip without delay. He had fended off a number of attempts on his life in the preceding weeks and had acknowledged more than once, in private conversation, that the Civil War might end his life at any moment. On several occasions Collins assured his advisors “they won’t shoot me in my own county,” or words to that effect.

On 22 August 1922 Collins set out from Cork City on a circuitous tour of West Cork. He passed first through Macroom then took the Bandon road via Crookstown. This led through Béal na Bláth, an isolated crossroads. There they stopped at a local pub, now known as the The Diamond Bar,[107] to ask a question of a man standing at the crossroad. The man turned out to be an anti-Treaty sentry. He and an associate recognised Collins in the back of the open-top car.[108]

As a result, an ambush was laid by an anti-Treaty column at that point, on the chance that the convoy might come through again on their return journey.[109]

Between 7:30 and 8PM, Collins’ convoy approached Béal na Bláth for the second time. By then most of the ambush party had dispersed and gone for the day, leaving just five or six men on the scene. Two were disarming a mine in the road, while three on a laneway overlooking them, provided cover. A dray cart, placed across the road, remained at the far end of the ambush site.

Shots were exchanged. Collins, who suffered a head wound, was the only fatality. Almost every other detail of what happened is uncertain, due to conflicting reports from participants and other flaws in the record.

A replica of the Crossley Tender in Collins’ convoy on the day of his death in a replica of the road where it happened on display at the Michael Collins Centre, Clonakilty[110]

Some of the details most disputed among the witnesses are: how the shooting started, what kind of fire the convoy came under, where the ambushers’ first shots struck, where Collins was and what he was doing when he was hit, whether anyone else was wounded, whether the armoured car‘s machine gun was fully functional throughout the engagement, who moved Collins’ body, and who was nearby when Collins fell.

Many questions have been raised concerning the handling of Collins’s remains immediately following his death. Among them are the inordinately long time the convoy took to cover the twenty miles back to Cork City, who searched his clothes, and what became of documents he was known to have been carrying on his person (such as his field diary, which did not turn up until decades afterward).

The medical evidence is also lacking. There are imperfect records as to which doctor examined the body; whether an autopsy was performed, and, if so, by whom; which hospital his body was taken to, and why; and, most importantly, what was the precise number and nature of his wounds.

Writers on the subject such as J. Feehan and S.M. Sigerson have called for a full forensic examination of Collins’s remains in order to attempt to settle at least some of these controversies concerning his end.[111][112]

Aftermath

Sean Collins behind the coffin of his brother Michael.

Collins’s body was transported by sea from Cork to Dublin. He lay in state for three days in Dublin City Hall where tens of thousands of mourners filed past his coffin to pay their respects, including many British soldiers departing Ireland who had fought against him. His funeral mass took place at Dublin’s Pro Cathedral where a number of foreign and Irish dignitaries were in attendance. Some 500,000 people attended his funeral, almost one fifth of the country’s population at that time.[21]

No official inquiry was ever undertaken into Collins’s death and consequently there is no official version of what happened, nor are there any authoritative, detailed contemporary records.[113]

Funeral of Michael Collins in the Pro-Cathedral, Dublin (contemporary newspaper depiction of the state funeral)

In this vacuum, independent investigations and conspiracy theorists have put forward a number of suspects as having executed or ordered his death, including an anti-Treaty sharpshooter, members of his own escort, the British secret service, or de Valera himself.

De Valera is alleged to have declared in 1966, “It is my considered opinion that in the fullness of time history will record the greatness of Michael Collins; and it will be recorded at my expense.”[114]

A number of books have been devoted entirely to the study of Collins’ death (in chronological order): The Day Michael Was Shot by Meda Ryan, The Shooting of Michael Collins: Murder or Accident? by John M Feehan, The Dark Secret of Béal na mBláth by Patrick Twohig, and The Assassination of Michael Collins: What Happened at Béal na mBláth? by S.M. Sigerson.

Personal life

Collins on his bicycle.

Collins’s elderly father inspired his fondness and respect for older people. His mother, who had spent her youth caring for her own invalid mother and raising her own brothers and sisters, was a powerful influence. The entire management of the Collins farm fell to her, as her husband succumbed to old age and died. In a society which honoured hospitality as a prime virtue, Mrs Collins was eulogised as “a hostess in ten thousand.” Her five daughters avowedly doted on their youngest brother.[9][21]

The Collins home’s spirit of self-sacrifice, welcome and inclusiveness later proved key in his capacity to unify people of all genders and walks of life and orchestrate them in an effective, enthusiastic, cooperative force for Irish self-determination.[115] Collins’s revolution was also a family affair. He continued to work closely with his brothers throughout the independence struggle and with cousins such as Nancy O’Brien, one of his most important moles in the British administration.[21]

He was very much a “man’s man”, fond of rough-housing and outdoor sports. Having won a local wrestling championship while still a boy, he is said to have made a pastime of challenging larger, older opponents, with frequent success. A very fit, active man throughout life, in the most stressful times he continued to enjoy wrestling as a form of relaxation and valued friendships which afforded opportunities to share athletic pursuits.[21]

Intensely hard-working, Collins could be abrasive, demanding, and sometimes inconsiderate of those around him. Yet he frequently apologised for his own temperament, with gestures such as confectionery and other small gifts, sometimes delivered at great personal risk in Dublin’s wartime environment.[116][117]

Unlike some of his political opponents, he was characterised by many close personal friendships within the movement. It has been justly said that while some were devoted to “the idea of Ireland”, Collins was a people person whose patriotism was rooted in affection and respect for the people of Ireland around him. Among his famous last words is the final entry in his pocket diary, written on the journey which ended his life, “The people are splendid.”[118][119][120]

His personal warmth and charm were combined with an uncanny ability to inspire confidence in a wide range of people. No other Irish leader of the time matched his remarkable ability to recruit people of every kind to the movement, win their trust and loyalty, pinpoint their capacities and unite them in coordinated action that was of maximum value to the cause.[121]

Collins was a complex man whose character abounded in contradictions. Although Minister of Finance and an accountant by pre-war profession, he seems never to have pursued personal profit; indeed was sometimes during the war all but homeless. While clearly fond of command and keen to take charge, he had an equal appetite for input and advice from people at every level of the organisation, prompting the comment that “he took advice from his chauffeur.” [122] Although acknowledged by friends and foes as “head centre” of the movement, he continually chose a title just short of actual head of state; becoming Chairman of the Provisional Government only after the abdication of half the Dáil forced him to do so. While his official and personal correspondence records his solicitous care for the wants of insurgents in need, during the war he showed no hesitation in ordering the death of opponents who threatened nationalist lives.[123]

Certainly a man of fierce pride, his pride was tempered by a sense of humour that included a keen sense of the absurd in his own situation.[124] While mastermind of a clandestine military, he remained a public figure. When official head of the Free State government, he continued to cooperate in the IRA’s secret operations. He was capable of bold, decisive actions on his own authority, which caused friction with his colleagues, his falling out with Cathal Brugha, for example; but at critical junctures he could also bow to majority decisions which were profoundly disadvantageous and dangerous to his own interests (such as his appointment to the Treaty negotiating team.)

These may constitute contradictions in his character. Yet they are also contradictions of the unique position he occupied, in a time of social upheaval, when the usual parameters and paradigms of society are in a state of flux.

Relationships with women

Kitty Kiernan

The formative role of the many strong, competent, loving women around him produced a man who deeply respected women and thrived on female company of all ages. It manifested also in sensitive, nurturing care toward those he was responsible for. His appointment as aide-de-camp to 1916 Rising organiser Joseph Plunkett, whose chronic health problems were a challenge to his presence at the GPO HQ, is indicative of these qualities. Both his official correspondence and countless personal memoires record empathy and sensitivity in his personal attention to the needs and hardships of Volunteers and their families.[21]

Collins’ lifetime exactly coincided with a period of aggressive, mass agitation for women’s rights. The female suffrage movement was in Ireland often closely linked with the campaign for Irish independence. Many proponents belonged to both camps. Full enfranchisement for women became enshrined in the 1916 Proclamation, the legal founding document of the Republic of Ireland. This was the political climate Collins grew up and prospered in. Yet he remained one of the few orators of the time who used gender-inclusive language in his speeches and explicitly acknowledged women’s contributions and concerns on a regular basis therein.[125][126]

Collins’s predecessor in the independence movement, Charles Stuart Parnell, was defeated by a sexual scandal. Collins’s detractors have occasionally attempted to raise similar issues. He was reported to have sown some wild oats during his teen career in London [127] (albeit while living under the roof of an older sister) but no scandal concerning his sexual life has ever been substantiated.

Collins’ intimate connections appear to have been no less healthy, vigorous, and well-conducted than other aspects of his life. His relations with women were affectionate and provided no evidence either of inexperience, excess or aberration.[128][129]

At the same time, he may be said to never have been without female companionship. He carried on relationships and written correspondence with a number of women such as Susan Killeen and “Dilly” Dicker, who also worked with him in positions of great trust during the struggle for independence. Their correspondence shows that they remained on friendly terms until the end of his life.

In 1921-22, he became engaged to Kitty Kiernan and made plans for a normal family life after the war. 241 letters of their voluminous correspondence survive. These provide an important record not only of their intimacy, but also of his daily life.[130]

Their letters detail his exhausting schedule during the concurrent national crisis and also document the challenges the couple faced in finding time together under the circumstances. In so doing they make it quite doubtful that he could have simultaneously devoted much attention to additional liaisons. Allegations of affair(s) with English society women at this same time are unsubstantiated, and fraught with suspicious political connotations. Those concerning Hazel Lavery originate chiefly with that lady herself, and are unsupported by evidence.[131]

Commemoration

Memorial cross at Béal na Bláth.

An annual commemoration ceremony takes place each year in August at the ambush site at Béal na Bláth, County Cork, organised by The Béal na mBláth Commemoration Committee. In 2009, former President of Ireland Mary Robinson gave the oration. In 2010 the Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan, Jnr became the first Fianna Fáil person to give the oration. In 2012 on the 90th anniversary of the death of Collins, the Taoiseach Enda Kenny gave the oration, the first serving head of government to do so.

There is also a remembrance ceremony in Glasnevin Cemetery at Collins’s grave on the anniversary of his death.

The Central Bank of Ireland released gold and silver commemorative coins on 15 August 2012 which feature a portrait of Michael Collins designed by Thomas Ryan based on a photograph taken not long before his death.[132]

Legacy

Love of Ireland by John Lavery.

Collins bequeathed to posterity a considerable body of writing: essays, speeches and tracts, articles and official documents in which he outlined plans for Ireland’s economic and cultural revival, as well as a voluminous correspondence, both official and personal. Selections have been published in The Path to Freedom (Mercier, 1968) and in Michael Collins in His Own Words (Gill & Macmillan, 1997). In the 1960s, Taoiseach Seán Lemass, himself a veteran of the 1916 Rising and War of Independence, credited Collins’s ideas as the basis for his successes in revitalizing Ireland’s economy.

Societies

The Collins 22 Society established in 2002 is an international organisation dedicated to keeping the name and legacy of Michael Collins in living memory. The patron of the society is Ireland’s former Minister for Justice and TD Nora Owen, grand-niece of Michael Collins.

In popular culture

Films

Bust of Michael Collins at Merrion Square Park, Dublin, Ireland.

The 1936 movie Beloved Enemy is a fictionalised account of Collins’s life. Unlike the real Michael Collins, the fictionalised “Dennis Riordan” (played by Brian Aherne) is shot, but recovers. Hang Up Your Brightest Colours, a British documentary by Kenneth Griffith, was made for ITV in 1973, but refused transmission. It was eventually screened by the BBC in Wales in 1993 and across the United Kingdom the following year.

In 1969, Dominic Behan wrote an episode of the UK television series Play for today entitled ‘Michael Collins’. The play dealt with Collins’ attempt to take the gun out of Irish politics and took the perspective of the Republican argument. At the time of writing the script, the troubles had just begun in Northern Ireland and the BBC were reluctant to broadcast the production. An appeal by the author to David Attenborough (Director of Programming for the BBC at that time) resulted in the play eventually being broadcast; Attenborough took the view that the imperatives of free speech could not be compromised in the cause of political expediency.

An Irish documentary made by Colm Connolly for RTÉ Television in 1989 called The Shadow of Béal na Bláth covered Collins’s death. A made-for-TV film, The Treaty, was produced in 1991 and starred Brendan Gleeson as Collins and Ian Bannen as David Lloyd George. In 2007, RTÉ produced a documentary entitled Get Collins, about the intelligence war which took place in Dublin.[133][134]

Collins was the subject of director Neil Jordan‘s 1996 film Michael Collins, with Liam Neeson in the title role. Collins’s great-grandnephew, Aengus O’Malley, played a student in a scene filmed in Marsh’s Library.

In 2005 Cork Opera House commissioned a musical drama about Collins.[135] “Michael Collins” by Brian Flynn had a successful run in 2009 at Cork opera house and later in the Olympia Theatre in Dublin.

Infamous Assassinations, a 2007 British documentary television series, devoted its third episode to the death of Collins.

Songs

Wax figure of Michael Collins at the National Wax Plus Museum, Dublin, Ireland.

Irish-American folk rock band Black 47 recorded a song entitled “The Big Fellah” which was the first track on their 1994 album Home of the Brave. It details Collins’s career, from the Easter Rising to his death at Béal na Bláth. Irish folk band the Wolfe Tones recorded a song titled “Michael Collins” about Collins’s life and death, although it begins when he was about 16 and took a job in London. Celtic metal band Cruachan recorded a song also titled “Michael Collins” on their 2004 album Pagan which dealt with his role in the Civil War, the treaty and his eventual death. Also a song by Johnny McEvoy, simply named “Michael”, depicts Collins’s death and the sadness surrounding his funeral.

The poem “The laughing boy” by Brendan Behan lamenting the death of Collins was translated into Greek in 1961 by Vasilis Rotas. In October of the same year, Mikis Theodorakis composed the song “Tο γελαστό παιδί” (“The laughing boy”) using Rotas’ translation. The song was recorded by Maria Farantouri in 1966 on the album “Ένας όμηρος” (“The hostage”) and became an instant success. It was the soundtrack of the movie Z (1969). “The laughing boy” became the song of protest against the dictatorship in Greece (1967–1974) and remains to date one of the most popular songs in Greek popular culture.

 

Murrough of the Burnings and the massacre at Cashel

Posted by Jim on August 16, 2016

The Sack of Cashel (also known as the Massacre of Cashel) was a
notorious atrocity which occurred in County Tipperary in the year 1647.

The town of Cashel was held by the Irish Catholic Confederate’s Munster
army and was besieged and taken by an English Protestant Parliamentarian
army under the Baron of Inchiquin, Murrough O’Brien. The attack and
subsequent sack of Cashel was one of the more brutal incidents of the
wars of the 1640s in Ireland.

In 1642, most of the province of Munster was under the control of Irish
Catholic forces with the exception of Cork city and a few towns along
the south coast, which were in the hands of Protestant, largely English
settlers. Since then, the province had been fought over by the
Catholics, organised in the Catholic Confederation, and the Protestants,
led by the Earl of Inchiquin.

The political and military situation was further fragmented by the
English Civil War, in which the Catholics gave their support to King
Charles I, and the Protestants, since 1643, to the English Parliament.
What was more, the Confederate Catholics were themselves split over the
terms on which they should sign a peace deal with the King. A deep rift
developed within their ranks in 1647 between those who were prepared to
accept a mere toleration of Catholicism in return for an alliance with
the English Royalists and those who in effect wanted Ireland to be
Catholic kingdom, albeit under sovereignty of the Stuart monarchy. This
infighting was to fatally hamper the war effort of the Confederates in
Munster and make possible the Protestant sack of Cashel.

In the summer of 1647 the Baron of Inchiquin, the Irish Protestant
commander of the Protestant army of Cork, commenced a campaign against
the Irish Catholic strongholds in Munster. The counties of Limerick and
Clare were raided and he soon turned his attention to the bountiful
eastern counties of Munster. In early September, his forces quickly took
the Castle of Cahir in Tipperary. This strong castle was well positioned
to become a base for the Cork Protestant army, and it was used to raid
and devastate the surrounding countryside.

Inchiquin had already launched two minor raids against Cashel, but the
Irish defenders were unprepared for a major assault. The Parliamentarian
forces first stormed nearby Roche Castle, putting fifty warders to the
sword. This attack terrified the local inhabitants of the region, some
of whom fled to hiding places, while hundreds of others fled promptly to
the Rock of Cashel, a stronger place than the town itself.

Arriving with his army at the Rock, Inchiquin called for surrender
within an hour. The defenders of the churchyard offered to negotiate,
but that was refused, and on the afternoon of the 15th of September the
assault commenced. The attack was led by around 150 dismounted horse
officers (who wore more armour than the foot) with the remainder of the
infantry following; troops of horse rode along the flanks of the
advancing force to encourage the infantry. The Irish soldiers attempted
to drive off the attackers with pikes while the civilians inside hurled
rocks down from the walls: in turn the attackers hurled firebrands into
the compound, setting some of the buildings inside on fire. Although
many were wounded, the Parliamentarians gradually fought their way over
the walls, pushing the garrison into the church.

Initially, the Irish defenders managed to protect the Church, holding
off the attackers trying to get through the doors, but the
Parliamentarians then placed numerous ladders against the many windows
in the church and swarmed the building. For another half an hour
fighting raged inside the church, until the depleted defenders retreated
up the bell tower. Only sixty soldiers of the garrison remained at this
point, and they thus accepted a call to surrender. However, after they
had descended the tower and thrown their swords away, all were killed.

In the end all the soldiers and most of the civilians on the Rock were
killed by the attackers. The Bishop and Mayor of Cashel along with a few
others survived by taking shelter in a secret hiding place. Apart from
these a few women were spared, after being stripped of their clothes,
and a small number of wealthy civilians were taken prisoner, but these
were the exceptions. Overall, close to 1,000 were killed, amongst them
catholic scholar Theobald Stapleton. The bodies in the churchyard were
described by a witness as being five or six deep.

The slaughter was followed by extensive plunder. There was much of value
inside, for apart from pictures, chalices and vestments of the church,
many of the slain civilians had also brought their valuables with them.
The sword and mace of the mayor of Cashel, as well as the coach of the
bishop were captured. The plunder was accompanied by acts of iconoclasm,
with statues smashed and pictures defaced. The deserted town of Cashel
was also torched.

The atrocity at Cashel caused a deep impact in Ireland, as it was the
worst single atrocity committed in Ireland since the start of fighting
in 1641 and took place at one of the chief holy places of Ireland. The
slaughter of the garrison at Cashel and the subsequent devastation of
Catholic held Munster earned Inchiquin the Irish nickname, Murchadh na
Dóiteáin or “Murrough of the Burnings”.

Up Coming events for the AOH

Posted by Jim on August 14, 2016

 Saturday August 20th  –
 Annual Maryland 400 Commemoration.  (Beginnning of Battle of Brooklyn Week)
 Ceremony at 11 am, Michael Rawley American Legion post on 9th Street btw 3rd & 4th Ave.
 Followed by Memorial march to the Old Stone House (Battlesite) led by lone bagpiper, and followed by Ceremony and Wreath Laying.
Saturday August 20th –
Our Lady of Knock/Queen of Ireland Mass
At Holy Name Church, 245 Prospect Park West (9th Ave).  5:00 pm Rosary & Crowning of our Lady.  5:30 pm mass.  Followed by Rose Laying at the Unborn Memorial; Knock Video presentation; Refreshments in Shepherd’s Hall.
Tuesday August 23rd  –
Irish Night on Shore Road  7:00 pm
The park located at Shore Road and 79th Street.  Concert with The Canny Brothers and the Clann Erin Band.  The Kings County AOH and LAOH will have a recruitment tent.  Asking for available members to attend and man the tent if you can.  Bring a chair and refreshments.
Sunday – August 28th –
Closing Ceremonies of Battle of Brooklyn Week in Green-wood Cemetery
Meet at the Archway  (5th Ave & 25th St) Memorial March led by lone Bagpiper.  Ceremony at the Minerva Monument.  Tributes to several Irish/Irish-American figures of history.  This is a very interesting event.  I have attended several in the past years.
Saturday September 10th –
Irish Heritage Trail & Irish Patriots Day
Noon Mass at the Green-wood Cemetery Chapel.  Mass is for Irish Korean War Veterans.  Followed by tributes to Ed Cush, Organizer of the Kings County Memorial Day Parade.  Refreshments to follow at the Chapel.  Followed by the Irish Heritage Trail to Memorials & Gravesites of Irish History.  Transportation provided by the Green-Wood Trolley between the Irish Patriots sites.  Also, a very informative event.
Thursday September 15th –
Great Irish Fair Kick Off  7:00 pm
At St. Francis College.  $60.  Tickets in advance can be purchased, go to the IABS website. Information about the Fair will be announced a this event.  Keep in mind, three AOH Members will be honorees this year.  John Manning will receive the Celtic Cross award, Danny Prince will receive the Timothy Stackpole award and Linda Gallagher-Lomanto will receive the Round Tower award. The Colleen Queen is Katie Byrnes of the O’Malley Dance School.
Saturday September 17th –
AOH Div 21 Golf Tournament
Riis Park Pitch and Putt.  $95 for Golfers.  $40 After Party only.  Party at Point Breeze Clubhouse 2-6 pm.  8:30 am bagels and coffee, 9:00 am Shotgun Start.  Proceeds go to Special Athletes of St. Camillus.
Contact Mark Edwards for reservations and/or sponsorship.
Saturday September 17th –
Family BBQ
Knights of Columbus Columbus Council is having a Family BBQ.  From Noon to 6:00 pm.  Individuals is $15 and $30 for a family.  Tons of food and beverages.  DJ and a face painter/balloon art/caricaturist.
Saturday September 17th –
Fight Night
Knights of Columbus Columbus Council and MSGR. Cafiero Council is having a fundraiser right after the Family BBQ.  Showing the live PPV Fights that night.  Proceeds go to the family of SK Joseph P. Murphy, a proud Knight and proud Hibernian.  $35 pp, includes heros, beer, wine and some good fights to watch.  RSVP Kevin Smylie 347-236-0948, Al Velez 917-648-6511 or Jennifer Smylie 347-452-5672.
Saturday September 24th –
The Great Irish Fair
This is a one day event.  We will be having a recruitment tent.  Asking my Hibernian Brothers to assist and man the tent, even for a couple of hours.  Location is at the Ford Amphitheater in Coney Island.
Monday September 26th –
Kings County Board meeting
The meeting will start at 7:30 pm.  Location is at the Baile na nGael.
Saturday October 1st – AOH Queens County Dinner Dance
This will be at Russo’s on the Bay.  More to follow.  I would like to get a table from Brooklyn, if at all possible Brothers.
More to follow shortly
Friday October 14th –
AOH Div 35 Annual Dinner Dance
Dinner Dance will be at the Columbus Council.  $40, includes music by DJ Vinny, An open bar and Buffett.
This night we will honor Eddie Velinskie as “Hibernian of the Year”.  For reservations, please call PP John O’Farrell at 718-252-4214 or President Ed Murphy at 718-375-2282.  Asking all County Officers to attend, and all Div 35 members to attend and our Hibernian Brothers of all Divisions to attend.  If you know Eddie, you know how hard he works for our Order and the numerous other Organizations he volunteers his services for.  Truly a worthy recipient.

Tyrone AOH Press Release

Posted by Jim on August 11, 2016

 Silly Season Morrow

Maurice Morrow is lending a whole new dimension to the term “Silly Season”, a reference to media stories during the slow news days of the summer months.

Anyone who bothers to listen to the American radio show in which our President gave an interview will acknowledge that it bears no correlation whatsoever to Morrow’s accusations. He needs to get his facts right. His statement is not only off the wall, but we feel should also be investigated for its slanderous hate-filled content.

We suspect that Morrow’s real gripe is with the up-coming “Hibernian Day” parade in Kinturk, Co Tyrone on September 11th in which the Ancient Order of Hibernians will honour the 400th anniversary of the death in exile of the great Gaelic Irish leader Hugh O’Neill. Our pride in recalling the events of that time is leaving the likes of Morrow deeply uncomfortable.

Lawyers for Gerry McGeough Press Statement

Posted by Jim on

Lawyers for high-profile Republican Gerry McGeough have confirmed that an application to the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) has been accepted and is under active investigation.

Solicitor Aiden Carlin explained: “If successful this case will be referred back to the Court of Appeal in Belfast. To that end we are instructed to make a plea for responsible and accurate media reporting. In recent days there have been a number of misleading articles which contain significant inaccuracies about a United States radio interview our client gave last weekend.”

Aiden Carlin Solicitor continued: “Contrary to press standards, no journalist contacted Gerry McGeough requesting his comments on the interview before reporting on it. Instead, articles have been published in newspapers and online which are not based on the facts. By way of example, Maurice Morrow MLA stated in a press release ‘it should be noted at no time he had the courage to take the stand himself.’ The truth is Gerry McGeough and the late William Plum Smith both give evidence during his Crown Court trial in support of an abuse of process application by the defence. Questions remain unanswered as to why none of the six Judges here who heard evidence and made rulings on various aspects of our client’s case received the ‘On The Runs’ material made public through John Downey’s case. Instead calls for full disclosure by Gerry McGeough’s defence were met with silence from the NIO, PPS, PSNI and Sinn Fein.”

Solicitor Aiden Carlin concluded: “Our client stood for election in 2007 on a manifesto for freedom, justice and peace. He instructs that the interview he gave to a United States radio station should be listened to in its entirety. The interview covers a plurality of subjects including Irish and Scottish history, poetry and prison memories, the Ancient Order of Hibernians, 9/11and Brexit. Our client has always maintained his innocence and is working closely with his lawyers to assist the CCRC’s investigation.”

Carlin Solicitors
2 Church Lane
Belfast
BT1 4QN

Arlene Foster should repudiate Free P rant

Posted by Jim on August 9, 2016

News Letter (Belfast). Monday, August 8, 2016

I respect First Minister Arlene Foster. She is a smart and strong leader and, naturally, I am proud she is a Fermanagh woman.

Arlene recently chastised me in the media because our Internet Animated Video (IrishNationalCaucus.org) states that – despite the welcomed progress of the peace process – “there is still deep-rooted anti-Catholic bigotry in Northern Ireland” (‘Arlene Foster’s fury at US video’ Belfast Telegrap , January 29).

Well, as if to prove my point, Rev John Gray, minister, Enniskillen Free Presbyterian Church, Co Fermanagh, issues in the News Letter a 17th century-type of a letter full of contempt for the “blasphemous Mass”. (‘Free Presbyterians warned of Catholic canons in CoI’ August 3).

Nothing could be more offensive than such an attack on The Eucharist, which is “the source and summit of the Christian life,” and one Christ’s most sacred commands and commissions.

The Rev Gray cites Martin Luther (one of my heroes, apart from his awful anti-Semitism and theological errors) but fails to note that Luther deeply believed in the Eucharist and in the Real Presence (although he explained things differently).

The Rev Gray also seems to be unaware of the wonderful agreements that have been reached between the Catholic Church not only on the Eucharist but also on Justification by Faith – the two wedge issues of the Reformation.

However, the issue here is not just about theology. The Rev Gray has deeply offended the Catholics of Fermanagh in his sacrilegious contempt for the Mass.

It is now incumbent on First Minister Arlene Foster to show she is the leader of all the people in Fermanagh – Protestants and Catholics alike – by publicly repudiating the Rev Gray’s hateful rant.

This is particularly relevant because it was Paisley’s Church, the Free Presbyterian Church, that brought the DUP and Arlene into power (even though she is not a member of the Free Presbyterian Church).

But Arlene is not the only one who must repudiate the Rev Gray’s awful bigotry. Tom Elliot, MP, must do likewise. Interested folk in Washington and in the U.S. Congress will be carefully watching to see if the two top Unionist/Protestant leaders in Fermanagh condone the Rev Gray’s anti-Catholicism.

Fr Sean McManus, President, Irish National Caucus

Controversy surrounding new Bobby Sands documentary ‘Bobby Sands: 66 Days’

Posted by Jim on

Deaglán de Bréadún @irishcentral . August 06,2016

Political campaigner and hunger striker Bobby Sands.

An emotionally powerful new documentary on the life and death of Irish Republican Army hunger-striker Bobby Sands is receiving widespread praise, but also criticism from different ends of the political spectrum in Ireland. The movie, which is 105 minutes in length, went on general release last Friday, August 5th.
Titled “Bobby Sands: 66 Days” and directed by Brendan J. Byrne, the film centers on the Belfast IRA activist’s fast to the death at the H-Blocks in the Maze Prison-Long Kesh. Sands began refusing food on March 1st, 1981, shortly before his 27th birthday, and died 66 days later on May 5th.
A few weeks earlier, on April 9th, Sands made world headlines when he was elected on an abstentionist basis to the British House of Commons, filling a vacancy created in the Fermanagh- South Tyrone constituency by the sudden death of the independent nationalist Member of Parliament, Frank Maguire.
Some Unionists expressed outrage that public money was used in funding the documentary project. Financial backers of the film included Northern Ireland Screen, a state-supported agency for the promotion of the film, television and digital content industry, which contributed £76,000

(approximately $90,000) and the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) which also provided support but did not disclose the amount given.
Former Northern Ireland finance minister Sammy Wilson of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) objected to the funding and described Sands as a convicted criminal who took his own life in order to encourage others to commit similar crimes.

Another former DUP minister, Nelson McCausland, wrote in the Belfast Telegraph that the film was being used as part of a concerted effort to “try to turn a terrorist into a freedom-fighter, poet, author and philosopher”.
In a review for the Belfast-based News Letter, the Member of Parliament for East Londonderry, Gregory Campbell of the DUP, described the film as “in effect a video-diary” of the hunger- strikes in which Sands and nine other republicans died.

He added that the documentary “makes good dramatic viewing, if overly long, but it is a million miles away from an accurate depiction of what happened during those harrowing days in 1981”. However, film critic Donald Clarke gave the movie four out of a maximum five stars in the Irish Times and described it as “a comprehensive, balanced, gripping tale of terrible times”.

There was mixed reaction at a question-and-answer session after the film was shown at the Irish Film Institute in Dublin last Friday, August 5th.
The audience, which included a small number of Sinn Féin party workers, gave the movie modest applause after the viewing and, although there was strong praise for the production, a number of questions and objections were raised about the content.

The director, who is himself a native of Belfast, said the project, which also received support from the Irish Film Board, “took about three years from start to finish”. He said the BBC “were initially a bit nervous, naturally” but this was overcome.
Sinn Féin’s Dáil Deputy for Cavan-Monaghan, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said the film “struck a hugely-emotional chord with me” and was “a powerful work that should be seen by people of all views”.

However, he dissented from some of the opinions expressed by interviewees in the movie and there was applause from some members of the audience when he added that he “would take exception with some of what [Irish Times columnist and literary editor] Fintan O’Toole would have had to say”.

A question was raised from the floor as to why no members of the Sands family were interviewed and the director said they had not taken part in such interviews since 1985 and had “very politely declined” to participate in his documentary.
“They were the women’s voices, including his mother, who I would have wanted in the film, as well as Bernadette McAliskey, who I also approached, and she refused to be interviewed.”
He continued: “There was no other women’s voices that I managed to capture, through the course of making the film, that ended up earning their right to be in the film.” He added that he wasn’t seeking to underplay the role played by women in the story.
Regarding the prominence given to Fintan O’Toole, the director explained that this was done on the basis of the latter’s analysis that Sands had changed people’s perceptions of the republican movement, as well as the fact that O’Toole had regularly challenged “the core IRA mission” and his presence would make the film more balanced.
“I think what the film is trying to say is that, without the 1981 hunger-strikes, there wouldn’t have been a democratization of Sinn Féin, there wouldn’t have been the Good Friday Agreement and there wouldn’t have been the self-governing parliament at Stormont.”

Byrne added: “I think what Fintan is saying at the end is that you don’t win by inflicting violence, you win by enduring suffering and you win by capturing the public imagination.”

Thomas McElwee – Died August 8th, 1981

Posted by Jim on August 8, 2016

 

[Image]

 

Sincere, easy-going and full of fun.

THE TENTH republican to join the hunger strike was twenty-three-year-old IRA Volunteer Thomas McElwee, from Bellaghy in South Derry. He had been imprisoned since December 1976, following a premature explosion in which he lost an eye.

He was a first cousin of Francis Hughes, who died after fifty-nine days on hunger strike, on May 12th.

One of the most tragic and saddening aspects of the hunger strike was the close relationships between some of the hunger strikers.

Joe McDonnell following his friend and comrade Bobby Sands on hunger strike and then into death, both having been captured on the same IRA operation in 1976.

Elsewhere, similar close ties, parallels, between one hunger striker and another: the same schools; the same streets; the same experiences of repression and discrimination.

And for those families, relatives and friends most acutely conscious of the parallels there is of course an even more intense personal sadness than for most, in the bitter tragedy of the hunger strike.

But of all those close relationships, none was surely as poignant as that between Thomas McElwee and his cousin, Francis Hughes: two dedicated republicans from the small South Derry village of Bellaghy, their family homes less than half-a-mile apart in the townland of Tamlaghtduff, who were close friends in their boyhood years and who later fought side by side in the towns and fields of South Derry for the freedom of their country.

It came then as no surprise to those who knew them when Thomas and Francis stood side by side again in the H-Blocks (along with Thomas’ younger brother, Benedict) in taking part in the thirty-strong four-day fast at the end of the original seven-man hunger strike last December.

And when the deaths of Bobby Sands and Francis Hughes, on the subsequent hunger strike, only months later, failed to break the Brits intransigence, the McElwee family were already certain that either Thomas or Benedict, both of whom had volunteered, would soon be joining the hunger strike as well.

QUALITIES

What are the qualities that make a twenty-three-year-old South Derry man ready to die a painful death on hunger strike, in defence of his political principles and to end, for himself and for his comrades, the horrors of the H-Blocks in which he had already spent almost four years?

The story of Thomas McElwee is not of a uniquely courageous, or uniquely principled young man, any more than were any of the hunger strikers unique in some way.

But it is the story of a fairly typical young Derryman, kind and good-natured, full of life, and with a craze for cars and stock-car racing who is also filled with a love of his country and its way of life, who (like many others) had watched that country overrun by foreign and hostile troops, torn by sectarianism and discrimination, and who had spent over half of his young life striving to achieve the liberation of his country.

Within those few years he had become part of a tradition of the resistance of ordinary Irish people, that will never be criminalised.

CHILDREN

Thomas McElwee, the fifth of twelve children, was born on November 30th, 1957, into the small, whitewashed home built by his father, along the Tamlaghtduff Road in the parish of Bellaghy.

His father, Jim (aged 65), a retired builder, has lived in Tamlaghtduff all his life, coming from a family of farmers which settled in the area at the turn of the century. One of his sisters, Margaret, married into the Hughes family, and is the mother of the late Francis Hughes. Thomas’ mother, Alice (aged 56), lived in Philadelphia until she was seven years old, her family having moved there from County Derry but later returning, and she has lived in Bellaghy for most of her life.

Jim and Alice married in 1950 and had twelve children, the oldest thirty, the youngest fourteen. They are: Kathleen, the eldest; Mary; Bernadette; Annie; Enda; Thomas; Benedict; Joseph; Nora; Pauline; Majella; and the youngest James. Even within the Irish countryside where strong family bonds are the rule, the McElwee family are considered to be particularly close and considerate to one another, and there are strong ties too between them and the Hughes family.

As children, Thomas and Benedict and Francis Hughes, along with other neighbours’ children, used to walk together each day to the bottom of the Tamlaghtduff road to catch the bus to school, returning home again each evening. They went to St. Mary’s primary in Bellaghy, and then to Clady intermediate, three miles away.

Thomas got on pretty well at school. His favourite subjects were English and Maths, and he was also good at Geography and History.

At home he was quiet, very good natured and sincere, and particularly good towards his mother, helping out around the house and with jobs like cutting the hedge and putting up fencing.

He was also, however, very much an outdoor person, and although more serious than Benedict (who would usually have started off the devilment the pair got involved in), he was full of fun, with a strong sense of humour and adventure.

One of the pranks they sometimes got up to along with other local lads, earning them the temporary wrath of neighbours, was climbing on to the roof of a house, blocking the chimney, and then watching as the smoke began to appear in the kitchens. “They weren’t too popular when that happened”, remembers one of their sisters, laughing.

NEIGHBOURS

But frequently too, Thomas was out-at week-ends and during school holidays – helping neighbours, including Protestant farmers, with their crops and machinery. He also used to go to work, picking gooseberries, at the monastery in Portglenone, staying there for maybe ten days at a time, during school holidays.

He had always been a determined person, arguing his point of view with his sisters and brothers, and if he wanted something, often a present for a member of his family, he would work hard to earn enough for it.

From the time he was eleven Thomas had an intense interest in working with cars and all types of machinery. On one occasion his mother brought a lawn mower which Thomas immediately dismantled, to see how it worked. When he reassembled it, it worked, but perhaps not just quite as well as before!

As he grew older, his fascination for engines grew stronger. He got his driving license as soon as he was old enough, and got his own car. He used to travel all over the place to watch stock-car racing, particularly at Aghadowey near Coleraine, in North Derry, and once he even got his own stock-car for a while.

At weekends he used to go to local dances in neighbouring towns and villages such as Ardboe and Clady. Usually, if it was ceilidh dancing, he had to be dragged along, but he enjoyed it once he was there.

REPUBLICAN

Yet, though full of life, there was a serious, reflective side to Thomas too.

He enjoyed playing records, often of traditional music, sometimes of republican ballads, at a time when the ‘troubles’ had barely begun. Even before 1969, the McElwees, including Thomas, would sometimes go to folk concerts in the village where many of the ballads recalled the tradition of resistance to British mis-rule.

Given that background and Thomas’ personal qualities of courage and concern for his neighbours it was not surprising that he joined na Fianna Eireann when he was only fourteen, and subsequently joined the independent unit led by his cousin, Francis Hughes, which concentrated on defence of the local area and ambushes of British forces, before it was recruited in its entirety, after a period of time, into the IRA.

The following few years, before Thomas’ capture in October ’76, were active ones in the South Derry area with a succession of successful bomb blitzes of the commercial centres of towns like Magherafelt, Bellaghy, Castledawson, and Maghera, and a high level of ambushes and booby-traps which made the British forces reluctant to wander into the country lanes surrounding Bellaghy.

Thomas had a reputation of a dedicated and principled republican who knew what he was about, and knew moreover what he was fighting to ultimately achieve. He was particularly interested in local republican history and knew what had happened in Bellaghy and the surrounding areas over the past fifty years.

COLLEGE

Because of his discretion as a republican, and, doubtless, good luck as well, Thomas – unlike Francis Hughes – was not forced to go ‘on the run’ and continued to live at home.

After leaving school he had gone to Magherafelt technical college for a while, but later changed his mind and went to Ballymena training centre to begin an apprenticeship as a motor mechanic. But harassment from loyalist workers there forced him to leave and he then went to work with a local mechanic.

Although not ‘on the run’ Thomas was still subject to the extreme harassment at the hands of the Brits and the RUC that began to be felt in the area in the mid-seventies, even before the IRA’s military campaign in the South Derry countryside, led by Francis Hughes, began to bite deep against the occupation

forces.

Like many young men, whenever Thomas went out he was liable to be stopped for lengthy periods of time along empty country roads, searched, maybe threatened, and abused.

RAIDS

There were also house raids

The McElwees’ home was first raided in 1974, and Thomas was arrested under Section 10, for three days. That time it was over twenty-four hours later before the family learned that Thomas was being held in Ballykelly interrogation centre. On another occasion, both he and Benedict were arrested, and taken to Coleraine barracks, after a raid on their home.

The last time that the family would be together, however, was on the evening of October 8th, 1976. That evening the ‘Stations’ took place in the McElwees’ home, a country tradition where Mass is said in one house in every townland during Lent, and during the month of October. That month in Tamlaghtduff it was taking place in the McElwees’s and most of the neighbours were there as well. After the Mass there was a social evening, with food and music.

The following afternoon – Bernadette’s birthday – at 1.30 p.m. on October 9th, Kathleen answered the phone, to be told that both their brothers Thomas and Benedict were in the Wavery hospital in Ballymena following a premature bomb explosion in a car in the town, shortly beforehand.

EXPLOSION

In the explosion, Thomas lost his right eye, while two other Bellaghy men were also injured: Colm Scullion, losing several toes and Sean McPeake, losing a leg.

Benedict McElwee, fortunately, suffered only from shock and superficial burns. Following the explosion, several other republicans in the town were arrested, later to be charged. These included Dolores O’Neill, from Portglenone, Thomas’ girlfriend, and Ann Bateson, from Toomebridge, both of whom joined the protest in Armagh women’s jail.

Thomas was transferred from the Ballymena hospital to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast for emergency surgery to save his remaining eye. It was three weeks, however before he was able to see at all.

After six weeks he was transferred again, this time to the military wing of the Musgrave Park hospital, where Benedict also was. One week before Christmas, both brothers were charged and sent to Crumlin Road jail.

At their subsequent trial in September 1977, having spent over eight months on remand in Crumlin Road, Thomas was convicted, although he made no statements, not only of possession of explosives but also of the killing of a woman who accidentally died in a bomb attack elsewhere in Ballymena that day and with which other republicans were also charged.

That ‘murder’ conviction was, on appeal, reduced to manslaughter but a twenty-year sentence remained, and Thomas returned to the blanket protest he had joined immediately after his trial, in the H-Blocks of Long Kesh.

BRUTALITY

Their imprisonment was particularly harsh for the McElwee brothers who were frequently singled out for brutality by prison warders, outraged at the stubborn refusal of the two to accept any form of criminal status.

For a while they were able to keep in touch with each other as they were both in H6 Block, but they were split up and had hardly any opportunity to see each other at all for over two years.

Both Thomas and Benedict have been frequently mentioned in recent years in smuggled communications detailing beatings meted out to blanket men. On one occasion Thomas was put on the boards for fourteen days for refusing to call a prison warder ‘sir’. In a letter smuggled out to his sister Mary, one time, Benedict wrote of the imprint of a warder’s boot on his back and arms after a typical assault.

Throughout, though, the brutality and degradation they had to endure served only to deepen yet further, and harder, their resistance to criminalisation.

The McElwee family weren’t surprised last December when they discovered that both Thomas and Benedict had joined the thirty-strong hunger strike, as Sean McKenna neared death, but even then the partial breakdown in communications between H Blocks at that critical time meant that the family learnt first that Benedict was going on hunger strike, only to be informed an hour and a half later that Thomas was going on the fast too.

HUNGER STRIKE

Speaking of the hunger strike and her sons and their comrades during Thomas’ strike, Mrs. McElwee said: “I know Thomas and Benedict would be determined to stand up for their rights. In the Blocks one will stand for another. If this hunger strike isn’t settled one way or another they’ll all go the same way. There’ll never be peace in this country.”

Thomas McElwee died at 11.30 a.m. on Saturday, August 8th. Indicative of the callousness of the British government towards prisoners and their families alike neither had the comfort of each other’s presence at that tragic moment. He died after 62 days of slow agonising hunger strike with no company other than prison warders – colleagues of those who had brutalised, degraded and tortured him for three-and-a-half years.

 

Radio Free Eireann will air Saturday August 6th

Posted by Jim on August 5, 2016

 


Special 2 hour show.

Guests this week will include Tyrone Republican Gerry McGeough,speaking about a special DVD  for contributors ,” A CELEBRATION OF THE LIFE OF OGLACH LIAM RYAN”. Liam Ryan a Tyrone native emigrated to the Bronx , worked for Con Ed became an American citizen, and was murdered by pro-British loyalists. The DVD includes moving footage and interviews with family and friends from the Bronx and Tyrone and  the Independent Republican 25th anniversary Commemoration.
Belfast author and former PRO for the 1981 Hunger Strike Richard O’Rawe will discuss the Belfast premiere of the new film “66 DAYS” about Bobby Sands’ Hunger Strike, including some obvious omissions of coverage of the events in New York and across the United States.
Malachy McCourt will discuss and make available for donors original copies of the 20 year old first edition of his brother’s classic Angela’s Ashes.
 Free Eireann is heard Saturdays at 12 Noon New York time on WBAI 99,5 FM and wbai.org
It can be heard at wbai.org  in Ireland from 5pm to 6pm or anytime after the program concldes on WBAI.ORG/ARCHIVES

Annual Maryland 400 Commemoration Saturday August 20th (11:00am)- Battle of Brooklyn

Posted by Jim on August 4, 2016

Beginning of Battle Week (1st Battle after the signing of the Declaration of Independence).

Ceremony at the Michael A. Rawley American Legion Post on 9th Street between 3rd and 4th Ave.

Followed by Wreath laying at burial site.

Memorial march to the Old Stone House (battlesite) 3rd St. between 4th and 5th Aves. led by lone Piper

Maryland 400 Roll Call of Honor Ceremony

Wreath Laying followed by Reception.

Please contact: Mary Nolan (718)- 833-3405 for more information

 

LANDING OF THE ASGARD’ REMEMBERED BY REPUBLICANS IN HOWTH

Posted by Jim on August 2, 2016

LANDING  OF THE ASGARD’ REMEMBERED BY REPUBLICANS IN HOWTH

On Sunday 24th July, republicans gathered at Howth Pier in Dublin for a commemoration to remember the ‘Landing of the Asgard’ and launch the newly-formed Asgard Society Howth. Monaghan ex-POW and member of the James Connelly Society Monaghan. John Crawley (above) gave the main oration and has kindly forwarded the text of his speech.

The Howth gun running operation on 26th July 1914 was, along with the founding of the Irish Volunteers in November 1913, one of the crucial enabling factors which permitted the Rising to take place and the Irish Republic to be declared at Easter 1916.

On a sunny July Sunday 102 years ago, Erskine Childer’s yacht ‘The Asgard’ arrived here in Howth harbour carrying 900 German Mauser rifles and 29,000 rounds of ammunition. Waiting anxiously to receive them were 800 members of the Irish Volunteers and the lads of Na Fianna Éireann. Among the hundreds present on this pier that historic day was a founding member of the Volunteers, The O’Rahilly, Peadar Kearney, author of the Soldier’s Song, Thomas MacDonagh, a future signatory of The Proclamation, and Cathal Brugha, a future TD, who five years later would preside over the inaugural meeting of the the First Dáil and become its Minister of Defence. Although not present on the day, Roger Casement had been central to the organisation and finance of the operation.

Less than two years later The O’Rahilly would be killed in action leading a charge against a British army machine gun post on Moore Street, Roger Casement would be hanged in Pentonville Prison after organising a much larger and unsuccessful gun-running operation at Banna Strand, Thomas MacDonagh would be executed by the British army for signing the Proclamation of the Irish Republic and in 1922 Erskine Childers and Cathal Brugha would both be shot dead by the Free State army, for defending that Republic and resisting British attempts to impose a treaty which partitioned Ireland and re-defined Irish democracy in British Imperial interests.

But all that lay unknown and in the future as the jubilant Volunteers and Fianna unloaded the Asgard in less than 45 minutes. This was some feat considering it had taken five hours to load the guns onto her from a German tugboat in the North Sea. A Cumann na mBan activist recalled later that, at the sight of the arms being taken off the Asgard, ‘we cheered and cheered and cheered and waved anything that we had and cheered again’. A smaller part of the shipment, 600 rifles and 19,000 rounds of ammunition, were landed from the Chotah by Sir Thomas Myles, Tom Kettle and James Meredith at Kilcoole, Co. Wicklow, on the 1st of August.

As the Volunteers and Fianna made their way back to Dublin from Howth with their cargo, they were challenged at Clontarf by British soldiers and the Irishmen of the Dublin Metropolitan police. Scuffles broke out and the arms and ammunition were spirited across hedges, fields and lanes and dispersed to various hides. Only 19 rifles were lost. As a section of the King’s Own Scottish Borderers were returning to the Royal Barracks (now Collins Barracks and the National Museum), they were met by jeering crowds along Sackville Street (now O’Connell street). It was not lost on the citizens of Dublin that the Ulster Volunteers, with the active connivance and collaboration of elements of the English Tory party and senior British military officers, had been allowed the previous April to bring in 25,000 German rifles and up to 5 million rounds of ammunition without interference.

In March British officers in the Curragh, in what was effectively a mutiny, had without sanctions or consequences, threatened to resign en masse if called upon to move against the Ulster Volunteers. Yet, when Irish nationalists and republicans attempted to arm themselves, in the words of the Irish Volunteers’ manifesto ‘to secure and maintain the rights and liberties common to the whole people of Ireland,’ they were met with the active opposition of the British state.

As the soldiers turned right at O’Connell Bridge to march down the Quays to their barracks, they opened fire on protesters at Bachelor’s Walk. Shot dead were 50-year-old Mary Duffy (the mother of a British soldier serving in the Royal Dublin Fusiliers), 46-year-old Patrick Quinn, a married man with six children and 17-year-old James Brennan. Another man, Sylvester Pidgeon, married with five children and bayoneted during the British army assault on the crowd died, on the 24th of September.  Among the thirty-two wounded included a young boy called Luke Kelly who would recover from his injury and one day become the father of Luke Kelly of the Dubliner’s.

The Howth guns arrived just in time. Nine days later on August 4th Britain declared war on Germany. The Asgard would never had made it through the formidable cordon that the Royal Navy was to establish around Britain and Ireland as a result of the outbreak of the First World War.

The political and historical context for these events run deep and continues to this day. As a result of the 1910 UK elections, John Redmond’s Irish Parliamentary Party held the balance of power, permitting Prime Minister Herbert Asquith’s Liberal Party to govern in return for a promise to publish a Home Rule bill. The Tories, or, as the current UK Prime Minister Theresa May recently reminded us, the Conservative and Unionist party, were deeply opposed to Home Rule but also wished to cynically exploit the issue and deliberately stoked sectarian tensions in Ireland in order to undermine the Asquith government and seize power for themselves.

Unionist leaders Edward Carson and James Craig were aided and abetted by prominent Tories such as Andrew Bonar Law and FE Smith (later to become Lord Birkenhead). Speaking in Liverpool in January 1912, Smith told his audience that there was, ‘no length to which Ulster will not be entitled to go – however desperate and unconstitutional – in carrying the quarrel if the quarrel is wickedly fixed upon them’. He told a UVF rally in Antrim that they were ‘dealing with a Government which understands one argument – the argument of force’.

With the outbreak of the First World War, the Home Rule Bill was put on the statute book, but ‘no steps’ would be taken to put it into practical operation ‘till the end of the war’, when an Amending Bill would be passed to ‘alter, modify and qualify its provision’. Thousands of Irishmen would be lured to their deaths on the Western front by this scam. James Connolly wrote at that time, ‘our leaders are prepared to sacrifice all the sons of the poor, and all the soul and honour of their nation for the deferred promise of a shadow of liberty’.

Home Rule it must be remembered, was merely a form of local autonomy in which an Irish legislature, subordinate to the Westminster parliament, would be given responsibility for domestic affairs. Home Rule was designed principally to reconcile Irish nationalism with British sovereignty. Home Rule, it was hoped by its English supporters, would nurture a loyal nationalist opposition and remove Ireland as an issue from Britain’s political radar. Ireland would be pacified and remain a dependable provider of food and soldiers for the British empire. James Connolly wrote that the problem for the British ‘was not how to defeat a nation in arms battling for all that makes life worth living, but how to fool a nation without arms into becoming the accomplice of its oppressor’.

The degree to which Britain succeeded in fostering a loyal nationalist opposition can be seen in John Redmond’s description of the 1916 Rising as treason against the Irish people and the Irish Parliamentary Party’s call for Irishmen to fight and die, not for Ireland, but for the British Empire in the belief that unity between Nationalists and Unionists could be fostered by bayoneting German boys in Flanders.

Incredibly, to this day some Nationalists still believe that alliances with Unionism should be nurtured through attendance at British army war memorial services and sentimentalising joint-First World War service in the very army that executed the 1916 leadership and continues to occupy our country. In this scenario, Wolfe Tone’s belief that Protestant and Catholic unity should come about through the forging of a common national citizenship free from England is superseded by a twisted concept of unity through celebrating joint debasement as levies and mercenaries for the enemy.

The Howth gun-running was more a nationalist operation in response to the arming of the Ulster Volunteers than it was a republican operation with a specific intent to supply weapons for the 1916 Rising. Of course, some IRB members such as Thomas MacDonagh and Cathal Brugha were involved but only in their dual capacity as members of the Irish Volunteers.

Subsequent events would flag up the differences between nationalism and republicanism and illustrates what happens when an organisation made up of a broad spectrum of opinion, with no agreed consensus or bottom line on crucial constitutional issues, comes through a period of intense struggle and is then offered an opportunity by the enemy to acquire pay, pensions and power in return for conceding what were once core principals.

Few countries have had greater experience, or success, at countering an insurgency than the United Kingdom. According to one British historian, of 196 countries in the world today, the British have invaded or established a military presence in 171 of them. So it is not surprising that they have evolved a multi-layered and coordinated approach to achieving British strategic objectives through the focused use of applied violence and the manipulation and co-option of indigenous leaderships, groups and movements.

One of the first things the Brits do when gathering intelligence and psychologically profiling an insurgent leadership is to try to determine for whom the priority is to win the struggle and for whom the priority is to survive the struggle. For whom is the ideology espoused by the rebels sacrosanct and non-negotiable and who, despite articulate and virulent posturing may be open to persuasion. Who is determined to end British rule and who, in return for a slice of the pie, is willing to negotiate adjustments to it.

Once the Brits get a handle on this they attempt to nurture an insurgent leadership fit for purpose, based on Lenin’s dictum that ‘the best way to control the opposition is to lead it ourselves’. To do this they must kill the right people, jail the right people, buy the right people and enhance the credibility, status and prestige within the insurgent movement of the right people. The Brits are masters at sniffing out the divisions and cleavages in an organisation and know how to exploit them to their best advantage.

During the Tan War, all TDs in Dáil Éireann subscribed to the 1916 Proclamation, the Declaration of Independence and the Democratic Programme. They had all sworn an oath to ‘support and defend the Irish Republic and the Government of the Irish Republic, which is Dáil Eireann, against all enemies, foreign and domestic’. This oath was to the 32-County government declared in 1916 and ratified in the 1918 Election.

The Brits knew well that not all of them were committed to these ideals. Some were simply advanced Home Rulers, some Catholic Nationalists and, as the Treaty debates would reveal, many were simply 26-County Nationalists. It became clear during the Treaty debates who were the republicans committed to the ideals of the Proclamation and who could become counter-revolutionaries trusted with the loan of British artillery.

Pro-Treaty delegates such as Eoin MacNeill, who was the founder of the Irish Volunteers and took part in the Howth gun-running operation had stated years earlier, ‘in theory I suppose I am a separatist, in practice I would accept any settlement that would enable Irishmen to freely control their own affairs, and I would object to any theoretical upsetting of such a settlement’. Desmond Fitzgerald, father of the late Fine Gael leader and Taoiseach Garret Fitzgerald, glibly implied that what they said and what they meant were two different things stating, ‘I have always understood by a Free Irish Republic that we meant an independent Ireland’.

Arthur Griffith, who served as acting President of the Republic while De Valera was in America and Chairman of the Irish delegation during the Treaty negotiations, was certainly no republican. The Brits sidelined him during the negotiations as much as they could and worked on him knowing his weaknesses. He eventually promised Prime Minister Lloyd George he would sign the Treaty even if every other member of the delegation refused.

Robert Barton, an Irish Treaty delegate, a first cousin of Asgard skipper Erskine Childers who was Chief Secretary of the Delegation, did not want to sign the Treaty. Reflecting on Arthur Griffith Barton wrote, ‘a situation had now arisen which they had never visualised, Griffith had gone over to the English… He’d been outmaneuvered, outwitted and smashed. And he now proceeded to smash us’. When informed to his astonishment that Michael Collins and Eamonn Duggan would also sign Robert Barton commented, ‘my dilemma was that whilst I knew the cabinet and Ireland would face war on a united leadership I had no idea what they would do when three of the principal leaders had ratted.’

During the Treaty Debates in the Dáil, arguments arose which many former members of the Provisional Movement who attended briefings on the Good Friday Agreement would recognise. Those who would become Free Staters and accept British guns and artillery to destroy the Republic argued along the lines of, ‘if it’s good enough for Mick Collins it’s good enough for me’. ‘We have the freedom to achieve freedom.’ ‘What’s the alternative?’ ‘Sure, you knew we were never going to drive the Brits into the sea.’ ‘What does it matter about a republic as long as we have legislative independence?’ ‘What’s so special about republicanism, didn’t Cromwell want a republic?’ ‘We won the war lets win the peace’, and so on.

Republicans such as Liam Mellows, later executed by the Free State, argued that constitutional authority resided exclusively within the Irish people. That England has always sought democratic title in Ireland, Irish approval and an Irish mandate for their continued presence which this treaty with its oath to the King provided them. Padraig Pearse’s literary executor, Desmond Ryan, wrote, ‘the spirit of the Irish revolution was buried. It was the hour of reaction, of the place-hunter, the intriguer, the hopeless, the mediocre, the superstitious… Never had the pride and self-respect of a nation been so deeply wounded.’

Republicans today are faced with similar issues and arguments as many former comrades now assert the path to an Irish national democracy is signposted by British legislation. They have conceded the Unionist Veto, revived the Six-County Home Rule parliament at Stormont, endorsed Her Majesty’s constabulary as lawful authority and internalised British constitutional constraints such as the triple-locked border poll. Twenty years ago, we were assured by the Provisional leadership that by 2016 there would be no border in Ireland. Now there are two.

These debates are not ephemeral irrelevancies, significant only to a legalistic, pedantic or contentious mind. They cut right to the heart of the concept of Irish citizenship and which government – English or Irish – lawfully defines the parameters of Irish democracy. In the words of Bobby Sands, written in his own context, ‘what’s lost here is lost for the Republic’. By the Republic Bobby didn’t mean the 26-County Republic of Ireland declared in 1949, which announced to the the world Ireland is Ireland without the Six Counties, but the 32-County Irish Republic declared in 1916 and which proclaimed ‘a permanent National Government, representative of the whole people of Ireland and elected by the suffrages of all her men and women’.

One hundred years later, Ireland still does not have a national government and Britain still works assiduously to ensure that UK parliamentary sovereignty in the Six Counties is not superseded or eclipsed by 32-County popular sovereignty. Britain remains determined to defend the political and territorial integrity of the United Kingdom and to underwrite and subsidise its contrived vanguard the Unionist Veto.

We have recently witnessed the arrival of a new British Secretary of State for the North. No Irish citizen elected James Brokenshire to any office whatsoever. Yet the signatories to the Good Friday Agreement confer upon this English politician the statutory authority to decide whether a border poll may be called, the very wording of the poll and who among the Irish electorate qualifies to vote. And just on the off-chance England should leave a single stone unturned in ring fencing their Irish national gerrymander, the final result of that poll must be ratified by the parliament of the United Kingdom in London.

The 1916 Societies advocate an all-Ireland referendum on Irish Unity, testing the national will on a national as opposed to a partitionist basis – a ‘One Ireland One Vote’ referendum as opposed to the six-county border poll negotiated under the Good Friday Agreement promoting Two Irelands Two Votes.

There are those who try to tell you that Irish Republicanism is defeated. Republicanism is not defeated. Republican leaderships have been defeated, co-opted, corrupted but not Republicanism. Those claiming to be Republican may well advocate a compromised authority in which Irish constitutional prerogatives are relegated to notional aspirations subject to UK parliamentary endorsement, but no genuine republican would do so and to my knowledge none has.

On this spot 102 year ago arms were landed by Erskine Childers and his core group of Irish Protestant patriots. Despite the seeming unity of purpose on the day, those waiting on the rifles and ammunition had very different conceptions of Irish freedom. Some, like Thomas MacDonagh and Cathal Brugha, were uncompromising in their determination to forge a united sovereign Republic. Others, like Eoin MacNeill, were not concerned so much with the form of government but with acquiring managerial control of a state and could accept England determining the democratic parameters of that state.

Some there that day went along with Redmond’s advice and joined the British war effort on the Western Front. Some died there, some came back and joined the IRA and stayed the course. Others deserted the Republic and joined the Free State army. Some went Free State simply because a state can buy loyalty, some out of personal devotion to a pro-Treaty leader, and some welcoming the opportunity to get stuck into republicans to avenge the stab in the back they felt they received from the 1916 rebels while in the trenches. At least half the Free State army in the Civil War was comprised of ex-British soldiers of Irish provenance.

Partition and the Good Friday Agreement are essentially tribal settlements rooted in difference. Irish Republicanism is inspired by a proposition. That proposition was enunciated by Wolfe Tone and further refined and articulated in the Proclamation of 1916. The proposition that Britain can be dispensed with and Irishmen and women of whatever persuasion and none could forge a common national citizenship based upon democracy, equality and fraternity.  That’s the vision. That is Irish Republicanism.

On Easter Monday 1916, as British Lancers charged down O’Connell Street, the Howth guns fired the first shots that attempted to make that vision a reality…

Kieran Doherty – Died August 2nd, 1981

Posted by Jim on

[Image]

 

A dedicated republican and an outstanding soldier

WHEN the family, friends and former comrades of Belfast IRA Volunteer twenty-five-year-old Kieran Doherty learnt that he was joining the H-Block hunger strike, as a replacement for Raymond McCreesh, it came as no surprise to them.

Although Kieran had spent seven of the last ten years imprisoned, his complete selflessness and his relentless dedication to the liberation struggle left no-one in any doubt that Kieran would volunteer for this terrible and lonely confrontation with British rule inside the H-Blocks of Long Kesh. Last December he was amongst those thirty prisoners who were on hunger strike for four days prior to the ending of the original seven-strong strike.

Kieran was born on October 16th, 1955 in Andersonstown, the third son in a family of six children. His two elder brothers, Michael, aged 28, and Terence, aged 27, were interned between 1972 and 1974.

Kieran has two younger sisters, Roisin and Mairead; and his younger brother, Brendan, aged twelve, is still at school.

BACKGROUND

Kieran’s mother, Margaret, is a Catholic convert from a Protestant background. His father, Alfie Doherty, who is a floor-tiler by trade, is a well-known figure in Andersonstown.

Kieran’s paternal grandfather comes from Limavady, County Derry, and after his people moved to a house in North Belfast in the ‘twenties, they were threatened that the house was going to be burnt.

This was during the loyalist-initiated pogroms which followed partition.

They had to flee to West Belfast enacting a tragedy which was to repeat itself in front of Kieran’s eyes in the early seventies, and stir him to take action.

Alfie’s uncle, Ned Maguire, took part in the famous IRA roof-top escape from Belfast’s Crumlin Road jail on January 15th, 1943.

Ned Maguire’s son, also called Ned, and a second cousin of Kieran, was an internee in Cage S of Long Kesh in 1974, when he took part in the mass escape from the camp during which Hugh Coney was shot dead by the British army. Young Ned Maguire was one of the three who managed to reach Twinbrook before being recaptured. He is now on the blanket.

Ned’s sisters (and Kieran’s second cousins), Dorothy Maguire, aged 19, and Maura Meehan, aged 30, were shot dead by the British army on October 23rd, 1971, in a car in the Lower Falls area of Belfast. Both were members of Cumann na mBan.

Another relative of Kieran’s, his uncle, Gerry Fox, was part of the famous Crumlin Road jail ‘football team’, who escaped from the jail by climbing over the wall in 1972.

CHILDHOOD

However, Kieran’s childhood was relatively ordinary. He loved sport more than anything else, and was always out playing Gaelic football, hurling or soccer.

Kieran went to St. Theresa’s primary school, then moved to the Christian Brothers secondary school on the Glen Road, where he studied until the age of sixteen.

A keen Gaelic footballer, he won an Antrim Minor medal in 1971 for St. Theresa’s GAC.

Kieran took up cycling for a while, following his brother, Michael, in St. Thomas’ cycling club. His mother recalls him taking part in a race with a faulty bicycle: “Although the chain came off at least twenty times through the race, he was so stubborn that he finished with a bronze medal.”

St. Thomas’ cycling club was later decimated by internment. Kieran, his brothers, and many other Andersonstown boys were to end up behind the wire. To such an extent, that Kieran s young brother, Brendan, asked his mother one day in 1975 when it would be his turn to go where all the ‘big boys’ were kept. Brendan was then six.

In the summer of 1971, Kieran got a job as an apprentice in heating engineering but was laid-off when the firm closed down a few months later. He worked for a while at floor-tiling with his father.

JOINED

In the meantime, however, internment had burst open the lives of many Andersonstown families. Kieran had never been interested in politics until then: nor had his family ever discussed the political situation in front of him.

Like hundreds of other boys and girls of his age, he was moved by the sight of uprooted families leaving a home in cinders behind them. As all of the evacuees were being catered for in local schools, Kieran and his brothers begged their parents to allow them to go and help. Kieran saw the British army on the streets, his friends and their families harassed. He joined na Fianna Eireann in the autumn of ’71.

Kieran proved himself to be an outstanding member of the Fianna. Reliable, quick on the job, he was obviously giving the best of himself to every task assigned him with the aim of being noticed and recruited for the IRA as quickly as was possible.

Even at this early stage of his involvement, he is remembered for his initiative and his discreet ways. Unlike some boys of his age, he never boasted about his activities.

But the British army soon noticed him too and Kieran, his family, and his home, became a target for frequent British army harassment.

On October 6th, 1972, the British army came to arrest Kieran, despite his father’s objection that Kieran was under seventeen. The Brits had checked up, they said, and after a heavy house raid they took Kieran away in the middle of the night. His father got him released eventually after waking up the sexton of St. Agnes’ chapel and obtaining Kieran’s birth certificate.

The Brits were ten days too early.

True to form, on October 16th, the British army were back in force and swamped Kieran’s district, waiting for his return from work. But relatives managed to warn him and he was driven over the border to an uncle in Limerick.

He did not much enjoy his enforced exile and, bursting to get back into action, he made his way back to Belfast at the beginning of ’73.

INTERNED

A week or so later, he was arrested, taken to Castlereagh, and then interned in Long Kesh where he spent over two years from February ’73 to November ’75. He was among the last internees released.

Always even-tempered and quiet-spoken he used his time developing his military skills.

In a letter to his mother he wrote: “They might intern all of us, but we will come out fighting.”

He made a lot of handicrafts during his two-and-a-half years in captivity.

His parents’ home displays a lot of his work, in particular a hand-carved wooden plaque commemorating Dorothy Maguire and Maura Meehan.

On the eve of his birthday in October ’74, Long Kesh prison camp was burned. When visits were eventually resumed he did not complain to his parents of brutality but just remarked jokingly on the ‘birthday party’ he had been given.

He was released from Long Kesh in November ’75, as undaunted as he sounded in his letters, and reported back to the IRA immediately. Always eager to operate, he was included in a team of Volunteers from around Rossnareen which gave the British army in Andersonstown many sleepless nights until a wave of arrests in the summer of ’76.

As the IRA/British army truce petered out at the beginning of ’76, ‘Big Doc’, as he was known by all, soon had to move out of his parents’ house. Raids were a fortnightly occurrence, at least, with furniture wrecked and floorboards lifted.

Mrs. Doherty was tidying up a first-floor bedroom after such a raid when she fell through the carpet, the floor, and partly through the sitting-room ceiling. The Brits had omitted to replace the floorboards. The scar on the ceiling can still be seen.

Many friends who met Kieran after his internment period found him extremely mature for a lad of twenty, not boisterous like most people of his age. He obviously, by then, had thought things out, made a definite choice, and assessed the dangers.

As an operator he was a perfectionist and his comrades recall feeling extremely safe with him. Even in the eventuality of things going wrong they knew Kieran would not give anything away.

ESCAPES

He had many narrow escapes.

One night, as he was shifting ‘gear’ in Andersonstown, he was chased up and down the side streets for over five minutes by two Brit landrovers.

Another time, as he was driving to a night job as security man for a firm, armed, as he often was, he drove into a British army road block.

He calmly took his tie out of his pocket, put it on, tidied himself up, and, winding down the window, shouted: “What’s up lads? Let me through, please, I’m going to my work, over there, security staff.”

And the British soldiers opened the way for him. ‘Big Doc’ was welcome in many Andersonstown homes and highly respected by all who knew him.

Families with whom he billeted remember how security conscious he was, staying away for days, using billets in no regular pattern.

ENJOYED

Through those months of intense involvement Kieran had little chance to unwind. He mostly liked to go to local clubs for a quiet pint with a few friends.

He also had a reputation as a practical joker. One day he rang a friend from a pub and told him they were wrecking the place, simply to have his friend rush over in his car to pick him up.

In July ’76, a few weeks before his arrest, Kieran enjoyed one of the rare holidays he ever had since the arrival of British troops on his local streets. With a few close friends he drove to the South and was able to indulge in his love for outdoor activities, exhausting his friends with long walks and swims.

By that time he had met his girlfriend, Geraldine, the only steady relationship he ever formed during his short period of freedom.

They did not get much of a chance, as Kieran’s heavy republican involvement often interfered with their dating and since August ’76 they only met for a few minutes once in a while under the gaze of prison warders.

SEAN McDERMOTT

Kieran’s comrades-in-arms recall one particular operation, of the many he was involved in, when one Andersonstown Volunteer – Sean McDermott – was shot dead.

Kieran got away and was told to lie low for a few days, but nevertheless he appeared at his comrade’s funeral.

Sean McDermott’s mother has a photograph of the funeral cortege in which Kieran can be seen, standing on the footpath, sombre, alone, looking on as the coffin is carried to Milltown cemetery.

Sean’s death, and the arrest of other comrades involved, hit Kieran very hard.

BOMBING

In August ’76, as Kieran and his unit were on a bombing mission, the van in which they were travelling was chased by the RUC near Balmoral Avenue in Belfast.

Kieran got out of the van and commandeered a car, which he left some streets away and walked off.

Meanwhile, the others in the van were cornered, Liam White being captured immediately, and the others, Chris Moran, Terry Kirby and John ‘Pickles’ Pickering – himself later to embark on hunger-strike – finally giving themselves up when surrounded in a house they had taken over.

The RUC picked Kieran up one-and-a-half miles away from the scene, unarmed.

He was later charged with possession of firearms and explosives and commandeering the car. Forensic tests could not link Kieran to the first two charges, and although it was impossible for the RUC to have spotted him escaping, seventeen months later, at his trial, RUC Constable Bryons perjured himself twice in order to see Kieran locked up.

On remand in Crumlin Road jail he met Francis Hughes and developed a great admiration for him. Friends often speak of the similarities between the two, always defiant, always fighting, born free.

In Crumlin Road, Kieran was often ‘on the boards’ as punishment for his refusal to acknowledge the warders in any way. He carried this attitude into the H-Blocks after he was sentenced, in January 1978, to eighteen years imprisonment for possession, and four years for commandeering the car.

BLANKET

Kieran joined the blanket protest immediately as did his comrades sentenced with him. He spent all but two weeks of his three years and almost eight months in the H-Blocks, in H4-Block (the temporary spell was in H6), before being moved to the prison hospital during his hunger strike.

Recollections of Kieran’s experiences in the H-Blocks give an impression of relentless conflict between himself and the warders, who made him a target both because of his height and because of his stubborn defiance of the prison regime.

On ‘appeal’ visits he always had to be dragged away, ignoring all calls to end the visit. He never looked a warder in the face when one addressed him and never replied to their orders. He always refused to submit to the anal searches over the mirror before and after visits and was beaten for this.

The worst incident occurred in July ’78 when Kieran refused a mirror search before a legal visit. Eight warders jumped on him, one squeezing his testicles until he became unconscious. He received blows to every part of his body and was taken to the prison hospital.

Although people who visited him recall how often he arrived pale or with grazes on his arms or bloodshot eyes, he never complained, brushing their questions off with a shrug: “I’m OK. What’s the sceal?”

CHESS

Although Kieran had not been taught Irish at school, and had no time to learn it, later he became a fluent speaker in the H-Blocks like hundreds of his imprisoned comrades.

Another skill mastered by Kieran, whilst in the H-Blocks, was playing chess – crude chess men were made from scraps of paper and the game was played on a mock board scratched out on the cell floors.

Displayed proudly in his parents’ sitting room is an engraved plaque bearing a stunning yet heartbreaking story in eight words: ‘Kieran Doherty, 1980 Champion, Ciaran Nugent Chess Shield’.

And, next to it, another shield, again engraved ‘Ciaran Nugent Chess Shield’, but this time with twelve metal tags, the top of which bears Kieran Doherty’s name and ‘1980’, the other eleven still blank. A clue to Kieran’s patience and ability, a clue to the blanket men’s grim determination to outlast the H-Blocks.

CAVAN/MONAGHAN

In June of this year, in the Free State general election, Kieran was elected a member of the Leinster House parliament for the Cavan/Monaghan constituency with 9,121 first preference votes – only 303 votes behind the then-sitting Free State Minister of Education.

HUNGER STRIKE

To a friend who visited him after the first hunger strike, which ended last December, Kieran said: “They (the warders) are really rubbing our noses in it. By God, they will not rub mine!”

Asked whether he would not settle down – after all, with five years done and remission, another six years would soon be over. He replied: “Remission has nothing to do with it. There is much more than that involved.”

So he went on hunger strike on Friday, May 22nd, having put his name forward for it long ago, as undaunted and full of fighting spirit as when he roamed free on the streets of Andersonstown.

A child, like hundreds of others a product of British brutality and stupidity in the North, who revealed himself to be an outstanding soldier of the republic.

Kieran was a shy, reserved, easily-embarrassed young man who was single-minded and determined enough to have become, in himself, a condensed history of the liberation of a people.

 

Southern leaders taking sudden interest in united Ireland

Posted by Jim on August 1, 2016

 Deaglan de Breadun . Irish News (Belfast).Monday, August 1, 2016

LEAVE aside Amhrán na bhFiann and forget God Save the Queen, because the real anthem these days on the British-Irish scene should be Paul Brady’s Nobody Knows.

Meanwhile, keep a grain of salt handy in case anyone close to you or in the media starts predicting the future of our post-Brexit world.

Take the border, for example, where the transition between north and south is almost imperceptible at present. Will it now become a “hard” frontier and what exactly does that mean? Dissident republicans must be praying for the return of customs posts. What a handy target they would make: isolated, vulnerable and surrounded by the type of countryside where one can easily disappear.

Surely the powers-that-be in Brussels, London, Dublin and Belfast couldn’t let that happen? A vision arises of some distracted bureaucrat, who thinks Crossmaglen is a Scottish board-game, digging out an obscure regulation that requires the reinstatement of border posts. Maybe it would be called the “Sitting Duck Directive”.

Finding themselves barred from entry to mainland Britain, will eager job-seekers from eastern  Europe seek entry to the UK by what used to be called “unapproved roads” on the Irish border? It’s hard to imagine but nobody seems to know.

The prime minister wasn’t very forthcoming on any of these issues during her tightly-controlled visit to Belfast. Most people will be praying for a Canadian solution whereby, we are told, vehicle registrations are subject to electronic screening as they cross the border with the US.

Hopefully Donald Trump will have nothing to do with our border problem since he is already proposing a wall between the US and Mexico. Even under the current Irish regime, I have encountered plain clothes police inspecting ID documents on a bus between north and south in recent years. Presumably that kind of activity will be intensified.

The nightmare scenario is lengthy queues of cars and trucks, similar to the hellish traffic jam endured recently by British tourists as they waited to be screened by French security personnel based in England, before boarding the ferry at Dover. British trade minister Liam Fox has indicated the UK may leave the European customs union as part of Brexit. It doesn’t sound like a recipe for a “soft” border here.

The negotiations between London and Brussels could drag on for a long time. We are told that the British will be looking for the maximum level of access to the European market along with minimum access, if any, for EU migrants seeking entry to the UK. There is talk of a seven-year brake on EU migration as an “emergency” measure but the hardline Brexiteers won’t be satisfied with that.

Not only will Britain be seeking to maximise its trade access to the EU but various member states will be very keen to retain their current access to the British market. The slightly puzzling aspect of all this is why more serious consideration wasn’t given to these issues before the referendum.

It’s easy to be wise after the event but surely the Eurocrats could have given David Cameron a deal that would have allowed him a modest win on Brexit? The EU has always been praised for its ability to find a middle ground between competing demands. Sadly, that reputation has taken a tumble in the last six weeks.

We are being told that Dublin is going to rely on the peace process to alleviate the negative effects of Brexit. The word is that Brussels will take that much more seriously than the other arguments which might be put forward.

Nobody in their right mind would want to facilitate a return to the violence and misery of the Troubles but it is hard not to detect a slight element of cynicism in Dublin’s approach. By and large, the southern establishment and indeed its British counterpart has lost very little sleep over the north in recent years.

It is curious how the referendum result appears to have made it respectable once more to talk about a united Ireland. It’s no longer just a Sinn Féin tune: Enda Kenny, Micheál Martin and Leo Varadkar have all mentioned the prospect of a 32-county state coming about at some stage in the future.

The 56 per cent vote against Brexit in the north provides a rather thin basis for speculation about an all-Ireland republic, but it was still an interesting development. Maybe there is a soft underbelly of “small u’’ unionism that could be encouraged to think outside the six-county box at some stage.

But that’s all for another day. The priority must be to ensure that the border remains fluid and permeable to the greatest extent.

It’s quite a challenge for our politicians and civil servants to discern how events will unfold because, at this stage, nobody knows.

@ddebreadun

Kevin Lynch – Died August 1st, 1981

Posted by Jim on

 

[Image]

 

A loyal, determined republican with a great love of life

THE EIGHTH republican to join the hunger-strike for political status, on May 23rd, following the death of Patsy O’Hara, was twenty-five-year-old fellow INLA Volunteer Kevin Lynch from the small, North Derry town of Dungiven who had been imprisoned since his arrest in 1976.

A well-known and well liked young man in the closely-knit community