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Sunday, July 31, 2016

1916 Societies NY Chapter

Posted by Jim on July 29, 2016

1916 Societies NY Chapter

Meeting has been scheduled for Tuesday, August 9th at 7:00 pm
@ O’Lunneys. Times Square 145 W 45th St, New York, NY 10036

1916 Societies


All persons looking to know more about the Societies One Ireland One Vote
Proposal should come to meeting and listen to what Society is doing for a United Ireland. You may join if you are so inclined

Do we really want to give Irish passports to all these Brits?

Posted by Jim on July 28, 2016

Increased interest offers a chance to reflect on Ireland’s expansive citizenship


We live in unpredictable times, but Irish people could be forgiven for thinking recent reports that Ian Paisley jnr was encouraging his constituents to apply for Irish citizenship were a joke. Yet, like many savvy British politicians, Paisley was simply adapting quickly to the uncertainty and upheaval of Brexit. The impending demise of Britons’ rights to travel, live, and work across the EU has sent people across the United Kingdom rummaging through their attics for evidence of entitlement to an EU passport.

The huge Irish diaspora in the UK means Ireland is the biggest focus of these efforts: anyone with a grandparent born in Ireland is entitled to claim Irish citizenship, and the numbers entitled to that status in Britain may exceed the entire population of Ireland. While millions of applications are unlikely, the Irish Embassy in London and the Passport Office have already been deluged, leading the Minister for Foreign Affairs to appeal for calm, the hiring of hundreds of staff, and scarce application forms being sold on eBay.

Beyond finding logistical ways to deal with the surge of interest, it is also important for us to ask what implications the situation has for our views of Irish citizenship and nationhood. Some may bristle that the intention of including those of Irish descent in our citizenship was to accept the scattered and partitioned nature of our nation, not to offer a badge of convenience for self-identifying Britons whose EU rights have been forfeited by British voters. Many will be even more uncomfortable with hardline unionists in Ulster taking up Irish citizenship despite longstanding hostility towards the State.

Such concerns misunderstand the expansive nature and history of Irish nationhood. Citizenship is at the heart of our independence, a foundational idea for the 1916 Proclamation, the 1922 Free State Constitution and our current Constitution. Irish citizenship was a radical idea for a British empire that did not possess such a republican concept and, even after independence, its status was disputed. For many years, the UK continued to insist Irish “citizens” were actually “British subjects”, and lobbied for Irish passports to be rejected so Irish people would have to travel on British passports. In 1939, Britain opposed references to king and commonwealth being removed from a new Irish passport design. The status “citizen of Ireland”, and the document which bears it, are symbols of our freedom and nationhood

Cultural heritage

The Constitution has a broad notion of that nation, including in its membership those born in Northern Ireland, and cherishing a close and special link with those of Irish ancestry living abroad who share our “cultural identity and heritage”. Our inclusive citizenship helps us reach across the Border and overseas to embrace those who wish to feel part of our nation even though they do not dwell in the State. It seeks to foster a sense of community and belonging between all members of the Irish “family”, wherever they may be. This openness is vitally important to a state plagued by emigration and division, often as much the homeland of a scattered and partitioned nation as the citizens’ republic of our grandparents’ dreams.

At home, too, there have been imperfections and inequalities. Until 1986m our citizenship laws were heavily gendered, reflecting the deeply patriarchal nature of our state and society.

A surge in those wanting to “become Irish” (as one soon-to-be-Irish New York Times journalist put it recently) presents an opportunity to move beyond past imperfections towards the broad citizenship we have always promised.

Many of those seeking a Brexit passport share a major part of contemporary Irish identity: they wish to be European citizens. Ireland has sewn the EU into its fabric, and its future lies in Europe. We should be happy to welcome those who, as well as sharing part of this country’s past, aspire to be a part of that shared future.

We must also rediscover that citizenship is a combination of what the Free State Constitution called “privileges” and “obligations”. This is true both for individual citizens – who have a duty to actively contribute to their nation – and for the State, which has clear post-Brexit responsibilities to citizens outside the State. The constitutional status of Northern Ireland is being changed against the democratic wishes of its people, and we must lead European opposition to a “hard” border being reimposed on this island.

Oireachtas representation

We must also finally find a way to give voice to citizens who have previously lived in the State but now live abroad. Votes in presidential elections would be an important “first step”, but some degree of Oireachtas representation is vital. Our European partners offer many viable models to follow, from Poland’s postal voting to France and Italy’s overseas constituencies. Citizenship cannot be a dead letter.

The awakening of “hibernating” citizenship among those with Irish grandparents must also spur action on the rights of EU nationals living in Ireland. Despite being our fellow citizens in the broader European project, their political rights remain limited, while the too-often limited rights of other immigrants living and working in the State also require attention. Despite growth, our population still lags other small European states, and immigration is key to our future: we already have one of the highest rates of naturalisation in the world. We need a broad conversation of what we want Irish nationhood to be, alongside, not in opposition to, ancestral claims of citizenship.

Brexit brings great risks for Ireland, as our nearest neighbour seemingly turns away from openness and the wider world, but it can be an opportunity for us to embrace an expansive, inclusive Irish citizenship. As we reach a century of independence, it is time to discuss what membership in our nation is to mean.

Dr Christopher Kissane is a historian of citizenship at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Dr David Kenny is assistant professor of constitutional law at Trinity College Dublin

PSF willing to look at alternatives to united Ireland

Posted by Jim on

Sean Bres

Where the latest line from Adams is headed is not an Éire Nua-style arrangement for Ireland (as some are imagining) but to somewhere else entire – to an ‘Agreed Ireland’ that accounts for the clause in the British-Irish Agreement that London ‘will remain the guarantor of the unionist community regardless of the constitutional status of Northern Ireland’.
Sinn Fein then seek not a sovereign and independent all-Ireland republic – whether unitary, federal or otherwise – but a renegotiation of Good Friday that allows for the above proviso within any new constitutional set-up to follow a ‘Yes Vote’ in a border poll.
This is what Adams means when he talks of ‘alternatives to a United Ireland’.
Republicanism asserts that the Irish people should freely agree the terms and conditions of their own governance upon a full British withdrawal from our country.
Constitutional nationalism, as embodied by New Sinn Fein and the Free State establishment, asserts otherwise however, holding that the contracting parties to Good Friday should negotiate and agree any new Ireland that might emerge.
The Ireland this process imagines will continue to include Britain.
This is the endgame coming into sight: an ‘Agreed Ireland’ where the British get to stay and the Irish agree to it – ‘the last wet dream of British imperialism’, as so aptly described of late by John Crawley at Drumfurrer, where Ireland is settled as a permanent British redoubt.
For what died the sons of Roisin?


Posted by Jim on July 27, 2016

There will be no show this weekend due to Station Fundraiser.


Radio Free Eireann is heard Saturdays at 12 Noon New York time on WBAI 99,5 FM and
It can be heard at  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 July 24, 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


AOH leaders look to the future

Posted by Jim on

By JC Sullivan

Atlantic City — The AOH, men and ladies, kicked off the 2016 National Convention at Harrah’s, Atlantic City, New Jersey.

It was originally scheduled for the Taj Mahal Resort, but it was later discovered to be cash-strapped and about to face major labor trouble.

Hence the change of venue.

Outgoing AOH National President, Brendan Moore, opened proceedings by outlining convention procedures.

He reminded the assembly that national officer reports could be found in the packet they received when they registered, a smart move that allowed everyone to focus on matters on hand rather having to listen to these reports being read aloud.

Only the top four officers would read their reports.

President Moore also advised that the physical move of the National Secretary Office from Auburn, New York, to West Caldwell, New Jersey had been accomplished.

Tom McNabb, National Board Secretary for over thirty years, was repeatedly honored by voice for his thirty-plus years of service to the order.

Moore said: “I have counted on, sought and received encouragement and support, not only from our national officers and state presidents, but from many of you as well.

“Clearly I have been blessed in that you have been kind and generous in offering me your valuable ideas and advice. Please continue to be as helpful in assisting our new officers as they seek to serve us all.”

Judge James F. McKay from New Orleans, who was unopposed in standing for the national presidency, will now lead the order through the next two years.

As vice president, McKay coordinated the national day for Hibernian America to commemorate the 1916 Easter Rising Centenary that culminated in Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City.

In his 2016 -2018 term of office, among other matters, President McKay will focus on addressing membership, new divisions and the economic stability of the order.

Supporting National President McKay will be Ohio’s Daniel O’Connell.

As the newly-elected National Vice President, O’Connell has been instrumental in moving the order into the 21st century with innovations such as improved communications via e-mail service, electronic checking, investment policy, real time accounting, and many other areas.

J.J. Kelly, chairman of the Veterans Committee, advised delegates that funds were being sought to improve the Medal of Honor Grove at Valley Forge, which is reportedly in deplorable condition.

The AOH maintains an obelisk there.

Coincidentally, Major General Patrick H. Brady, USA (Ret.), from San Antonio, Texas, was present to receive the order’s John F. Kennedy Memorial Gold Medallion.

A faithful and spiritually-centered man, General Brady is active in the Medal of Honor Society’s character building program wherein MOH recipients personally address the nation’s youth.

He is the former president of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society and author of “Dead Men Flying,” which chronicles his experiences with the origin and execution of Aero Medical evacuation in Vietnam.

Called “Dust Off,” it was the greatest battlefield lifesaver in history.

Accompanying General Brady to Atlantic City was his wife Nancy. They are parents of six children.

One of the order’s important offices is that of National Webmaster.

Jeff Nisler continues to streamline matters by striving to make impervious to hackers and robo-attacks.

He has worked with others to develop on-line registration for the convention.

The Ladies AOH elected Illinois’ Patricia O’Connell as their National Board President.

Ohio’s Carol Sheyer was elected Vice President; Karen Keane, New York, Secretary, and Cleveland’s Marilyn Madigan, Treasurer.

Others elected were Dee Wallace, Irish Historian; Mary Ann Lubinsky, Missions and Charities and Colleen Bowers, Catholic Action.

As previously reported, New York’s Agnes O’Leary was the recipient of the 2016 St. Brigid of Ireland Humanitarian Award in recognition of her generous and extraordinary humanitarian works within the order and her local community.

Guest speaker, Irish Ambassador to the U.S. Anne Anderson, discussed the economic situation in Ireland while highlighting a most important figure, that being the steadily dropping unemployment rate, which is currently under nine percent.

“At the same time, we have absolutely no basis for complacency. The election results in February showed how bruised many people feel by the austerity of recent years.

“Serious questions are being asked: How fairly was the burden of sacrifice distributed and how evenly is the recovery being experienced? The challenges facing the new government are considerable, particularly given current uncertainties in the European and global environment,” Anderson said.

In 2018, the AOH and LAOH National Convention will return to Louisville, Kentucky, the week of July 11 -14.

The venue for the convention will be the Galt House, a 25 story, 1300 room hotel named after the original, where, in 1862, Union General Jefferson C. Davis shot and killed another Union General, William “Bull” Nelson.

Fine Gael minister Leo Varadkar says he will live to see united Ireland

Posted by Jim on

Comments by Varadkar bring ‘Methuselah’ jibe from DUP MP who tells Republic’s politicians to ‘butt out’ and instead concentrate on their own domestic difficulties

Rebecca Black. Belfast Telegraph. Saturday, July 21, 2016

A Fine Gael minister tipped to be the next Taoiseach has been told to butt out of Northern Ireland after he claimed he will see a united Ireland in his lifetime.

Dail Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar made the comment during an address to the MacGill Summer School in Donegal on Thursday.

It prompted a tonge-in-cheek query from DUP MP Gregory Campbell, who asked Mr Varadkar if he planned to live as long Methuselah in The Bible, who lasted 969 years.

Mr Varadkar said he expected to witness reunification in his lifetime, but did not know “at what point”.

“Fine Gael is a united Ireland party and that remains an objective,” he said.

However, he shied away from calling for a border poll, saying he did not feel it would be a good idea at this time. He added work needed to be done between the unionist and nationalist communities in the North before that could happen.

His remarks come after Taoiseach Enda Kenny qualified his recent comments about holding a border poll.

Speaking in the Dail, he said: “There will be no border poll now. There is no evidence of a majority wanting to join the Republic.”

The head of the European police agency Europol Rob Wainwright also spoke out in recent days, saying he did not believe there would be violence in the event of reunification.

Mr Campbell claimed the recent comments from the Irish Government were “simply an attempt to deflect attention from their own problems”.

“Leo Varadkar would be better to look at the problems in his party and those that Irish Government are faced with,” he said.

“We have no interest in becoming embroiled in domestic internal Irish politics, as Fine Gael try to respond to Fianna Fail.” He welcomed the fact that Mr Varadkar qualified his thoughts by saying that a border poll should not take place yet.

“He said it would be unsuccessful and that is because the reality is the majority of people in Northern Ireland want to remain in the UK,” Mr Campbell said.

“His reference to a united Ireland in his lifetime merely allows cynics to ask if he is planning to live as long as the biblical Methuselah. The EU referendum has taken place and the vote must be respected.

“The referendum was about whether the United Kingdom as a whole wanted to leave the EU – it was not on a united Ireland.

“The UK Government has made its position clear on a border poll – consistent with previous agreements.

“The new Prime Minister noted in her speech outside 10 Downing Street that she believed in the Union and now is the time for all to work constructively to get the best solution for everyone in Northern Ireland.”

Sinn Fein and the SDLP have both called for a border poll in the wake of the vote to leave the EU last month.

But an Ulster Unionist spokesperson slapped down the question of a border poll as a “red herring”.

“As Mr Varadkar himself acknowledged, it would be unsuccessful,” he said.

“We do acknowledge that the referendum result unsettled many of Northern Ireland’s Irish nationalists.

“It is up to others who supported Brexit to explain why they stirred the hornets’ nest, but the real issue is the shocking lack of planning from the Northern Ireland Executive.”

A spokesman for Mr Varadkar told the Belfast Telegraph yesterday that he was not available for further comment.

New row over Cameron’s Bloody Sunday apology

Posted by Jim on July 23, 2016

Former British PM David Cameron has been accused of hypocrisy over his
Bloody Sunday apology amid efforts to eulogise his legacy following his
departure from Downing Street.

People Before Profit Assembly meber Eamonn McCann hit out over gushing
political commentary about Cameron, many of which featured his
‘historic’ apology for the Bloody Sunday massacre of 1972, in which 14
civil rights demonstrators were killed.

Mr McCann has accused Cameron of attempting to absolve senior British
army officers and politicians of culpability by allowing the ordinary
lance-corporals of the Parachute Regiment to shoulder all responsibility
for the killings.

“The usual suspect commentators and politicians have been falling over
themselves to heap praise on David Cameron for his apology for Bloody
Sunday,” said Mr McCann.

“In fact, the apology was predicated on no politician or senior military
man having been fingered by Lord Saville. Saville blamed one officer and
10 rank and file soldiers for all the killings and woundings,” he said.

Mr McCann said Mr Cameron, whose apology was beamed onto a big screen in
Guildhall Square from Westminster in 2010, gave General Michael Jackson,
Brigadier Frank Kitson, Major General Robert Ford, Brigadier Patrick
MacLellan, Edward Heath, Lord Carrington, Reginald Maudling, Alec
Douglas-Home, among other leading figures of the day, a clean bill of
health whilst “damning the men who had pulled the triggers”.

He added: “This was a perfect example of an official inquiry fulfilling
its true purpose – of finding small fry to shoulder all of the blame
while enabling the real villains to escape scot-free.”

He made controversial claims that some nationalists had facilitated the

“One of the main reasons Cameron’s ‘apology’ worked, at least for a
time, is that influential elements in Northern Nationalism had, in
effect, already ‘cleared’ his Commons statement. At least one member of
Sinn Fein had discussed the terms of the apology with British officials
in advance.

“The deal was that Cameron would acknowledge that all of the dead and
wounded had been innocent and would condemn the privates and corporals
involved in strong terms. But he wouldn’t have to say a bad word about
anybody that the ruling class cared about.

“In exchange, there would be no more Bloody Sunday marches – and no
attempt to push on for prosecutions. ‘This is as good as it gets,’ the
families were systematically told on their doorsteps in the days after
publication of the report..

“At this time, mid-2010, the British authorities were trying to put
together an overall deal by which the past would be put in the past and
we’d all ‘move on’.

“The stitch-up has unravelled, largely because some family members –
Kate and Linda Nash, Liam Wray, Bubbles Donaghey, Mickey Bridge and
others – weren’t prepared to accept the deal and opted instead to keep
on marching until the original demands of the Bloody Sunday campaign,
including prosecutions, had been met.

“Kate, Linda and the others were also conscious of the fact that calling
off their campaign would be a kick in the stomach for the bereaved
families of other atrocities – Ballymurphy, McGurk’s Bar, Kingsmills,
Enniskillen, Birmingham, Loughinisland, etc – who hadn’t yet reached the
stage achieved by the Derry campaign.

“The point to keep in mind as Cameron leaves Downing Street to spend
more time with his money is that, far from bravely telling the truth
about Derry, his Commons statement was just a new and more subtle phase
in the efforts of apologists for State violence to escape the verdict of

“The proper response to Cameron’s departure is – good riddance.”

Some relatives have now issued a statement in which they deny they were
involved in negotiations around the Saville Inquiry. Tony Doherty, John
Kelly, Gerry Duddy and Jean Hegarty, who all lost relatives in the 1972
massacre, insisted that there had been no such deal or any discussion of
a deal.

“The Bloody Sunday march was never discussed with the NIO or Downing
Street. To suggest otherwise is fanciful. There was no discussion of the
issue of prosecutions. How could there be? None of us, Mr. McCann
included, knew at that time what was in the Saville Report.”


Posted by Jim on

In a potentially historic advance, the Irish Taoiseach and the leader
of the largest opposition party in the Dublin parliament have both said
they recognise the prospect of a referendum to bring about Irish

Speaking at the MacGill summer school in the Glenties, County Donegal,
the two leaders separately stated that a united Ireland referendum
could take place in the near future arising from the fact that the Six
Counties of the north of Ireland voted to remain in the European Union,
while Britain voted to leave.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny called on the European Union to prepare for the
Six Counties seeking to reunite with the 26 Counties in a ‘border
poll’, as outlined in the 1998 Good Friday Agreement. The Fine Gael
leader said such a referendum was now more likely in light of the
decision by Britain to leave the EU.

He likened it to Germany after the fall of the Berlin Wall, when the EU
supported West Germany in absorbing the East back into their country —
and the EU.

“The discussion and negotiations that take place over the next period
should take into account the possibility, however far out it might be,
that the clause in the Good Friday Agreement might be triggered,” he
said, “in that if there is a clear evidence of a majority of people
wishing to leave the United Kingdom and join the Republic, that should
be catered for in the discussions.”

He said a unity referendum was more likely to succeed due to recent
events: “It may be, in the eyes of some, a fanciful theory but who
knows what happens in 10, 20 years time?”

His comments were later said to be related to upcoming negotiations in
Europe on dealing with the implications of Britain leaving the EU, and
he drew on a surprising precedent.

“In the same way as East Germany was dealt with when the wall came
down, was able to be absorbed into West Germany and not to have to have
to go through a torturous and long process of applying for membership
of the European Union,” the Taoiseach said.

“So when Northern Ireland voted to stay (in the EU), who knows what
might happen in the time ahead? I am just making the point that these
are the kinds of things that should be looked at in the broadest of
ways in discussions that take place.

“People said it would be impossible that Britain would leave the
European Union; that has taken place now.”

The statement marks a historic shift in the stance of a party which has
always sought to avoid any discussion about the North which might
offend unionists or the British government.

Just 24 hours earlier, the leader of Ireland’s chief Opposition party
Micheal Martin said he hoped Brexit would move Ireland closer to

The Fianna Fail leader, who is allied with Mr Kenny in support of his
minority coalition government, said a reunification referendum should
be called if it becomes clear a majority want to see an end to Irish
partition over the UK decision to pull out of the EU.

Mr Martin added that the North’s 56% majority vote to remain within the
bloc could be a defining moment for the region.

“It may very well be that the decision of Northern Ireland to oppose
the English-driven anti-EU UK majority is a defining moment in Northern
politics,” he said. “The Remain vote may show people the need to
rethink current arrangements. I hope it moves us towards majority
support for unification, and if it does we should trigger a
reunification referendum.”

Mr Martin, a former foreign affairs minister, said a move to further
divide the island with a customs and immigration frontier “would
potentially set us back decades”.

“The most urgent thing which is required is an immediate end to the
hands-off detachment of recent years,” he said. “Meeting the challenge
of Brexit is a moment to end this and also to begin rebuilding public
faith in politics.”

He also appeared to accept his own party’s previous failings in regard
to the North.

“It is a sad reality that our government and our media have tended to
ignore Northern Ireland except when there is a crisis. Meeting the
challenge of Brexit is a moment to end this and also to begin
rebuilding public faith in politics.”

He called for an all-island response to Brexit that reaches out “to
excluded groups, to show that a broader range of interests than those
articulated by the dominant political parties can be heard”.

He added: “I have in particular stressed our belief that civil society
must be included together with business, unions and professional

At the heart of political concerns is the 310-mile partition of Ireland
which is the only land border between British jurisdiction and the rest
of the EU. Militarised with checkpoints and road closures at the height
of conflict, their replacement with electronic surveillance systems
could be threatened by Brexit and physical controls once again placed
on the movement of people and goods.

Britain’s new governor in the north of Ireland, James Brokenshire, said
he did not think that the ‘conditions’ for a referendum in the Six
Counties (essentially, that it would pass) have been met. But on his
first day in Belfast, he accepted that the issue of a border was a

“We don’t want to see that hard border coming into place and I think
there is a real sense of commitment between the UK government and also
the Irish government to work together very closely so we don’t see that
returning,” he said.

Irish reunification is the “biggest and best idea around” and must now
be considered in light of Brexit, according to SDLP leader Colum
Eastwood. However, he pointed to the failure of Irish politicians to
advance their cause relative to Scottish leaders.

“Scottish independence campaigners produced a 670 page document
outlining the path to independent nationhood and how it would operate,”
he said. “It was credible and detailed. Irish nationalism now needs to
start on its page one.”

Almost 90 per cent of people polled in a survey for the Derry Journal
this week said they would vote for a United Ireland if a referendum was
held now. Another poll, for the unionist Belfast Telegraph ibn Belfast,
showed some 73% supported an immediate border poll with 70% saying they
would vote for the two parts of the island to be reunited.

On a visit to Scotland last week, the new British Prime Minister
Theresa May stressed the need for what she described as a “UK approach”
to be agreed before Brexit was triggered. As it appeared she had a
potential Scottish veto on Brexit, Scottish First Minister Nicola
Sturgeon said her country was now in a “very, very strong position”.

Sinn Fein’s deputy First Minister in Belfast Mr McGuinness referred to
the same comments as he spoke outside Stormont Castle in Belfast on

“Theresa May said in the aftermath of the meeting with Nicola Sturgeon,
and Nicola quoted her over the course of the weekend, that she would
not trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty unless people in these
areas were content,” he said.

“Well I can tell Theresa May, and I did tell her when I spoke to her on
the telephone last week when she rang me, we are not content. The
people of Scotland have made their position clear, we have made our
position clear – that needs to be respected.”

Mr McGuinness also spoke of his fear that the troubled Six County
economy could suffer the absence of EU financial supports.

“The economic implications for us in a withdrawal from the European
Union are very profound, costing us over a period of ten years anything
in the region of 7 to 8 billion pounds and possibly even more,” Mr
McGuinness told a press conference. “There is alarm in the north of
Ireland among the business community, among the community and voluntary
sector, among our universities, among our agri-food industry.”

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams said the comments from both Mr Kenny and
Mr Martin mean a referendum on a united Ireland is now on the agenda —
and that a decision should be made within four years.

“The British decision to leave [the EU] could take two years to
negotiate out, and then another two years to negotiate an agreement
[between Britain and the EU], so there is a time frame there.

“I would like to see a border poll yesterday, but the Taoiseach’s
language was qualified in so far as he said it won’t happen for some
time, but he’s embraced the concept and will make that part of the
Brexit negotiations and that’s good,” Mr Adams said.

He said he does not know what is behind Fine Gael and Fianna Fail’s
“change of heart” on the issue, but said he welcomed the move from
“outright rejection to embrace”.

Asked how a referendum could be brought forward when James Brokenshire
has already ruled it out, Mr Adams added: “Sometimes secretaries of
state on their first day can be very, very short sighted. That was
never going to be his or her decision, that is a decision for his and
her governments. It was always above the pay scale of the secretary of

Ireland’s Future In Ireland’s Hands

Posted by Jim on July 22, 2016

Sean Bresnahan

A vote contested in two separate parts, where the outcome in one has primacy over the other, is not a ‪#‎UnityRef‬ as claimed by the Sinn Fein leadership but a gerrymandered border poll, where any vote cast outside the Six Counties cannot be counted until a majority for change is first realised there.

While I might not agree with them, I have no issue with those who argue Irish Unity should only come via such means and this route.

But to pretend your policy is otherwise, that it somehow advocates for self-determination when in fact it violates the very concept, is another matter entirely and is as cunning as it is deceiving as it is wrong – indeed wilfully so on the part of those concerned.

A border poll serves to deny the right of the Irish people to national self-determination, insisting instead on a separate right to self-determine, which it holds as legitimate, pertaining to the artificial gerrymander in the north of our country which many refer to as ‘Northern Ireland’.

That is the primary ‘raison d’être’ of the border poll – so it is not just a practical instrument but an ideological one also.

Sinn Fein quite obviously realise this and thus the obfuscation and attempts to bury their failed strategy behind a mountain of waffle.

They know full well that only a ‘One Ireland One Vote’ national referendum can allow the Irish people to freely determine their future – where all votes are of equal value, regardless whether they are cast in Dublin or Belfast, Kerry or Tyrone. They know this because it was at one time their own position.

All of this should likewise be obvious from the route they are now taking, from their attempts to hide reality behind carefully-scripted slogans that can mean two things at once – what Orwell described as ‘double speak’ and of which they are masters. Yet still they refuse to stand up and show the required leadership, they refuse to stand up and be counted. Their refusal to return to the correct position, which they abandoned on entry to the Multi-Party Talks, is the lynch-pin of current Crown strategy and the single-biggest reason why the campaign for Irish Unity has been reduced to a slogan and not an achievable object on their part.

It’s time for some honest soul-searching from those who peddle that a border poll is somehow a referendum and likewise that it is a pathway to Irish Freedom – when they know within their hearts it is neither…

Celebrate Ancient Celtic Feast of Lughnasa

Posted by Jim on


Protestant New Yorker who saved hundreds of Irish famine victims

Posted by Jim on July 20, 2016


Originally published in 2013.

Asenath Hatch Nicholson: The remarkable individual who personally investigated "the condition of the Irish poor."

Asenath Hatch Nicholson: The remarkable individual who personally investigated “the condition of the Irish poor.”

Maureen Murphy brings to life the remarkable story of this little-remembered individual.


She had been a schoolteacher in Vermont and in New York, a proprietor of a vegetarian boarding house and a reformer who championed the causes of abolitionism and temperance. From her boarding house on the edge of New York’s notorious Five Points, she worked among Irish immigrants.

She later recalled those years saying, “It was in the garrets and cellars of New York that I first became acquainted with the Irish peasantry, and it was there I saw that they were a suffering people.

She was determined to learn more about their suffering by walking through the country on her self-appointed mission to bring the Bible to the Irish poor. It was an ambitious adventure for an arthritic widow of 52. She would distribute copies of the Bible to those who could read, and she would read the Bible to those who could not.

Dressed in her polka coat, bonnet and India rubber boots and carrying an enormous black bearskin muff from which she produced tracts and Bibles, Nicholson must have been an extraordinary sight. She complained that people stared at her.

Her mission was not as straightforward as it might appear. Catholics regarded Bible readers as proselytes, and Protestant missionaries rejected her democratic ideas. From July 1844 to August 1845, she walked through Ireland visiting every county but Cavan.

She left for Scotland in August 1845, shortly before the first signs of the potato failure appeared. While Nicholson had not anticipated the failure of the harvest, as she traveled around the Irish countryside she frequently observed that the Irish poor depended on a single food crop.

She had heard the libel that the Irish poor were lazy; however, based on her experience visiting the Irish in their cabins, she concluded that they were not lazy; they lacked work. When she saw the poor employed, she made note of it.

The sight of a woman and her daughters carding and knitting gave her pause. “This was an unusual sight for seldom had I seen, in Ireland, a whole family employed among the peasantry. Ages of poverty have taken everything out of their hands but preparing and eating the potato and then sit listlessly on a stool, lie in their straw or saunter upon the street because no one hires them.”

A crop failure combined with chronic unemployment would turn a natural disaster into a calamity. When the blight came a second year, Nicholson returned in the winter of 1846 to do what she could do to help. She stayed two years, spending much of that time in the Famine-stricken west.

As soon as she arrived in Dublin on December 7, 1846, Nicholson wrote to the readers of Horace Greeley’s New York Tribune and Joshua Leavitt’s abolitionist Emancipator describing conditions in the city and asking for help for the Irish poor. She did not have the means to finance her relief efforts and she despaired that she was brought to witness a Famine without the means to relieve the hungry.

When a letter arrived from Greeley with money from his Tribune readers, she regarded it not only as the answer to her prayers but also a sign of divine intervention. Other friends sent food, money and clothes to distribute or to send to trusted friends to administer.

In July 1847, New Yorkers sent Nicholson five barrels of Indian corn aboard the United States frigate Macedonia. (There were fifty barrels aboard for Maria Edgeworth who provided the Central Relief Committee with information about Famine conditions in Co. Longford and who asked for shoes for her tenants working on a draining project.)

While she admired the work of the Central Relief Committee of the Society of Friends (Quakers) who had established a soup kitchen in Charles Street behind Upper Ormond Quay in January 1847, Nicholson preferred to operate individually as she had in the Five Points and in her earlier trip to Ireland.

She described herself walking through Dublin each morning distributing slices of bread from a large basket. She worked out of her own soup kitchen in the Liberties, an area she selected for its extreme poverty. The Quakers sold their soup for a penny a quart.

Nicholson’s food was gratis; however, she operated on a triage system. She decided that £10 divided among 100 people helped no one, so she committed herself to a particular group of families for whom she cooked Indian meal daily. Nicholson stayed in Dublin until July 1847 when she left for Belfast. By then she had finished “Ireland’s Welcome to the Stranger,” her account of her earlier visit written to encourage readers to respond to Ireland’s crisis. By then the Temporary Relief Act (the “Soup Kitchen” Act) had become effective, and the Quakers closed their kitchen.

Nicholson may have followed their example. In any case, she left Dublin and went for the west of Ireland in July 1847 where she visited Donegal and then went on to Newport, Co. Mayo. She had visited Newport earlier and was returning to stay with her friend, the postmistress Mrs. Margaret Arthur. There she found “misery without mask.” She went further into the misery when she went west from Belmullet to spend the winter of 1847-8 in the Erris peninsula.

She set to work bearing witness to the suffering, visiting the poor and encouraging relief workers. She not only recorded their names, but she also gave a glimpse of those selfless people who died working among the poor: Rev. Patrick Pounden, the Rector of Westport and his wife, and Rev. Francis Kinkaid, the Church of Ireland curate of Ballina who died on the 28th of January 1847. Catholics as well as Protestants contributed to the memorial tablet on the wall of the church.

She continued to lobby in letters for ways to bring employment to the people of western Mayo. On October 31, 1847, she wrote to her friend the English Quaker philanthropist William Bennett who had visited the west of Ireland early in 1847.

She was quick to praise resident landlords who provided employment for their tenants, but some were unable to provide relief. “You, sir, who know Erris, tell, if you can, how the landlord can support the poor by taxation, to give them food, when the few resident landlords are nothing and worse than nothing, for they are paupers in the full sense of the word.”

She went on to ask Bennett to use his own resources or his influence to support a local employment scheme. “I must and will plead, though I plead in vain, that something may be done to give them work. I have just received a letter from the curate of Bingham’s Town saying that he could set all his poor parish, both the women and children, to work, and find a market for their knitting and cloth, if he could command a few pounds to purchase the materials.”

Nicholson not only appealed to her friends and to the public, she challenged the government on two counts: their stewardship of relief resources and their attitude toward the poor for whom they were responsible.

She made a distinction between the paid relief officers, whom she characterized as bureaucratic, hierarchical and self-serving, and volunteer relief workers (Quakers, coast guardsmen and their families and local clergy) who were compassionate, egalitarian and selfless. Nicholson was scrupulous about her own expenses. She allowed herself 23 pence a day for food: a diet of bread and cocoa and she reduced her stipend to 16 pence (no cocoa) when her resources dwindled.

She raged that grain was diverted from food to alcohol. She charged that grain used for distilling could have fed the Irish poor. “Reader, ponder this well. Enough grain, converted into a poison for body and soul as would have fed all that starving multitude.”

Over and over she contrasted the lack of charity among relief officials with the compassion of volunteers. The hospitality of the Irish countryside was the leitmotif of “Ireland’s Welcome to the Stranger”; the leitmotif of “Annals” was the generosity of the poor to one another. “Annals” is a vivid account of suffering that combines her eye-witness account with character sketches, parables, dramatic scenes and dialogues. Nicholson’s accounts put human faces on the statistical reports. Her account of those who served the poor is a record of grace.

In the fall of 1848, when she thought the Great Irish Famine was over, Nicholson left Dublin quietly for London. In fact, famine conditions continued until 1852.

The “lone Quaker” who saw her to her boat was probably her friend the abolitionist Quaker printer Richard Davis Webb. In England she published “Lights and Shades of Ireland” (1850), the third part of which was “Annals of the Famine.” She joined the cause of world peace, joining delegations to Paris and Frankfurt. She returned to New York without notice and lived quietly in declining health until she died of typhoid fever in Jersey City on May 15th, 1855.

Almost forgotten, her books are now back in print, so we know how she would have wished to be remembered.

During her first visit to Ireland while walking the road from Oranmore to Loughrea, Nicholson stopped to rest her blistered feet and thought of her prudent friends who had warned her against this reckless adventure. Did she wish to be back in her parlor in New York? She did not.

She said, “Should I sleep the sleep of death, with my head pillowed against this wall, no matter. Let the passerby inscribe my epitaph upon this stone, fanatic what then? It shall only be a memento that one in a foreign land lived and pitied Ireland, and did what she could to seek out its condition.”

A step change toward unity is now possible – Gerry Adams TD

Posted by Jim on

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD has welcomed the comments last night by the Taoiseach about “the potential for a referendum on Irish unity arising from the Brexit decision in Britain.”
Gerry Adams said: “In the wake of the Brexit vote Sinn Féin said that an opportunity existed for the referendum on Irish unity contained in the Good Friday Agreement.
“I welcome the fact that after some initial criticism of our proposal the Fianna Fáil leader and the Taoiseach have come around to this position also.
“On 23rd June the overwhelming majority of citizens in the north voted to remain within the EU.
“I was in Stormont yesterday and it is clear that there is widespread concern within the business community, the voluntary and community sector, within the agriculture and tourism sectors that Brexit will adversely impact on the North’s economy.
“The Good Friday Agreement allows for national reunification if a majority in the North consent to that.
“In the context of the North being dragged out of the EU by England, there is now a greater opportunity to achieve this.
“In the time ahead more and more people, who would have either opposed Irish unity or would have been dubious of it, will be open to the idea of exploring new relationships on this island in the context of remaining in the EU.
“To make best use of this opportunity all of those parties on the island which support reunification need to discuss how best this can be achieved.
“There is a need to be open and imaginative about the possible new constitutional arrangements and political structures that might be needed.
“Last week at a meeting of party leaders I urged the Taoiseach to push ahead with an island-wide dialogue to discuss how the remain vote in the North can be respected; what agreed strategy can be put in place to minimise the impact of Brexit; and how we can make progress on reunification through a referendum.
“That project needs to move ahead speedily so that in any negotiations involving the EU, Britain and the Irish government, the proposal for a referendum on Irish unity is on the agenda.”

Sectarian Orange Order bonfires

Posted by Jim on July 17, 2016

by Tom Cooper

Perhaps one reason why the Northern state turns a blind eye to the
naked sectarianism displayed at 11th July bonfires is the fundamentally
sectarian foundations of the British Constitution. The Act of
Settlement of 1701, the cornerstone of the British constitution,
forbids the Monarch, its spouse or any of the great office holders of
state from being a Catholic (Tony Blair converted to Catholicism after
he stood down as Prime Minister), and automatically grants seats in its
upper house to Anglican bishops. A strange traditional practice in a
country which prides itself on its secular and progressive ethos.

The burning on bonfires of the Irish national flag, the papal flag and
more recently the Polish national flag, are the highlights of the 11th
July Orange Order celebrations and are extremely offensive. One of this
year’s bonfire highlights was the image of Ulster Unionist MP Danny
Kinahan posing for photographs in front of a Co Antrim bonfire with an
Irish tricolour placed on top of it. When questioned if his actions
were appropriate Mr Kinahan replied ” This is Protestant culture, let’s
recognise each other’s cultures and get on with it.” This disgusting
behaviour does not warrant even the slightest admonition from unionist

Every 11th night, in what can only be described as deliberate acts of
provocation, sectarian bonfires pollute not just the atmosphere but
poison community relations throughout the north. Many of these bonfires
are adorned with not just the Irish flag, but in some instances images
of murdered Catholics. Pictures of Catholic schoolboys Michael McIlveen
and Thomas Devlin, who were random victims of loyalist murderers were
placed on top of bonfires and burned, much to the approval of the local
bigots. Incredibly and bizarrely, in excess of sixty Grand Officers of
the Orange Order are also Church of Ireland ministers. One wonders to
what extent would the Church of Ireland permit its ministers to belong
to an organisation that burned effigies of Muslims, Jews or Hindus who
had been murdered because of their religion?

Nowhere else in Europe would the annual ceremonial burning of many
hundreds of the national flag of a peaceful neighbouring state go
virtually without comment.. What if every Bastille day the Union Jack
was burned across France, or if every St George’s day the flags of
Pakistan, Jamaica or Nigeria were burned in British cities?

Understandably, there would be harsh diplomatic protests and perhaps
riots in the streets. But in Northern Ireland this systematic and
deliberate incitement to hatred has been allowed to become an integral
part of unionist/ Protestant culture to such an extent that it hardly
draws comment from British secretaries of state, unionist politicians,
the media and, in particular the Irish government, who allow this annual
affront to their national flag to continue without a word of protest.

The British Government seems to be in a state of denial over its
obligations to prevent and punish such flagrant incitements to hatred.
In April 2007 Britain, along with 26 other EU countries, signed a
declaration to punish those responsible for incitement to hatred on the
grounds of colour, race, nationality or ethnic origin with terms of
imprisonment. Britain herself enacted a similar ‘Religious and Racial
Hatred Act’ in 2006.

Following the ending of the second World War in Germany, an extensive
body of legislation was put in place to outlaw all remaining elements of
anti-Jewish culture that had grown up around the Nazi party. Is it not
imperative that similar measures be introduced in the North to deal with
the endemic anti-Catholicism so prevalent in large parts of the Orange
Order facade?.

A constant media spotlight and relentless unionist condemnation might
help to change attitudes to anti-Catholicism although the fact that no
senior elected unionist is willing to enter a Catholic church, under any
circumstances, is a bad sign.The history of the Orange Order has been a
shameful litany of Protestant supremacy. The Order provides religious
camouflage for those members who wish to maintain a system of privilege
and power and defines itself more by a hatred of Catholics than a love
of Christ.

Is it not long past time that the Orange Order ceased closing its eyes
and turning its back on the actions of those associated with its yearly
marches and bonfires?

Irish outside 26 Counties to get vote in Presidential elections

Posted by Jim on

A referendum to give Irish people living abroad a vote in the
presidential election is planned for 2017, diaspora minister Joe McHugh
announced this week.

As things currently stand, Irish people who have emigrated abroad are
unable to vote in parliamentary or presidential elections or in any
referendum that takes place in Ireland.

It is understood a referendum to rectify this for presidential elections
is being planned for the first half of next year and is expected to

The move was widely welcomed as a first step towards restoring votes for
emigrants and those in the North. Speaking on morning radio, Fianna Fail
diaspora spokesperson Senator Mark Daly said that the right to vote was
the most “fundamental right of any citizen”.

“We must stop denying that right to so many millions of our citizens,”
he said.

A Sinn Fein arty spokesperson said news of the referendum was a
“positive development”, and that a right to vote for people living
outside of the State must include people in the North.

“It is only right that we further enfranchise our Irish citizens
overseas and that we work to ensure they retain a tangible link with
politics and developments at home.

“This core right must be extended to Irish citizens who are living in
every part of Ireland.

“The Office of Uachtaran [President] is a hugely symbolic one and it
defies logic that someone from the north can become Uachtaran but not be
entitled to vote for themselves.”

Noreen Bowden, co-founder of Voting Rights Ireland, an international
coalition of groups campaigning on the issue, said that while the
referendum is welcome, it was “only a first step”.

“All Irish citizens need adequate representation in the legislative
process as well. Presidential voting rights will mean a lot to Irish
citizens abroad, but the movement for emigrant voting rights won’t stop
once that has been achieved.”

The 1916 Societies said that the proposed national forum to discuss the
implications of the ‘Brexit’ referendum should be extended to emigrants
and the Diaspora.

“We have written to all elected representatives to the major
institutions across Ireland, of our own initiative and independent to
the proposed forum, requesting that a national dialogue, inclusive of
all sections and strata of Irish society and extending also to the
overseas Diaspora, freely agree proposals for an independent and
all-Ireland republic to be approved in turn by the Irish people through
recourse to a national referendum.”

1916 Societies NYC announces that the Natl. AOH has unanimously voted to support the Societies One Ireland one vote campaign at their recent Convention in Atlantic City

Posted by Jim on July 16, 2016

1916 Societies NYC are pleased to learn that the Ancient Order of Hibernians, an important organization within the Irish Diaspora in the United States, has unanimously endorsed a resolution put to their National Convention in Atlantic City on July 14th, welcoming and lending support to our ‘One Ireland One Vote’ initiative.

‘One Ireland One Vote’ is the flagship campaign of the 1916 Societies – an Irish separatist movement of whom we are an affiliate. It calls for an All-Ireland Referendum on Irish Unity, that an Independent and 32-County Irish Republic might proceed from an end to partition rule in Ireland.
Following months of discussion with and within the broad Irish-American community, beginning with our own formation less than a year ago and developing from there, this represents an exciting development for both ourselves in New York and our friends and colleagues back home in Ireland.
Our vision for a ‘New All-Ireland Republic’ is now gaining traction among the Irish Diaspora, something we are immensely proud of given the connections that have long existed between Irish America and the Republican Movement, connections we know to be of utmost importance to the cause of Irish Independence.
Moving forward, republicanism and its hopes for a united and free Ireland, while faced with massive challenges, yes, finds itself in a position whereby a changing world brings new opportunities.
In that context, we consider that our ‘One Ireland One Vote’ proposal offers an effective platform to press ahead and maximize those same opportunities, holding likewise that the endorsement by the AOH is a significant development towards that end, as the campaign for Irish Independence enters what we hope will prove its final phase.

For further information on the New York 1916 Societies and our ‘One Ireland One Vote’ campaign please contact us at the address and telephone number below. Information on the broader 1916 Societies and their developing project can be found on their website:

1916 Societies-NYC
244 Fifth Avenue
Suite K-205
New York, New York 10001

Action against hate bonfires would ‘increase disorder’ – PSNI

Posted by Jim on

The PSNI police has washed its hands over a series of hate crimes and
other offences at this year’s loyalist ‘Eleventh Night’ bonfires,
calling for “consultation and dialogue” instead of bringing charges
against loyalists.

More than 300 bonfires were lit on Monday night ahead of the Twelfth of
July, the annual Protestant celebration of a historic battle victory
over Catholics.

There was once again a controversy over the display of racist,
paramilitary and sectarian slogans, the burning of election posters of
nationalist politicians and the burning of Irish tricolours and other

In the most serious incident, a row of terraced houses in the Shankill
area of west Belfast were gutted after a nearby bonfire spread onto the

Sinn Fein’s John O’Dowd, whose posters were among those burned on a
bonfire in Portadown which had been billed as a “children’s fun day”,
wrote: “What message does it send out to young people that it is
acceptable to burn images of elected representatives?” The Upper Bann
Assembly member reported the incident to the PSNI as both theft of
election posters and a hate crime.

Michaela Boyle, a Sinn Fein Assembly member of West Tyrone, said she
felt “sadness” at seeing her election posters on a bonfire in
Artigarvan, near Strabane. She said political representative from all
parties needed to “speak out against all forms of hate crime, no matter
how and where it raises its head”.

Sinn Fein’s Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said “intervention”
on bonfires was now overdue. He tweeted: “Respecting PSNI independence
and judgement on how to deal with these hate crimes, past time when
intervention required.”

But the Assistant PSNI Chief Stephen Martin dismissed these concerns.
“The best way to improve the situation is through consultation; through
dialogue and through partnership,” he said.

He said burning of Sinn Fein councillors on election posters amounted
merely to “theft of paper” and admitted that the PSNI would not take on
the paramilitaries involved.

“Whilst putting an election poster on a bonfire might be very
distressful to the person whose image is on it and the political party
involved might hold very strong feelings about it – the offence in
reality is likely to be the theft of a piece of paper,” he said.

“In considering enforcement action, I have to think about.. the risk
that police intervening would create increased tension and risk of

Unionist politicians were equally dismissive. The DUP’s Edwin Poots even
took a selfie at bonfire in Ballymacash that had been bedecked in
tricolours which were burned. He said he “really couldn’t care less”
about criticism.

And the new DUP ‘communities minister’ Paul Givan posed for photos as he
set stacks of pallets alight in County Tyrone, and refused to comment
afterwards. John O’Dowd branded the picture by Mr Poots “completely
inappropriate”, and also said Mr Givan should be “setting an example as
a minister”.

Martin Hurson – Died July13th, 1981

Posted by Jim on July 13, 2016




A hard-working and extremely likeable republican

IN THE early hours of Tuesday morning, November 9th, 1976, a series of British army and RUC swoops in the Cappagh district of Dungannon in East Tyrone led to the arrest from their homes, under Section 10 of the Emergency Provisions Act, of three young local men: Pat Joe O’Neill, Dermot Boyle and Peter Kane. Two days later, November 11th, in similar dawn swoops in the area, four other men, James Joseph Rafferty, Peter Nugent, Kevin O’Brien and Martin Hurson, were arrested from their homes.

Over the next few days all seven men were held in Omagh RUC barracks, interrogated about IRA operations in East Tyrone since 1972, and systematically tortured by detectives from the newly established Regional Crime Squad.

The men had their hair pulled, their ears slapped, they were made to stand for prolonged periods in the ‘search position’ against a wall, they were kicked and punched and forced to do exercises for lengthy periods.


Finally, two men, Peter Nugent and James Rafferty, were released without charge, Rafferty to Tyrone County Hospital in Omagh where he spent four days recovering from his injuries. The remaining five were charged (and subsequently convicted) on the sole basis of statements made during that interrogation.

One of the five is now in the cages of Long Kesh, the other four became blanket men in the H-Blocks.

Four-and-a-half years later with revealing ironic insight into the nature of the British judicial system in Ireland, while four RUC detectives involved in those Omagh interrogations were awaiting trial on charges of assaulting James Rafferty during interrogation, in the prison hospital of Long Kesh, one of those convicted on the basis of a tortured ‘confession’ – Martin Hurson – lay dying on hunger strike for political status.


Edward Martin Hurson was born on September 13th, 1956, in the townland of Aughnaskea, Cappagh, near Dungannon, the eighth of nine children: six girls and three boys.

Both of his parents, John, aged 74, a small hill farmer, and Mary Ann (whose maiden name was Gillespie) who died in April 1970 after a short illness, came from the Cappagh district, and the whole of their family – including Martin – were born into the white washed farmhouse perched precipitously on top of the thirty hilly acres of rough land that make up the Hurson farm.

The Cappagh district is a wholly nationalist area of County Tyrone, composed mainly of farmers, and comprising between two and three hundred closely knit families. The land is infertile, lowland hills, good only for grazing cattle and rearing a few pigs, yet the roots of families like the Hursons stretch back maybe two or three hundred years. The land may not be much but it is theirs.

Over by Donaghmore, a few miles away, where the fields are bigger and the grass more lush, most of the farmers are loyalists.

Martin was close to the land as he grew up. Although he went first to Crosscavanagh school in Galbally, and then to St. Patrick’s intermediate in Dungannon, when he was not at school he was more often than not helping out about the farm, driving a tractor, helping to rear ‘croppy pigs’ or looking after cattle.

A ‘typical’ country lad in many ways, part of a very close and good humoured family, Martin was a quiet, very religious, and easy going young man, who nevertheless, before his arrest, enjoyed social pursuits such as dancing and going to the cinema, and enjoyed the company of other people, among whom he had a well-earned reputation for being a practical joker and a bit of a comedian.

Like many others, he was capable of being very outgoing and talkative on occasions, while remaining essentially a rather shy and quiet personality.

Perhaps because he was one of the youngest of the family, Martin was particularly close to his mother, whose premature death in 1970 when he was only thirteen, came as a deep shock to him.

It was Martin who returned home one day to find his mother taken seriously ill and who ran to a neighbouring farm to ring a doctor. That day, a Saturday, Mrs. Hurson was taken to Omagh hospital, and from there to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast where she died the following Thursday, April 30th.

Martin was so shocked by the tragedy that he lost his memory completely for a week, only regaining it when a tractor he was driving up a steep slope, with his father, overturned, throwing the pair to the ground, this fresh shock dramatically restoring his memory.

That period of his life was also the time when ‘the troubles’ began to have an impact.

Although the family did not discuss politics, and internment did not affect anyone from the Cappagh area, it was impossible not to be keenly aware of British oppression so close to Dungannon which – spearheading the civil rights campaign through the late sixties – had fostered such a strong current of republicanism in the process.

However, Martin’s personal resistance to that British repression and his subsequent intense suffering at the hands of it were not to occur for several years. In his teens his great delight was to play practical jokes on his family and neighbours, particularly on April Fool’s Day and on Hallowe’en.


“He liked a joke and a laugh” remembers a long-time friend of Martin’s. “Him and Peter Kane were a comical match”. Or, as his brother Francis remembers with a laugh, “If he thought it would make you mad he would do it”.

Like the time he ran breathless to Paddy Donnelly’s to tell him that Sylvie Kane’s cows had toppled his milkchurns and the milk was going everywhere. And as Paddy dashed down to save his milk, Martin called out, “Hey Paddy, April Fool” before disappearing through a gap in the hedge.

Leaving school, Martin started work as an apprentice fitter welder at Findlay’s, and after a stint there he went across to England for a while, living in Manchester with his brother Francis and his wife, and working for McAlpine’s. But not long after Francis and his wife returned to Tyrone, Martin too returned when the particular job he was working on had finished at Christmas in 1974, rather than move to another job.

He had spent almost a year-and-a half in England but wasn’t particular about it, a view confirmed early on after his arrival, when he was forced to spend two weeks in hospital having been struck by one of McAlpine’s mechanical diggers!

Back in the farmhouse at Cappagh, Martin bought himself a car on hire purchase and got himself a job in Dungannon at Powerscreen International. He paid for the car within a year, having always had a gift for scraping money together.

As a child, whenever he managed to get hold of a penny or a shilling, here or there, instead of spending it he would take it to a nearby farmer and family friend who put it into a box for him until he had enough to buy, once, a white cob, or a pig to rear. He was ‘old fashioned” in that way, his brother Francis recalls.

He also loved to work and was a “great riser” in the morning, his father says, never missing a day’s work until his arrest.


Late in 1975, he met and started going out with Bernadette Donnelly, at the wedding of her sister Mary Rose to a cousin of Martin’s, at which he was best man.

Bernadette, aged twenty-three, comes from Pomeroy: she was extremely active in the hunger strike campaign, along with members of Martin’s family, appearing on rally platforms and taking part in marches and pickets all over the country.

Before his arrest, Martin and Bernadette were often both behind the practical jokes he loved playing. His brother Francis was often the victim.

On one occasion, Francis, his wife, and their two children, were asleep in a caravan in the Donegal resort of Bundoran. They awoke however to find themselves not on the caravan site but on an adjacent road, Martin and Bernadette having towed it off-site during the night.

On another occasion the pair borrowed Francis’ almost new cine-camera to film the wedding of a friend, Seamus McGuire, in Donegal. Somewhere along the route back from Donegal they found out they’d lost the camera and lost it remained.

Afraid to tell Francis, they kept quiet about the camera for several weeks, before Francis remembered to ask for it back. Instead of owning-up, Martin gave Francis an almost identical replacement hoping he wouldn’t notice. But when he did, Martin, not lost for words, just explained: “I left it into a shop for fixing, but they said it wasn’t worth fixing.”


But those relatively light-hearted and easy-going days were coming to an end.

East Tyrone, like many other areas in the North, was a centre of highly proficient republican operations against the enemy forces.

To combat the level of republican military activity, deputy chief constable of the RUC Kenneth Newman (shortly to be promoted to chief constable), was one of those behind the restructuring of the RUC in early 1976, which led to the setting up of what were called Regional Crime Squads.

Their primary function was to ensure convictions for all ‘unsolved’ republican activity by extracting signed statements, in effect to ‘clear the books’ of an embarrassing list of unattributable republican operations.

Under the torturer Newman, and the then direct-ruler Roy Mason, the Regional Crime Squads only responsibility was to ‘get results’ (a guarantee of promotion) without undue regard to the methods they employed. One method they did employ was torture.


Martin was arrested and taken to Omagh RUC barracks on November 11th, 1976, along with the six others arrested that day and two days previously.

He was badly, and professionally tortured in Omagh for two days, beaten about the head, back and testicles, spread-eagled against a wall and across a table, slapped, punched and kicked. He heard Rafferty’s screams as he was tortured in the adjoining room.

To escape the torture Martin signed statements admitting involvement in republican activity.

He was then transferred to Cookstown barracks, but as soon as he arrived he made a formal complaint of ill-treatment. Back in Omagh barracks, chief inspector Farr, realising this could prejudice the admissibility of Martin’s statements at his trial, got the Cookstown detectives to re-interrogate Martin and extract the same statements, which they did by threatening to ‘send him back to Omagh’.

On Saturday night, November 13th, Martin was charged, along with Kevin O’Brien and Peter Kane. Dermot Boyle and Pat Joe O’Neill had been charged the day before.

Martin was charged with a landmine explosion at Galbally in November 1975. This charge was later dropped, but he was then further charged with IRA membership, possession of the Galbally landmine, conspiracy to kill members of the enemy forces, causing an explosion at Cappagh in September 1975, and possession of a landmine at Reclain in February 1976 which exploded near a passing UDR landrover.


Even though the alleged speciality of the East Tyrone active service unit operating around Cappagh was explosives, the RUC offered not one shred of forensic evidence, against any of the five men, merely signed statements extracted by torture.

These statements, however, were good enough for Judge Rowland at the trial of the five men in November 1977, after a year on remand in Crumlin Road and in the remand H-Block of Long Kesh.

Admitting as evidence the statements Martin made in Omagh, and dismissing doctor’s evidence about the extent of Martin’s injuries, Judge Rowland sentenced Martin to twenty years for possession of landmines and conspiracy, as well as two other sentences of fifteen and five years respectively, the sentences to run concurrently.

The other four men received sentences ranging from fifteen to twenty years.

Martin appealed his conviction on the grounds that the judge had ignored medical evidence about his ill-treatment. The appeal was dismissed but he was granted a retrial.

At the four-day trial in September 1979, before Judge Munray, the Omagh statements were ruled inadmissible, but instead of Martin walking free the judge went on to accept the admissibility of the Cookstown statements, themselves extracted under threat of renewed torture.

One of the consequences of the retrial was the further postponement of the enquiry into James Rafferty’s allegations of brutality in Omagh, on the grounds that it might prejudice the retrial (to the RUC’s detriment!).

The enquiry had been reluctantly acceded to by the RUC Police Authority following the persistent endeavours of Authority member, independent Dungannon councillor, Jack Hassard. He, however, later resigned from the Authority, describing it as being “as independent as a sausage without a skin” when the tribunal which was set up failed to begin its enquiries. The tribunal finally collapsed earlier this year when the RUC detectives from Omagh refused to give evidence to it on the grounds that they might incriminate themselves!

Subsequently, four of the detectives who tortured James Rafferty, Martin Hurson and the others at Omagh that November: chief inspector Harold Colgan, and constables Michael O Neil, Kenneth Hassan, and Robert McAdore were charged with assaulting Rafferty.

Those four torturers, however, are only convenient scape-goats representing the tip of the iceberg in what was an orchestrated and widespread attempt during the Roy Mason era to jail republicans on the flimsiest of pretexts by means of torture extracted statements. Such men make up a substantial proportion of those political prisoners in Britain’s Northern and English jails today.

Martin Hurson went straight on the blanket after his first trial, and following his retrial he appealed once again against conviction, challenging the admissibility of the Cookstown statements, but his appeal was disallowed in June 1980.


On May 29th, this year, Martin joined the hunger strike, replacing South Derryman Brendan McLoughlin who was forced to drop out because of a burst stomach ulcer.

In the Free State general election in June, Martin was a candidate in Longford/Westmeath, and although missing election, obtained almost four-and-a-half thousand first preference votes, and over a thousand transfers, before being eliminated at the end of the sixth count, outlasting two Labour candidates and a Fine Gael contender.

Barely one month after election the Free State government’s bolstering of Britain’s barbaric intransigence led to the death of Martin Hurson, the sixth hunger striker, at that stage, to die.

Having seriously deteriorated after forty days on hunger strike, he was unable to hold down water and died a horrifically agonising death after only forty-four days on hunger strike, at 4.30 a m. on Monday, July 13th


Houses gutted by bonfires as Orangemen march

Posted by Jim on July 12, 2016

There were confrontations this morning as sectarian parades were forced
through Catholic communities following a night in which bonfires were
lit to herald the day of loyalist aggression.

The Ardoyne march is one of the more controversial of hundreds of
‘feeder parades’ taking place today, when Protestants ‘celebrate’ the
anniversary of a 17th century battle victory over Catholics with
coat-trailing events.

Nationalist residents protesting at Ardoyne shops were hemmed in by
police as they moved in to control the area before the Orange parade
passed through. Directing a huge police deployment was the PSNI Chief
Constable George Hamilton, who himself became the focus of protests by
residents as they shouted about the force’s involvement in the murder
of nationalists.

As the parade passed through, there were shouts of ‘walk of shame’, but
no disorder. There was also a protest in west Belfast this morning as
another Orange parade passed through a nationalist area at Workman
Avenue and the Springfield Road, but again without serious incident.

A second round of parades takes place this evening, although some of
the most controversial ‘return’ marches have been rerouted by the
Parades Commission, which is tasked with adjudicating on parade routes.

Last night, there were disturbing scenes as ‘Eleventh Night’ bonfires
were lit. In the most serious incident, a row of terraced houses caught
fire close to one of the larger loyalist bonfires in Belfast. Two homes
adjacent to the Hopewell Square bonfire in Belfast’s Shankill Road were
gutted when a blaze broke out on the roofs of the terrace at around
1am. Other houses were damaged.

At Cluan Place in east Belfast, endangered properties had to be hosed
down as it appeared fire was taking hold.

In total, firefighters had to actively intervene at 16 bonfires across
the North. As well as Belfast, there were bonfire-related emergencies
in Bangor, Coleraine, Banbridge, Rathfriland, Dungannon, Derry City,
Portadown, Ballyhalbert and Limavady.

Despite the efforts of politicians to improve their image, there were
again countless hate crimes and sectarian incidents at the bonfires,
including the burning of election posters and nationalist flags. Many
complaints this year centred on the increased use of toxic tyres, as
well as the usual proximity of the pyres to homes, businesses and
community areas.

While Sinn Fein has supported the grant funding by local councils of
bonfires, posters of party councillors again appeared on several,
alongside sectarian insults and threats of violence.

Derry councillor Patricia Logue today called for an end to all actions
which foster division. “There must be a zero tolerance against all
forms of hate crimes, racism, sectarianism, and those who seek to
promote sectarian division,” she said.

Sinn Fein Assembly member John O’Dowd said that the burning of election
posters and Irish tricolours is “unacceptable” and “should be

Stolen election posters belonging to himself and party colleague
Catherine Seeley were burned on bonfires in Portadown.

“The event as I understand was billed as a children’s fun day,” he
said. “It is totally unacceptable that these stolen posters appeared on
the bonfire, especially in the context of an event which was supposed
to be a children’s fun day, what message does the burning of images of
elected representatives send out to children?

“Election material, poster and billboards belonging to all political
parties should be treated with respect.

“The posters burnt were stolen during the election campaign and were
reported as such. This incident and the burning of posters and flags at
the main bonfire later in the evening have been reported to the Police
as theft and a hate crime.”

Theresa May to become British PM on Wednesday

Posted by Jim on July 11, 2016

British Prime Minister David Cameron has revealed he will officially
step down on Wednesday, months ahead of schedule. His announcement came
after it emerged his replacement will be Home Secretary Theresa May,
whose last rival for the leadership of the Conservative Party dropped
out this morning.

Cameron said he quit after Prime Minister’s Questions on July 13, and
May will then become Prime Minister on Wednesday evening.

Although Theresa May is a controversial figure who has modelled herself
on Margaret Thatcher, her advancement will be preferred in Ireland
against the more extreme candidates for the post, Michael Gove and
Andrea Leadsom.

However, she is a supporter of austerity which continues to increase
deprivation in the north of Ireland. She has consistently opposed the
Human Rights Act and the European Convention on Human Rights.

As Home Secretary, she’s been an authoritarian ‘securocrat’ who has
championed greater surveillance powers which have led to Britain being
described as a surveillance state.

Despite mutterings of reform, she has presided over draconian ‘stop and
search’ legislation which is routinely used to harass and oppress
Catholics in the north of Ireland. She has also been pushing an
“extremism bill”, based on a definition of extremism that she herself
has been unable to define.

At the Home Office, she has promoted anti-immigrant propaganda, while
her own immigration policies have failed dramatically. Her refusal this
week to guarantee EU nationals’ the right to stay in Britain displayed
a new level of extremist zeal.

Tory veteran Ken Clarke made unguarded remarks recently about her being
a “bloody difficult woman”, while colleagues have described as being
unpleasant to work with — but that she will usually “do a deal in the

Her rapid transition to becoming British Prime Minister gives very
little time for her to prepare for a massive agenda which involves. As
a first step, she will manage the British exit from the European Union.
She will then be presented with an independence referendum in Scotland,
which now appears almost certain to pass, as well as irresistible
pressure to end the obsolete Union with the north of Ireland and Wales.

Her performance over the next weeks and months will be closely watched
as an important indicator of the future direction of Anglo-Irish

“Orangemen are Irishmen who in order to be thought English march dressed as Scotsmen in honour of a Dutchman to suggest they’re Ulstermen”

Posted by Jim on

Loyalist 1

I Wish Both King Billy and King James II Had Lost

Posted by Jim on July 10, 2016

“A plague on both your houses”

CAPITOL HILL. Sunday, July 10, 2016—— A prominent Irish-American leader has declared that the only moral and democratic position for anyone to take on the battle between King Billy of Orange and King James II is to wish both had lost.

In Ireland, mostly in The North, “The Twelfth,” (12 th. of July) commemorates the victory of the Protestant King William of Orange over Catholic King James II at the Battle of the Boyne in Ireland in 1690.

Fr. Sean Mc Manus — President of the Capitol Hill-based Irish National Caucus— said : “ I wish both sides had lost! The Catholic Irish owed King James II no allegiance, and the Protestant Irish should not have been supporting treason against their King, whose daughter was married to King Billy, for goodness sake. Not only that, but the Pope of that time ( whom the Protestants hated)  was supporting King Billy. It was a squalid terrorist affair played out on the soil of poor Ireland, which lead to centuries of brutal anti-Catholic oppression, ethnic cleansing and genocide… And to compound the injury, the British powers that be named this period the “ Glorious Revolution.”

Fr. Mc Manus explained: “If people want to find appropriate language to say something about 1690, they should go back about one hundred years earlier to when Romeo and Juliet was written and borrow The Bard’s immortal words, “A plague on both your houses”— on both King James II and King Billy, scoundrels both. Now, there’s an Englishman, whom both Protestants and Catholics can celebrate— Shakespeare. Forget the other two terrorists, stick with a great Englishman.”

Fr. Mc Manus concluded: “Full disclosure: even though I am a native of Fermanagh —one of the Six Counties in Northern Ireland— and even though I know the history and culture well, I’ve never quite understood the mania for marching/parading in Northern Ireland. And, above all, it is impossible to understand the Orange Order’s pathology of insisting to march in poor Catholic areas where they are not wanted. How can rational people understand that without seeing it as a desire to assert Protestant dominance and supremacy? One thing is sure: if Catholic nationalists and republicans insisted on marching through all-Protestant  areas,  the Irish National Caucus would be the very first to oppose it.”

Fr. Sean Mc Manus


Posted by Jim on July 9, 2016

Sinn Fein has called on the Taoiseach to press ahead with a plan to
convene a national, all-Ireland forum on dealing with the fallout of the
British vote to leave the EU.

Despite being dismissed by DUP leader Arlene Foster, Sinn Fein leader
Gerry Adams said that three opposition leaders in the Dublin parliament
have expressed their support for a national Forum.

“There is clearly a consensus that maximum cooperation and coordination
is needed across the island of Ireland to meet the many challenges
arising from the Brexit vote,” he said.

He described the British referendum result as probably the “most serious
political and economic crisis to face this island in many years” which
was bad for the island of Ireland, North and South.

He said the idea of a national forum had been proposed by him to the

“In his response today the Taoiseach accepted that it was ‘a good idea’
and an ‘idea with merit’,” he said. “In this context the DUP rejection
of it must not be allowed to stand in the way of its establishment.”

Foster pointedly told a joint press conference following a meeting of
the North-South Ministerial Council (NSMC) on Monday that she had no
interest in the forum.

“With respect to the forum that seemed to gather steam over the weekend,
it wasn’t discussed with me over the weekend, or indeed before, and it
wasn’t discussed at the NSMC today,” she said.

The unionist hardliner said there were already “more than enough” bodies
and mechanisms through which the two administrations could co-operate.
“I don’t think there’s any mechanisms needed because we can lift the
phone to each other,” she said.


The British Direct Ruler in the north of Ireland was also hostile to the
idea. Theresa Villiers said her government saw “no case” for the forum
and no need to add to the current structures.

Mr Adams was still positive about the idea, despite the rebuffs. “The
‘remain’ vote, like the referendum on the Good Friday Agreement in 1998,
uniquely brought together unionists, nationalists, republicans and
others in common cause,” he said.

“I also believe that there will be enormous goodwill for a Forum that
seeks to defend the North’s vote to remain and to protect the peace
process, the Good Friday Agreement, its institutions and the two
economies on this island.”

He said that Villiers should “butt out”.

“The Brexit vote – which Theresa Villiers campaigned for – presents
significant challenges for the people of the island of Ireland. Having
contributed to the current crisis Theresa Villiers has no right to
dictate to the Irish government and the rest of us how we should

“Ms Villiers lost the Brexit vote in the North. She should butt out. A
National Forum is the right approach for all the people of Ireland –
North and South, if we are to minimise the likely damage that Brexit
will bring with it.”

Sinn Fein MEP Martina Anderson said Villiers should follow the lead of
UKIP leader Nigel Farage and resign.

“The people of the north voted in favour of remaining in the EU and that
democratically expressed vote needs to be respected,” Anderson said.
“She has no legitimate claim to represent the best interests of the
people of the North on the EU and, as a result, her position has become


Meanwhile, Sinn Fein appears to have inched away from its demand for an
immediate ‘border poll’ to be held within the Six Counties as a result
of the Brexit vote to take the North out of the EU.

Unionists and the British government have routinely rejected the idea of
a vote on reunification. But there have also been some within the two
nationalist parties at Stormont who argued that a low turnout by their
community, as has become the norm in recent Six County elections, could
backfire on them.

In an interview this week, Gerry Adams said he still thinks it was a
good idea to call for a border poll in the aftermath of the EU

“There obviously is a challenge trying to get a majority in the north to
support us, but it’s a very legitimate demand and we will continue to
pursue it,” Mr Adams said.

He believes that for people in the North, the Brexit referendum was about
people’s identity, as well as economics.

“I’m not suggesting for a second that those who voted to remain from a
unionist perspective have become united Irelanders, they patently
haven’t. But they’re on a little voyage in the next two years, as these
negotiations go on,” he said.

Joe McDonnell – Died July 8th, 1981

Posted by Jim on July 8, 2016




A deep-thinking republican with a great sense of humour

THE FOURTH IRA Volunteer to join the hunger-strike for political status was Joe McDonnell, a thirty-year-old married man with two children, from the Lenadoon housing estate in West Belfast.

A well-known and very popular man in the Greater Andersonstown area he grew up, married and fought for the republican cause in, Joe had a reputation as a quiet and deep-thinking individual, with a gentle, happy go-lucky personality, who had, nevertheless, a great sense of humour, was always laughing and playing practical jokes, and who, although withdrawn at times, had the ability to make friends easily.

As an active republican before his capture in October 1976, Joe was regarded by his comrades as a cool and efficient Volunteer who did what he had to do and never talked about it afterwards.

Something of a rarity within the Republican Movement, in that outside of military briefings and operational duty he was never seen around with other known or suspected Volunteers, he was nevertheless a good friend of the late Bobby Sands, with whom he was captured while on active service duty.

Not among those who volunteered for the earlier hunger strike last year, it was the intense disappointment brought about by the Brits’ duplicity following the end of that hunger strike, and the bitterness and anger that duplicity produced among all the blanket men, that prompted Joe to put forward his name the next time round.

And it was predictable, as well as fitting, when his friend and comrade Bobby Sands met with death on the sixty-sixth day of his hunger strike, that Joe McDonnell should volunteer to take Bobby’s place and continue that fight.


His determination and resolve in that course of action can be gauged by the fact that never once, following his sentencing to fourteen years imprisonment in 1977, did he put on the prison uniform to take a visit, seeing his wife and family only after he commenced his hunger-strike.

The story of Joe McDonnell is of a highly-aware republican soldier whose involvement stemmed initially from the personal repression and harassment he and his family suffered at the hands of the British occupation forces, but which then deepened – through continuing repression – to a mature commitment to oppose an occupation that denied his country freedom and attempted to criminalise its people.

It was that commitment which he held more dear than his own life.


Joe McDonnell was born on September 14th 1951, the fifth of eight children, into the family home in Slate Street in Belfast’s Lower Falls.

His father, Robert, aged 59, a steel erector, and his mother, Eileen (whose maiden name is Straney), aged 58, both came from the Lower Falls themselves.

They married in St. Peter’s church there, in 1941, living first with Robert’s sister and her husband in Colinward Street, off the Springfield Road, before moving into their own home in Slate Street, where the family were all born.

These are: Eilish, aged 38, married with five children; Robert, aged 36, married with two children; Hugh, aged 34, married with three children; Patsy, aged 32, married with two children, and now living in Canada since 1969; Joe; Maura, aged 28 and single; Paul, aged 26, married with two children and Frankie, aged 24 and single.

Frankie is currently serving a five-year sentence on the blanket protest in H6-Block on an IRA membership charge, following his arrest in December 1976, and is due for release this December.

A ninth child, Bernadette, was a particular favourite of Joe’s, before her death from a kidney illness at the early age of three.

“Joseph practically reared Bernadette”, recalls his mother, “he was always with the child, carrying her around. He was about ten at the time. He even used to play marleys with her on his shoulders.”

Bernadette’s death, a sad blow to the family, was deeply felt by her young brother Joe.


One of his friends at that time was his future brother-in-law, Michael, and he began dating Goretti from around the time he was seventeen.

Joe and Goretti, who also comes from Andersonstown, married in St. Agnes’ chapel in 1970, and moved in to live with Goretti’s sister and her family in Horn Drive in Lower Lenadoon.

At that time, however, they were one of only two nationalist households in what was then a predominantly loyalist street, and, after repeated instances of verbal intimidation, in the middle of the night, a loyalist mob – in full view of a nearby Brit post, and with the blessing of the raving Reverend Robert Bradford, who stood by – broke down the doors and wrecked the houses, forcing the two families to leave.


The McDonnells went to live with Goretti’s mother for a while, but eventually got the chance to squat in a house being vacated in Lenadoon Avenue.

Internment had been introduced shortly before, and in 1972 the British army struck with a 4.00 a.m. raid.

Joe was dragged from the house, hit in the eye with a rifle butt and bundled into a jeep. Their house was searched and wrecked. Joe was taken to the prison ship Maidstone and later on to Long Kesh internment camp where he was held for several months.

Goretti recalls that early morning as a “horrific” experience which altered both their lives. One minute they had everything, the next minute nothing.

On his release Joe joined the IRA’s Belfast Brigade, operating at first in the 1st Battalion’s ‘A’ Company which covered the Rosnareen end of Andersonstown, and later being absorbed into the ‘cell’ structure increasingly adopted by the IRA.


Both during his first period of internment, and his second, longer, internment in 1973, as well as the periods when he was free, the McDonnell’s home in Lenadoon was constant target for British army raids.

During these raids the house would often be torn apart, photos torn up and confiscated letters from Joe (previously read by the prison censor) re-read by infantile British soldiers, and Goretti herself arrested.

In between periods of internment, and before his capture, Joe resumed his trade as an upholsterer which he had followed since leaving school at the age of fifteen. He loved the job, never missing a day through illness, and made both the furniture for his own home as well as for many of the bars and clubs in the surrounding area. His job enabled him to take the family for regular holidays but Joe was a real ‘homer’ and always longed to be back in his native Belfast.


Part of that attraction stemmed obviously from his responsibility to his republican involvement. An active Volunteer throughout the Greater Andersonstown area, Joe was considered a first-class operator who didn’t show much fear. Generally quiet and serious while on an operation, whether an ambush or a bombing mission, Joe’s humour occasionally shone through.

Driving one time to an intended target in the Lenadoon area with a carload of Volunteers, smoke began to appear in the car. Not realising that it was simply escaping exhaust fumes, and thinking it came from the bags containing a number of bombs, a degree of alarm began to break out in the car, but Joe only advised his comrades, drily, not to bother about it: “They’ll go off soon enough.”

Outside of active service, Joe mixed mostly with people he knew from work, never flaunting his republican beliefs or his involvement, to such an extent that it led some republicans to believe he had not reported back to the IRA on his second release from internment.

The Brits, however, persecuted him and his family continually, with frequent house raids, and street arrests. He could rarely leave the house without being stopped for P-checking, or held up for an hour at a roadblock if he had somewhere to go. A few months before his capture, irate Brits at a roadblock warned him that they would ‘get’ him.

Outside of his republican activity Joe took a strong interest in his children – Bernadette, aged ten and Joseph, aged nine – teaching them both to swim, and forever playing football with young Joseph on the small green outside their home.


His capture took place in October 1976 following a firebomb attack on the Balmoral Furnishing Company in Upper Dunmurray Lane, near the Twinbrook estate in West Belfast.

The IRA had reconnoitred the store, noting the extravagantly-priced furniture it sold, and had selected it as an economic target. The plan was to petrol bomb the premises and then to lay explosive charges to spread the flames.

The Twinbrook active service unit led by Bobby Sands, was at that time in the process of being built up, and were assisted consequently in this operation by experienced republican Volunteers from the adjoining Andersonstown area, including Joe McDonnell.

Unfortunately, following the attack, which successfully destroyed the furnishing company, the escape route of some of the Volunteers involved was blocked by a car placed across the road.

During an ensuing shoot-out with Brits and RUC, two republicans, Seamus Martin and Gabriel Corbett were wounded, and four others, Bobby Sands, Joe McDonnell, Seamus Finucane and Sean Lavery, were arrested in a car not far away.

Three IRA Volunteers managed to escape safely from the area.

A single revolver was found in the car, and at the men’s subsequent trial in September 1977 all four received fourteen-year sentences for possession when they refused to recognise the court.

Rough treatment during their interrogation in Castlereagh failed to make any of the four sign a statement, and the RUC were thus unable to charge the men with involvement in the attack on the furnishing company despite their proximity to it at the time of their arrest.

ADAMANT From the day he was sentenced Joe refused to put on the prison uniform to take a visit, so adamant was he that he would not be criminalised. He kept in touch instead, with his wife and family, by means of daily smuggled ‘communications’, written with smuggled-in biro refills on prison issue toilet paper and smuggled out via other blanket men who were taking visits.

Incarcerated in H5-Block, Joe acted as ‘scorcher’ (an anglicised form of the Irish word, scairt, to shout) shouting the sceal, or news from his block to the adjoining one about a hundred yards away. Frequently this is the only way that news from outside can be communicated from one H-Block to the blanket men in another H-Block.

It illustrates well the feeling of bitter determination prevailing in the H-Blocks that Joe McDonnell, who did not volunteer for the hunger strike last year because, he said, “I have too much to live for”, should have become so frustrated and angered by British perfidy as to embark on hunger strike on Sunday, May 9th, 1981.


In June, Joe was a candidate during the Free State general election, in the Sligo/Leitrim constituency, in which he narrowly missed election by 315 votes.

All the family were actively involved in campaigning for him, and despite the disappointment at the result both they and Joe himself were pleased at the impact which, the H-Block issue had on the election, and in Sligo/Leitrim itself.

Adults cried when the video film on the hunger strike was shown, his family recall, and they cried again when Joe was eliminated from the electoral count.


At 5.11 a.m., on July 8th, Joe McDonnell, who – believeably, for those who know his wife Goretti, his children Bernadette and Joseph and his family – “had too much to live for” died after sixty one days of agonising hunger strike, rather than be criminalised.


EU leavers had no plan beyond simply leaving

Posted by Jim on July 7, 2016

Allison Morris. Irish News (Belfast). Thursday, July 7, 2016.

A week is said to be a long time in politics, but since the EU referendum results that old adage should be changed to an hour is a long time in British politics.

The Daily Telegraph cartoonist, Matt, a man surpassed in talent only by our very own Ian Knox, summed it up perfectly with a cartoon saying: “I’m studying politics. The course covers the period from 8am on Thursday to lunchtime on Friday”.

That cartoon is already out of date.

I went for a coffee on Monday and when I returned five minutes later Nigel Farage had stood down. Last Thursday I was watching Boris Johnson make his leadership pitch on Sky News and I dropped a pen, bent down to pick it up and by the time I looked up he’d already ruled himself out.

David Cameron didn’t even wait until the first shot was fired before he came out of Downing Street waving a white flag.

The amount of back stabbing, ladder climbing and dastardly, devious plotting at play over the last fortnight in both the Conservative Party and among members of the Parliamentary Labour Party in their clumsy coup against Jeremy Corbyn has been painful to watch.

Never have so many men appeared so spineless in so short a time.

But apart from the fact British politics seemed to attract gutless men, what have we really learned since Friday June 24?

Well, we know that the Leavers didn’t seem to have a plan beyond simply leaving. Their victory in sending the future of millions of people into a vortex of uncertainty seems to have taken them by complete surprise.

We don’t know what a post-Brexit UK will look like and although everyone has an opinion, no one really knows for sure. Closer to home and there are still no answers as to how the movement of goods and people across what will be the only land border between the ‘European Union and the UK’ will be controlled. For citizens of Northern Ireland, and more specifically those living in the Border regions, there are very real fears about what that will mean for agriculture and livelihoods in areas where some farms and family homes straddle both jurisdictions.

It also has repercussions for our own peace process and the Good Friday Agreement which is heavily reliant on and commits itself to complete incorporation into the European Convention on Human Rights. Plans to pull the UK out of the ECHR not only leaves massive holes in legislation that will take teams of lawyers years to plug, it also undermines the peace accord voted for in a referendum by the majority of the people on this island.

We now have one referendum which the majority of the people in Northern Ireland voted against undermining the principles of a referendum they voted in favour of.

And none of this is a surprise because those leading Brexiters, the people who pushed to bring us to this point of uncertainty, were vocally against the peace process.

What we do know for certain – and it’s the only certainty at this time – is that the Conservative Party is a nest of vipers who are loyal to no one, not even each other.

Michael Gove, one of the architects of Brexit, a man who politically stabbed his friend Boris Johnson in the back in the most public of ways, thought the peace process was a ‘capitulation’.

Civil servants and private negotiators are now to be tasked with trying to map out a way forward.

Politics has changed and not for the better. The brutal murder of MP Jo Cox has barely even been mentioned over this last fortnight. Racist incidents are on the increase and while the main men have gone running for the hills and well funded retirements, it seems that it will be a woman who will be left to lead a post Brexit Britain and clean up the mess made by a cacophony of men. Theresa May, a woman who wants  to scrap the Human Rights Act, or Andrea Leadsom a former banker who hasn’t ruled out giving Farage a role in the EU exit negotiations. The future is far from bright.

Time to ‘take our country back’ cried the Leavers in the run up to the referendum. They got their wish only what’s left of their country in two years time may not be worth having.

Former RUC men to sue the PSNI over the police investigation into the murder of Pat Finucane

Posted by Jim on

Connla Young The Irish News
THREE former RUC officers who investigated the murder of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane are to sue the PSNI chief constable over failures in the police investigation.

The Irish News has learned that former CID officers, including Trevor McIlwrath, Johnston Brown and retired Detective Superintendent Alan Simpson lodged legal papers with the High Court in Belfast late last year.

The dramatic move comes as the family of the murdered human rights solicitor continue their campaign for a public enquiry into the murder 27 years ago.

The 38-year-old lawyer was shot 14 times by two UDA gunmen at his north Belfast home, in February 1989.

His widow Geraldine was also injured during the attack.

The former officers claim they were unable to solve the case, one of the most controversial of the Troubles, because RUC Special Branch obstructed their investigation.

Several of the people centrally involved in the Finucane murder were Special Branch and British army agents.

In September 2004 UDA man Ken Barrett, who was a Special Branch informer, pleaded guilty to his murder.

Solicitors for the former detectives claim “the foregoing loss and damage was caused and/or contributed to by the wrongful acts/omissions, neglect and default of the defendant.”

They claim that the “acts and/or omissions constituted a conspiracy by the use of unlawful means, misfeasance in public office, breach of confidence, defamation, malicious falsehood, breach of statutory duty and or the negligence of the defendant, their servants and agents in relation to that investigation”.

The basis of their claim is that the alleged omissions were incompatible with several articles contained in the European Convention on Human Rights, including the right to life.

Alan Simpson, the retired senior officer who headed up the Finucane investigation, said he has been left with a “deep sense of betrayal” that has stayed with him for the past 27 years.

“I have all of these terrorist organisations, I have the IRA, the INLA, the UFF, the UVF, the Red Hand Commando all doing murders in north Belfast,” he said.

“I do not need Special Branch coming up and organising one (murder) and then standing in a room with me keeping quiet and all the time knowing the true facts and leading me astray.”

Of his decision to take legal action he said: “I want some sort of satisfaction, some remedy in court”.

Mr Simpson, who served in the RUC for 36 years, claimed senior Special Branch officers, who he dealt with on a regular basis, knowingly withheld information from him during his investigation.

He also claims that within days of the murder he received a visit from one senior RUC man who advised him not to get “too deeply involved in this one”.

Mr Simpson said that three days after the killing a senior Special Branch officer visited his incident room but told him nothing even though it has emerged the officer knew everything about the case.

“Knowing from de Silva now, he knew everything about that murder, who was involved, how it was carried out. He stood there with his funeral face and as I have often said he had more loyalty to the UFF murder gang than he had to me.”

Mr Simpson also maintains that Special Branch provided him with a list of suspects – including the name of one who was in jail at the time of the murder.

“They sent me a bum steer,” he said.

In recent years the Finucane family has campaigned for a full independent inquiry into the murder. They were bitterly disappointed when in 2011 Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron reneged on a British government promise to hold an inquiry.

Instead, Mr Cameron asked British QC Desmond de Silva to carry out a review of material relating to the case.

In 2012 his report confirmed that state agents were involved and that it should have been prevented.

He also concluded that there was no overarching state conspiracy.

The Finucane family later rejected the review findings, branding the process a “sham”.

Last year a High Court judge ruled that Mr Cameron acted lawfully in refusing to hold a public inquiry.

The family has since appealed this ruling.

A solicitor acting for the three men last night said they felt they had not other option but to take legal action.

“There isn’t a forum for this narrative to be dealt with and heard, these particular ex officers have felt they have little if any option but to go down this legal route through a civil action,” Kevin Winters said.

“There is no other option as matters stand and any attempt to articulate what they have been through has been met with indifference or worse arrest.

“This litigation represents a challenging alternative narrative on collusion. Up until now it has not been articulated enough through the courts.

“For the very first time this case changes that.”

Brooklyn Shamrocks GFC schedule for July at Gaelic Park

Posted by Jim on July 6, 2016

Friday July 8 vs. Rangers at 6:45pm

Sunday July 17 vs. Kerry at 1:00pm

Saturday July 23 vs. Mayo at 6:30pm

Come out and support the 2015 Champions in there quest for 2 in a row. Brooklyn Strong!!


1916 Societies calling for an All-Ireland referendum as an alternative to the partitionist nationalist call for a national forum.

Posted by Jim on July 5, 2016

The 1916 Societies note proposals by several parties across Ireland – beginning with the SDLP, seconded by Sinn Fein and eventuating in the Dublin Government’s announcement yesterday – that a ‘national forum’ be convened to discuss the implications of the ‘Brexit’ referendum in Britain, presumably among them that the constitutional relationship between Ireland north and south, in what is a new strategic environment, not only requires review but must be fundamentally revised to reflect emerging realities.

We consider that the UK decision to withdraw from the European Union creates an immediate imperative towards Irish Unity and that the same should be effected at the earliest opportunity by all whose stated intent is to uphold the national interests of the Irish people. Our hope is that any forum to emerge will be mandated to agree a national republic, where Irish sovereignty and the right to self-determination are restored to the people as of right.

As of this morning, we have written to all elected representatives to the major institutions across Ireland, of our own initiative and independent to the proposed forum, requesting that a national dialogue, inclusive of all sections and strata of Irish society and extending also to the overseas Diaspora, freely agree proposals for an independent and all-Ireland republic to be approved in turn by the Irish people through recourse to a national referendum.

We assert that such a republic is the only political and constitutional arrangement whereby Irish national sovereignty and the right to self-determination can be upheld in their totality and as they should.

We look forward to working with all interested parties towards realising the above objectives, that we might build together in the time ahead a new democratic initiative that empowers the rights of our people while ensuring that the national interest be upheld.

Increase in harassment of republicans

Posted by Jim on July 2, 2016

Republican Sinn Fein has said two members of its Ard Chomhairle
leadership were among a group stopped and ambushed in Lurgan, County
Armagh in a heavy-handed operation by British forces this week.

Six unmarked cars containing members of the PSNI’s Tactical Support
Group (TSG), a PSNI helicopter and a British military spotter plane
were involved in the incident.

“Our members were assaulted as they were forcibly removed from the car,
dragged across the road and handcuffed by these agents of British rule
who were heavily armed with sub machine guns,” they said.

It is the latest incident in a crackdown on the party in the Lurgan
area. Twelve members of RSF from different parts of Ireland were
arrested recently for taking part in a commemoration unveiling a
monument in Kilwilkie dedicated to a local volunteer who died in action
in 1916, Edward Costello. A ten year old child of one party member was
also questioned and cautioned at the side of the road.

“This increased harassment of Republicans over the last few days has
not been limited to North Armagh,” the party said.

“In Counties Derry and Tyrone in recent days increased surveillance,
abuse of stop and search powers and verbal abuse has been directed
towards members of Republican Sinn Fein.

“It is very clear that by this increased oppression the British State
fears the core message of Revolutionary Republicanism, let it be noted,
we will neither be purchased nor intimidated. Those who suffer most
are the ordinary people who feel locked down and trapped in their own
communities by this senseless and unjustified occupation. For peace
with justice, it must end.”


In a separate development, a protest took place this week at Antrim
Road Barracks in Belfast over the continuing use of stop and search
powers by the PSNI.

It was organised by the Irish Republican Prisoners Welfare Association
in Belfast. They said freedom of information requests have shown that
thousands of such searches have taken place, without any subsequent
convictions — an indicator thay hey are used only to harass.

One republican in Derry, Steven Ramsey, is currently bringing a legal
action under human rights legislation after he was stopped and searched
more than 150 times.

The IRPWA in Belfast described the stop and search legislation as a
tool of harassment, intimidation and oppression.

“Many activists have endured hundreds of individual searches that are
invasive, an attempt to humiliate and carried out to portray them as
criminals rather than legitimate political activists,” they said.

“Often they are not only carried out in the presence of children, but
children find themselves the victims of these invasive searches.”

Orange parade plan for Ardoyne abandoned

Posted by Jim on

A major Orange Order parade passed off peacefully in Belfast on Friday
after a proposed march through nationalist areas of north Belfast did
not go ahead.

Thousands of members of the anti-Catholic Orange Order and other
loyalists were involved in one of the north’s largest demonstrations of
the year.

A ‘wall of steel’ was erected by the PSNI around the nationalist Short
Strand as the loyalist parade passed the flashpoint.

It emerged during the week that a proposed ‘deal’ to end a long-running
dispute between the Orange Order and a nationalist residents group in
north Belfast would not proceed.

The plan would have meant an Orange parade would pass through some
republican areas of north Belfast for the first time in three years, but
would have seen a loyalist protest camp at the Twaddell interface

But on Tuesday the talks facilitators, Rev Harold Good and Jim Roddy,
said that “despite some positive feedback”, an agreement could not be
found at this time.

Violence erupted in 2013 when the Parades Commission banned Orangemen
from passing the Ardoyne interface on their return from the Twelfth

The loyalist protest camp was set up and almost daily protest parades
have been held in the area since then.

Sinn Fein’s Gerry Kelly said the issue had “brought huge challenges” to
the communities who live in the surrounding areas.

“All of us in positions of political leadership have a responsibility to
continue to do all in our power to support those involved in seeking
resolution to contentious issues through dialogue,” he said.

A lack of support for the deal from a local Orange lodge was blamed for
its collapse. Ballysillan LOL 1891 made a statement saying the lodge has
“accepted no deal and will not be taking part in the parade”.

The nationalist Greater Ardoyne Residents’ Collective (GARC) also
rejected what they described as a “Sinn Fein/UVF deal.” They have blamed
the lack of agreement on “Loyalists’ false sense of superiority over
their neighbours, based on religion and/or political outlook”.

Neither GARC nor loyalist paramilitaries were involved in the talks,
which took place in secret.

The Ulster Political Research Group, which is linked to the loyalist
paramilitary UDA, said that it was “disgusted” by the proposed deal. “We
want no part of a deal shinners (Sinn Fein) refused years ago,” they

There are now concerns for the ‘Twelfth’ in July, the biggest day of the
marching season, when loyalists will again attempt to march along the
Crumlin road through the Ardoyne area.

A spokesperson for GARC said the only solution to the dispute involves
using an alternative route at Harmony Lane.

“GARC is willing to oppose all sectarian parades and will reject any
sordid deal between a political party and loyalist paramilitaries that
rewards the loyal orders for putting our people under siege for the last
three years,” they said.

“Since partition and before, the Ardoyne Community has borne the brunt
of naked sectarianism in our city. In every generation, our community
has proudly resisted against the evil forces of the State and Loyalism
that view our people as sub-human, inferior and dirt.

“Despite over a century of discrimination, inequality and the slaughter
of our family and friends, the people of Ardoyne have refused to bend
the knee or submit to those that have sought our surrender, eradication
and destruction.

“One of the crudest manifestations of Unionism’s superiority complex has
been their continual demands to march through areas where they are not
welcome. For decades now, the Loyal Orders, asssisted by political
unionism and Loyalist paramilitaries, have gleefully trampled over ths
right of Ardoyne residents to live free from sectarianism.

“These parades have invariably been accompanied by heavy militarisation
of the area, restrictions on freedom of movement, violence, injury and
the criminalisation of our young people. The people of Ardoyne have
protested against this by whatever means necessary, with the correct
analysis being that the Loyal Orders should march where they are welcome
to avoid all of the above.”


Posted by Jim on

Unionists have expressed concern at a renewed support for Irish
nationalism and republicanism following the result of the recent British
referendum to leave the European Union.

Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt said it had been “an unexpected
consequence” that nationalists, who were previously “content” under
British rule, were now adapting their outlook.

According to Mr Nesbitt, nationalists who were previously “relaxed” with
the constitutional status quo have been angered by the referendum result
to Leave. His Ulster Unionist Party had campaigned for a Remain vote
alongside Sinn Fein, the SDLP and Alliance.

The UUP leader said the uncertainty created by the referendum result
would prompt many nationalists to re-evaluate their place in the ‘United

“I think an unexpected consequence of the referendum result is to reopen
the constitutional question and we now have people who were content in
Northern Ireland last week thinking again about a united Ireland,” he

“Quite a number of nationalists were relaxed with the constitutional
arrangements but they will be reviewing this in terms of protecting
their European identity – what they need as a reassurance is certainty,
but there is none.”

Mr Nesbitt said he accepted the outcome of last Thursday’s vote but said
it was a “very bad decision”.

“At this stage to say the referendum is not binding is to disrespect the
will of the people,” he said.

British government ministers, including front-runners in the upcoming
Conservative Party election to replace Prime Minister David Cameron, say
they don’t intend to trigger Article 50 to begin the formal process of
leaving the EU at least until the end of the year.

Some British officials have suggested the terms of the exit from the EU
should be negotiated entirely before the Article 50 invocation.

French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel
have made comments seeking a much faster removal of Britain from the
European Union, saying that the EU needs a quick timetable to avert the
ongoing “uncertainty” over the Brexit. However, there doesn’t appear to
be any obvious way the EU can “force” Britain to leave in a timely

In Ireland, nationalist leaders have admitted the referendum result has
transformed the constitutional debate.

“The Brexit vote changes the context and that means the argument
changes,” said SDLP leader Colum Eastwood.

“We we now need to speed up integration across Ireland not just to
advance nationalism but to ensure we are no longer at the mercy of right
wing people in England who have different interests than we do.”

Sinn Fein warned of a need for action against a new “democratic deficit”
in the Six Counties. It blamed “jingoistic English nationalism” for
threatening to take the people of the North of Ireland (and Scotland),
who voted to remain, out of the EU.

Sinn Fein’s Deputy First Minister at Stormont, Martin McGuinness has
requested an urgent meeting with British PM David Cameron to discuss
Britain’s exit from the European Union saying there needs to be “special
arrangements” for the Six Counties in the north of Ireland.

He also called for an urgent meeting with Kenny, who he urged to
represent the wishes of the electorate in the North.

It came amid reports that the Taoiseach told EU leaders, including
Cameron, that Scotland shouldn’t be “dragged out” of the European Union.

The move marks a possible shift in Irish policy, as ministers had been
warned to maintain a diplomatic silence during the 2014 independence
referendum in Scotland.

Ms Sturgeon defended Mr Kenny after he was criticised by unionists,
insisting that his intervention was “appropriate” and saying he
articulated the Scottish position on Brexit “very effectively”.


Meanwhile, there is continued uncertainly over plans to police the
border between the Six and 26 Counties amid allegations of a surge of
immigrants using Ireland as a “back door” into Britain ahead of a
post-Brexit clampdown.

“We know from bitter experience that it is practically impossible to
secure the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland
and as it is likely that freedom of movement will continue to apply on
the island of Ireland, the challenge will be to stop illegal immigrants
moving into Northern Ireland from the Republic,” Nesbitt said.

“The next question that raises is how will the UK government stop people
illegally entering Great Britain from Northern Ireland?

Loyalist blogger Jamie Bryson called for a return of the British army to
patrol the border “as a matter of urgency.”

“There will undoubtedly be an increased terror threat from Irish
republican terrorists as well as an rapidly increasing threat of
international terrorism emanating from within the open borders of the
European Union,” he said.

“Given these increased threats, especially during the period of the UK’s
negotiation as we move towards an eventual exit, there is a clear need
for increased border security.

“The British Army are clearly best equipped to provide the required
security for the UK’s border areas under an increased terrorist threat,”
he said.

Mr McGuinness and the DUP’s First Minister Arlene Foster, who campaigned
in favour of Brexit, have jointly requested an urgent meeting with David
Cameron to discuss the implications of the referendum outcome for the

Ms Foster said: “We have already spoken to the Prime Minister and the
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. The deputy First Minister and I
have also requested an urgent meeting with the Prime Minister in the
coming weeks to discuss matters further. We will meet with the Irish
Prime Minister Enda Kenny next Monday to commence discussions on the
nature of our relationship going forward.”

Potential British PM detests Irish peace process, says SAS were winning over IRA

Posted by Jim on July 1, 2016


New British Prime Minister frontrunner Michael Gove is strongly opposed to the Irish peace process and believes the SAS and other undercover killers should have been allowed to continue in Ireland and could have defeated the IRA.


Meanwhile, the other main contender, Home Secretary Theresa May believes it is inevitable borders will go back up between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic after the passage of Brexit. She stated tariffs will be placed on many goods and border controls will be needed as a result.

The election of Gove in particular will cause major problems in the peace process and may result in a new crisis if he still holds those hardline, pro-unionist views.


May made her comments before the vote on a visit to Northern Ireland. According to Tory Party insiders and bookmakers, Gove and May are considered by far the most likely contenders to replace David Cameron.

Gove, currently the Justice Minister, was a key figure behind the Brexit vote.

He believes the IRA could have been defeated and the Good Friday Agreement was a capitulation to them by Tony Blair.

Gove wrote a long summary of his position on Northern Ireland in 2000 in a pamphlet called “Northern Ireland the Price of Peace,” in which he stated the IRA was on the brink of defeat before the peace process took over.

Gove wrote: “…effective intelligence, counter-insurgency and containment (measures) could have progressively reduced the republican military threat. If such a policy had been matched by a political willingness to deny the IRA any purchase on the future constitutional position of Northern Ireland, then the resulting demoralization could have aided the work of the security forces. The prospect of an effective defeat of terror could have existed.”

“But the British Government chose not to take that path. From 1989 onwards restrictions were placed on the operations of the most effective counter-terrorist measures.”

Gove argued that limiting the use of HMSU (Headquarter Mobile Support Unit) and SAS units who operated shoot-to-kill policies, according to later public inquiries, was a disastrous mistake.

“After Loughgall and Drumnakilly, the Government had become cautious, worried about shoot-to-kill accusations. But there were other, more expedient reasons for the changing political climate. The British Government had started making behind-the-scenes moves in an effort to reach an accommodation with the Provisional IRA. In other words, the British State deliberately held its security forces back from inflicting military reverses on the IRA because it preferred to negotiate,” he wrote.

“To consider what might have happened if those restraints had not been placed is to engage in a counterfactual. We cannot know if the IRA could have been defeated. We only know that road was not taken for political reasons, and the decision not to take it came as Margaret Thatcher fell from power.”

Elsewhere in his pamphlet, Gove stated that majority rule by unionists with no nationalist participation was the best alternative.

He concludes: “Therefore, the best guarantee for stability is the assertion by the Westminster Government that it will defend, with all vigor, the right of the democratic majority in Northern Ireland to remain in the United Kingdom. Ulster could then be governed with an Assembly elected on the same basis as Wales, and an administration constituted in the same way. Minority rights should be protected by the same legal apparatus which exists across the UK. The legislative framework which has guaranteed the rights and freedoms of Roman Catholics and ethnic minorities in Liverpool and London should apply equally in Belfast and Belleek.”

FDNY Bravest Boxing Teams first outdoor event.

Posted by Jim on June 30, 2016

I wanted to invite you to the FDNY Bravest Boxing Teams first outdoor event.

It’s ‘The War at the Shore’ on Friday, July 8, in beautiful Rockaway Beach, directly across from the new boardwalk and under the stars at St. Camillus Catholic Academy.

“We are taking on the well-respected London Metro Police Dept. for the Transatlantic Championship, plus their will be a few highly anticipated inter-departmental grudge matches. All boxers are taking it on the chin for our veterans and Building Homes for Heroes. This organization builds mortgage free, handicap accessible homes for our veterans returning home with severe injuries.

A great night of boxing for an even better cause. Gates open at 6 p.m. and tickets on sale now at Your Pal, Bobby McGuire, President/FDNY Boxing.”

Race violence as politicians discuss Brexit chaos

Posted by Jim on June 29, 2016

England is currently experiencing a wave of xenophobic attacks as
politicians across Europe grapple with the fallout of the shock result
of a British vote to leave the EU.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has called on the British
government to take action to stop the violence, while a campaign has
begun for people to wear safety pins to show their support for anyone
experiencing racism.

The incidents have been directed against EU citizens as well as those
from other countries and backgrounds.

Allison, a 30-year-old from south-west London, was inspired to start the
#SafetyPin campaign because of a similar campaign in Australia.

The idea behind the ‘Pin of Safety’ is that it “marks its wearer as a
safe person,” so anyone feeling nervous can sit next to the wearer on
public transport or talk to them.

Allison added: “I see the safety pin as a pledge that the wearer will
not just stand by if they see acts of racism going on — they will
intervene and report, to the best of their abilities.”

Hundreds of racist incidents ranging from obscene gestures and comments
to violent attacks have been reported since the result of the Brexit
referendum emerged on Friday. Police in England have confirmed that the
number of hate crimes being investigated by them has already increased
by 57%.

Footage of one incident appeared on the internet showing a group of
youths telling a man to get off a tram. During the incident, a tram
passenger is told to “get back to Africa” and called a “f**king
immigrant” before being drenched in beer by the gang.

In Cambridgeshire, cards were sent to local houses reading “Leave the EU
– no more Polish vermin”. And Kimberley Roberts, who works as a nanny in
London, was called a “Chink” and told she would have to “go back home
soon” when travelling on the London Underground.

She said: “I felt hurt and confused at first. I wasn’t sure why he was
saying this to me. I’m English. My parents are English and my
grandparents are English. All born and raised in this country.”

Loyalists in the north of Ireland have engaged in a new wave of racist
incidents in apparent solidarity with those in England. Graffiti
including a swastika symbol has been daubed on the door of a house in
County Armagh. Another door was sprayed with “C18”, representing the
hardline neo-Nazi organisation Combat 18, while two cars were also

The crisis has also provoked fears among Irish citizens living in
Britain whose status remains uncertain, despite assurances from the
Dublin government.

“What about the Irish here, who thought the dark days of ‘No dogs, No
blacks, No Irish’ were long behind us? Will we be next?” said Jennifer
O’Brien, an Irish journalist based in London. “The question on the minds
of many Irish immigrants in Britain is, what if this is just the


EU leaders met in Brussels on Wednesday morning for a second-day of a
summit, following British prime minister David Cameron’s departure for
London on Tuesday night.

The 26 County Taoiseach Enda Kenny was reported as having set out
Ireland’s “centuries of ties” with Britain as the EU leaders considered
the next steps for the union.

Cameron laid the blame for the shock British referendum result on
immigration, but said that Britain was seeking a “constructive” deal
with Europe to build “the closest possible relationship in terms of
trade and co-operation and security”.

However, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker claimed that
years of negative coverage of the EU in Brussels had contributed to the

“My impression is that if you, over years, if not decades, tell citizens
that something is wrong with the EU, that the EU is too technocratic,
too bureaucratic, you cannot be taken by surprise if voters believe

A hardline position from EU leaders has been made easier by sudden power
battles currently taking place within both the Conservative and the main
opposition Labour party in England.

Amid some debate about who would trigger the necessary Article 50 to
make a Brexit irreversible after Cameron steps down — now set for
September — German chancellor Angela Merkel said it was time for

Dismissing suggestions of a possible second referendum, she said that a
British exit from the EU seemed inevitable. “I don’t see a way to turn
this around,” she said. “This is not a time for wishful thinking but to
look reality in the eye.”

She warned London it could not “cherry-pick” its way back into the
single market. She was referring to back-tracking by Boris Johnson, the
Tory leader of the ‘Leave’ campaign and potential future Prime Minister,
who is seeking to retain access to the EU single market while ending
immigration from Europe.

Merkel said that accepting free movement of people “applies to Great
Britain as much as anyone else” seeking access to the single market from
outside the EU.

Meanwhile, the British Labour party is in complete disarray over a
sudden putsch by MPs against popular leader Jeremy Corbyn, and Scottish
nationalists have now identified themselves as the main opposition at

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was holding talks with
Jean-Claude Juncker in Brussels today as she seeks to negotiate
Scotland’s position within the EU following a historic Scottish
Parliament decision to endorse a full diplomatic initiative with Europe
for the first time in over 300 years.

Their meeting comes after Scottish nationalist MEP Alyn Smyth received a
rare standing ovation in the European parliament after he exhorted them
to support Scotland’s vote to remain in the EU “Scotland did not let you
down,” he said. Please, I beg you, do not let Scotland down now.”

In Ireland, the political reaction to the Brexit vote has been more
uncertain and contradictory.

One immediate effect has been a huge increase in the number of British
citizens applying for an Irish passport. Unionist hardliner Ian Paisley
Jr, who supported the Leave campaign, amazed political observers when he
recommended his constituents take advantage of their Irish citizenship
to hold both passport.

Fearing the potential financial impact of the referendum result on both
sides of the border, the policy of the Dublin government appears to be
to manage and minimise the transition.

There also remains general confusion over how to handle the damage to
the 1998 and 2006 peace agreements in the North in view of the potential
reintroduction of a hard border and the likely nullification of key
human rights and other legislation relating to the European Union.

At the crunch meeting of EU leaders, the 26 County Taoiseach Enda Kenny
was reported as having set out Ireland’s “centuries of ties” with
Britain as he strongly supported their position in the talks. A
spokesman for the Taoiseach said Mr Kenny spoke at the meeting and
declared that “the Irish relationship with the UK is at its strongest”.

Sinn Fein has organised a public rally this evening in support of its
bid for a Six Counties poll on unification with the 26 Counties, despite
it being again rejected this week by David Cameron.

“There is an onus on the British government to respect the democratic
wishes of the people of the north,” Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams TD
said. He called on Enda Kenny “to think nationally in a real sense. The
Irish government needs an all-island, all-Ireland view.”

Meanwhile, Sinn Fein MEP Martina Anderson said her party would defend
the people of the Six Counties. “We will defend the wishes of the
people of the North of Ireland,” she told the EU Parliament. “There was
a democratic vote. We voted to remain.”

From Rockaway to the Rising – June 29, 2016

Posted by Jim on

Local historian Ed Shevlin will be giving a talk on the fascinating true story of John Kilgallon, a native of Far Rockaway who was sent to Ireland as a teenager, attended the famous St. Enda’s school run by Padraig Pearse and then fought alongside Pearse and others in the GPO during the Easter 1916 Rising.


The event will be held on Wed. June 29, 2016 at 7pm at O Lunney’s Times Square Pub, 145 West 45th Street, NYC. The event is free and all are welcome.


Sponsored by the 1916 Societies NY One Ireland One Vote Campaign.
For more info call (212) 726-2112 or go to or


AOH/LAOH Div.14 – RVC/Lynbrook Annual Picnic Sunday, July 24, 2016 Noon to 6 PM

Posted by Jim on June 28, 2016

Sunday, July 24, 2016 Noon to 6 PM

Rain or Shine

Greis Park on Horton Avenue, Lynbrook

Between Sunrise Highway and Merrick Road at the Valley Stream border


Food and beverages included

plus Games, Live Music, & Raffles

Adults – $12.50 (15.00 at the door),

Children 16 and under – $5 ($7.00 at the door)

Invite your Friends & Family along, too.

Please make checks payable to AOH Div 14 and mail by July 18th to:


Picnic Chairman:

Tom Piderit, 22 Pommer Ave., Farmingville, NY 11738

(631) 682-8711




The dangers to human rights in Northern Ireland by the UK leaving the EU. Calls for assurances Britain will not walk away from ECHR

Posted by Jim on June 27, 2016

Connla Young. Irish News (Belfast). Saturday, June 25, 2016
Human rights groups are worried that Secretary of State Theresa Villiers and those who supported a Brexit may turn their attention to the European Convention of Human Rights

Ms Villiers was a key figure in the Leave campaign during the Brexit referendum debate.

It is now expected that she will land a key role in any new Tory government formed after David Cameron resigns later in the year.

Campaigners are now worried that those who campaigned for a Brexit may now turn their attention to the European Convention on Human Rights(ECHR), of which Britain is a signatory.

The convention, which came into force in 1953, led to the establishment the European Court of Human Rights.

In the past the families of people killed by the security forces in The North have taken their cases to the court.

The ECHR is the basis on which the British government is obliged to carry out investigations into Troubles’ killings, often involving security force shoot-to-kill and collusion allegations.

Daniel Holder, deputy director of the Committee on the Administration of Justice,  last night called on Ms Villiers to give an assurance she will not walk away from the convention.

“Given the forces that are now in the ascendancy we need a categoric assurance from the secretary of state that she will respect the Good Friday Agreement and rule out any attempt to now seek to repeal obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights,

Mr Holder said the convention “is nothing to do with the EU but is the basis the UK is obliged to hold independent legacy investigations, including inquests, into the human rights violations of the past”.

Director of Relatives for Justice Mark Thompson,  said his organisation raised concerns over a potential Brexit with a Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights during a visit to Belfast in 2014.

Mr Thompson said that the commissioner told his group that because many of the alleged “violations” of the convention took place while Britain was a signatory to the convention it will continue to have legal responsibility.

“For us it has been the only forum for which we have been able to go to that has held Britain to account,” he said.

“It would be a huge step and retrograde step.“It’s a worrying time ahead for human rights.”

“If they were to pull out of the convention in the near future that would have huge implications for human rights generally.”

The Northern Ireland Office did not respond to requests for a comment.

Meanwhile, the Human Rights Consortium, which represents 160 member groups, has called for the British government to introduce a bill of rights.
“In the aftermath of the leave vote, the impact on human rights will not be immediate. However, the Consortium is concerned that the process of negotiating the exit of the UK from the EU could lead to a lowering of human rights protection,” a spokesman said.

“To safeguard against the dilution of human rights standards, we now urge the UK government to fulfil one of its outstanding obligations under the peace agreements and to implement a strong and inclusive Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland.”

British Exit From Ireland

Posted by Jim on

Constitutional authority resides with the Irish people alone.
The British Government Veto on Irish Unity is without legitimacy .
Dáil Éireann should be restored as the National Parliament of All Ireland

The 1916 Societies are an Irish Separatist Movement and believe that the Irish Republic should be a Sovereign Independent State.

The 1916 Societies are committed to fostering and promoting Irish unity as set out in the 1916 Proclamation.

The 1916 Societies believe in the right of the Irish people to national self-determination. We demand that this right is recognized in the form of a 32 county referendum on Irish Unity.

The 1916 Societies believe the proposed Referendums under the 1998 Act do not constitute National Self-Determination, and would in effect be merely an internal six County border poll. Schedule 1 of the 1998 Act gives the British Secretary of State a supreme veto over the Self-Determination of the Irish people and guarantees Unionists gerrymandering of the island of Ireland. Under this act, the British Government through the  Secretary of State, claims that they and they alone may or may not call a Referendum,  and claims the right to decide who and who will not have the right to vote, decide on the wording of the Referendum and will only call one when they are satisfied as to its outcome.

The 1916 Societies believe it is for the citizens of Ireland who have the absolute and sovereign right to decide the future of this island. It is for them and they alone, free from external impediment, to choose their own destiny.

The 1916 Societies believe National self-determination expressed through an all-Ireland referendum will give every Irish citizen the equal right to vote on the issue of the partition of Ireland and the formation of sovereign independent unitary state.

For further information on this campaign contact:

1916 Societies-New York

244 Fifth Avenue

Suite K-205

New York, New York 10001


US tapes illegally accessed by PSNI to pursue IRA pensioner

Posted by Jim on June 25, 2016

US tapes illegally accessed by PSNI to pursue IRA pensioner

Alleged evidence against veteran republican Ivor Bell has been
unlawfully obtained from America in breach of an international treaty, a
court has heard.

Mr Bell’s lawyer said the material obtained from the Boston College
history project should be excluded from a hearing to decide if the
79-year-old should stand trial.

Mr Bell, a former chief of staff in the IRA, faces charges of in
connection with the death of Jean McConville, who was killed in 1972
after being accused of being an IRA informer.

The case against Mr Bell centres on an interview he allegedly gave to US
researchers from Boston College as part of a project with IRA members
and loyalists about their roles in the conflict.

Although transcripts were not to be published until after the deaths of
those who took part, a US court ordered that the tapes should be handed
over to British state forces. It is alleged that Mr Bell is one of the
Boston interviewees based on a voice analysis.

Belfast Magistrates’ Court heard that a US Federal Court judge had
ordered disclosure of interviews in the case was to be limited to only
material relating to the death of Jean McConville. Defence lawyer Peter
Corrigan argued that the tapes handed over to the PSNI police went
beyond those restrictions. He is attempting to have the case thrown out.

“That evidence has been unlawfully obtained and should be excluded,” he
said. He told the court that material put to Br Bell during PSNI
interrogations was “way beyond” the Jean McConville case. “It was
unfairly obtained and in clear contravention of an international

Meanwhile, republican Anthony McIntyre, who was a lead researcher in the
project, is also battling an attempt to imprison him using a similar
“fishing” process of gathering possible evidence from the interviews.

Lawyers for Mr McIntyre have pointed to a series of errors in the PSNI’s
efforts to gain access to the tapes made by him at Boston College.

Senior judges in Belfast have now ordered the PSNI and Crown prosecutors
to clarify how an International Letter of Request (ILOR) for the
material wrongly included an erroneous conviction for armed robbery and
even blamed him for a bomb attack in which he was actually a victim.

With the case adjourned until September, the PSNI members due to travel
to Boston this week as part of a separate inquiry will not yet be able
to take possession of his recordings.

Uncertainty over how border will be policed

Posted by Jim on

Uncertainty over how border will be policed

Allison Morris.Irish News (Belfast). Saturday, June 25, 2016

There is continued uncertainly about how the border between Northern Ireland  and the Republic will be policed when the UK exits from the European Union in two years’ time.

Negotiations about the timeframe for withdrawal from the EU will not begin until a new Conservative leader is appointed following the resignation of David Cameron yesterday.

With a new British prime minister expected to be in place by October, plans on how the 300 miles of border is policed may not be put in place until the end of 2018.

In the run up to the referendum there were warnings of the return to a hard border and vehicle checkpoints at main crossing points, however, Secretary of State Theresa Villiers, has maintained this would not be necessary.

However, the EU could demand that as a member state authorities in the Republic put in place permanent border checkpoints. A decision on this will form a major part of the UK exit negotiations.

Security experts have said that policing the entire length of the border is unlikely given it proved impossible during the Troubles, but customs checks on heavy goods vehicles crossing from north to south would be necessary.

However, with immigration one of the major factors in the decision to leave the EU it seems almost certain that some form of passport check will be put in place to stop citizens of other EU member states entering the UK via the land border with Northern Ireland.

Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt said there was still “no certainty about what will happen”.

“We know from bitter experience that it is practically impossible to secure the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and as it is likely that freedom of movement will continue to apply on the island of Ireland, the challenge will be to stop illegal immigrants moving into Northern Ireland from the Republic,” he said.

“The next question that raises is how will the UK government stop people illegally entering Great Britain from Northern Ireland?

“The hard border could be at the ports and airports at Cairnryan, Heathrow, Gatwick and all the rest. Equally, there is no certainty there will be free trade and will customs posts return?”

Fr Sean McManus of the Irish National Caucus, who is a native of Co Fermanagh, said that the return of a checkpoint while an “ugly” eyesore strengthened the case for Northern Ireland to move away from a union “that has never really cared”.

“Not only is my country divided but my historic parish of Kinawley is also arbitrarily and arrogantly divided by that damn border. Part is in the six counties and part in the Irish Republic.

“While the UK was in the EU, and with the coming of the peace process I had the joy of driving seamlessly home each summer from Dublin to the parish of Kinawley and not seeing one British custom post or one British army manned border fortress.

“However, without trying to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear, one can gain some comfort with the thought that since Northern Ireland itself voted to remain in the EU, this now means that the vast majority of the people in Ireland, north and south, side with the EU rather than with England.

“Maybe, therefore, it can be said that the unionist cause is getting weaker and weaker”, he said.

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson said any attempt to introduce Irish border controls would be “a major setback for the political process in the North”.

Adrian Cummins of the Restaurants Association of Ireland said: “Restaurateurs in border areas are deeply concerned with potential new border arrangements post Brexit”.

However, loyalist blogger Jamie Bryson called for a return of the British army to patrol the border “as a matter of urgency.”

“There will undoubtedly be an increased terror threat from Irish republican terrorists as well as an rapidly increasing threat of international terrorism emanating from within the open borders of the European Union,” he said.

“Given these increased threats, especially during the period of the UK’s negotiation as we move towards an eventual exit, there is a clear need for increased border security.

“The British army are clearly best equipped to provide the required security for the UK’s border areas under an increased terrorist threat.”

Political upheaval as Britain votes to quit EU

Posted by Jim on June 24, 2016

British Prime Minister David Cameron is predicted to resign after
results from his referendum on EU membership show it pulling Britain and
the north of Ireland out of the European Union by a total vote of an
estimated 51.7% to 48.3%.

Opinion polls published ahead of the vote once again proved wildly
incorrect as the ‘Leave’ vote gained a majority of almost a million
votes by 5am this Friday morning.

The “Leave” camp did much better than expected in the post-industrial
northern English towns and the Labour-voting former mining valleys in
Wales. Significantly, the north of Ireland and Scotland showed clear
majorities for remaining in the EU, with 56% and 62% in favour of
‘Remain’ respectively, while England and Wales voted for ‘Leave’
by some 54% and 52% respectively.

Amid profound financial and political upheaval, Labour leader Jeremy
Corbyn is set to call on David Cameron to resign if he does not depart
of his own accord, according to reports. Hilary Benn, the shadow foreign
secretary, said he believed David Cameron would quit.

“If you are the prime minister, you’ve called this referendum, you’ve
laid your reputation on the line and your arguments, I think it’s going
to be very hard,” he said.

The results of the referendum painted a picture of Britain as a deeply
divided state, fractured along lines of region, class, age, and, in the
Six Counties, along sectarian lines. The poll released a wave of
hostility in England against immigrants and foreigners in general,
culminating in a fatal gun and knife attack on Labour MP Jo Cox, who had
campaigned on behalf of Syrian refugees.

In the north of Ireland, there was a strong trend towards remaining in
the EU in nationalist constituencies, and for leaving in unionist
constituencies. The strongest ‘Remain’ votes were in Derry, where 78%
backed EU membership, followed by west Belfast at 74%, while the
strongest ‘Leave’ votes were in north Antrim, where 62% backed ‘Leave’,
followed by Strangford at 56%.

The biggest surpirse of the night was in Wales, where only 5 of the 22
Welsh authorities voted to remain, the rest for ‘Leave’. ‘Remain’
campaigners saw the result as a protest against the establishment and
Tory austerity as well as immigration. There was a similar story across
swathes of England, where industrial and working class areas voted
strongly for ‘Leave’, while the wealthier and more cosmopolitan
constituencies of London and other southern urban centres voted strongly
for ‘Remain’.

There was a very clear divide between Scotland and England, with voters
north of the border showing much stronger support for ‘Remain’. In
Glasgow, Scotland’s largest city, voters backed ‘Remain’ by a margin of
two to one, with 67% in favour of staying in Europe, compared to 33% who
backed a Brexit.

Former SNP leader Alex Salmond said the result of the referendum warned
that Scots could hold a second independence referendum if the country is
“dragged” out of the European Union.

He said: “Scotland looks like it is gong to vote solidly Remain. If
there was a Leave vote in England, dragging us out the EU, I’m quite
certain Nicola Sturgeon would implement the SNP manifesto.”

The party’s manifesto ahead of May’s Scottish Parliament election said
Scotland should have the right to hold a second independence vote if
there is a “significant and material” change in circumstances from 2014,
such as Scotland being taken out of the EU against its will.

In the north of Ireland, Sinn Fein looks set to to press ahead with its
demands for a border poll, but has not yet made a definitive statement.
Speaking as the results came in early this morning, Sinn Fein’s
national chairman Declan Kearney said Brexit will have “massive
ramifications for the British State as we know it”.

Cameron quits but will ‘steady the ship’ after Brexit vote

Posted by Jim on

Conservative Party leader David Cameron has resigned as British Prime
Minister, and said he will step down in October. He made his
resignation speech this morning outside Downing Street after Britain
voted to leave the European Union. Mr Cameron said he accepted the
decision of the electorate, which voted for a ‘Brexit’ yesterday by 52%
to 48%.

Flanked by his wife Samantha, Cameron said he had informed the English
royals of his decision to remain in place for the short term as
negotiations take place.

“The British people have voted to leave the European Union and their
will must be respected,” he said. “The will of the British people is an
instruction that must be delivered.”

He said he would leave it to his successor to invoke Article 50 of the
Lisbon Treaty, which kicks off the two-year process of negotiating a new
relationship with the EU. Cameron said this will need to involve the
“full engagement of the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland governments
to ensure that the interests of all parts of our United Kingdom are
protected and advanced”.

“The country requires fresh leadership to take it in this direction,” he
added. “I will do everything I can as Prime Minister to steady the ship
over the coming weeks and months, but I don’t think it would be right
for me to try to be the captain that steers our country to its next

Elsewhere, there were ugly scenes in London as a panicked and angry
crowd labelled Boris Johnson a “twat” and “scum” as he emerged from his
home following his campaign’s victory in the EU referendum. Mr Johnson’s
car was trapped by a crowd of around 40 cyclists and onlookers blocking
a junction who taunted him with profanities as his car was trapped. One
man yelled: “The pound is down, what do you say about that? Is it going
to be all right, Boris? Is the UK going to be all right, Boris? Are we
going to be all right, mate? Come on, man up.”

While England and Scotland voted to quit the EU, both the north of
Ireland and Scotland voted to remain. In the Six Counties, only seven
constituencies voted to leave, mostly along the eastern seaboard:
Belfast East, Lagan Valley, Strangford, Upper Bann and the three Antrim

Sinn Fein MEP Matt Carthy said that Britain’s decision to leave the
European Union means that a referendum on a United Ireland is now

“The British Government has no mandate to drag the north of Ireland out
of the EU. It has no mandate to re-erect border controls between north
and south,” he said.

“Irish interests are being actively and gravely damaged by the
decisions taken in England.

“The north of Ireland has voted to remain in the EU. The British
Government cannot now negotiate on behalf of people there to exit the
European Union.

“A referendum on a United Ireland is now a democratic imperative and it
is incumbent that the Irish Government and all Irish nationalist parties
support this demand. To do anything less would be to betray the best
interests of the Irish people.”

In Belfast, Martin McGuinness said the decision to “drag us out” of the
European Union had “nothing to do with issues around the European
institutions and everything to do with the civil war within the British
Tory party”.

“The people of the north of Ireland, nationalists, republicans,
unionists and others have made it clear at the polls that they wish to
remain in the EU.

“The British government now need to take account of that and recognise
that reality and allow the people of the north to have their say on
their own future.

“Dragging us out of Europe will be to the detriment of all our citizens
and will be bad for business, trade, investment, and wider society

“I, and all Sinn Fein ministers will work to ensure the political
institutions remain on a stable footing but it is very difficult to put
detailed contingencies in place until we know the extent of the impact
of Brexit on our finances, our infrastructure and health services.

“All of that is still subject to a negotiation but the fact is that we
are in unchartered waters.

“Sinn Fein will be seeking an urgent meeting with the Irish government,
the European institutions and also with our counterparts in Scotland to
discuss how we move forward in the best interests of all of our people.”

The Great Irish/American Independence Parade July 2

Posted by Jim on

Irish Independence Parade

Loughinisland investigation a sorry tale of incompetence, indifference and collusion

Posted by Jim on June 23, 2016

Loughinisland investigation a sorry tale of incompetence, indifference and collusion

The RUC vowed no stone would be left unturned in the hunt for the UVF men who murdered six Catholics at The Heights Bar in 1994. But the subsequent probe became a running sore that’s remembered with anger to this day, says Alban Maginness[ former SDLP elected official]

Belfast Telegraph. Thursday, June 23, 2016.

I remember well the evening of June 18, 1994. It had been a gloriously warm day and the evening sun stretched itself with a rare generosity. We were having a small SDLP fundraiser in my home and people were in great spirits, the Irish World Cup football team were doing exceptionally well and there were definite signs that an IRA ceasefire was on its way.

However, the happy political and social atmosphere was shattered by the emerging news that six people had been killed and five others seriously wounded in a pub shooting in the quiet little village of Loughinisland in Co Down.

Instinctively, we knew that it was a Loyalist paramilitary attack on a small Catholic community, probably intended to destabilize our snail’s pace progress to peace. It was, on the face of it, a senseless outrage, but in reality it was a ruthless and calculated provocation designed to disrupt the political attempts on all sides to bring about peace.

The Irish World Cup team fans in the Heights Bar were the innocent victims of a ruthless decision by the UVF to cause an unspeakable outrage that hurt and hurts deeply – even today. No one was caught and charged with the murders. Justice was denied to the victims and their families, and that rankles deeply in the community’s memory.

The recent report by Dr Michael Maguire, the Police Ombudsman, on this outrage is a damning indictment of the RUC’s investigation.

Disturbingly, the report says that, within a relatively short period of time, the police had reliable intelligence on who committed the murders. In addition, the police recovered the getaway car, the murder weapons and the clothing believed to have been used by the killers. Yet, surprisingly, nobody was caught.

The Police Ombudsman’s report is distressing, as he comes to a number of clear and worrying conclusions. Not least, he concluded that this investigation was “constrained by a refusal of a number of key people [police] to speak to his investigators”.

Given the passage of 22 years, one would have expected, at this point in time, that former officers would have been man enough – or contrite enough – to cooperate with the Police Ombudsman.

Sadly, they did not, and this was inexcusable and is a huge disappointment to all, especially the relatives of the victims, who deserve better from ex-policemen.

It is outrageous that former officers in the RUC failed to assist in this high-profile murder investigation by the Police Ombudsman. The suspicion that they are still hiding crucial information will remain – given their uncooperative attitude to the investigation.

But perhaps the most chilling aspect of the report deals with the separate, but intimately related, smuggling of weapons by loyalist paramilitaries in 1988.

The fact is that the VZ58 rifle used in the Loughinisland incident was part of a shipment brought into Northern Ireland in 1988. Thus, there was a clear connection between the arms importation and the killings.

What is outrageous is that there were police informants engaged in the arms smuggling, but, despite this, the police failed to stop, or retrieve, all the weapons.

The Police Ombudsman says that this was a “significant intelligence failure”. I think that this conclusion is an understatement.

Surely, if the RUC knew a dangerous consignment of guns was being procured by loyalists, why did they not act decisively to prevent this happening? The police were there to uphold the law and not allow the law to be flouted, or undermined. But, as a result of their failure regarding the arms shipment, the RUC opened the way for this dreadful attack and other terrorist activity to take place.

Unbelievably, in this sorry tale, the police investigation into the murders was characterised, in too many instances, by incompetence, indifference and neglect. The failure to conduct early intelligence-led arrests was particularly significant and seriously undermined the investigation. All of this after the RUC promised that no stone would be left unturned in the hunt to find the killers. Clearly, some stones were left unturned and the killers were never found.

The Police Ombudsman also concluded, quite correctly in my opinion, that there was collusion. This was long-suspected, but is now finally confirmed.

He based this on Judge Smithwick’s broad, but not unreasonable, definition, to include omission, or failure to act, as well as the commission of an act.

Dr Maguire, therefore, not unreasonably, concluded that the protection of informants by Special Branch, through wilful acts as well as also turning a blind eye, catastrophic failures in the police investigation and the destruction of exhibits and documents, collectively amounted to collusion.

Quite frankly, a thoroughly depressing report for the victims and their families, who sought justice for those innocent people who were wilfully and cruelly put to death watching a World Cup match on TV that sunny evening of June 18, 1994.

Fr. Sean Mc Manus

Concept of live and let live is beyond the grasp of many Unionists

Posted by Jim on June 22, 2016

What will be achieved by demolishing a republican monument in Carnlough, a town with an 87 per cent Catholic population?
Brian Feeney. Irish News (Belfast). Wednesday, June 22, 2016
THERE’S a city called Cluj in western Romania.
It’s the unofficial capital of Transylvania. Cluj is the Romanian name for it.
Hungarians, who make up about 20 per cent of the 400,000 population, call it Kolozvar. Germans call it Klausenburg.
Why would Germans call it anything? Well, there was a substantial Saxon population in the Middle Ages who were imported to defend the mountain passes against the Mongols.
Cluj was part of the kingdom of Hungary from the tenth century until 1920 when the Treaty of Trianon partitioned Hungary and Transylvania was given to Romania.
Hungarians didn’t think that was a great idea. Since then relations between Romanians and Hungarians in the city and surrounding countryside have been pretty rocky.
Around twenty years ago council workers were in the city’s main square busily digging under a statue of the fifteenth century Hungarian King Matthias Corvinus, a Hungarian folk hero.
Why? Wait for it: to prove that Romanian civilisation predated Hungarian civilisation. The city council wasn’t being ironic about the word civilisation.
This piece of nonsense was part and parcel of an anti-Hungarian campaign by the city mayor, the dreadful Gheorghe Funar, currently Secretary of the Greater Romania Party.
Funar was mayor from 1992-2004. Among his wheezes he had the city’s pavements painted in the colours of the Romanian flag, red, yellow and blue. but not only the pavements, the park benches, bins, anything that didn’t move.
Anything to annoy the local Hungarians. Initially he was a populist hero for the Romanian population of the city until tourists and businesses began to avoid the place and it went into decline.
Nevertheless it took twelve years to boot him out. The voters have learnt their lesson. When he stood in 2008 he got 4 per cent of the vote.
You can see where this is going, can’t you? As a result of the reorganisation of councils here we’re going to have a number of Cluj/Kolozvar/ Klausenburgs.
As you see, it’s not just Derry that has two names. It’s not just councils in parts of Transylvania that are dominated by the shortsighted.
What will be achieved by demolishing a republican monument in Carnlough, a town with an 87 per cent Catholic population?
Very simple: an increase in support for Sinn Féin, a hardening of attitudes, a sharpening of division, retaliation by defacing a war memorial in Larne with its 68 per cent Protestant population, the rebuilding of the original republican monument and so on.
Furthermore the dunderheads in Mid & East Antrim council who are content with unauthorised loyalist memorials never think about the fate of their fellow Unionists in republican dominated councils.
Do they imagine their narrow view makes it easy for Unionists in Magherafelt to argue that the council shouldn’t ban Union Jacks from the town centre?
What argument can they make against a memorial to 1916 being erected beside one to the World Wars? “ I’ll see your monument and raise you two.”
How does the tunnel vision in Mid & East Antrim make it easy for any republican to be magnanimous in Tyrone or Fermanagh?
Unfortunately there is no leadership from either Sinn Féin or the DUP instructing their local worthies to behave themselves.
Even if they can’t convince them to behave for honourable motives, at least they might be able to show it only makes things worse for people with their own views where they’re in a minority.
Instead of criticizing the behaviour of their local worthies, there is silence, broken only by Arlene Foster in a display of pettiness entering the dispute about ‘the north’ versus Norn Irn [Northern Ireland].
Is there any danger of her telling Unionists also to use the correct name instead of ‘Ulster’ or the ‘pravince’[ province]?
The notion of diversity enshrined in the Good Friday Agreement obviously passes clear over her head.
The bad news is it took more than a decade for the counter-productive behaviour of the ultra-Romanian mayor of Cluj to register with its Romanian voters.
Having got rid of him the city is prospering again. However, it’s improbable that any Hungarian speaker calls the place anything other than Kolozvar even though it’s been officially Cluj for ninety-six years apart from 1941-5.
For some unionists the concept of live and let live remains eternally beyond their grasp.

Wake services for Joseph Murphy Marine Park Funeral Home Wednesday June 22 Thursday June 23 Both days 2-5 and 7-9 Funeral Mass Friday June 24, at 10:00 AM Good Shepard Church

Posted by Jim on June 20, 2016

Please keep Joe & his family in your Prayers.

It is with great sadness that I am posting about the passing of my Big Brother Joseph P. Murphy, once known as “The strongest kid in Brooklyn”. The below article is from when he was “Hibernian of the Year, 2004” It’s an outline of his military accomplishments and his career as a fireman. Although these are impressive events, Joe touched many lives on an individual basis. He was a humble man that loves his Family, his God, his Country, his church and had great faith in his Savior. RIP Joey, I can’t believe your gone. Prayers for his Wife Trisha and his two young daughters.

2004 Hibernian of the Year:
Joseph P. Murphy is a quiet gentleman. Joe is a former United States Marine who defended our country while serving the Marine’s Special Forces Unit. He then went to help preserve life and property in serving our city as a member of the New York City Fire Department. Joe may be best known for the music he creates with his bagpipes, a member of the FDNY Emerald Society and The Leathernecks Pipes and Drums Band. Jos also is involved since the 1980’s with “Project Children” and still keeps close ties with families and friends he has made in Northern Ireland.
Born and raised in Marine park section of Brooklyn, Joe attended Resurrection School, Gerritsen Beach and James Madison High School. He enlisted in the United Stated Marine Corps March, 1976, and was sent to Paris Island, South Carolina, for recruiting training. After boot camp and infantry training school, he was assigned a military occupational specialty of 0331/machine gunner.
He volunteered for duty with the 2nd Force Reconnaissance Company, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Upon receiving orders to the 2nd Marine Division, he went through a stringent interview and physically demanding selection process, before being accepted onto recon training program. Upon graduation of the recon training platoon, he was assigned to the 6th platoon, Force Recon
His military schooling also includes: U.S. Marine Amphibious Recon School, U.S. Army Airborne School, U.S. Army Rangers School, U.S. Navy Scuba School, U.S. Special Forces H.A.L.O (high altitude low opening) school, the anti-terrorist and SWAT Course run by the F.B.I., in Quantico Virginia. He was detached to the 7th Special Forces group out of Fort Bragg, North Carolina, for counterinsurgency and guerrilla warfare training operations. He was also detached the 82nd Airborne Division for an extended period of time. He was deployed with the 3nd Force Recon Company, to the Panama Canal Zone, for jungle operations and military observation. His military decorations include Navy/Marine Corp achievement medal, U.S. Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, and a citation from the U.S. Army 7h Special Forces group.
Upon completion of his enlistment in the Marine Corps, he returned to Brooklyn. In February 1982 he was appointed to the New York City Fire Department. He is assigned to Ladder156 Brooklyn, but due to an injury he is currently working with the Fire Department Health Team.
Joe is a member of the Fire Department Emerald Society, Holy Name Society, Anchor Club, American Legion and Bandmaster for the F.D.N.Y. Emerald Society Pipes and Drums. He is also a member of Division 35 A.O.H., Columbus Council K of C, the Marine Corps League, the Marine Corps Association and the Force Recon Associations. He is the pope major of the Leather Neck Pipes and Drums, Paramus N.J. In April 1997 he was honored by the F.D.N.Y. Brooklyn/Queens Holy Name Society and in November 1997 he was the FD.N.Y Emerald Sociality Irishman of the Year. He was an Aide to the Grans Marshall Representing Irish Culture at the Brooklyn Park Slope St. Patrick’s day parade in 2002.
Joe has been to Ireland numerous occasions and has traveled extensively thought the north of Ireland. In the late 1980’s Joe was active with Project Children’s program. He continues to visit with friends on the Nationalist and Republican areas of Derry City, Joe’s family roots are in the counties of Cork and Waterford.
After the attack on the World Trade Center, The Fire Department Pipe and Drums was now called on to assist at all the line of duty funerals. On September 11, 343 of our brothers were called home. From September 15, to December 16, the Pipe and Drums performed anywhere from 10 to over 20 Funerals a per day. Due to the large number of funeral’s the FDNY Pipes and drum band needed to split up so each firefighter would have the proper funeral they deserved. The last 9/11 Fire Fighter Funeral was held in Brooklyn on September 28, 2003,up to that point the Fire Department Pipe Band had performed at over 420 9/11 line of duties funerals .As of today we are still honoring our deceased fire fighter at street naming, plaque dedications, and other memorials throughout the city.
During this trying time, Joe was engaged to be married to Patricia Stackpole. Patricia lost her brother Captain Timothy Stackpole at the Trade Center. Due to the attacks and loss of her brother they put their wedding plans on hold. On December 8, 2002 Joe and Tricia were married. They recently purchased a house and are residing in Marnie Park

Past Kings County Division 35 member and current County Tyrone AOH President, unrepentant Fenian Gerry McGeough

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Gerry McGeough

Come out and support one of the hardest working Hibernians in the Nation

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Council hacks away 1916 memorial

Posted by Jim on June 19, 2016

Nationalist politicians have hit out after a 1916 Easter Rising monument
was removed by a unionist-controlled council in a midnight raid.

It is understood Mid and East Antrim Borough Council employed a
contractor to remove the controversial memorial close to Carnlough

Unionists had criticised the memorial, branding it “provocative” after
it was erected in the County Antrim village in March.

Sinn Féin and SDLP representatives last night criticised the removal of
the structure, describing the actions of the council as a “shameful and
disrespectful act”.

Sinn Féin MLA, Oliver McMullan said the “forcible removable” of the
memorial had caused “considerable hurt and anger” in the village. “This
monument in Carnlough was erected earlier this year, like hundreds of
others across Ireland, to mark the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising,”
he said.

“Mid and East Antrim Council confirmed today they have removed the
memorial, claiming it had not received council approval. This is a
shameful and disrespectful and one-sided act.

“There are loyalist memorials dotted throughout the council area. We are
simply asking that all memorials should be respected and treated
equally. This action has caused considerable hurt and anger in the
Carnlough area.

SDLP councillor Declan O’Loan said the council’s actions were
“hypocritical”, highlighting the “plethora of huge paramilitary murals”
throughout the district.

He said he did “not support the erection of any memorial on public
property without authorisation” but breaches of planning rules required
“sensitivity and patience”

“The council action was hasty. The public sees a plethora of huge
paramilitary murals in very prominent locations across Mid and East

“All sorts of loyalist flags hang in their hundreds with impunity. The
hypocrisy of the situation is obvious, and it makes the nationalist
community very angry.”

He added: “Acting in the dead of the night shows that the council knew
very well the resentment there would be towards its action, even from
those who had nothing to do with the memorial”.

Question is now about extent of loyalist collusion

Posted by Jim on June 18, 2016


By Brian Feeney (for Irish News)

Let’s hope the Police Ombudsman’s report on the Loughinisland killings
becomes a model for future investigations by his office.

Dr Michael Maguire’s welcome report is unique for a number of reasons.

First, he was not content with simply looking at the events of the night
of the murders in the Heights Bar on June 18, 1994 and the RUC’s failure
to investigate properly what happened.

The Ombudsman set his investigation against a backdrop of endemic
collusion going back to the late 1980s beginning with how loyalists
acquired the weapon used in the killings, a VZ58 assault rifle, a Czech
version of the AK-47 with terrific firepower of 800 rounds a minute.

Much of the account he provides about the loyalist importation of
weaponry in 1988 is already well known but Dr Maguire’s report gives
unprecedented detail.

He also gives details of a number of the 70 murders and attempted
murders in Belfast and Co Down by similar assault rifles after March
1988 and their links to east Belfast UVF individuals.

RUC Special Branch and the secret British military intelligence unit FRU
knew which members of the UVF, UDA and Ulster Resistance were involved
in importing the weapons and how they managed it because most were their

None of them was ever arrested or investigated. The same lack of
investigation applied to the UVF gang involved in the killings at the
Heights Bar. So nothing new there.

Brigadier Gordon Kerr, the man who ran the FRU, knew all about the
acquisition of weapons from South Africa by his agent Brian Nelson.

Many nationalists find it incredible that the weapons nevertheless made
their way without being intercepted, not only to the north but to the
farm of convicted former RUC reservist James Mitchell who on his own
admission held the biggest UVF arms dump in mid-Ulster.

Many wonder if elements in British intelligence decided it was necessary
to upgrade the firepower of their loyalist agents to compete with the
newly acquired arsenal Colonel Gadaffi had supplied to the IRA in

Why was Nelson sent on his shopping expedition in 1987 but not before?
Did he dream it up himself or did someone in intelligence suggest it to

Although the Ombudsman’s report casts its net wider than previously it
raises many more questions by doing so. The fundamental question is
this. To what extent were loyalist terrorists directed by British
military intelligence and RUC Special Branch?

The response of some unionists to the revelations in Dr Maguire’s report
has been to dissemble, swap definitions of collusion, avoid the issue.

They point to the fact that informers saved lives. Many did. That’s not
in dispute. That’s not the issue.

The issue is not whether, but to what extent British intelligence and
RUC Special Branch either allowed loyalists to act as proxy killers or
in some instances actually directed them towards certain individuals?

To what extent did senior members of the security forces, particularly
British intelligence, encourage agents provocateurs?

We know that the UDA, a criminal conspiracy from the outset, was
maintained as a legal organisation until almost the end of the Troubles
despite being responsible for hundreds of killings.

If they were carrying out operations the security forces couldn’t do
legally the reason for not banning them is obvious.

And don’t say it was the UFF, a fictional organisation devised to help
the NIO explain why they didn’t ban the UDA. Does anyone know where the
UFF wing was in Long Kesh or Maghaberry?

At bottom evidence suggests the British state decided early on to use
any means they could to destroy the IRA. If that meant making loyalist
murder gangs into state agents so be it.

If they continued to kill innocent Catholics that was unfortunate.

The alternative explanation for collusion, failure to investigate
loyalist killings or intercept loyalist arms trafficking is that
important elements in British intelligence and RUC Special Branch were
out of control. Which do you think?

Please take a moment of silence at 3:00pm today

Posted by Jim on

Brooklyn’s AOH Freedom for All Ireland Chair Jim Sullivan has asked that all please take a moment of silence at 3:00pm (15:00 ) in memory of the 6 murdered victims and their families in the Heights Bar, LoughlinIsland County Down while watching a soccer match between Italy and Ireland June 18, 1994.
The six men cut down by the UVF as they watched the football were Daniel McCreanor (59), Adrian Rogan (34), Malcolm Jenkinson (52), Eamon Byrne (39), Patrick O’Hare (35) and Barney Greene (87).

Villiers under pressure to quit over Loughinisland stance

Posted by Jim on

British Direct Ruler Theresa Villiers has refused to withdraw comments
she made about the Loughinisland massacre, following a report last week
which found that British state forces had indeed colluded in the

In February, Villiers said claims that the state colluded with loyalist
death squads were “pernicious” and a “deliberate distortion of the
truth”. She referred to the gun attack on a County Down village pub in
1994, claiming that it wasn’t the RUC of British Army that “pulled the
trigger” at Loughinisland.

Six innocent Catholics were killed and five others injured as they
watching an international soccer game on TV in the Heights Bar when a
massacre was carried out by members of the loyalist Ulster Volunteer
Force (UVF).

Last week’s report of the Police Ombudsman Michael Maguire concluded
that one suspect in the UVF attack was a police informer. His report
also said that the death squad that carried out the mass shooting had
been involved in a number of other murders in the period beforehand, but
had avoided arrest because the RUC Special Branch police had withheld
evidence, and had also tipped off the murder gang in advance.

While the RUC may not have known the exact details of the Loughinisland
attack, they did have the names of the suspects within hours and didn’t
arrest them until a month later.

Mr Maguire found that a gun used in the Loughinisland attack was part of
a shipment of arms brought in by loyalists with the help of state agents
in late 1987/early 1988. He said he had no hesitation in determining
collusion between the forces of the state and loyalist paramilitaries.

Villiers is now under pressure to resign. An online petition has also
been launched to urge her to apologise to relatives of those killed. The
petition was set up by campaign group Relatives for Justice on Monday.

Director Mark Thompson called on Ms Villiers to now withdraw her
remarks. “It was RUC paid agents who pulled the triggers and it was the
RUC who failed to investigate the atrocity, with houses not searched and
no arrests made for a month, despite having names within a day,” he

“Alibis weren’t checked out and evidence was persistently destroyed by
the police. It was the RUC who destroyed the getaway car after 10 months
denying future police investigations the opportunity to test for DNA.”

“Following the publication of the Police Ombudsman Report on
Loughinisland Ms Villiers cannot say she accepts the findings of the
report and allow her hurtful and damaging remarks to stand.

“She must retract the remarks and make apology to the Loughinisland
families and all families affected by the British military policy of
collusion,” he said.

SDLP MP for South Down Margaret Ritchie said Villiers must resign if she
does not accept the findings of the Police Ombudsman’s report into the
Loughinisland massacre in its entirety.

Ritchie added: “Her continued equivocation over state collusion in the
face of the damning report is outrageous. It is an insult to the
families who have campaigned with dignity and resilience for so long and
offensive to all the people of the North who are opposed to paramilitary
and state violence.”

The tragedy is being remembered by many soccer fans this week as Ireland
plays in another major international competition. A social media
campaign has been launched urging football fans to remember the
Loughinisland gun attack victims during the European Championship soccer
match later today [Saturday].

‘Stand Up For the Loughinisland Six’ is urging supporters to stand in
the sixth minute of the match against Belgium, which takes place on the
anniversary of the attack on Saturday.

A survivor of the Loughinisland attack last week said those affected by
the tragedy will come together in the Heights Bar to watch the Ireland
games during the European Championships.

Aidan O’Toole, who survived the attack on his family bar, said relatives
of those who died and were injured still meet to watch Ireland play in
big tournaments as a way of supporting each other.

* The Villiers apology petition can be signed online at

Come Out and Support Dan Dennehy

Posted by Jim on June 17, 2016


Greater Ardoyne Residents’ Collective

Posted by Jim on June 16, 2016

Greater Ardoyne Residents' Collective's photo.
Greater Ardoyne Residents’ Collective with Thomas Harte and 46 others.

On Wednesday 8th June, Ballymurphy activist Seán Cahill was made aware that a female Sinn Féin member had told people that he had carried out electrical work for that they should not employ him as he was a “dissident”. This was the latest example of Sinn Féin members in Belfast attempting to impact on the ability of Republicans to provide for their families, with people actively being discouraged from employing them or availing of their skills, business and/or services.

Seán put a facebook post on his personal account, detailing this experience and naming the Sinn Féin member responsible. On Wednesday night he was visited at his home by two Sinn Féin members, including a brother in law of Sinn Féin Policing Board member Gerry Kelly. This man told Seán, in front of his wife, daughters and grandchildren, that he would “get one in the head.” Other threats were issued.

Seán, for the purposes of community awareness, informed friends of this threat via facebook. A female SF member returned to his home and made more threats. Sean’s distressed wife subsequently accessed his account and deleted any statuses connected to the incidents.

As a Republican, Seán refused to contact the PSNI regarding this incident, but on Thursday 9th June, he travelled to Holy Cross Monastery and asked to speak to Fr Gary Donegan. He did so as Fr Donegan has publicly stated that he will work with anyone allegedly under threat, will publicly support them and condemn those “in the shadows” that issue such threats. Fr Donegan was not available and Seán left his name and number at the reception.

Seán stressed to the Monastery staff member that he had received two intimidatory visits to his home in 24 hours, a death threat to his face (not from “the shadows”) issued by someone purporting to be a Republican. He added that it was issued in front of his distressed family and that he was apprehensive about returning home and putting his family in danger. He stated that he wanted Fr Gary Donegan to assist in ascertaining the validity or legitimacy of this threat, given his public claims in the media that he can assist members of the public in this regard, regardless of where any alleged threat emanates from.

It is now six days later and Seán Cahill has still had no contact from Fr Gary Donegan. Sinn Féin, despite being aware of the incident, have made no effort to contact the Cahill family. Seán remains unclear as to the nature of the threat against him as he works and spends time with his family. This raises serious questions, including:

– Do Sinn Féin support and endorse the threat against Sean Cahill, as they see him as a political opponent? If not, will SF take any disciplinary action against those responsible?

– Will Sinn Féin issue any public statement supporting Sean Cahill and his family?

– Why has Fr Donegan not got in contact with Sean Cahill when his contact details were left at Holy Cross Monastery along with information of a direct threat to his life. A threat that was issued personally and in front of witnesses?

– Does Fr Donegan only work to support those supposedly under threat from “dissidents” but ignore those under threat from Sinn Féin members?

– How does Fr Donegan ascertain the legitimacy of any alleged threats?

– Does Fr Gary Donegan have any knowledge of an armed group aligned to Sinn Féin?

– Did he ask Sinn Féin or the PSNI who Sean Cahill was, then decide he wasn’t worthy of support?

– Will Fr Donegan now belatedly contact Sean Cahill, offer support and publicly call on Sinn Féin to cease their covert campaign of intimidation against activists and their families in communities across Ireland?

The death threat against Seán Cahill should be lifted immediately, and his family should be free to live in peace. The demonisation, intimidation and harassment of activists by Sinn Féin, assisted by the PSNI, is unjust, immoral, anti-republican and demonstrates just how much they have become assimilated into corrupt State institutions.

Loughinisland inquiry sets a high standard

Posted by Jim on June 15, 2016

Brian Feeney. Irish News (Belfast). Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Let’s hope the Police Ombudsman’s report on the Loughinisland killings becomes a model for future investigations by his office.

Dr Michael Maguire’s welcome report is unique for a number of reasons. First, he was not content with simply looking at the events of the night of the murders in the Heights Bar on June 18, 1994 and the RUC’s failure to investigate properly what happened.

The Ombudsman set his investigation against a backdrop of endemic collusion going back to the late 1980s beginning with how Loyalists acquired the weapon used in the killings, a VZ58 assault rifle, a Czech version of the AK-47 with terrific firepower of 800 rounds a minute.

Much of the account he provides about the loyalist importation of weaponry in 1988 is already well known but Dr Maguire’s report gives unprecedented detail. He also gives details of a number of the 70 murders and attempted murders in Belfast and County Down with similar assault rifles after March 1988 and their links to east Belfast UVF individuals.

RUC Special Branch and the secret British military intelligence unit FRU[Force Research Unit] knew which members of the UVF, UDA and Ulster Resistance were involved in importing the weapons,  and how they managed it,  because most were their agents. None of them was ever arrested or investigated. The same lack of investigation applied to the UVF gang involved in the killings at the Heights Bar. So nothing new there.

Brigadier Gordon Kerr, the man who ran the FRU, knew all about the acquisition of weapons from South Africa by his agent Brian Nelson. Many nationalists find it incredible that the weapons nevertheless made their way without being intercepted, not only to The North but to the farm of convicted former RUC reservist James Mitchell who on his own admission held the biggest UVF arms dump in mid-Ulster.

Many wonder if elements in British intelligence decided it was necessary to upgrade the firepower of their loyalist agents to compete with the newly acquired arsenal Colonel Gadaffi had supplied to the IRA in 1985-6. Why was Nelson sent on his shopping expedition in 1987 but not before? Did he dream it up himself or did someone in intelligence suggest it to him?

Although the Ombudsman’s report casts its net wider than previously,  it raises many more questions by doing so. The fundamental question is this. To what extent were Loyalist terrorists directed by British military intelligence and RUC Special Branch?

The response of some Unionists to the revelations in Dr Maguire’s report has been to dissemble, swap definitions of collusion, avoid the issue. They point to the fact that informers saved lives. Many did. That’s not in dispute. That’s not the issue. The issue is not whether, but to what extent British intelligence and RUC Special Branch either allowed loyalists to act as proxy killers or in some instances actually directed them towards certain individuals? To what extent did senior members of the security forces, particularly British intelligence, encourage agents provocateurs?

We know that the UDA, a criminal conspiracy from the outset, was maintained as a legal organisation until almost the end of the Troubles despite being responsible for hundreds of killings. If they were carrying out operations the security forces couldn’t do legally,  the reason for not banning them is obvious. And don’t say it was the UFF, a fictional organisation devised to help the NIO [Northern Ireland Office] explain why they didn’t ban the UDA. Does anyone know where the UFF wing was in Long Kesh or Maghaberry?

At bottom evidence suggests the British state decided early on to use any means they could to destroy the IRA. If that meant making loyalist murder gangs into state agents so be it. If they continued to kill innocent Catholics that was unfortunate.

The alternative explanation for collusion, failure to investigate loyalist killings or intercept loyalist arms trafficking, is that important elements in British intelligence and RUC Special Branch were out of control. Which do you think?

Collusion was on a grand scale

Posted by Jim on June 14, 2016

Allison Morris. Irish News (Belfast). Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Loughinisland families have welcomed the findings of a police ombudsman’s report into the atrocity
IN the aftermath of the damning Loughinisland Police Ombudsman report, further questions must be asked about a massive arms shipment linked to dozens of loyalist murders.

Since last Thursday, when Dr Michael Maguire delivered his findings into the killing of six people by the UVF while watching a football match, there has been much debate about the definition of collusion.

Dr Maguire applied the definition favoured by Judge Peter Smithwick who found that there was Garda  collusion with the IRA in the murders of two senior policemen in 1989.

Chief Supt Harry Breen and Supt Bob Buchanan were shot dead in an IRA ambush in south Armagh as they crossed the border after a meeting in Dundalk Garda station,

Judge Smithwick said while there was no ‘smoking gun’, information received may have prevented the attack and there was inadequate investigations into the murders and “inappropriate” relationships between officers and IRA members.

Dr Maguire’s findings were much more damning than a failure to properly investigate and what he called a “hear no evil, speak no evil, see no evil” attitude among some members of Special Branch in their control of loyalist informers.

He found that security services had prior knowledge of the South African arms shipment but did not prevent the weapons being smuggled and then failed to intercept some of the shipment, despite intelligence on its whereabouts.

In my view this is collusion in its most basic form and there is no room for ambivalence towards Dr Maguire’s findings, if the report is viewed – as it was intended – in its entirety.

All of those families who lost loved ones through the use of these guns should now have recourse against the state.

A senior loyalist informer, Tommy ‘Tucker’ Lyttle, was one of those who organised the arms deal, as did British army agent Brian Nelson.

The weapons that fell into the hands of the shadowy Ulster Resistance group have never been recovered, while some made their way to other paramilitary organisations and many remain in what one senior loyalist described to me last week as “cold storage”.

It has been said that informers helped save many lives over the course of the conflict, but as seen in the case of UVF man Mark Haddock and IRA agent Stakeknife, they were also permitted to kill on occasions.

Who decided who lived and who died in such cases?

While the RUC may not have known the exact details of the Loughinisland attack – few people would have, given it was in retaliation for the murder of two UVF men just days before – they did have the names of the suspects within hours and didn’t arrest them until a month later.

By any definition there was collusion on a grand scale in this case.

Lawyer murdered ‘by army-run death squad’

Posted by Jim on

Irish News (Belfast). Tuesday, June 14, 2016
MURDERED Belfast lawyer Pat Finucane was the victim of an army-run death squad normally associated with Latin American dictatorships, the Court of Appeal heard yesterday.

Counsel for the solicitor’s widow claimed his assassination was due to covert, state-sponsored terrorism and represents a “horror story” for the British government.

The allegations were made as Geraldine Finucane began her bid to overturn a ruling that Prime Minister David Cameron acted lawfully in refusing to hold a public inquiry into the killing.

But the challenge was dramatically adjourned after it emerged that one of the three appeal judges had been involved in a separate civil action she issued more than 20 years ago.

Mr Finucane was gunned down by loyalist at his home in north Belfast in February 1989.

His family have campaigned for a full examination of alleged security force collusion with the killers. Mrs Finucane took the prime minister to court after he ruled out a public inquiry in 2011. Instead, Mr Cameron commissioned QC Sir Desmond de Silva to review all documents relating to the case and produce a narrative of what happened.

That report confirmed agents of the state were involved in the murder and it should have been prevented. But it concluded there had been no overarching state conspiracy.

The Finucane family rejected the findings and accused the government of unlawfully reneging on previous commitments.

Pledges to set up a tribunal, based on the recommendation of retired Canadian judge Peter Cory, were made by a former Labour government in 2004 and reaffirmed in the following years, it was contended.

Last year a High Court judge ruled that Mr Cameron acted lawfully in refusing to hold a public inquiry.

He found that Mrs Finucane had received a clear and unambiguous promise of an inquiry, but backed the Government’s case that other public interest issues, including political developments in Northern Ireland and the potential financial pressures of a costly inquiry, were enough to frustrate her expectation.

Despite throwing out Mrs Finucane’s legal bid the judge also said the State has not fully met its human rights obligation to investigate.

Opening an appeal against that verdict, Barry Macdonald QC claimed the case was about an abuse of power.

He said the 500 page de Silva report, which highlighted the connection of law enforcement elements to the murder conspiracy, contained only five pages on the role of the Government.

Of Ken Barrett, the loyalist gunman convicted of the killing, Mr Macdonald said: “The only person held accountable was one of the UDA puppets used to pull the trigger.”

He quoted correspondence from one of Mr Cameron’s closest advisers which described the killing as far worse than anything alleged in Iraq or Afghanistan while another described the Finuncane case as “something of a horror story for the security forces”.

Questioning why the authorities appeared to regard the murder as the most difficult from the Troubles, the barrister continued: “The answer is because in this liberal democracy where the rule of law is supposed to be paramount, the army is running death squads of a kind normally associated with Latin American dictatorships of the era.”

Investigations into the assassination carried out by former Scotland Yard chief Sir John Stevens was obstructed at the highest levels of the army and RUC, it was claimed.

He claimed that commissioning the de Silva review instead of a full public inquiry insulated government ministers from any further scrutiny.

However, the planned three-day hearing had to be adjourned after counsel for the Governmen applied for Lord Justice Weir to recuse himself after it emerged that while a barrister in the early 1990s he had endorsed a writ issued by Mrs Finucane in a civil action over her husband’s killing.

Loughinisland World Cup massacre DID involve collusion between British agents, RUC and loyalist death squads, says Police Ombudsman

Posted by Jim on June 11, 2016

● Loughinisland fatalities: (Clockwise) Daniel McCreanor (59), Adrian Rogan (34), Malcolm Jenkinson (52), Eamon Byrne (39), Patrick O’Hare (35) and Barney Greene (87)

AN INVESTIGATION by the Police Ombudsman into the murder of six men by the unionist Ulster Volunteer Force in Loughinisland in 1994 has confirmed there was collusion between British agents, the Royal Ulster Constabulary and loyalist death squads in the massacre.

Six men were killed and five more wounded in the UVF gun attack on The Heights Bar in Loughinisland, County Down, on 18 June 1994 while watching an Ireland World Cup soccer match.

The six men cut down by the UVF as they watched the football were Daniel McCreanor (59), Adrian Rogan (34), Malcolm Jenkinson (52), Eamon Byrne (39), Patrick O’Hare (35) and Barney Greene (87).

Loughinisland massacre scene

Scene of the UVF massacre that was organised, carried out or aided by British Government agents

The report published today by Police Ombudsman Dr Michael Maguire states:

“When viewed collectively, I have no hesitation in unambiguously determining that collusion is a significant feature of the Loughinisland murders.”

The catalogue of collusion contained in the report includes:-

  • The involvement of agents in the importation of weapons used in the murders;
  • The role of agents directly involved in the attack;
  • The active participation of British state agents in the killings;
  • Collusion between the RUC and UVF resulting in suspects being tipped off that they were to be arrested;
  • Failure to follow up information;
  • “Catastrophic failures” in the investigation of suspects.

The Police Ombudsman also found that there had been “fundamental failings” in the investigation into the Loughinisland murders.

“I can only conclude that the desire to protect informants may have influenced policing activity and undermined the police investigation into those who ordered and carried out the attack,” the Ombudsman said.

“When combined with a flawed investigation of the Loughinisland murders this had undermined the investigation into those responsible for the crimes and ultimately justice for the victims and survivors.”

The Ombudsman’s report states that the RUC Special Branch had information that the assault rifles imported from South Africa by British agents which were used in the attack on the Heights Bar had been stored at a farm in Glenanne used by the notorious ‘Glenanne Gang’, which was made up of loyalists, state agents and serving soldiers and police officers in the British Army’s Ulster Defence Regiment and the Royal Ulster Constabulary.

The farm at Glenanne was also used as a base for the Dublin and Monaghan bomb attacks in 1974.

Dublin Monaghan banner

The families of those killed in the UVF attack have welcomed today’s report.

◼︎ South Down Sinn Féin MLA Chris Hazzard, who has worked closely with the families, said:

“This report from the Police Ombudsman into the Loughinisland massacre reveals the undeniable and shocking scale of collusion between British agents, the RUC and the UVF gang who carried out the attack.

“No one can now deny that the British Government and its forces actively colluded with loyalist death squads to murder Irish citizens and then went to great lengths to protect those responsible.”

Dismay over flag intimidation and provocative march plans

Posted by Jim on

Dismay over flag intimidation and provocative march plans

Sinn Fein has blamed the PSNI for “reneging on promises” after loyalist
flags were erected in a mixed area of south Belfast.

Unionist and loyalist flags were placed on lampposts this week along the
Upper Ormeau Road ahead of the Protestant marching season.

Almost 57 per cent of people in the area are Catholic while 27 per cent
are Protestant, according to the recent census.

Two years ago, the PSNI said that in future the flying of loyalist flags
in the mixed community would be treated as a “breach of the peace”, but
backed down last year in the face of loyalist threats.

On Tuesday, Sinn Fein’s new finance minister Mairtin O Muilleoir
criticised the PSNI over the flags once again being erected in the area
and said it “represents reneging by the PSNI on promises to the

Claire Hanna, SDLP assembly member for South Belfast, also expressed
concern over the new flags.

“It is frustrating that once again shared areas like the Ormeau Road and
Lisburn Road have been covered in flags six weeks before the Twelfth of
July,” she said.

“This continues to be a source of frustration for residents who are
forced to live under the shadow of these unwelcome flags on main
thoroughfares for so long.”

Responding to the controversy, the PSN said removing flags isn’t their

PSNI Chief Superintendent Chris Noble said police will only remove flags
where there are “substantial risks to public safety”.

Meanwhile, the Orange Order is planning to hold contentious parades in
nationalist areas in another action likely to provoke. The nationalist
town of Ballycastle in County Antrim has been selected as a venue for
one of 18 main parades to mark the Twelfth of July celebrations.

Located in the heart of the Glens of Antrim, the picturesque seaside
town has been the centre of a parades dispute in the past.

The order has also revealed plans to host a massive parade through
Portadown in County Armagh. Both it and a similar march in Kilkeel in
County Down have been given `flagship’ status and are expected to be
among the biggest Orange parades held across the north.

Tensions in Portadown have been high in the past after nationalists
opposed Orange Order parades passing along the nationalist Garvaghy
Road. Nationalist residents on the Garvaghy Road have described Orange
Order proposals to complete a banned parade through the area as

In a statement the Garvaghy Road Residents Coalition said insistence on
finishing the 1998 parade “demonstrates complete disregard for the views
of those who would be most directly affected – residents of the area and
their families”.

The spokesman said a generation of young nationalists know nothing of
the dispute.

“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,” the statement

“An entire generation of young people has grown up and reached adulthood
without having to experience the humiliation and fear, tension and
violence, or the physical sieges that accompanied those unwanted
sectarian marches of the mid- and late 1990’s through this community.

“Residents in our neighbourhoods now enjoy family and community life in
relative peace and tranquillity. Our community has moved on, Portadown
District needs to do likewise.”

The statement said demands to complete the 1998 parade lack sensitivity.

“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,” it said.

“The Orange Order’s parade of July 1998 is in the past. It is over. That
parade along Garvaghy Road was found to be totally unjustifiable
eighteen years ago. Such a parade has not been justifiable in any of the
intervening years since.”

Truth alone is not enough

Posted by Jim on

Truth alone is not enough

By Suzanne Breen (for Belfast Telegraph)

It is poignantly fitting that the truth about Loughinisland has emerged
at this precise time. Tonight, in towns and villages across Northern
Ireland, people will gather in their local pubs for the start of Euro

The television screens are bigger and brighter than they were for the
1994 World Cup, but the atmosphere will be the same. The sense of
excitement, anticipation and pride will be just as strong as it was on
that fateful night in the Heights Bar in the Co Down village.

We can see the men so clearly, their eyes glued to the tiny television,
praying that Ireland would hold its 1-0 lead over Italy.

They never stood a chance when the two gunmen in balaclavas and boiler
suits burst into the bar. The UVF assassins fled laughing as the bodies
of their victims lay piled on top of each other on the bloodstained

We know that the men who pulled the trigger were evil personified and
filled with sectarian hatred.

One shouted “Fenian b******s!” as he opened up indiscriminately.

The perpetrators were liars too, claiming that a republican meeting had
been taking place in the pub. But we expect no more from paramilitaries
whose hands are stained with the blood of innocents.

It is the State, in this case, that stands shamed and condemned. The
words of the Police Ombudsman, Dr Michael Maguire, were unequivocal. “I
have no hesitation in saying collusion was a significant feature of the
Loughinisland murders,” he said.

In Dr Maguire, we have an Ombudsman as forthright and fearless as Nuala

He detailed the “catastrophic failings” of the police investigation.

How the names of suspects were known within 24 hours, but arrests were

How one of the suspects was an informer. How the murder inquiry was
riddled with errors and omissions.

At the time, those who alleged police collusion in paramilitary attacks
were criticised and isolated. Their claims were dismissed as propaganda.

We now sadly know that the “conspiracy theorists” too often were right.

An appalling vista of State collusion – in loyalist and republican
murders – is unfolding before our eyes.

This is not a matter on which we should divide along sectarian lines. As
many Protestant as Catholic lives were lost as a result of collusion. As
many IRA, as UDA and UVF, godfathers were protected species.

Pictures of the Loughinisland families’ huge Press conference yesterday,
where they sat holding photos of their loved ones, were heartbreaking.
They may have recognition now, but for so long these families’ struggle
for the truth was a lonely one.

The legacy of the conflict is not just a matter confined to the older
generation. The powerful words of Emma Rogan, who was just eight when
her father, Adrian, was shot dead in the Heights, is testimony to that.

John Major, who was Prime Minister at the time of the massacre, was in
town yesterday campaigning against Brexit.

Rather than lecturing us on the rights or wrongs of leaving the EU, he
would have been far better apologising to the families for the State’s
failures, as their solicitor Niall Murphy suggested.

When I think of Loughinisland, first and foremost I see Barney Green
with his pipe and hat. Aged 87, he was the oldest victim of the

To mark the sense of occasion, he had put on his best suit to watch the
match that night. Little did he think he would die in it.

We owe Barney and Adrian Rogan, Daniel McCreanor, Eamon Byrne, Patrick
O’Hare and Malcolm Jenkinson justice.

It is not enough that the truth is finally told.

Surely, someone must be held accountable?

Pressure for Britain to face war crimes tribunal over collusion

Posted by Jim on

Pressure for Britain to face war crimes tribunal over collusion

There are fresh calls in the north of Ireland for a much stronger
approach to the issue of state collusion following confirmation that it
played a significant role in the 1994 Loughinisland massacre.

After decades of cover-up, one complete whitewash and years of deep
hostility from public officials in Belfast and London, a Police
Ombudsman’s report on Thursday found that state agents were indeed
involved in the random killing of six Catholic civilians, which was then
covered up.

The murders took place in the Heights Bar in the County Down village
when a death-squad opened fire on people watching the Ireland soccer
team play Italy during the 1994 World Cup in America. Gunmen in
balaclavas burst into the bar and shouted about “Fenians” before firing

The attack took place amid negotiations between the Provisional IRA and
the British government to being about a ceasefire, which was announced
ten weeks later.

The new Ombudsman’s report, the second by that office on Loughinisland,
was described the Guardian newspaper as “a devastating report that is
likely to challenge previous official narratives of the nature of the

It detailed a catalogue of collusion before and after the massacre,
which included the importation of the weapons used in the murders and
scores of others by British agents; the direct involvement of police
agents in the planning of the killings; and ‘catastrophic failures’ in
the investigation of suspects and the destruction of evidence.

In an unusually strong statement, Ombudsman Michael Maguire said he had
“no hesitation in unambiguously determining that collusion is a
significant feature of the Loughinisland murders”.

He found that there was a “hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil” by
the security forces to the use of informers.

The report comes more than four years after Mr Maguire dramatically
scrapped his predecessor Al Hutchinson’s investigation into the murders
and ordered a new inquiry into the killings. The original investigation
had been branded a whitewash by the victims’ families when it was
published in 2011.

Former Republican MP Bernadette McAliskey, a survivor of another such
attack, said the findings support a potential action at the
International Criminal Court in The Hague.

“When we look at Bloody Sunday, Balllymurphy, Stakeknife and what is
beginning to emerge in the loyalist community as well, there is case for
war crimes,” she said.

“The British Government used its military to perpetuate a 40 year war
here. It used its undercover secrecy to keep it going and lied with
impunity about its own actions.

“When you go back and look at what was happening during the peace
process, it was ambiguity. It was fudge and they hoped they’d get away
with it. We have never had truth, never mind justice.”

Sinn Fein’s Gerry Adams called on the 26 County government to put
pressure on Downing Street to “open its books” on collusion following
the report.

He also urged Dublin to demand the British government hold the long
promised inquiry into the murder of human rights lawyer Pat Finucane.

“A step change in the Irish government’s response to collusion is
urgently needed. As a co-equal guarantor of the Good Friday Agreement,
the Irish government must use all of the resources… including the
United Nations, to exert pressure on the British government.”

Communities in fear as UVF ‘invites’ Catholics and ethnic minorities to fly its flag

Posted by Jim on

 By Suzanne Breen

Published 10/06/2016

The UVF has been accused of intimidation after it visited the homes of Catholics and ethnic minorities in east Belfast before loyalist flags were erected outside houses
The UVF has been accused of intimidation after it visited the homes of Catholics and ethnic minorities in east Belfast before loyalist flags were erected outside houses
 Councillor Graham Craig

The UVF has been accused of intimidation after it visited the homes of Catholics and ethnic minorities in east Belfast before loyalist flags were erected outside houses.

Residents said they were told that the flags would be the new Somme flag created by the Loyalist Communities Council (LCC).

The LCC created the banner to commemorate the centenary of the World War One battle.

Its launch last month was supported by the UDA, UVF and Red Hand Commando.

But in the end, the flags put up along the street alternated between Union flags and others bearing a UVF logo.

It has the UVF motto “For God and Ulster” and has the words “East Belfast Regiment” printed on a crest with the date 1914.

The Somme was not until two years later, and the date appears to commemorate the Larne gun-running — the historic gun smuggling operation by the UVF to oppose Home Rule.

While it had been hoped that the new LCC flag would be adopted widely by loyalists, there was dissent from within the ranks when the plan was announced.

Some hardline loyalists said that they would defy their bosses by flying paramilitary flags from lamp posts during the summer instead.

Sources in the east Belfast UVF were reported as saying it would be “business as usual”. One said in May: “We are not paying a blind bit of attention to the LCC. UVF flags will be going up for the Twelfth as normal.”

A source told the Belfast Telegraph last night: “On Monday night, the UVF knocked doors in the area and invited people to have the flag erected outside their homes.

“It was put as a request — but one that wasn’t to be refused. People didn’t feel that there was anything voluntary about what was being asked.

“They were told that there would be no charge for the flag and, if they didn’t have flag-poles, brackets could be put up for them.”

The source said that loyalists also called at the homes of Catholics and ethnic minorities who did not want the flag to be displayed.

The area was once solidly unionist but demographic changes in recent years mean that there are now ethnic minorities — mainly eastern Europeans — living in rented accommodation.

An increasing number of Catholic first-time buyers have also purchased properties in the lower Ravenhill Road area because they are relatively cheap and the location is so convenient to the city centre.

The source said: “These people don’t want loyalist flags outside their homes, but they have basically been left with no choice.

“Some residents have no problem with the flag, but those who do now feel very uncomfortable. The UVF seems to have ordered thousands of these flags and is determined to put them up.

“It wants roads in the Ravenhill area lined with the flag for the parade to mark the Somme’s 100th anniversary on July 1.”

Local Ulster Unionist councillor Graham Craig said: “Were I a Catholic or member of an ethnic minority community, I would be very frightened if the UVF came to the door and asked if I wanted a flag displayed that is so closely associated with paramilitaries.

“This is people’s private property and that must be respected.”

Radio Free Eireann will return tomorrow Saturday June 11th

Posted by Jim on June 10, 2016

Radio Free Eireann will return tomorrow Saturday June 11th

Belfast human rights lawyer Niall Murphy will report on a damning government report finding significant collusion between  members of British Royal Ulster Constabulary and loyalists in the  murder of 6 people watching a soccer match at Loughinisland.
Anthony McIntyre will talk about why the British have subpoenaed his Boston College interviews in an American court but refuse to say why.

Hosts John McDonagh and Martin Galvin  will report on their recent trips to Ireland and  including important  commemorations in Fermanagh and Derry.

Radio Free Eireann is heard Saturdays at 12 Noon New York time on WBAI 99,5 FM and

It can be heard at  in Ireland from 5pm to 6pm or anytime on WBAI.ORG/ARCHIVES

Orange Order to hold Twelfth in nationalist Co Antrim town

Posted by Jim on June 9, 2016

THE Orange Order is planning to hold one of its main Twelfth parades through a majority nationalist town in Co Antrim.

Ballycastle has been selected as a venue for one of 18 main parades to mark the Twelfth of July celebrations.

Located in the heart of the Glens of Antrim, the picturesque seaside town has been the centre of a parades dispute in the past.

The order has also revealed plans to host a massive parade through Portadown in Co Armagh.

Both it and a similar march in Kilkeel in Co Down have been given `flagship’ status and are expected to be among the best attended parades held across the north.

Tensions in the Co Armagh town have been high in the past after nationalists opposed Orange Order parades passing along the nationalist Garvaghy Road.

Portadown District Master Darryl Hewitt said the Portadown parade will be largest in the world on the Twelfth.

“The Twelfth in Portadown will be the largest gathering anywhere in the world and we look forward to welcoming the thousands of Orangemen, Orangewomen, juniors, bandsmen and spectators to what we believe will be a truly memorable occasion,” he said.

DUP economy minister Simon Hamilton has backed the Orange Order’s plans.

“I welcome the announcement by the Orange Institution that Portadown and Kilkeel have been named as this year’s Twelfth tourist flagships,” he said.

“With a programme of events alongside the traditional demonstration the flagship programme offers visitors the opportunity to enjoy the culture, music and pageantry of the day.”


The 18 demonstrations on Tuesday July 12 will take place in:




















A Twelfth demonstration will also be held in Rossnowlagh, Co Donegal, on Saturday July 9.

Families vindicated as report points to massacre cover-up

Posted by Jim on

Families vindicated as report points to massacre cover-up

Families of six men murdered in the Loughinisland massacre have welcomed
an Ombudsman’s investigation that has finally exposed significant state
collusion with the killers.

On 18 June 1994, a death squad entered a pub in the small County Down
village and fired on customers with assault rifles, killing six
civilians and wounding five. The pub was targeted because it was
frequented mainly by Catholics, and was crowded with people watching the
Ireland soccer team playing in the 1994 World Cup.

Dr Maguire Michael found that at least one man suspected of carrying out
the mass killing in the Heights Bar was a paid state agent.

The ombudsman also said the murder squad had been involved in a number
of other killings in the years beforehand, but had avoided arrest
because the RUC police’s Special Branch intelligence unit had withheld
evidence from those tasked with investigating the murder campaign.

He said some Special Branch officers adopted a “hear no evil, speak no
evil, see no evil” mindset into the massacre, for which no one was ever
brought to justice.

Emma Rogan, whose father Adrian was killed, said: “Today we finally have
a report by the Police Ombudsman that at last vindicates our long-held
suspicions and belief that the truth about these murders was being
covered up by the very people – the police – who were supposed to be
protecting us, be on our side and investigate and bring to justice those

Paddy McCreanor, nephew of victim Daniel McCreanor, said: “Collusion is
no illusion and collusion happened. The truth has come out and that’s
all we ever wanted.”

The families’ lawyer Niall Murphy said the scale of the collusion was
“terrifying”. He called on former British Prime Minister John Major to
apologise for the collusion that took place when he was in office.

“This report is one of the most damning expositions of state collusion
in mass murder that has ever been published,” he said.

The families also called on current British Direct Ruler Theresa
Villiers to say sorry for referencing Loughinisland in a speech earlier
this year about what she claimed was a “pernicious counter-narrative” of
the conflict that was trying to place undue blame on the forces of the
British state.

“We call on her to retract and apologise to us today,” said Ms Rogan.

In his report’s conclusion, Dr Maguire said he had “no hesitation in
saying collusion was a significant feature of the Loughinisland
murders”. He described failures in the overall investigation as
“catastrophic” and said in too many instances the probe was
characterised by “incompetence, indifference and neglect”.

The ombudsma examined the role of state agents in efforts to provide
weapons to loyalist death squads from abroad during the mid to late

He found that the Crown forces were monitoring the importation bids and
information provided by state agents in high positions within the
loyalist murder gangs could have helped the the recovery of weapons.

He said unrecovered weapons from the shipments were used in 70 murders
and attempted murders, including those at Loughinisland. He said that
after the murders, Special Branch did not use their sources in any real
effort to catch the killers.

A report by previous police ombudsman Al Hutchinson in 2011 found that
the RUC failed to properly investigate what happened in Loughinisland
but claimed there was insufficient evidence of collusion.

Those findings were quashed after a legal challenge by relatives of
those killed and Dr Maguire undertook a fresh investigation.

Sinn Fein’s Caitriona Ruane has paid tribute to the determination of the
Loughinisland families for their long campaign to uncover the truth
behind the massacre.

“For 22 years the families of those killed in the Loughinisland massacre
have been courageously campaigning for the truth about the murder of
their loved ones,” she said.

“They have had to endure the horror of the massacre, then the insult of
collusion, cover ups, failed investigations and continued attempts to
hide the truth.

“This obstruction by the British government and the police have only
added to the hurt, pain and trauma of the families.

“They faced all of these obstacles with dignity and determination and
today’s report from the Police Ombudsman have vindicated the view of the
families that there was collusion at the heart of this case.

“What has been revealed is collusion on a huge scale.

“I and my party colleagues have worked with the Loughinisland families
for many years, highlighting their case both here and in the European
Parliament, and standing alongside human rights groups to get at the
truth of what happened in 1994 and since.

“We will continue to stand with the Loughinisland families as they
continue to campaign for truth and justice.”

Those murdered were Barney Green, 87, Adrian Rogan, 34, Malcolm
Jenkinson, 53, Daniel McCreanor, 59, Patrick O’Hare, 35, and Eamon
Byrne, 39.

Good Shepherd Catholic Club Golf Outing

Posted by Jim on June 6, 2016


SAS killing: Martin Galvin praises ‘true patriot’ McBrearty

Posted by Jim on June 3, 2016

Former head of NORAID Martin Galvin addressing a crowd at the republican monument in Creggan on Saturday at a commemoration for Vol George McBrearty who was killed by the SAS 35 years ago during the hunger strike on May 28, 1981. On his left is Hugh Brady who chaired the event.
Former head of NORAID Martin Galvin addressing a crowd at the republican monument in Creggan on Saturday at a commemoration for Vol George McBrearty who was killed by the SAS 35 years ago during the hunger strike on May 28, 1981. On his left is Hugh Brady who chaired the event.
A crowd of up to 300 gathered at the republican monument in Creggan on Saturday for a commemoration for IRA volunteer George McBrearty who was shot dead by the SAS on May 28, 1981.
The main speaker at the event was the former head of NORAID, American Martin Galvin, who in the 1980s defied a British ban on entering Northern Ireland.
Mr Galvin told the crowd: “It is good to be an authentic commemoration, and I use the term authentic deliberately because we have seen too many commemorations lately where people are supposed to be honouring the legacy of patriots. They are supposed to be honouring the ideals for which those patriots stood. We have seen the Irish Government in Dublin where they have used the names of the men and women who in 1916 fought for the freedom of every Irish man and woman according to the Proclamation who were unafraid to take on the British Government to achieve it. But, today the Irish Government does not even mention your freedom in Derry or anywhere else in the Six Counties.”
Mr Galvin also said that what George McBrearty fought for was no different to the ideals of the men and women of 1916.
He continued: “That’s why I am so proud to be here today at an authentic, a true comemmoration of a true Irish patriot-to stand with the McBrearty family and be unafraid of what he stood for, be unafraid to speak of what he stood for and to demand that what he stood for and fought for will one day be true – your freedom in Derry and for all the North of Ireland.
“All of us are here to honour a patriot with pride. It is important to remember why George McBrearty took the steps that he did. He was born in a city that was three-quarters nationalist but entirely unionist controlled. Because of where his parents sent him to church and to school he would be viewed forever as an enemy of the state, a second class citizen in his own city. If he didn’t get the message that he was unwanted in this state , that he should emigrate or go south, the British Crown Forces were happy to remind him of it anytime they met him on the road.

That’s why I am so proud to be here today at an authentic, a true comemmoration of a true Irish patriot

“When he was 17 he took the fateful decision to join the Derry Brigade and he fought to get the British out of his city, out of the Six Counties and out of everywhere else in Ireland. Over the next seven years George would become the greatest soldier that Derry city ever had, and it would be said that he was to this city what Francis Hughes was to South Derry. I read these words because they are not mine. I didn’t write them for a speech here today. These were the words that IRA leaders at the time had published in An Phoblacht.
“I was sent a copy as editor of the ‘Irish People’ newspaper in New York and asked to cover it after his death in 1981. That was the way that other volunteers felt about him and it was the highest possible praise at that time. He was a true leader. He was somebody that everybody around him would have confidence in. No matter that the British had better equipment and bigger numbers. No matter the advantages they had.
“The people around him felt that they would succeed just because they were standing alongside George.”


Posted by Jim on June 2, 2016




 MAY 12, 2016





NEW YORK, NY 10016




A chara


 Signs proclaiming “Please don’t deport my daddy!”were once a common sight at Irish rallies. The words meant that the real victims of Irish political deportations would be American  children and wives, forced to choose between fathers and husbands or their country. The IRISH ECHO editorial(Groundhog Year),about the close call for Malachy McAllister, and the petty hardships still visited on Irish deportees after a quarter century, remind us of what is at stake.



Malachy McAllister and all of the Irish political deportees are living examples of Britain’s willingness to make political points with Irish victims. Each of these men have multiple grounds which should entitle them or anyone else to fully legal permanent residence under American law. They are hardworking and respected members of the Irish-American community who should be allowed to work, raise their families and on occasion travel to Ireland to visit friends and relatives. They were political prisoners decades ago in a war that is long over.


Instead Malachy McAllister, who has lived in America for decades, is a father and successful businessman, remains under yearly threat of deportation. He narrowly escaped deportation on April 25th.He will have to fight all over next year and in years to come. To paraphrase an old IRA saying, Malachy only has to get unlucky once.


 Malachy and all the Irish political deportees are pawns in an old British game of criminalization. Since the British think their right to rule is always legitimate, they think anyone who dares oppose them must be criminals. That was true of the patriots they shot in 1916. That was true of George Washington who himself said to the “Patriots of Ireland” in 1788 “had I failed the scaffold would have been my doom.”


As America celebrated its bicentennial in 1976,Britain renewed its policy of criminalization in the infamous H-Blocks of Long Kesh. Political prisoners, among them Bobby Sands, would be told they must dress up in criminal uniforms so that the crown could display them as criminals. They resisted despite Britain’s attempts to break them. British policy backfired. In America huge crowds rallied to back the Blanketmen, who would become the Hunger Strikers.


The British decided the American government must be brought on board. Dessie Mackin, a Belfast born Republican in New York to help Irish Northern Aid organize tours by released Blanketmen, was arrested. The British served an Extradition warrant demanding the American federal court hand him over as a criminal. Instead the great civil rights lawyer Frank Durkan put Britain on trial. He won a ruling that Irish Republicans were engaged in a legitimate fight against British rule. The British tried again and failed to extradite Joe Doherty.


They turned to federal deportation courts. A series of Deportation proceedings commenced against former Irish Republican prisoners settled in the United States with American wives and children. It led to years of campaigning, emotional legal fights in packed Immigration Courtrooms, a formal Congressional hearing and even a CBS television documentary.


There were unforgettable moments. Gerry Conlon of the ‘Guildford Four’ testified about being beaten in vivid terms that went beyond anything in the movie “In the Name of the Father,” revealing that if he had ever met Gabriel Megahey, the British would have framed him and made the case the ‘Guildford Five.’

Bernadette Devlin McAliskey testified calmly about being shot and severely wounded, but then broke down as she testified about the brutal murder of Kathleen O’Hagan.


Members of Congress and judges testified as well as experts from Ireland.


Almost a quarter-century ago, the Irish political deportee cases were settled by the Clinton administration, upon formal request by Secretary of State Albright to Attorney General Reno.


As the attorney for four of these men, I remember the understandings we were given. The nightmare restrictions and threats would be over. Deportations were halted. They were promised full work authorization, advanced parole for travel to Ireland. It was also thought to be the start of a process, where others including Malachy, would have the door opened for them.


 Instead, as you reported, Matt Morrison is confined to two states, his work authorization is withheld and deportation  threatened. He is not alone. Others have lost work authorization for months. Deportees have requested to go to Ireland to see gravely ill parents and not gotten travel permission until weeks after their burial. They get detained for hours after returning despite travel permission. Why?


Malachy McAllister, Matt Morrison and all the Irish political deportees were involved in a legitimate armed conflict which is long over. America must not continue to victimize them and their families at Britain’s behest!




The writer is former National Publicity Director of Irish Northern Aid and President of AOH Division 5, Bronx and an attorney who represented four of the Irish political deportees.

On This Day [In history]

Posted by Jim on June 1, 2016

Eamon Phoenix. Irish News,  Tuesday, May 31, 1916

Irish News (Belfast).Tuesday, May 31, 2016

US Press on Executions

The New York Evening Mail commented: ‘From a legal point of view the penalty of death inflicted on the leaders of the Dublin revolt is justified. The successful rebel is a hero to succeeding generations. The unsuccessful rebel is a traitor and, according to the laws of all countries, his life is forfeit. Yet the feeling will be general that the British government has blundered once again in its handling of a phase of the Irish Question. Prevailing Irish opinion has apparently condemned the mad outbreak and its leaders. Now, the end that has come to them after the rising failed is likely to elevate them in Irish thought.’

The New York Times comments: ‘Sir Edward Carson, recently a member of the British Cabinet, is he who two years ago armed the people[the Protestans] of Ulster to declare war on England if she persisted in the attempt to thrust Home Rule upon Ireland. His position was that he and his followers were obliged to commit treason against England in order to remain loyal to her!’

From Canada the Ottawa Evening Journal comments: ‘If the mass of the Irish people were in any real doubt as to whether John Redmond and his colleagues were the wisest or safest leaders, the immediate ludicrous collapse of the attempt Rebellion would afford conclusive guidance. For crazy folly, nothing could surpass the Sinn Fein outbreak. Launched with an armament which seems to have consisted almost entirely of a pompous proclamation, the riot proved just powerful enough to capture a park and the Post Office and hold them for three or four days…’

The New York Evening Globe remarks: ‘Sir Edward Carson drilled a force in the North of Ireland whose declared purpose it was to resist the mandate of the British Parliament, yet Carson subsequently became a member of the Cabinet. If his offences could be overlooked, it should be possible to overlook in large degree the offences of the foolish Sinn Feiners who thought they were privileged to imitate an example so distinguished. The good men of Ireland and England have never had greater reason for forbearance than now…’

(What is surprising about the reaction of the US  press to the Rising is the widespread criticism of the British government’s decision to execute the leaders, thus creating martyrs. Redmond retained his iconic status for now but within months the US Ambassador could inform London that anti-British feeling was growing rapidly. Support for the Irish Republican cause was, he wrote to the Prime Minister, Asquith, ‘like fizz in a soda bottle’.)

A struggle to understand as Ambassador grapples with protestor

Posted by Jim on May 28, 2016

A bizarre intervention by the Canadian Ambassador to Ireland has drawn
international attention to a revisionist state event in Dublin which
honoured the British soldiers who died in 1916 fighting to maintain
British rule in Ireland.

As republican Brian Murphy mounted a lone peaceful protest at
Grangegorman Military Cemetery, ambassador Kevin Vickers suddenly set
upon him, grabbing and dragging Mr Murphy as he attempted to speak out
against the event.

Despite the provocation, Mr Murphy, who held a valid personal
invitation, remained peaceful. He was subsequently arrested by the
Gardai police for a general public order offense, while no action was
taken against Vickers.

The ambassador, a former Canadian policeman, was lauded as a “hero” in
Ireland’s pro-British establishment media, but questions have been
raised in his home country. Canada has strong protections for the right
to free speech, which is protected as a fundamental freedom under the
Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Speaking in Japan, Canadian prime minster Justin Trudeau was pressed to
respond to the incident of whether Mr Vickers, who can claim diplomatic
immunity against any charge of assault, should face disciplinary action.
“If it lands on my table, I’ll take a look at it”, he said.

Vickers, the former sergeant-at-arms at Canada’s Parliament, shot and
killed an an armed attacker inside the parliament buildings in 2014, and
was appointed Canada’s ambassador to Ireland by way of reward.

But David Mulroney, a former Canadian ambassador to China, said Vickers
was “not there as an honorary member of the Gardai”. And the Canadian
Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) suggested Vickers may have violated the
government’s code of conduct for diplomatic staff serving abroad.

Under the heading “Canada’s Reputation: Personal behaviour”, it notes:
“Regardless of any legal immunity conferred upon representatives abroad,
their conduct and actions will be subject to a greater degree of
scrutiny and public interest than they would be at home.”

In a comment piece, the CBC’s national affairs editor Chris Hall said Mr
Vickers was regarded as a man of “enormous personal integrity” and “of
even greater personal courage”.

“But Vickers is no longer a security officer,” he continued. “He is
Canada’s representative in Ireland. That role depends not on bravery but
discretion. Ambassadors are supposed to stay out of domestic issues in
their host country.”

“If he thought he was helping out by removing a protester, that’s not
his job and that injects him and Canada into a political discussion that
the Irish can and should manage for themselves.”

Mr Murphy, a father of three from Rathcoole, County Dublin, said he was
pleased with the media attention. “I stood up to make my protest,” he
said, and had described the event as a “shame” and an “insult”.

“I could see him (Vickers) standing up and heading straight for me and I
put my hands up to stop him getting too close. The publicity it’s got is
because of his actions, not mine,” he said.

Mr Murphy, who previously demonstrated at Glasnevin cemetery when the
names of British soldiers killed in the Rising were inscribed on a
commemorative wall, said there was a very large Garda presence.

He was wearing a shirt in support of the Irish Republican Prisoners
Welfare Association and also wanted to highlight the case of the
Craigavon Two, Brendan McConville and John Paul Wootton, jailed in 2012,
as a miscarriage of justice.

But his protest mainly drew international attention to the controversial
idea of a people commemorating their oppressors.

The Toronto Star described it as a “sensitive event given the deaths of
hundreds of Irish nationalists in 1916, the execution of leaders of the
uprising, and the subsequent declaration of martial law by the British
and the arrest of thousands of citizens.”

Mr Murphy said he also feared a trend which could see hundreds of
British war criminals being commemorated in future centenary events:
“Does it mean in two or three years’ time they’ll be commemorating the
Black and Tans, the Auxiliaries?”

Interesting article on uniting behind the Eire Nua Policy

Posted by Jim on May 27, 2016

Sean Bresnahan
If all republicans were to unite behind the Éire Nua policy it would give clear direction to both the broad republican family and the wider Irish people – which are badly needed at this time to escape the grip of censorship imposed on alternatives to the status quo.
If we’re honest we’ll admit that no-one else – at least not yet – has produced a template for Irish reunification other than vague talk of a ‘socialist republic’ or the idea the Six Counties would simply be bolted onto the existing Free State.
Éire Nua envisages a community of communities under a broader constitution that exists to uphold democratic standards and protections for the citizen. It represents a serious alternative to the centralised state, which upholds state power over the rights of the individual towards an authoritarian end – however light be that end.
Éire Nua then is not just about uniting Ireland but about breaking down the power of the state and subjecting it to far greater democratic pressure and accountability from below.
Unionists and the British though are shaping up for the argument that will come 10-15-20 years down the line, should the mechanisms set in place by the Good Friday Agreement run into difficulties (i.e. a Nationalist majority in the North which they can’t control).
If we look closely, they are lining up the position that there should be a Federal Ireland (more likely on a two-state model than the Provincial one set out in Eire Nua) within a wider Federal ‘British Isles’ entity. I engage with Unionists on other platforms and can see clearly that this is where their strategic thinking is at.
Many republicans believe that Irish Unity will follow a vote in the North once the numbers stack up in their favour but what they don’t realise is that Britain, through their tool the Unionists as always, are readying the ground for another settlement which allows them to remain in control on critical matters – those that count – while the Irish once again are given the illusion that they hold power in their own country – an illusion ongoing since the days of partition itself.
We need to be building our own argument and Eire Nua is the best that’s out there to fight this particular ideological battle, which is looming on the horizon even though we might not see it at this point
Sean Bresnahan's photo.

Justice for the Craigavon Two protester tells how Canadian parliament hero tackled him at 1916 ceremony

Posted by Jim on


Justice for the Craigavon Two protester tells how Canadian parliament hero tackled him at 1916 ceremony
Brian Murphy is confronted by Canadian ambassador Kevin Vickers at Grangegorman cemetery

Connla Young

A REPUBLICAN protester has described how he was tackled by the diplomat who shot dead a Canadian parliament gunman during a ceremony remembering British soldiers killed in the Easter Rising.

Dubliner Brian Murphy was wrestled by Canadian ambassador Kevin Vickers on Thursday as he disrupted the commemoration at Grangegorman Military Cemetery in the city.

The event was also attended by British ambassador Dominick Chilcott and Irish foreign affairs minister Charlie Flanagan as well as members of the British and Irish armed forces.

Mr Vickers made worldwide headlines when he killed Michael Zehaf-Bibeau during a shoot-out in the Canadian parliament, where he was sergeant at arms, in 2014.

The dead man had earlier stormed the building with a rifle.

Mr Vickers, who has family connections with Ireland, was later appointed as Canadian ambassador to Ireland.

Mr Murphy, who is a member of the Irish Republican Prisoners Welfare Association, said he rose to his feet during the commemoration and described it as an “insult”, making reference to the case of the ‘Craigavon Two’.

Brendan McConville and John Paul Wootton are both serving lengthy sentences after being convicted of the Continuity IRA sniper attack that claimed the life of PSNI man Stephen Carroll in Craigavon in March 2009.

Both men have denied any part in the attack.

Mr Murphy’s grandfather Charles Murphy took part in the Easter Rising and served as a Sinn Féin TD in the second Dail before becoming party president in the 1930s.

His great-grandfather, a British soldier who served during the Boer War, is buried in Grangegorman graveyard.

Speaking to the Irish News, the 46-year-old community worker said he staged the one-man protest to highlight the Justice for the Craigavon Two campaign and concerns over the Irish government’s handling of Easter Rising commemorations.

He described Thursday’s event and the recent inclusion of British soldiers’ names on a 1916 memorial in Glasnevin cemetery in Dublin as “reprehensible”.

Mr Murphy said he was invited to the event after submitting an application to the Department of Foreign Affairs.

He said that while he expected to be challenged by officials, the reaction of Mr Vickers came out of the blue.

“I took my seat and then I stood up and started to say a few words and yer man came thundering at me,” he said.

The Crumlin man said “it is important people are aware and at least read the facts” about the Craigavon case.

“It is thanks to the Canadian ambassador I got coverage.”

The Justice for the Craigavon Two campaign described his actions as “an act of solidarity”.

Mr Murphy said he was charged with a public order offence before being released from custody.

St. Saviour High School CHSAA City Champs with win over Aquinas

Posted by Jim on May 25, 2016

Brooklyn’s own St. Saviour’s High School has just won the CHSAA City Championship by beating Bronx/Westchester Champs Aquinas 17-0. Grace Sullivan pitched a 2 hitter and had 4 hits and 4 RBIs. The pitching and hitting star will be attending the University of Alabama at Birmingham where she will be studying Bio-Med Engineering. She was also the Colleen Queen last September at the Great Irish Fair of New York. Congrats Grace and all of your team mates on winning the Championship. Next year her sister Mary will be leading St. Saviour to a repeat of this years Championship.
Kings County Board of the Ancient Order of Hibernians

Eastwood will be second fiddle in a one-man band

Posted by Jim on

Brian Feeney.Irish News (Belfast). Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Suppose, as Arlene Foster and Martin McGuinness confidently predict, everything goes to plan today and ministers are chosen and an executive meets tomorrow, how will the new format with an opposition work?

You’ve heard supporters of the plan lining up to rejoice that, ‘it normalises politics’ here. At first that was only unionists who yearn for something like Westminster. That’s why Nesbitt was out of the traps immediately asking for the seating arrangements to be changed to look like a mini-Westminster.

For unionists, ‘normal politics’ is Westminster with its famous adversarial, confrontational House of Commons. Is that a good model for here?

For some reason, despite the structures for the north pointedly arranged to suit its unique politico-ethnic problem, confirmed again by the election results, it seems impossible to convince the protagonists for opposition that the British political system is not the only ‘normal’. Secondly, what’s normal in Britain can’t apply here.

There’s no opposition in Switzerland but Switzerland seems to work quite well. There’s opposition in Belgium but it’s carefully arranged within the two compulsory language groups in parliament which have equal powers. Unlike Britain virtually every other assembly sits in a hemicycle.

It might be worth contemplating that in Belgium the opposition for all practical purposes is a permanent opposition. That will be the case here. In Britain, which our ‘normalisers’ aspire to imitate, the opposition hopes one day to be the government. Here there’s no hope.

Can anyone identify which 17 Sinn Féin seats the SDLP expects to win? Can anyone identify which 22 DUP seats the UUP expects to win? Of course not. Sinn Féin has more seats than the UUP and SDLP together. The DUP has a third more again.

Churchill, who knew a thing or two about opposition, said being shot would be ‘a kindness’ compared to being in opposition and he had hopes of being in government. Neil Kinnock said opposition was ‘purgatory’ and he hoped to be prime minister one day. It’s generally accepted that in the British system the leader of the opposition is the worst job in politics.

At least here you can see some reasons why Nesbitt might go for it. It gives him the opportunity for grandstanding. He can also take the chair of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) if he wants. He can try to fence off the DUP into the same box as Sinn Féin so the UUP isn’t tainted with sharing power with republicans. Don’t assume for a minute Nesbitt opted for opposition to join with the SDLP in a cross-community arrangement.

Now can you see any reason for the SDLP to forgo a ministerial position? While Nesbitt is leader of the opposition and probably chair of the PAC, Eastwood is…ahm…what? If he turned down a role as minister because the DUP and Sinn Féin were bad to the SDLP – aw diddums – how much time do you think Nesbitt will make available to the SDLP? Maybe Eastwood will chair a committee? Otherwise there he is in a powerless assembly which meets maybe three days a week.

Churchill also advised that an opposition should be a lighthouse rather than a shop window. What he meant was you should try to point a direction or warn of hazards if anyone was listening but if you thought up good plans or policies and displayed them, the government would steal all your best stuff. Sinn Féin and the DUP would be delighted to help themselves to anything attractive in the opposition’s shop window because they’re in a position to implement good ideas unlike people who opted out of power, however minimal it might be.

Acting like a lighthouse on the other hand is difficult. You have to devise ways to attract attention. Create stunts. Beat your chest. Does Eastwood have the personality and brains to outshine Jim Allister or Eamonn McCann? Not on the existing evidence.

So far he hasn’t been able to present coherent plans for what he’ll do in opposition. Will he agree a common policy? Of course not. What will he do when matters like flags, emblems, parades, the past come up? Oppose the leader of the opposition?

He’s opted to be second fiddle in a one man band.

The Volunteer’s Beret by AOH County Tyrone President Gerry McGeough

Posted by Jim on

The Volunteer’s Beret
By Gerry McGeough
That piece of cloth is sacred
Hold it gently in your hand
It’s a symbol of our struggle
Of a gallant, noble stand
It was worn on the hillsides
And the rocky glens below
In every street and alley
And bushy green hedge row
It was placed on many a coffin
Of some poor old mother’s son
Or a father’s only daughter
Who fell at home or on the run
It is frayed and it is singed
And it smells of sour cordite
It is shredded at the sides
For it saw action in the fight
Let no coward’s eye behold it
Let no traitor know it’s there
Keep it hidden in the shadows
Where none can stand and stare
Show it only in the twilight
At the setting of the sun
And only to those brave young hearts
Who know what must be done
It is proud and still defiant
Full of rage
Just biding time in peace…for now
At the edges of the stage
Clutch it never to your bosom
Let no tear upon it fall
It is not a cloth of sorrow
Nor defeat
No, not at all
It will rise again in freedom
Then we’ll put it on display
That old symbol of our struggle
The Volunteer’s Beret.

High Court order on Moore Street Effective

Posted by Jim on May 24, 2016


Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD, chairperson of Sinn Féin National 1916 Commemoration Committee has welcomed news that at long last the order giving effect to March’s High Court’s judgement in relation to Moore Street is effective from yesterday.

Speaking today Deputy Ó Snodaigh said;

“The onus is now on the State, aided by campaigners and hopefully Dublin City Council, to work towards the full preservation of the1916 battlefield site.

“The State now needs to look at how the full potential of this most important site, described by An Taoiseach as the ‘lanes of history’, is achieved for the Irish Nation.

“While mindful that the Minister for Arts Heather Humphries could still appeal the order up to June 16th, I am asking that common sense and an appreciation of our heritage prevails and that she embraces the preservation of Moore Street and its lanes and does not appeal the judgement.

“Instead she should work towards protecting this National Monument and a restoration project as a lasting legacy in which future generations can appreciate the events of 1916.

“The continuing uncertainty concerning its future is deeply insulting to the memory of the men and women of 1916 and their descendants on this the centenary of The Rising.”


Posted by Jim on May 22, 2016


Sinn Féin should call DUP’s bluff

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“The enormous problem is that, in a clear error of judgment, the DUP leader Arlene Foster is on record as ruling out any possibility that the justice ministry could go to Sinn Féin .
It is difficult to see how she could maintain such a stance while sharing power with the same party and facilitating Sinn Féin control of any combination of the health, education and economic departments.”


Irish News (Belfast)  Editorial. May21, 2016 01:00

Now that an overdue official opposition, initially involving the Ulster Unionists and the SDLP, is finally in place at Stormont, the spotlight has firmly shifted to the appointment of our new ministers in  general and the justice portfolio in particular.It needs to be stressed from the start of the debate that the DUP and Sinn Féin were handed the two strongest mandates in this month’s elections by a considerable distance, and therefore to the winners go the spoils.

They are fully entitled to divide up most of the executive seats under the prevailing D’Hondt system and may even end up in what is effectively a two-party coalition for the next five years.

However, what should have been a relatively straightforward negotiation over the allocation of the briefs has been thrown into confusion over the justice post, which has been held by the Alliance leader David Ford since its creation six years ago.

Mr Ford’s confirmation that he did not want another term was followed two days ago by an announcement from Alliance that it was disappointed with the attitude of the two largest parties and had decided against making a further nomination for the vacancy.

The enormous problem is that, in a clear error of judgment, the DUP leader Arlene Foster is on record as ruling out any possibility that the justice ministry could go to Sinn Féin .

It is difficult to see how she could maintain such a stance while sharing power with the same party and facilitating Sinn Féin control of any combination of the health, education and economic departments.

Alliance may have to be tempted back with a generous and possibly destablising wider deal, as the Ulster Unionists and the SDLP are out of the equation and offering the justice role to either the Green Party or the independent unionist Claire Sugden, who has been an MLA for barely two years, would smack of desperation.

Alternatively, Sinn Féin representatives could call Mrs Foster’s bluff, agree to a DUP justice minister and in return demand a compelling package of their own which might well include a long-awaited Irish language act among other measures.

Our devolved administration has often veered between dullness and intransigence over recent years, in a way which has contributed to a sense of either apathy or cynicism in many sections of the electorate.

Politics has suddenly become interesting again for ordinary people and the intense manoeuvring which will have to take place before Wednesday’s deadline should provide an intriguing spectacle.

Time for a genuine Fresh Start at Stormont

Fr. Sean Mc Manus

Loyalists may attempt to block anti-internment march

Posted by Jim on May 21, 2016

Loyalists have said they will not seek permission to oppose the annual
anti-internment march, which will take place on Sunday, August 7. The
move could spark a confrontation as up to 5,000 people and at least four
bands are expected to take part in the march.

The parade has been organised to mark the 45th anniversary of the
introduction of internment in 1971, which saw hundreds of nationalists
jailed without charge.

The parade is also intended to highlight the ongoing process by which
republicans are being interned ‘by remand’, held on trumped-up charges
without trial.

In 2013 there was serious violence on Royal Avenue – Belfast’s busiest
shopping street – after loyalists opposed to the parade clashed with the
PSNI. Last August’s anti-internment march was stopped by the PSNI near
Ardoyne in north Belfast as hundreds of loyalists gathered in the city
centre for a major protest.

However, parade organisers say this year’s march will leave
Andersonstown in west Belfast before moving down Castle Street and onto
Donegall Place at its junction with Royal Avenue. The procession will
then make its way to Belfast City Hall where a stage will be erected for
a rally which is expected to be finished by 1.30pm.

Anti-Internment League spokesman Gerard Fitzpatrick said some city
centre traders and loyalists had raised objections about the location
and timing of last year’s march. “This year’s route means no such
objections from this quarter.”

He said that as well as remembering the introduction of internment, the
parade has been organised to raise awareness of the continued use of
internment by the British and Free State governments by remand and
revocation of early release licences and through miscarriage of justice.

He added that the parade is open to people from all political
background, and had been organised with the support of community
representatives, individual trade union members and human rights

“This is an opportunity for people to peacefully demonstrate against
these actions,” he said.

A campaign to free one internee, Derry republican Tony
Taylor, is being officially launched at a public meeting in the city
next Tuesday. Mr Taylor, a spokesperson for Republican Network for
Unity, was jailed in Derry on March 10.

The SDLP and Sinn Fein both supported a motion calling for Mr Taylor’s
immediate release from prison at a council meeting last month.

A spokesperson for the campaign called on anyone with a regard for civil
liberties or human rights to attend Tuesday’s meeting and back the drive
to have Mr Taylor released from prison.

The ‘Free Tony Taylor’ campaign will be launched at a public meeting in
the Maldron Hotel on Tuesday at 7.30pm.

Loughgall remembered

Posted by Jim on

On Sunday 8th May, republicans from Tyrone and its Monaghan/Armagh
hinterland gathered at the Drumfurrer Monument to IRA Volunteers Jim
Lynagh and Padraig McKearney for a family-led Independent Commemoration.
Monaghan ex-POW and member of the James Connolly Society Monaghan John
Crawley gave the main oration. The following is the text of his speech.

Twenty-nine years ago today, eight IRA Volunteers were Killed in Action
against British Crown Forces at Loughgall, Co. Armagh. The Monument
where we are assembled at today was built in honour of two of them, who
spent a lot of time in this particular area – Jim Lynagh and Padraig
McKearney. We remember with pride their comrades who died beside them:
Patrick Kelly, Declan Arthurs, Seamus Donnelly, Tony Gormley, Eugene
Kelly and Gerard O’Callaghan.

I never had the privilege of meeting Padraig or the other lads but knew
Jim quite well and had many conversations with him. Padraig from the
Moy, County Tyrone, was a staunch republican socialist. He came from a
family immersed in Irish republican activism. Both his grandfathers were
on IRA Active Service during the Tan War. Padraig was one of 38
republican prisoners who escaped from the H-Blocks in September 1983. He
immediately returned to IRA Active Service.

His family have paid a high price for their patriotism. His brother Sean
was killed on Active Service in May 1974. His brother Tommy was on
Hungerstrike for 53 days in Long Kesh in 1980. His brother Kevin and his
uncle Jack were murdered by Loyalists. Padraig McKearney had an
unrivalled reputation as a daring and courageous Volunteer.

Jim Lynagh from Monaghan Town was an outstanding Volunteer. His family
also paid a heavy price for bearing courageous sons. His brother Colm
served many years in Portlaoise Prison and his brother Michael, a member
of the INLA, died tragically while in prison. Perceptive and astute,
one of the many things that stood out about Jim was that he didn’t have
the awe most Volunteers seem to have held for the IRA leadership at that
time. Jim put nobody on a pedestal. While organisationally loyal and
respecting some of them as individuals he clearly didn’t trust others
and considered most to be militarily illiterate, lacking even the most
basic technical and tactical competence and proficiency.

From his experience, successful IRA areas and operations were due far
more to talented, capable and courageous local leaders and Volunteers –
and their support base on the ground – rather than the result of any
grand plan from on high. The Brits knew that too and their ‘Tasking and
Coordination Groups’ studied carefully who their SAS ambush teams and
Loyalist deathsquads should attempt to take out of the equation – and
who to leave undisturbed to rise through the ranks.

An English historian gave a description of the Irish who fought against
Britain during the American revolution in a manner that describes Jim
and Padraig to a tee. They were, he said, ‘the foremost, the most
irreconcilable, and the most determined to push the quarrel to the last
extremity’. The Brits considered Padraig McKearney and Jim Lynagh
dangerous adversaries. Brave and intelligent, they couldn’t be
frightened and they couldn’t be bought. A bad combination.

Mourners were told by the Provisional leadership at Jim’s funeral that
Loughgall would be the tombstone for British rule in Ireland.
Twenty-nine years later the Brits are going nowhere and the same
leadership now boast that they have buried the IRA. Nor do they miss an
opportunity to declare that since the Good Friday Agreement Ireland
unfree shall be at peace.

There is a contextual thread running through every British attempt at a
settlement since at least the mid-19th century. In the summer of 1921,
at the height of the Tan War, British Prime Minister Sir Lloyd George
sent a telegram to the then Sinn Fein leadership seeking negotiations.
This message was sent:

‘With a view to ascertaining how the association of Ireland with the
community of nations known as the British Empire may be reconciled with
Irish national aspirations.’

Reconciling Irish nationalism with the British state has dominated
British strategic thinking since British Prime Minister William
Gladstone first jettisoned the Liberal party’s hostility toward Irish
Home Rule and embraced it as a buffer between Irish independence and
British sovereignty.

The Fenian Rising in 1867 and their bombing campaign in London in the
late 1860s had a profound effect on Gladstone. In his view the three
grievances which flamed Fenianism were the established Protestant
Church, the land system and direct English rule. When informed by a
messenger in December 1868 that he had been charged with forming his
first Cabinet he remarked, ‘my mission is to pacify Ireland’.

A major concern was that, largely as a result of the Famine, an Irish
nation over a million strong now lived in America, hostile to England
yet beyond the reach of British jurisdiction and reprisals. Worse yet,
these Irish were experiencing life in a democracy within a republic and
were prospering. Many now had money and resources denied to them at home
and as a result of service in the American Civil War many thousands had
first class military training and combat experience.

The British government came to the conclusion that the Irish people in
Ireland itself had to be protected and insulated from what the London
Times called, ‘the despicable ideas inspired by American democracy’. In
addition, events within the UK, such as the 1867 Reform Act, doubled the
electorate and the rising tide of democracy had to be manipulated and
managed so as not to threaten the status quo.

Gladstone advised Queen Victoria that he intended to grant a series of
limited concessions to Ireland in order to buy off any serious attempt
at separation. He began by disestablishing the Church of Ireland as the
official state church in 1869 and bringing in an essentially useless
Land Act in 1870. During the 1880s he would, despite stiff opposition
from English and Irish Unionists, come to support the idea of Irish Home
Rule. All this not to satisfy Ireland but to pacify Ireland.

And so began British peace processing in Ireland, instigated to divert
and deflect the Irish people away from the path to independence and onto
ground Britain could manipulate and control. By the time of the Home
Rule debates, Protestant privilege and influence in Ireland, which was
based on land ownership, had diminished in most of Ireland, and a new
Catholic middle class had grown in strength and influence. Some had done
well out of the Famine.

Britain was intent on forming an alliance with the leadership of this
emerging Catholic elite and were preparing to grant them a degree of
local autonomy, making them their new partners and accomplices in
managing and administering the occupation. Imperial Britain came to the
conclusion long before Lenin that, ‘the best way to control the
opposition is to lead it ourselves’.

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 bayonetting 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. Apparently Wolfe Tone’s belief that Protestant and Catholic
unity should come about through the forging of a common national
citizenship free from England plays second fiddle to the idea of unity
through celebrating joint debasement as levies and mercenaries for the

Depending on who was in power and other factors, British government
policy in Ireland between 1868 and 1916 oscillated between periods of
conciliation and coercion. What never changed was Britain’s
determination that UK parliamentary sovereignty would never be trumped
by Irish popular sovereignty. Every treaty and agreement up to and
including the Good Friday Agreement would uphold the fundamental
principal of UK parliamentary sovereignty and the primacy of British

The rule of law is central to British strategy. As such the issue of
policing has been the cornerstone of their counter-insurgency
architecture – a strategy designed to legitimise the British state in
Ireland by conferring on Britain Irish assent to its presumption of
democratic entitlement and its monopoly on the legitimate use of force.
As Roger Casement said at his trial, ‘conquest gives no title’.

The 1916 rising threw a spanner into the Home Rule works and scuttled
the loyal nationalist opposition Britain had been counting on to keep
Ireland off the political radar. Subsequent events led to a British
alliance with Ulster Unionism to retain what control they could in

Britain, however, had no natural affinity with the Orange state beyond
one of utility. The Brits have never demurred from negotiating over the
heads of their allies in Ireland when it suited their interests. Tony
Blair was quite happy to help dismantle the Orange state if by doing so
the British state in Ireland could at last became politically viable. Of
course the Unionists didn’t like it. But to equate Unionist discomfiture
with impending victory is base sectarian reductionism.

The Proclamation of 1916, the 1918 election, the Declaration of
Independence and the Democratic Programme of the First Dail were
answered by the British in 1920 with the Government of Ireland Act. That
Act was the British government’s formal legislative declaration that it
rejected the concept of majority all-Ireland opinion and would refuse to
recognise Ireland as one democratic unit. The Act, authored by an
English Tory committee without the input of a single Irishman,
partitioned Ireland into a 26-county Southern Ireland and a six-county
Northern Ireland.

During the Civil War, former Republicans who accepted a settlement based
on this Act were given British guns and artillery to destroy Republicans
who didn’t. A small clique of IRA deserters, reinforced by a massive
influx of demobilised British soldiers of Irish provenance, manned Free
State firing squads as those Patriots who remained true to a republican
definition of democracy were tied to landmines and placed against
barracks walls.

As a result of the Good Friday Agreement, the British have annulled the
1920 Government of Ireland Act. There has been a deliberate and
self-serving attempt at misdirection over the ending of this Act, the
implication being that Britain has diluted its claim to sovereignty as
part of some transitional progression toward disengagement. This is
certainly not the case.

The UK government felt confident in doing so as a quid pro quo for the
downgrading of Articles 2 and 3 of the 26-County Constitution from a
constitutional imperative to a notional aspiration, because the Dublin
Government and all Nationalist parties that support the Agreement have
been co-opted to, and have formally endorsed and internalised, the
British narrative and its interpretation of Ireland’s democratic

They have joined Britain as partners in declining to acknowledge Ireland
as one democratic unit and have conceded that fact in an international
agreement. They have legitimised the Unionist Veto to the point that
some former comrades have now discovered that Irish Unionists are
British. They have conferred the mantle of lawful authority upon Her
Majesty’s Constabulary, the PSNI, who, like the RUC at 90 percent
Protestant and the RIC at 80 percent Catholic, continue to stand in
British armed opposition to the republican and democratic principles of
the 1916 Proclamation.

Britain’s claim to sovereignty in Ireland resides in the 1801 Act of
Union, which remains firmly on her statute books. The Union flag
inspired by that Act, incorporating the Cross of St. Patrick, still
flies on Irish soil. The Harp, as a national symbol of Ireland, still
adorns the British Royal Standard and the United Kingdom’s Coat of Arms.

The Cross of St Patrick and the Harp are Irish national symbols and not
six-county symbols. When Prince William married Kate Middleton he wore
the uniform of the Irish Guards, not the Northern Irish Guards. It’s
ironic that Irish republicans and the British establishment are more
likely to take the long national view of Irish politics than Northern
Unionists or Southern Partitionists.

Britain continues to hijack Irish national symbols in its political and
military iconography and continues to work to deny Ireland a National
Parliament. The Brits never take their eye off the ball and have
formally and informally protested to the Dublin Government any proposal
to provide elected Northern representatives speaking rights in Leinster
House as outside the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.

The UK government, with the enthusiastic support of many Free State TDs,
will not countenance the Dail regaining any semblance of the genuinely
national assembly it was between 1919 and 1922. One hundred years after
the 1916 Proclamation Ireland still has no ‘National Government,
representative of the whole people of Ireland and elected by the
suffrages of all her men and women’.

With Unionists a clear majority in only two of Ireland’s thirty-two
counties, Britain is looking at the demographics and planning for the
future. A ‘new republicanism’ is being encouraged and nurtured in which
the vision of a United Ireland, a 32-County national democracy, is
replaced by an ‘Agreed Ireland’, where the British stay and the Irish
agree to it. Under this ‘new republicanism’ we must no longer speak of
breaking the British connection but of respecting the British connection
as a gesture toward Unionism. It’s the ‘republican’ thing to do.

Republicans must dine with the British Queen and shake hands with the
Colonel-in-Chief of the Parachute Regiment and honour British war dead
in the name of reconciliation because reconciliation no longer means
reconciling Catholic, Protestant and Dissenter to the idea of a united
national citizenship but reconciling nationalists to the idea of the
permanence of the British connection in some guise or other.

We must find a place for Britishness in an agreed Ireland. Perhaps an
all-Ireland return to the British Commonwealth in return for some new
all-Ireland institutions buttressed by some ad hoc all-Ireland police
force? Of course, all-Ireland institutions are not always what they are
cracked up to be. The famine workhouses were an all-Ireland institution
and the Black and Tans were an all-Ireland police force. There is a
crucial distinction between the concepts of United Ireland and
All-Ireland. One is Irish Freedom, the other isn’t.

Under this scenario Irish Unionists are British because they choose to
be so. Let us ignore the fact that Irish Unionists don’t live in Britain
and rarely referred to themselves as British until after the first Home
Rule crisis and especially after partition. They took pride in the Royal
Irish Constabulary, the Royal Irish Regiments. In an Irishness that was
subservient to British interests – the Royal Irish, the Loyal Irish.

Yet, clearly, their sense of Britishness was always conditional upon
Britain maintaining Unionist supremacy. They were quite prepared to
rebel against the British government if Britain enacted the Home Rule
Act. It was the Unionist importation of German rifles and ammunition in
the Larne gun running incident in 1914 that introduced the gun into 20th
Century Irish politics. As late at the 1970s, Ian Paisley was advocating
a Rhodesian-style ‘Unilateral Declaration of Independence’ if Irish
Unity appeared a possibility.

What this political culture would not countenance was the 1916
Proclamation’s ideas of equality within the national democracy of a
United Ireland. Although they had lived quite happily in a United
Ireland under the British Crown for hundreds of years, they would never
willingly do so under a democratic Irish Republic and Britain would
ensure they wouldn’t have to.

Examine their symbolism. You won’t see a depiction of the British
parliament at Westminster on an Orange banner, only the crown of the
British monarchy – which is the feudal sponsor of the Protestant
Ascendancy and sectarian supremacy. Why would we respect that crown? Now
you can either buy into this nonsense and bluff the world that you are
doing so from some higher humanitarian, intellectual and moral plane or
you can wise up and have the courage to face the fact that decolonising
mind sets is going to be one of the most difficult phases in building a
national democracy.

There was no painless way to conquer Ireland and no painless way to
reconquer it. When the Union is over the plantation is over. The fact is
Unionists will be deeply hurt and demoralised by this. They won’t like
it and they may not like it for generations to come, as was the case for
Unionists in the Free State after the Treaty. That will be a major
challenge for our republic to work through. But don’t blame Republicans
for that. Britain engineered this mess. The process of genuine national
reconciliation can only begin when Britain leaves Ireland and can no
longer meddle in our internal affairs.

The American Loyalists who supported the British during the American
revolution didn’t want an American republic. The Boers didn’t want a
democratic South Africa. Israeli settlers don’t want a Palestinian
state. The French Pied Noir settlers didn’t want an independent Algeria.
The Confederacy didn’t want to let go of slavery. Ideologies and
political cultures based on imperial conquest and colonial expropriation
are, in the words of James Connolly, ‘crimes against human progress’.
Sometimes for humanity to progress certain belief systems must be
jettisoned and leave the historical stage. There is no gainsaying it.

Making Ireland British is an English project – keeping Ireland British
can never be a republican one. The republican project is to end the
British connection, not to respect it. Our concept of reconciliation
lies in reconciling all Irishmen to the democratic ideal of equality and
the republican concept of majority rule, tempered by a protection of
minority rights. Rights as Irish citizens, not as wards of a foreign
power. Republicans take a national view of the national question. Why do
our enemies seem consistently surprised about that? What part of
‘national’ do they not understand?

Partition and the Good Friday Agreement are basically 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

Don’t allow the people who told you the path to Irish Freedom lay
through conceding the Unionist Veto, reviving Stormont, endorsing Her
Majesty’s constabulary as lawful authority and internalising British
constitutional constraints such as the triple-locked border poll lure
you into believing a so-called Agreed Ireland can attain some degree of
moral ascendancy over the democratic and republican principles inherent
in a United Ireland. Britain has no place in Ireland. Republicans must
ensure that the fantasy of a permanent British redoubt imprinted with
Irish democratic assent to its political or cultural legitimacy becomes
British imperialism’s last dream before death.

When you cut to the chase a lot of this is coming from the Provisional
‘think-tank’, who are trying to redefine Irish republicanism and modify
the concept of Irish Unity to conform to the limitations of its
leadership and their inability to devise a strategy that would bring the
republican project to a timely and successful conclusion. The think-tank
should think again.

Leadership is not about demonstrating how many Jesuitical contortions a
movement can be forced to make before it becomes permanently twisted.
Leadership is based on trust. Trust that the ideology is correct and the
vision based on that ideology is the right one and is believed by the
leadership and not just spouted as a mobilising aspiration around which
to build a political base that may one day service a political career.
Trust that the vision will never be tempered or tailored or turned by
fear of the consequences in pursing it or modified by personal ambition.
Trust that the strategy driven by that vision will be pursued
professionally and responsibly with due diligence and care to the people
tasked with carrying it out. Trust that the commitment to Irish Freedom
is not a perishable commodity.

Keep your passion for freedom alive. Don’t be demoralised by beaten
dockets or the self-serving sophistry of careerists and carpetbaggers.
Stay on a republican trajectory and do not be lured into a British
orbit. Don’t worry if you don’t have the strategy worked out or all the
answers just yet. Republicans have been through years of false trails
and false prophets and are only lately picking up the pieces. It takes
time to gain traction and to build an unstoppable momentum.

James Connolly wasn’t captured with a fully-costed programme for
government in his back pocket. Sometimes you just have to do the right
thing, regardless of whether you have accounted for the minutiae of
every conceivable event and scenario. Keep it republican, keep it
democratic and keep it socially just. Republicans are still working this
through. In the meantime be certain that Britain’s busy bees are
infiltrating every republican group in order steer them in the wrong
direction – as they did so successfully with others.

Like James Connolly, Jim, Padraig, Patrick, Declan, Seamus, Tony, Eugene
and Gerard went out to break the connection between this country and
Britain and to establish an Irish Republic. They died at their posts.
No-one is using this platform to ask you to kill or or be killed for
Irish Freedom. Remain at your posts though. Don’t be seduced into
servicing the lie. Don’t abandon the truth. The truth that, as James
Connolly put it at his court martial one hundred years ago when he said:

‘The British Government has no right in Ireland, never had any right in
Ireland, and never can have any right in Ireland.’

Do not join in the crime against human progress. Do not reconcile
yourself to the British presence. Do not concede the political and moral
legitimacy of the ‘differences carefully fostered by an alien
government’. That is not the republican thing to do.

At this exact moment twenty nine years ago today Jim Lynagh, Padraig
McKearney, Patrick Kelly, Declan Arthurs, Seamus Donnelly, Tony Gormley,
Eugene Kelly, and Gerard O’Callaghan had only hours left to live. Lads,
if you can hear us, thank you for your sacrifice. You never abandoned
your post – and neither will we.

Writing about the hunger strike

Posted by Jim on

By Gerry Adams (for Leargas)

35 years ago, on May 5th 1981, Bobby Sands died on hunger strike after
66 days without food. He was the first of 10 men to die in the H Blocks
of Long Kesh that terrible summer of 1981. For those republican
political prisoners in the H-Blocks, in Armagh Women’s prison and in
other prisons in Ireland and England there was a shared sense of grief
and anger.

For the families of those who died and for the rest of us and the tens
of thousands of ordinary citizens in Ireland and around the world who
campaigned on their behalf, this was our Easter 1916. It was a
transformative, watershed moment in our lives but also in the struggle
for Irish freedom.

To their families and comrades and supporters the hunger strikers are
heroes. They were courageous comrades who selflessly gave their lives
that others might not experience the brutality and savagery of a vicious
prison regime. And in their painful deaths, watched daily by families
and friends, and reported by a generally hostile media, they defied the
Thatcher government’s efforts to criminalise them and the struggle that
they were part of.

When it ended in October 1981 it appeared that the prisoners had lost.
But in reality that long and difficult summer resulted in a few short
years with the demands of the prisoners being met. The hunger strike
also internationalised the struggle in a way that nothing else had. It
facilitated connections with other political and liberation movements
and it saw a huge growth in the number of republican activists. It
helped accelerate the acceptance by republicans of electoralism as part
of strategy.

All of this opened up significant new opportunities, including within a
decade secret contacts with the British government and efforts by Sinn
Fein to explore the potential for a peace process.

Several years later David Beresford, the Guardian’s correspondent to the
north, published the definitive account of the hunger strike – Ten Men
Dead. David died last week and his funeral service took place on
Tuesday. He was remarkable man and an exceptional writer, author and
journalist. He arrived into the north in 1978 at a dangerous and
difficult time.

The prison protests in the H-Blocks and in Armagh women’s prison had
been going on for three years. There were some 500 protesting prisoners
and hundreds more in other prisons in Ireland and England.

The use by the British state of widespread torture in the interrogation
centres; of shoot-to-kill actions: and of collusion between state forces
and unionist paramilitaries in the killing of political opponents and
civilians was widespread. The IRA war against the British state showed
no sign of abating.

There was also a major propaganda battle taking place. Many in the
establishment media played the game. Their first port of call when
anything happened were the numerous press officers working for Britain’s
Northern Ireland Office or for the RUC or British Army. Frequently they
went no further. The British line was their line. And their editorial
bosses, whether in Belfast or London, were happy to sustain this
relationship. Censorship, official and unofficial, was deep rooted and

This was the north and the state of conflict into which David arrived.
From the beginning he looked beyond the official spin. he travelled
widely in the north; made a point of speaking to republicans, loyalists
and community activists, and to those directly affected by the war.

He had a healthy scepticism; was a good listener; and his writing was
insightful, informative and discerning. Occasionally I met him also to
discuss the current politics of the moment.

All of us who knew him were struck by his commitment to truthful
journalism. Consequently, when he broached the possibility of writing a
book on the hunger strike there were no objections. He was trusted to
tell an honest account of that very difficult time in our history and in
our lives. To aid him in this we gave him access to the ‘comms’ – the
messages that were smuggled out from the prison.

In the main these were written on thin tiny cigarette papers, or torn
scraps of paper from the Gideon bible that each cell had, using the
refill of biros hidden inside the bodies of the prisoners. They were
then wrapped in cling film and smuggled out.

Ten Men Dead is probably the best book written about any aspect of the
conflict in Ireland. It remains as potent a piece of journalism today as
it was when first published. It is a compelling book; impossible to put
down once you begin to read it. It is a passionate book that tugs at the
emotions. It provides a harrowing and moving account of one of the most
extraordinary events during the decades of war in the north of Ireland.

Its longevity; its’ honesty and David’s ability through his words to
empathise with those he was writing about have combined to ensure that
Ten Men Dead has never been out of print.

A few years after the hunger strike David moved back to South Africa to
record the historic changes that were taking place in that country. In
1995 I had the good fortune to meet him again in South Africa when a
Sinn Fein delegation travelled there to meet with Madiba – Nelson
Mandela – and others in the ANC leadership.

The IRA had the previous year called a cessation and we want to discuss
with the ANC their strategies, tactics and general approaches to their
peace process and the lessons for ours.

By this stage David was suffering from Parkinsons. It is an awful
disease but he faced it with courage and great dignity and wrote about
his experience. I also watched the television documentary he made
detailing the operation in 2002 to ease the symptoms.

David Beresford believed in the rights of people; in human rights. He
wanted to tell their stories in a way that would help others understand
what was happening.

As we in Ireland remember our friend Bobby Sands and his nine comrades
it is appropriate that we also remember David Beresford who shone a
light on the horrors of the H-Blocks.

Bobby was a fine writer also. A poet. From within the confines of his
prison cell, naked and brutalised he smuggled out words that resonate
today. Among them is his poem The Rhythm of Time. It applies equally to
David Beresford:

There’s an inner thing in every man,
Do you know this thing my friend?
It has withstood the blows of a million years,
And will do so to the end.
It is found in every light of hope,
It knows no bounds nor space
It has risen in red and black and white,
It is there in every race.
It lights the dark of this prison cell,
It thunders forth its might,
It is ‘the undauntable thought’, my friend,
That thought that says ‘I’m right!’

On behalf of Sinn Fein I want to extend my deepest condolences to
David’s family. To Marianna, Belinda and Norman; and Ellen and their son
Joris, and to David’s elder brother Garth. Ar dheis de go raibh a anam

Raymond McCreesh – Died May 21st, 1981

Posted by Jim on




A quiet, good-natured and discreet republican

THE THIRD of the resolutely determined IRA Volunteers to join the H-Block hunger strike for political status was twenty-four-year-old Raymond McCreesh, from Camlough in South Armagh: a quiet, shy and good-humoured republican, who although captured at the early age of nineteen, along with two other Volunteers in a British army ambush, had already almost three years active republican involvement behind him.

During those years he had established himself as one of the most dedicated and invaluable republican activists in that part of the six counties to which the Brits themselves have – half-fearfully, half-respectfully – given the name ‘bandit country’ and which has become a living legend in republican circles, during the present war, for the courage and resourcefulness of its Volunteers: the border land of South Armagh.

Raymond’s resolve to hunger strike to the death, to secure the prisoners’ five demands was indicated in a smuggled-out letter written by Paddy Quinn, an H-Block blanket man – who was later to embark on hunger strike himself – who was captured along with Raymond and who received the same fourteen year sentence: “I wrote Raymie a couple of letters before he went to the prison hospital. He wrote back and according to the letter he was in great spirits and very determined. A sign of that determination was the way he finished off by saying: Ta seans ann go mbeidh me abhaile rombat a chara’ which means: There is a chance that I’ll be home before you, my friend!”

Captured in June 1976, and sentenced in March 1977, when he refused to recognise the court, Raymond would have been due for release in about two years’ time had he not embarked on his principled protest for political status, which led him, ultimately, to hunger strike.


Raymond Peter McCreesh, the seventh in a family of eight children, was born in a small semi-detached house at St. Malachy’s Park, Camlough – where the family still live – on February 25th, 1957.

The McCreeshes, a nationalist family in a staunchly nationalist area, have been rooted in South Armagh for seven generations, and both Raymond’s parents – James aged 65, a retired local council worker, and Susan (whose maiden name is Quigley), aged 60 – come from the nearby townland of Dorsey.

Raymond was a quiet but very lively person, very good-natured and – like other members of his family – extremely witty. Not the sort of person who would push himself forward if he was in a crowd, and indeed often rather a shy person in his personal relationships until he got to know a person well. Nevertheless, in his republican capacity he was known as a capable, dedicated and totally committed Volunteer who could show leadership and aggression where necessary.

Among both his family and his republican associates, Raymond was renowned for his laughter and for “always having a wee smile on him”. His sense of humour remained even during his four-year incarceration in the H-Blocks, as well as during his hunger strike where he continued to insist that he was “just fine.”


Raymond went first to Camlough primary school, and then to St. Coleman’s college in Newry. It was at St. Coleman’s that Raymond met Danny McGuinness, also from Camlough, and the two became steadfast friends. They later became republican comrades, and Danny too then a nineteen-year-old student who had just completed his ‘A’ levels was captured along with Raymond and Paddy Quinn, and is now in the H-Blocks.

At school, Raymond’s strongest interest was in Irish language and Irish history, and he read widely in those subjects. His understanding of Irish history led him to a fervently nationalist outlook, and he was regarded as a ‘hothead’ in his history classes, and as being generally “very conscious of his Irishness”.

He was also a sportsman, and played under-sixteen and Minor football for Carrickcruppin Gaelic football club as well as taking a keen interest in the local youth club where he played basketball and pool, and was regarded a good snooker player.

When he was fourteen years old, Raymond got a weekend job working on a milk round through the South Armagh border area, around Mullaghbawn and Dromintee. Later on, after leaving his job in Lisburn, he worked full-time on the milk round, where he would always stop and chat to customers. He became a great favourite amongst them and many enquired about him long after he left the round.


During the early ‘seventies, the South Armagh border area was the stamping ground of the British army’s Parachute regiment, operating out of Bessbrook camp less than two miles from Raymond’s home. Stories of their widespread brutality and harassment of local people abound, and built-up then a degree of resentment and resistance amongst most of the nationalist population that is seen to this day.

The SAS terror regiment began operating in this area in large numbers too, in a vain attempt to counter republican successes, and the high level of assassinations of local people on both sides of the South Armagh border, notably three members of the Reavey family in 1975, was believed locally to have been the work both of the SAS, and of UDR and RUC members holding dual membership with ‘illegal’ loyalist paramilitary organisations.

Given this scenario and Raymond’s understanding of Irish history, it is small wonder that he became involved in the republican struggle.


He first of all joined na Fianna Eireann early in 1973 and towards the end of that year joined the Irish Republican Army’s 1st Battalion, South Armagh.

Even before joining the IRA, and despite his very young age, Raymond – with remarkable awareness and maturity – became one of the first Volunteers in the South Armagh area to adopt a very low, security conscious, republican profile.

He rarely drank, but if occasionally in a pub he would not discuss either politics or his own activities, and he rarely attended demonstrations or indeed anything which would have brought him to the attention of the enemy.

It was because of this remarkable self-discipline and discretion that during his years of intense republican involvement Raymond was never once arrested or even held for screening in the North, and only twice held briefly in the South.

Consequently, Raymond was never obliged to go ‘on the run’, continuing to live at home until the evening of his capture, and always careful not to cause his family any concern or alarm.

Fitted in with his republican activities Raymond would relax by going to dances or by going to watch football matches at weekends.


After leaving school he spent a year at Newry technical college studying fabrication engineering, and afterwards got a job at Gambler Simms (Steel) Ltd. in Lisburn. He had a conscientious approach to his craft but was obliged to leave after a year because of a fear of assassination.

Each day he travelled to work from Newry, in a bus along with four or five mates who had got jobs there too from the technical college, but the prevailing high level of sectarian assassinations, and the suspicion justifiably felt of the predominantly loyalist work-force at Gambler Simms, made Raymond, and many other nationalist workers, decide that travelling such a regular route through loyalist country side was simply too risky.

So, after leaving the Lisburn factory, Raymond began to work full-time as a milk roundsman, an occupation which would greatly have increased his knowledge of the surrounding countryside, as well as enabling him to observe the movements of British army patrols and any other untoward activity in the area.


Republican activity in that area during those years consisted largely of landmine attacks and ambushes on enemy patrols.

Raymond had the reputation of a republican who was very keen to suggest and take part in operations, almost invariably working in his own, extremely tight, active service unit, though occasionally, when requested – as he frequently was – assisting other units in neighbouring areas with specific operations. He would always carefully consider the pros and cons of any operation, and would never panic or lose his nerve.

In undertaking the hunger strike, Raymond gave the matter the same careful consideration he would have expended on a military operation, he undertook nothing either a rush, or for bluff.


The operation which led to the capture of Raymond, his boyhood friend, Danny McGuiness, and Patrick Quinn, took place on June 25th, 1976.

An active service unit comprising these three and a fourth Volunteer arrived in a commandeered car at a farmyard in the town land of Sturgan a mile from Camlough – at about 9.25 p.m.

Their objective was to ambush a covert Brit observation post which they had located opposite the Mountain House Inn, on the main Newry – Newtonhamilton Road, half-a-mile away. They were not aware, however, that another covert British observation post, on a steep hillside half-a-mile away, had already spotted the four masked, uniformed and armed Volunteers, clearly visible below them, and that radioed helicopter reinforcements were already closing in.

As the fourth Volunteer drove the commandeered car down the road to the agreed ambush point, to act as a lure for the Brits, the other three moved down the hedgeline of the fields, into position. The fourth Volunteer, however, as he returned, as arranged, to rejoin his comrades, spotted the British Paratroopers on the hillside closing in on his unsuspecting friends and, although armed only with a short range Stengun, opened fire to warn the others.

Immediately, the Brits opened fire with SLRs and light machine-guns, churning up the ground around the Volunteers with hundreds of rounds, firing indiscriminately into the nearby farmhouse and two vehicles parked outside, and killing a grazing cow!

The fourth Volunteer was struck by three bullets, in the leg, arm and chest, but managed to crawl away and to elude the massive follow up search, escaping safely – though seriously injured – the following day.

Raymond and Paddy Quinn ran zig-zag across open fields to a nearby house, under fire all this time, intending to commandeer a car. Unfortunately, the car belonging to the occupants of the house was parked at a neighbour’s house several hundred yards away. Even then the pair might have escaped but that they delayed several minutes waiting for their comrade, Danny McGuinness, who however had got separated from them and had taken cover in a disused quarry outhouse (where he was captured in a follow-up operation the next day).

The house in which Raymond and Paddy took cover was immediately besieged by berserk Paratroopers who riddled the house with bullets. Even when the two Volunteers surrendered, after the arrival of a local priest, and came out through the front door with their hands up, the Paras opened fire again and the Pair were forced to retreat back into the house.

On the arrival of the RUC, the two Volunteers again surrendered and were taken to Bessbrook barracks where they were questioned and beaten for three days before being charged.


One remarkable aspect of the British ambush concerns the role of Lance-Corporal David Jones, a member of the 3rd Battalion, the Parachute regiment. According to Brit statements at the trial it was he who first opened up on the IRA active service unit from the hillside.

Nine months later, on March 16th, 1977 two IRA Volunteers encountered two Paratroopers (at the time seconded to the SAS) in a field outside Maghera in South Derry. In the ensuing gun battle, one SAS man was shot dead, and one IRA Volunteer was captured. The Volunteer’s name was Francis Hughes, the dead Brit was Lance-Corporal David Jones of the Parachute regiment.

In the eighteen months before going on hunger strike together neither Raymond McCreesh or Francis Hughes were aware of what would seem to have been an ironic but supremely fitting example of republican solidarity!

After nine months remand in Crumlin Road jail, Raymond was tried and convicted in March 1977, of attempting to kill Brits, possession of a Garand rifle and ammunition, and IRA membership. He received a fourteen-year sentence, and lesser concurrent sentences, after refusing to recognise the court.

In the H-Blocks he immediately joined the blanket protest, and so determined was his resistance to criminalisation that he refused to take his monthly visits for four years, right up until he informed his family of his decision to go on hunger strike on February 15th, this year. He also refused to send out monthly letters, writing only smuggled ‘communications’ to his family and friends.

The only member of his family to see him at all during those four years in Long Kesh two or three times – was his brother, Fr. Brian McCreesh, who occasionally says Mass in the H-Blocks.


Like Francis Hughes, Raymond volunteered for the earlier hunger strike, and, when he was not chosen among the first seven, took part in the four-day hunger strike by thirty republicans until the hunger strike ended on December 18th, last year.

Speaking to his brother, Malachy, shortly after Bobby Sands death, Raymond said what a great loss had been felt by the other hunger strikers, but it had made them more determined than ever.

And still managing to keep his spirits up, when told of his brother, Fr. Brian, campaigning for him on rally platforms, Raymond joked: “He’ll probably get excommunicated for it.”

To Britain’s eternal shame, the sombre half-prediction made by Raymond to his friend Paddy Quinn – Ta seans ann go mbeid me abhaile rombat – became a grim reality. Bhi se. Raymond died at 2.11 a.m. on Thursday May 21st, 1981, after 61 days on hunger strike.


Patsy O’Hara – Died May 21st, 1981

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A determined and courageous Derryman

Twenty-three-year-old Patsy O’Hara from Derry city, was the former leader of the Irish National Liberation Army prisoners in the H-Blocks, and joined IRA Volunteer Raymond McCreesh on hunger strike on March 22nd, three weeks after Bobby Sands and one week after Francis Hughes.

Patsy O’Hara was born on July 11th, 1957 at Bishop Street in Derry city.

His parents owned a small public house and grocery shop above which the family lived. His eldest brother, Sean Seamus, was interned in Long Kesh for almost four years. The second eldest in the family, Tony, was imprisoned in the H-Blocks – throughout Patsy’s hunger strike – for five years before being released in August of this year, having served his full five-year sentence with no remission.

The youngest in the O’Hara family is twenty-one-year-old Elizabeth.

Before ‘the troubles’ destroyed the family life of the O’Haras, and the overwhelming influence of being an oppressed youth concerned about his country drove Patsy to militant republicanism, there is the interesting history of his near antecedents which must have produced delight in Patsy’s young heart.


Patsy’s maternal grandfather, James McCluskey, joined the British army as a young man and went off to fight in the First World War. He received nine shrapnel wounds at Ypres and was retired on a full pension.

However, on returning to Ireland his patriotism was set alight by Irish resistance and the terror of British rule. He duly threw out his pension book, did not draw any more money and joined the Republican Movement. He transported men and weapons along the Foyle into Derry in the ‘twenties.

He inherited a public house and bookmakers, in Foyle Street, and was a great friend of Derry republican Sean Keenan’s father, also named Sean.

Mrs. Peggy O’Hara can recall ‘old’ Sean Keenan being arrested just before the out break of the Second World War. Her father’s serious illness resulted in him escaping internment and he died shortly afterwards in 1939.

Mrs. O’Hara’s aunt was married to John Mulhern, a Roscommon man, who was in the RIC up until its disbandment in 1921.

“When my father died in 1939 – says Mrs O’Hara, – “John Mulhern, who was living in Bishop Street, and owned a bar and a grocery shop, took us in to look after us. I remember him telling us that he didn’t just go and join the RIC, but it was because there were so many in the family and times were hard.

“My father was a known IRA man and my uncle reared me, and I was often slagged about this. Patsy used to hear this as a child, but Patsy was a very, very straight young fellow and he was a wee bit bigoted about my uncle being a policeman.

“But a number of years ago Patsy came in to me after speaking to an old republican from Corrigans in Donegal, and Patsy says to me, ‘You’ve nothing to be ashamed of, your uncle being a policeman, because that man was telling me that even though he was an RIC man, he was very, very helpful to the IRA!”


The trait of courage which Patsy was to show in later years was in him from the start, says Mr. O’Hara. “No matter who got into trouble in the street outside, Patsy was the boy to go out and do all the fighting for him. He was the fighting man about the area and didn’t care how big they were. He would tackle them. I even saw him fighting men, and in no way could they stop him. He would keep at them. He was like a wee bull terrier!”

Apparently, up until he was about twelve years of age, Patsy was fat and small, “a wee barrel” says his mother. Then suddenly he shot up to grow to over six foot two inches.

Elizabeth, his sister, recalls Patsy: “He was a mad hatter. When we were young he used to always play tricks on me, mother and father. We used to play a game of cards and whoever lost had to do all the things that everybody told them.

“We all won a card game once and made Patsy crawl up the stairs and ‘miaow’ like a cat at my mother’s bedroom door. She woke up the next day and said, ‘am I going mad? I think I heard a cat last night’ and we all started to laugh.”

The O’Haras’ house was open to all their children’s friends, and again to scores of the volunteers who descended on Derry from all corners of Ireland when the RUC invaded in 1969. But before that transformation in people’s politics came, Mrs. O’Hara still lived for her family alone.

She was especially proud of her eldest son, Sean Seamus who had passed his eleven plus and went to college.


When Sean was in his early teens he joined the housing action group, around 1967, Mrs. O’Hara’s conception of which was Sean helping to get people homes.

“But one day, someone came into me when I was working in the bar, and said, ‘Your son is down in the Guildhall marching up and down with a placard!

“I went down and stood and looked and Finbarr O’Doherty was standing at the side and wee fellows were going up and down. I went over to Sean and said, ‘Who gave you that? He said, Finbarr!’ I took the placard off Sean and went over to Finbarr, put it in his hand, and hit him with my umbrella.’

Mrs. O’Hara laughs when she recalls this incident, as shortly afterwards she was to have her eyes opened.

“After that, I went to protests wherever Sean was, thinking that I could protect him! I remember the October 1968 march because my husband’s brother, Sean, had just been buried.

“We went to the peaceful march over at the Waterside station and saw the people being beaten into the ground. That was the first time that I ever saw water cannons, they were like something from outer space.

“We thought we had to watch Sean, but to my astonishment Patsy and Tony had slipped away, and Patsy was astonished and startled by what he saw.”


Later, Patsy was to write about this incident: “The mood of the crowd was one of solidarity. People believed they were right and that a great injustice had been done to them. The crowds came in their thousands from every part of the city and as they moved down Duke Street chanting slogans, ‘One man, one vote’ and singing ‘We shall overcome’ I had the feeling that a people united and on the move, were unstoppable.”


Shortly after his release in April 1975, Patsy joined the ranks of the fledgling Irish Republican Socialist Party, which the ‘Sticks’, using murder, had attempted to strangle at birth. He was free only about two months when he was stopped at the permanent check-point on the Letterkenny Road whilst driving his father’s car from Buncrana in County Donegal.

The Brits planted a stick of gelignite in the car (such practice was commonplace) and he was charged with possession of explosives. He was remanded in custody for six months, the first trial being stopped due to unusual RUC ineptitude at framing him. At the end of the second trial he was acquitted and released after spending six months in jail.

In 1976, Patsy had to stay out of the house for fear of constant arrest. That year, also, his brother, Tony, was charged with an armed raid, and on the sole evidence of an alleged verbal statement was sentenced to five years in the H-Blocks.

Despite being ‘on the run’ Patsy was still fond of his creature comforts!

His father recalls: “Sean Seamus came in late one night and though the whole place was in darkness he didn’t put the lights on. He went to sit down and fell on the floor. He ran up the stairs and said: ‘I went to sit down and there was nothing there’

“Patsy had taken the sofa on top of a red Rover down to his billet in the Brandywell. Then before we would get up in the morning he would have it back up again. When we saw it sitting there in the morning we said to Sean: ‘Are you going off your head or what? and he was really puzzled.”


In September 1976, he was again arrested in the North and along with four others charged with possession of a weapon. During the remand hearings he protested against the withdrawal of political status.

The charge was withdrawn after four months, indicating how the law is twisted to intern people by remanding them in custody and dropping the charges before the case comes to trial.

In June 1977, he was imprisoned for the fourth time. On this occasion, after a seven-day detention in Dublin’s Bridewell, he was charged with holding a garda at gunpoint. He was released on bail six weeks later and was eventually acquitted In January 1978.

Whilst living in the Free State, Patsy was elected to the ard chomhairle of the IRSP, was active in the Bray area, and campaigned against the special courts.

In January 1979, he moved back to Derry but was arrested on May 14th, 1979 and was charged with possessing a hand-grenade.

In January 1980, he was sentenced to eight years in jail and went on the blanket.


What were Mrs. O’Hara’s feelings when Patsy told her he was going on hunger strike?

“My feelings at the start, when he went on hunger strike, were that I thought that they would get their just demands, because it is not very much that they are asking for. There is no use in saying that I was very vexed and all the rest of it. There is no use me sitting back in the wings and letting someone else’s son go. Someone’s sons have to go on it and I just happen to be the mother of that son.”


Writing shortly before the hunger strike began, Patsy O’Hara grimly declared: “We stand for the freedom of the Irish nation so that future generations will enjoy the prosperity they rightly deserve, free from foreign interference, oppression and exploitation. The real criminals are the British imperialists who have thrived on the blood and sweat of generations of Irish men.

“They have maintained control of Ireland through force of arms and there is only one way to end it. I would rather die than rot in this concrete tomb for years to come.

Patsy witnessed the baton charges and said: “The people were sandwiched in another street and with the Specials coming from both sides, swinging their truncheons at anything that moved. It was a terrifying experience and one which I shall always remember.”

Mr. and Mrs. O’Hara believe that it was this incident when Patsy was aged eleven, followed by the riots in January 1969 and the ‘Battle of the Bogside’ in August 1969 that aroused passionate feelings of nationalism, and then republicanism, in their son. “Every day he saw something different happening,” says his father. “People getting beaten up, raids and coffins coming out. This was his environment.”


In 1970, Patsy joined na Fianna Eireann, drilled and trained in Celtic Park.

Early in 1971, and though he was very young, he joined the Patrick Pearse Sinn Fein cumann in the Bogside, selling Easter lilies and newspapers. Internment, introduced in August 1971, hit the O’Hara family particularly severely with the arrest of Sean Seamus in October. “We never had a proper Christmas since then” says Elizabeth. “When Sean Seamus was interned we never put up decorations and our family has been split-up ever since then.”

Shortly after Sean’s arrest Patsy, one night, went over to a friend’s house in Southway where there were barricades. But coming out of the house, British soldiers opened fire, for no apparent reason, and shot Patsy in the leg. He was only fourteen years of age and spent several weeks in hospital and then several more weeks on crutches.


On January 30th, 1972, his father took him to watch the big anti-internment march as it wound its way down from the Creggan. “I struggled across a banking but was unable to go any further. I watched the march go up into the Brandywell. I could see that it was massive. The rest of my friends went to meet it but I could only go back to my mother’s house and listen to it on the radio,” said Patsy.

Asked about her feelings over Patsy be coming involved in the struggle, Mrs. O’Hara said: “After October 1968, I thought that that was the right thing to do. I am proud of him, proud of them all”.

Mr O’Hara said: “Personally speaking, I knew he would get involved. It was in his nature. He hated bullies al his life, and he saw big bullies in uniform and he would tackle them as well.

Shortly after Bloody Sunday, Patsy joined the ‘Republican Clubs’ and was active until 1973, “when it became apparent that they were firmly on the path to reformism and had abandoned the national question”.


From this time onwards he was continually harassed, taken in for interrogation and assaulted.

One day, he and a friend were arrested on the Briemoor Road. Two saracens screeched to a halt beside them. Patsy later described this arrest: “We were thrown onto the floor and as they were bringing us to the arrest centre, we were given a beating with their batons and rifles. When we arrived and were getting out of the vehicles we were tripped and fell on our faces”.

Three months later, after his seventeenth birthday, he was taken to the notorious interrogation centre at Ballykelly. He was interrogated for three days and then interned with three others who had been held for nine days.

“Long Kesh had been burned the week previously” said Patsy, “and as we flew above the camp in a British army helicopter we could see the complete devastation. When we arrived, we were given two blankets and mattresses and put into one of the cages.

“For the next two months we were on a starvation diet, no facilities of any” kind, and most men lying out open to the elements…

“That December a ceasefire was announced, then internment was phased out.” Merlyn Rees also announced at the same time that special category status would be withdrawn on March 1st, 1976. I did not know then how much that change of policy would effect me in less than three years”.

Patsy O’Hara died at 11.29 p.m. on Thursday, May 21st – on the same day as Raymond McCreesh with whom he had embarked on the hunger-strike sixty-one days earlier.

Even in death his torturers would not let him rest. When the O’Hara family been broken and his corpse bore several burn marks inflicted after his death.



Posted by Jim on May 17, 2016


When: Jun 17th, 2016 4:00 PM – 9:00 PM
CONTACT: Richie Whalen L-156 (718) 640-5081
or Bob Fraumeni L-147 (347) 992-3739

Horseshoe Tournament ~ Saturday May 21, 2016 ~ AOH Division 21

Posted by Jim on

Horseshoe Tournament ~ Saturday May 21, 2016 ~ AOH Division 21

The Kings County President & Officers will be attending & ask that all Kings County AOH members attend this fun filled event as well.
Please let us know “ASAP” if you are attending so we can give John Manning a count for the food.
In Our Motto,
Eddie Velinskie
Recording Secretary 

‘We shall rise again’

Posted by Jim on May 16, 2016

Nora Connolly O’Brien was born in 1893 in Edinburgh, Scotland, the
second daughter of James Connolly and his wife Lillie. From an early age
Nora was involved in labour and Irish republican activism, and in 1916
she acted as a messenger between the leadership of the Rising and the
volunteers in the North.

Nora died in 1981, having spent her life committed to the promotion of
socialist republican politics. In the excerpt below from her memoirs,
Nora talks about her father’s final days and the courage and inspiration
that James Connolly gave to her and continues to give to republicans

“During the rising, my father had not been content to sit in an office
and give orders. He used to go and see that the orders were being
carried out. That was how he got wounded. His ankles were shattered, and
he had been shot in the arm. After the surrender, he had been brought to
Dublin Castle. There he was placed in the officers’ ward, with a room to
himself. He was given the full credit of his rank, and the British
soldiers never forgot to call him the General, or the
Commandant-General. The ordinary soldiers called him the General, and
made it plain that the hope of the ordinary police and soldiers was that
he would not be executed. Many of the soldiers knew something about my
father. This was because Redmond has got a lot of Irishmen into the army
during the war.

By the time he was placed in this hospital ward, he had already lost so
much health. There had been no doctors in the GPO building. There was
one student who was in his last year at medical school, and he did the
best he could after my father had been wounded. There was also an
officer of the British Army Medical Corps in the GPO, whom we had
arrested. The medical student, whose name was Ryan, went to this
prisoner and asked him for help. At first the Medical Officer said he
could not do anything, but Ryan said, ‘Even if you can’t do anything,
just tell me what to do and I’ll do it all while you give me the
orders,’ and he reminded him of the oath of Hippocrates that doctors
take when they become doctors. So the officer went down and gave
instructions, but nothing he said did any good.

By the time my father reached Dublin Castle, he was a dying man.
Gangrene had set in, and he had little chance of living. He could not
even sit up, and was unable to lift more than his head from the pillow,
and his shoulders a little bit. The gangrene began affecting his whole

The surgeon who was attending my father sent over to London for some
medicine he had heard of which he hoped would stop the spreading of the
gangrene. The surgeon took a strong liking to my father. It was the same
with everyone who met him – they all loved him. The surgeon and my
father discussed poetry, and different writers – one would say a poem,
and the other would quote a poem in opposition to it, and one would make
a joke and they would laugh. And they would discuss different writers,
and books they had read, and what their opinion of this writer was, and
their opinion of that. And all this time my father was dying every
minute, dying every minute.

There was a very young Royal Army Medical Corps officer whose job it was
to sit all day long in my father’s room. I often wondered what this
young RAMC officer must have been thinking. I can imagine that he must
have been saying to himself, ‘But this man is dying! And look how he is
going on – saying poems, making jokes, and laughing!’ It was mind over
body, and I have a feeling that the poor young soldier must have been in
a terrific tension – that he had never seen anything like it.

My mother and I and all our family had moved out of Belfast a few days
before the rising. We were planning to move to Dublin. We did not want
to attract attention, so we packed all our things in cases to pretend we
were just going on holiday. During the fighting, my mother and the
younger children stayed in a cottage belonging to Madame Markievicz just
outside Dublin. When it was all over she received a note from Dublin
Castle saying that she should come to visit James Connolly in the
hospital there. She went down and visited him on her own, taking only
Fiona, the youngest in our family.

When she reached Dublin Castle, my mother was searched to see that she
was not bringing a knife or any drug or anything else for my father to
commit suicide with.

‘That’s proof you don’t know James Connolly,’ said my mother. ‘Otherwise
you wouldn’t dream of suggesting that in order to avoid a little pain -‘

‘A lot of pain, Mrs Connolly,’ said the nurse who was searching her.

‘Well, it doesn’t matter how bad the pain is,’ said my mother. ‘He’d
never commit suicide. He bears all he has to bear. As long as there is
life in him, he’ll be fighting all the time’.

When the nurse had finished searching her, she said, ‘I’ll not do this
again next time you come’.

‘Oh, I can come again?’ asked my mother.

The nurse thought she would probably be allowed to.

On her way out from this visit, a photographer took a picture of her and
Fiona outside Dublin Castle, which was later printed in, I think, the
‘Daily Sketch’. They were both angry when they saw it, as they were
looking very unkempt, and the photographer had just called them out and
taken the photo without their permission.

Next my father was court-martialled. I later had the story of what
happened from the nurse. My father could not go and attend the court, so
the members of the court all went to his hospital room. The whole lot
just marched in.

The officer in charge of the court martial told my father, ‘Sit up! You
know what this is’.

My father did not say a word.

‘I told you to sit up!’ the man said.

The young RAMC said to them, ‘But the man is dying!’ The young man must
never before have dared to dream of standing up in front of all those
high officers. When they kept yelling at my father to sit up, the young
man had to tell them twice that he was dying.

‘Well, prop him up, then!’ the officer said.

In fact they knew of the gangrene and that my father had not many days
to live, but they were going to court-martial him anyway, as he was the

So then they called out for the nurse, who was standing outside the
room. And they ordered the soldiers to bring pillows and mattresses so
that my father could be propped up to hear his court martial there and
then. When they had finished, they asked him if he had any requests to
make, and he asked to see my mother and me.

By this time, I had come back to Dublin from the North. I was given two
visits, both times together with my mother. Our last visit was only an
hour or so before he was taken across from Dublin Castle to Kilmainham
to be shot.

Dublin Castle has a double staircase in the main entrance hall, with a
long landing between the two. On every step of the stairs when we went
in there was a soldier with a rifle and a bayonet. There were soldiers
on the landing also. Those on the landing had the little square cushions
that used to be used in the army as mattresses – they were called
‘biscuits’. They had had their night’s rest on these ‘biscuits’ on the
landing. My mother and I were taken to the top officer there – the
Intelligence Officer, who wanted to make sure we were not part of a plot
to steal James Connolly from them. All the soldiers were on duty as we
went in, to prevent an abduction attempt, with their bayonets fixed all
the time. The officer told us not to give my father any news. Apart from
Surgeon Tobin, the surgeon who was looking after my father, and Father
Aloysius, we were the only ones who were allowed to see him. In this way
they hoped to keep him in ignorance of what was happening, so that he
would not be able to have any influence outside.

The officers’ ward, where my father had been placed, consisted of a
corridor with little rooms along it for when an officer fell ill. They
would not let an officer go among the ‘common people’ at all! Each
officer who was ill used to have a separate room to himself.

My mother and I sat in this room, one each side of the bed. The only
other person in the room was the young RAMC officer, and he sat with his
back to us during our visits, just reading a book or looking out of the

My father was lying in bed with a cage over his feet to keep the
bedclothes off his shattered ankles. He told us about the court martial,
and asked me for news from the North. I had to tell him that the men had
gone home, and that there had been no fighting, and I began to cry. But
he told me he was very proud of me.

‘But I’ve done nothing, nothing,’ I said. ‘I’ve just carried messages’.

‘Never mind, Nora,’ he said. He told me that if I had not come down with
the message from the North that the Northerners were ready to fight, it
would not have been possible to persuade the Dublin leaders to go ahead
with the rising. ‘Only for you, Nora, we couldn’t have done anything,’
he told me.

Although we were not supposed to be giving him any news, I gave the news
of the executions to him anyway. He gave me the opening that gave me the
opportunity, by asking me to give a message to Skeffington.

I said, ‘Skeffington has been murdered by a drunken soldier’. And then I
went on, ‘There’s only you and MacDermott left. They’re all gone’.

And that was the greatest shock he ever got in his life. He had not
heard from anybody about the executions. He had heard the shooting, but
had not realised what it was.

I said that surely they would never shoot a wounded man.

He said he had never believed that. ‘I remember what they did to
Scheepers in South Africa,’ he said. He seemed to assume that I knew who
Scheepers was, but I did not, and I never found out, though I asked many
people. It was only this year that I was told that Scheepers was a hero
of the Boers in their fight against the British. His commando unit blew
up British railways and bridges, and his fearlessness made him the hero
of his men. Falling ill, he was left behind at his own request at a
farmhouse, where he was captured by the British. He was court-martialled
before he had recovered, and shot while he sat in a chair.

My mother was crying, and my father begged her to stop. He said she
would unman him if she continued to cry.

‘But your beautiful life, James,’ she said, ‘not your beautiful life!’

At one point my father patted my hand and drew it under the blanket. I
felt him put a stiff bit of paper into my hand.

‘Take this out of here,’ he whispered. ‘It’s what I said to the court
martial. I was asked what I had to say for myself, but I did not say it
for myself, I said it for Ireland. Get it out, Nora, get it out!’

I had no trouble getting it out, because I cupped it in my hands when
they searched us going out.

In the end we were told that our time was up to go, and we had to leave
him for the last time. Mama was on the side of the bed nearest the door.
She could not move. She was like a statue, and seemed rooted to the
floor. The nurse and the officer came and helped her out of the door. I
was on the other side from the door. I walked slowly round the bed,
looking at the face I would never see again.

As I reached the door, my father called me back and I went back to the
bed. He put his arm round me and pulled me down to him and hugged me,
and whispered in my ear, ‘Don’t be too disappointed, Nora. We shall rise

He did not want me to drop out of the fight. He knew it would go on
after he had gone.

And then I had to go out. Those were the very last word that he said to
me before I was taken away – ‘We shall rise again!”

The executed leaders of 1916

Posted by Jim on

The following are short biographies of all of the executed leaders in
the aftermath of the 1916 Rising, including nine who were not
signatories of the Proclamation of the Republic.

Con Colbert: Born in 1888, Colbert was a native of Limerick. Prior to
the Easter Rising he had been an active member of the republican
movement, joining both Fianna Eireann and the Irish Volunteers. A
dedicated pioneer, Colbert was known not to drink or smoke. As the
captain of F Company of the Fourth Battalion, Colbert was in command at
the Marrowbone Lane distillery when it was surrendered on Sunday, 30
April 1916. His execution took place on 8 May 1916.

Edward Daly: Born in Limerick in 1891, Daly’s family had a history of
republican activity; his uncle John Daly had taken part in the rebellion
of 1867. Edward Daly led the First Battalion during the Rising, which
raided the Bridewell and Linenhall Barracks, eventually seizing control
of the Four Courts. A close friend of Tom Clarke, their ties were made
even stronger by the marriage of Clarke to Daly’s sister. Daly was
executed on 4 May 1916.

Sean Heuston: Born in 1891, he was responsible for the organisation of
Fianna Eireann in Limerick. Along with Con Colbert, Heuston was involved
in the education of the schoolboys at Scoil Eanna, organising drill and
musketry exercises. A section of the First Battalion of the Volunteers,
under the leadership of Heuston, occupied the Mendicity Institute on
south of the Liffey, holding out there for two days. He was executed on
8 May 1916. Heuston Railway station in Dublin is named after him.

Thomas Kent: Born in 1865, Kent was arrested at his home in Castlelyons,
Co. Cork following a raid by the Royal Irish Constabulary on 22 April
1916, during which his brother Richard was fatally wounded. It had been
his intention to travel to Dublin to participate in the Rising, but when
the mobilisation order for the Irish Volunteers was cancelled on Easter
Sunday he assumed that the Rising had been postponed, leading him to
stay at home. He was executed at Cork Detention Barracks on 9 May 1916
following a court martial. In 1966 the railway station in Cork was
renamed Kent Station in his honour.

John MacBride: Born in Mayo in 1865. Although he initially trained as a
doctor, MacBride abandoned that profession in favour of work with a
chemist. He travelled to America in 1896 to further the aims of the I.
R. B., thereafter travelling to South Africa where he raised the Irish
Transvaal Brigade during the Second Boer War. MacBride married the Irish
nationalist Maude Gonne in 1903. He was not a member of the Irish
Volunteers, but upon the beginning of the Rising he offered his services
to Thomas MacDonagh, and was at Jacob’s biscuit factory when that post
was surrendered on Sunday, 30 April 1916. He was executed on 5 May 1916.

Michael Mallin: A silk weaver by trade, Mallin was born in Dublin in
1874. Along with Countess Markievicz, he commanded a small contingent of
the Irish Citizen Army, of which he was Chief of Staff, taking
possession of St. Stephen’s Green and the Royal College of Surgeons. He
was executed on 8 May 1916.

Michael O’Hanrahan: Born in Wexford in 1877. As a young man, O’Hanrahan
showed great promise as a writer, becoming heavily involved in the
promotion of the Irish language. He founded the first Carlow branch of
the Gaelic League, and published two novels, A Swordsman of the Brigade
and When the Norman Came. Like many of the other executed leaders, he
joined the Irish Volunteers from their inception, and was second in
command to Thomas MacDonagh at Jacob’s biscuit factory during the
Rising, although this position was largely usurped by the arrival of
John MacBride. His execution took place on 4 May 1916.

William Pearse: Born in 1881 in Dublin. The younger brother of Patrick,
William shared his brother’s passion for an independent Ireland. He
assisted Patrick in running St. Enda’s. The two brothers were extremely
close, and fought alongside each other in the G. P. O. William was
executed on 4 May 1916. Pearse railway station on Westland Row in Dublin
was re-named in honour of the two brothers in 1966.

Roger Casement: Born in 1864 in Dublin, Casement was knighted for his
services to the British consulate. He campaigned tirelessly to expose
the cruelty inflicted on native workers in the Belgian Congo in 1904,
and again in Brazil from 1911-1912, causing an international sensation
with his reportage. Casement had become a member of the Gaelic League in
1904, beginning at that time to write nationalist articles under the
pseudonym ‘Sean Bhean Bhocht’. He retired from the British consular
service in 1913, after which he joined the Irish Volunteers. Casement
was despatched to Germany on account of his experience to raise an Irish
Brigade from Irish prisoners of war. He was captured in Kerry in 1916 on
Good Friday having returned to Ireland in a German U-Boat. Casement was
imprisoned in Pentonville Gaol in London, where he was tried on charges
of High Treason. He was hanged on 3 August 1916, the only leader of the
Rising to be executed outside of Ireland.

The Seven Signatories:

Eamonn Ceannt: Born in Galway in 1881, prior to the Rising Ceannt was an
employee of the Dublin Corporation. He was a co-founder of the Irish
Volunteers, partaking in the successful Howth gun-running operation of
1914. His involvement in republican activities was complemented by his
interest in Irish culture, specifically Irish language and history,
although he was also an accomplished uileann piper. As the commander of
the Fourth Battalion of Irish Volunteers during the Rising, he took
possession of the South Dublin Union, precursor to the modern-day St.
James’s Hospital. He was executed on 8 May 1916.

Thomas James Clarke: Born on the Isle of Wight in 1857, Clarke’s father
was a soldier in the British army. During his time in America as a young
man, he joined Clann na nGael, later enduring fifteen years of penal
servitude for his role in a bombing campaign in London, 1883-1898. In
1907, having returned from a second sojourn in America, his links with
Clan na nGael in America copper-fastened his importance to the
revolutionary movement in Ireland. He held the post of Treasurer to the
Irish Republican Brotherhood, and was a member of the Supreme Council
from 1915. The first signatory of the Proclamation of Independence
through deference to his seniority, Clarke was with the group that
occupied the GPO. He was executed on 3 May 1916.

James Connolly (1868-1916): Born in Edinburgh in 1868, Connolly was
first introduced to Ireland as a member of the British Army. Despite
returning to Scotland, the strong Irish presence in Edinburgh stimulated
Connolly’s growing interest in Irish politics in the mid 1890s, leading
to his emigration to Dublin in 1896 where he founded the Irish Socialist
Republican Party. He spent much of the first decade of the twentieth
century in America, he returned to Ireland to campaign for worker’s
rights with James Larkin. A firm believer in the perils of sectarian
division, Connolly campaigned tirelessly against religious bigotry. In
1913, Connolly was one of the founders of the Irish Citizen Army. During
the Easter Rising he was appointed Commandant-General of the Dublin
forces, leading the group that occupied the General Post Office. Unable
to stand to during his execution due to wounds received during the
Rising, Connolly was executed while sitting down on 12 May 1916. He was
the last of the leaders to be executed.

Sean MacDiarmada: Born in 1884 in Leitrim, MacDiarmada emigrated to
Glasgow in 1900, and from there to Belfast in 1902. A member of the
Gaelic League, he was acquainted with Bulmer Hobson. He joined the Irish
Republican Brotherhood in 1906 while still in Belfast, later
transferring to Dublin in 1908 where he assumed managerial
responsibility for the I. R. B. newspaper Irish Freedom in 1910.
Although MacDiarmada was afflicted with polio in 1912, he was appointed
as a member of the provisional committee of Irish Volunteers from 1913,
and was subsequently drafted onto the military committee of the I. R. B.
in 1915. During the Rising MacDiarmada served in the G. P. O. He was
executed on 12 May 1916.

Thomas MacDonagh: A native of Tipperary, born in 1878, MacDonagh spent
the early part of his career as a teacher. He moved to Dublin to study,
and was the first teacher on the staff at St. Enda’s, the school he
helped to found with Patrick Pearse. MacDonagh was well versed in
literature, his enthusiasm and erudition earning him a position in the
English department at University College Dublin. His play When the Dawn
is Come was produced at the Abbey theatre. He was appointed director of
training for the Irish Volunteers in 1914, later joining the I. R. B.
MacDonagh was appointed to the I. R. B. military committee in 1916. He
was commander of the Second Battalion of Volunteers that occupied
Jacob’s biscuit factory and surrounding houses during the Rising. He was
executed on 3 May 1916.

Patrick Pearse: Pearse was born in Dublin in 1879, becoming interested
in Irish cultural matters in his teenage years. In 1898 Pearse became a
member of the Executive Commmittee of the Gaelic League. He graduated
from the Royal University in 1901 with a degree in Arts and Law.
Pearse’s literary output was constant, and he published extensively in
both Irish and English, becoming the editor of An Claidheamh Soluis, the
newspaper of the Gaelic League. He was a keen believer in the value of
education, and established two schools, Colaiste Eanna and Colaiste Ide,
devoted to the education of Irish children through the Irish language.
One of the founder members of the Irish Volunteers, and the author of
the Proclamation of Independence, Pearse was present in the G. P. O.
during the Rising, and was Commander in Chief of the Irish forces. He
was executed on 3 May 1916.

Joseph Mary Plunkett: Born 1887 in Dublin, son of a papal count,
Plunkett was initially educated in England, though he returned to
Ireland and graduated from U. C. D. in 1909. After his graduation
Plunkett spent two years travelling due to ill health, returning to
Dublin in 1911. Plunkett shared MacDonagh’s enthusiasm for literature
and was an editor of the Irish Review. Along with MacDonagh and Edward
Martyn, he helped to establish an Irish national theatre. He joined the
Irish Volunteers in 1913, subsequently gaining membership of the I. R.
B. in 1914. Plunkett travelled to Germany to meet Roger Casement in
1915. During the planning of the Rising, Plunkett was appointed Director
of Military Operations, with overall responsibility for military
strategy. Plunkett was one of those who were stationed in the G. P. O.
during the Rising. He married Grace Gifford while in Kilmainham Gaol
following the surrender and was executed on 4 May 1916.

Partition and its institutions exist to usurp Irish national self-determination

Posted by Jim on

Below is an interview given by Dr. Anne McCloseky, from Shantallow, to Radio Free Eireann about her candidacy as an Independent followed by Sean Bresnahan’s response to her interview.  Sean is a member of the Thomas Ashe Society in Omagh.

Sean Bresnahan responds to an interview with Dr Anne McCloskey hosted on TPQ. The author is a member of the Thomas Ashe Society in Omagh.

‘A United Ireland will only come by consent.’

That short extract from a recent interview with Anne McCloskey on The Pensive Quill – as her election campaign to Stormont of itself – is instructive for republicanism going forward. The ‘departure’ of running Independents to take their seats in Stormont was originally sold by those behind Anne’s campaign as some sort of anti-establishment, republican initiative that would reap a return for groups as our own, should we row in behind it. We would not even need to declare our hand – a clever ‘get out of gaol free card’ for all concerned.

Despite what were to prove mislaid assurances, doled out in an effort to procure support, reality soon interjected. The pressure the establishment brings to bear on the position of those seeking election to its institutions quickly becoming apparent. Those pressures made mince-meat out of any republican sentiment attaching to Anne’s campaign as it rowed away from the republican position in an effort to become electable.
Within the short space of an election campaign, her team’s position shifted from supposed support for an all-Ireland referendum to an endorsement on live radio of a border poll – and as witnessed above of the notion of consent as set out by the Good Friday Agreement. She also came to argue for Britain to remain in the imperialist EU, stated her willingness to work with the PSNI and spoke about ‘Northern Ireland’.

All of that would seem a clear embrace of normalisation in the hope of boosting electoral appeal – the notion of an ‘anti-establishment, republican alternative’ consigned to the dustbin in pursuit of electoral gain. Where have we seen that in the past and where did it lead? In all of this we see the historic conundrum republicanism is confronted by when it seeks to move from abstention. In all of this are clear lessons – lessons that need to be heeded.

None of that is a reflection on Anne McCloskey or a criticism of a woman I’ve heard great reports on, who I’m sure is a very personable and an honest worker – attributes likely reflected in the strength of her vote. If she supports a border poll, the authority of PSNI or taking her seat in Stormont then that is her business and she’s fully entitled to do all that. No-one has ever suggested different.

But for the republicans who fronted her from behind, wooing others towards what would have been unmitigated disaster, no such entitlement should proceed. There are questions to be answered. This should not be allowed to go forward as a precedent – with talk already of ‘the next time’ – and thus their actions cannot be quietly brushed under the carpet. There is a duty that this be challenged.

All of this requires frank and open discussion, a learning process that sets out to guard against another shift towards reformism. For we have already seen where it ends: the abandoning of the republican position. Partition and its institutions exist to usurp Irish national self-determination. Thus the need for One Ireland One Vote in the first instance – to supplant that which the occupier sets forth as the route to change, empowering instead the national rights of our people.

Republicans should be under no illusion that a long term process, with no quick fix, lies ahead. We will face many challenges along the way – not least efforts to steer what remains of republicanism away from its core beliefs and principles to a position that can reconcile with Britain’s strategic aims as opposed to ours. One Ireland One Vote must be the bulwark against that agenda and be clear in its opposition to every strata of the occupation regime.

With the rise of nationalist sentiment in the UK, long-dormant forces are again becoming relevant and the state must adapt or die. The British state is thus changing to suit its needs in the modern era. We would be remiss to expect that Ireland doesn’t figure in its thinking. Thus we hear Sinn Féin talk now of an ‘Agreed Ireland’ as opposed to a United Ireland – a United Ireland, as hinted at by Adams, that ‘will not be as traditionally imagined by republicans’.

It’s important One Ireland One Vote not be shifted towards this notion, as Britain moves towards a constitutional reconfiguration of the UK state. Stormont is the thin end of the wedge. A United Ireland must be a sovereign Ireland and our campaign must hold to that core principle. Rejecting the authority of Stormont, its Border Poll, the Crown Forces and partitionist agreements born of the Crown must be our steadfast position and that is the lesson of Sinn Féin’s failure. We don’t need another.

One Ireland One Vote, if it hopes to succeed, must stand full square behind the Irish Republic, insisting this same Republic, the Republic of 1916, go forward from our right to national self-determination. There is no other way. There is no path to the Republic through conceding that which stands to usurp national self-determination. We must stand behind the right to self-determination; we must stand behind the Irish Republic. If not we’d be as well to rejoin Sinn Fein.

Francis Hughes – Died May 12th, 1981

Posted by Jim on May 12, 2016




A determined and totally fearless soldier

THE SECOND republican to join the H-Block hunger-strike for political status – a fortnight after Bobby Sands – was twenty-five-year-old Francis Hughes, from Bellaghy in South Derry: a determined, committed and totally fearless IRA Volunteer who organised a spectacularly successful series of military operations before his capture, and was once described by the RUC as their ‘most wanted man’ in the North.

Eluding for several years the relentless efforts of the British army, UDR and RUC to track him down, Francis operated boldly throughout parts of Tyrone and north and south Antrim, but particularly in his native South Derry, with a combination of brilliant organisation and extreme daring – until his capture after a shoot-out with the SAS – which earned him widespread popular renown, and won general support for the republican cause, as well as giving him an undisputed reputation as a natural-born soldier and leader.


Francis Hughes was born on February 28th, 1956, the youngest son amongst ten children, into a staunchly republican family which has been solidly rooted, for most of this century, in the townland of Tamlaghtduff, or Scribe Road, as it is otherwise called.

His parents who married in 1939, are Patrick Joseph Hughes, aged 72, a retired small cattle farmer born in the neighbouring town land of Ballymacpeake, and Margaret, aged 68, whose maiden name is McElwee, and who was born in Tamlaghtduff.

A quarter-of-a-mile away from the Hughes’ bungalow, on the other side of the Scribe Road is the home of Thomas and Benedict McElwee – first cousins of Francis. Benedict is currently serving a sentence in the H-Blocks. Thomas – the eldest – embarked on hunger strike on June 8th, and died sixty-two days later on August 8th.

In Tamlaghtduff, as throughout the rest of Bellaghy, sympathy as well as active support for the republican cause runs at a very high level, a fact testified to by the approximately twenty prisoners-of-war from around Bellaghy alone.

Francis was an extremely popular person, both to his family and to his republican colleagues and supporters.

His father recalls that as a boy he was always whistling, joking and singing: a trait which he carried over into his arduous and perilous days as a republican, when he was able to transmit his enthusiasm and optimism both to Volunteers under his command and to Sympathisers who offered them – at great personal risk, food and shelter

It was qualities like these, of uncomplaining tirelessness, of consideration for the morale of those around him, and his ruling wish to lead by example, that have made Francis Hughes one of the most outstanding Irish revolutionary soldiers this war has produced and a man who was enormously respected in his native countryside.


As a boy, Francis went first to St. Mary’s primary school in Bellaghy, and from there to Clady intermediate school three miles away.

He enjoyed school and was a fairly good student whose favourite subjects were history and woodwork. He was not particularly interested in sport, but was very much a lively, outdoor person, who enjoyed messing around on bikes, and later on, in cars.

He enjoyed dancing and regularly went to ceilidh as a young man, even while ‘on the run’, although after ‘wanted’ posters of him appeared his opportunities became less frequent.

His parents recall that Francis was always extremely helpful around the house, and that he was a “good tractor man”.


Leaving school at sixteen, Francis got a job with his sister Vera’s husband, as an apprentice painter and decorator, completing his apprenticeship shortly before ‘going on the run’.

In later days, Francis would often do a spot of decorating for the people whose house he was staying in

On one occasion, shortly after the ‘wanted’ posters of him had been posted up all over South Derry, Francis was painting window frames at the front of the house he was staying in when two jeep-loads of British soldiers drove past. While the other occupants of the house froze in apprehension, Francis waved and smiled at the curious Brits as they passed by, and continued painting.

It was such utter fearlessness, and the ability to brazen his way through, that saved him time and time again during his relatively long career as an active service Volunteer.

On one such occasion, when stopped along with two other Volunteers as they crossed a field, Francis told a Brit patrol that they didn’t feel safe walking the roads, as the IRA were so active in the area. The Brits allowed the trio to walk on, but after a few yards Francis ran back to the enemy patrol to scrounge a cigarette and a match from one of the British soldiers.

A turning point for Francis, in terms of his personal involvement in the struggle, occurred at the age of seventeen, when he and a friend were stopped by British soldiers at Ardboe, in County Tyrone, as they returned from a dance one night.

The pair were taken out of their car and so badly kicked that Francis was bed-ridden for several days. Rejecting advice to make a complaint to the RUC, Francis said it would be a waste of time, but pledged instead to get even with those who had done it, “or with their friends.”

Notwithstanding such a bitter personal experience of British thuggery, and the mental and physical scars it left, Francis’ subsequent involvement in the Irish Republican Army was not based on a motive of revenge but on a clear and abiding belief in his country’s right to national freedom.


During the early part of ‘the troubles’, the ‘Officials’ were relatively strong in the South Derry area and Francis’ first involvement was with them.

However, disillusioned, as were many others, with the ‘Sticks’ unilateral ceasefire in 1972, he left to set up and command an ‘independent’ military unit in the Bellaghy area. About the end of 1973 the entire unit – including Francis – was formally recruited into the IRA.

Francis’ involvement brought him increasingly to the attention of the British army and RUC and he was regularly held for a few hours in Magherafelt barracks and stopped on the road by British patrols; and on one occasion he was held for two days at Ballykelly camp.

As the 1975 IRA/British army truce came to an end Francis, fearing his imminent arrest, went ‘on the run’. From that time on, he led a life perpetually on the move, often moving on foot up to twenty miles during one night then sleeping during the day – either in fields and ditches or in safe houses; a soldierly sight in his black beret and combat uniform, and openly carrying his rifle, a handgun and several grenades as well as food rations.

The enemy reacted with up to fifty early morning raids on Francis’ home, and raids on the homes of those suspected of harbouring him. Often, houses would be staked out for days on end in the hope of capturing Francis. Often, it was only his sheer nerve and courage which saved him. One night, Francis was followed to a ‘safe house’ and looked out to see the Brits surrounding the place and closing in. Without hesitating, the uniformed Francis stepped outside the door, clutching his rifle, and in the darkness crept gradually through their lines, occasionally mumbling a few short words to British soldiers he passed, who, on seeing the shadowy uniformed figure, mistook him for one of themselves.

On numerous occasions, Francis and his comrades were stopped at checkpoints along the country roads while moving weapons from one locality to another but always calmly talked their way through. Once, a UDR soldier actually recognised Francis and his fellow Volunteers in a car but, fully aware that Francis would not be taken without a shoot-out, he waved their car on.


The years before Francis’ capture were extremely active ones in the South Derry and surrounding areas with the commercial centres of towns and villages like Bellaghy, Maghera, Toome, Magherafelt and Castledawson being blitzed by car bombs on several occasions, and numerous shooting attacks being carried out as well.

Among the Volunteers under his command Francis had a reputation of being a strict disciplinarian and perfectionist who could not tolerate people taking their republican duties less seriously, and selflessly, than was necessary. He also, however, inspired fellow Volunteers by his example and by always being in the thick of things, and he thrived on pressure.

During one night-time operation, a weapon was missing and Francis gave away his own weapon to another Volunteer, taking only a torch himself which he used to its maximum effect by shining it at an oncoming enemy vehicle, which had its headlights off, to enable the other Volunteers to direct their fire.

Francis’ good-humoured audacity also showed itself in his republican activity. At the height of his ‘notoriety’ he would set up road-blocks, hoping to lure the Brits into an ambush (which by hard experience they learned to avoid), or he would ring up the Brits and give them his whereabouts!

Such joking, however, did not extend only to the enemy. One day, lying out in the fields, he spied one of his uncles cycling down a country road. Taking careful aim with his rifle he shot away the bike’s rear wheel. His uncle ran alarmed, into a nearby house shouting that loyalists had just tried to assassinate him!


The determination of the British army and RUC to capture Francis Hughes came to a head in April 1977. In that month, on Good Friday, a car containing three IRA Volunteers was overtaken and flagged down on the Moneymore Road at Dunronan, in County Derry, by a carload of RUC men.

The Volunteers attempted to make a U-turn but their car got stuck in a ditch as the armed RUC men approached. Jumping from the car, the Volunteers opened fire, killing two RUC men and injuring another before driving off. A hundred yards further up the road a second gun battle ensued but the Volunteers escaped safely.

Subsequently, the RUC issued a ‘wanted’ poster of Francis Hughes and two fellow republicans, Dominic McGlinchey and Ian Milne, in which Francis was named as the ‘most wanted man’ in the North.

When his eventual capture came, it was just as he had always said it would be: “I’ll get a few of them before they get me.”


At 8.00 p.m. on March 16th, 1978, two SAS soldiers took up a stake-out position opposite a farm, on the south side of the Ronaghan road, about two miles west of Maghera, in the townland of Ballyknock.

At 9.15 p.m. they saw two men in military uniform and carrying rifles, walking in single file along the hedgeline of the field towards them. Using their ‘night sights’ in the darkness, the SAS men observed the military behaviour of the two on-comers and having challenged them, heard the men mumble a few words to each other in Irish accents and assumed that the pair were UDR soldiers.

One of the pair, in fact, was Francis Hughes, the other a fellow Volunteer, and with only a second’s hesitation both Volunteers cocked their rifles and opened fire. One SAS man fell fatally wounded but the other – though shot in the stomach – managed to fire a long burst from his sterling sub-machine gun at the retreating figures, and to make radio contact with his base.

Within three minutes, nearby Brit patrols were on the scene and the area was entirely sealed off. The following morning hundreds of Brits took part in a massive search operation.

Fifteen hours after the shooting, at around 12.15 p.m. the next day, they found Francis Hughes sitting in the middle of a gorse bush in a field three hundred yards away, bleeding profusely from a bullet wound which had shattered his left thigh. As he was taken away on a stretcher he yelled defiantly, through his considerable pain: “Up the Provies”.

His comrade, though also wounded, slightly, managed to evade the dragnet and to escape.


How he survived the night of the shooting, possibly the coldest night of that year, bears eloquent testimony to Francis’ grim determination to evade capture. After being shot, he dragged himself – unable to walk – across the Ronaghan road and across two fields without a sound, before burying himself in a thick clump of gorse bushes.

At one point, en-route, Francis fell down a sharp drop between fields, and his left leg – the muscle and bone completely disintegrated – came up over his shoulder; but Francis worked it carefully down before continuing to crawl on his way. In his hiding place, he lay through the night, motionless and soundless, till his capture.

When he was found, unable to move through the cold, pain and stiffness, Francis, knowing that both Brits and RUC were on instructions to shoot him on sight, gave his name as Eamonn Laverty and his address as Letterkenny, County Donegal.

Francis was taken to Magherafelt hospital and from there to Musgrave Park military hospital in Belfast, and it was only then that his true identity was revealed. He spent ten months in Musgrave Park where his leg was operated on, reducing his thigh bone by an inch-and-a-half and leaving him dependent on a crutch to walk.


On Wednesday, January 24th, 1979, Francis was taken from Musgrave Park hospital to Castlereagh interrogation centre where he spent six days before being charged on January 29th. For more than four days Francis refused food and drink, fearing that it might have been drugged to make him talk.

His behaviour in Castlereagh was typical of the fiercely determined and courageous republican Volunteer that he was. His frustrated interrogators later described him as “totally uncooperative”.

Nevertheless, at his trial in Belfast in February 1980, after a year on remand in Crumlin Road jail, Francis was found ‘guilty’ on all charges.

He received a life sentence for killing the SAS soldier, and fourteen years for attempting to kill the other SAS man. He also received fifty-five years on three other charges.


In the H-Blocks, Francis immediately went on the protest for political status and, despite the severe disability of his wounded leg, displayed the same courage and determination that had been his hallmark before his capture.

And, just as always wanting to be in the thick of things and wanting to shoulder responsibility for other political prisoners as he had earlier looked after the morale of fellow Volunteers, Francis was one of those to volunteer for the hunger strike which began on October 27th, 1980. He was not one of the first seven hunger strikers selected but was among the thirty men who joined the hunger strike in its closing stages as Sean McKenna’s condition became critical.

That utter selflessness and courage came to its tragic conclusion on Tuesday, May 12th, when Francis died at 5.43 p.m. after fifty-nine days on hunger strike.


Come out and support the Brothers.

Posted by Jim on May 11, 2016

Family van

Ireland does not stop at the Border, Mary Lou McDonald reminds Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil

Posted by Jim on May 9, 2016

● Mary Lou McDonald TD at the centenary commemoration for 1916 leader and Proclamation signatory Seán Mac Diarmada

FINE GAEL AND FIANNA FÁIL need to recognise that Ireland does not stop at the Border, Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald TD said on Sunday at the 100th anniversary commemoration for 1916 leader and Proclamation signatory Seán Mac Diarmada in the patriot’s home village of Kiltyclogher, County Leitrim.

The Sinn Féin deputy leader also said that the new Fine Gael-led Government had better realise that Sinn Féin aimed at tearing down the Ireland that had failed so many citizens and to building a real Republic in its place.

Seán Mac Diarmada Commemoration 2016

Mary Lou McDonald said:

“The ideals of the Proclamation will remain unfulfilled while our country is still partitioned.

“Partition has created false divisions. The artificial border – just over 100 metres from where we are standing – for decades cut the village of Kiltyclogher off from its natural hinterland.

“This border was not created by the democratic will of the Irish people, but under a threat from the British of ‘immediate and terrible war’.

“This border has separated families, farmlands and communities.

“How would Seán Mac Diarmada feel about the country he died for, still being partitioned 100 years after the Easter Rising?

“In many of the state commemorations of 1916, it seemed that for many in ‘Official Ireland’ our country ends 150 yards from the statue of Seán Mac Diarmada here in Kiltyclogher.

“Well, if we send one message from here today today to Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil, it is that Ireland does not end at Newry or at Kiltyclogher. Ireland is all of our 32 counties and the Proclamation of 1916 is for all of our people.”

Seán Mac Diarmada

● Seán Mac Diarmada

The Sinn Féin deputy leader told the huge crowd in Leitrim Border town that the men and women of 1916 would have readily understood the republican struggle in the North of recent decades, and would have identified with the brave men who sacrificed their all on the 1981 Hunger Strike, the 35th anniversary of which coincides with the 1916 Centenary.

Pointing to the harsh conditions in Leitrim during Seán Mac Diarmada’s youth, she said that Leitrim and other counties had continued to suffer from emigration and neglect:

“Leitrim, like much of rural Ireland, has been hard-hit in recent years by a decline in public and commercial services. Rural communities have lost local hospitals, Garda stations, post offices and vital transport links.”

This, Mary Lou said, was not the type of Ireland that those who went out in 1916 had fought for. Sinn Féin she said wished to create a new, equal Ireland and that the Government and Fianna Fáil need to realise that:

“Sinn Féin is absolutely serious about tearing down Ireland as it has been and replacing it with a real Republic of fairness, decency and equality.”

Victims’ anger as inquest plan is spiked by Stormont

Posted by Jim on

Amnesty International has accused the Stormont Executive of denying
justice by blocking funds for a series of inquests into conflict-related

DUP leader and First Minister Arlene Foster confirmed she had vetoed
funds for a backlog of inquests connected to the conflict, while Sinn
Fein’s Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness declined to say if he had
been aware of Foster’s action.

Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty’s director in the Six Counties, said: “Justice
delayed is justice denied.”

The inquests are connected to direct state killings such as the
Ballymurphy massacre of 1971, when British soldiers shot dead 11
civilians, the ambush of eight IRA men at Loughgall, but also many acts
of state collusion, such as the loyalist murder of GAA official Sean
Brown in County Derry

The North’s Chief Justice, Declan Morgan, signed off a request for
funding for the inquests, which cover about 80 deaths, but this request
was blocked due to DUP opposition on the Stormont executive.

Mr Corrigan criticised that decision. “Here we have scores of families
who have been denied even inquests for decades now into the deaths of
their loved ones,” he said.

“They deserve those inquests, have a right to them, and such rights
shouldn’t become bargaining chips in some kind of political game and
that seems to be what’s going on,” he added.

The issue arose in a television debate before Thursday’s assembly
elections after it became public earlier in the week.

Foster said she was surprised that the business of the Stormont
executive was being discussed in the news, but defended the decision to
block the cash for the inquests.

“There has been an imbalance in relation to state killings as opposed to
paramilitary killings,” the first minister said.

DUP Deputy leader Nigel Dodds later said the inquests would cost too

“This proposal would have cost more than anticipated and would have
seriously impacted on the ability of the Executive to address the needs
of innocent victims,” he said.


Briege Voyle, whose mother was shot by British soldiers in Ballymurphy
in August 1971, said it was “another slap in the face to victims’

“This is a disgrace. Arlene Foster is effectively preventing the truth
about 95 deaths,” she said.

“Is she now saying she doesn’t want the truth coming out about what
happened to two police officers and innocent civilians from both
unionist and nationalist communities murdered by paramilitaries?”

Sinn Fein’s Gerry Kelly said the British government has a responsibility
to fund legacy inquests.

“It needs to face up to its responsibilities and provide adequate
funding for legacy inquests and investigations so families can have
access to truth,” he said.

Among those who welcomed the announcement of the inquests at the time
was the daughter of Joseph Corr, who died in the Ballymurphy Massacre.

“The Lord Chief Justice really gave the families in the room that day
hope, and there wasn’t just the Ballymurphy families, there were loads
of victims,” said Eileen McKeown. “We really felt on a high that this
man, the Lord Chief Justice, was on our side.”

She said the news was very disappointing for the families of victims.

“People have to put themselves in our situation,” she said. “We get one
step forward and then ten steps back.

“When we saw the Hillsborough families last week on the news, as before
when we saw the Bloody Sunday families, every time we see that happening
we think our inquest is going to be next. Then the British government
steps in, and the executive, and knock it all for six.”

Joseph Corr’s son was with him on the day he was killed. He is now
seriously ill in hospital and the family fears this delay means he will
not see the outcome of the inquest.

“We don’t think he has much longer to live,” said Michael Corr. “I
always promised him that before he died, the Ballymurphy case would be
closed. Now I feel as if I am letting him down.”

PSNI move against republican funeral

Posted by Jim on

Levels of Crown force harassment have jumped in the Derry City and
Strabane area following the arrest of fifteen people at the funeral of
former republican prisoner Mickey Barr in Strabane on Thursday.

The 35-year-old, a former member of the vigilante group Republican
Action Against Drugs, was shot dead by a criminal gang in a Dublin pub
last week. The ‘new IRA’ has claimed Mr Barr was a member but have
denied he was involved in the ongoing gangland feud in Dublin, which has
so far cost six lives.

At his funeral, around a dozen men took part in a uniformed colour party
and accompanied the cortege as it travelled towards the church. Black
flags were also placed on lampposts along part of the route while a
black beret and gloves were placed on top of the coffin which had been
draped in an Irish tricolour.

The PSNI said the men had been detained under the ‘Terrorism Act’ and
described the funeral as a “paramilitary display”. Three cars also
seized as part of the operation, which has now also seen a number of
homes in the area raided.

Colour parties have featured at several other recent Easter Rising
commemorations, all of which were allowed to proceed without PSNI
interference. Similar funerals, both republican and loyalist, have also
taken place in the past year without direct police action.

At this week’s funeral, however, the PSNI adopted tactics more like
those witnessed during republican funerals of the late 1980s, when riot
police moved in and arrested men at the scene, provoking serious

Jonathan Craig, a DUP representative on the Policing Board, welcomed the
PSNI’s new ‘hardline’ approach to republican funerals.

“I think is this likely to change the public’s perception. The
perception was that police were treating illegal republican parades
differently to other parades.”


There has been aggressive Crown force activity elsewhere in Derry this
week, including a failed MI5 recruitment bid that has been recorded on
video and now uploaded to the internet.

And in a separate development, a taxi driver in the city has said he has
been forced to quit his job following intense PSNI harassment.

Ciaran Hassan said that the PSNI stopped him last Monday morning as he
made his way to the Derry courthouse where he was due to take part in
jury service. It was just the latest in an ongoing campaign of
harassment which he said began six years ago, after he was arrested and
held for two days without being charged.

The 42-year-old said that over that period, he was stopped and searched
so many times by PSNI that he gave up his job as a taxi driver, as the
frequency of their detentions meant he could not do his job.

“It’s gotten to the stage where it’s just ridiculous,” he said. “On
Monday morning I was walking up Fahan Street on my way to the courthouse
and two police officers stopped under the Prevention of Terrorism Act,
and I actually started laughing, because I was on my way to be part of a

The father-of-five added: “When I was taxiing, they would stop me all
the time when I had passengers in the car, and it was so embarrassing,
because these people would be sitting in the car watching this all going
on, and there was nothing I could do.”

A letter of complaint has now been sent to the Police Ombudsman for by
Mr Hassan’s lawyers.

‘The Great Escape’

Posted by Jim on

A reprint of an article from The Starry Plough, detailing a historic
escape by Republican Socialists from Long Kesh prison 40 years ago this

PRISON HISTORY ‘ is how one newspaper described the recent escape
from Long Kesh by nine IRSP members and supporters. Seven are still
free. Meanwhile massive searches and harrasment by British troops is
reported from Belfast and South Derry.

The nine men dug their tunnel from one of the four huts in Cage 5, known
as ‘mole hill’ because so many tunnels have been dug from
there. Despite vigilant warders the escapees dug a 40 foot tunnel
measuring only 18′ inches in diameter. The entrance of the tunnel
was concealed by tile glued to a block of wood.


The escapers’ first problem occurred when they emerged from the tunnel
to find that they were still inside the prison. But they were prepared
for such an eventuality. They cut through a perimeter barbed fence and
scaled a 20 foot high wall with improvised grappling hooks and ropes
made from sheets in full view of British Army observation towers. Then,
as one British soldier put it, ‘they disappeared into thin

The following morning their fellow prisoners refused to leave their huts
to delay the discovery of the escape. It was only when CHARLES O’DOHERTY
from Old Park, Belfast was caught by the RUC in a field eight miles away
and checked out as routine, that the RUC discovered that they were
supposed to be in Long Kesh! They immediately contacted Long Kesh
Concentration Camp. It was only then that the escape was discovered.

The following day GERARD STEENSON of West Belfast was recaptured on the
M1 Motorway. The Northern Ireland Office then began to issue statements
in an attempt to discredit the escape and save face. They claimed that
if the escape had been better planned there could have been a mass break
out, which is, of course, rubbish. Then they warned the public to be on
the lookout for the escapers “some of whom are dangerous”. They may be
dangerous to British imperialism and its allies in Ireland but they are
the friends of the people. They are not criminals but political
prisoners. Of the escapers three were serving sentences, three were on
remand and three were awaiting trial, all for either political
‘offences’ or because of frame ups.

In the past there have been other escapes from Long Kesh. November 1974
saw 30 Provos tunnel their way to the perimeter wire, only a few got
away. One, HUGH CONEY was murdered by British troops, who could have
easily captured him. There is some fear that the same could happen to
the IRSP escapers, particularly if they should be discovered by the
sectarian UDR which is made up of ex-B Specials.In 1972 FRANCIS MCGUIGAN
walked out of Long Kesh dressed as a priest. JOHN FRANCIS GREEN did the
exact same in September 1973.

Since Long Kesh was opened in 1971, 48 prisoners have escaped. Since
they are political prisoners they usually continue to be active in
opposition to British imperialism in Ireland whereas if they were mere
criminals they would presumably leave the country altogether. This fact
accounts for the recapture of 35 of the 48 escapers. There are over 1200
political prisoners in Long Kesh.

O’KANE (all from South Derry) are still at liberty as we go to press. We
salute their ingenuity, courage and skill and hope that their freedom
will be long and fruitful to the struggle against British imperialism in


Two of the men who are still free, ‘Hen’ DOGHERTY of Dock Row, Belfast
and Harry Flynn of Springhill Avenue, Belfast, have escaped before and
were only a few months in Long Kesh. Last May, while appearing in the
Crown Court in Crumlin Road they stood on each others shoulders to reach
the ceiling of their cell. They broke a hole in the skylight with a
bench from the cell and went onto the roof. From there they entered the
nearby firestation and nonchalantly four of them walked out the front
door. Unfortunately, the last man out didn’t knowit was intended to walk
out as the escape was an impromptu affair, and ran full speed up the
Crumlin Road. The RUC saw him and shouted “halt”, so that the other four
scuppered up the road after their comrade with bullets whistling around
their ears. They all got away. Dogherty and Flynn were recaptured about
three months ago in Belfast.”

Legacy matters must be solved

Posted by Jim on May 6, 2016

These inquests into some of the most controversial killing of the Troubles were recently the subject of a major review by Lord Justice Weir who was scathing about the way in which the PSNI and military authorities have dealt with these cases.

Irish News Editorial. Friday, May 6, 2016

Once the votes are counted and the successful candidates declared, the new assembly will have a long list of pressing matters to consider and hopefully expedite in a timely fashion.

In particular, relatives who have lost loved ones in the conflict will be urging the fresh batch of ministers to reach urgent agreement on how we move forward on dealing with the past, an issue that continues to cause deep hurt and division.

Certainly, it is a matter that is exercising the highest levels of the judiciary in Northern Ireland with Lord Chief Justice Declan Morgan making a surprise intervention this week on the matter of funding for legacy inquests.

These inquests into some of the most controversial killing of the Troubles were recently the subject of a major review by Lord Justice Weir who was scathing about the way in which the PSNI and military authorities have dealt with these cases.

Sir Declan outlined a plan in February that included setting up a special Legacy Inquest Unit that would deal with all outstanding cases within five years.

He said he had been ‘given to understand’ that if the executive asks for resources for legacy inquests the request would be given very serious consideration by the secretary of state.

However, this week the Lord Chief Justice expressed disappointment that the executive has not yet submitted a bid for funding to Theresa Villiers and said this would affect the timeframe for the establishment of the new legacy unit.

This is all deeply concerning and will add to the sense of frustration and dismay felt by families who have waited far too long for hearings into their cases.

It is also unusual for the most senior judge to make his views known in such a direct way so we can assume he shares this sense of frustration.

A new assembly means a fresh beginning and we must hope the post-election executive shows a determination to resolve these difficult issues once and for all.

Enda Kenny re-elected Taoiseach after ‘tawdry deals’

Posted by Jim on

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny has received the seal of office of
Taoiseach from the President after being re-elected this afternoon with
the help of nine independents and the tacit support of Fianna Fail, who
abstained as part of an historic agreement with their traditional foes.

After 70 days of convoluted negotiations, Kenny won by a margin of 59
votes to 49. In the end, he had the support his own party as well as
five of the six members of the Independent Alliance, two of the five
rural Independent TDs, as well as unaligned Independents Michael Lowry
and Katherine Zappone.

Speaking in the Dail, Mr Kenny claimed that at the heart of a programme
for government agreed with Fianna Fail was a realisation of the
potential of all the people of Ireland. He said it was a “great honour”
to accept his nomination as Taoiseach for a second term.

The new ministers will take over their departments on Monday. It is
expected Michael Noonan will return as Minister for Finance, Leo
Varadkar as Minister for Health and Frances Fitzgerald will return to
the Department of Justice.

Tension had been building in the Dail chamber throughout the early
afternoon as last-minute crisis background talks continued with the
Independent Alliance. The situation required some filibustering to
delay the vote before the deal was done.

As part of the deal, it is understood the Independent Alliance has been
offered one senior ministry, a super junior ministry, a junior ministry
and a rotating junior minister, with Shane Ross as the senior minister.

Details of the local pork-barrel projects offered to the independents
for their support have not yet been revealed.

Roscommon TD Michael Fitzmaurice, aligned to Euro MP Luke ‘Ming’
Flanagan, failed to support the new coalition over the issue of turf
cutting, but talks are said to be continuing on that issue.

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin, Sinn Fein’s Gerry Adams and Labour’s
Joan Burton all noted the Independents luke-warm support.

During his speech Micheal Martin took credit for the postponement of
water charges but added: “Water policy is not the most important policy
facing the country and has taken too much time.”

He hit out at the Labour Party for continuing to argue that charges
should remain, saying: “Alan Kelly suffering from the withdrawal of the
drug of his choice.”

He also took a swipe at Sinn Fein saying: “The very people who have
condemned us for allowing Fine Gael back into government spent two
months trying to force us into government with them.”

Labour’s Joan Burton, who is expected to step down as Labour leader
shortly, described the Fine Gael-Fianna Fail deal as “tawdry” and
allowed Fianna Fail to put its boot on Fine Gael’s neck and pull down
the government whenever it chooses.

Ruth Coppinger of the left-wing AAA-PBP said that she has never seen an
incoming Taoiseach looking “so unhappy”. She added that 75% of people
did not want Kenny returned as Taoiseach.

“The traditional rules [on opposition] apply, because the two
traditional parties had to come to an agreement. This isn’t a grand
coalition, but it’s certainly a first cousin of a grand coalition,” she

Ms Coppinger said there will be “collective groan” from people around
the country who did not want Mr Kenny to return as Taoiseach. She said
the suspension of water charges was not due to pressure from Fianna
Fail but rather down to the anti-water charge movement.

While criticising the “Enda Dependents” for supporting Mr Kenny, Sinn
Fein’s Gerry Adams noted that many of them “were among the most vocal
opponents of Fine Gael and Labour’s policy agenda”.

He described joint Fine Gael-Fianna Fail programme as a “masterclass in
waffle and bluster. No real ambition. No big ideas. No costings. Little
real detail.

“Never was so much negotiated for so long, for so little. Their joint
paper contains a few miserly lines – not even a section – on health.”

He also noted there was no commitment on the construction of social
homes “whatsoever”.

“All we have is a reiteration of the haphazard approach to a social,
State-endorsed housing and homelessness emergency that Fine Gael and
Fianna Fail caused in the first instance.

“On the issue of water, which was the main point of contention between
Fianna Fail and Fine Gael, we are told that Irish Water remains and
water charges are merely suspended, completely contrary to the Fianna
Fail manifesto.”

He also noted that the Taoiseach had vowed not to form a government
beholden to Independents.

“Another election promise out the window,” he said. “However long it
lasts, Sinn Fein will fulfil our obligations as the leaders of the
opposition. And in the interest of citizens, we will hold this
Government – comprising Fine Gael, Fianna Fail and the Independents
propping them up – to proper and robust account.”

Radio Free Eireann Saturday May 7-12 Noon-2PM-

Posted by Jim on

RADIO FREE EIREANN  this week will expand from 12noon until 2 pm New York time, as the program will combine up to the minute election results and analysis from the Stormont elections across the six counties  with its pledge drive.

From Tyrone, Gerry McGeough will give the latest results and analysis of what they mean.

First time candidate  Dr. Anne McCloskey will discuss what campaigning in Derry where her opposition included Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness and SDLP Party leader Colum Eastwood

Author ,retired FDNY member,Vietnam Vet Billy O’Connor will give his ironic view of the Bronx Irish community as revealed in his book “CONFESSIONS OF A BRONX BOOKIE”

RFE is heard on listener supported radio , and in order to keep its vital perspective on the air,requests contributions from listeners on a quarterly basis.Our program is  quoted in newspapers and influential political blogs in Ireland.

Premiums of appreciation for contributors will include an iconic  CD “EASTER 1916” made in 1966 which combines songs and interviews to tell the story of the Easter 1916 Rising in a way that is unmatched a half -century later, and Billy O’Connor’s “CONFESSIONS OF A BRONX BOOKIE”

John McDonagh and Martin Galvin will host.Radio Free Eireann can be heard this week from 12noon to 2pm on 99.5 FM radio in New York or live streaming  at WBAI.ORG or at any time at WBAI.ORG/ARCHIVES

Your contributions will help keep RADIO FREE EIREANN on the air !

Boston College subpoenaed for Anthony McIntyre interviews

Posted by Jim on

British government seeks access to taped interview by former IRA prisoner

 Carrie Twomey and her husband Anthony McIntyre. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish TimesCarrie Twomey and her husband Anthony McIntyre. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times

The British government has lodged a subpoena with Boston College seeking access to taped interviews given by former IRA prisoner Dr Anthony McIntyre, it was stated on Monday.

Ed Moloney and Wilson McArthur, who were centrally involved with the Belfast Project – an oral history of the Troubles – said that the British government, acting on behalf of the PSNI and the office of the North’s Director of Public Prosecution, had served a subpoena on Boston College seeking access to Dr McIntyre’s personal interviews.

Former director of the project Mr Moloney and Mr McArthur, who interviewed former UVF members for the oral history, accused the authorities of engaging in an illegal “fishing expedition” in seeking access to Dr McIntyre’s tapes.

Boston College’s spokesman Jack Dunn said that the “subpoena was issued in proceedings that the United States District Court ordered sealed, and Boston College was requested to treat the proceedings and the subpoena as confidential”.

“Nevertheless, the university notified Mr McIntyre of the subpoena because it concluded that he should know that his materials had been requested. Given that the pending proceedings remain under seal, Boston College is not able to comment further on the matter,” added Mr Dunn.

Historian Dr McIntyre, who served time in prison on an IRA murder conviction, and Mr McArthur respectively interviewed 26 republican and 20 loyalist former paramilitaries for the project.

Dr McIntyre also gave an interview about his IRA involvement during the Troubles to another interviewer as part of the project.

Interviewees were given commitments that there would be no disclosure of their interviews until after their deaths. Two of those who gave interviews were former senior IRA figure Brendan Hughes and former UVF member and Progressive Unionist Party leader David Ervine.

After their deaths their testimonies were included in a book by Mr Moloney called “Voices From the Grave” which contained information from Mr Hughes about the IRA’s abduction, murder and disappearance of Jean McConville in 1972.

Subsequently, as part of its investigation of Ms McConville’s murder the PSNI sought access to the Boston tapes. Ultimately under legal pressure Boston College handed over a number of tapes that are believed to contain reference to Ms McConville.

The release of the tapes also resulted in the arrest of veteran republican Ivor Bell (79) who also engaged with the project. He is charged with aiding and abetting in Ms McConville’s murder as well as membership of the IRA. His trial has yet to take place.

“This action by the DPP and PSNI is simply a fishing expedition, which is prohibited by international law,” said Mr Moloney and Mr McArthur.

“We do know, in particular, that this request does not have anything to do with the disappearance and murder of Jean McConville, which was the event that motivated this PSNI trawl five years ago,” they added.

“The subpoena request provides no details of specific charge, investigation or offence of which Dr McIntyre is accused, no names of alleged victims, no dates, no places. Instead the originators of this shoddy document mention matters which are so over-broad, that literally anyone alive during the Troubles in Northern Ireland could be accused of some association with them,” said Mr Moloney and Mr McArthur.

They added that Dr McIntyre has engaged Belfast human rights solicitor Kevin Winters “to resist these efforts to raid his personal memoirs”.

Mr Moloney and Mr McArthur said the arrest and charging of Mr Bell was an “abuse of process” as was the action against Dr McIntyre. They called on the Irish Government “not to co-operate with the British authorities should any effort be made to extradite Dr McIntyre from his home in Drogheda to Belfast for the purposes of yet another futile and inordinately expensive show trial”.

They added that the DPP and PSNI had requested, and the US Department of Justice had agreed, to a “demand that Boston College keep these legal proceedings secret, away from the prying eyes of the international press”.

The PSNI said it was not “commenting on the matter” while the DPP’s office was not in a position to comment at this stage. At the time of writing there was no response to queries from the Northern Ireland Office.


Posted by Jim on May 5, 2016


‘Oh wise men riddle me this, what if the dream come true? – PH Pearse

The recent tsunami of revisionism has sought to draw a direct parallel between the noble self-sacrifice of those who those who struck for Irish Freedom on Easter Monday 1916 and those who were senselessly and cynically ordered ‘over the top’ at the Somme bloodbath a few months later. The former have in recent times been depicted as mere dreamers, poets and artists. They were of course all those things and so much more, the only Irish soldiers to die in the period of the ‘War of the Cousins’, during which the ruling elites ensured the mass slaughter of so many. The latter were mere cannon fodder enticed to their deaths by a sectarian desire to trump democracy in Ireland or even worse, by false promises to allow Irish people limited control over Irish affairs.

The Proclamation of the Republic always had pride of place in my late grandfather’s house. As a very young boy I struggled to read some of what were to me then very strange words that I had not yet encountered in any of my early school books. Today, when I read it or hear it read aloud, I marvel again at its construction and content, a tri-partite treatise summing up our historic campaigns for freedom, a charter for fundamental human rights well ahead of its time and an Augustinian reminder of all that was sacred in a just war.

Typeset by Christopher Brady from equipment commandeered by Michael Molloy and later distributed throughout Dublin by Helena Molony, The Proclamation was read first by Padraig Pearse on the plinth of the GPO and later by Thomas J Clarke at the foot of Nelson’s Pillar. Few if any listening could have envisaged its importance or the bravery of those acting on its legitimacy. The following days and weeks fully illuminated their courage and their steadfastness. Sixteen of them paid the ultimate sacrifice in Kilmainham, Cork and Pentonville prisons.

Each political party who claim some sort of lineage from 1916 has in their turn betrayed the high idealism of the Rising for narrow political shortterm gain. And yet 100 years on those Republicans who still cherish the dream have hope. The law of unintended consequences ensured that the deaths of the leaders of breathed new life into the War of (partial) Independence. Time and again democracy rears its head. Scotland almost tore the ‘United Kingdom’ apart and will no doubt be more successful on the next occasion. A ‘Brexit’ would remove at a stroke any cover for the lie that ‘the conflict is over’ with new ‘watchtowers overlooking Aughnacloy’.

Others may again accuse those who refuse to accept British rule in any part of our country of being dreamers. That is hardly an original criticism. Somehow, someday, the matter of ensuring that Republic ‘takes her place among the nations of the world’ will be determined democratically by ‘the suffrages of all her men and women’ through a One Ireland, One Vote referendum.

Plunkett Nugent (above right) is a lifelong Irish republican from the Galbally area in East Tyrone and a founding member of the PH Pearse Society Galbally – Cappagh. As a keen advocate of human rights he works as a Barrister At Law and is highly valued in his local community, with his many and varied contributions to local politics, history and culture widely respected in Galbally, its hinterland and beyond.

Bobby Sands – Died May 5th, 1981

Posted by Jim on

Bobby Sands


Died May 5th, 1981

The revolutionary spirit of freedom

Portions of this article were first published anonymously in ‘Republican News’, December 16th, 1978. The smuggled out article recalls how the spirit of republican defiance grew within him, and is a semi-autobiographical account.

BOBBY SANDS was born in 1954 in Rathcoole, a predominantly loyalist district of north Belfast. His twenty-seventh birthday fell on the ninth day of his sixty-six-day hunger strike. His sisters Marcella, one year younger, and Bernadette, were born in April 1955 and November 1958, respectively. All three lived their early years at Abbots Cross in the Newtownabbey area of north Belfast. A second son, John, now nineteen, was born to their parents John and Rosaleen, now both aged 57, in June 1962.

The sectarian realities of ghetto life materialised early in Bobby’s life when at the age of ten his family were forced to move home owing to loyalist intimidation even as early as 1962. Bobby recalled his mother speaking of the troubled times which occurred during her childhood; ‘Although I never really under stood what internment was or who the ‘Specials’ were, I grew to regard them as symbols of evil ‘.

Of this time Bobby himself later wrote: ”I was only a working-class boy from a Nationalist ghetto, but it is repression that creates the revolutionary spirit of freedom. I shall not settle until I achieve liberation of my country, until Ireland becomes a sovereign, independent socialist republic. ”

When Bobby was sixteen years old he started work as an apprentice coach builder and joined the National Union of Vehicle Builders and the ATGWU. In an article printed in ‘An Phoblacht/Republican News’ on April 4th, 1981, Bobby recalled: ”Starting work, although frightening at first became alright, especially with the reward at the end of the week. Dances and clothes, girls and a few shillings to spend, opened up a whole new world to me.”

Bobby’s background, experiences and ambitions did not differ greatly from that of the average ghetto youth. Then came 1968 and the events which were to change his life. Bobby had served two years of his apprenticeship when he was intimidated out of his job. His sister Bernadette recalls: “Bobby went to work one morning and these fellows were standing there cleaning guns. One fellow said to him, ‘Do you see these here, well if you don’t go you’ll get this’ then Bobby also found a note in his lunch-box telling him to get out.”

In June 1972, the family were intimidated out of their home in Doonbeg Drive, Rathcoole and moved into the newly built Twinbrook estate on the fringe of nationalist West Belfast. Bernadette again recalled: We had suffered intimidation for about eighteen months before we were actually put out. We had always been used to having Protestant friends. Bobby had gone around with Catholics and Protestants, but it ended up when everything erupted, that the friends he went about with for years were the same ones who helped to put his family out of their home.

As well as being intimidated out of his job and his home being under threat Bobby also suffered personal attacks from the loyalists.

At eighteen Bobby joined the Republican Movement. Bernadette says: .. ‘he was just at the age when he was beginning to become aware of things happening around him. He more or less just said right, this is where I’m going to take up. A couple of his cousins had been arrested and interned. Booby felt that he should get involved and start doing something. ‘

Bobby himself wrote. “My life now centered around sleepless nights and stand-bys dodging the Brits and calming nerves to go out on operations. But the people stood by us. The people not only opened the doors of their homes to lend us a hand but they opened their hearts to us. I learned that without the people we could not survive and I knew that I owed them everything.

In October 1972, he was arrested. Four handguns were found in a house he was staying in and he was charged with possession. He spent the next three years in the cages of Long Kesh where he had political prisoner status. During this time Bobby read widely and taught himself Irish which he was later to teach the other blanket men in the H-Blocks.

Released in 1976 Bobby returned to his family in Twinbrook. He reported back to his local unit and straight back into the continuing struggle: ‘Quite a lot of things had changed some parts of the ghettos had completely disappeared and others were in the process of being removed. The war was still forging ahead although tactics and strategy had changed. The British government was now seeking to ‘Ulsterise’ the war which included the attempted criminalisation of the IRA and attempted normalisation of the war situation.’

Bobby set himself to work tackling the social issues which affected the Twinbrook area. Here he became a community activist. According to Bernadette, ‘When he got out of jail that first time our estate had no Green Cross, no Sinn Fein, nor anything like that. He was involved in the Tenants’ Association… He got the black taxis to run to Twinbrook because the bus service at that time was inadequate. It got to the stage where people were coming to the door looking for Bobby to put up ramps on the roads in case cars were going too fast and would knock the children down.’

Within six months Bobby was arrested again. There had been a bomb attack on the Balmoral Furniture Company at Dunmurry, followed by a gun-battle in which two men were wounded. Bobby was in a car near the scene with three other young men. The RUC captured them and found a revolver in the car.

The six men were taken to Castlereagh and were subjected to brutal interrogations for six days. Bobby refused to answer any questions during his interrogation, except his name, age and address.

In a ninety-six verse poem written in 1980, entitled ‘The Crime of Castlereagh’, Bobby tells of his experiences in Castlereagh and his fears and thoughts at the time.

They came and came their job the same

In relays N’er they stopped.

‘Just sign the line!’ They shrieked each time

And beat me ’till I dropped.

They tortured me quite viciously

They threw me through the air.

It got so bad it seemed I had

Been beat beyond repair.

The days expired and no one tired,

Except of course the prey,

And knew they well that time would tell

Each dirty trick they laid on thick

For no one heard or saw,

Who dares to say in Castlereagh

The ‘police’ would break the law!

He was held on remand for eleven months until his trial in September 1977. As at his previous trial he refused to recognise the court.

The judge admitted there was no evidence to link Bobby, or the other three young men with him, to the bombing. So the four of them were sentenced to fourteen years each for possession of the one revolver.

Bobby spent the first twenty-two days of his sentence in solitary confinement, ‘on the boards’ in Crumlin Road jail. For fifteen of those days he was completely naked. He was moved to the H-Blocks and joined the blanket protest. He began to write for Republican News and then after February 1979 for the newly-merged An Phobhacht/Republican News under the pen-name, ‘Marcella’, his sister’s name. His articles and letters, in minute handwriting, like all communications from the H-Blocks, were smuggled out on tiny pieces of toilet paper.

He wrote: ‘The days were long and lonely. The sudden and total deprivation of such basic human necessities as exercise and fresh air, association with other people, my own clothes and things like newspapers, radio, cigarettes books and a host of other things, made my life very hard.’

Bobby became PRO for the blanket men and was in constant confrontation with the prison authorities which resulted in several spells of solitary confinement. In the H-Blocks, beatings, long periods in the punishment cells, starvation diets and torture were commonplace as the prison authorities, with the full knowledge and consent of the British administration, imposed a harsh and brutal regime on the prisoners in their attempts to break the prisoners’ resistance to criminalisation.

The H-Blocks became the battlefield in which the republican spirit of resistance met head-on all the inhumanities that the British could perpetrate. The republican spirit prevailed and in April 1978 in protest against systematic ill-treatment when they went to the toilets or got showered, the H-Block prisoners refused to wash or slop-out. They were joined in this no-wash protest by the women in Armagh jail in February 1980 when they were subjected to similar harassment.

On October 27th, 1980, following the breakdown of talks between British direct ruler in the North, Humphrey Atkins, and Cardinal O Fiaich, the Irish Catholic primate, seven prisoners in the H-Blocks began a hunger strike. Bobby volunteered for the fast but instead he succeeded, as O/C, Brendan Hughes, who went on hunger-strike.

During the hunger-strike he was given political recognition by the prison authorities. The day after a senior British official visited the hunger-strikers, Bobby was brought half a mile in a prison van from H3 to the prison hospital to visit them. Subsequently he was allowed several meetings with Brendan Hughes. He was not involved in the decision to end the hunger-strike which was taken by the seven men alone. But later that night he was taken to meet them and was allowed to visit republican prison leaders in H-Blocks 4, 5 and 6.

On December 19th, 1980, Bobby issued a statement that the prisoners would not wear prison-issue clothing nor do prison work. He then began negotiations with the prison governor, Stanley Hilditch, for a step-by-step de-escalation of the protest.

But the prisoners’ efforts were rebuffed by the authorities: ‘We discovered that our good will and flexibility were in vain,’ wrote Bobby. It was made abundantly clear during one of my co-operation’ meetings with prison officials that strict conformity was required. which in essence meant acceptance of criminal status.

In the H-Blocks the British saw the opportunity to defeat the IRA by criminalising Irish freedom fighters but the blanketmen, perhaps more than those on the outside, appreciated before anyone else the grave repercussions, and so they fought.

Bobby volunteered to lead the new hunger strike. He saw it as a microcosm of the way the Brits were treating Ireland historically and presently, Bobby realised that someone would have to die to win political status.

He insisted on starting two weeks in front of the others so that perhaps his death could secure the five demands and save their lives. For the first seventeen days of the hunger strike Bobby kept a secret diary in which he wrote his thoughts and views, mostly in English but occasionally breaking into Gaelic. He had no fear of death and saw the hunger-strike as something much larger than the five demands and as having major repercussions for British rule in Ireland. The diary was written on toilet paper in biro pen and had to be hidden, mostly carried inside Bobby’s own body. During those first seventeen days Bobby lost a total of sixteen pounds weight and on Monday, March 23rd, he was moved to the prison hospital.

On March 30th, he was nominated as candidate for the Fermanagh and South Tyrone by-election caused by the sudden death of Frank Maguire, an independent MP who supported the prisoners’ cause.

The next morning, day thirty-one, of his hunger-strike, he was visited by Owen Carron who acted as his election agent. Owen told of that first visit ‘Instead of meeting that young man of the poster with long hair and a fresh face, even at that time when Bobby wasn’t too bad he was radically changed. He was very thin and bony and his hair was cut short.’

Bobby had no illusions with regard to his election victory. His reaction was not one of over-optimism. After the result was announced Owen visited Bobby. “He had already heard the result on the radio. He was in good form alright but he always used to keep saying, ‘In my position you can’t afford to be optimistic.’ In other words, he didn’t take it that because he’d won an election that his life would be saved. He thought that the Brits would need their pound of flesh. I think he was always working on the premise that he would have to die.”

At 1.17 a.m. on Tuesday, May 5th, having completed sixty-five days on hunger-strike, Bobby Sands MP, died in the H-Block prison hospital at Long Kesh. Bobby was a truly unique person whose loss is great and immeasurable. He never gave himself a moment to spare. He lived his life energetically, dedicated to his people and to the republican cause, eventually offering up his life in a conscious effort to further that cause and the cause of those with whom he had shared almost eight years of his adult life. In his own words: “of course can be murdered but I remain what I am, a political POW and no-one, not even the British, can change that.”


Death of hunger-strike author David Beresford

Posted by Jim on May 4, 2016

An award-winning journalist credited with writing the definitive account
of the 1981 Hunger Strike has died in South Africa.

David Beresford passed away in his Johannesburg home this week. He
worked for the Guardian newspaper and was their Ireland correspondent
during the late 1970s and early eighties, covering many stories from the

It was during this time he reported on the prison campaign by republican
PoWs and Margaret Thatcher’s government attempts to criminalise the IRA.
He later penned the book Ten Men Dead, one of the most detailed accounts
of the period which saw 10 republicans fast until death in the H-Blocks.

Given unique access to source material, Mr Beresford pieced together the
story of the protest through interviews and secret communications
carried in and out of the prison.

The respected journalist later moved to South Africa where he covered
the period leading up to the end of apartheid including the release of
Nelson Mandela from prison in 1990.

In 1991 he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Despite his illness
he continued to work as a foreign correspondent and underwent radical
treatments to try to beat the disease.

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams paid tribute to the journalist last night
and described Ten Men Dead as “probably the best book written about that

“David was an exceptional journalist,” he said.

“He was also the Guardian’s reporter in South Africa during tumultuous
changes in that country. He also faced huge challenges in his own life
battling Parkinson’s disease. I want to extend my deepest condolences to
David’s family.”


Meanwhile, a west Belfast man who was the youngest to take part in the
H-Block blanket protests during the conflict has also passed away.

Father-of-three Peter Kavanagh died on Saturday at a Belfast hospice
surrounded by his family following a long battle with cancer. Known as
Dee, he was aged 16 when he spent nearly three years from 1978 on the
republican blanket protest while in the H-blocks of Long Kesh. The
protest was against Thatcher’s attempts to force IRA PoWs to wear prison

His family told on Monday how he held onto life long enough to cradle
his second grandchild, Daniel Peter, who was born just hours before he
passed away.

“The little baby was brought over from the Royal hospital before he
died. I think he held on to see him,” Ms Connors said.

Mr Kavanagh wore only a blanket, refusing to wear prison clothes, after
being jailed for throwing a petrol bomb, a charge his family say he
always denied.

His older brother John Kavanagh said: “He was 16 and he was caught up in
trouble during the queen’s visit. He was sentenced for throwing a petrol
bomb – he was never in court in his life.”

New York And The Easter Rising

Posted by Jim on

John McDonagh (John) interview historian Brendan Matthews (Brendan) via telephone from Drogheda, Co. Louth about the importance of New York City in the 1916 Rising. Thanks as ever to TPQ transcriber.
Radio Free Éireann WBAI 99.5FM Pacifica Radio New York City 23 April 2016


John: Listen, Sir Roger Casement did not get the phone call on the submarine to the lonely Banna Strand but Brendan Matthews, who’s an Irish historian out of Drogheda – as I said, Brendan, a lot of the Americans – and you hear it every once in a while – they call it Draheda – but it’s Drogheda – and you have written about the importance of New York City to the 1916 Uprising that without New York there probably was no Uprising.

Brendan: Yeah, Good Afternoon, John, from Ireland here and from Drogheda. Yeah, I have done a lot of research over the past year and particularly I followed one man because what fascinates me is how you view the events of 1916 and from what perspective you view them. I mean, we’re obviously, from our point of view, going to have a different view of what happened in 1916 say than probably the descendant of maybe an Irish Orangeman or an Irish Unionist at the time would have completely different views – that they look upon it as almost an act of terrorism against King and country is the way that those people would view it. But really to see what the 1916 Rising was and is all about is to perhaps look at it through the eyes of a rebel and how I’ve done that is to actually follow the tale of one of the seven signatories, literally from the cradle to the grave, and that man was Tom Clarke. And there is no doubt from my research, which will be published tomorrow, in just a week – next Saturday, I believe that with Tom Clarke, who lived some time in New York along with John Devoy from Clann na nGael and a couple of others – Seán Mac Diarmada as well when Tom Clarke returned from New York and met up with Seán Mac Dairmada – that without those three being significant players in the lead-up and to the events of The Rising. It would certainly would not have happened without Clann na nGael, John Devoy and Tom Clarke on this side of the Atlantic.

John: You know what Brendan? What’s amazing – I’ve been reading a lot of books – was the travel between Ireland and New York. It was constant. I mean Connolly was going back and forth and a lot of the Irish revolutionaries were going back and forth and even the ones that were sent out to Australia were making it back to New York. So New York was the epicentre of literally organising it. But one of the components, and I told you about this before, because of World War I – you know – England’s difficulty is Ireland’s opportunity – maybe tell our audience – because I was just talking about The Lonely Banna Strand, we were going to play that song about Sir Roger Casement, about the connection between Germany and this country, World War I and what was going on with Irish Republicans.

Brendan: Okay, well as you did say, correctly, John, about the connections between New York, Liverpool and England, where the ships would arrive and then back to ports in Ireland such as Corcaigh and Dublin. And just to take it back a wee bit: As you did say about these people were traveling over and back across the sea, across to Europe from Ireland over to New York – from New York to Berlin such as Roger Casement was dealing with the Germans in trying to get some arms landed at Banna Strand on Good Friday. But you take it back, in the lead-up to that again – when you go back to look at say for instance the Fenian Movement, and where Clann na nGael stems from, that Fenian Movement of the late 1850’s in America and over here in Ireland then you had the Irish Republican Brotherhood. Now when you see what was going on in the 1860’s during the American Civil War when one hundred and fifty thousand Irishmen had fought on the Union side in that civil war and some twenty-five thousand had fought on the Confederate side in the southern states of America – so you’re talking here nearly two hundred thousand Irish men who had been in the Union Army who were hoping to, what they termed, ‘free the Motherland’ when the American Civil War ended in 1865.

Now, when you go back to that period and you see the amount of traveling that was done – they were jumping on ships and going to and from Ireland to England to New York and back and forward as if it was a train line. It was amazing what these people had committed themselves to, that they didn’t have to do it so the question is: Why did they do it? When you look at, for instance, in the aftermath of the famine in Ireland, as we look back one hundred years now, so we look back to 1916 – so too was those seven signatories at the very least were looking back a hundred years. And they weren’t just taking inspiration from the likes of Wolfe Tone and the 1798 Rebellion or the 1848 Rebellion with Thomas Francis Meagher and the raising of the Irish tricolour for the first time but they were also looking upon the hardships that their ancestors had to put up with. So take, for instance, from 1800 to 1841 – the population of Ireland rises from around about four million to almost nine million in forty years. These are people, most of them, who were living on the hedgerows. We always have to look upon what was the lead-up to The Rising. So you’ve now have nine million people in the country. Most of them had no access to the land. Most of them had no resources from the land. Most of them had no access to local government or national government and had no representation in local government and they couldn’t even take a wild rabbit from the land otherwise they would face either three months in prison and in a lot of cases they were sent for transportation – seven years to Australia which meant they weren’t coming back.

So pretty much they were living like animals within the context of the 1840’s – the Irish were living no better than the animals – in fact, were probably living worse than the animals around them; having said that the population continued to rise. So in my research, again, I look closely at one of the things, which I looked at the Church and how the Church continued to tell them that they would be rewarded in Heaven and how they would frown upon any kind of rebellion because the Catholic Church in Ireland during this period was totally against secret societies, particularly The Fenians. And if they took The Fenian out they would threaten them with ex-communication. So they continued, the priests would, throughout the Penal Days of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, continue to tell people to procreate yet they were on the verge of starvation.

So by the time the famine came about in the 1840’s you had at least a million people dead and more than a million people emigrating, leaving Ireland, but here in Drogheda, for instance, the second largest port of emigration after Dublin during the famine and during the period of say Black 47, the worst year of the famine in 1847, harbour records in Drogheda today and local newspapers from that period, 1847, clearly show, for instance, six steamships heading to Liverpool on a daily basis in England from Drogheda and on board those ships was placed the likes of, in one ship alone: two hundred cattle, three hundred sheep, two hundred pigs, two hundred boxes of eggs, 200 hundred boxes of flour, one tonne of corn, one tonne of wheat, one tonne of barley and whey. Once that food was placed on the boat then the people were put on the boat and had to go as what was called ‘steerage passengers’ standing among the live animals which were being brought to England and cadaverous looking people literally starving – they couldn’t get off the boat – they literally could not walk and in Liverpool so much that the Liverpool authorities became alarmed and began to send these cadaverous looking people back to some ports in Ireland. Now in any estimation if you look up the definition of the word ‘famine’ that cannot then ever be called a famine – that is, if not ethnic cleansing it’s certainly a starvation of the people when they could not gain access to their own land to abide by that food. Even the wild rabbit or the fish or the bird in the sky – they could not take that because everything was owned by the gentry.

So many people then did make it across the Atlantic to The States – made themselves a new home in America but they never forgot where they had come from and they swore vengeance against the enemy and the great British Empire which had brought them to look and dream of exile three and five and seven thousand miles away from their home. So when the chance arose in the 1860’s to join the American Civil War in the hope that when it was over they would literally come back and free the Motherland. But because of distance and communication between New York, Liverpool and indeed the ports of Ireland – because of the Catholic Church and because of specially placed agents and informers within the Fenian Movement and for the British Crown, particularly and strategically placed within New York and the ports of Liverpool – everything that moved – the likes of the greatest British agent within that Fenian Rising of the 1860’s was John Joseph Croydon from Liverpool who happened to be the head of the Liverpool contingent of Fenians but everything that moved from New York into Britain was noted by John Joseph Croydon and hence the collapse of the Fenian Movement albeit there was over one hundred thousand men involved in that Fenian Movement.

So moving on from the 1860’s, so here’s where I come from: Studying Thomas Clarke. Thomas Clarke was the son of a British soldier. Had been moved around Europe and including British Army barracks in Ireland – he was born in 1857 and as a kid was brought to South Africa. His father had fought in the Crimean War in the mid-1850’s and then returned to Dungannon in County Tyrone. And while Tom Clarke was in County Tyrone in the 1870’s he again had seen the Fenian Brotherhood who were traveling round the country of Ireland giving demonstrations and denouncing the British system in Ireland where the landlord had the land and the Land War came about in the 1870’s with the landlord and his tenant in Ireland where mass evictions took place. And Tom Clarke couldn’t understand why this colonialism was still happening and why he said people such as the gentry and the clergy and commercial business people turned a blind eye to this and didn’t want anything to do – could never dream of rebellion. But his father wanted Tom to join the army. Tom was having none of it. Tom wanted to stand up for people and for their rights because he would see them on the side of the road being evicted, houses being boarded so they couldn’t get back into them and seeing them with no access to the land, no resources from it and all the rest of it. So at one of these demonstrations Tom had a bit of a skirmish. He’d a run-in with Royal Irish Constabulary policemen and he was a wanted man so Tom had to disappear.

So Tom Clarke ended up in America. He ended up in America around about 1880 – early ’81. And of course the first thing Tom sees when he lands in New York, he gets a job in a hotel in the kitchen, and the first thing he sees and starts listening to is the hardened older Fenians who had been there – people who had to go from Ireland in the famine and bring their kids. People who had fought hard as American soldiers, trained American soldiers who had also fought in the Civil War and had attempted in the Fenian Rising in the 1860’s and this fascinated Tom. And because at the time when he lands in the early 1880’s, as you’re probably aware, John, there was a major split in Clann na nGael at the time, with O’Donovan Rossa running one faction of it. They were organising Fenian trips to England and what was known as the ‘Dynamite Campaign’ and Tom Clarke put his name forward and said that he would go on one of these dynamite campaigns…Sorry, John…

John: …No, no – I just saying – we’re going to be stuck for time – We’ve got about another ten or fifteen minutes. And as you unfortunately bring up – I mean, Brendan Behan coined the phrase – whenever Irish people get together and have a meeting the first thing on the agenda is the split. But you sort of set up where the bitterness comes from and the hardening of attitudes – not that they left the country and just forgot about it – like you can see recent emigrants there say: Well unemployment’s up. I’m going to come to New York – you’re not coming over with that bitterness. But you’ve described the bitterness of these Irish – I don’t even want to say they’re emigrants – they were forced exiles – that came over to New York.

And because history plays an important part – World War I breaks out when they’re organising this revolution and I would like just to bring it up to that era and the connection – because there was a huge amount of German immigrants at one stage here in the United States. German immigrants were the biggest part of the population and in some of the schools, particularly in Pennsylvania, they were teaching German in the schools and a lot of people were organising against that saying that they should be speaking English and not German. But maybe you could just bring us up to, historically, why did the Fenian Movement get involved with the Germans here in this country?

Brendan: Oh, okay. Well in the lead-up to The Rising and during the First World War for instance there was one I did come across again in research in American newspapers, particularly there was an interesting article I came across in an Oklahoma newspaper which was dating to February of 1916 and in that article from Oklahoma it had taken an article from a statement made in the House of Commons by a man called Joseph Austin Chamberlain who was the Secretary of State for India at the time in 1916 and he would denounce the disloyalty of the native troops, so the British native troops as he’d seen it, in Northern India who, it was due to their activities of anti-British associations, and they had their headquarters, according to Chamberlain, the Secretary of State for India, according to him he said the headquarters was in the United States and they were known as The Hindu Organisation in the US had been at work secretly since 1907 for an uprising in India and he stated that it comprised of natives from India who were highly educated in and around New York and other states in America along with members of Clann na nGael who were with them and of late, he said, Germans and American pro-Germans and one of the aims of this organisation was to start a mutiny in India in 1917. That’s a very interesting article because it comes from February the fifteenth, so a couple of months even before The Irish Rising, and here you have Clann na nGael who were sitting in secret with the Hindu Organisation and Germans, Americans who were pro-German, during the First World War.

The German connection was that Ireland would strike – England’s loss would be Ireland’s opportunity – so again when Tom Clarke had spent sixteen years almost in an English prison and when he got out he went to New York, 1901, got married there in Saint Augustine’s Church in New York in July of 1901. Clarke stays in New York ’til 1907. Comes back home to Dublin with his young wife and his kid who was born in the Bronx. And when Clarke comes back to Ireland he finds an old movement – the older Fenian Movement – they’re too old – they don’t want rebellion anymore – they’ve done it all back in the 1860’s and 70’s – they had been in English prisons – now he finds the younger blood though. And so when Tom opens a shop in Dublin the younger blood, like John Bulmer Hobson, Denis McCullough, Pat McCartan, Seán Mac Diarmada, they start arriving into Tom Clarke’s shop in Dublin – Clarke, after leaving New York and telling the boys that as soon as the opportunity comes – as soon as the British downfall – he said: ‘We will strike!’

Tom waited and hoped and waited on the day that they would get into war with another superpower such as Germany. When that happened and the other younger members, the young blood like Mac Diarmada and Pat McCartan and Eamonn Ceannt gathered round Clarke by 1908, revered him because he had spent fifteen and a half years in an English prison, all most in solitary confinement, they loved Tom Clarke because of this and Tom Clarke seems to be the only one from the old movement, along with John Devoy, who is pushing and wishes to push that as soon as the opportunity arises – so he begins to plot and plan for a such rebellion from around 1910 – there’s no question about that. He moves out the older people within the Chair – the likes of Fred Allan who was sitting in the Chair of the old IRB Council in Dublin – they’re moved out of the way – Tom Clarke moves in as the older man and he starts to guide and dictate and slowly groom the younger blood who forms around him, including Padraig Pearse who he first meets in February of 1911.

John: Alright Brendan – you know what? We have five minutes left and I wanted to talk about the influence of the president at the time, Woodrow Wilson, and about the raid on the German Embassy that strategically came just before The Rising. If you can give us that and I’ll have you back to continue from there at another stage.

Brendan: Oh, okay, okay. Just a couple of weeks before The Rising actually, it was in early April of 1916, again, Clann na nGael were frequent visitors to the German Embassy in Washington and they were hoping because of the superpowers at war with each other that Clann na nGael would meet German officers and German officials in the German Embassy, which they did, and this was getting hot and heavy and there was more meetings taking place from April of 1916 and they were sending messages to and from – communicating with German officers in Berlin where Roger Casement also was addressing German officers – he was looking for men, of course, but the Germans said that they couldn’t really spare any men during the Great War but that they would send the likes of ten machine guns, twenty thousand rifles, one million rounds of ammunition, etc – and these are the actual guns and ammunition that was promised – the cargo of arms that was promised which did land in County Kerry a couple of days and disaster happened in that the actually arms had to be sank.

Clann na nGael also had forewarned – so this was the link between Clann na nGael and getting the German help – so they got the Germans to help the Irish in The Rising; the Germans were quite willing to do it. So Clann na nGael had forewarned the German Embassy in April about there was going to be an eminent raid on their offices by the American Secret Service and of course the German’s response: No, that would be a serious violation of international law. And John Devoy, in a telegram, responded to them and, in his words, he said: ‘They don’t give a damn about the law. They want your papers for the information for the English and they will get them if they can – law or no damned law.’ John Devoy also, in his Recollections of an Irish Rebel, which was published in 1929 I think or ’26, John Devoy went on to say that Woodrow Wilson was the meanest and most malignant man who ever filled the office of President of the United States and that he was waiting on any opportunity to join the Great War on behalf of Britain which, eventually, that’s exactly what happened. But Devoy had also stated under no certain terms that had there even been a different President of The States at the time that maybe things could have been a lot better as in favour of Ireland but that Woodrow Wilson certainly was no friend of any rebellion or of any Irish Republican Brotherhood at that time.

John: Now do you know – did they get any information about The Uprising from the raid on the German Embassy? Because that’s an international event – an incident!

Brendan: Oh, absolutely! Sorry John, yeah, they did. They actually did because they sent word to England. They intercepted the communications between America and Berlin to the extent that they knew that there was arms on the way. And they also sent word that there was there was possibly a rebellion but they didn’t know the date and they weren’t too sure because on the English side and in the English House of Commons documented papers from the period shows that they treated it with a bit of scepticism. They took note that there was arms maybe going to be delivered from Germany to the coast of Ireland but they dismissed almost the extent that there wasn’t going to be a rising. They really didn’t think there was going to be a rising at the time that it actually happened. But nonetheless anyway, the boat was captured on Good Friday and then subsequently it was scuttled and the arms sank and Casement arrested.

John: Well Brendan, we’re going to end it right there and we’re going to bring you back and then maybe take it from there and find out how they communicated to Dublin about The Uprising and what was the response here in New York City and throughout this country. Brendan Matthews is out of Drogheda. They’re having a big event this week about commemorating 1916 at the museum there – anybody that’s heading over should get up there. And Brendan, we’re going to have you on again. Thank you for coming on.

Brendan: Brilliant, John, thank you. And can I just say, John, as well: That stuff I and the story I am telling today – it is going to be published next Saturday by the Drogheda Museum at and it’s Reflections on the 1916 Rising but I have my tale in there based on what happened and particularly the connections between Ireland, America and England which appear at this time, when I see all the things that are happening in The Centenary, just I think in my belief it seems to be overlooked at the minute.

100 years ago today, the executions of the 1916 leaders began

Posted by Jim on May 3, 2016

Padraig Pearse surrendering to British Major-General William Henry Lowe.

Perhaps the most famous photograph of the 1916 Easter Rising shows Padraig Pearse surrendering to British Major-General William Henry Lowe near the corner of Moore and Parnell Streets on Saturday, April 29. It is a photo that encompasses many things: the receding power of the British Empire and the new indefatigable Ireland. It shows, in several ways, the theatricality of the Rising, and also the role that women would come to play in the coming War of Independence and their struggle for equality for the rest of the 20th century.


On the left is General Lowe and to his is right is his son John Muir Lowe, who, under the stage name of John Loder, went on to act in films (“How Green Was My Valley”) and, most famously, to marry Hollywood sex siren Hedy Lamarr. On the right is Pearse, “President” of the Provisional Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Irish Volunteers. Hidden behind Pearse (except for her shoes) is GPO nurse Elizabeth O’Farrell, who brokered the surrender (in some photos, in a sign of the times, her feet were actually airbrushed out of the photo).

GPO nurse Elizabeth O’Farrell.

GPO nurse Elizabeth O’Farrell.

General Maxwell Shows No Mercy

The man sent to Ireland to put down the Rising was General Sir John Grenfell Maxwell, K.C.B., K.C.M.G., C.V.O., D.S.O. He was appointed military governor and Commander-in-Chief of His Majesty’s Forces in Ireland on Friday, April 28. Apparently his main qualifications for the job was that he was available and was a friend of Lord Kitchener.

He was not enamored with the Irish: “The majority,” he stated, “seem to be on the verge of madness which finds its outlet in poetry and emotional traits.” He would soon have his chance to pronounce the ultimate chastisement on the leaders of the Rising, several of whom were published poets. He knew how to handle these people: “I am going to ensure that there will be no treason whispered for 100 years.”

General Sir John Grenfell Maxwell.

General Sir John Grenfell Maxwell.

Apparently, Maxwell thought things out methodically: from court-martial, to execution, to burial. He knew the funeral parade Tom Clarke had put on for Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa the previous summer and he was going to have none of it: “Irish sentimentality will turn these graves into martyrs’ shrines to which annual processions will be made.” Thus the bodies would be disposed of without coffin or shroud.

Brigadier J. Young wrote about how it was all to go down at Arbour Hill: “After each prisoner has been shot, a Medical Officer will certify that he is dead, and his body will be immediately removed to an ambulance, with a label pinned on his breast giving his name. When the ambulance is full, it will be sent to Arbour Hill Detention Barracks, entering by the gate at the Garrison Chapel. The party will then put the bodies close alongside one another at the grave (now being dug), cover them quickly with quicklime (ordered) and commence filling in the grave. One of the officers with his party is to keep a note of the position of each body in the grave, taking the name from the label. A priest will attend for the funeral service.”

The British knew exactly what they were going to do with the bodies of the dead rebels, but didn’t have the decency to tell the families. Kathleen Clarke, Tom Clarke’s wife, in her “Revolutionary Woman,” recalls the run-around she and her sister Madge received when they tried to claim the bodies of Tom Clarke and their brother, Ned Daly: “When we got back to the hall, Madge approached the officer at the desk and made the request for Ned’s dead body for burial.

He made no comment, but wrote down her request. Then I approached him to say I had not yet received my husband’s body, though I had made a request for it the previous night. He told me he had no information on the matter; he had forwarded my request. Some weeks later, Madge received a letter which said as the body of her brother was already buried, they could not accede to her request. I got no answer to my request.”

Now all that was needed were bodies to put in the grave/trench over at Arbour Hill. General Maxwell would supply those too.

The Court-martials of Padraig Pearse (Prisoner #1), Thomas MacDonagh (Prisoner #30) and Thomas Clarke (Prisoner #31) at Richmond Barracks, May 2, 1916. All three face the same charge:

CHARGE: Did an act to wit did take part in an armed rebellion and in the waging of war against His Majesty the King, such act being of such a nature as to be calculated to be prejudicial to the Defence to the Realm and being done with the intention and for the purpose of assisting the enemy

PLEA (of all three): Not Guilty

(The members of the court and witnesses were duly sworn in)

VERDICT: Guilty. Death by being shot

As May 4 dawned, many thought the bloodshed was over, but they were to be disappointed. General Maxwell had just gotten started.

Joseph Mary Plunkett, Ned Daly, Micheál O’Hanrahan and Willie Pearse would all face their deaths.

The Court-martials of Joseph Mary Plunkett (Prisoner #33), Edward (Ned) Daly (Prisoner #21), Michael O’Hanrahan (Prisoner #36), and William (Willie) Pearse (Prisoner #27) at Richmond Barracks, May 2, 1916. All four face the same charge:

CHARGE: Did an act to wit did take part in an armed rebellion and in the waging of war against His Majesty the King, such act being of such a nature as to be calculated to be prejudicial to the Defence to the Realm and being done with the intention and for the purpose of assisting the enemy

PLEA: William Pearse was the only one of the four here accused to plead guilty. The others pleaded not guilty.

(The members of the court and witnesses were duly sworn in)

VERDICT: All were found guilty. Death.

Follow the links below to read the full profiles of the 1916 leaders here:

Padraig Pearse

Padraig Pearse.

Padraig Pearse.

Thomas MacDonagh

Thomas MacDonagh.

Thomas MacDonagh.

Thomas Clarke

Thomas Clarke.

Thomas Clarke.

Joseph Mary Plunkett

Joseph Mary Plunkett.

Joseph Mary Plunkett.

Ned Daly

Ned Daly.

Ned Daly.

Micheál O’Hanrahan

Micheal O'Hanrahan.

Micheal O’Hanrahan.

Willie Pearse

Willie Pearse (left) and his brother Padraig.

Willie Pearse (left) and his brother Padraig.

‘A Girl of Genius’ by Susannah Mc Kenna a play about Alice Milligan from Tyrone at Queens Irish Center

Posted by Jim on

‘A Girl of Genius’ by Susannah Mc Kenna a play about Alice Milligan from Tyrone at Queens Irish Center

Share ‘A Girl of Genius’ by Susannah Mc Kenna

Event Details





A Girl of Genius portrays the life of Alice Milligan: Methodist,
journalist, poet, Irish speaker and ardent Nationalist. Born in 1865 in
County Tyrone, she brought together Protestant and Catholic in cultural
clubs she founded in Belfast. A vital figure in the Irish cultural revival,
she knew personally most of the well-known figures of her time
– Yeats, Casement, Connolly, Hyde, Maud Gonne and Eoin McNeill.

‘A Girl of Genius’ is presented by Cuala 2016 New York City’s Irish Cultural Festival and Aisling Ghéar Theatre Company, Belfast.

For more information on the Festival visit

For more information Aisling Ghéar Theatre Company, Belfast visit

‘A Girl of Genius’ is part of the New York Irish Center’s

‘Matinee on a Monday’ Series’


$25 – ADULTS


For more information on New York Irish Center visit

Have questions about ‘A Girl of Genius’ by Susannah Mc Kenna? Contact The New York Irish Center

‘A Girl of Genius’ by Susannah Mc Kenna

The New York Irish Center


May 23, 2016



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May 23, 2016



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Come out and support our 2015 GAA Champions

Posted by Jim on May 2, 2016

The Rhythm Of Time by Bobby Sands

Posted by Jim on April 30, 2016


Bobby in Long Kesh prison camp.



The Rhythm Of Time

There’s an inner thing in every man,
Do you know this thing my friend?
> It has withstood the blows of a million years,
And will do so to the end.

It was born when time did not exist,
And it grew up out of life,
It cut down evil’s strangling vines,
Like a slashing searing knife.

It lit fires when fires were not,
And burnt the mind of man,
Tempering leandened hearts to steel,
From the time that time began.

It wept by the waters of Babylon,
And when all men were a loss,
It screeched in writhing agony,
And it hung bleeding from the Cross.

It died in Rome by lion and sword,
And in defiant cruel array,
When the deathly word was ‘Spartacus’
Along the Appian Way.

It marched with Wat the Tyler’s poor,
And frightened lord and king,
And it was emblazoned in their deathly stare,
As e’er a living thing.

It smiled in holy innocence,
Before conquistadors of old,
So meek and tame and unaware,
Of the deathly power of gold.

It burst forth through pitiful Paris streets,
And stormed the old Bastille,
And marched upon the serpent’s head,
And crushed it ‘neath its heel.

It died in blood on Buffalo Plains,
And starved by moons of rain,
Its heart was buried at Wounded Knee,
But it will come to rise again.

It screamed aloud by Kerry lakes,
As it was knelt upon the ground,
And it died in great defiance,
As they coldly shot it down.

It is found in every light of hope,
It knows no bounds nor space
It has risen in red and black and white,
It is there in every race.

It lies in the hearts of heroes dead,
It screams in tyrants’ eyes,
It has reached the peak of mountains high,
It comes searing ‘cross the skies.

It lights the dark of this prison cell,
It thunders forth its might,
It is ‘the undauntable thought’, my friend,
The thought that says ‘I’m right!’



Weeping Winds by Bobby Sands

Posted by Jim on

Weeping Winds


Bobby, Gerald Rooney and Tom-Boy Loudon in Long Kesh prison camp.


Weeping Winds

Oh! Cold March winds your cruel laments

Are hard on prisoners’ hearts,

For you bring my mother’s pleading cries

From whom I have to part.

I hear her weeping lonely sobs

Her sorrows sweep me by,

And in the dark of prison cell

A tear has warmed my eye.

Oh! Whistling winds why do you weep

When roaming free you are,

Oh! Lonely winds that walk the night

To haunt the sinner’s soul

Pray pity me a wretched lad

Who never will grow old.

Pray pity those who lie in pain

The bondsman and the slave,

And whisper sweet the breath of God

Upon my humble grave.

Oh! Cold March winds that pierce the dark

You cry in aged tones

For souls of folk you’ve brought to God

But still you bear the moans.

Oh! Weeping wind this lonely night

My mother’s heart is sore,

Oh! Lord of all breathe freedom’s breath

That she may weep no more.


Stormont elections – a mandate for British rule

Posted by Jim on

Sean Bresnahan looks at the upcoming elections in the North. Sean
Bresnahan is a member of the Thomas Ashe Society in Omagh and National
PRO of the 1916 Societies.

With yet another election in the Six Counties around the corner it’s
worth stepping back and looking at its purpose in context. The reality
is that all of the goings on around this election are nothing more than
the meaningless outworkings of a game within a game, with ringmaster
Britain pulling the strings from above, as ever in control of us all.
The only game that matters is the one she plays and she plays alone with
the rest of us mere pawns. That is the real context to this election.

It is a simple fact proven over and over, borne out by a record eighteen
years in the making, that none of those standing – whether parties,
Independents or whoever – should they get to Stormont will make the
slightest difference to the lives of people in West Tyrone, Derry City,
Belfast, Mid-Ulster or anywhere else. The system, with Stormont merely
its regional hub, ensures otherwise as the real power lies elsewhere,
with Stormont no more than a well-paid, glorified Council.

The place and its record of delivery are a farce. Yet bizarrely,
everyone still dances to the same tune come election time – which in
reality is the British tune. People would be far better served if they
refused to vote in this election and brought the turnout below 50
percent. That, and the ‘crisis of legitimacy’ it would herald, would
represent a much bigger statement and a far greater challenge to the
status quo than anything that might come from the foolish notion we can
somehow change the system from within.

The truth is that what we need in Ireland at this moment are not more
pantomime elections – that do no more than uphold that same status quo –
but a fresh start, where the people of this country are finally granted
control of their own destiny in a reconstituted All-Ireland Republic.
Stormont and its elections serve to frustrate that end and there is no
root to the Republic through Stormont or its Border Poll. Indeed the
reality is that Stormont is a bulwark to prevent the Republic being

Its reputation could not be lower and with savage austerity and cuts to
every budget conceivable ahead the likelihood is that this will only
worsen – and considerably. Were the incoming Assembly to have a mandate
from less than half of those on the six-county register that would have
serious repercussions on its ability to push through its attacks on
ordinary people. There would be a clear lack of support from the people
it purports to govern for policies to be implemented on behalf of their
masters in London.

The mind then boggles as to why some republicans believe it worthwhile
to run candidates to Stormont through the backdoor. Worse though is the
pretence it’s not happening or that they’re somehow not involved. Their
dodging aside, can they not see they will help no cause here only the
British cause – which is to entrench British rule in Ireland and bolster
its perceived legitimacy? Whether they know it or not they are already
on the road to doom. We should be careful they don’t take us with them.

Rather than encourage people to ‘play the game’ and participate in this
farce we should embrace instead a revolutionary analysis. Rather than
give legitimacy to this useless and utterly servile institution we
should instead be doing all in our power to undermine and expose it, in
the process empowering our own institutions which proceed from the
people themselves. These alone are what will serve us, as will no doubt
be required, in the looming battle against corporate finance and its
impending assault on us all.

Where republicanism should be, coming into this election, is not with
those set on propping up the failing Stormont Assembly, its crumbling,
undemocratic ‘mandate’ with it, but set on empowering a grassroots
alternative capable of impacting on power and realising meaningful
change in our country. We will never expose the facade of Stormont rule,
which is British rule from behind, by helping prop up its collapsing
mandate. That is what all intent on the Irish Republic should understand
– now and not tomorrow or after this election. By then it will be too

Ending Impasse, Irish Leaders Agree on a Government

Posted by Jim on

LONDON — The two biggest parties in Ireland on Friday overcame decades of enmity to cooperate on the creation of a minority government, ending weeks of deadlock after an inconclusive election in February.
The agreement is the start of a unique experiment in Irish politics under which the governing party, Fine Gael, is expected to lead a minority administration, with the tacit support of its main rival, Fianna Fail.
“Both Fine Gael and Fianna Fail have reached a political agreement to facilitate a Fine Gael-led minority government,” both parties said in a statement, the Irish broadcaster RTE reported.
“Both party leaders are now being briefed, extensive drafting has to be done, and then both Fianna Fail and Fine Gael will hold separate parliamentary party meetings to outline the details of the confidence and supply arrangement,” the statement added.
Although both parties are ideologically from the center-right, they have been fierce opponents, tracing their rivalry to the aftermath of Ireland’s struggle for independence.
Together they have dominated Irish politics, but they have never shared power, and the deal struck on Friday does not call for a formal coalition.
The agreement resulted from fraught negotiations after the February election, from which Prime Minister Enda Kenny of Fine Gael emerged without a majority.
In the aftermath of Ireland’s financial crisis, Mr. Kenny’s government appeared to pay an electoral price for pursuing austerity policies, although the economy has rebounded recently.
The elections on Feb. 26 left Fine Gael with 50 seats in Parliament, Fianna Fail with 44, Sinn Fein with 23 and the Labour Party with 7, plunging Ireland into its longest period of political limbo since independence in the 1920s.
The agreement reached on Friday means that Mr. Kenny is likely to return as prime minister, but this time at the head of a minority government. Without a formal coalition, he is likely to face a constant battle to secure support for parliamentary votes, though he is expected to have the support of some independent members of Parliament.
Fianna Fail’s negotiator, Michael McGrath, said in remarks reported by The Associated Press that the days of majority rule were over, adding that the country was “entering into a new era in Irish politics, where the views of everyone need to be taken on board.”
“It is going to be a very challenging scenario for everybody involved, but we have to make it work,” Mr. McGrath said.
The agreement still needs to be ratified by lawmakers, and there will be a parliamentary vote to elect a prime minister.
But if Fianna Fail’s lawmakers abstain as expected, Mr. Kenny is likely to receive the most votes, giving him the authority to form a new cabinet

Second weekend of commemorations to mark Rising anniversary

Posted by Jim on

Second weekend of commemorations to mark Rising anniversary

A large 1916 Rising commemoration parade took place through Belfast city
centre without major incident on Sunday despite efforts by loyalists to
disrupt the event.

The ‘People’s Parade’, organised by the Easter Rising Centenary
Committee, was an attempt to unify all shades of republicanism in a
single parade to mark 100 years to the day since the Rising began.

Loyalists who had gathered at the junction of Royal Avenue and North
Street hurled abuse as the parade made its way past. Due to a Parades
Commission ruling, the bands played a single drum beat only as they
passed the loyalists.

A massive PSNI operation was in force from early morning, with several
streets around the bottom of Royal Avenue blocked off with screens. Land
Rovers lined Royal Avenue and surrounding streets, while riot police
took positions along Belfast’s main thoroughfare.

Thousands had set off from the New Lodge area of north Belfast en route
to Barrack Street off the Falls Road to join the main Belfast Easter
Rising commemoration. Young people carried images of the seven
signatories of the Proclamation, followed by bands and supporters.

Headed by a colour party dressed in traditional Irish Volunteers
uniform, flute bands and marchers carrying photos of the Rising leaders
followed close behind, mingling with supporters of all ages.

The republicans then made their way along Castle Street to nearby
Barrack Street, where they joined several hundred more who had gathered
to parade to Milltown Cemetery. The parade came to a halt at the garden
of remembrance on the Falls, as the colour party stopped to salute the
republican dead.

A spokesman for the Easter Rising Centenary Committee told the younger
members of the crowd that he “hoped they would be here to organise the
150th anniversary.”

He said: “It is our hope that this day be marked in the same way as July
4th in the US and Bastille Day in France.

“They (the Rising participants) held on for six days…they inspired
people of other countries to throw off the shackles of their British
masters. The republic proclaimed in 1916 has still not been realised.
Six counties are still under British occupation.”

The names of some of the republicans from Ulster who gathered in
Coalisland 100 years ago to participate in the Rising were read out,
along with a poem and the last words of the seven signatories of the

The commemoration ended with a minute’s silence and a rendition of
Amhran na bhFiann by the Carrick Hill Independent Flute Band.


The Sinn Fein commemoration on Sunday, mounted on a stage in the centre
of O’Connell Street was an upbeat event attended by several thousand.
Instead of IRA-style uniforms, there were people in 1916-era Volunteer,
Citizen Army and Cumann na mBan uniforms.

Re-enactors from the Cabra Historical Society fired simulated volleys,
and the emphasis was on the political legacy of 1916 and the need
peacefully to complete the dream of a 32-county republic.

A banner fixed to the GPO’s front wall bore the Liberty Hall slogan “We
serve neither King nor Kaiser, but Ireland”, while Stormont Deputy Fist
Minister Martin McGuinness delivered the speech. He told the crown that
“the days of second-class citizenship in the North are over” due to “the
sacrifice, the determination and the courage of this generation of Irish

He said Sinn Fein was the only party committed to achieving Irish unity
and delivering on the proclamation. He denounced the “self-serving
political parties” of the “establishment” for standing by during times
of crisis for republicanism.

“Sinn Fein is the only political party on this island working to end
that fracture in their nation and to achieving the Republic set out in
the proclamation,” he said. “The spirt of 1916 is as relevant and
inspiring today as it was a century ago.”

The event concluded with a rendition of “A Nation Once Again”.


Thousands turned out on Saturday for the main Republican Sinn Fein
centenary commemoration as it marched down O’Connell Street.

The parade from the Garden of Remembrance to the GPO involved marching
bands and military colour parties. Republican Sinn Fein said the
organisations in attendance included Na Fianna Eireann and Cumann na
mBan, led by a Piper and the Coatsbridge United Irishmen RFB.

Senior Republican Sinn Fein figures John Joe McCusker and Des Dalton
spoke outside the GPO, where marchers halted during proceedings. Wreaths
were laid by John Hunt, a Veteran of the republican cause of Limerick
and Chicago.


The largest state event of the weekend took place at Croke Park, the
headquarters of the Gaelic Athletic Associaton, who marked the centenary
with a theatrical production. ‘Laochra’ featured dance, song and poetry
that ended with a rendition of Amhran na bhFiann.

Children read the Proclamation while the names of GAA clubs named after
the leaders of the Easter Rising were also read aloud. GAA President
Aogan O Fearghail said it was a “very special day for Cumann Luthchleas

Separately, President Michael D Higgins led the annual commemorations at
Arbour Hill in Dublin. A wreath in honour of the rebel leaders was laid
in the cemetery where 14 of them are buried.

Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin spoke at the religious service in
the Church of the Sacred Heart. He urged people to seize the ideals of
the Proclamation.

“As Irish men and Irish women we are called still today never to betray
the ideals which inspired these who took part in the 1916 Rising or to
let those ideals be betrayed or watered down through our cynicism or
mediocrity,” the senior cleric said.

He also relaid notes taken by Father Columbus Murphy, a Capuchin priest,
who met rebel leader Padraig Pearse before his execution.

He read: “(Pearse) was seated with his head bowed down, sunk deep into
his arms resting on a little table… Disturbed by the noise of my entry
he slowly raised his head… Then recognizing the (religious) habit in
which I was garbed he got up, stretching out his hand and said ‘Oh
Father, the loss of life, the destruction, but please God it will not be
in vain”‘.

1916 Societies meeting reminder

Posted by Jim on April 29, 2016

Now that all the 1916 commemorations are behind us it’s time to meet again to plan out further strategies to continue promoting the 1916 Societies campaign for a reunited Ireland.

Meeting Tuesday, May 3rd @ O’Lunneys @ 6 pm upstairs.


Posted by Jim on April 28, 2016



President William Leahy, S.J. email is:

Please mention that our American academic freedom is at stake and that this is a blatant fishing expedition by the British authorities which offends every principle of US and International Law as the British can not show any evidence of any investigation or specific act of criminality committed by Dr. McIntyre.

Let them know you feel that Boston College’s failure to legally resist this latest move by the PSNI opens their college not only to the charge that they failed to do all they could to protect research subjects and now a researcher, but that they will be seen as aiding an act of sectarian bias being committed by the PSNIif they don’t resist.


We need to keep the pressure on Boston College and not allow them to turn over any materials/interviews given or taken by Dr. Anthony McIntyre.


Please share this Action Alert with your contact lists and organizations.

Protests as politicians ignore Maghaberry abuses

Posted by Jim on

Republican prisoners on Roe 4 wing of Maghaberry high-security prison
have been subjected to repeated raids by a riot squad in which
educational resources have been removed, according to reports this week.

On Thursday morning, the prison’s notorious heavy gang moved in and
removed all prisoners from their cells before searching individuals
cells, and then searching and removing all items from the prisoners’
classroom. Other raids saw educational resources removed from the
republican Roe 4 landing of Roe House and never returned. When the
prisoners asked what was going on, they were told by a laughing riot
squad member that it was only a “routine search”, according to the Irish
Republican Prisoners Welfare Association (IRPWA).

“It is very clear to IRPWA and the Republican Prisoners that these raids
and the continued ill treatment of Roe 4 Prisoners are deliberate
attempts by the administration to increase tensions in the jail and they
have once again demonstrated that they have no desire for a conflict
free environment,” they said.

Last week, a republican prisoner was physically assaulted when he
refused to stop listening to traditional Irish music, they added. He was
pinned down and then taken from Roe House, with other prisoners placed
on lock-down for two hours.

“This petty request to turn Irish music down is becoming more and more
common and comes on the back of Irish signs being ripped down and the
recent refusal to allow any item relating to 1916 into the jail stating
that the 1916 rising was a terrorist event and therefore will not be
tolerated in the jail,” the IRPWA said.

“It is very clear that the sectarian staff in Maghaberry have no desire
for a conflict free environment on Roe when they resort to such petty

In another development, two men attending outside hospital appointments
were forcibly strip searched upon leaving and returning to the jail
despite being handcuffed to a jailer throughout. Both were forced to
undergo private consultations in the company of three jailers with the
handcuffs on. Sleep disruption and new measures to control movement on
the landings are among other negative developments which have been
reported by the IRPWA recently.

The prisoners have condemned the failure of the nationalist political
parties to take issue with their treatment and have accused Sinn Fein
and the SDLP of refusing “to be seen to side with republican prisoners”
ahead of the Stormont Assembly election next month.

In a statement, the prisoners said: “On the 5th of May 1981, IRA
Volunteer Bobby Sands died on hunger strike, as he defied Britain’s
criminalisation agenda that was supported by political unionism and
constitutional nationalists in a futile attempt to break Republican
Political Prisoners and our Freedom Struggle.

“35 years later on the 5th May 2016 constitutional nationalists and
unionists will be standing for election to an anti-republican British
Assembly that is the antithesis of everything Bobby Sands represented,
as evidenced by his political activism, his commitment to armed struggle
and his own writings. An Assembly that acts as a proxy and enables
Britain to continue their criminalisation and brutalisation of
Republican Political Prisoners.”

They said that they would be organising protests against the abuses at
Maghaberry, including a white-line protest at 7pm on 5th May at
the bottom of the Whiterock Road.

“Through all this, there has not been a single utterance from the SDLP
or Sinn Fein. It is abundantly clear that both parties are no less than
pro-brit quislings and Redmondites undeserving of the support of
Republicans and the Nationalist community.”

IBO Golf Classic 2016 Supporting Rory Staunton Foundation

Posted by Jim on


5 day/4 night trip to Palms Resort & Casino in Las Vegas


5 day/4 night trip to La Costa Resort & Spa in San Diego


5 day/4 night trip to PGA National Resort & Spa in Palm Beach


Winning Team Receives The IBO Silver Bowl

Martin Gleason Memorial Award

Many IBO Golf Packages Available!

Registration now open for IBO Golf Classic:

Individual Player
Foursome Team




Malachy speaks to America

Posted by Jim on

Its Monday 25th April and I am so happy to be still here in the United States of America.
I have won a battle but not the war. Another year of deferred action is blessing for now.
A lot of tears have been shed since I received  the deportation order over four weeks ago especially in the last several days. 
I am emotionally and somewhat physically drained but elated at the outcome and I hope this will lead to an eventual long term resolution of my case. 
It has been a remarkable few days in for me in New York celebrating our nations independence and marking the 100th Anniversary of the Easter Rising even more so that it won’t be marked by my deportation or by me becoming a casualty or a symbol of the British persecution in 2016.
I am delighted at the outcome and overwhelmed by the support I have received from all over the United States, Ireland and from my friends and family in Belfast. I want to thank all the organizations, groups and individuals whom rallied behind me..
The timing may have been right given our history but I think we have ignited the passion and desire of the Irish American community in a way that has not been seen in such a long time.
More importantly the coming together of our elected representatives on both sides of the isle to support me highlights there concern for the peace progress and a need for the administration to renew there resolve and commitment to the Good Friday Agreement.
Thanks to all of you I can now get back to work and look forward to a summer of fun playing with my son Cadan and my five grandchildren.
It’s a beautiful day in America.!!
Please Join me in Wolfe Tone’s Irish Pub & Kitchen on Sunday 1st May 4pm to 8pm to celebrate our hard earned victory.
More information to follow.

Bernie spins Papal visit

Posted by Jim on April 17, 2016

Bernie Sanders Meets With Pope Francis


Senator Bernie Sanders leaving the Vatican on Saturday. He was at the Vatican for a conference on social and economic issues. Credit Alessandra Tarantino/Associated Press

VATICAN CITY — For a while, Senator Bernie Sanders’s Roman holiday seemed less than it was cracked up to be.

Immediately after his campaign announced that he would leave the United States for a “high-level meeting” at the Vatican, questions arose about the wisdom of the trip. The critical New York primary was just days away. One official of the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, which hosted the conference Mr. Sanders would attend, even suggested he had fished for the invitation.

Most critically, there seemed to be little chance that Mr. Sanders would meet the Vatican resident whose name he frequently invokes. Pope Francis, it turned out, would not be visiting the conference of the academy, an in-house think tank of the Vatican.

Politically, a trip to Rome without a meeting with Francis would have been a blunder, Costas Panagopoulos, a political science professor at Fordham University who is teaching at Yale, had said on Friday. “The point is to make sure you are going to get an audience with the pope,” he said. “Anything short of an actual visit will probably be a mistake.”

Mr. Sanders continued to hold out hope. “I certainly would be delighted and proud if I had the opportunity to meet with him,” he said before leaving New York.

He also had two things going for him: his host, Bishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, an Argentine who is the chancellor of the academy and happens to be close to Francis, and his hotel room, also close to the pope. Mr. Sanders was to stay in a second-floor room at Casa Santa Marta, the Vatican guesthouse where Francis keeps his residence.

“So it won’t be difficult to find the pope,” the bishop said last week, seeming to hint at something.

On Thursday, the day before the conference, a Vatican spokesman appeared to end all speculation, saying, “There won’t be a meeting with the Holy Father.”

Bishop Sánchez Sorondo dismissed the statement as “Roman gossip.”

But final word, it seemed, came Friday afternoon in the form of a handwritten letter from the pope apologizing to conference attendees for his absence.

“I will keep them all in my prayers and good wishes, and send them my heartfelt thanks for their participation,” he wrote. “May the Lord bless you. Fraternally, Franciscus.”

Around 5:30 p.m. Friday, the conference’s business ended and Mr. Sanders made an appointment for dinner at the Casa Santa Marta with his foreign policy adviser, Jeffrey D. Sachs, the economist and a fellow conference participant.

Mr. Sanders and his wife, Jane, sat with Mr. Sachs and his wife, Sonia, for a soup and buffet dinner, where they were joined by Bishop Sánchez Sorondo and Cardinal Óscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga of Honduras, the pope’s right-hand man and one of the Vatican’s top power players.

If Mr. Sanders were in the foyer of the Casa Santa Marta at 6 a.m. the next day, he would be able to speak briefly with Francis as the pope headed to the airport for his Saturday trip to Greece, where the pope would be addressing the migrant crisis.

So early Saturday morning, Mr. Sanders stood in the marble foyer, which looks out onto a large cobblestone drive just inside the Vatican walls. Joining him were his wife, Mr. Sachs and his wife and Bishop Sánchez Sorondo, the senator’s de facto Vatican fixer.

The pope, speaking to reporters on his plane later in the day, described the meeting. “This morning when I was leaving, Senator Sanders was there,” he said, adding, “He knew I was leaving at that time, and he had the courtesy to greet me.”

No photos of the encounter were permitted, but Mr. Sachs said the senator was delighted all the same. He was beaming as he left the guesthouse, and celebrated the informal audience with a victory lap of sorts in St. Peter’s Basilica along with Mr. Sachs and the bishop, passing Bernini’s Baldacchino, a monumental bronze canopy over the papal altar, and Michelangelo’s Pietà.

Aware that his every statement is parsed for deeper meaning, Francis said he was simply being polite, not political.

“I shook his hand and nothing more,” he said. “If someone thinks that greeting someone means getting involved in politics,” he added, laughing, “I recommend that he find a psychiatrist!”

But the candidate was excited to talk about his coveted souvenir.

“I conveyed to him my great admiration for the extraordinary work that he is doing all over the world in demanding that morality be part of our economy,” Mr. Sanders told reporters aboard the plane as it rushed him back to the campaign in New York.

Sean Kelly says he is victim of ‘political policing’

Posted by Jim on April 14, 2016


Shankill bomber Sean Kelly says he is victim of ‘political policing'
Sean Kelly has accused the PSNI of ‘political policing’. Picture by Hugh Russell



SEAN Kelly, the only person convicted over the Shankill bombing, has claimed he a victim of “political policing” in the wake of his recent arrest over the murder of Conor McKee in north Belfast.

The 42-year-old, who was convicted for his part in the 1993 IRA bomb atrocity, last night revealed he had met with the dead man’s family to tell them he played no part in his death.

Kelly was arrested at his home in north Belfast last week and questioned about Mr McKee’s murder. He was later released without charge.

In his only interview since his arrest the Ardoyne republican claimed he had was a the victim of “political policing” and reaffirmed his support for the peace process.

He claimed he is being singled out for attention by elements within the PSNI opposed to the peace process and believes his arrest is connected to attempts to have his early release licence revoked.

“They are trying to create a pattern, create a hype around it, that if they do go for it in their view they have justification,” he said.

His solicitor Seamus Delaney confirmed on Tuesday night he is considering legal action and has written to PSNI chief constable George Hamilton.

The solicitor said no evidence was put to his client during five interviews at Musgrave Street PSNI station last week.

Mr McKee (31) was blasted with a shotgun in the bedroom of his parents home in Glenpark Street in Oldpark in January in a suspected paramilitary attack.

He suffered from a heroin addiction and was on bail for drug offences the time of his death.

Kelly was released from prison in 2000 under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement after being jailed for life for his part in the Shankill Road bomb in October 1993 which claimed the lives of nine civilians.

The dead included: John Frizzel (63), George Williamson (63), Gillian Williamson (49), Sharon McBride (29), Michael Morrison (27), Evelyn Baird (27), Michelle Baird (7), Leanne Murray (13) and Wilma McKee (38).

Thomas Begley, an IRA man who was with Kelly when the bomb went off prematurely. also died in the blast.

In 2005 Kelly had his early release licence revoked and was returned to prison after claims he was involved in rioting. Sinn Féin insisted he was trying to stop trouble.

He has also been arrested several times in recent years.

He was questioned in 2013 after a teenager was shot in Ardoyne and last year was arrested about the murder of former IRA man Kevin McGuigan in east Belfast.

On each occasion he was released without charge.

Speaking on Tuesday, Kelly revealed his has met with Conor McKee’s family who he said told him they were “disgusted” at his arrest.

“I have also spoken to the McKee family and they fully accept that I had no involvement whatsoever in their son’s killing,” he said.

The republican believes he is being deliberately singled out and claimed “there is a clear anti-peace process element operating within the PSNI”.

“This is also being used by elements within the PSNI in order to create a crisis in the peace process and tensions in the local community,” he said.

“Questions remain, who really is pulling the strings?

“As recently experienced not a shred of evidence was produced during questioning.”

He said his treatment raises questions.

“It’s political policing at its worst and there are more questions than answers,” he said.

“This is a complete and utter onslaught on me personally and the process.

“It’s bigger than me, I am just a pawn in this and that’s my full view on it.”

The north Belfast man said he is a strong supporter of the peace process.

“I have been a defender of the peace process since I was released from jail and this is well known in republican communities and everybody knows my position.”

“My position on the peace process has seen me rearrested and returned to jail in 2005. That was also used as a tool and mechanism against the republican movement.”

During a 2013 commemoration for Thomas Begley Kelly said he was “truly sorry for the loss of life and the injuries suffered that day and the sufferings the families have endured”.

After his recent arrest unionists called for his early release licence to be revoked.

Kelly believes any focus on the bomb is being “used as a political football to create difficulties in the peace process”.

“The PSNI approach is not about investigating killings or getting the truth for the families affected,” he said.

“They don’t care about the families, they are trying to create a focus on me.”

Kelly said he will continue to work for republican ex prisoners and the “wider republican family” and said he remains “very strong and will not be deterred” by recent events.

The father-of-five said the continued attention and regular arrests have a negative impact on his family “whose lives are turned upside down each time I am targeted”.

His solicitor Seamus Delaney revealed he has three other clients that the PSNI have asked to present themselves for questioning about the killing of Mr McKee.

They have declined on the solicitor’s advice.

“Sean Kelly was not given that opportunity,” he said.

“There is no more evidence against him than there was against the other three which is why they were not arrested.

“He was arrested simply because of his profile.”

Mr Delaney said the PSNI had proof that his client was not involved in the McKee murder prior to his arrest.

“The police had in their possession for weeks solid concrete proof that Sean Kelly was not involved in this because they seized the CCTV from his place of work which shows Sean at work,” he said.

He also believes attempts may be made to revoke his clients licence.

“I am in no doubt there is a pattern and that pattern is designed to revoke Sean’s licence.”

In a statement on Tuesday night, Chief Inspector Justyn Galloway, said: “In the immediate aftermath of Conor’s murder we said we believed it was a drugs-related attack and that republican paramilitaries featured among our main lines of enquiry.

“That remains the position and we will go where the evidence takes us.

“I would again appeal to anyone with information about Conor’s murder to come forward to police.”

Effort to prevent McAllister deportation is ramped up

Posted by Jim on

Holy Land Principles Confront Coke’s Social Conscience

Posted by Jim on April 13, 2016

CAPITOL HILL. Wednesday, April 13, 2016—Coca Cola, the massive soft-drinks company headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, is facing an upcoming fair employment Resolution regarding its operations in Israel-Palestine. Coca Cola’s annual shareholders’ meeting is in Atlanta on April 27, where the company will be faced with a Resolution on the Holy Land Principles: a corporate code of conduct for American companies doing business in Palestine-Israel— based on the highly effective Mac Bride Principles for Northern Ireland. The Holy Land Principles are pro-Jewish, pro-Palestinian and pro-company. The Principles do not call for quotas, reverse discrimination, divestment, disinvestment or boycotts. The Principles do not take any position on solutions to the Israeli-Palestinian issue. The Principles do not try to tell the Palestinians or the Israelis what to do. The Holy Land Principles only try to get Coca Cola and the other companies to sign the Holy Land Principles.  Last year, three American companies — Corning, GE and Intel— tried to get the SEC (Securities Exchange Commission) to exclude the Holy Land Principles resolution from their 2015 Proxy Materials. However, the SEC ruled in favor of the Holy Land Principles. The SEC is a federal agency of the United States Government. One of the SEC’s main responsibilities is to protect investors. And the fact that the SEC has ruled in favor of the Holy Land Principles is proof positive that the Holy Land Principles are intrinsically valid, eminently reasonable and inherently fair. Fr. Sean Mc Manus—President of the Washington-based Holy Land Principles  and Irish National Caucus — said : “ Coca Cola in its ‘Statement Against Shareowner Proposal Regarding Holy Land Principles, ’ rather lamely argues  that ‘Endorsing these principles for one geographic area could risk undermining the universality of our own Human Rights Policy. We believe our policies work best when they can be applied throughout our entire enterprise.’ Well with all due respect, I think that’s a bit like responding to the urgent call ‘Black Lives Matter’ by saying all lives matter. People see through that dodge, that evasion, that dissembling.” Fr. Mc Manus explained: “American companies doing business in Northern Ireland initially tried such evasive tactics, including Coca Cola. But eventually they saw the light. Eventually 116 companies signed the Mac Bride Principles— including, to its credit, Coca Cola. So why would Coca Cola, or any American company now balk at signing the Holy Land Principles? Fr. Mc Manus continued: “Isn’t it truly remarkable that until we launched the Holy Land Principles, on International Human Rights Day, December 10, 2012, this issue had never been raised before in the corporate boardrooms. Surely, something was very odd about that? How can it be explained, given the fact that SRI groups and faith-based organizations were filing Resolutions by the boat-load on every conceivable issue? This surely was the elephant in the (board) room! One cannot ask American companies doing business in the Holy Land a more important or existential question than one about their fair employment practices. Therefore, the Holy Land Principles are filling a vacuum that was crying out to be filled—indeed, playing a prophetic role. That is why our campaign — like our Mac Bride Principles campaign — will prevail in the end because there is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come. We respectfully ask all Coca Cola investors to vote for the Holy Land Principles resolution.”   Fr. Sean Mc Manus President Holy Land Principles,Inc.

Saturday, May 21st, The Second Annual AOH Division 21 Horseshoe Tournament

Posted by Jim on April 12, 2016

The Second Annual AOH Division 21 Horseshoe Tournament
Breezy Point Fire House/Main Ball Field
Each team will be a 2 Person team – come with a friend or be
teamed up.
$30 per person
Includes Tournament, Unlimited
BBQ and Beverages.
Sponsor a Box! Only $75 for a Box Sponsorship.

Stop the Deportation of Malachy McAllister

Posted by Jim on April 8, 2016


Below is an urgent message from Brother Dan Dennehy (AOH National Immigration Committee) on behalf of AOH Brother Malachy McAllister.  Brother Malachy is a fine upstanding family man of impeccable integrity.  I had the great honor of having his daughter as a student when I was teaching in Rutherford, New Jersey.  These consistent attempts to deport him back to Northern Ireland and separate him from his children in the United States needs to stop.  Please take a few minutes to read this message and to call your Congressman or Congresswoman to support this initiative to stop this injustice from taking place.


In Friendship, Unity, & Christian Charity,

Greg Sean Canning

Florida State Secretary

National Director

FFAI Co-Chairman



Brother & Sister Hibernians and All Friends of the Irish Peace Process and Unity,   Malachy McAllister, a Brother from New Jersey Mercer County AOH Division 1, having fled his birthplace with his young family, based on proven death threats from Loyalist Death Squads, now faces imminent deportation on April 25, as we remember the 100th Anniversary of Ireland’s Republic. Malachy McAllister, here for the past 19 years, is raising his young family, is a productive businessman and employer and is acknowledged by many as a key promoter of the Irish Peace Process. US Congressman Joe Crowley has composed the attached Letter to Jeh Johnson, US Secretary of Homeland Security and Sarah Saldaña, Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director and is asking for our members to contact their US House Representative to sign onto his letter.   1) PLEASE call your member of the House of Representatives TODAY.     The number for the House Congressional Switchboard is (202) 225-3121.   2) Give your zip code when requested and ask to speak to your Congressman’s Office.   3) When directed to that Office, ask to speak to the Legislation Officer or Immigration Liaison your Representative.   4) If they aren’t available, ask to leave a message stating: “I would like to hear from the Congressman, the Chief of Staff or the Representative’s Immigration person as soon as possible. Ask then for an email address in order to forward Congressman Crowley’s letter.

  • If they are available, tell them that (a) You support Congressman Joe Crowley’s request that  ICE exercise its discretion (as it has done previously) by taking quick action to suspend the deportation order against Mr. McAllister as he is no threat to this country. (b) Ask your Congressman to contact Congressman Crowley and sign onto this letter!” 


  • If your Representative indicates to you their support for Comprehensive Immigration Reform, THANK THEM!If your Representative indicates opposition, ask them to reconsider that position and thank them for their time.


  • Please call or email me immediately after you have made contact, so that we may follow up on your efforts

Brothers, this issue is now crucial and requires immediate action on the part of every Hibernian.      I will be happy to provide you with any supporting information that you require. Thanks in advance for all your efforts. Yours In Our Motto, Dan Dennehy


McAllister Talking Points

(1) Imminent deportation – Order issued on 3/25/2016 to report for deportation on 4/25/2016, so urgent action is required(2) Has been granted Deferred Action Status by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) since 2006, indicating that there are no national security or public safety concerns that would warrant Mr. McAllister’s deportation and that DHS has found compelling factors in his case for exercising its discretion to allow him to remain in the United States.Case history:(3) Mr McAllister wife and three children granted asylum by Immigration Judge Henry Dogin in 2000 based on severe persecution suffered in Northern Ireland, including an attack on the family home in Belfast in which Loyalist gunmen fired 26 shots into the house while the McAllister children were inside. The grant of political asylum was appealed by the Board of Immigration Appeals twenty nine days later and taken from his wife and children.Mr. McAllister was denied asylum due to conviction in Northern Ireland in 1983 for participating in armed resistance to British rule. His participation was in the context of the severe persecution he suffered at the hands of the British military and the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), the militarized police force of Northern Ireland, and of a political struggle against British rule in Ireland.(4) Mr. McAllister appealed his denial to the Board of Immigration Appeals, which upheld the decision in 2003.The case was appealed to the Third Circuit, which upheld the denial of asylum in 2006. Nicola and Sean McAllister were also placed in deportation proceedings but now have temporary status under the ‘Dream Act’An Adjustment of Status application has been filed for Mr. McAllister based on an approved I-130 petition for immigrant status on behalf of Mr. McAllister filed by his U.S. citizen son, Gary McAllister. In order for this application to be considered, DHS must join a motion requesting the Board of Immigration Appeals to reopen the removal proceedings and remand the case to the Immigration Judge for consideration of the Adjustment of Status.(5) Substantial new evidence has come to light since the Third Circuit decision, confirming British government involvement in the attack on Mr. McAllister’s home.The Sir Desmond De Silva report on the investigation into the murder of lawyer Pat Finucane, issued in 2012, contains evidence on a number of other individuals who were targeted by loyalists in collusion with government forces, including Mr. McAllister (identified as “T/12” in the report).(6) Investigations in Northern Ireland into the attack on the McAllister house are ongoing.Mr. McAllister was just informed that his case is the subject of a active criminal investigation by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI).He also has a pending complaint before the Historical Investigations Unit (HIU, formerly the Historical Enquires Team). These investigations could create a dangerous situation for Mr. McAllister if he was returned to Northern Ireland, and the continual reminders of the attack would create added psychological trauma.(7) Since the Third Circuit decision, Congress has passed legislation, the Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA) of 2008, allowing for a waiver of the “terrorist activity” grounds of inadmissibility that render Mr. McAllister removable from the United States.Under the law, the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA), with which Mr. McAllister was involved, is not considered a “terrorist” group.It is notable that the group that targeted him, the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), is on the State Department’s Terrorist Watch List (a Tier II group under the CAA), indicating that they are still considered a danger.(8) Third Circuit Judge Maryanne Trump-Barry, in a concurring opinion, expressed regret that the law did not provide them with an avenue for Mr. McAllister to remain in the United States. This discretionary waiver could provide such an avenue for relief. At the very least, it expresses a policy change recognizing that the “terrorism” exclusion laws should not be absolute.(9) There are numerous positive factors that weigh in favor of allowing Mr. McAllister to remain in the United States.Essentially, he is a model resident of this country:Mr. McAllister has a four-year-old U.S. citizen son, as well as a 39 years old U.S. citizen son, and 5 U.S. citizen. grandchildren.He has not been arrested or convicted of any crime since arriving in the U.S., and his conviction in Northern Ireland was over 30 years ago.He owns two businesses and employs at least 14 U.S. workers.He has numerous community ties and strong support from Irish American organizations.He has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder caused by the persecution he suffered in Belfast.Humanitarian considerations and U.S. immigration policy warrant strong consideration of psychological trauma.

Sinn Féin Nominates Ciaran Staunton for Seanad

Posted by Jim on March 22, 2016

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD has announced that the party has nominated Ciaran Staunton as an independent candidate in the Seanad elections “as a voice for the diaspora”.

The Sinn Féin leader said:

“Ciaran Staunton is a Mayo man who has lived in the United States since the 1980’s.  He has been a long-time leader on immigration issues. In 1990, he was involved in the campaign which saw the introduction of the Morrison Visa programme that opened the door to thousands of Irish citizens being able to legally enter the USA.

“In 2005, Ciaran co-founded the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform. The ILIR is the leading Irish American organisation campaigning for immigration reform and the resolution of the status of the 50,000 undocumented Irish immigrants living in the USA.

“Ciaran has met the most senior political leaders in the USA as part of this work. He has lobbied the White House, the Congress and Senate. He has also been a frequent visitor to the Dáil where he has briefed the Irish government and Oireachtas members.”

Gerry Adams added:

“Ciaran Staunton has been a vocal and effective champion for Irish immigrants for almost 30 years. There are approximately 70million citizens across the globe who claim Irish roots.  In the last ten years, almost half a million more have left these shores for all parts of the globe. Every townland and parish the length and breadth of Ireland has a son or daughter in the diaspora.

“Sinn Féin believes that much more must be done to develop and strengthen our relationship with the diaspora. This objective can be enhanced with a strong dedicated voice in the Oireachtas; someone who will fight for the rights of the undocumented in the USA; for votes for Irish citizens living abroad; for improved connectedness between the island of Ireland and our diaspora; and for a united Ireland. I believe that Ciaran Staunton has the experience and commitment to be that voice.”

Gerry Adams concluded:

“In April 2012, Ciaran and Orlaith’s 12-year-old son Rory tragically died as a result of Sepsis. The family established the Rory Staunton Foundation to raise awareness and improve diagnosis around this issue.

“In 2013, ‘Rory’s Regulations’ were adopted in New York State. These regulations require all hospitals to adopt best practices for the early identification and treatment of sepsis.  This month, the Staunton’s secured an important victory when the House and Senate Appropriations Committees supported the allocation of funding in the US budget of awareness programmes.”

Increased harassment in nationalist areas

Posted by Jim on March 20, 2016

Several homes in Belfast were violently raided last weekend amid an
increased PSNI presence, with heavily armed units deployed in the west
and north of the city.

In the New Lodge and Ardoyne areas, a number of raids were carried out
on the homes of republicans by members of the PSNI’s balaclava-wearing
TSG (Tactical Support Group).

Two local men were taken from a car in Ardoyne by armed police and
forced to the ground at gunpoint while their vehicle was searched. The
PSNI’s helicopter hovered over the area for much of the weekend.

Another man said the PSNI “went nuts” went they found his car boot
contained prisoner campaign leaflets and commemorative Easter lilies for
the republican parade in Coalisland, County Tyrone on Easter Sunday.

“The PSNI guys totally lost it they went pure nuts, full of hatred,
pushed me against the car,” he said. “Refused to allow any call to
solicitor and refused to provide any details of the search but the
locals saw it and recorded it.”

In what was described as a direct attack on the nationalist community of
the Lower Falls, the PSNI raided the offices of the Divis Residents’
Support Team and three homes in the area on Saturday night. They
arrested one community activist and were said to have traumatised
infants and the elderly. Residents and activists held a protest on
Sunday evening.

Eirigi activists who created a new Easter Rising mural at Lenadoon
Avenue in west Belfast last week also reported that they were subjected
to repeated harassment from heavily armed members of the PSNI.


Meanwhile, in Derry, a widow said she was left traumatised by a PSNI
raid on her Bogside home Up to eight armed PSNI men turned her Cable
Street home upside down. Mrs Gallagher, who has a number of health
issues, is the widow of well-known Derry republican, Jim Gallagher, who
died six years ago.

She said she was ‘at a loss’ as to why the search was carried out at her
home where she has lived for the past 30 years. She said: “The last time
we were raided was well over ten years ago. There was no reason for this
to happen. It was very intimidating and I felt very uncomfortable given
the fact I was alone with eight armed male police officers.

“Neighbours who tried to get into the house were denied entry. My phone
was taken off me so I could not phone anyone. My daughter, who arrived
about an hour after the raid began, was eventually allowed it.

“They searched everywhere – drawers, cupboards, gardens – it was
terrifying. I don’t understand why this has happened. I want to know

Gary Donnelly, independent councillor on Derry City and Strabane
District Council, condemned the raid.

“For her to be alone with heavily armed police officers was vindictive
and nasty. She has been through a terrible ordeal.”

“This type of policing is not unusual in this community. Local
politicians, who are quick to condemn actions of republicans, should
stand up and speak up for vulnerable people, such as Mrs Gallagher, who
continue to suffer from political policing.”

Increased harassment in nationalist areas

Posted by Jim on March 19, 2016

Several homes in Belfast were violently raided last weekend amid an
increased PSNI presence, with heavily armed units deployed in the west
and north of the city.

In the New Lodge and Ardoyne areas, a number of raids were carried out
on the homes of republicans by members of the PSNI’s balaclava-wearing
TSG (Tactical Support Group).

Two local men were taken from a car in Ardoyne by armed police and
forced to the ground at gunpoint while their vehicle was searched. The
PSNI’s helicopter hovered over the area for much of the weekend.

Another man said the PSNI “went nuts” went they found his car boot
contained prisoner campaign leaflets and commemorative Easter lilies for
the republican parade in Coalisland, County Tyrone on Easter Sunday.

“The PSNI guys totally lost it they went pure nuts, full of hatred,
pushed me against the car,” he said. “Refused to allow any call to
solicitor and refused to provide any details of the search but the
locals saw it and recorded it.”

In what was described as a direct attack on the nationalist community of
the Lower Falls, the PSNI raided the offices of the Divis Residents’
Support Team and three homes in the area on Saturday night. They
arrested one community activist and were said to have traumatised
infants and the elderly. Residents and activists held a protest on
Sunday evening.

Eirigi activists who created a new Easter Rising mural at Lenadoon
Avenue in west Belfast last week also reported that they were subjected
to repeated harassment from heavily armed members of the PSNI.


Meanwhile, in Derry, a widow said she was left traumatised by a PSNI
raid on her Bogside home Up to eight armed PSNI men turned her Cable
Street home upside down. Mrs Gallagher, who has a number of health
issues, is the widow of well-known Derry republican, Jim Gallagher, who
died six years ago.

She said she was ‘at a loss’ as to why the search was carried out at her
home where she has lived for the past 30 years. She said: “The last time
we were raided was well over ten years ago. There was no reason for this
to happen. It was very intimidating and I felt very uncomfortable given
the fact I was alone with eight armed male police officers.

“Neighbours who tried to get into the house were denied entry. My phone
was taken off me so I could not phone anyone. My daughter, who arrived
about an hour after the raid began, was eventually allowed it.

“They searched everywhere – drawers, cupboards, gardens – it was
terrifying. I don’t understand why this has happened. I want to know

Gary Donnelly, independent councillor on Derry City and Strabane
District Council, condemned the raid.

“For her to be alone with heavily armed police officers was vindictive
and nasty. She has been through a terrible ordeal.”

“This type of policing is not unusual in this community. Local
politicians, who are quick to condemn actions of republicans, should
stand up and speak up for vulnerable people, such as Mrs Gallagher, who
continue to suffer from political policing.”


Posted by Jim on

Adams in effigy





Nationalist bid to overturn vote on bonfire and Rising funding rejected
Brendan Hughes, Irish News (Belfast). Saturday, March 19, 2016

CONTORVERSY: An effigy of Sinn Fein’s Gerry Adams hangs from a bonfire at Ballycraigy in Antrim

A NATIONALIST bid to overturn controversial funding decisions on bonfires and the Easter Rising has been

rejected by a Co Antrim council following legal advice.

Councillors had requested a ‘call-in’ of Antrim and Newtownabbey council’s decision to continue to provide funding when loyalist bonfires use racist or sectarian displays.

They also challenged £50,000 of funding being set aside for the Somme centenary this year but none for the Easter Rising.

The ‘call-in’ procedure allows a contentious decision to be reconsidered if 15 per cent of councillors believe it was not properly reached or would adversely affect a section of the community.

Legal opinion was sought by the council as part of the procedure, but yesterday it said the legal advice has determined that the call-ins “do not have merit”.

“The legal opinion provided to the council is legally privileged and confidential and therefore will not be disclosed,” a spokeswoman said.

Sinn Féin councillor Anne Marie Logue urged the council to publish the legal advice received.

“The call-in decision will not stop us highlighting and challenging the blatant inequality for nationalist ratepayers in Antrim and Newtownabbey council,” she said.

“Legal advice which is in the interest of the public and paid for by the ratepayers should be made public.”

The dispute comes after the council had voted on a new policy to give funding to groups organising Eleventh Night bonfires to hold related family events.

The unionist-majority council backed funding sanctions over environmental issues such as the burning of tyres.

But a proposal to withhold money for offensive displays such as burning flags and effigies failed to gain enough support.

Separately, the council also failed to reach an agreement on allocating any funds for Easter Rising commemorations.

The council has earmarked £50,000 for events to mark the Battle of the Somme centenary.

A nationalist proposal to give £40,000 towards Rising events was defeated, while the DUP’s suggestion of zero funding was also dismissed.

A councillor working group’s proposal for £10,000 was also knocked back after being rejected by DUP and Sinn Féín councillors.

100th anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising on Sunday April 24, 2016

Posted by Jim on March 18, 2016

The National Irish Freedom Committee (NIFC) will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising on Sunday April 24, 2016, commencing at the grave of Irish War of Independence veteran Joe Stynes in Woodlawn Cemetery, Bronx, NY at 10.00 am.

The commemoration will continue at Rory Dolan’s restaurant McClean Ave., Yonkers, New York at 12.00 noon.

The focus of the commemoration will be on a solemn ceremony of each individual in attendance “reading of the names”  of the fallen heroes of 1916 Rising depicted on the recently completed 1916–Easter Rising Centennial Banner -2016 .

The “reading of the names” ceremony will be recorded and simultaneously projected onto an in-house projection screen and posted on social media outlets for viewing by a world wide audience, especially by the Irish Diaspora.

Tickets are $40.00 per person that includes an Irish lunch and early Irish tea /coffee— no charge for children under 14.

For tickets, call 732 771 6897. Tickets  may also be purchased online at; ;

For additional information email:

For updated information visit:facebook:

US Secret Service apologizes to Gerry Adams over White House ban

Posted by Jim on March 17, 2016

by Frances Mulraney


Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams was held from the White House St. Patrick's Day event on Tuesday by US Secret Service because of an administrative error.

The US Secret Service apologized to Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams yesterday for denying him entry to the annual official St. Patrick’s Day celebration at the White House. The story was first reported by Irish Central.

 A spokesman for the Secret Service, Robert K.Hobak,  apologized during an interview with The New York Times saying it was an unfortunate administrative error.

Sinn Fein personnel however suspected there were other forces involved in blocking Adams entering the White House which he  has visited 22 times. Leaders in Congress penned an angry letter to White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough over the incident.

Adams had earlier declared the delays in allowing him into Tuesday’s St. Patrick’s Day celebrations as an “unacceptable development.”


The Irish political leader commented on the events of Tuesday evening which saw him left waiting for 90 minutes, awaiting entry into the annual event hosted by President Obama. In an official statement on Sinn Féin’s website Adams voiced his disappointment in the manner in which he was treated by White House staff.

“I had received my usual invitation to attend the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in the White House and was pleased to accept,” Adams said.

“When I arrived the staff at the White House informed me that there was an issue of ‘security.’

“After two decades of travelling back and forth to the USA and countless meetings in the White House with successive US Presidents, this is an unacceptable development.”

The US Security Service has since apologized for the delays, stating that an administrative error caused the issue.

“The Secret Service would like to express our regret that the issue involving Mr Gerry Adams’ entry into the St. Patrick’s Day reception could not be resolved in a more timely manner,” a spokesperson said.

“Unfortunately, an administrative input error received by the Secret Service was not able to be rectified promptly.”

Adams’ exclusion from the event left many Irish American leaders baffled. Members of the Friends of Ireland caucus in the House of Representatives addressed a letter to Chief of Staff Denis McDonough expressing their outrage that Adams was denied entry to the reception.

Signed by members of congress including Richard E. Neal, Peter King, Brendan Boyle, Joe Crowley, and James P. McGovern, the letter stated: “For more than three decades, the United States government has continuously encouraged the political parties in Northern Ireland to take risks for peace. But instead of being rewarded for their efforts, many members of Sinn Fein are now being punished. This unfortunate behavior seems to be happening with increasing regularity.”

Credit: Friends of Ireland Caucus

Credit: Friends of Ireland Caucus

Irish-American Democratic congressman Brendan Boyle, who also signed the letter, told The Irish Times that the incident was greatly discussed when the Friends of Ireland caucus met with Adams on Wednesday morning.

“A group of us were anywhere from annoyed about it to pretty angry about it, and we intend to raise it with the White House,” he said.

Boyle believed that the delay was either “a very embarrassing bureaucratic snafu or is there something more sinister going on.”

The official letter from the Friends of Ireland reinforced this belief that Sinn Féin politicians, in particular, are being isolated because of their political affiliations.

“After years of conflict, Northern Ireland is now seen as a society in transformation, and the negotiations that led to the power sharing institutions in Belfast are now seen as a model of successful conflict resolution across the globe,” the letter continued.

“Despite this progress, representatives of Sinn Féin continue to experience extraordinary difficulties when travelling to the United States, and we believe that many of these individuals are being victimized because of their party affiliation. While raised with administration officials repeatedly, the situation is going from bad to worse.”

“He [Adams] was invited to his [Obama’s] home and all of a sudden was excluded and frankly I can’t understand it,” commented celebrated Irish American lawyer and lobbyist for immigration rights, Brian O’Dwyer.

“I’m outraged in a sense that Gerry Adams has for years and years worked diligently for peace in Northern Ireland and the intentionality of reversing the hard work a number of Irish Americans have put into the peace process in terms of ensuring that all parties were welcomed and play a part in the process so that a process that’s always fragile could be sustained, can only be described as an intense act of incompetence.”

Adams, a newly re-elected TD for County Louth, planned to attend the annual presentation of the shamrock to the US President in Washington D.C., held two days early this year on March 15 as caretaker Taoiseach Enda Kenny must attend a meeting in Brussels on March 17, along with North Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness and Sinn Féin Vice-President Mary-Lou McDonald, both of whom were allowed into the event.


Adams, however, was halted as he tried to gain entry and forced to wait for almost an hour and a half because of apparent security concerns. Whereas McGuinness and McDonald continued into the party, Adams was asked to step aside by security personnel as they inspected his documents.

On hearing that Obama had begun to speak at the event, Adams made the decision to wait no longer and left.

The Sinn Féin President stated yesterday he believes the refusal to allow him entry to one of the most important events in the Irish calendar in the US was an attempt to set Sinn Féin aside from other Irish political parties.

“It is obvious that there remain some within the US administration who seek to treat Sinn Féin differently,” he said.

“Some of our political representatives have been denied access to the USA while others, including myself, have to regularly go through additional searches and scrutiny when we travel to and from the USA.”

Irish American lawyer Brian O’Dwyer also believes that the slight showed a lack of respect for Adams. “It makes no sense. I can’t understand. He’s the leader of an Irish political party and it’s insulting,” he said.

“Obviously somebody needs to apologize. If someone was invited into my home and was treated that way I would pick up the phone and apologize to them.

“He’s a politician and the leader of the second largest party in Northern Ireland and the third largest party in the South and deserves to be treated with great respect.”

Adams yesterday tweeted images of his White House invitation and the letter confirming his attendance before releasing his official statement.


He also stated that the refusal tactic had been previously used in the US in an attempt to influence Sinn Féin, in particular, during the Stormont crisis last year when the State Department initially refused to meet with him.

“Last year the State Department initially refused to meet me as part of a transparent effort to pressurise Sinn Féin during negotiations at Stormont,” Adams continued.

“That meeting did take place after protests from US political leaders. Efforts to pressurise us in the negotiations failed.”

Congressman Boyle also agrees that the State Department has become harsher in recent years in their dealings with the Sinn Féin leader.

“It is odd that here is this wonderful event – very inclusive, everyone’s welcome, a chance to celebrate everything that’s been achieved over the last two decades,” he told The Irish Times, “and now you are going to have Gerry Adams who is invited as a guest, to stand outside for an hour and a half because security won’t let him in. It’s embarrassing.”

Adams has not met with any further delays in the US following Tuesday evening. On Tuesday morning he attended a lunch with Speaker Paul Ryan, following an appearance at the Brehon Law Society Dinner in New York on Monday evening.


Adams said: “This morning [Wednesday, March 16] Martin McGuinness, Mary Lou McDonald and I met with the Congressional Friends of Ireland. They too shared our grave disappointment at the White House situation and expressed their determination to have this issue resolved.

“Sinn Fein will not sit at the back of the bus for anyone,” he concluded. “We are elected to represent citizens and we will do this. I am hopeful that the controversy around my White House invitation will help lead to a resolution of all these matters.”

Enjoying his last St. Patrick’s Day in office, Obama once again referenced his own Irish heritage in his St. Patrick’s Day address.

“This, of course, is one of my favorite events,” Obama said. “I get to welcome my people and the Obamas of Leinster are nothing if not welcoming.”

“Of course, for the Irish, home is everywhere and nowhere in the world is more everywhere than the United States. We are braided together in so many ways, America and Ireland.

“We have been for centuries, through history, through bloodline. We’ve waged war side by side, we’ve waged peace side by side.

“We are family and we are friends.”

Former St. Patrick’s Day Parade official accused of improperly spending company money cleared of wrongdoing

Posted by Jim on

The New York Attorney General's office has stopped investigating John Dunleavy, the former St. Patrick's Day Parade board chairman.

The New York Attorney General’s office has stopped investigating John Dunleavy, the former St. Patrick’s Day Parade board chairman.

Allegations of financial shenanigans by the ousted head of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade committee were dismissed Wednesday as a bunch of blarney.

The Attorney General’s office halted its probe of accusations against former board chairman John Dunleavy, who was charged last summer with spending company money for personal items, including a “male enhancement drug,” during a bitter struggle for control of the venerable parade.

In a November letter to the AG’s office, a parade official said an internal audit turned up roughly $24,000 in credit card charges over three years for trips that didn’t seem connected to the non-profit’s core mission.


The trips involved Dunleavy, another former board member Mike Cassels and Carla Chadwick, a special assistant to Dunleavy.

Another $2,000 was spent by Dunleavy on “GRC Triverex, a male enhancement drug,” the letter said.

In three instances, there were duplicate reimbursements worth $1,700 — and a deeper review going back to 2010 revealed another $10,000 in “questionable charges” by Dunleavy, the letter said.

The missive was sent to the AG last summer when Dunleavy was being ousted from his decades-long perch within the St. Patrick’s Day Parade organization, a non-profit that coordinates the famous Fifth Ave. celebration every March 17.

Dunleavy, 77, had long opposed the inclusion of gay groups in New York’s world-famous St. Paddy’s parade.

Dunleavy was accused of spending company money for personal items, but the attorney general dismissed the allegations.

In June, the non-profit’s board voted to have Quinnipiac University president John Lahey take over as chairman of the nonprofit.

Lahey quickly moved to announce that LGBT members would be welcome in the historic parade.

Dunleavy remains a board member and is also a chairman emeritus.

But the internal battles haven’t ended — with Dunleavy charging that the allegations against him were an attempt to smear his name.

“From the beginning, we knew that these accusations were patently false,” Dunleavy’s attorney, Frank Young, said Wednesday, after receiving notice from the AG’s office that the probe was over.

Dunleavy’s supporters maintained that the mentions of the “male-enhancement drug” were only meant to embarrass him and that the travel expenses were legitimate trips to Washington, D.C. to visit with military officials on behalf of the parade.
Young said Dunleavy and the others were thrilled to have the good news in time to enjoy Thursday’s parade.

“They can proudly hold their heads up high as they celebrate and honor the glorious St. Patrick,” he added.

A number of marchers in the annual celebration of Irish culture plan on wearing buttons emblazoned with the slogan “Honor St. Patrick” in protest of Lahey’s position as chairman.

A spokesman for Lahey declined to comment.

Obama silent as Adams blasts White House insult

Posted by Jim on March 16, 2016

There has been no comment so far by the White House after an
extraordinary and hamfisted insult to Gerry Adams drew stinging
criticism from the Sinn Fein party leader and stunned Irish-American
political leaders.

Mr Adams hit out after being stopped from entering the White House for a
St Patrick’s Day celebrations event with President Obama last night.
Despite being invited, as he has for several years, Mr Adams was told
there was a “security issue” when he attempted to attend the annual
event at which the traditional bowl of shamrock is presented.

Mr Adams’s party colleagues, the Six County Deputy First Minister (and
former IRA commander) Martin McGuinness, and the party’s deputy leader
Mary Lou McDonald, were allowed to enter the celebrations. Mr Adams
waited for about 90 minutes before deciding to leave. He has described
the incident was “an unacceptable development”.

Invitations to White House events are only issued following the most
stringent security checks. This afternoon, Mr Adams tweeted a picture of
his invitation. The Sinn Fein President said that he had been invited to
the event and was pleased to accept.

“When I arrived the staff at the White House informed me there was an
issue of ‘security’,” he said.

“After two decades of travelling back and forth to the USA and countless
meetings in the White House with successive US Presidents, this is an
unacceptable development.

“It is obvious that there remain some within the US administration who
seek to treat Sinn Fein differently.”

Mr Adams added that Sinn Fein representatives had been denied entry or
had to go through extra searches when travelling to the USA, while the
State Department had also initially refused to meet him last year until
protests from Irish America.

“Last year the State Department initially refused to meet me as part of
a transparent effort to pressurise Sinn Fein during negotiations at

“That meeting did take place after protests from US political leaders.
Efforts to pressurise us in the negotiations failed.

“This morning Martin McGuinness, Mary Lou McDonald and I met with the
Congressional Friends of Ireland. They too shared our grave
disappointment at the White House situation and expressed their
determination to have this issue resolved.

“Sinn Fein will not sit at the back of the bus for anyone. We are
elected to represent citizens and we will do this. I am hopeful that the
controversy around my White House invitation will help lead to a
resolution of all these matters,” he added.

Leading US Congressional figures promised an immediate inquiry. Richie
Tranghese, key Irish staffer for Congressman Ritchie Neal, said the
refusal would be immediately challenged.

The GAA Champion Brooklyn Shamrocks Dinner Dance May 6, 2016, all welcome

Posted by Jim on March 11, 2016

Brooklyn Shamrocks Gfc's photo.
Brooklyn Shamrocks Gfc with Martin Rooney and 7 others.


Kings County AOH/LAOH Night at the Races Fundraiser

Posted by Jim on


Saturday April 2, 2016

Location St Patrick’s Auditorium

401 97th Street, Brooklyn NY 11209 (Entrance is on 4th Avenue)

Doors open at 6:30 pm -First Race 7:30pm


Admission $20.00

Includes Food, Beer, Soda, Snacks


There will be Horse Bets- 50/50 Drawing- Raffles

Auctioning Horses $10.00-Name your horse________________

Sponsor a Race $100.00 ( send names for all horses in race)

You do not have to purchase a horse to attend


Please make check payable to AOH/LAOH( Contact Rose at 347-866-1848 or Steve Kiernan 917-886-8677)

All proceeds will go to support Catholic Education at

St Patrick Academy, St Anselm Academy,

Holy Angels Academy and St Ephrem School

41st Annual Brooklyn St. Patrick’s Parade-Park Slope:

Posted by Jim on March 9, 2016

41st Annual Brooklyn St. Patrick’s Parade-Park Slope:

Sunday March 20, 2016

PARADE THEME: 100th Anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising in Ireland

Parade Grand Marshal:

Mary Hogan,

National President, Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians

Retired Verizon/ CWA Local 1101/ LAOH Div 6, Greenpoint, Brooklyn

Aides to the Grand Marshal:

Margaret McEneaney (Ladies AOH-Kings County Board)

Daniel Chiarantano (AOH-Kings County Board)

             Agnes Newlinger (United Irish Counties of New York)

Frank Jordan (Grand Council/Emerald Societies-Telecommunications/Verizon/CWA)

Brian Dilberian (Uniformed Services-FDNY (Ret.Military Sgt.-Wounded Warrior)

Thomas Callahan (Education/St. Joseph the Worker Catholic Academy)

Michael Coyne (Aide-at-Large/Holy Name Parish)

Lisa Murphy (Irish Culture/O’Malley Irish Dance Academy)

J.J. Devaney (Gaelic Sports/Brooklyn Shamrock’s Football Club)

Dedicated to the memories of Founding Member:

Peter Heaney & 3 Former Grand Marshals :

1997 Fr. Colm Campbell; 2007 Fr. Dennis Farrell; 2010 Vincent O’Connor

Parade will always be “In Remembrance Of” the Heroes & Victims of 9/11-WTC

Parade Day Mass at Holy Name Church-245 Prospect Park West- 9:00 AM

Celebrant: Most. Reverend James Massa, Aux: Bishop of Brooklyn

Parade Assembly: 12noon- on P.P West Between 15th and 9th Street

“Re-Dedication Ceremony” to the Heroes& Victims of 9/11-WTC: 12:45pm

Parade Step off: 1:00 pm — Reviewing Stand: Bartell Pritchard Circle-14th street-PPW


After Parade Party: Holy Name Hall-

Corned beef and cabbage Dinner & music-3pm – 6pm

$30.00 call 718 499-9482 in advance to reserve ticket

For additional info visit our website:

Email us at:

An American journalist reports from Ireland during the Famine

Posted by Jim on March 8, 2016



William Balch paints an unforgettable picture of famine times.

William Balch, American minister, historian and journalist visited Ireland during the Famine year 1850. We pick up his journey as he approaches Millstreet in Cork in dreadful weather.

 “Our road now lay, after a few miles, through a rough, wild, mountainous country much of the way. We passed along narrow defiles, through boggy meadows, and under lofty mountains, following a small stream to its very source in a large bog, from which we descended into a small valley running between two ranges of jagged, barren mountains, in which is situated the little dirty town of Millstreet. We passed several ruined castles on our way; among them Carrig-a-Phouca, somewhat in the style of Blarney, though more dilapidated, having been built by the McCarthy’s, in the early style of castle architecture.

In the course of the afternoon it came on to rain in torrents. We were wholly unprotected from the ”pelting of the pitiless storm.” An English naval officer, on the seat before us, was sheltered by a good mackintosh cape, a corner of which I borrowed without his knowledge, to shield my knees. He also had a large blanket under him, which he preferred to keep there, rather than offer it to us. An-other gentleman of the same nation, on the right, had an umbrella, which he contrived to hold just so as to pour an additional torrent upon one of our company, never offering to share it with us.


The poor fellows behind, and one for-ward, were as bad off as ourselves, except Mr. Red-coat, who bundled himself up with several cloaks and took it patiently. There was not a passenger inside, and had not been all day. Six might have been shielded from the storm, perhaps, from sickness and untimely death. But to enter was not permitted, inasmuch as we had taken outside seats, and neither the driver nor the guard had any option in the case — we suppose they had not. Humanity is the boast of John Bull. This is an illustration of it.

At Millstreet we stopped a few minutes, and most of the passengers took a lunch. A loaf of bread, the shell of half a cheese and a huge piece of cold baked beef were set upon the table in the dirty bar-room. Each went and cut for himself, filling mouth, hands and pockets as he chose. Those who took meat paid a shilling; for the bread and cheese, a sixpence. The Englishmen had their beer, the Irishmen their whiskey, the Americans cold water.

Our party came out with hands full, but the host of wretches about the coach, who seemed to need it more than we, soon begged it all away from us, and then besought us, ” Please, sir, a ha’-penny, oond may God reward ye in heaven.” A woman lifted up her sick child, in which was barely the breath of life, muttering, ” Pray, yer honor, give me a mite for my poor childer, a single penny, oond may God save yer shoul.”

Several deformed creatures stationed themselves along the street, and shouted after us in the most pitiful tones. Others ran beside the coach for half a mile, yelling in the most doleful manner for a” ha’penny,” promising us eternal life if we would but give them one.

We observed that the Englishmen gave nothing, but looked at them and spoke in the most contemptuous manner. We could not give to all, but our hearts bled for them. We may become more callous by a longer acquaintance with these scenes of destitution and misery; but at present the beauty of the Green Isle is greatly maiTed, and our journey, at every advance, made painful by the sight of such an amount of degradation and suffering [sic].

At one place, we saw a company of twenty or thirty men, women and children, hovering about the mouth of an old lime-kiln, to shelter themselves from the cold wind and rain. The driver pointed them out as a sample of what was common in these parts a year ago. As we approached, ascending a hill at a slow pace, about half of them came from the kiln, which stood in a pasture some rods from the road. Such lean specimens of humanity I never before thought the world could present. They were mere skeletons, wrapped up in the coarsest rags. Not one of them had on a decent garment.

The legs and arms of some were entirely naked. Others had tattered rags dangling down to their knees and elbows. And patches of all sorts and colors made up what garments they had about their bodies. They stretched out their lean hands, fastened upon arms of skin and bone, turned their wan, ghastly faces, and sunken, lifeless eyes imploringly up to us, with feeble words of entreaty, which went to our deepest heart. The Englishmen made some cold remarks about their indolence and worthlessness, and gave them, and gave them nothing.

I never regretted more sincerely my own poverty than in that hour. Such objects of complete destitution and misery; such countenances of dejection and woe, I had not believed could be found on earth. Not a gleam of hope springing from their crushed spirits; the pangs of poverty gnawing at the very fountains of their life. All darkness, deep, settled gloom! Not a ray of light for them from any point of heaven or earth! Starvation, the most horrid of deaths, staring them full in the face, let them turn whither they will. The cold grave offering their only relief, and that, perhaps, to be denied them, till picked up from the way-side, many days after death, by some stranger passing that way, who will feel compassion enough to cover up their moldering bones with a few shovels-full of earth!

And this a Christian country! a part of the great empire of Great Britain, on whose domain the ” sun never sets,” boastful of its enlightenment, its liberty, its humanity, its compassion for the poor slaves of our land, its lively interest in whatever civilizes, refines, and elevates mankind! Yet here in this beautiful Island, formed bv nature with such superior advantages, more than a score of human beings, shivering under the walls of a lirriekiln, and actually starving to death!

Arlene Foster: It’s me or Martin McGuinness

Posted by Jim on March 5, 2016

Belfast Telegraph. Saturday, March 5, 2016

The First Minister warned voters they faced a stark choicDemocratic Unionist leader Arlene Foster has told voters May’s Assembly election boils down to whether she or Martin McGuinness will be Northern Ireland’s first minister.
Addressing the party faithful at the DUP’s spring conference in Limavady, the current First Minister insisted she and the Sinn Fein veteran had “very different visions” for the future of the region.
“At the heart of this election is an important choice for the community,” she said.

“108 MLAs will be elected but in reality the next first minister will either be me or Martin McGuinness. Your vote will decide. It’s that simple.”

The Fermanagh and South Tyrone MLA, who took over from the retiring Peter Robinson last year, outlined her party’s main priorities for the coming Assembly term.

She said the DUP would focus on job creation, protection of family budgets, prioritising spending on the health service, raising standards in education and investing in infrastructure.

But the battle with Sinn Fein for the first minister’s job was the major theme of her speech.

“I may not be on the ballot across the Province but a vote for our DUP candidates all across the country will  return a unionist first minister,” she said.

“A swing of only two votes in every hundred from the DUP to Sinn Fein would see Martin McGuinness become the next first minister.

“Their (Sinn Fein’s) real agenda in the May election is to shred and split unionist votes.

“They didn’t make the breakthrough they wanted in the South and will do all they can to take Northern Ireland.

“They will seek to capitalise on a new and untested leader of the SDLP and on the complacency of some unionists.

“That would be bad for unionism and bad for Northern Ireland.

“It would take Northern Ireland in the wrong direction and send out the wrong message at this crucial time.

“For many, including myself, power sharing with Sinn Fein is difficult but it is a price worth paying to keep  Northern Ireland moving forward.

“But if you think it is difficult now just imagine what it would be like with a Sinn Fein first minister and the  Executive dominated by republicans.

“That’s why we must stand our ground and fight for every vote.

“And it’s not just to stop a Sinn Fein first minister, I want the mandate to promote my positive agenda for the future.

“But we can only deliver it if we get the support of the people at the ballot box.

“The next two months will determine the fate and fortunes of this party and of this country for decades to come.”



Posted by Jim on

‘If they don’t like it, let them go back to Britain.’ Those were the words of the first member of the audience to speak in a recent joint RTÉ/BBC debate on the virtues of a United Ireland titled ‘Ireland’s Call’. Having looked forward to the debate and to the respective polls from each side of the border, with confidence it would illuminate that our one Ireland, one vote strategy presents the only credible means to achieve Irish Unity (because the British rushing to the ports of their own volition is unlikely anytime soon), no sooner had those words left her mouth than I cringed.

Having said that, most other contributors from the audience were excellent and put forward a host of worthy arguments in favour, including that in a United Ireland unionists would hold 20 percent of the vote in an all-Ireland election, thus being well-positioned to share power in a prospective coalition government in a 32-County Republic. Given their centre-right politics it’s not something necessarily to be encouraged but nonetheless, it shows they might not have as much to fear from unity as they imagine. As expected though, given it was RTÉ hosting the debate, they laboured on the first woman’s point at the expense of the other contributions. To be honest though, the lady who made those unfortunate comments reflects a section of republicanism who frequent social media sites shouting slogans, which in itself is grand but needs something substantive behind it. You have an ideal; you want people to endorse and pro-actively subscribe to it; so you need to effectively sell it to people.

One only has to look to Scotland, where for years various misconceptions were regurgitated that it couldn’t possibly ‘go it alone’. They had nothing going for them and were welfare junkies to England. The Barnett formula, the mechanism whereby the UK Treasury allocates the level of public spending for Scotland, Wales and the North of Ireland, was constantly evoked as the epitome of why Scotland was a welfare-whore, unable to stand on its own two feet. Polls showed support between 25-30 percent at the start of the campaign for Scottish independence, but a small matter of facts almost scuppered the pro-Union argument.

Debates on the streets, in town halls and on television dispelled urban myths that had been perpetuated for decades, as Scots learned that an independent Scotland would be per capita one of the richest in the world. Far from a welfare-junkie of England, Scotland spends £1200 more per head than the rest of the UK, affording citizens cheaper university education and free prescription drugs for all. At the same time it contributes £1700 more per head to the UK Exchequer than its other contributors, effectively losing out on £500 per person which could be spent on its own people. While it wasn’t enough to take them over the line they made a remarkable comeback all the same, especially given the near-entire disdain of the mainstream media for the independence movement.

And so to Ireland. At the time of partition the newly formed 26-county state was an economic basket case with an economy rooted in agriculture – partition having cut off the industrialised north-east, where standards of living had been comparative to anywhere in the United Kingdom, from the rest of the country. At the time it was an industrial powerhouse and yet today, almost a century on from partition, they’re 20 percent below the UK average. Over the same period standards of living on the other side of the border have increased twenty-fold (as compared to the North’s five). So when you couple what is an evident economic retraction in the North with how polarised society there has become, it is surely an irredeemable fact that partition has failed the people of the Six Counties on every level.

In his paper ‘Making the Economic Case for a United Ireland’ economist Michael Burke breaks it down into simple arithmetic. In 2013, the 26-county state produced $210 billion, with the six-county economy producing $50 billion over the same period. So in a unified all-Ireland economy the scope for a home market increases for the 26-counties by 25 percent and for the North by 400 percent. In the company I work for we don’t do any business in the Six Counties. It’s paying into two tax-codes’ for businesses and some, including the one I work for, don’t feel it’s worth the hassle. Burke also argues that since the 26-counties removed itself from the domineering control of Britain it has integrated itself more into the world economy. The same cannot be said of the six-county economy and this is glaringly evident in its ‘external sales’ (exports) which amounted to a paltry €14.3 billion per annum as compared terms to €89 billion in the 26-six counties.

An important misconception tackled by Burke is the myth of the £10 billion sterling annual subvention from Britain, supposedly to keep the Six Counties afloat. Just as Scotland’s Block Grant under Barnett didn’t stack up under scrutiny, neither does the alleged subvention of £10 billion to the North. Burke, citing recent data from the ONS, showed that each household in the Six Counties (from a total number of 739,000) receives an extra £982 in state awards, including NHS contributions, than what they pay in taxes and rates, making the subvention approximately £700 million and not the £10 billion stated. If the latter were true it would make the Six Counties one of the richest states in the world on a per capita basis, whereas the economic data relating to its economy shows this is certainly not the case.

The economic arguments for Irish Unity stack up then and can run concurrent with those relating to the undemocratic nature of partition of itself, imposed as it was under duress and against the wishes of the people. That said, we should not be waiting for the ghost of James Connolly to return and can’t be living in the graveyards. While we have a great past littered with Martyrs that we rightly commemorate, we have to remember the past and not live in it. We need to live republicanism on our streets and in our communities, utilising modern forms of communication (such as social media) more intelligently, making our project and our ideas relevant to ordinary people on the street.

In terms of polls, time and again they have proven favourable to our argument and yet some maintain the South doesn’t want the North. All polls, even those designed to inhibit arguments for unity, indicate this to be false. I can say conclusively there has never been a poll in the 26-counties where a clear majority have not expressed their desire for reunification. In the Ireland’s Call programme, only 14 percent in the 26-counties said they didn’t want to see a United Ireland in their lifetime – a remarkable figure in line with other similarly run polls. With ‘don’t knows’ excluded, only 40 percent in the North wanted to see a United Ireland in their lifetime, which although a disappointment is nevertheless encouraging given there has been no real debate on the matter. Just as in Scotland, once misconceptions are tackled in a meaningful debate we could see a swing in our favour.

RTÉ, being RTÉ, tried to swing things in a negative direction, asking if people were to pay more taxes would they still want to see Irish Unity. They may as well have asked would they like a kick to the genitals. It’s a negative question begging a negative answer, which they seemed to revel in. Interestingly, this was the only question were ‘don’t knows’ weren’t shown. Why not? The show also included polls on social issues, presenting near-identical numbers on either side of the border. Though it wasn’t touched on, unsurprisingly, this indicates that despite partition and regardless of what side of the border people are on, no matter how the likes of RTÉ might try and implant partitionist mindsets, we remain a homogeneous people despite divisions carefully fostered by an alien government, as first made mention of in the 1916 Proclamation.

Given the inherent media attitude to reunification and republicanism in general, it is important we make the argument for unity about more than the simple liberation of the North. Our effort must be to liberate the country as a whole. To realise the goals and ideals of Irish republicanism we must address the perception they relate only to freeing the Six Counties, projecting the reunification of this country as an island-wide project to transform the country as a whole. Without the strangling effect of the border, with an estimated boost of €36 billion accruing to an all-Ireland economy over 8 years following harmonisation of tax and the breaking down of trade barriers on the island (study by Dr Kury Hubner, University of British Colombia, November 2015), we would be well positioned to bring about a new and vibrant self-sustaining Ireland – not an extension of the 26-county entity I live in today.

We are promoting something that deep down the vast majority on this island aspires to. But with that in mind, we might ask ourselves why is it republicanism can be seen in such a negative light. Is it because its proponents are not presenting the message correctly? We’ve allowed ourselves to be pigeon-holed as angry, irrational, apolitical, anti-British reactionaries, with no argument to offer that would benefit wider society and the country as a whole. The antidote is to forward a coherent and transparent argument in favour of unity that can resonate with ordinary people. The information is there to be used and show how we could all live in a more prosperous country if we worked together within an all-Ireland framework, to the betterment of all of our people. The partition of what is a small island on the periphery of Europe has failed. It could never work to begin with, we’re too small an entity, and Ireland will never reach its full potential, economically, culturally and socially, until we end it.

Nelson Mandela once said, ‘let your choices be defined by your hopes and not your fears’. As republicans we must give that hope to our people and we have the tools to do it. We know a majority on the island aspire to unity but we won’t progress until we articulate the message better than we have thus far. This year of all years presents an opportunity to challenge the misconceptions, to present the argument for a new Ireland where the Proclamation exists as reality, not an afterthought from the past. That’s the best way to commemorate 1916 and the immortal words of Pearse at the GPO, which carry our hopes and aspirations for a free and better Ireland, for all of our people and for which we still strive to this day.

The demolition of Nelson’s Pillar

Posted by Jim on

A monument to a British imperialist in the centre of Dublin, Nelson’s
Pillar on O’Connell Street, was blown up by republicans fifty years ago
this week.

For many, the biggest surprise about the blowing up of Nelson’s Pillar
in Dublin in 1966 is why it took 157 years.

When the pillar was constructed circa 1808 the Protestant Ascendency
class who had erected it celebrated. To them Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson
was a once in a lifetime hero, the man who at the Battle of Trafalgar in
1805 had turned the tide against Napoleon.

But after Irish independence was won his presence and preeminence atop
the 120 foot high pillar became increasingly controversial. He had been
famously cold hearted and an adulterer, some said. Why not have an Irish
patriot replace him, they asked?

In the early hours of the morning of March 8, 1966 a huge explosion
rocked central Dublin and the top half of the pillar was blown sky high.

Later the Irish Army was sent in to finish the job with a controlled
explosion. Some men were later arrested but never charged. Dublin
quickly adjusted to the missing monument.

“Gaiety and joie-de-vivre prevailed throughout O’Connell Street,” The
Irish Times reported the following day.

“There were happy, smiling faces everywhere and witticisms like ‘poor
old Nelson’ were greeted with roars of laughter.”

The newspaper’s editorial writer was less amused, criticising the
“tepid” response of minister for justice Brian Lenihan to this “coup in
the heart of the capital city”.

‘Up Went Nelson’, a folk song set to the tune of The Battle Hymn of the
Republic and recorded days after the explosion, went to the top of the
Irish charts and stayed there for four weeks.

The man who says he blew up the pillar in 1966, Liam Sutcliffe, was
questioned by gardai in September 2000. He was released and the matter
was taken no further.

He said the idea to blow up the statue came during a discussion in the
Cosy Bar on the Crumlin Road, Belfast.

“I was having a drink with an old friend at the time. The 1916 Rising
was being marked with functions and dinners and the [IRA’s border
campaign] was fizzled out,” he said.

“We thought the Rising should be marked with something a bit more
dramatic and my friend’s sister-in-law said it was shocking to see a
British admiral in O’Connell Street. So I said we should remove it.”

He suggested it to a senior member of the republican movement, who
initially thought it would be too dangerous but then agreed it would be
a good idea.

“The first attempt was on the last day of February but the bomb didn’t
go off. So I had to go up on March 1st and remove it. I went into
Clery’s, bought a nail clippers and stripped it. I had a week then to
drop it back. I went back on March 7th, had electrics in a briefcase. I
connected everything up and placed it in an aperture – one of the widows
at the top – that looked up Henry Street.

“I shook the hand of the man up guarding the platform and said
‘Cheerio’. He went off after his shift that night and the bomb went off
at 1.32 in the morning. I had it timed for 2 am but I had it on fast and
it gained 28 minutes.”

Asked whether he saw the bomb go off, he said: “I did not. I was at home
tucked up in bed. I didn’t know it had gone off at all until I saw it on
the front page of the paper that morning.”

He was “delighted” and thought the pillar would be replaced with a
statue of the seven signatories of the Proclamation facing the GPO.

“I thought they would have done that. In Ireland there’s not even a
statue of Pearse. In all other former colonies they honour the men who
got up and said ‘No further shalt thou go’.”

Mayor Di Blah Blah Blah announces he’s marching in the NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade but tells Irish/Catholics they have to attend school and holds Parent/Teacher meetings so even the Irish/American teachers can’t celebrate our patron Saint’s Day. He is anti-Catholic and anti-Irish. He is still trying to get rid of the Carriage industry so his real estate donors can usurp the stables to build a new Convention center. Beware of this snake oil salesman.

Posted by Jim on March 4, 2016

UDR members questioned over bar murders

Posted by Jim on

Connla Young. Irish News (Belfast). Friday, March 4, 2016

Members of the UDR were arrested after the murder of four men in Co Tyrone 25 years ago, a report has claimed.

The victims, who included three members of the IRA, were shot dead when a loyalist gang attacked a country bar in Cappagh, near Dungannon.

IRA men Malcolm Nugent (20), Dwayne O’Donnell (17) and John Quinn (23) were shot dead along with Thomas Armstrong (52) at Boyle’s Bar on March 3 1991.

The three IRA members and a fourth man who survived were shot as they pulled up in a car outside the pub as the gunmen prepared to mount an attack.

It is not known if they recognised the occupants of the car.

Seconds later, Mr Armstrong was killed as he stood in the bar after one of the gunmen opened fire through a toilet window.

The attack was later claimed by the UVF.

A new report on the murders published by Relatives for Justice claims that four members of the UDR were questioned by the RUC in connection with the gun attack.

It also stated that members of the UDR and RUC questioned customers in the bar several times in the weeks before the attack and on one occasion made sketches of the pub’s layout.

The ‘Collusion in Cappagh Killings’ document also suggests that undercover British soldiers may have looked on as the loyalist hit squad carried out the attack, which is believed to have involved Portadown-based loyalist Billy Wright, who was shot dead in 1997.

Some of the weapons used were said to be Czech-made VZ58 assault rifles, believed to have been smuggled into the north by a British agent.

The Cappagh attack has been linked through the weapons and ballistics to 14 other  incidents involving the deaths of 21 people across Mid Ulster between 1988 and 1994.

Cappagh is located in a hardline republican area that at times was considered a no-go area for security forces during the Troubles.

The Irish News understands the main target of the attack may have been the IRA’s leader in east Tyrone who was in the bar at the time and who was under intense British army surveillance.

Sources said intercepted security force radio communications confirmed his movements were being monitored in the area on the night of the attack.

It is understood one of the dead men, John Quinn, also claimed he was told by RUC Special Branch officers that the senior republican was going to be killed just days before the bar attack.

The families of those killed have always maintained there was security force collusion.

Dwayne O’Donnell’s mother Briege said people in her community want the truth told.

“It’s sad that so many fathers and mothers are dead and will never get the truth,” she said.

“It’s a very tight-knit community and everybody looks out for each other.”

Malcolm Nugent’s sister, Siobhan Nugent, said relatives remain confident they can establish what happened.

“It had a big effect on the community, it could have been anybody,” she said.

Mike Ritchie from Relatives for Justice said the report raised issues that must be addressed.

“We believe there is a real nexus of collusion that underlies this case that needs to be unpicked if the families are going to have confidence in the justice system going forward.”

The Police Ombudsman’s Office has said it is investigating the case.

A weekend of events to mark the anniversary of the men’s deaths has been organised by the PH Pearse 1916 Society.

The report will be launched during a ‘night of reflection’ to be held in Galbally Community Centre this evening, while an independent republican commemoration will take place in Galbally on Sunday.

Unionists criticized over bonfire displays

Posted by Jim on March 3, 2016

Brendan Hughes. Irish News (Belfast). Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Offensive materials: Effigies of Gerry Adams, Martin McGuinness and Bobby Sands on the Ballycraigy bonfire in 2015
UNIONISTS are facing criticism for blocking council proposals to withdraw funding over loyalist bonfires that use racist and sectarian displays.
The move follows months of controversy over ratepayers’ cash awarded to groups organising Eleventh Night bonfires.
The Irish News last year that revealed thousands of pounds were given to an Antrim group whose bonfire was at the centre of a hate crime investigation.
The notorious Ballycraigy estate bonfire made global headlines in 2014 for its sectarian displays including an effigy of a hanged Gerry Adams.
In January a 19-year-old man was convicted over a racist display at the pyre in a landmark prosecution.
In the past four years more than £110,000 has been given to Antrim-area groups organising Eleventh Night bonfires to fund related family events.
For months Antrim and Newtownabbey councillors have been holding discussions to devise a new funding scheme for 2016.
Councillors voted on two options at a meeting of the unionist-majority council on Monday night.
One option proposed that funding could be withheld for the “burning of any flag, emblem, posters, effigies or any other symbol that may cause offence”.
However, the alternative proposal only imposes funding sanctions for environmental issues such as the burning of tyres.
The second proposal was passed following support from DUP and UUP councillors.
Alliance councillor Billy Webb yesterday hit out at the decision, saying there was “absolutely no logic to it”.
Expressing his disappointment, he said that if councillors believed offensive materials should not be on bonfires “then we should put it in a protocol”.
Ahead of the meeting unionists had raised concerns that it would be difficult for the council to enforce penalties for offensive bonfire displays.
Mark Cosgrove, the UUP’s group leader, had said he believes “any issues of sectarianism or racism involved in any public event is the responsibility of the police”.

How Irish America alone understood the true impact of the 1916 Rising

Posted by Jim on March 2, 2016

O'Connell Street's remain following the bombing and violence of the 1916 Easter Rising.

O’Connell Street’s remain following the bombing and violence of the 1916 Easter Rising.

On August 20, 1916 Joyce Kilmer, the poet and journalist, interviewed Moira Regan, whom he described as a “slight gray-eyed girl with a charming flavor of County Wexford in her manner and in her voice,” for The New York Times magazine.


Moira Regan was a member of Cumann na mBan and had fought alongside her male comrades in the GPO as well as carrying urgent messages from one Republican outpost to another.

When the fight was over she stood outside the GPO and took one look back at the tricolor still flying over the building.

Her words capture eloquently what it means to see the birth of a nation.

“You cannot understand the joy of this feeling unless you have lived in a nation whose spirit has been crushed and then suddenly revived. I felt that evening when I saw the Irish flag floating over the Post Office in O’Connell Street that this was a thing worth living and dying for. I was absolutely intoxicated and carried away with joy and pride in knowing I had a nation.”

The GPO in the wake of the Rising

The GPO in the wake of the Rising

We still exult in that reality of nationhood every time we stand at Croke Park or the Aviva Stadium for the national anthem or travel abroad to international soccer tournaments, as the boys and girls in green will do this summer at Euro 2016.

Expression of identity is critical. In the North the Troubles only ended with the vital step of parity of esteem for both sides’ revered symbols. When The New York Times slammed the Irish rebels as subjects taking on their king they missed the point completely. What vote was ever held to sanction that?

The revisionists who argue that economic and political relations with Britain were improving before the Rising forget that in 1916 an alien flag flew and a foreign army reigned. “History proves that people will always resist occupation,” wrote current UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon in The New York Times recently.

Given Ireland’s history of refusing to bend the knee and the many broken promises on Home Rule, a new uprising was inevitable.

Unlike John Redmond, the leaders of 1916 grasped the essential fact that Home Rule had failed. Even James Joyce, Ireland’s most famous exile, had lots to say about foolishly depending on Home Rule.

James Joyce

James Joyce

Writing in 1907, Joyce was deeply suspicious of what he satirically called the “Home Rule Comet,” a celestial body he said was sent over the Irish cosmos by the British Parliament every few years when Home Rule fever began to swirl. The comet Joyce wrote was “vague, distant but as punctual as ever,” tantalizing but never delivering.

There were many others, most notably the Rising’s leaders who felt exactly the way that Joyce did on Home Rule, if not even stronger. They saw the Curragh Mutiny by British Army elite in 1914, when 61 officers offered their resignation rather than fight against the Loyalist UVF if Home Rule was imposed.

They knew of the sedition of Bonar Law, the Tory leader and future Prime Minister, when he stated in 1912 at an Anti-Home Rule rally at Blenheim Palace, Churchill’s ancestral home, that he could “imagine no length of resistance to which Ulster can go in which I should not be prepared to support them.”

Despite this, John Redmond continued with his delusion, even stating in Parliament at one point that he had convinced Edward Carson, the Unionist politician, of Home Rule for all of Ireland. Carson, with his secret assurances no such home rule would be granted, must have been smirking up his sleeve.

When would Home Rule have come? We might still be waiting for it given the Versailles Treaty, the Great Depression, the Weimar Republic, the Second Word War, the Cold War – so many crises, so many reasons to abstain from acting. Britain was busy drawing arbitrary borders on maps all over the Middle East which haunt us to this day.

John Redmond

John Redmond

Yet Redmond took the terrible gamble of recommending tens of thousands of young Irishmen fight in World War I, where 30,000 or more Irish lost their lives in order to prove his thesis of the Home Rule paradox that fighting for Britain was the best way to achieve freedom from it.

In the days following Easter 1916, he utterly misread the impact of the Rising, praising the British: “It has been dealt with with firmness, which was not only right, but it was the duty of the Government to so deal with it.”

Even Edward Carson had warned the British government to be careful who they punished.

In contrast to Redmond, most of Irish America quickly saw the Home Rule Bill as the latest illusionary comet sent by British leadership. Most of the Irish in America traced their roots back to the Famine, so it’s hardly surprising that theirs was a rebel tradition much more in tune with the men and women of 1916 than with John Redmond’s paradoxical call to fight for the British in order to free the Irish.

The historical inflexion point for the Irish Americans was not Home Rule but the American Revolution, which began in 1775 when farmers and peasants took up arms against a far superior army and somehow defeated them.

As is often noted, most Americans started off the war as Loyalists but ended as Republicans or Patriots. Ironically it was an Englishman, Thomas Paine, and his hugely influential “Common Sense” with its rallying cry to fight that convinced many of them.

Empires and monarchies were never to be trusted, Paine hammered home, and the Great War proved him right. A pity Redmond never took note.

For Irish America, once news of the Easter Rising broke, the great mission was first to get President Woodrow Wilson to speak out, but while the patrician president agreed with them heartily in public, he mercilessly mocked them in private as Professor Robert Schmuhl’s excellent new book on the Easter Rising – “Ireland’s Exiled Children” – makes clear.

Short of gaining Wilson’s support, the Irish American leaders wanted to turn back the global tidal wave of condemnation surrounding The Rising.

Significantly, their media sensed the importance of the moment long before far more august publications who dismissed it as mere rabble-rousing mayhem.

Clan Na Gael leader John Devoy, in many ways the forgotten architect of the Easter Rising, along with Philadelphia-based Irish native John Joe McGarrity, wrote in his Gaelic American newspaper that “the serial and ill informed men who write the editorials have been airing their ignorance this week over ‘riots started by a Sinn Fein mob in Dublin.’”

Calling such comments absurd and childish, Devoy instead proclaimed the Rising “the most formidable insurrection that had taken place in Ireland since 1798.”

History would bear that judgement out to be totally correct, as Devoy, the flinty old fenian, understood better than most the power of the dream of nationhood and the larger meaning of 1916.

Roger Casement and John Devoy

Roger Casement and John Devoy

The New York Times, on the other hand, approved of the executions, stating, “War is a stern business and the subject who sets himself against his King ….can hardly expect mercy.” Except he wasn’t their king.

All the major Irish papers backed the executions, so it fell to Devoy and a very few others to put forward the defense of the Rising.

For Irish America, Easter 1916 fell into a coherent timeline of defence and physical force, a continuum that began with the Dissenter Irish who fought with Washington for independence and establishing the first democracy.

Then there was the gallant Irish role in the American Civil War: 250,000 or so Irish fought on the Union side to end slavery and partition and were so effective that the Confederate leader Jefferson Davis personally sent an Irish priest and Rebel hero Father John Bannon, to Ireland to try and convince the clergy to stop emigration.

The American Civil War neatly dovetailed with the Fenian movement, with Fenian membership a badge of honor in the Union ranks. The Fenian bonds that were sold at the time to be redeemed when Ireland was a nation show an Irish Union army soldier rising from his knees, victorious, as an Irish speirbhean or female goddess beckons him to fight one more time for Ireland, which shimmers in the distance.

The Irish Americans always believed a fight for Ireland would come again soon – and it did.

To Devoy and millions of Irish Americans, the men and women of 1916 were freedom’s sons and daughters as surely as the Americans at Lexington and Concord and the Irish Union soldiers at Gettysburg were. They remain the same today. “Gentlemen you have a country” Thomas Davis said to an earlier generation of insurgents.

Not until 1916 did that come true.

PAT FINUCANE MEMORIAL EVENT – 27 Years and Still No Justice (Monday, March 7th, 7:00 p.m.)

Posted by Jim on

You are invited to attend the




Yasmine Ahmed, Director


Will give an update on Pat’s case and recent changes in UK law that will affect cases in the North


Matthew Putorti

Associate, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP

– and –

Lauren Melkus

Head of Funding Analysis and Long-Term Strategic Planning, Private Family Foundation Will speak about the NYC Bar Association’s report “In Northern Ireland, the Past Is Still Present,” published on January 29, 2016.


to be held:

Monday, March 7th, 7:00 p.m.

O’Lunney’s Times Square Pub

145 W 45th Street

New York, NY  10036

Tel.:  (212) 840-6688

*        *        *


The Ancient Order of Hibernians, the Irish American Unity Committee and the Rosemary Nelson Campaign for Justice US


Leslie Cassidy

Cell:  (508) 292-5274

Last Omagh case collapses

Posted by Jim on March 1, 2016

After two years behind bars, prosecutors in Belfast today dropped all
charges against Seamus Daly, the only man still charged in connection
with the 1998 Omagh bomb,

The case against the South Armagh man, who has been in custody since
April 2014, all but ended last month when the prosecution’s star
witness, who has changed his story several times, again contradicted
himself during a pre-trial hearing.

The 45-year-old has always denied any involvement in the bombing. He was
arrested in 2014 while taking his pregnant wife to hospital to give
birth. Days later he was charged and remanded to jail where he has
remained since. Only a small group of friends and family worked for
justice for a man who they said had become a convenient scapegoat.

Since 1999, Mr Daly has been publicly named in the media in connection
with the Omagh bomb. All evidence was put before him back then and he
was found to have no case to answer. In subsequent years he has faced
two civil suits, and was found not responsible, and on appeal he was
found responsible after contradictory evidence from just one witness.

Prosecutors claimed he had been in hiding, although he had in fact been
living openly in Jonesborough, County Armagh. He was re-arrested and
jailed on remand without any new evidence beng presented.

Twenty-nine people died in the RIRA bomb attack, which is suspected to
have been allowed to proceed for Britain’s own military or propaganda
purposes. It was subsequently revealed that the RUC police “could have
prevented” the attack. Britain still refuses to reveal key details of
the case for reasons of “national security”.

An Irish republican from a well-known republican household, campaigners
believe Mr Daly was jailed to quell growing pressure for a public
inquiry. Mr Daly’s lawyer, Peter Corrigan, said the prosecution’s case
was built on a “house of straw” and said he would be taking legal action
over the two years’ incarceration.

A victims’ campaigner has said he agreed with the decision to drop the
trial. Michael Gallagher’s son, Aiden, was one of 29 people who died in
the tragedy. He said: “This was a difficult case and hinged on the
testimony of one individual and that one individual did not seem to be
up to meeting the test needed to put someone behind bars.

“For that reason I agree with the decision, regrettably, that happened
today. There was no other option for the Public Prosecution Service or
the judge but to deliver the verdict that we have just heard.”

Mr Gallagher has been the most prominent of those campaigning for
justice for Omagh. He said it was obvious listening to the prosecution
‘star witness’ Denis O’Connor, a builder from Kilkenny who claimed he
received a call from Seamus Daly around 20 minutes after the bomb
detonated on August 15 1998, that the case was going nowhere.

“I think it should have been obvious a lot earlier than that.”

He said he was trying to contain his anger and channel it positively
into seeking the truth.

“We need some answers, we need to know what went so drastically wrong 18
years on — conviction after conviction has failed in Omagh and yet there
is so much knowledge about Omagh.”

He added: “If there is any decency in society, in the people that manage
our state, they need to work together to get the truth to the families
of what happened.” He said most families had given up on achieving

“It will be difficult for all of them but also very difficult for all
those other victims out there who are expecting answers.”

Amnesty International called for a public inquiry to “investigate
comprehensively the circumstances surrounding” the Omagh bomb.

They said an investigation was needed “to ensure lessons are learnt,
included from the failure to carry out adequate investigations into the

In September 2013, British Direct Ruler Theresa Villiers ruled out the
possibility of holding a public inquiry. Last month she condemned what
she said was a “pernicious narrative” by those who questioned the role
of state agents in the conflict.

Director of Amnesty International in the Six Countiees, Patrick
Corrigan, said: “The collapse of this case means that the families
bereaved and those injured by the bomb are left without answers about
what happened that day and whether it could have been prevented.

“The failure of the State to deliver justice through the criminal courts
only reinforces the case for an inquiry to help deliver truth.

“The Secretary of State must now revisit her indefensible decision to
refuse an inquiry into the Omagh bombing.

“The families have been drip-fed information over the years, with new
wounds opened each time and with none of the alleged bombers ever being
held criminally responsible.

“What the bereaved, and Northern Ireland more broadly, deserve is the
fullest account possible of what happened in Omagh, delivered by an
independent inquiry, with cooperation from all sides.

“All that families want is the truth. Surely that is not too much to

Amnesty is also calling on the Irish and United States governments to
offer full cooperation with the work of such an inquiry.

Irish Central: NYC Dept of Ed won’t change St. Patrick’s Day parent’s conferences

Posted by Jim on February 29, 2016

Christopher Warnke

New York City, NY

Feb 29, 2016 — The New York City Department of Education will not reschedule St. Patrick’s Day parent teacher meetings, even though an Irish American middle school teacher working in the public school system has filed a complaint with the city’s Human Rights Commission charging that his civil and religious rights have been violated because he won’t be able to attend the St. Patrick’s Day parade and other celebrations on the day.

Frank J. Schorn, a teacher at the Eugenio Maria de Hostos Intermediate School in Brooklyn, filed the complaint last Friday via his attorney Brian O’Dwyer, senior partner at O’Dwyer and Bernstien in New York.

“This year the mayor instituted three new school holidays,” said O’Dwyer, who is also the chairman of the Emerald Isle Immigration Center. “One observing the Lunar New Year and the others recognizing Muslim religious holidays.

“We are not asking that the mayor accommodate New York’s oldest immigrant community by declaring a school holiday. We are instead asking that the Department of Education make a minor change to its schedule so that the religious observance of thousands of teachers and parents who celebrate the feast day of St. Patrick be recognized and honored. In a city which celebrates its diversity and its accommodation for people of all religious and ethnic identities, it is particularly upsetting that the Department of Education has so blithely ignored the legitimate religious and ethnic expressions of Irish- American New Yorkers.”

However, the press secretary for the Department of Education, Devora Kaye, told the New York Daily News on Monday that the March 17 conference date will stand.

“We value and respect the cultures and traditions of all our students. While schools are responsible for holding one of four parent-teacher conferences on St. Patrick’s Day, schools should work with families to provide other opportunities to have parent conferences for those unable to attend,” she said.

The complaint says Schorn, an Irish American, became aware within the past 12 months that parent teacher meetings would be scheduled starting at 4:30 p.m. on March 17. Teachers are subject to disciplinary action for non-attendance.

Schorn’s complaint charges that the respondents – the City of New York, the Department of Education and Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina – have committed an “unlawful discriminatory practice…on the basis of [Schorn’s] national origin by scheduling parent teacher conferences on St. Patrick’s Day.”

The complaint seeks a temporary and permanent injunction against the scheduling of parent teacher conferences this March 17 and those in future years.

Members of the New York City Council’s Irish Caucus wrote to Farina on January 13 asking her to reschedule the March 17 conferences, and to refrain from having them on St. Patrick’s Days in future years. Farina, according to the complaint, did not respond to the letter.

An online petition has also been started calling on the public to support Schorn’s complaint and asking the Department of Education to re-schedule parent teacher meetings.

“Schorn and other Irish-American teachers in the New York City school system are obligated by contract to participate in parent teacher conferences,” the petition reads.

“As a result of this scheduling, Irish-American teachers have been denied the opportunity to participate in the New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade in particular. The parade has been found by the United States Courts to be not only a celebration of Irish heritage but a religious activity celebrating the feast day of the patron saint of the Archdiocese of New York, St. Patrick.”

Thirty-four people have signed the petition as of time of writing, with signatories agreeing that, as a religious holiday, Irish Americans should be afforded the right to celebrate their heritage.

“This is an absolute travesty to Irish American people and heritage,” wrote Gavin Enright from Albany, New York, on the petition site.

“There is never a legally binding law enacted forcing civil employees to attend an event on dates such as; The Puerto Rican day parade, Dominican Parade, various civil rights marches, or gay pride parades. It is another classless act of the Mayor towards the Irish American community.”

McSorely’s Old Ale House

Posted by Jim on


McSorley‘s legendary Irish bar first opened its doors in 1854 and women were not allowed in until 1970 when the National Organization for Women attorneys took their case to District Court and won. A new age was born, albeit kicking and screaming.

Famous people have drunk at McSorley’s, including Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Boos Tweed and literary figures like Brendan Behan and Leroi Jones. Go to soak up the atmosphere, the sawdust floors, the homemade beer and centuries of Irish history.

No betrayal of our voters – Adams

Posted by Jim on

With the final result in the 26 County general election not expected
until Monday at the earliest, Sinn Fein leader has Gerry Adams dismissed
any idea that his party would support one of the traditionally dominant
right-wing parties in Irish politics, Fine Gael or Fianna Fail.

“We aren’t going to go in there (to government) and betray our
electorate and betray the other people who need a progressive
government,” Mr Adams said.

“We are not going to go in and prop up a regressive and negative old
conservative government, whatever the particular party political

The fracturing of traditional centre-right politics in the general
election has a parallel in the widespread disaffection with the once
dominant regimes in Spain, Portugal and Greece.

A total of 148 TDs have been returned to the Dublin parliament, with 10
seats remaining to be filled. Fine Gael have 47 seats, with 43 for
Fianna Fail and 22 for Sinn Fein. Labour has six seats, the
Anti-Austerity Alliance/People Before Profit group have five while the
Independent Alliance have four. Sixteen Independent deputies have been
elected, the Social Democrats have three seats, and the Green Party have

Rechecks and recounts will resume tomorrow morning in Dublin South
Central and Dublin South West. Full recounts are to take place in Dublin
Bay North and in Wexford. Counting will also resume in

There were further advances for for Sinn Fein in Dublin Fingal, where
trade union activist Louise O’Reilly was elected as a TD for the first
time, and in Cork South-Central, where the youthful Donnchadh O
Laoghaire took a breakthrough seat. There were also victories in
electing a second seat in Mr Adams’s constituency of Louth/East Meath,
as well as the retention of an embattled seat in Kerry for veteran
republican Martin Ferris.

However, there was disappointment for Padraig MacLochlainn in l who lost
out in the new five-seat constituency of Donegal, although party
colleague Pearse Doherty and republican independent Thomas Pringle were both

With support for establishment parties at a record low, prospects for a
new coalition government are in deep disarray, and weeks of protracted
negotiations are on the cards.

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny has so far ruled out resigning or re-running
the poll. His party suffered devastating losses of about 30 seats, while
its Labour Party partner was humiliated by the prospect of retaining no
more than 6 seats.

Labour deputy leader Alan Kelly bluntly told Fianna Fail and Fine Gael
to “cop themselves on now” and form a government.

The outgoing environment minister appeared visibly high after rescuing
his deeply troubled political career by holding onto his seat in
Tipperary, one of only six sitting Labour TDs to survive out of an
original coterie of 37.

Kelly, who is chiefly identified with the housing and homelessness
crisis in the 26 County state, said it was rubbish for the country’s two
biggest parties to suggest there are massive issues between them.

“It’s 2016 lads, it is 100 years since the Rising. Civil war politics
are over,” he said. “Fianna Fail and Fine Gael need to ‘cop themselves
on’ now and form a new government for the next five years.

“All of this pretending that there are massive issues between them is
rubbish. They need to come together, work together and put a government
in place for the good of the people.”

He was at odds with his party leader, Joan Burton who insisted the
Labour Party would vote for Enda Kenny as Taoiseach. This means he is
assured of the votes of at least 59 TDs when parliament meets for the
first time, still at least 20 seats short of a majority.

Outgoing Fine Gael health minister Leo Varadkar ruled out the ‘grand
coalition’. He said: “It is up to the Opposition to see if they can form a
government. We’ve been rebuffed.”

His cabinet colleague Richard Bruton signalled less reluctance, and
referred to the importance of the “national interest”, which often
indicates a willingness to make a compromise. “We need a stable
government,” he said. “One that can implement a coherent economic plan.”

Significantly, Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin also promised to “work in the national
interest”. He said Fianna Fail had in the past taken “electorally and
politically costly” decisions in the interests of the country. “That has
happened in the past and that is what is going to happen again,” he
added. “The country comes first in all our deliberations in this

But Fianna Fail veteran and former defence minister Willie O’Dea was
defiantly opposed to a grand coalition, as was deputy leader Eamon O
Cuiv. The Fianna Fail frontbencher said they fought the election on the
basis they would not do a deal, adding: “I believe your word is your

Sinn Fein fought the election alongside those standing on the
Right2Change platform, which saw candidates elected right across the
state, although well short of the numbers needed to form a government.

Gerry Adams said Sinn Fein met its own expectations in the election. His
party will return to the Dail with 22 or 23 seats, more than 50% greater
than it had after the last general election. Mr Adams said the poll had
demonstrated a sea change in politics in the 26 Counties.

He said: “You can always do better, I would love that we were going into
government with a majority – that takes time. These other parties have
more depth, have more structures, have more organisation, have more

“The message out there – and this is an ongoing process, this is very
much a work in progress – is that people want change. The big
conservative parties that ran this place for a very long time can’t
summon between them any more than 50 per cent of the vote. The left
parties, the progressive parties, the independents, the Sinn Fein party,
all have garnered the rest of all of that.”

Parties will have until March 10 – when the Dail is scheduled to resume
– to forge a power-sharing deal or ask the President to hold a new

Register Your Support For Irish Unity

Posted by Jim on

Register Your Support For Irish Unity

Sign the Petition Online


Five good reasons why Brooklyn should win Best Picture at tonight’s Oscars

Posted by Jim on February 28, 2016

Irish actor Saoirse Ronan who stars in the new movie Brooklyn, pictured arriving at the Savoy Cinema for the Irish premiere.

I have five good reasons for wanting Brooklyn to win the Best Picture Oscar at tonight’s Academy Awards.

First, like everyone else, I love it. Brooklyn is remarkable for being the kind of film that rarely gets made these days, never mind seen and deeply appreciated by an international audience – and then nominated for three Oscars (Best Film, Best Actress and Best Adapted Screenplay). That’s a miraculous ascent for a modestly budgeted independent film.

Second, the fact that this simple on the surface tale about the hard choices made by an Irish emigrant has become such an international hit is a thing worth cheering in itself. Academy voters can’t fail to have noticed how strongly the film has resonated with the public, which makes it competitive tonight against bookies favorite The Revenant.


Third, our movie theaters have been completely colonized by idiotic big budget superhero capers, by increasingly gory but increasingly predictable horror flicks, and by exhaustingly cliched action films featuring practically immortal heroes.

There’s not much room for subtlety or nuance left to us nowadays, in other words – and there’s almost no room at all left for the heart. Brooklyn is composed of all of these missing elements and so part of the pleasure of watching the film is its refreshing determination to take ordinary life seriously.

Fourth, it usually takes Academy voters a year to see what the public sees already, that Brooklyn features unforgettably expressive character work by Saoirse Ronan, 21, in a film that boasts what is unarguably her best performance to date.

Domhnall Gleeson and Saoirse Ronan in ‘Brooklyn.’ Credit: Kerry Brown/Twentieth Century Fox

Domhnall Gleeson and Saoirse Ronan in ‘Brooklyn.’ Credit: Kerry Brown/Twentieth Century Fox

Ronan plays Eilis, a bullied shop Irish girl who is clearly no one’s priority, but as she finds her feet and slowly forges her own destiny you’ll want to stand up and cheer as the doormat discovers the confidence that she once lacked and steps into her future and herself by the film’s end.

Fifth, Brooklyn is the work of a celebrated Irish novelist, a gifted Irish director and features a distinguished company of Irish actors that all give pitch perfect performances from start to finish. Screenplay writer Nick Hornby’s adaptation is literary but immediate, and Toibin’s original story shows us both sides of the emigrants dilemma: what is lost versus what is found. The heart breaking, hard to fathom business of deciding which path to take has rarely been so well portrayed.

Alright there’s a sixth reason, too. Domhnall Gleeson and Emory Cohen, the two parts of Eilis’ love triangle deliver such convincing performances they make you feel the romantic dilemma that Ronan’s character is facing. You won’t know till the final frame who Eilis will make her future with, thanks to their affecting and deeply sensitive work.

Famously, the Oscars have a habit of getting the Best Picture award howlingly wrong. In 2006, the now forgotten film Crash won over Brokeback Mountain (which has become a classic) a travesty for the ages that even Crash‘s director has lamented himself.

Still from ‘Brooklyn,’ showing Mrs Keogh’s boarding house dinner table. Credit:Twentieth Century Fox

Still from ‘Brooklyn,’ showing Mrs Keogh’s boarding house dinner table. Credit:Twentieth Century Fox

This year The Revenant is tipped to pick up the golden statue, thanks to impenetrable tinsel town politics that few understand and less respect. Having received the nod at the Directors Guild of America and the BAFTA’S, Leonardo DiCaprio’s vehicle has buzz and momentum, two conditions that Hollywood can rarely resist.

But what The Revenant manifestly does not have is longevity. In six months, I predict, it will not enjoy the same affection or stature as Brooklyn already does now.

In five years, The Revenant may be largely forgotten (critics have been less than enthused by it, after all). Meanwhile I predict that in the same time period Brooklyn will only cements its classic status.

What a Best Picture nod means nowadays is DVD sales, rentals, TV spots,and a global storefront opportunity for the director and actors. But Brooklyn won’t need any of that to carve its place in the pantheon of classic pictures. That award has already been presented by the public.

Kenny out of options, but refuses to quit

Posted by Jim on

With all of the first count results in the general election concluded,
Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s government has suffered a resounding deafeat in
the 26 County general election but he has ruled out resigning as leader
of Fine Gael.

“I have a duty and responsibility to work with the decision that the
people have made and provide the country with a stable government and
that I intend to do fully and completely,” he said. “Clearly the option
of a majority government is gone. Clearly, the option of a Fine
Gael-Labour government is gone.”

He was easily re-elected in Mayo, despite the late campaign controversy
in that county when he lashed out at Mayo’s “all-Ireland whingers”. The
Fine Gael leader also refused to be drawn on the prospect of a pact with
traditional adversaries Fianna Fail, which polled almost as highly, both
parties receiving almost 25%. He said that his “job and duty” is to
attempt to provide a government “for the people”.

“Ireland needs a government,” he said. “Whatever parties are in position
after the election are going to have to consider whatever options are

Asked if he could govern with some Fianna Fail support, Kenny replied:
“You mean some kind of Tallaght strategy?” (referring to the 1987
minority government when Fine Gael leader Alan Dukes supported Fianna
Fail Taoiseach Charlie Haughey). “We would like to wait and see (what
happens) in other constituencies.”

But some of his own party appear to have also already turned against
him. Outgoing Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald, interviewed on
radio, repeatedly refused to deny that there would be a challenge
against his leadership. Asked if she would be interested in running for
leader herself, she answered: “I’m not saying anything else now, we will
leave it at that.”

Outgoing Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney conceded that it had
been a poor election for Fine Gael and that the party was likely to lose
over 20 seats, but he said he did not believe there was an appetite for
a challenge to Enda Kenny’s leadership. He also insisted Fine Gael
would win more seats than Fianna Fail and remain the largest party,
which is still an open question.

“I don’t get the sense that there is going to be any leadership
challenge in Fine Gael. We will win in or around 50 seats and we will be
the largest party and Enda Kenny will be the leader of the largest

“He will obviously take on his responsibilities of bringing the party
forward. I don’t get the sense that there is any panic or anything like
that. People are disappointed. They are frustrated. A lot of very good
people are going to lose their seats.”

However, Labour Party leader Joan Burton is certain to face a leadership
challenge after the party’s support collapsed, from 19.4% percent to
around 6.6%. However, there are no clear candidates so far to take her
place. Under Labour’s constitution, a leadership contest must be held
within six months of failing to get into government.

Prominent left-wing independent Mick Wallace, who is expected to retain
his seat in Wexford, welcomed the prospective Fianna Fail-Fine Gael
coalition. saying it would “clean up Irish politics”.

“They are two right wing parties. The only difference between them is
the civil war. Next time we will have a proper left-right wing divide,”
he said.

Fine Gael’s Minister for Health Leo Varadkar said he did not favour such
a coalition, claiming it would not be good for either party and would
not last long. “I do not trust them [Fianna Fail] and it would open the
door to Sinn Fein as lead of opposition,” he said.

Sinn Fein deputy leader Mary-Lou McDonald said that she expects her
party will be putting leader Gerry Adams forward to be the next

“It’s early in the day but I think if this election demonstrates
anything, it is that there is now, or should be, no sense from Fine Gael
and Fianna Fail that they have some divine right to govern – they
don’t,” she said.

Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness says the left-wing parties must now
consider their options about forming a government, and that the people
of Ireland do not want a second election.

Mr McGuinness said the story of the election would be the rise of the
left-wing parties. He said that the election had been a good one for
Sinn Fein, especially having to face competition from the established

Mr McGuinness was asked about parties working with each other after the
results are counted and pointed to how he had worked with Ian Paisley in
the North. He also said that lessons needed to be learned that the
crisis in the North could not be used as “political weapon” against


In early confirmed results from the count centres, there were early
breakthroughs for Sinn Fein in Dublin Midwest, where party intellectual
Eoin O Broin was elected on the first count, and in Wicklow, where
councillor and tenants-rights activist John Brady was elected on the
second count. He became the constituency’s first republican TD since
Robert Barton in 1923 after polling in second place with 11,151 votes.

In Laois, Brian Stanley, easily passed the quota on the fourth count
with 10,092 votes, and he was hoisted aloft holding a starry plough flag
by his jubilant supporters. Also comfortably re-elected were the party’s
enterprise spokesman Peadar Toibin in Meath West was returned on the
second count and the party’s deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald, who topped
the poll in Dublin Central and was elected on the 6th count.

The party missed out in Dublin West, however, where Sinn Fein’s Paul
Donnelly was edged out by Joan Burton and sitting socialist TD Ruth
Coppinger of People Before Profit/Anti-Austerity Alliance.

Outside of Dublin, the party made significant gains in Waterford where
David Cullinane was finally elected after several close calls in
previous elections, and in Carlow-Kilkenny, where Kathleen Funchion took
the seat she had staked out in last year’s by-election.

Speaking at the RDS count centre Ms McDonald said the outcome from the
electorate is that “the government has been sacked by the electorate”.

“They’ve sacked Fine Gael and Labour”, she said. “That was the first
conclusion. The second conclusion is that politics here has changed. The
old tweedledum and tweedledee between Fianna Fail and Fine Gael is now
over. Politics is much more diverse. I think that’s a really healthy

In an indication of the general political tide, two of Kenny’s most
controversial Ministerial appointments lost their seats, Alan Shatter
and James Reilly.

Shatter was one of the first big-name casualties, losing his seat in
Dublin Rathdown after a series scandals over police corruption and his
handling of his department generally. Paying the full price for his
indiscretions, his seat went to the previously unknown Catherine Martin
of the Green Party. Her election marks a return to the Dail for the
Greens after a period of purdah since their disgraced coalition with
Fianna Fail collapsed following the ignominious IMF/EU bailout in late

Labour Ministers of State Alex White and Kathleen Lynch have also lost
their seats, as well as former Fianna Fail Minister Mary Hanafin and,
almost certainly, Lucinda Creighton. Creighton is leader of the new
right-wing Renua party which is unlikely to any seats in this election.

In contrast to Renua, the new left-of-centre Social Democrats party has
already won three seats and is likely to increase that total, winning 3%
on their first time out, while People Before Profit and the
Anti-Ausrterity Alliance won 4%.

However, the big winner of the election was Fianna Fail leader Micheal
Martin, who arrived at the Cork city election count centre to rapturous
applause after his party polled an unexpected 25% in first preferences,
its best election result since the 2008 economic collapse.

“We had faith, going way back to 2012, and we were consistent and the
local elections gave us a great platform,” he said. “I think our message
resonated with people. We kept our feet on the ground, we kept connected
to communities. And that will be the strongest challenge – to stay
connected to the realities on the ground. I think the government lost
touch too quickly. And we, from way out, could see a two-tier economic
recovery evolving. We could see that many people didn’t get the rhetoric
of the recovery in their own daily lives – and the regions didn’t

He added: “And I think we, in terms of our core message of quality jobs,
cutting costs for families, resourcing and strengthening communities,
reasserting the principle of home ownership and ending the scandal of
homelessness – they were key pillars of our platform that really struck
a chord with people on the ground and on the doorsteps.”

OVERALL RESULT – First Preferences (compared to 2011 general election)

Fine Gael 25.5% (-10.6%)
Fianna Fail 24.3% (+6.9%)
Sinn Fein 13.8% (+3.9%)
Labour 6.6% (-12.8%)
People Before Profit/Anti-Austerity Alliance 3.9% (+1.7%)
Social Democrats 3.0% (+3.0%)
Green Party 2.7% (+0.9%)
Renua 2.2% (+2.2%)
Independents and Others 17.9% (+4.7%)

The media campaign against Sinn Fein

Posted by Jim on February 27, 2016

By Oliver Callan (for the Irish Sun)

The TV and radio blackout on election coverage began with the start of
the loftily-worded “moratorium” period. It sounds like a room where the
news goes to die.

It’s a fitting image of an election where sheep-minded media put
fairness and objectivity through a meat grinder.

Coverage has whinged about how ‘boring’ the election has been, as if it
isn’t the media’s job to make it interesting.

Despite a dull campaign, the results promise to be the most dramatic for
decades. A hung Dail beckons, star names will fall and previously
peripheral entities like Sinn Fein and Independents will win big.

While everyone in the media failed to predict the FG-FF alliance now
expected, it has been a dreadful election for journalism in worse ways.

The most alarming feature has been the ferocious campaign against Sinn
Fein. The State has never witnessed such a biased agenda across all
media organisations against a political party.

Broadsheet newspapers were the worst offenders, with constant attacks on
Adams, Mary Lou McDonald and the party’s policy on crime and the Special
Criminal Court. Editorialising adjectives including “embarrassing”,
“under pressure” and “biggest loser” were used in headlines.

In one article, a headline suggested Sinn Fein was in trouble in its
stronghold of Donegal, with Fianna Fail set to beat them. When you got
into the piece, it turned out both parties were on identical poll
figures. Similarly, a newspaper reported Leo Varadkar was on course to
top the poll in Dublin West, ignoring that Sinn Fein candidate Paul
Donnelly had the same opinion poll rating.

At best, subjective opinions on Adams’ performance in debates and
interviews were passed off as hard news.

At worst, the outburst of gangland crime in Dublin was directly linked
to the party. Some commentary suggested a vote for Sinn Fein was a vote
for drug dealers. Another Sunday newspaper report on Mary Lou was filled
with such scathing anti-Sinn Fein sentiment, it bordered on sexism.

Reports on the final leaders’ debate on Tuesday night focussed again on
Adams having an “uncomfortable night”. Enda Kenny’s bombshell that he
made the Minister for Arts appoint the man at the centre of a cronyism
row two years ago wasn’t highlighted comparatively.

Gerry’s poor grasp of economic policies was again underlined by
journalists who appear to consider the Taoiseach’s shaky knowledge of
economics less important.

A detailed analysis of the anti-Sinn Fein editorialising over the past
three weeks would make a very interesting thesis for any media students.
It had a significant negative effect on opinion polls.

The party was slow to take issue with bias until its poll numbers were
hit. Even then it only focussed its ire on RTE.

Claims that the Taoiseach got softer treatment are untrue. That Enda
looked unruffled by interrogations gave the appearance of an easy ride.

It’s just impossible to grill someone who prepares for interviews like
it’s a Junior Cert Irish Oral. No matter what Dobbo or Sean O’Rourke or
Miriam asked him, Enda had his “bhi me ar mo laethanta saoire” stock
answer ready. There is no doubt anyone who even suggests Sinn Fein have
been badly treated leaves themselves open to accusations of being a
closet Shinner.

Let me be clear, there is no whiff of diesel from my clothes and I have
no agenda for or against any political party. As a former student of
journalism and its ethics, I have merely watched this campaign with

In Northern Ireland, the most conservative unionists with deep personal
reasons to loathe Sinn Fein have shared power with ex-Provos. Do we so
revere the offices in the Republic held by flawed men such as Haughey
that a Shinner is not worthy?

The media class has a sneering attitude that those who vote for Adams’
party are more ill-informed than the average centre-right FF/FG voter.
There is also a seldom-challenged view that Adams is a liability for the
party on the canvass, which has zero basis in fact.

Despite these sheep-like views, support for Sinn Fein has grown in every
election since the 1990s. Electoral success came even though there is no
other party leader subjected so intensely to the same repeated
questioning quite like Adams.

If most believe that Sinn Fein and the IRA were one and the same, then
why obsess over which organisation Gerry says he was a member of?
Everyone knows he cannot say he was an IRA commander as it would leave
him open to prosecution.

There is an argument that Sinn Fein might do better if Adams retired but
it is doubtful Pearse Doherty or Mary Lou would get better treatment.

Adams’ major achievement in bringing radical elements of Republicanism
into the peace process will never be acknowledged by the present media,
even in death. However, history will remember him long after the scant
achievements of Enda, Joan or Micheal are long gone.

For now, one of the big stories from Election 2016 will be the
incredible rise of Adams’ party from one TD in 1997 to more than 20
after tomorrow.

The future of the print journalism that so despises the party is in
serious peril, but Sinn Fein isn’t going away you know.

Two brother fighting two very different Wars

Posted by Jim on

by Ciaran Mc

Exactly a year to the day after the commencement of the Easter Rising,
24th April 1917, Sergeant-Major William (Bill) Leeman Ceannt was killed
in action during the First World War, Battle of Arras. A year
previously, Commandant Eamonn Ceannt, Bill’s younger brother, had
occupied and instructed the 4th Battalion of the Irish Volunteers in the
rebel garrison, South Dublin Union, in their fight against the same
British army his brother committed too. The grievous news of the death
of Bill on the Western Front reached the Ceannt family on 8th May 1917,
the date of the first Anniversary of Eamonn’s execution by the British
for his part in the Easter Rising. The fascinating story of the two
Ceannt brothers, Eamonn the Easter Irish Revolutionary, and, Bill the
Great War British soldier, illustrates the diverse allegiances amongst
families and the political complexity of Ireland in the early part of
the 20th Century.

Eamonn Ceannt, in many ways, is the “unknown” man among the leaders of
the 1916 Easter Rising. As one of the seven signatories to the
proclamation of the Irish Republic, Eamonn was a pivotal figure in the
planning of the Rising and as Commandant of the South Dublin Union,
where some of the fiercest fighting took place during Easter week. Some
believe, Eamonn was the “physical force” advocate amongst the Easter
leaders. The Rising for Eamonn was the culmination of a life dedicated
to political activism and the advancement and achievement of Irish

As with many young people of the late 19th century, the centenary of the
United Irishman’s 1798 Rebellion coupled with the Gaelic cultural
revival was to contribute significantly to the national resurgence,
impelling many to join a variety of organisations, some that were
heavily infiltrated by the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB). Eamonn’s
passion for the Irish language (aged 15, changed surname from Kent to
Ceannt) propelled him into the ranks of the Gaelic League, a movement to
promote Irish as a spoken and literary language, persevere Ireland’s
national identity and “de-anglicise” the Irish people. He was an
accomplished piper and conducive to the Irish music revival of the time.
In 1908, he travelled with a group of Irish athletes to Rome where he
played the pipes before Pope Pius X.

The Gaelic League, as it did to so many, politicised and radicalised
Eamonn’s already advancing beliefs. He joined Arthur Griffith’s Sinn
Fein Organisation in 1907, compelled by its “commitment to Irish
Independence” and was to rise through its ranks. Four years later, in
1911, he was sworn into the IRB by Sean MacDermott, a fellow signatory
to the Irish Proclamation. With the militant threat posed by the
initiation of the Ulster Volunteers, Eamonn stated in 1913, “it is the
duty of all Irishmen to be skilled in the use of arms. Preparation for
War is the best guarantee of peace.” Soon after, he was involved in the
establishment of the Irish Volunteers. Quickly, Eamonn became a member
of the Provisional Committee and a leading figure within the movement.
He was to play a key active role in financing and arming the Volunteers
and was involved in the Howth gunrunning of July 1914. Following the
split in the Volunteers, Eamonn was elected financial secretary and was
appointed commandant of the 4th Battalion in March 1915.

On 9th September 1914, Eamonn convened a crucial meeting involving
leaders of the IRB Supreme Council at 25 Parnell Square which agreed to
use the War as an opportunity to strike a blow for Irish freedom. In May
1915, Eamonn was co opted onto the Military Council of the IRB along
with Patrick Pearse and Joseph Plunkett with the sole objective of
putting plans in place for an armed rebellion. Many of the meetings of
the Military Council were held at Eamonn’s residence in Dolphin’s Barn.

On Easter Monday, 24th April 1916, Eamonn took command of 120 Volunteers
at the South Dublin Union. During Easter week, the 4th Battalion held
off a number of sustained attacks by the vastly superior British
military. The fighting became an intense hand to hand struggle, but
Eamonn’s military expertise and bravery ensured his men held their
position as the British failed to take the garrison. His calm leadership
under pressure and that of Cathal Brugha during the intense fighting and
bombardment was praised and recognised by the men of the South Dublin
Union. On Sunday 30th April 1916, Thomas MacDonagh broke the news of
the surrender to Eamonn. Under direct orders from the Provisional
Government, Eamonn reluctantly surrendered. Major Rotherham who oversaw
the surrender of the South Dublin Union was astonished such a tiny band
of men held off two major assaults by the British. Eamonn led his men
from the South Dublin Union, “a brave band who fought a clean fight for
Ireland” (Father Augustine) where he ordered his battalion to lay down
their arms and equipment.

In the gymnasium of Richmond Barracks, in the aftermath of the Rising,
Eamonn Ceannt was picked out by the Dublin Metropolitan Police
detectives, known as “G men.” At his court martial on Wednesday 3rd May
1916, presided over by General Blackader, Eamonn pleaded, “not guilty.”
After hearing evidence, Eamonn’s closing address to the court was
“remarkable in its clarity.” On the back of his charge sheet, it read,
“shall not deny anything proven or admit what is not proven.” The next
day, Eamonn was found guilty as charged. He was sentenced to death by
being shot. On the early morning of 8th May 1916, Eamonn, after taking
Holy Communion from Father Augustine, in a letter to his wife wrote, “I
die a noble death for Ireland’s freedom.” He walked to the
Stonebreakers Yard of Kilmainham Gaol, hands tied behind his back, a
cloth around his eyes, a small square piece of paper acting as a target
for the 12 man firing squad. At dawn, 4.05am, with Father Augustine’s
crucifix in his hand, Eamonn Ceannt echoed his last words, “My Jesus
Mercy” before the executor shots rang out.

Eamonn’s brother, Bill, was a soldier with the Royal Dubliner Fusiliers.
Having spent the opening phase of World War One stationed in Fermoy,
County Cork, Bill was charged at a court martial for giving stolen food
to Thomas Kent. The same Thomas Kent who was executed in Cork Jail for a
gunfight with the RIC in the immediate aftermath of the Easter Rising.
Bill was posted to the Western Front on 11th September 1916. During the
Battle of the Somme, in November that year, he was seriously wounded and
eventually promoted to Company Sergeant-Major. During the Battle of
Arras, in early 1917, Bill was struck down by machine gun fire during an
advance of enemy lines and subsequently died from his wounds. The Ceannt
family received a scroll admonishing him amongst those who answered the
call of King and Country, “let those who come after see to it that his
name not be forgotten.”

The legacy of the Easter Rising and the wave of sympathy that swept the
country in its aftermath ensured Eamonn’s War was more accepted than
Bill’s War. Eamonn Ceannt in his last letter was perhaps right, “In the
years to come, Ireland will honour those who risked all for her honour
at Easter 1916.” Bill’s name and many thousands of other Irishmen who
were killed and maimed in the First World War, were the names that for
decades would be forgotten and ignores. Brothers by blood, yet their
blood spilled in a commitment to very different allegiances, one to
Ireland and the other to Britain. Perhaps, the words of Eamonn as true
to himself as that of his brother, Bill, “This generation can claim to
have raised sons as brave as any that went before.”

Eirí Amach na Cásca (Part 11)

Posted by Jim on

from The Road to Rebellion by Mike McCormack
   In the yard behind O’Hanlon’s shop at 20 Moore Street, MacDiarmada informed the men of the decision to surrender.  They were stunned and insisted on fighting to the end, but Connolly was adamant: his boys would not be killed. The act of carrying the surrender decision to the British was entrusted to the courageous nurse, Elizabeth O’Farrell.
With part of a sheet tied to a stick, she left 15 Moore Street (some claim it was 21) and walked the street of the slain to the barricade.  She told an officer, The commandant of the Irish Republican Army wishes to treat with the British forces in Ireland.  The officer replied, The Irish Republican Army? The Sinn Feiners, you mean!  She replied, The Irish Republican Army they call themselves and I think that’s a very good name too!  The officer tore the Red Cross emblems from her arm and apron saying, Search her, she’s a spy!  She was taken to Tom Clarke’s tobacco shop at 75a Parnell Street (of all places) until General Lowe arrived.  Lowe sent her back to tell Pearse that he must surrender unconditionally!  She gave Lowe’s message to Pearse who sent her back seeking terms for his men.  Lowe sent her back with a note penned by his son, Major John Lowe, demanding that within half an hour she must return with Pearse and the only terms acceptable were unconditional surrender.  Pearse agreed to the terms and in view of the civilian atrocities most of the leaders agreed.
At 3:30 PM, Pearse marched to the barricade with nurse O’Farrell where they were met by General Lowe and his son.  Pearse handed General Lowe his sword, pistol, ammunition and tin canteen.  At that time, a photo was taken and later doctored to remove O’Farrell’s feet making it appear that Pearse was standing alone.  He was not!  In front of Byrne’s shop at Moore Street corner, a bench was brought out and Pearse bent down to sign the surrender document thereon.
General Lowe’s son, Major John Lowe, later became a Hollywood actor under the name John Loder.  He married Hedy Lamarr and appeared in How Green Was My Valley with former GPO Volunteer Arthur Shields and his brother Barry Fitzgerald!

Nurse O’Farrell agreed to their joint request to bring the surrender document to the other outposts. The one taken to the men in Moore Street read: Carrying a white flag, proceed down Moore Street, turn into Moore Lane and Henry Place, out into Henry Street and around the pillar to the right side of O’Connell Street, march up to 100 yards of the military drawn up at the Parnell Statue, halt, advance five paces and lay down arms.  With sloped arms, the first group marched off under Captain O’Reilly picking up any stragglers on the way.  Next, Willie Pearse led the main body waving a white flag.  Close behind him walked Tom Clarke and towards the rear walked Seán MacDiamada and Joseph Plunkett, supported by Julia Grennan and Winifred Carney.
For the next two days, accompanied by a priest, Nurse O’Farrell was sent to secure the surrender of the various outposts.  Dodging sniper fire and trying to convince the leaders it was not a hoax were among her biggest tasks. At Arbor Hill Detention Barracks, Pearse was visited by two IRA leaders from Wexford, who refused to believe the surrender order until they heard it from Pearse himself.  British General French brought them to see Pearse and one recalled, Pearse looked, physically exhausted but spiritually exulted.  He told us that the Dublin Brigade had done splendidly.  Why surrender, one asked and Pearse answered, because they were shooting women and children in the streets. I saw them myself.
The remaining garrisons surrendered one by one.  The men from the Moore Street garrison were marched up to the Rotunda Gardens where for two cold and damp days they were kept wet and uncovered on the grassy lawn as troops and loyalist citizens jeered and taunted them.  In my interview with Volunteer, Sam O’Reilly, he said, We were lying on top of one another. I was quite near Collins and Joe Plunkett. I remember the British officer threatening to shoot the whole lot of us, and Collins saying to this officer, ‘this is a very sick man; leave him alone’ or words to that effect.  He was, of course, referring to Joe Plunkett.  Men and women were piled together and when they had to relieve themselves, they had to do it in front of their comrades adding to their shameful treatment. Sam also recalled a British officer, Captain Percival Lea-Wilson, taking Tom Clarke out of the group and publicly disrobing him in front of everyone and mocking the quality of these Irish rebels.  It infuriated everyone who witnessed the spectacle and who had the utmost respect for Clarke.  Sam happily added that in 1920, Michael Collins, who witnessed the insulting behavior, sought out Lea-Wilson and had him shot dead!
Sadly, more civilians were killed and wounded than all the military on both sides combined.  Casualties in Dublin were 64 IRA killed and 120 Wounded; 132 British Army were killed and 397 wounded; and 254 civilians were killed and 2,217 wounded. At Ashbourne, Co Meath, 116 military were killed, 368 wounded and 9 went missing.  The Police lost 16 killed and 29 wounded. The British press told the world that as the prisoners were marched away, they were vilified by the citizens of Dublin, but never mentioned that they had been deliberately marched by unionists and Anglo sympathizers.  Many Dubliners were in no way hostile.  At Boland’s Bakery and the South Dublin Union, the patriots were cheered during the Rising and sympathy had grown during the week.  Rising participant, Florence O’Donohue later said, the military failure of the rising proved to be less significant than its impact on the nation’s mind; the historic Irish nation was reborn.

New Gaelic League Branch to launch in Brooklyn at Rocky Sullivan’s.

Posted by Jim on


Osclóidh Uachtarán Chonradh na Gaeilge, Cóilín Ó Cearbhaill craobh úr den Chonradh ag Rocky Sullivan’s, oíche Aoine, 4ú Márta. Bígí linn agus glacaigí páirt in obair an Chonartha!

8:30 i.n., Oíche hAoine, 4ú Márta, 2016,
Gaelic League President Cóilín Ó Cearbhaill will open a new branch of the League at Rocky Sullivan’s on Friday night, March 4th. Join us and take part in the work of the League!

8:30 p.m., Friday night, March 4th, 2016

NYC St. Patrick’s Day Board Continues to Remove St. Patrick and Faith from Parade

Posted by Jim on February 25, 2016

Concerned Members of the Affiliated Organizations of the NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade

Feb 24, 2016 — The Concerned Members of the Affiliated Organizations began this past fall with a petition protesting bylaw changes to the New York St. Patrick’s Day parade. The proposed changes would have replaced the elected voice of the Affiliated Organizations with an “executive committee” accountable to an unelected board, and removed from the mission statement of the parade that it is to honor St. Patrick as Patron Saint of the Archdiocese of New York. Members of the Affiliated Organizations were, and still are, concerned that this signaled the intention of Dr. Lahey and the board to transform this venerable celebration of faith and heritage into a green-tinged politically correct Mardi Gras in order to placate government officials and sponsors.

Chairman Dr. Lahey has been adamant since our petition garnered over 5,000 signatures, and has repeated numerous times, that it is not the board’s intention to deprecate St. Patrick and the Archdiocese in the parade. He characterized this claim as “misinformation”, despite the fact that removing the name of St. Patrick is documented on a written agenda. The CMAO believes that actions carry more weight than words.

We sadly note that at the recent Grand Marshal Reception, an event second only to the Parade itself in importance, and despite the fact that there were numerous Chaplains in attendance, there was no invocation nor other formal recognition of the Patron Saint who is the reason for the parade. Despite many empty seats at the reception, there seemed to be no room for the Apostle of Ireland.

As exiled children of Ireland, born of famine and anti-Catholic sentiment, we are concerned. If there is no room for a Catholic recognition of God’s blessings or a faithful recognition of St. Patrick at the Grand Marshal’s reception, then we believe our concerns regarding St. Patrick’s future presence in the parade that bears his name seem warranted. We are gravely distressed that the statements and assurances of Dr. Lahey and the Board are continually contradicted by their actions.

Martin McGuinness calls on electorate to seize the moment

Posted by Jim on February 23, 2016

Speaking at a press conference in Dublin this morning Sinn Féin MLA Martin McGuinness has said;

“The last week has seen Fine Gael resort to the politics of fear, Sinn Féin are for the politics of hope.  Next Friday, the people will have the opportunity to change things for the better, and Sinn Féin want to be part of that change.”

Martin McGuinness said:

“For the first time, in all our lifetimes, we have the opportunity to have Sinn Féin in government north and south.  Governments that will stand up for equality. Governments that will deliver a fair recovery. Governments with a plan for unity and reconciliation. Governments with a plan to sustain the peace process.  Governments that will act in the national interest.

“The events of last year showed just how important it is to have a government acting in the national interest.  During critical talks, the leader of Fine Gael reduced his role to that of a by-stander and  the Fianna Fáil leader intervened to call for the suspension of the institutions.  This was highly reckless and clearly done for short term political opportunism.  The peace process is far too important for that to happen ever again.

“We are now delivering on the Fresh Start agreement and making progress.  We need to do more.

“The electorate now has the choice. Do they stick with the parties of boom, bust and broken promises or seize this moment in time, to elect a progressive republican government.

“Sinn Féin has a plan to deliver a fair recovery, we have demonstrated in the north that Sinn Féin in government secures public services and delivers jobs.

“Fine Gael might be into the politics of fear, we are for the politics of hope.

“On Friday, the people of this state have the opportunity to change it for the better, and Sinn Féin will be part of that change.”

Bigotry towards the Irish Language Continues

Posted by Jim on

In a statement issued on the 22 of February 2016, Sinn Féin Poblachtach National PRO, Seán Ó Dubhláin commented on the harassment RSF members had to face as they left a republican ballad night in Dublin;

“Republican Sinn Féin wish to bring to attention the harassment of our members after their successful ballad night held on Saturday 20, 2016 in Dublin.

Whilst leaving the premises of the function four members of RSF were subject to the usual special branch harassment, names and addresses were taken by two heavily armed members of An Garda Síochana who had nothing better to be doing with tax payers money than to sit outside a bar all night trying to intimidate people for their political believes.

All members gave names and addresses in Irish, one member refused to speak any English as is his right, the Gardaí who could barely speak any Irish became quite aggressive and threatened arrest before the scenario was eventually defused. This hostility towards the Irish language from the Gardaí and Political Police of the Special Branch is typical of the rotten neo-colonial imperialist state we live in. These Special Branch officers later quickly drove off when supporters and members of RSF came on the scene and challenged them as to why they were harassing peaceful republicans.

Back in April 2015, a member of Republican Sinn Féin in the midlands gave his name and address in Irish, it was demanded in English, when this was refused the Garda became aggressive and our member was arrested, he was later released once the Free State police confirmed his identity.

Republican Sinn Féin will not be intimidated by this harassment, we will continue to promote the traditional republican message in defiance of imperialism, one hundred years since the Rising of ’16 it is a disgrace that such bigotry exists in a so-called Irish state against the Irish language, the very core and soul of our nation.”

1916 Societies meeting this Monday 2/22 at 6:30pm upstairs at O’Lunney’s Times Square. All are welcome, so stop by, listen and join.

Posted by Jim on February 22, 2016

Pope Francis right to name and shame Trump on immigration racism

Posted by Jim on February 19, 2016


Matthew 25: 35 I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.

Donald Trump, 06-16-15 “Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending the best..they’re sending people that have lots of problems and they’re bringing those problems. They’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime. They’re rapists…”
Pope Francis, 02-18-16 “A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian. This is not in the gospel.”

Trump, 02 -18-16 “Disgraceful. No leader, especially a religious leader, should have the right to question another man’s religion or faith. [Mexico has] made many disparaging remarks about me to the Pope.”

We have been through so many outrageous moments during the Trump campaign that we almost forget the most egregious of all. The attempt to sully emigrants as rapists and drug dealers. Now the pope has joined the British, French and Irish leaders in rejecting such comments.

Undocumented workers contribute $12 billion to social security. If they were legalized that figure would be over $20 billion. You will never hear any comments on that from Trump.

Can you imagine if such terminology as he employs was was used against Americans in a Mexican election? The outrage and splutter would fill many a Rush Limbaugh show.

Finally someone with absolute stature has called out Trump. Not the Republican Party, which, however much it wants to drag its feet, has to march to his drum. Not the media, who love the ratings palooza; not the Democratic Party, mired in it’s own internal battle to the death.

The Pope.

Here is what he told the press on his plane home after a trip to Mexico.

“As far as what you said about whether I would advise to vote or not to vote, I am not going to get involved in that. I say only that this man is not Christian if he said things like that….”

That is an extraordinary statement from the pope, an emotional one after spending days with the poorest of the poor in Mexico.


Welcoming the stranger has been a fundamental core belief for this pope. Demonizing immigrants has been a strong undercurrent of Trump’s rise to the top of the pack in the GOP. The clash was inevitable.

Cardinal Dolan in New York also previously took Trump to task on his immigration policy, with a scathing op-ed.

Trump may have the luck of the devil in one way. Anti-Catholicism was once rampant in South Carolina, where the notorious Bob Jones University specialized for generations in anti-Catholic anti-Pope fulminations. The viral strain of anti-Catholicism still exists.


In fact, so anti-Catholic are some in South Carolina that the Reverend Ian Paisley, at the height of his anti-Catholic career, traveled frequently to Bob Jones University, which gave him an honorary doctorate and praised him for calling the pope the “whore of Babylon.”

As for Bob Jones himself, the following comment is all you need to read: “Pope Paul VI, archpriest of Satan, a deceiver and an anti-Christ, has, like Judas, gone to his own place … A pope must be an opportunist, a tyrant, a hypocrite, and a deceiver or he cannot be a pope.”

So Trump could paradoxically benefit from the old “Whore of Babylon” trick by blaming the pope.


Sometimes it takes an outsider to see clearly what Americans cannot – Donald Trump would be a disaster for America and the world.

Pope Francis has done the world a favor by pointing it out.

The question is, are GOP voters listening?

Plastic paddies insult doesn’t fit this homesick Irish American

Posted by Jim on February 18, 2016

"When I am away, it is not any American holiday, but St. Patrick’s Day, when I miss New York the most. "

About six years ago, sitting in a lecture for my Irish-American history class, my professor,Patrick Griffin who, like me, is a first generation Irish-American, highlighted the significance of the question “How long are you home for?” which he had been asked on trips back to Ireland. This question resonates with me, as I also endured a childhood where family members on both sides of the Atlantic refer to Ireland as my “home,” which evokes mixed reactions in both my heart and head.


On the surface level, I, now 25 years old, consider myself extremely fortunate to have such strong ties to Ireland that I have a place that I can call “home,” which just happens to be a majestic little village in Kerry with blue seas and green mountains. When a relative says the simple phrase “welcome home,” it is incredibly reassuring, as if my visit in a way reverses the harsh and enduring realities of emigration and restores the natural order of things, albeit temporarily.

Yet, upon further reflection, this usage of the word “home” has raised problems when I seek to look introspectively at my own identity. When I use the word itself, I constantly use a qualifier – I am either going “home” to New York or “home” to Kerry, never “home” full stop. I am left confronting bigger questions for myself, and caught up between the Old and New Worlds. Am I more Irish or more American?

Annascaul, County Kerry: "I am either going “home” to New York or “home” to Kerry, never “home” full stop."

Annascaul, County Kerry: “I am either going “home” to New York or “home” to Kerry, never “home” full stop.”

The tensions and contradictions of having a dual identity have plagued me for years and years. (For me, despite all of the attention afforded to the processes of migration both in Ireland and the United, both historically and in the present, one of the most neglected issues is the ways in which migration affects future generations.)

I, like many other children of immigrants in New York, consider myself to be as Irish as anyone else in the world. Our connections to Ireland are not just sentimental; the globalized world and internet age mean these connections are ubiquitous features of our everyday lives in ways which previous generations simply did not have access to. In this age of smartphones and broadband, our family and friends in Ireland are as easily contactable as our next door neighbors.

Read more: Time for Irish to stop calling Irish Americans Plastic Paddies

Words like “craic” and “cop on” creep into our everyday use, both intentionally and subconsciously. We can talk for hours with each other and Irish born immigrants about the latest Shane Long transfer rumor or our country’s Euro 2016 prospects the same as lads our age would do on the other side of the ocean. For as long as I can remember, a fresh loaf of Pat the Baker’s bread and a sleeve of Digestives have been regular fixtures in our cupboard.

Suggestions that I might be a “Plastic Paddy” are laughable in my eyes. After all, I have a firmer grasp on Irish history than most in Ireland, travel back “home” regularly, and have watched nearly every Irish international soccer game since the advent of internet streaming, even in the dark days of Staunton as the gaffer. My own sense of Irishness was organically instilled in me from the early stages of my childhood and is something which is substantial rather than romanticized.

Plastic Paddy makes no sense to the Irish American living in England.

Plastic Paddy makes no sense to the Irish American living in England.

Nonetheless, I don’t feel entirely Irish in Ireland or entirely American in the States – it is only within my immediate family and the greater Irish-American community in New York that these tensions seem to subside and it actually feels okay to have one foot on the Dingle Peninsula and the other in the suburbs of the Bronx. These strong, confused sentiments have left me agonizing on a daily basis for practically all of my adult life about where my heart and my future lie and about what exactly constitutes “home.”

Life works in strange ways, and I ended up moving to Wiltshire in rural England this past June to pursue my dreams in historical research, as I found an opportunity which is unavailable not only in Kerry but also in New York. My job is everything I dreamed it would be, as I examine historical content and significant documents on a daily basis, often on subjects related to both Irish and American history.

From an occupational perspective, I couldn’t be any happier as I derive a large amount of fulfillment from what I do without any sources of major stress. Yet this period since I’ve moved has also given me levels of homesickness and loneliness which were hitherto unprecedented. It is within these emotions in which I can most decisively untangle my dual identity as an Irish-American. Ironically, as an immigrant myself over here, I miss being part of an immigrant community on the other side of the ocean. I am, in essence, an exile from the exiles.

While I have moved away from family for extended periods of time before without similar levels of melancholy, my current situation has one glaring difference from all my other moves: I am currently lacking a significant Irish dimension in my life, for the first time. When I went to school at Notre Dame, I wouldn’t have survived without the encouragement, academic inspiration and friendship of the faculty of the university’s world-renowned Irish Studies department. . Similarly, while studying for a Masters in Oxford, it was always comforting to hear my dissertation supervisor’s Antrim accent and to have a strong network of Irish family and friends a short train ride away in London.

Unfortunately, this network is much more inaccessible this go-around in England for a multitude of reasons, not least due to my rigid work schedule and less-than-ideal location in terms of public transport. (However, to be fair, a nice perk of living on this side of the Atlantic is that trips to Ireland become quarterly, rather than annual occurrences. Even still, this does not overshadow the harsh reality that on many days out here the only Irish presence within my life is the Kerrygold butter I cook with!)

Tellingly, these feelings leave me not only longing for Kerry, but perhaps more so for New York. Sure, I pine for my friends, gangster rap on the radio, and Hispanic food regularly, but above all else I realize that this homesickness is inextricably related to the green-tinted lens in which I view New York. The majority of things I miss most about New York are uniquely Irish-American, especially in terms of family and the subtleties of everyday life.

New York St. Patrick's Day parade.

New York St. Patrick’s Day parade.

When I am away, it is not any American holiday, but St. Patrick’s Day, when I miss New York the most. I long for the Sundays when my father drove us to Gaelic Park to watch football, with his insistence on listening to Saw Doctors tapes, or more recently streaming Radio Kerry over his phone in the car. My mind dreams of once again waking up to the snowed-in mornings in which my mom bakes a soda bread. I miss having the banter with my brothers in a twisted amalgamation of New York and Hiberno-English and playing soccer with the Lansdowne Bhoys, a club which represents the Irish community in the Bronx. It is this hybrid world, where Ireland meets America, that I feel most comfortable in. I guess I could say that I feel “at home” in a place that might not be “home,” if that makes sense.

Growing up in between two countries is both a blessing and a curse, particularly when one finds himself in a place that is not either one of his “homes.” It means that my heart grows twice as heavy when I am away, holding nostalgia not only for the stone walls and green hills in Kerry, but also for the paved streets of New York—both of which are, from my point of view, Irish in their own ways.

NYC disses St. Patrick’s Day – again

Posted by Jim on & Mike Morley

Posted by Jim on

See George McLaughlin’s write up below on Mike Morley

Mike Morley, a resident of metropolitan Chicago and originally from the Irish community in Brooklyn–in a neighborhood that adjoined my own–is a tireless advocate for Irish freedom and reunification and for restoring the dignity of Irish culture.  He has been working on worthwhile projects centered on these goals for decades, including my own  effort to place markers on the graves in America of Fenians and other fighters for and supporters of Irish freedom.  His latest collaboration with me was centered on erecting a tombstone on the grave of Martin Hogan in Chicago.  Hogan was one of the Catalpa Six who had escaped from the infamous British prison in Fremantle in Western Australia in the late 19th century.  Through the efforts of people like Mike Hogan had a grave marker placed at his place of final rest.  We have similar projects coming, beginning with Katherine Hughes who is buried in the Bronx.

Mike’s TV show is available online for viewers anywhere in the world and it is well worth watching on a regular basis, especially for Irish-American activists. I wanted to pass along this link to his show and ask that you send it out to your list serve, if possible.  The current offering is a retrospective on Bloody Sunday, supplemented with photos of the rising at Easter time, 1916.

Go raibh maith agat, a chara!

Seoirse McLaughlin

Show your support for a united Ireland.

Posted by Jim on

Show your support for a united Ireland by marching behind the ‘One Ireland One Vote Campaign’ banner
with the 1916 Societies-New York in the following St. Patrick’s Day Parades: 

Saturday, March 5th.
Rockaway Beach Parade

Assemble at 11:30 am. At beach 132 street and Newport avenue. Marching behind AOH Division 21.

Sunday, March 6th.
Sunnyside Queens Parade

1:00pm Assembly.  2:00pm Parade Steps-off.  Meet at 43rd & Skillman Ave at Registration center.
Parade Route: Starts at 43rd Street and Skillman Ave north to 61st Street and Woodside Ave.

Sunday, March 20th
Brooklyn,  Parade

Assemble at 12:00 Noon on Prospect Park Ave West between 9th Street & 15th Street.  Marching behind the Kings County AOH.
Parade Route:   From 15th Street & Prospect Park West > Down 15th Street to 7th Avenue > Along 7th Avenue > To Garfield Place > Up Garfield Place To Prospect Park West And Along Prospect Park West To 15th Street .

Proconsul’s keynote speech rang hollow

Posted by Jim on

Brian Feeney. Irish News (Belfast).Wednesday, February 17, 2016

The stalled inquest into the death of teenager Arlene Arkinson is a classic example which amply illustrates why people do not give any credence to the speech our proconsul[Theresa Villiers, NI Secretary of State] made on February 11.

The NIO billed it as ‘a keynote speech’. That’s defined as a speech to set the underlying tone or present the core message, as she said, ‘of the sovereign government’ here.

In fact there was nothing new in it at all. If you read it, and probably not one person in ten thousand did, you’ll see it’s simply a restatement of the NIO’s position on the past.

Luckily you didn’t have to sit through it for it’s arrogant, patronising, full of internal contradictions, intellectually feeble and in places seems to assume people here came up the Lagan in a bubble.

In case you’re forgotten or never knew, it was about why the British government intends to use the national security ploy to withhold information about how people were killed during the Troubles. Ironically for our proconsul,  one of her minions you’ve never heard of had just signed off on the grounds of national security the withholding of information about the death of the school girl Arlene Arkinson whose death had nothing to do with the Troubles. Why?

It rang hollow when our proconsul said in her speech: “National security is not an open-ended concept which can be used to suppress information about whatever actions the State does not want to see the light of day.” Huh.

Does she think no-one here remembers her predecessor Sir Patrick, now Lord Mayhew, in 1988 shutting down prosecutions in the hayshed shootings in Lurgan in 1982 on, guess what, national security grounds? Recently released documents show the Irish government was furious.

We now know what ‘national security’ in that context really meant. An MI5 tape had been purloined and then destroyed. It would have revealed no warnings were shouted and as a result one of the survivors has been awarded substantial compensation. Not only were the shutters pulled down but John Stalker was deliberately discredited and his report never published. Why should anyone believe anything’s different?

In her speech the proconsul used the tired technique of setting up Aunt Sallys[ straw men] to knock down. She went on about a disproportionate emphasis on security force killings claiming they’re blamed for every atrocity. Not true. Security forces were responsible for fewer than 10 per cent of killings and only a few of them are controversial.

Whoever advised her on her speech allowed her to make a list of killings which included some where— although security forces were not directly involved—those in their pay were, which is particularly true in the case of Greysteel. These are exactly the kind of murky incidents she proposes to withhold information about, just like Mayhew.

Her pretext for keeping information under wraps is especially laughable. Information about security force techniques would be useful to dissidents, and wait for it, Islamist terrorists. Yet in another part of her speech she contradicted herself when she said, ‘policing practice and methodology has (sic) changed radically over the intervening years’.

Nobody’s talking about recent killings. Is she really trying to say that since the ceasefires in 1994 when the internet was in its infancy, when email was a rarity and those who had modems ran them at 14.4kb/sec, that security forces still use the same techniques? What could anyone possibly learn from techniques used in say, 1988-9 that have long since been superseded?

We know that homers and miniature microphones are attached to suspects’ clothing, whereas 20 years ago the listening device in Sinn Féin’s Connolly House was five feet long and weighed 10 pounds.

What’s never said in British ministers’ speeches is that some of the most horrifying incidents were sanctioned by politicians like Lady Hacksaw[Maggie Thatcher]… that responsibility for lethal ambushes and agents provocateurs lies at the feet of some of our proconsuls’ party colleagues now retired… that blame cannot be confined to soldiers and police carrying out politicians’ instructions.

And by the way, why would it take five years and £35 million to inquire into Scappaticci’s activities when all the PSNI have to do is call in his handlers and ask them what he did?

Wish he was still here.

Posted by Jim on February 17, 2016

Mark Twain

Sheer Scale And Absurdity Of IRA’s Failure

Posted by Jim on

The opinion polls during the Irish election seem to be all over the place at the moment: some very good for Sinn Fein, some very bad.

But to be honest it doesn’t matter if Sinn Fein ends up in coalition with Enda Kenny or Micheál Martin (and, believe me, neither man will allow their personal view of Gerry Adams to stand in the way of leading the next government), because it isn’t going to move Sinn Fein one inch closer to delivering Irish unity.

So what if Martin McGuinness and Gerry Adams are at the centre of coalitions in Dublin and Belfast? Ireland will remain divided and they’ll be in two separate governments. And there isn’t one convincing scrap of evidence to suggest that a border poll in Northern Ireland would produce a majority for leaving the United Kingdom anytime soon.

The IRA accepted a very long time ago – within two years of the Provisionals forming – that they weren’t going to unite Ireland by violence. That’s why they opened ‘formal’ channels of communication in 1972.

A decade later, in 1981, they opted for the ‘armalite/ballot box’ strategy. By the early 1990s they knew the game was up in terms of the ‘armed struggle’ and cooperated with the British, Irish and American governments to extract themselves from the hole they had first dug 30 years earlier.

But that meant redefining their purpose and perception. Let’s face it the Provisionals (in their IRA and SF manifestations) didn’t lift the torch just to end up in Stormont, with the DUP, jointly governing a Northern Ireland which remained firmly rooted within the United Kingdom. So they had to find a narrative to explain not only how they ended up in that position, but also why it actually makes sense for them to be there.

In this narrative Sinn Fein has been trying to reinvent itself as the civil rights campaign and an early version of the SDLP. They pretend that they were the champions of the electoral/institutional/social/political changes that took place throughout the 1970s. They pretend that the IRA were ‘defenders’ rather than protagonists: almost as if there never was a terror campaign involving them. They peddle the line that while they may have made ‘mistakes’ (“for which we are sorry, don’t you know, blah blah blah”) it was actually the British and their ‘police and army machines’ who were the real, cold-blooded killing machines. And while Gerry Adams was never in the IRA, it was British agents in the IRA who were doing bad things and blaming the IRA!

Running alongside this absurd mythology Sinn Fein is also pushing another story; one that argues that being in government in Northern Ireland is something they’ve never had any problem with (“sure, we’ve always wanted peace and cooperation with our unionist fellow citizens”) and that it’s part of a long-term, thought-through strategy leading to eventual unification.

As works of fiction go it’s not bad and all that’s missing is Dan Brown’s Professor Robert Langdon to make sense of the obscure language and convoluted logic. For good measure they blame the SDLP, unionism, dissident republicans, the Brits and the Irish establishment for standing in the way of reconciliation and reunification.

The reality, of course, is that the IRA got nothing. Sinn Fein got nothing. They were rolled over and sucked in by a state which is a past master at that sort of thing. Since the mid-1990s they thought they were playing hardball with successive governments, whereas all they were doing was everything demanded of them. And for what? The fantasy – and that’s all it is – that unity is around the corner and that they are worthy of standing shoulder to shoulder with Michael Collins, Parnell et al.

None of this mythology, reinvention and rewriting is intended for a Northern audience. That vote is close to maxing out because most people here have seen through the guff and know the real story.

No, this is to do with their Southern strategy and is a cynical, clinical attempt to bamboozle people who, not having seen the IRA at their worst or followed events closely since the mid-1960s, might be willing to believe Sinn Fein’s version of events. People, in other words, who think that Gerry Adams is a statesman rather than a flim-flamming opportunist.

Which is why media attacks seem to make so little difference to Sinn Fein’s poll appeal down there. Everything that can be thrown at Adams has been thrown at him and he’s still standing, still smiling, still pumping out his deodorising tweets and still preparing for a victory speech at the end of the month.

Yet, as I said earlier, it doesn’t really matter in terms of the overall Sinn Fein project. Adams won’t be uniting Ireland and he won’t be carried through the streets of Dublin as the man who did what no-one else in the past 800 years has been able to do.

Adams will be added to a list: that list of people – some democrats, some terrorists – who have tried to reunite Ireland as a sovereign state. Like all the others, he has failed. The IRA has failed. Sinn Fein has failed. All they have left is the pretence that they are on the road to success.

Ironically, a foothold in two governments in a still partitioned Ireland would demonstrate the sheer scale and absurdity of their failure – probably stuck between Arlene Foster and Enda Kenny.

Michael Collins’ Dublin – in the footsteps of Ireland’s greatest revolutionary

Posted by Jim on

Dermot McEvoy @irishcentral

Even ninety-four years after his death Michael Collins remains a pivotal part of Dublin City life. You’ll see photographs and paintings of him in shops and pubs around the city and there are two busts of him, at the Hugh Lane Gallery and in Merrion Square Park.

But who exactly was this national icon, Michael Collins?

He was the most wanted man in Ireland – the British put a £5,000 bounty (sometimes embellished to £10,000) on his head – yet Collins walked and cycled around Dublin with a devil-may-care attitude that inspired his small army. (His fiancée, Kitty Kiernan, referred to him in letters as her “elusive Pimpernel.”)

He fought in the General Post Office at Easter 1916, spent eight months in prison, then returned to Dublin at New Year’s 1917. For the next five years he ran a revolution that has become textbook for nationalist insurgents around the globe.

He was Ireland’s first Minister for Finance (floating the National Loan that helped birth the inchoate Irish nation) and gained notoriety as the Director of Intelligence of the Irish Republican Army. As DOI he formed his infamous assassination team – “The Squad” or “The Twelve Apostles” – who systematically executed the British Secret Service in Dublin on “Bloody Sunday,” November 21, 1920. Just over a year later, he negotiated the Treaty which freed most of Ireland from seven hundred years of British rule.

He was killed in an ambush at Béal na mBláth, in his native County Cork, on August 22, 1922. He was only thirty-one-years-of-age. Fittingly, his body was returned to his beloved Dublin and he is buried in Glasnevin Cemetery.

Although Michael Collins has been dead for nine decades, many of his Dublin haunts – amazingly–remain intact. And luckily for the exhausted tourist, a walking tour of Collins’ Dublin will take only an hour because many of his buildings and pubs are located smack in the City Center.

Trinity Street and #3 St. Andrew Street: Let’s begin the tour at the front gate of Trinity College. Cross Grafton Street and walk up College Green to Trinity Street. Turn left and advance to St. Andrew Street. Your first impression of this fist of tiny intersecting streets is that “this would be the perfect spot for an ambush” – and you would be right. This area is the location of one of Collins’ main finance offices at #3 Andrew Street – right next to the Trocadero Restaurant – but, as your instincts may have warned you, it is also the location of one the great ambushes gone awry. It was here that Collins and the Squad waited in 1919 for the arrival of Lord French, the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, as he made his way from Trinity College, heading home to the Viceregal Lodge in the Phoenix Park. Their mission was assassination. French did not show and Collins dispersed the Squad, wary that his hot tip may have been a British set up.

Old Stand Pub, corner of St. Andrew & Wicklow Streets: After going over the books for the National Loan across the street Collins would often meet up with his men here. According to the Old Stand’s website, “From time to time, Collins held informal meetings of the outlawed I.R.B. (Irish Republican Brotherhood) in the premises as true to Collins’ tradition, he was less conspicuous while in the midst of the public.”

Wicklow Hotel & Weir’s Jewelers: If you turn left and continue down Wicklow Street you will come to the former location of the Wicklow Hotel at #4 Wicklow Street (now a bank). This was a regular hangout for Collins and his Squad. However, the porter, one Willie Dolan, was a British informer and Collins had the Squad take him out. Mrs. Dolan, not knowing that Collins was behind her husband’s death, asked Collins for a pension. Collins granted her request. On the corner of Grafton Street is Weir & Sons, jewelers, where Collins brought the engagement gift, a watch, for his fiancée, Kitty Kiernan, in 1921.

#10 Exchequer Street & The Central Hotel: If you backtrack on Wicklow Street it becomes Exchequer Street. #10, to the left of Dunnes Stores, was Collins’ first office in Dublin in 1917. It was here that he ran the National Aid and Volunteers Dependents Fund, a charity but also a front for his rebel activities. His office was on the top floor. Across the street is the Central Hotel – now home to one of the great Dublin drinking venues, the fabulous Library Bar – which Collins often used to accommodate visiting I.R.A. men.

The Stag’s Head: Do an about face at #10 and you’ll be staring down Dame Court. At the end of it, on the right hand side, is the Stag’s Head, one of the most beautiful Victorian pubs in Dublin. By day it is quiet and a great place to have lunch. By night it is a mad house. Any time of day or night it is a great pub and was a favorite of the Big Fellow.

After a hard day at #10 he would come here and enjoy a whiskey from “Mick’s Barrel,” which they kept especially for him. The Stag’s Head is within one block of Dublin Castle, the then center of British power in Ireland, and Collins’ used it to meet his agents, keenly aware that British touts might also be on the premises. Many movies have been filmed here, including “Educating Rita,” “The Treaty” and one of James Cagney’s last films – and maybe the best film ever made about the Irish revolution – “Shake Hands With the Devil.”

Collins’ Alley & #3 Crow Street: Right outside the Stag’s Head is a short, yet sinister, tunnel that leads to Dame Street, which I have nicknamed “Collins’ Alley.” If you look directly across the thoroughfare you’ll see Crow Street. At #3 Collins kept his intelligence office, disguised as John F. Fowler, printer and binder. If was through this office – which he seldom visited because of security issues – that Collins’ agents plotted the downfall of the British Secret Service.

#32 Bachelors Walk, the Oval Bar & “The Dump”: Llet’s make our way to the River Liffey and cross the Ha’penny Bridge. Walk towards O’Connell Street and you’ll come to #32 Bachelors Walk. Collins kept an office here throughout the revolution and, like the Crow Street office, it was never discovered by the British. It is on the corner of Bachelors Way, an alley that leads to Middle Abbey Street. If you look down this alley you’ll see the Oval Bar. The Oval was used by Collins and his Squad perhaps because of its proximity to “The Dump,” a “waiting” room for the Squad on the top floor of the adjacent Eason bookshop building on the corner of Abbey and O’Connell Streets.

General Post Office (GPO) and #16 Moore Street: At O’Connell Street turn left and you’ll see the portico of the General Post Office. The Easter Rising started here on Monday, April 24, 1916. Collins, then a staff captain, fought in the building alongside the leaders, who included Pádraig Pearse and James Connolly. By the end of the week Collins and the other rebels were forced to evacuate the burning GPO and take refuge at #16 Moore Street, off Henry Street. A plaque between the second floor windows marks the spot. Currently, #16 is being turned into a museum.

Vaughan’s Hotel, #29 Parnell Square: Proceed along colorful Moore Street – its food and fish mongers are straight out of Joyce and O’Casey – to Parnell Street and turn right.

A short walk will take you to the Rotunda Hospital, the oldest maternity hospital in Europe, and Parnell Square, a hotbed of Fenian revolutionary fervor during the War of Independence. Proceed along Parnell Square West until you come to #29. In Collins’ time this was Vaughan’s Hotel – he called it “Joint Number One” – probably the most important address associated with Collins during this period. He was in and out of the place several times a day even though British “touts” were sniffing about looking for him.

Mountjoy Street: Continue up Parnell Square and continue past the appropriately named Black Church (the Dublin legend swears that if you run around this foreboding structure three times at midnight the devil himself will appear!). At the corner to the left is the cul-de-sac of Mountjoy Street, almost untouched since the early twentieth century. Collins lived at #44, the Munster Hotel in 1917. (Seán MacDiarmada, a signer of the Proclamation, also spent his last night here prior to the Rising.) As times got hotter Collins was forced to abandon the Munster Hotel as a place of lodging, but he continued to have his laundry done there. Right across the street from #44, one of his girlfriend/agents, Dilly Dicker, lived at #30 and he would park his bike in the lane to the side of the building. Another girlfriend, Susan Killeen, lived at #19.

Hugh Lane Gallery & the Garden of Remembrance: As we end our tour, we retrace out steps back to Parnell Square and on the north side you’ll find the Hugh Lane Municipal Gallery of Modern Art. Lane, a nephew of Lady Gregory, drowned when the Lusitania was torpedoed. He bequeathed many works of art to the city of Dublin in his will. Inside the front door is a marble bust of Michael Collins by Cork sculptor Seamus Murphy. Also at the Hugh Lane are many paintings by Sir John Lavery, a friend of Collins. It is rumored that Sir John’s wife, Lady Hazel Lavery, was Collins’ secret lover.

The Dublin Writers Museum is also on this block. Across the street is the Garden of Remembrance, directly behind the Rotunda Hospital. In 1916 all the rebels from the GPO, including Collins, were bivouacked here for the night after their surrender. Indignities against two of the leaders, Tom Clarke and Seán MacDiarmada, by a Captain Lea Percival Wilson of the British Army, would bring retribution years later when Wilson was gunned down in Gorey, County Wexford by the Squad on Collins’ orders.

It was here that Queen Elizabeth II, on her state visit to Ireland in 2011, laid a wreath in memory of those who died in the fight for Irish freedom. As the Queen stood at attention as the Irish national anthem was played, many Dubliners observed that they wouldn’t be surprised if the ghost of Michael Collins, just across the way at Vaughan’s Hotel, was keeping a close eye on the proceedings – and that he would, finally, approve.

* Dermot McEvoy is the author of the “The 13th Apostle: A Novel of a Dublin Family, Michael Collins, and the Irish Uprising and Irish Miscellany” (Skyhorse Publishing). He may be reached at Follow him at

When national security undermines human rights

Posted by Jim on February 15, 2016

By Jarlath Kearney (for Irish News)

In December, Britain’s Ministry of Defence published a strategic
analysis entitled ‘Future Operating Environment 2035′.

The document identifies the “survival of the state” and “pursuit of
national security” as foundations of Britain’s security doctrine.

It’s a reminder that Britain’s security elite systematically invests
time and energy in long-term planning and forecasting.

That factor, as much as anything, underwrites the British government’s
current handling of national security in relation to dealing with our
past conflict.

Britain sees national security in terms of twenty years ahead, weighing
the implications of today’s decisions for tomorrow’s outcomes; never
ham-stringing itself for future unknown conflicts.

In tragic contrast, victims of state actions here – those seeking truth
and justice – see national security through the harsh realities of its
devastating effects, stretching over maybe twenty years ago or more (and

It’s like looking into the same telescope from opposite ends, but
distanced by a lifetime’s experience.

Britain’s victims don’t understand how a democratic state defends
indefensible practices during the conflict using so-called national
security grounds.

Their perspective magnifies every consequence of Britain’s human rights
breaches, with hundreds of ghosts staring back at still-suffering

But Britain’s modern bureaucrats care little about victims’ feelings or
views, or indeed, the implications for the present and future from
failure to properly address the past.

Their primary objective is the future protection of state interests (and
their own careers). They look down the telescope from the wrong end, and
– to them – the victims appear as tiny, insignificant and far away.

The state’s approach is a fundamental mistake, even at the level of
sustaining its own contested notions of ‘democratic Britain’ and
‘national security’.

Remember, it was Westminster’s studied indifference towards 50 years of
sectarian one-party rule which permissively nurtured multi-generational
grievances here among nationalists and republicans.

The irony is that Britain’s national security would be strategically
strengthened by more honesty and openness about the conflict.

Unfortunately the tactical interests of protecting influential officials
and preserving the legends of false reputation are obscuring common
sense approaches on the past. (Maybe similar considerations even affect
all sides, to some degree or other.)

Writing in The Irish News on Friday, Denis Bradley recalled how, six or
seven years ago, a MI5 chief told him that a ‘tsunami’ would rise up on
the past.

So does anyone seriously think MI5 have been twiddling their thumbs for
the past decade or more, sitting around and sweating on that tsunami’s

No. They’ve been moving back their deckchairs and buying up the safe
inland real estate – working twenty years ahead.

All of which puts an interesting slant on the recent swelling tide of
public crisis around truth recovery, now rebranded as ‘legacy’.

New revelations leaked to various media? Confusion generated amongst
victims and survivors?

Commentators conditioning people towards limited outcomes? Resource
restrictions continually strangling independent accountability, like the
Police Ombudsman?

Democratic policing weighed down by some unjustifiable decisions on the

When you stand back quietly and look carefully, this supposed chaos
actually reveals patterns. Like a recipe.

Frankly, it feels like our society is now being systematically ‘nudged’
towards a particularly unsatisfactory endpoint on dealing with the past.

(Such a strategy comes from the psychology of behavioural insights.
States use it to shape public attitudes towards preferred policy

Of course, a positive alternative option still exists.

Any side to the conflict could still take unilateral steps to
voluntarily deliver maximum contributions on truth, thereby reshaping
the public square and recalibrating the whole debate. That could be a
mighty intervention.

Significantly, the most important official counter-narrative to the
steady seepage of British national security ‘nudging’ is currently
coming from the impressive independence and effectiveness of the High

Two weeks ago, Lord Justice Weir (acting to Lord Chief Justice Morgan)
compellingly demolished every shocking excuse for the state’s ongoing
obstructions and delays of conflict-related inquests.

Likewise, last May, Mr Justice Stephens found the British government
once again in procedural breach of Article 2 of the ECHR – the right to
life – in relation to the murder of lawyer Pat Finucane.

Mr Finucane’s anniversary occurs this Friday – his twenty-seventh.

Perhaps if Britain’s political, military and security elite had not
authorised and caused his murder, Mr Finucane might even be sitting
today on the High Court bench calling the past to account (with
characteristic brilliance) and upholding the rule of law for the safety
and security of all.

And it’s the colossal sadness of such stolen potential which, above all,
reveals how counter-productive and bankrupt Britain’s position can
become when national security undermines human rights.

Villiers makes brazen defence of Crown Forces’ murder campaign

Posted by Jim on February 13, 2016

British Direct Ruler Theresa Villiers has been condemned by the
families of victims of the conflict after she accused them of a
“pernicious narrative” in alleging Crown force collusion and state

In an attempt to address widespread concern over Britain’s continuing
cover-ups over its ‘Dirty War’ in the North, and most recently the
Shankill Road bomb in 1993, Ms Villiers went on the offensive.

“It wasn’t the RUC [police] or the [British] Army who planted the bombs
at La Mon, Enniskillen, or the Shankill, or pulled the triggers at
Loughinisland or Greysteel,” she declared in a keynote speech on legacy
issues at the Ulster University.

While her government continues to refuse to release documents that
would prove or disprove collusion, citing ‘national security’, she
claimed there had been a disproportionate focus placed on the actions
of the RUC and British Army.

Villiers claimed that the British State was involved in only ten per
cent of the deaths in the conflict, and that the Crown forces had
“saved hundreds of lives”. She rejected claims of “endemic” Crown force

Her remark on the Loughinisland massacre particularly dismayed the
families of those victims, as a report by the Police Ombudsman is to be
released shortly.

Emma Rogan, whose father Adrian was one of the six men killed in the
pub shooting while watching a soccer match, said there were questions
to be answered about the weapons used in the attack, the role of state
agents, as well as the police investigation.

Her lawyer, Niall Murphy of KRW Law, said that to make such an
intervention prior to the publication of the ombudsman’s report “calls
into question the judgement of Ms Villiers”.

Sinn Fein Assembly member Chris Hazzard called on Villiers to apologise
to the Loughinisland families.

He pointed out that the assault rifles used in the attack were from a
consignment of weapons brought in by British Military Intelligence and
its agent Brian Nelson, and there was strong evidence that the
involvement of two state agents had been covered up.

“This is a total insult by the British government to the victims and
their families,” he said.

“Maybe Ms Villiers should read some of the files the British government
refuse to disclose to learn what happened at Loughinisland or indeed
actually meet with the families who have lost their loved ones.”

East Derry Assembly member John Dallat of the SDLP accused Villiers of
“rewriting history” by failing to acknowledge the role of the Crown
Forces in the various atrocities. His colleague Mark Durkan MP said
Villiers was attempting to ‘airbrush’ the responsibility and liability
of the British state and forces acting in its name.

Sinn Fein’s Declan Kearney said Villiers’ latest speech had “deepened,
not lessened” the impasse on dealing with the past.

“The fact is that the British state has tried to absolve and distance
the actions of its forces and agents from having any responsibility for
the conflict, and the suffering experienced by all sides.

“Lifting a block on information about the actions of state forces and
agents over 40, 30 or 20 years ago poses no threat to British national
security by any definition.

“There is no actual or arguable way in which disclosure about the
involvement of British soldiers in the Ballymurphy Massacre; the role
of unionist paramilitary state agents in the Dublin/Monaghan bombings;
or the assassination of Pat Finucane by unionist state agents could
undermine British national security in the present-day geopolitical

“Margaret Thatcher personally approved and presided over numerous
state-sanctioned assassinations. The national security pretext is about
trying to keep the focus of information disclosure away from Downing
Street, and the most senior levels of British state decision making.”

Liam Neeson narrated series on Easter Rising a huge hit with Irish critics

Posted by Jim on February 11, 2016

James O’Shea @irishcentral

The Notre Dame-made documentary entitled “1916,” a three-part series on the Easter Rising narrated by Liam Neeson, has gotten off to a splendid start on Irish television. Critics are raving about the Irish American production.

Irish Times critic Bernice Harrison called it a “landmark” series and stated, “its landmark TV status is further burnished by Liam Neeson as voiceover and a full-blooded, atmospheric soundtrack from Patrick Cassidy.”

She continued, “’1916′ is clearly a big budget project: locations mentioned in the credits range from Berlin to India, France to the US. While no documentary about an historical event can be viewed as definitive – not least because as an academic discipline, history studies is built on historians contradicting each other – ‘1916’ succeeds superbly on two fronts: it is lucid, accessible storytelling that creates a vivid and vibrant image of the time; and its editorial viewpoint, that the Rising must be seen in an international context, is a convincing and appealing one.”

The series has already been snapped up by a record 155 public television stations across the US and in countries around the world where the Irish diaspora is spread. It will be shown around St. Patrick’s Day or Easter, the 100th anniversary, across the United States and Canada. The BBC has also picked it up.

The series was funded to the tune of $3 million by the Keough-Naughton Institute, named after the late American Irish philanthropist and Coca-Cola president Don Keough and Irish businessman Martin Naughton of Glen Dimplex. It was overseen by Briona Nic Dhiarmada, an Irish filmmaker who is a visiting professor at Notre Dame.

Harrison notes, “’1916′ is directed by Ruán Magan and is a well-constructed, thoroughly researched project with many historians on camera. Its key strength is the way it skilfully condenses historical events without leaving the viewer feeling short-changed or confused.

“The contention is that a rebellion was not inevitable on that particular day in Easter week, but it was bound to come, because of the history of oppression but also because of the mood internationally at the start of the 20th century. The fight for Irish independence, it effectively suggests, was a reaction to the spread of the British Empire, a wartime enhanced understanding of nationhood and a rising class consciousness. The film also sees echoes of the American War of Independence and the French Revolution in the Rising. Comparisons are made with the language in the Proclamation and the US constitution noting the emphasis on equal rights, opportunities, and happiness.”

She quotes Liam Neeson, “In time the Rising would inspire freedom movements around the world.” There’s not much room in ‘1916’ for those revisionist ideas that the Easter week rebels were a small bunch of blood-sacrifice terrorists with no popular mandate, who wreaked havoc on O’Connell Street and wasted lives.”

As a result of the global perspective Irish America, especially the role of John Devoy, is much more widely covered as is Roger Casement, who during his colonial career witnessed horrific abuse of natives in the Congo.

The Notre Dame production “is that rare thing: a thoroughly engaging history lesson,” concludes Harrison

Concerned Members of the Affiliated Organizations of the NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade

Posted by Jim on February 9, 2016

Questions to the Board of the NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade

Concerned Members of the Affiliated Organizations of the NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade

Feb 9, 2016 — In the spirit of St. Patrick, the Concerned Members of the Affiliated Organizations (“CMAO”) thanks Dr. Lahey for visiting with the various Affiliated Organizations regarding the current controversies surrounding the Parade. We had hoped that Dr. Lahey would use these visits to listen and reflect on the questions and concerns about the Parade from the people whom he himself described as “the heart and soul of the parade.” It is with great sadness and regret that we must report that rather than embracing this opportunity; he has chosen to engage in self-justification and not dialogue.

We reluctantly feel obliged to inform the Affiliated Organizations of what has been seen and experienced by the members of the various organizations over the past several weeks as we have attended a number of meetings at which Dr. Lahey has made numerous contradictory statements which have unfortunately raised more questions than answers. We wish to share with you some unresolved questions:

WHY does Dr. Lahey say, on the one hand, that he recognizes John Tully as “the elected Chairman of the Parade Committee,” but at a different meeting say that he does not recognize the duly elected Parade Committee, nor the right of Affiliated Organizations to vote for anyone other than candidates preapproved by the Board?

WHY does Dr. Lahey say that “the Board will not recognize the Parade Committee” since the Board has not met since September of 2015, well before the election of the Grand Marshall? Does Dr. Lahey’s position reflect a formal position of the entire Board, or does it reflect his personal opinion?

WHY has Dr. Lahey APPOINTED a Special Executive Committee led by Hilary Beirne and Frank McGreal to run the 2016 Parade when the duly elected Parade Committee has consistently offered their services?

WHY does Dr. Lahey not seem to know who is in charge of the Formation Committee, since he declared at one meeting that Hillary Beirne was in charge, but on the same day a letter was issued, signed by Dr. Leahey and “Mr. Reilly Dondon, Formation Chairman”, announcing a Delegates meeting?

WHY has there been no money for Parade Committee scholarships for the past two years, when the Board has seen fit to pay more than $17,000 for a reception at the NY Athletic Club?

WHY is a Quinnipiac University public relations person listed as the contact person in the press package issued at the formal announcement of the Grand Marshall?

WHY is the duly elected Parade Committee not listed on the Parade Corporation letterhead or website?

WHY did the Board list members of the Parade Committee and several other individuals on a fundraising appeal letter as members of the Journal Committee without their approval or any prior notice?

WHY are there THREE members on the Board who are not eligible to serve, according to the requirements for membership put forth in the Parade Corporation By-Laws?

WHY is the Parade Corporation spending money on a very public lawsuit, rather than trying to preserve money and resolve disputes quietly and personally?

WHY is the Parade Corporation locked into a 3-year contract with NBC, costing $525,000 in broadcasting fees to NBC and $600,000 in production costs, without having opened the television contract up to a public bidding process?

WHY is the Parade paying NBC, rather than being paid for the privilege of letting NBC broadcast the parade and deriving their own revenues?

WHY has there only been one meeting of the Affiliated Organizations this year, when by this time in past years there would have been several?

WHY did Hilary Beirne submit a letter to the Attorney General of New York, apparently without Dr. Lahey’s prior knowledge or approval (according to Dr. Lahey), while at the same time he was saying publicly that he wanted to avoid government interference?

It should be clear that the concerns being raised are less about the personalities of any one individual, than they are about preserving and strengthening the voice of the Affiliated Organizations. We reject the idea of a limited Board of self-perpetuating individuals who have no obligation to listen to the democratically-elected representatives of the people who make up the Parade.

We have great respect and admiration for Senator Mitchell, and none of our questions should be in any way interpreted as aimed at the Grand Marshal. In fact, that some groups are participating in the Parade at all is largely due to his presence. But many groups who would normally sponsor tables and ads in the journal have declined to do so this year, in silent protest of the actions of the Board. If the Board refuses to acknowledge the elected representatives of the Affiliated Organizations, then the Affiliated Organizations quite reasonably are asking why they should support the Board.

We have a concern that the Board is no longer working for the good of the parade.

These are only some of the many questions raised by many people who are concerned about the Parade. The Affiliated Organizations have been unable to get satisfactory answers. We encourage all who are involved in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade to continue to ask questions – in public meetings, by writing to newspapers and individuals concerned, including the Parade leaders, the Cardinal, and anyone whose voice should be heard. Make your own voices and feelings known in your local and county and state groups, and in any conversation between now and March 17.

God bless your efforts, and may St. Patrick continue to bless and protect his parade and his people.

Freedom for All Ireland Christmas Appeal – tonight at Wolfe Tone’s Irish Pub

Posted by Jim on

The New York State Board of the Ancient Order of Hibernians

Invite You To

Wolfe Tone’s Irish Pub & Kitchen

37 East 29th Street (between Park and Madison Avenues)

to attend the

Freedom for All Ireland Christmas Appeal Fundraiser

Wednesday, February 10th 2016 from 6-9 p.m.

Guest Speakers, Raffles and Entertainment

$25 Donation Per Person

For Information Contact:

Ciaran Geraghty, NYS FFAI Chairman (

‘Stakeknife’ repercussions become public

Posted by Jim on February 6, 2016

A row has broken out among republicans in Belfast over the impact of
infiltration by informers in the aftermath of the apparent exposure of
another highly-placed double agent within the Provisional IRA.

The row began when former Sinn Fein director of publicity Danny Morrison
unexpectedly claimed that double agent Freddie Scappaticci was stood
down from the organisation in 1990 under suspicion that he was an
informer, long before many of the killings which he has been accused of
being involved in.

In a blog post, he sought to play down the damage done to the IRA by the
agent known as ‘Stakeknife’. He said that while the directing of
informers at a high level by the British government had been “immoral”
and had caused “ordinary suffering and long-lasting grief”, it had
“never deflected the course of Irish history”

He said he did not believe allegations about Scappaticci’s activities in
the 1990s and his alleged involvement in the arrest and interrogations
of suspected informers, or telling relatives about the killings of their
loved ones.

“I do not believe this to be true,” he wrote. “The IRA told me that
Scappaticci was redundant after 7th January 1990.”

The new claims by the former Sinn Fein spokesman contrast sharply with
the previous statements of party figures, including Morrison himself,
who expressed doubt about the allegations against Scappaticci when they
surfaced in 2003. They came just days after the PSNI said they plans to
bring an outside police force in to investigate the activities of

But a former IRA prisoner, once jailed alongside Morrison, has disputed
the claims.

Gerard Hodgins said the first he knew Scappaticci was a British agent
was when he was outed in the media in 2003.

Mr Hodgins said; “There was never any word sent in to the prison that
Scap had been stood down and never any suggestion he’d been the informer
in our case.

“When the news about Scap did eventually break I read it in the paper
like everyone else, it was a bit of a relief to finally know because I’d
always been sure that there was at least one informer involved.

“I’ve no idea why these claims are only surfacing now, but you can be
sure someone, somewhere has decided it would be politically advantageous
to claim Scap was out of the loop by 1990,” he added.

Amid claims that up to twenty IRA figures were exposed as agents by the
papers taken from Castlereagh, Sinn Fein has come under pressure to
reveal what the party knows about the level of penetration of the
republican movement by informers.

Scappaticci is reported to be living in England under a false identity.
Although the PSNI have said he is to be investigated for his alleged
role in more than two dozen killings, he has never been arrested. Last
Friday a court heard claims by the authorities that there was no money
to fund the investigation.

Kevin Winters who represents a number of families, including that of
Caroline Moreland, allegedly killed by Scappaticci in 1994 amid
accusations she was an informer, said the families are frustrated by the
delays and excuses.

“We will be back in the High Court in February as part of the challenge
taken by the family of Caroline Moreland at which time we expect details
of what steps have been taken to resource a fully independent
investigation”, Mr Winters said.

Irish words litter New York City slang

Posted by Jim on

by Brendan Patrick Keane

Just before he died, Daniel Cassidy released a pioneering book that begins to prove how American slang has a root in the Irish American urban experience.

As usual, snoots would rather fall on the side of error than to end the kibosh on ascribing Irish origins to any aspect of Anglo-American society.

Ireland has a native civilization older than England or France, and it has out-proportioned contributions to modernist culture, but it is more usually described as derivative rather than an originator of trends. Despite stubborn refusal, “jazz” and “poker”, “moolah” and “spunk” all derive from Irish Gaelic, which was used in New York by the Irish like Yiddish and Spanglish was used later-on in the city.

Some dismiss these theories without any real understanding of the Irish Gaelic language. They existentially must disallow the language had mixed with English – jerks without the knack to dig it. Others dismiss the theories in loyalty to academia’s wine and cheese status quo, and don’t wish to seem too maverick, or too “street,” like Cassidy who had an unabashed Brooklyn accent. There’s an element of snobbery involved in the outright refusal many swells have for this working stiff’s tome.

Cassidy was among those who have begun to case the hidden history, anyway, and show how gambling slang, underworld lingo, street gang terms, street-wise cant, merchant code and political jargon in New York City is teeming with Irish Gaelic that melted into American English.

Fellow politically-minded academics present English history and culture as being spic and span of Irish influence, and so ignore impulsively, both Irish American slang-smiths in the modern period and Irish Gaelic teachers who taught the early Medieval English how to read and write. They prefer to label Irish words in English as unknown, or originated in more swank cultures like Latin or French. It’s basic prejudice on the side of the common hegemony, rooted in ignorance.

This is a small taste compiled from Daniel Cassidy’s boss book, “How the Irish Invented Slang”, and from Niall Ó Donaill’s “Foclóir Gaeilge-Béarla”.

We don’t normally exclaim “Gee whiz” or “Gee whilikers” anymore. We associate such talk with a classic time in New York, when Irish Gaelic was the secret language of the slums, an Irish Gaelic word which means ‘s slom é, or “it’s bleak.” In the slums it was common to hear Irish people say Dia Thoilleachas, Gee Hillukus, which became Gee Whilikers, and means the “will of God.” “Gee” is the approximate pronunciation of Dia, or the Irish word for God. “Holy cow” means Holy Cathú or Holy Cahoo or Holy Grief. “Darn” is another Gaelic exclamation. In Irish you say daithairne ort, which means, “darn on you” or “misfortune on you.” Gee whiz comes from Dia Uas or Geeuh Woous which means “noble god.”

Irish love words were once all over pop songs pumped out from Tin Pan Alley. “Mother Macree”, or mother of my heart, was a huge hit from those early days of pop. A big name in early popular theater, was Irishman Dion Boucicault who wrote ‘The Streets of New York”, and included lots of Gaelic in the titles and dialogue of his blockbusters.

Irish pet names like peata, or pet, are still current, as is báb or bawb, which is babe today.

Love songs were published as sheet music for people to sing to at the piano, and it was commonplace to hear Irish pet names like Avourneen, Mavourneen, Acushla, Agrah and other lovely words like that

The Irish were pioneers in pop culture, and they littered American popular entertainment from Mother Macree to Huckleberrry Finn with snippets of their language.

If you want to cully support, you’re calling on your cuallaí, or friends to help you. In modern Irish, collaí has the sense of being carnal or sexual.

If you want to gather people together you make a ballyhoo about the gathering, which in Irish is bailliú, and pronounced like ballyhoo. You might use a slogan in your ballyhoo to promote the gathering, as slogan comes from slua ghairm, the yell of a crowd or a battle-cry. Ballyhoo entered the language at the circus, where Irish people would use slogans to make ballyhoo about a new show everyone should come out and see. Buddy is another Irish Gaelic word, which comes from the Irish expression, a vuddy, or a bhodaigh, which means something like “pal.” The root of the word bhodaigh is strangely, bod, which is the Irish word for penis, and pronounced like bud.

Speaking of body parts, the Irish put their Gaelic mark all over the stiff, or corpse, which comes from the word staf or “big guy.” If someone has their snoot in the air, they’re acting like snoots, which comes from the Irish expression snua aird or when someone appears to be on high, and is acting like a swank swell with his nose in the air.

Swank is the Irish word somhaoineach or “valuable” in disguise. Swell is the word sóúil or “luxurious” dolled up to suit the English speaker. If you kick a rich guy in the can, you’re kicking him in his ceann which is the “extremity” of a thing, and also “head,” which is at the other end from the tail end.

Dogs comes from do chos your feet. The vulgar word for the vagina, pussy, isn’t so bad, it just means pus or pouty lips in Irish Gaelic. It’s a descriptive term, and not insulting. Mug, however, is insulting, and the common phrase “ugly mug” comes from the word muic, which means pig.

Irish Gaelic was a secret language in Éire, which was once an Ireland riddled with foreign spies, and so it was a language to keep the copper (the catcher, the thinker) from catching on. Cop comes from ceapaim, and means “I catch, think etc.” You try to keep the cop from figuring out your racket, or your reacaireacht, your “dealing, selling or gossiping.”

Just like the word bailiff came from the Gaelic word baille for bally or homevillage, the word in New York for the cop on the beat, was the ceap on the béad, the protector on ill-deeds.

Another kind of Big Shot is the racketeer, who can be a cop or a goon – glommers collecting grift – official or underworld. There’s little difference when you boil it down between official thieves and illegal ones, and the Irish knew this, observing the most organized acts of criminality enacted by a dolled up British state, exploiting and criminalizing their own civilization. Big Shot is the Irish word for chief in disguise: seoid, meaning “jewel” or figuratively, “chief.”

Racketeer is also related to the Irish word reachtaire which was the title for the money-taking administrator at a colonial big house or at a church office back in Ireland. On the streets of New York, the racketeer has translated the duties and strategies of the colonizer into street crime rackets for himself–the oppressed learn the methods of oppression better than anyone.

A word that should be brought back is “joint” for place or establishment or room. It’s a word that instantly conjures an entire world of old New York. It comes from the Irish word for protection or shelter, a place with a roof, such as in the root of the Irish word for penthouse, díonteach or jeent-ock.

If you want to ditch a joint, and skedaddle in a jiffy, because some dick has copped on to your whereabouts, you want to de áit a díonteach or de-place a joint, and sciord ar dólámh or make an all out slip in a deifir in a “hurry,” because some dearc or “eye” or PI, has ceaptha or thought or caught on to your whereabouts.

Eugene O’Neill was another huge name in early American pop culture. His plays were also high art, but riddled with Irish themes and language. His favorite word for money was jack, which is a straight-up glom from the Irish tiach, or money or purse. A guy with a jack-roll, was a guy with a wad of cash, spoondoolies or dollars, rolled up. Spoondoolie is one of those old slang words that got resurrected recently in video games, along with Simolions, the currency of Sim City, an urban planning computer fantasy. They’re weird English takes on Irish Gaelic expression for a big pile of money or suim oll amháin.

Not everyone is hip to the process where words in one language get misheard and pronounced differently in the new language. In Irish if you want make sure someone understands your meaning, you say, Diggin tú? It’s a normal phrase you hear at the end of sentences all the time. In America, An duigeann tú? Became Diggin you? or You dig? It takes a certain knack to understand how closely related the concepts and sounds of tuig and dig are to each other.

Most scholars go by their goofy hunch, that tells them that Irish Gaelic is some dead language no one ever spoke. In fact, it was the first language of most Irish Americans that came here in the big flood of Irish after the famine, when that famine adversely targeted Irish-speaking areas first and foremost, sending Irish speakers to America before anyone.

In the anti-Gaelic mind, Irish language is a queer idea, and way too vast a thing to even engage – easier to kill it than to incorporate it into an academic’s repertoire of reference. The academic makes this decision usually because he or she is already burdened with three centuries of censorious English state propaganda about the meaning and origin of Anglo-American civilization, which did not come about like their poets’ tell us it did.

Another reason Irish Gaelic is neglected as an original source for American slang, is because a lot of the street slang that the Irish made up, relates to a world of vice and crime, some Irish would prefer did not exist.

There is shame associated with the destruction of native Irish Gaelic civilization, because the Irish lost their literature and institutions with the victory of the British Empire over their native government. They were impoverished, and took up crime in some instances. The Irish share with Black people and Jews, an urban legacy in America that is not squeaky clean, but rather dirty, like life is dirty when you have no money.

Having street smarts is one way to look at the world realistically, and not be duped by those who would double cross you to take your jag on the personal level or your natural resources on the imperial one. Those who first come to the city as hicks or boobs, come with the law of hospitality firmly entrenched in their hearts, only to awaken from such kindness by the cruelty of urban America. It’s dangerous to be a dork or ninny in the dog eat dog world. That’s why there are so many words for the person-preconditioning, the person before he develops the cop-on that accompanies an ambitious life post-nincumpoop to make it in New York.

One way to wake up is to get slugged in the face and have your jag jacked. The Fighting Irish is a common aptronym that describes the occupation of many a brawler that had to whale on an opponent to survive or climb the ladder leading out of the rat race.

As an organized people, they were sparring with the much better organized establishment. The Irish bickered with the WASP elite until the established order in New York broke down, reformed the sweatshop system of labor in Victorian Anglo-American society, and conceded to the unions and political machines the rights and benefits that created the middle class from the working class that the establishment would have been happy to see slaving away in sweatshops to this day. Instead, the Irish organized and fought for a conception of America that yielded working people an American Dream, a chance to climb out of the slum and into a middle class job and lifestyle.

Lace curtain Irish is a term that describes the middle class Irish who climbed out of the slum into the spic and span homes of the American dream. They left behind a time in American cities when the Irish were smack dab in the middle of street life, theater, pop entertainment and politics. The swells from the WASP tradition who owned the banks and institutions of American society tried everything to defame and prevent the Irish from joining their swank ranks, but that ended, or so the story goes, when JFK broke the barrier that separated the WASP from the Irish, and went from Harvard to the White House, key bastions of the establishment’s institutional power.

One of the ways the Irish got there was by giving up their jazzy speech for the snazzy touch that remade them into crackers and honkies. Although it’s commonplace to describe the Irish today as white establishment members, par excellence, they come from Irish Gaelic roots that put them in the middle of New York street life. We’re comfortable enough now where we can re-engage that original condition, and reclaim for ourselves a key position in the history of American pop entertainment, language and culture.
Taken from the article originally published in 2010.


Posted by Jim on February 3, 2016

by Michael J. Cummings

American activists have worked hard to educate their fellow citizens about Britain’s murderous role in Northern Ireland. Success of a sort for their efforts was achieved when President Clinton acknowledged England’s deceit and demanded an a end to violence and more dialogue. As the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising approaches, it is worth remembering the issues that gave rise to the Easter Rebellion in 1916 were also at the center of the modern struggle: democracy, rule of law, justice and a cruel inequality. So why did it take three decades of war in six of the 9 counties of Ulster for the U. S. to realize that?

Advocates here …the Hibernians, the Brehon Law Society, NORAID, the Irish American Unity Conference and human and civil rights activists…were variously labeled as Communists, gun runners, terrorists, dupes, dreamers and dissidents. Many Americans would claim to be well read on the subject or knowledgeable solely because they were Irish-American or born in Ireland. Most, including public officials and graduates from prestigious institutions of higher learning, were surprisingly ill informed or comfortably ignorant.

Most of those opposed to the pleas for U. S. involvement were one of three types: The Optimist; The Know-It-All; and The Delusional. The Optimists seemed satisfied with every report of progress invariably promoted by British media. For example, a ‘reform’ involved the forced retirement of 1000 Royal Ulster Constabulary. It was, in fact, a two part scheme to provide hush money to “…the worst of the lot…” and to mask many being re-hired months later for the unstated purpose of covering up their dirty work. Yet another scenario is the well received announcement that the Britain was to conduct independent inquiries into the murder of Patrick Finucane (1989) and the bombings of Dublin and Monaghan (1974). For over two decades the British Army and MI-5 have used every bureaucratic and legal obstacle to prevent the truth being told. A ‘reform’ announcement that Executive authority was being returned to the N. I. Director of Prosecution Services was later followed by disclosure that the ability to actually indict remains firmly with the UK Attorney General.

The Know-It-All, on the other hand, reckons the conflict is a ‘chicken or egg story’. The IRA are the antagonists while loyalists and the British are innocent bystanders responding in self-defense. Many believed that the gun was introduced into Irish politics by the IRA but in the late 60’s it was Ian Paisley’s Ulster Protestant Action group and the Ulster Constitution Defense Committee that detonated bombs at the Ballyshannon power plant, at the Silent Valley Reservoir and during a 1970 trial where jurors were deliberating the fate of loyalist bombers. All were blamed on the IRA initially. Paisley was following the 1914 example of loyalist leader Sir Edward Carson who was buying arms in 1914 to insure the Irish Home Rule statute would never come into effect. Then there is Britain’s 40 years of lying about soldiers being attacked on Bloody Sunday by IRA gunmen to justify their slaughter of 14 innocent and unarmed Catholic protesters. The Saville Report proved there was no threat to the soldiers. One later testified they were instructed “…to get a few kills.” The Royal Ulster Constabulary and B Specials killed 8 of the first 9 people of the conflict including a 9 year old child.

Then we have the Delusional. With no more fact than your average British Army press release, these people cling to the proposition that Britain is the font of all democracy and the rule of law. However, British voting chicanery and violence in the North would shock a Chicago Alderman. Five elected Sinn Fein Councilors and 11 campaign workers were assassinated while performing such threatening activities as vote canvassing and the carrying of petitions. Not for them an arrest or trial by jury. Britain’s MI-5 authorized Brian Nelson to purchase a cache of modern weaponry in 1985 from South Africa, despite a U. S. ban on arms sales and sanctions at the time. Then, in violation of British law the arms were given to N. I. loyalist death squads. The effect? From 1988-1994 229 killings, mostly innocent Catholics, were linked to those weapons. This not only was in aid of the apartheid regime but against every tenet of international and human rights law. The British cultivate these delusions with propaganda stunts like periodic royal visits. But how’s this for “Keeping up appearances.” Britain murders two Subjects of Her Majesty, lawyers Patrick Finucane and Rosemary Nelson, but duped the American Bar Association into hosting a nationwide tour of the Magna Carta, touting it as the foundation of democracy and the rule of law!! Talk about being used, insulted and stroked all at once! The public pays homage to the 1000 year old sheepskin clueless as to just how lawlessly Britain has governed in N. I. No less a person that the late Speaker of the House Tom Foley testified before a House Foreign Affairs sub-Committee on the International Fund for Ireland that “..there was no such thing as British oppression.” Gives a whole new meaning to delusional, no?

The 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising should not be an occasion to arouse old hatreds but to recognize the common injustices and cruelty that forced a resort to arms in 1916 and again in the 1970’s. Britain still buries the bitter and violent legacy of the North and blocks every effort to disclose the truth of their treachery. Now is the time for America and Americans to shed their delusions and optimism about the so-called ‘special relationship’ and demand the type of full disclosure that can bring true peace.


Posted by Jim on

February 1, 2016 by Mike McCormack

Wallabout Bay is small body of water along the northwest shore of Brooklyn, NY. In 1801, a settlement called Vinegar Hill was built on that bay to attract Irish immigrants to settle there and provide the labor to build the Brooklyn Navy Yard which opened in 1806. However, Vinegar Hill was built on an area which, 20 years earlier, had seen incredible horror!

During the American Revolution, the British had captured thousands of soldiers, sailors, and even private citizens who would not swear allegiance to the Crown. When they ran out of jail space to house their prisoners they used ship hulls, no longer seaworthy, anchored in Wallabout Bay as floating prisons. Conditions were so terrible that more Americans died on these prison ships than in all the battles of the Revolution! According to the U.S. Dept of Defense, there were 4,435 battle deaths during the War yet more than 11,500 died from neglect, cruelty and disease on these rotting hulls. William Burke, a prisoner aboard the prison ship Jersey, wrote, At night, when the prisoners were assembled at the hatchway, for the purpose of obtaining fresh air, one of the sentinels would thrust his bayonet down among them, and one morning twenty-five of them were found wounded, and stuck in the head, and dead of the wounds they had thus received. I further recollect that this was the case several mornings, when sometimes eight or ten, were found dead by the same means. The dead would be carried ashore and buried in the sand in shallow graves, or simply thrown overboard.

Among the patriots imprisoned were a great many Irish. In 1888, the Society of Old Brooklynites published a pamphlet which gave the names of those confined on the ship Jersey. From that source, John D Crimmins in Irish American Miscellany (1905) lists at least 363 Irish names and reports that many more could be added, but these were sufficient to make his point that a large number of the sons of Erin were among those who suffered on the prison ships. Capt. Thomas Dring, who was imprisoned aboard the Jersey, added, There were continual noises during the night. The groans of the sick and dying; the curses poured out by the exhausted upon our inhuman keepers; the restlessness caused by the suffocating heat and the confined and poisonous air, mingled with the wild and incoherent ravings of delirium, were the sounds which, every night, were raised around us in all directions. Another writer stated, Dysentery, smallpox, and yellow fever broke out, and while so many were sick with raging fever, there was a loud cry for water; but none could be had, except on the upper deck. One incident is recorded regarding a prisoner, who died on the Jersey: Two young men, brothers, were prisoners on board the ship. The elder took the fever, and, in a few days became delirious. One night (his end was fast approaching) he became calm and sensible, and lamenting his hard fate, and the absence of his mother, begged for a little water. His brother, with tears, entreated the guard to give him some, but in vain. The sick youth was soon in his last struggles, when his brother offered the guard a guinea for an inch of candle, only that he might see his brother die. Even this was denied. ‘ Now,’ said he, drying up his tears, ‘ if it please God that I ever regain my liberty, I’ll be a most bitter enemy!’ He regained his liberty, rejoined the army, and when the war ended, he had eight large, and one hundred and twenty-seven small notches on his rifle stock. After the surrender at Yorktown in 1781, the fighting ended, but the cruelty on the prison ships continued until the Treaty of Paris was signed and the Brits left New York, two whole years later, in 1783!

In the History of the City of Brooklyn, author Henry Stiles narrates a scene that took place on July 4, 1782, after the war was over, as prisoners attempted to celebrate the anniversary of Independence Day. He wrote: A very serious conflict with the guard occurred in consequence of the prisoners attempting to celebrate the day with such observances as their condition permitted. Upon going on deck in the morning, they displayed thirteen little national flags in a row upon the booms which were immediately torn down and trampled under the feet of the guard. Deigning no notice of this, the prisoners proceeded to amuse themselves with patriotic songs, speeches, and cheers, all the while avoiding whatever could be construed as an intentional insult of the guards who, at an unusually early hour in the afternoon, drove them below at the point of the bayonet, and closed the hatches. Between decks, the prisoners now continued their singing, until about nine o’clock in the evening. An order to desist not having been promptly complied with, the hatches were suddenly removed, and the guards descended among them with cutlasses in their hands. Then ensued a scene of terror. The helpless prisoners, retreating from the hatchways as far as crowded condition would permit, were followed by the guards, who mercilessly hacked, cut, and wounded everyone within their reach; and then ascending again to the upper deck, fastened down the hatches upon the poor victims of their cruel rage, leaving them to languish through the long, sultry, summer night, without water to cool their parched throats, and without lights by which they might have dressed their wounds. And to add to their torment, it was not until the middle of the next forenoon, that the prisoners were allowed to go on deck and slake their thirst, or to receive their rations of food, which, that day, they were obliged to eat uncooked. Ten corpses were found below on the morning following that memorable 4th of July and many others were badly wounded. And the war had been over for 10 months!

In a letter to Naval Magazine, General Jeremiah Johnson wrote, It was no uncommon thing to see five or six dead bodies brought on shore in a single morning, when a small excavation would be dug at the foot of the hill, the bodies be thrown in, and a man with a shovel would cover them. The whole shore was a place of graves; as were also the slope of the hill, the shore and the sandy island. The atmosphere seemed to be charged with foul air from the prison-ships, and with the effluvia of the dead bodies washed out of their graves by the tides. We believe that more than half of the dead buried on the outer side were washed out by the waves at high tide. The bones of the dead lay exposed along the beach, drying and bleaching in the sun, till reached by the power of a succeeding storm; as the agitated waters receded, the bones receded with them into the deep. For years after, the bones of these martyrs to American freedom were visible along the shore.

Stiles noted, There was however, one condition upon which these hapless sufferers might have escaped the torture of this slow but certain death, and that was enlistment in the British service. This chance was daily offered them by the recruiting officers who visited the ship, but their offers were almost invariably treated with contempt by men who fully expected to die. In spite of untold physical sufferings, which might well have shaken the resolution of the strongest; in spite of the insinuations of the British that they were neglected by their government; in defiance of threats of even harsher treatment, and regardless of promises of food and clothing, but few sought relief from their woes by the betrayal of their honor. And these few went forth into liberty followed by the undisguised contempt of the suffering heroes whom they left behind. It was this calm, unfaltering, unconquerable spirit of patriotism, defying torture, starvation, loathsome disease, and the prospect of a neglected and forgotten grave, which sanctifies to every American heart the scene of their suffering in the Wallabout, and which will render the sad story of the ‘prison-ships ‘ one of ever increasing interest to all future generations. As a footnote to the tragedy, the Brit Commander of the prison ships was charged with war crimes and subsequently hanged.

Eighteen years later, when the community of Vinegar Hill was established, residents were shocked by the skeletal remains of the prison ship victims exposed along the shoreline. During the summer of 1805, local Irish women began collecting the remains when they became exposed or washed ashore. The bones were saved and finally interred in a vault patriotically erected by the Tammany Society. The corner stone of the vault for the bones of the martyred dead, was laid in April, 1808 and marked with a great demonstration, a military and civic parade in the city and artillery salutes. When completed, the bones were re- interred in 13 thirteen coffins, with veterans of the Revolution acting as pall bearers. Stiles records that, The procession, after passing through various streets, reached the East River, where, at different places, boats had been provided for crossing to Brooklyn. Thirteen large open boats transported the thirteen tribes of the Tammany Society, each containing one tribe, one coffin, and the pall-bearers. The scene was most inspiring. At Brooklyn, the procession formed again and arrived at the tomb of the martyrs amidst a vast and mighty assemblage. There was an invocation by Rev. Ralph Williston. The coffins were huge in size and each bore the name of one of the thirteen original states. The first grand sachem of Tammany was William Mooney, a man of Irish extraction and leader of the Sons of Liberty – a patriot society formed before the Revolution. By the 1840s, the monument was in a state of disrepair. In 1873 a large stone crypt was constructed in the heart of what is now Fort Greene Park, and the bones were re-interred therein. A small monument was erected on the hill above the crypt. By the close of the 19th century, funds were raised for a more fitting memorial – a 148 ft. tower which stands today in Fort Greene Park ( and was unveiled in 1908 by President Taft. Today, the Prison Ship Martyrs Memorial marks the site of a crypt containing the bones of more than 11,500 of America’s prison ship martyrs.

Election called for February 26th, parliament dissolved

Posted by Jim on

The 26 County President, Michael D Higgins, has dissolved parliament at
the request of Taoiseach Enda Kenny, who has called a general election.

Mr Kenny arrived at around 10.30 and quickly signed the proclamation
formally dissolving parliament. Speaking in Leinster House, the
Taoiseach and Fine Gael leader said that the next parliament would meet
on Thursday March 10th and confirmed that the election would take place
on February 26th.

The Taoiseach and Tanaiste and Labour leader, Joan Burton, posed for
photographs on the steps of Government Buildings as their coalition
government was dissolved. Kenny declared “this is not goodbye” as he
headed for the Aras an Uachtaran, the President’s official residence in

Burton told reporters she’s also confident of being back: “This is
Seachtain Naoimh Bride [St Brigid’s Week] which is also the week of my
own birthday. She was a very powerful woman and role model in early
Irish history and I have to say I am absolutely delighted to be the
first woman leader of the Labour party.”

The most recent opinion poll saw Fine Gael at 30 per cent and Labour at
7 per cent, Fianna Fail at 19 per cent, Sinn Fein at 21 per cent and
Independents/Others at 23 per cent. Political commentators see little
chance of any party holding an overall majority folowing the election,
and speculation over future potential coalitions has dominated news
coverage so far.

It is set to be a short election campaign officially, but the election
announcement had been repeatedly delayed. When it came this morning, it
finally brought an end to a faltering parliament as fewer and fewer TDs
bothered to appear, having already begun canvassing in their
constituencies. Dail proceedings were delayed on occasion because a
quorum of TDs were not present for the normal 9.30am start.

In another controversy, some TDs had erected election posters in
favoured locations ahead of the announcement, in contravention of
littering laws.

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin complained that there was no
opportunity to pay tribute to retiring members and Sinn Fein’s
Caoimhghin O Caolain described it as “a pathetic end to a pathetic

In a statement, Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams outlined the steep cuts to
education, welfare and health brought in by what he said were “some of
the most reprehensible policy decisions ever made by a Government in
this State”.

They have brought chaos to the lives of ordinary citizens, he said, and
another generation had been forced into emigration.

“But now, for the first time since the foundation of this State, there
is an opportunity for real change. I hope they choose for fairness and
for genuine Republican politics. I hope they vote for Sinn Fein.”

Top informer linked to Shankill Road bomb

Posted by Jim on February 1, 2016

Decrypted classified documents obtained by the Provisional IRA have
shown that a state agent was behind one of the most notorious tragedies
of the conflict, the Shankill Road bomb attack in 1993.

According to a report this morning, a former IRA ‘commander’ in Ardoyne
has been exposed as an informer and double agent working for RUC Special
Branch for more than a decade. Known to Special Branch as ‘AA’, he
cannot be named for legal reasons.

According to the documents, the informer’s handlers were fully informed
of the plan to target the offices used by loyalist death squad leader
Johnny Adair and other UDA leadership figures.

For reasons still unknown the bomb exploded prematurely, killing eight
civilians as well as IRA Volunteer Thomas Begley and injuring his
comrade Sean Kelly. The outcry over the loss of life increased pressure
on the Provisional IRA to call a ceasefire, which they did ten months
later. It also brought about a wave of ‘reprisal’ attacks by loyalists
such as the Greysteel massacre a week later.

The informer in question was identified after the IRA decoded
information from documents taken from inside the Special Branch’s
headquarters at Castlereagh on St Patrick’s Day in 2001. Calls made to
his special branch handlers are logged throughout the documents,
including the information that he carried out the scouting operations
for the attack himself.

He was also involved in numerous other IRA actions at the time he was
working for the RUC. He was quietly replaced by the Provisional Army
Council in 2002, although no explanation was given to the Volunteers
under his control, and continues to live in the Ardoyne area.

The British Crown forces have previously been accused of allowing other
attacks to proceed for their own sinister agenda, such as the devasting
‘Real IRA’ attack in Omagh in 1998. Twenty-nine people died in that
attack after telephoned bomb warnings failed to clear the area around
the bomb. The public outcry led to the organisation calling a ceasefire
three weeks later.

The Police Ombudsman has now been asked to investigate the evidence that
the RUC “could have prevented” the Shankill bomb. The complaint has been
made by a family member of one of the victims, and was lodged on Friday.

Feast of Brigid

Posted by Jim on

Imbolc, known as the Feast of Brigid, celebrates the arrival of longer, warmer days and the early signs of spring.

It is one of the four major “fire” festivals (quarter days, referred to in Irish mythology from medieval Irish texts. The other three festivals on the old Irish calendar are Beltane, Lughnasadh, and Samhain (Halloween).

The word Imbolc means literally “in the belly” in the old Irish Neolithic language, referring to the pregnancy of ewes.

In ancient Irish mythology, Brigid was a fire goddess. Nowadays, her canonization is celebrated with a perpetual flame at her shrine in Kildare.

St. Brigid represents the Irish aspect of divine femininity in her role as patron of babies, blacksmiths, boatmen, cattle farmers, children whose parents are not married, children whose mothers are mistreated by the children’s fathers, Clan Douglas, dairymaids, dairy workers, fugitives, Ireland, Leinster, mariners, midwives, milkmaids, nuns, poets, the poor, poultry farmers, poultry raisers, printing presses, sailors, scholars, travelers, and watermen. Here’s a busy saint!

One folk tradition that continues in some homes on St. Brigid’s Day (or Imbolc) is that of the Brigid’s Bed.

The girls and young, unmarried, women of the household or village create a corn dolly to represent Brigid, called the Brideog (“little Brigid” or “young Brigid”), adorning it with ribbons and baubles like shells or stones. They make a bed for the Brideog to lie in.

On St. Brigid’s Eve (Jan 31), the girls and young women gather together in one house to stay up all night with the Brideog, and are later visited by all the young men of the community who must ask permission to enter the home, and then treat them and the corn dolly with respect.

Brigid is said to walk the earth on Imbolc eve. Before going to bed, each member of the household may leave a piece of clothing or strip of cloth outside for Brigid to bless. The head of the household will smother (or “smoor”) the fire and rake the ashes smooth.

In the morning, they look for some kind of mark on the ashes, a sign that Brigid has passed that way in the night or morning. The clothes or strips of cloth are brought inside, and believed to now have powers of healing and protection.

On the following day, the girls carry the Brideog through the village or neighborhood, from house to house, where this representation of the saint/goddess is welcomed with great honor.

Adult women — those who are married or who run a household — stay home to welcome the Brigid procession, perhaps with an offering of coins or a snack. Since Brigid represents the light half of the year, and the power that will bring people from the dark season of winter into spring, her presence is very important at this time of year.

Neopagans of diverse traditions observe this holiday in a variety of ways. As forms of neopaganism can be quite different and have very different origins, these representations can vary considerably despite the shared name.

Some celebrate in a manner as close as possible to how the ancient Celts are believed to have observed the festival, as well as how these customs have been maintained in the living Celtic cultures. Other types of neopagans observe the holiday with rituals taken from numerous other unrelated sources, Celtic cultures being only one of the sources used.

Imbolc is usually celebrated by modern Pagans on February 1 or 2 in the Northern Hemisphere, and August 1 or 2 in the Southern Hemisphere, or at the solar midpoint between the winter solstice and spring equinox, which now falls later in the first week or two of February.

The first commemoration

Posted by Jim on

This article was published in Republican News in the 1973 Easter
Commemoration issue (21st April). This may be a reprint from an earlier
publication (possibly Wolfe Tone Monthly). The language, such as ‘Irish
Ireland’ suggests a date in the 1930s or 1940s. Some of the detail may
also be inaccurate. Enough of those who mobilized in Belfast in 1916
were Protestant, like Sam Heron himself and Herbert Pim, that the idea
of a march to an anniversary mass in 1917 reads more like a vision of
1917 seen through the prism of the conservatism of the 1930s.

According to Roger McCorley, in a memoir, in the aftermath of the 1916
Rising and the releases from Frongoch that autumn, the Sinn Féin
movement was re-organised in Belfast in early 1917 and the Sean McDermot
branch of the Irish Volunteers was re-established in February/March
1917. This was followed in May by the formal re-structuring of the units
in the city (including, for a time, a political commissar). As Easter
was on 8th April, the 1917 Easter Rising commemoration took place
between these two events.

Belfast Easter Commemoration, 1917

Easter Sunday 1917 dawned bright and clear over the Falls Road, Belfast.
In the Irish Ireland Club which stood on the site of what is now Barrack
Street School, the Irish Volunteers made last minute plans for the first
Easter Commemoration Parade to honour those comrades who had given their
lives in the Rising of the previous Easter.

The Irish Volunteers had been formed at an inaugural meeting on 25th
November, 1913 in Dublin at a meeting chaired by Eoin McNeill. They were
re-organised in the North after the Rising.

The enrollment form of the Irish Volunteers put forth the objectives

“I the undersigned, desire to be enrolled in the Irish Volunteers
founded to secure and maintain the rights and liberties common to all
the people of Ireland without distinction of creed, class or politics.”

Easter Sunday 1917 evoked bitter-sweet memories of the Glorious stand in
Dublin. The Volunteers from Belfast had assembled at Coalisland on
Easter Monday 1916 and had formed a junction with Volunteers from Tyrone
and other areas. Now, the leaders Pearse, Connolly, Clarke, McDonagh,
Plunkett, Ceannt and MacDiarmada were all dead, and other leading
Republicans had also been summarily executed. Two of these leaders had
associations with Belfast. James Connolly organiser of the Irish
Transport and General Workers Union had lived at 420 Falls Road from
1910 to 1913. Sean MacDiarmada, a native of Leitrim, lived in Butler
Street, Ardoyne, prior to 1916. He was employed as a tram driver with
Belfast Corporation.

Republicanism in the North was at a low ebb, and whilst the citizens of
Dublin made a show of strength in their new found aspirations to Liberty
by hoisting the Tricolour over the G.P.O. the ripples on the pool barely
reached Belfast. Belfast was a long way from Dublin in 1917.

It was in these circumstances that Sam Herron mustered his party of
about 150 men in Divis Street. At 11 o’clock the order rang out and the
gallant band of Irish Volunteers which included Mick Carlin, Cathal
Bradley, Senior, Pat Nash and Sean Malone, started out on the march to
Clonard Monastery for an Anniversary Mass, which was to be celebrated at

The March proceeded peacefully enough along the Falls Road. It is
recorded that the people came to gaze with something akin to
astonishment at this small party of men who dares to challenge the might
of the British Empire, by proclaiming openly their allegiance to their
beloved Irish Republic. No women took part in this match, no bands
played, no emblems were worn, no banners were carried, save at the head
of this gallant company, a lightening breeze rippled the folds of the
National Flag.

The march is over, the Mass is said, and the men dispersed. All appears
to be the same on the Falls Road, yet it is not – unseen the men on the
1917 Easter Commemoration March had sown the seeds of Freedom as they
went along, soon the Tree of Liberty would put forth a profusion of

The British Occupation Forces recognized the danger – and a few days
later nearly all those who had taken part were arrested. The people of
Belfast made no protests at the arrests and the following year the Falls
Road was bedecked with Union Jacks to welcome home the troops from the
1914/18 War. Belfast was not yet ready…

Who will measure the passionate bravery which impelled the men on the
1917 march to seek to attain what seemed to many the unattainable
Freedom. Who will measure the passionate bravery of those who gave their
lives in the Rising, and whose blood sweetened the arid ground where it
fell. Liberty might well hide her head and blush at the gifts her Irish
Patriot Sons have showered on Her.

By Sarah Murphy

Paddy Joe Rice

Posted by Jim on

Former H Block blanketman Gerard Hodgins spoke this week at the
Foresters Club in West Belfast in honour of the late IRA volunteer,
Paddy Joe Rice. The event was hosted by the Anne Devlin Society,

It is an honour and a privilege to be here tonight to remember our
friend and comrade, Paddy Joe Rice.

As we advance into 2016 and commemorations blossom all over Ireland in
remembrance of the heroes of those far off revolutionary times, we will
be regaled with tales of the visionary insights of the traitors who sold
out the republic of Easter Week for the servitude of a Free State in a
partitioned Ireland.

The politically sanitised will be exulted while most of the heroes of
Easter and subsequent campaigns by the Irish Republican Army will be
forgotten or ignored.

The foot-soldiers of the Republic will be air-brushed out off history to
reduce our historical narrative to a gombeen version of the Kings and
Queens of England history we endured at school. But we who lived through
history know who the genuine heroes and heroines of the struggle for
Irish freedom truly are, they are people like Paddy Joe Rice who as a
young man made a conscious decision that he was going to join the IRA
and contribute to the defence of his people and advance the cause of the
Irish Republic.

Throughout his life Paddy Joe remained faithful to his republican
principles which were forged in the smoke and fire of a Belfast which
saw his Falls Road placed under military curfew and people being shot
dead by rampaging British soldiers and their Unionist allies.

The intensity of the onslaught launched by the British to strangle
rebellion at its birth didn’t frighten or intimidate Paddy Joe Rice or
others of his generation; rather they stepped forward with courage and
indignation to give birth to “The Dogs”, one of the most successful and
tenacious of IRA units of the Belfast Brigade, who continued the
honourable tradition of resistance and ingenuity as the volunteers of
the Raglan Street Ambush who caught the murder gang out in 1921.

Despite politics and despite the chasm that has erupted between men and
women who participated in struggle in those not so distant days, our
arguments of faith and betrayal in the republican legacy should have no
negative reflection on the integrity of volunteers who fought in those

Paddy Joe Rice is one such volunteer. His commitment and leadership
abilities transformed ordinary Belfast boys and girls into one of the
most formidable fighting machines in the history of the IRA. And he
sought neither glory nor recognition for his contribution to The Cause,
he sought neither riches nor patronage of any sort; Paddy Joe was just
Paddy Joe, going through life committed to his wife, his family and the
welfare and well-being of his ageing Dogs from the old D-Company in the
political quagmire of a failed revolution and revisionism of the most
opportunistic and devious type.

Paddy Joe Rice was animated by a love of freedom for Ireland and the
betterment of his people in the impoverished wo