subscribe to the RSS Feed

Friday, April 25, 2014

National A.O.H. Freedom for All Ireland Committee are leaving for Ireland in the next 2 days

Posted by Jim on April 15, 2014

The committee will meet with various groups to discuss the implementation of the G.F.A.. They will visit Belfast, Derry, Omagh and Crossmaglen. They also make a visit to one of our previous members from Division 35 in Brooklyn, Gerry McKeough. Gerry was illegally arrested and detained for 3 years and his currently fighting the original charges. He was freed last year after pressure by many Irish and international groups was put on the Gov’t to show cause for arrest. Another purpose of this trip is to distribute monies that were collected during the A.O.H. annual Christmas Appeal. The monies collected are given to both sides in the conflict who are continuing to bring peace and unification to the Irish peoples.

Brian Boru and the Battle of Clontarf

Posted by Jim on April 13, 2014

Posted by Neil F. Cosgrove in The Wild Geese

 

While the rest of Europe plunged into darkness with the fall of the Roman Empire, the light of learning and western civilization was kept flickering in Ireland, preserved in the monasteries established by the followers of St.  Patrick.   However, it would only be a matter of time before the “light” attracted the unwanted attention of those more interested in plunder than learning.  A period of warming weather and a population explosion in what we now know as Scandinavia combined to unleash upon Europe a terror the likes of which had never been seen before: the Vikings.

In 795, the Viking attacks on Ireland began with the sacking and burning of a monastery on  Rathlin Island .  Hit and run raids along the Irish coast would continue for the next forty years.  The Viking tactics changed however in 837; sixty Viking longboats appeared in the river Boyne while another sixty appeared in the river Liffy and began to raid inland and plunder the great monasteries such as Clonamacnois.  In the winter of 841-842 the Vikings wintered in Ireland at a defensive position they had established: Dublin.  The Vikings were now no longer raiders, they were occupiers and colonists.  The Vikings began building fortified towns, longphorts, near the sea which was the source of their strength.   These Norse settlements would be the basis for the future Dublin, Wexford, Waterford, Cork, Wicklow, Limerick and Stangford.   The drawback to these settlements for the Vikings is that they provided fixed targets for the Irish to attack.  The result was the establishment of a chaotic and often violent status quo, with Viking Jarl and Irish Chieftain making and breaking  alliances as part of ongoing power struggles in both communities

One of the contributing factors to the success of the Viking invasion was that the Ireland of that time was made up of dozens of small kingdoms and competing kings and chieftains.  Brian was the younger son of Cennedi  (Kennedy), the King of the Dal Cais of north Munster, what would be equivalent to modern  County Clare (“Boru” was not a family name, but a cognomen given  after Brian’s death; either a reference to “Béal Bóruma” a fort where his family held sway or the Gaelic “bóruma” meaning “of the tributes” indicating a powerful lord to whom homage was to be paid.).  The Dal Cais had recently risen in power due to the strategic position of their lands straddling the river Shannon, which combined with knowledge gained from Norse tactics allowed them to become a formidable military force.  Brian’s older brother, Mathgamain, succeeded to the kingship of Munster and successfully captured and sacked the Viking settlement of Limerick.  Mathgamain success was short lived; he was betrayed by supposed allies and murdered.  Brian avenged his brother’s death and assumed the throne of Munster.

For the next twenty years Brian would increase his power with a vision of becoming Ard Ri, “High King “of  a united Ireland.   The title of Ard Ri was an ancient one, that had long been held by the O’Neill’s of Ulster, but it was more honor than substance, with the minor kings giving or withholding support as suited them.  This was to change with Brian.  In 999 Brian captured Dublin, the last of the Viking cities yet to fall under his control.  Brian became High King in name and fact with the submission of the then current High King, Malachy the II, in 1002.

The next decade was a period of relative peace and prosperity in Ireland.  Under Brian’s protection, the plundered monasteries were rebuilt.  It is said that Brian sent emissaries abroad in an attempt to acquire and return treasures and artifacts that had been taken from Ireland.  Relative peace and stability gave rise to a new golden age of Irish culture.

However, such a Golden Age would not last long.  In an attempt to consolidate his power through reconciliation, Brian had allowed Sitric, the Viking King of Dublin, and Mael Mordha King of Leinster to retain their positions after swearing fealty to Brian.  Combining forces along with Viking allies that had been recruited by Sitric from the Orkney Islands Sitric and Mael Mordha decided to challenge Brian at  Clontarf, located outside of what was then Dublin, on Good Friday April 23, 1014.  What resulted was one of the largest and bloodiest battles of the Dark Ages.  The battle swayed back and forth throughout the day when finally Brian’s forces gained the advantage.  The result was a slaughter ;  Sitric  and Mael Mordha killed and many of the Orkeny Vikings drowning as they attempted to flee in panic to  their Longships as the tide was coming in. Out of an estimated force of 6,500-7,000 Vikings who fouht that day nearly 6,000 were killed; such was the magnitude of the route by Brian’s forces,    However, in winning the battle the Irish had also lost heavily; Brian’s son and grandson were both killed in the battle.  Legend says that Brian, now an old man in his seventies, was killed by a fleeing Viking who found the old man at prayer for his lost son, grandson and in honor of Good Friday.  Without Brian’s strong leadership and the succession of his house in shambles, Ireland rapidly reverted to the disjoint and feuding kingdoms that had preceded Brian’s reign.

Legends says that Brian Boru drove the Vikings out of Ireland.  Brian’s victory at Clontarf did mark the last time the Vikings would attempt a major landing in Ireland, but  the Norse of the longphort’s had been in Ireland for generations and had become, and would continue to be, an integral part of Irish Society.  At the same time the descendents of Vikings that settled in France, the Normans whose name was a corruption of “Norse Men“,  invaded Ireland 55 years later and would begin another conquest of Ireland. One wonders what might have been the result if Brian Boru’s united Ireland had been able to persist longer, could the Normans have conquered a united Ireland rather than playing minor kings off against each other as events transpired.

It would be equally wrong to view the end of Brian’s High Kingship at Clontarf as a hollow victory that brought to an end Brian’s vision of a unified Ireland on that Good Friday 1014.  It was memories of the Golden Age of Brian’s reign that would keep alive the vision of Ireland’s nationhood in the face of conquest and oppression; that would inspire the volunteers who rose in Dublin on Easter Monday 1916, not far from where Brian had asserted Ireland’s right to sovereignty  900 years before, and set Ireland once more on the path of independence and unity.  On another Good Friday, 984 years later, 10 April 1998, the light of the promise of a free, peaceful and united Ireland was lit again with the Good Friday agreements.  Despite the winds of politicians and voices of division that light continues to flicker and we must nourish and protect that small flame of freedom  until all of Ireland bask in the light of freedom as it was in the time of  Brian Boru.

Gerry McGeough – 2011 Conviction Unsafe

Posted by Jim on

PRESS RELEASE
Gerry McGeough – 2011 Conviction Unsafe 
            Aiden Carlin Solicitor has welcomed the UK Supreme Court’s decision to grant Gerry McGeough leave to Appeal his case.
Commenting on the announcement, Aiden Carlin said: ”In addition to the new headline facts disclosed about Gerry McGeough’s case, there are important aspects of European and domestic law which say his conviction is unsafe. Not least, the evidence adduced at Gerry McGeough’s trial from an alleged asylum application made 30 years ago in Sweden. The receipt of such evidence at his trial was a breach of common law rules and Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights. EU law recognises the need for a common policy of protection for asylum seekers yet in Gerry McGeough’s case this was repeatedly ignored.”
Solicitor Aiden Carlin concluded: “There is a clear momentum now to have Gerry McGeough’s 2011 conviction quashed because of material non-disclosure on a spectacular scale and errors in law during his trial and Appeal. We trust his UK Supreme Court hearing later this year will be another step in that direction.”
 
 
Carlin Solicitors
Second Floor, Saint George’s House
99 / 101 High Street
Belfast, BT1 2AG
www.carlinsolicitors.co.uk 
Tel: 028 90 434464 | Fax: 028 90 434282

On meeting monarchy

Posted by Jim on

By Jim Slaven (of the Edinburgh-based James Connolly Society)

“Fellow-workers, stand by the dignity of your class. All these parading
royalties, all this insolent aristocracy, all these grovelling,
dirt-eating capitalist traitors, all these are but signs of disease in
any social state – diseases which a royal visit brings to a head and
spews in all its nastiness before our horrified eyes” – James Connolly

So Martin McGuinness has finally met Betty Battenberg. It is obviously a
matter for Sinn Fein who they meet but from the outside this looks like
another ‘leadership initiative’ which has nothing to do with improving
the material conditions of the working class or advancing towards the
Republic. It does however put republicans outside Ireland in the
position of having to decide whether to show solidarity with this act or
not. For our part the James Connolly Society have been critical of the
SNP leaderships decision to come out as monarchists and abandon their
party policy of holding a post independence referendum on the future of
the monarchy. This is because we believe monarchy, and hereditary power
and privilege they represent, have no place in a democratic society and
the role of republicans is to actively oppose monarchy and advocate the
establishment of a republic where people are sovereign.While Sinn Fein have not went as far as the SNP their decision to meet
the British monarch is one many of us outside Ireland are unable to
support. Many people have sought to justify this decision on the basis
that the meeting is just symbolism. This is disingenuous in the extreme.
While the constitutional role of the monarch in the UK state may be
symbolic the British monarchy also plays a key ideological role. The
monarch’s visits to Ireland (and Scotland) like their weddings or
jubilees are used by the state to reinforce its influence and power. The
monarchy serves to strengthen and legitimise British hegemony on these
islands.

This meeting has been on the cards for some time and the JCS have been
discussing its inevitability and its consequences. During one of these
discussions one joker pointed out that I had actually led the way on
this issue as I had met Betty Battenberg back in 1999. The occasion was
the opening of the Scottish parliament and I should clarify something at
this point by pointing out that we were not invited but thought we had
something to contribute anyway.

The JCS thought it was disgrace that the British monarch was invited to
open the new Scottish parliament and decided to let her know. At the
same time the residents of Garvaghy Road were living under siege from so
called ‘Loyal Institutions’ such as the Orange Order and we decided
support for the residents should be central to the protest. The whole
story of that day has never been told and sadly there is not room to
tell it here. However this protest was organised with the full knowledge
of Sinn Fein who at that very time were in negotiations with the British
government and Unionist leaders at Stormont. In fact the JCS had made a
decision the previous evening to call the protest off if an agreement
was reached in those overnight negotiations. On the morning of the
protest we spoke to Sinn Fein who confirmed no deal had been reached and
the rest as they say is history.

All the protesters were resplendent in JCS ‘Disband the RUC’ t-shirts
and ‘End the Siege of Garvaghy Road’ placards. Evading the cops we made
our way over the barriers and past the royal protection squad. Once I
was on the carriage I saw old Phil trying to get out the other side and
noticed Betty could not take her eyes off my Disband the RUC t-shirt. I
only found out later that Charlie was sitting opposite. He was very
quiet. I still had the placard in my hand and despite the best efforts
of the armed cops in fancy dress on the back of the carriage me and
Betty shared a moment.

The conversation must remain between the two of us (for now at least)
but suffice to say I made my point robustly. Our discussion was
interrupted by one of the JCS shouting my name and just as well really
as I was about to be attacked by a horse or more accurately someone
dressed as a Beefeater on a horse. At this point I decided to make my
excuses and leave. What happened next is for another day but it involved
special forces, a gun on a string, refugees in Kosovo, terrified cops,
handcuffs that didn’t lock and Tommy Sheridan.

All of that was thirteen years ago and as many people never tire of
reminding us much has changed in the intervening years. And indeed it
has but much remains the same, such as the British state’s continued
denial of the Irish people’s right to national self-determination.
Another thing that remains the same is the JCS’ commitment to the
political philosophy of James Connolly and our commitment to working
with others to end the monarchy and breakup the British state. At this
political-economic conjuncture the UK state is in constitutional flux
and desperately trying to reconfigure itself for the 21st century. Now
is the time for republicans to be bold, principled and ambitious not to
pander to anachronistic and sectarian manifestations of Britishness and
elitism such as monarchy.

Had Martin sought my advice one tip I could have given him was that if
he wanted to speak to Betty Battenberg in a language other than English
he would have been better brushing up on German. I also could have
advised him that, in my experience of such meetings, republicans would
be better taking the James Connolly Society’s approach rather than Sinn
Fein’s when it comes to meeting monarchy.

“What is monarchy? From whence does it derive its sanction? What has
been its gift to humanity? Monarchy is a survival of the tyranny imposed
by the hand of greed and treachery upon the human race in the darkest
and most ignorant days of our history. It derives its only sanction from
the sword of the marauder, and the helplessness of the producer, and its
gifts to humanity are unknown, save as they can be measured in the
pernicious examples of triumphant and shameless iniquities.” – James
Connolly

Radio Free Eireann will cover Martin McGuinness and the Queen on Saturday April 12. Paddy McHugh, a singer-songwriter from Brisbane, will be with us live in the Brian Mor O’Baoghill Studio Tune into WBAI 99.5 FM “Radio Free Eireann” 1-2 pm Apr.12, 2014 or Go to Rocky Sullivan’s of Red Hook, 34 Van Dyke St. Brooklyn and listen live.

Posted by Jim on April 11, 2014

 Radio Free Eireann will cover Martin McGuinness and the Queen with republicans on both sides of the border on Saturday April 12. Paddy McHugh, a singer-songwriter from Brisbane, will be with us live in the Brian Mor O’Baoghill Studio in Rocky Sullivan’s of Red Hook 34 Van Dyke Street in Brooklyn. Radio Free Eireann is heard Saturdays from 1-2 pm New York time on WBAI 99.5 FM and wbai.org on the web where is archived for 10 days.

 

Radio Free Eireann is heard Saturdays from 1-2 pm New York time on WBAI 99.5 FM and wbai.org on the web where it is archived for 14 days. We broadcast live from Rocky Sullivan’s of Red Hook, 34 Van Dyke Street in Brooklyn.

Sandy Boyer

Mary Courtney starting on Monday April 21st from 6-9pm and every Monday after that!

Posted by Jim on April 10, 2014

Starting on Monday April 21st from 6-9pm and every Monday after that!
Donie Ryan (Tenor banjo) and myself (Mary Courtney) play an early evening gig at The Crooked Knife Restaurant & Pub (29 East 30th Street between Madison and Park Ave) Call (212) 696-2593
www.thecrookedknife.com
Also if you can…
On Easter Sunday April 20th 5pm – 8pm and every other Sundayafter that!
Patrick Madden ( Fiddle) and myself play a gig at Peter Dillon’s 36th Street Bar (36th Street between 5th & Madison Ave) Call (212) 683- 6444
Facebookpeterdillons36th.
Many thanks to you all and a Happy Easter!

McGuinness salutes the queen at royal banquet

Posted by Jim on

Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness this evening stood for the British
national anthem and toasted the “health and happiness” of the English
queen in the most symbolic gesture yet of his party’s support for the
status quo in the north of Ireland.

Mr McGuinness was attending a banquet at Windsor Castle in honour of
the 26 County President Michael D Higgins, the first official state
visit by an Irish head of state to the English capital.

The visit was described by government press officers in Dublin and
London as the “final step to normal relations” between the two states,
and follows the infamous visit by the English royals to Dublin in 2011.

The queen said that the “heightened relations” which followed that
visit had pleased her. “Even more pleasing, since then,” she said, “is
that we, the Irish and British, are becoming good and dependable
neighbours and better friends; finally shedding our inhibitions about
seeing the best in each other.”

Earlier today, President Higgins addressed the Westminster parliament
– another first for a 26 County President — before being driven in a
ceremonial carriage to the castle to prepare for the royal banquet.

But amid the tightly choreographed pageantry, it was the actions of
Martin McGuinness, a former IRA commander and now Six County Deputy
First Minister, which proved the most controversial element.

McGuinness sat just 15 places away from the queen, close to the centre
of the 160-foot long table which seated all 160 guests.

His participation infuriated Irish republicans ahead of the anniversary
of the 1916 Easter Rising. His unexpected decision to toast the queen
– a gesture which Irish citizens have historically refused to join –
was described by traditionalists as “a gratuitous insult” to Ireland’s
patriot dead.

Socialists in Ireland and Britain have also pointed to the inequity of
highly paid government officials enjoying a sumptuous menu of
delicacies — Isle of Gigha Halibat and tournedos of Windsor estate
beef were among them — while welfare cuts have forced people into soup
kitchens or emigration.

In his speech, President Higgins made reference to the queen’s visit to
Ireland, in which she “admirably” did not “shy away from the shadows of
the past”.

He said: “Your gracious and genuine curiosity, your evident delight in
that visit, including its equine dimension, made it very easy for us to
express to you and, through you to the British people, the warmth of
neighbourly feelings.”

People had been “moved” by the Windsors’ “gestures of respect” at sites
of national historical significance in Ireland, he said. “These
memorable moments and these moving words merit our appreciation and,
even more, our reciprocity.”

As a sign of that ‘reciprocity’, officials in Dublin and London are
understood to be planning for Windsor to stand alongside President
Higgins during the centenary Commemorations of Easter 1916, as a
symbolic gesture of Anglo-Irish unity.

Whole endorsing McGuinness’s actions, Sinn Fein Leader Gerry Adams also
said minds should be on the need for political leaders to resolve “all
of the outstanding issues in the peace process.”

He said that peace needed to be “celebrated on the streets as well as
in the palaces and the big houses”.

The Irish Republican Socialist Party was more critical. It said that
“unlike other actions since 1998 this move cannot be spun as a
concession for the good of the peace.”

They said as “an active move” by Sinn Fein to “seek engagement with the
highest echelons of the British establishment whilst normalising and
copper-fastening the economic and physical occupation of the Island”.

The Republican Network for Unity said McGuinness’s actions were
“incompatible” with “even the basic ideals of Republicanism” and that
they had “given legitimacy” to “monarchy, privilege and the class
system”.

“In these times of austerity, rising poverty and enforced inequality
across Ireland, England and beyond; the hosting of a one-time
revolutionary leader in the residence of the British monarch represents
a victory for the enemies of freedom and working class struggles
everywhere,” they said.
“All progressive thinking people – including Sinn Fein members – will
be disheartened by this farcical decision. RNU shares their
sentiments.”

 

Arrested For Speaking Irish In Europe’s Darkest Corner

Posted by Jim on

No blacks, no dogs, no IrishNo blacks, no dogs, no Irish

The President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, is on an official state visit to Britain, the first by an Irish head of state in some nine decades of independence. This follows the first official visit by Britain’s head of state, Elizabeth II, to Ireland and is yet another step in the ongoing choreography of the “Peace Process”, a process that continues to dominate the news headlines at home and abroad (even if most of the British media prefer to ignore it, unable to come to terms with peace in Ireland when war without end seemed so much more easier to digest). However just how far has this process actually progressed? The Irish Nationalist community in the north-east of our island nation continues to suffer levels of discrimination in employment and the provision of public services far above its Unionist rival. Despite the perception that the Nationalists have the “upper hand” politically they still struggle to gain equality socially and culturally. The language they speak, and even they very clothes they wear, makes them objects of suspicion and persecution.

On Sunday the 6th of April 2014 Diarmuid Mac Dubhghlais, the national treasurer of Sinn Féin Poblachtach (a minor Irish republican party and off-shoot of SF), was arrested and charged under counter-terrorism laws in the city of Derry by members of the PSNI, the British paramilitary police force in the north of Ireland. And the laws he broke? He answered in Irish to a question put to him in English. Yes, you read that right. An Irish citizen in Ireland was asked a question in English, he answered in the national language of Ireland, and for that he was arrested, charged and brought to court in Belfast under Britain’s counter-insurgency laws in our country. From the Belfast Telegraph:

“A man who gave his name and address in Irish when he was stopped by police has appeared at Londonderry Magistrates Court charged under anti-terrorism legislation.

Dermot Douglas (49) [ASF: that is Diarmuid Mac Dubhghlais], of Mellows Park in Dublin, was charged with not giving his details to the best of his ability under the Justice and Security Act on March 6.

Defence solicitor Brian Stelfox told the court his client had come out of a house in the Creggan area of the city and had been stopped by police, and when asked for identification gave his details in Irish.

District judge Barney McElholm asked: “Was the sum total of this case — that he gave his name in Irish?” Mr Stelfox said Douglas had “quite happily” allowed the police to search him, and then gave his name and address in Irish and was arrested.”

Peace process? One is tempted to ask, what peace process? However we have an even more outrageous event, from Hogan’s Stand, a bizarre attack on the rights of men and women in Ireland to wear the clothes they choose to wear if those clothes are recognisably Irish, and made by the leader of the TUV, one of several extreme parties amongst the Unionist minority:

“TUV leader Jim Allister says students wearing GAA jerseys to university are “creating a substantial chill factor”.

More and more Catholic students are opting to don club, county and college jerseys on campus at the north’s universities and – claiming to have received complaints from students at University of Ulster – Allister says the proliferation of GAA jerseys in intimidating members of the Protestant community.

In response to the Traditional Unionist Voice chief’s complaints, UU is to review its policy of allowing students to wear GAA tops…”

Forgot the Taliban. This is the Uniban. And forget western Europe. This is Europe’s regressive fringe. And we are part of it.

AOH leader slams Irish President’s State visit to Britain

Posted by Jim on April 7, 2014

A senior figure in the Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH), Sean Pender, head of their Freedom for All Ireland Committee, has criticized this week’s state visit to Britain by Irish President Michael D. Higgins on the grounds that so much remains undone on issues relating to the Good Friday Agreement.

Pender said that it is time the British and Irish governments “stopped arranging photo ops” and addressed issues such as the Finucane murder case, the conduct of the PSNI, the truth behind the Dublin/Monaghan bombing and other related issues.

The AOH is America’s largest Irish group and the criticism comes after Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness, Deputy First Minister in the Northern Ireland Executive, agreed to take part in the visit, including attending the state dinner banquet at Windsor Castle hosted by Queen Elizabeth.

Third Anniversary of the St. Patrick’s Society of Brooklyn as published March 20, 1852 by the N.Y. Times

Posted by Jim on April 6, 2014

McGuinness defends royal banquet trip

Posted by Jim on

Sinn Fein has confirmed reports that Martin McGuinness is to visit
Windsor Castle to attend a royal banquet with the English queen this
week.

Mr McGuinness will attend a banquet is being held in Windsor Castle in
honour of 26-County President Michael D Higgins, who will arrive in
England tomorrow for a State visit. Yesterday afternoon Sinn Fein
confirmed that McGuinness had accepted an invitation to attend, and he
addressed criticism by other Irish nationalists and republicans today.

He said he was “conscious” that this decision involves “political and
symbolic challenges” for Irish republicans. “However, my presence
alongside Peter Robinson brings an all-island dimension to this historic
event,” he said.

Mr McGuinness previously welcomed the queen to Belfast in 2011 in his
role as the Six-County Deputy First Minister, but did not attend a
banquet in her honour.

There appeared to be no official motivation for his attendance at this
week’s banquet, but his decision to go may be related to electoral
considerations.

With little opposition from its traditional nationalist rivals in the
SDLP and with other republican groups yet to present a meaningful
electoral challenge, Sinn Fein is said to be hoping support from
moderate unionists and pro-Union Catholics will help it to become the
largest party in the Six Counties for the first time.

However, he claimed his attendance marked another step in the peace
process, and that he remained a loyal Irish republican.

“As the record of the Peace Process demonstrates Irish republicans have
always been prepared to take decisions and risks for peace and
reconciliation,” he said.

“I am an Irish republican. A united Ireland has been, and continues to
be, the primary objective of my political life. I want to see an end to
Partition and unity of the Irish people through a genuine process of
reconciliation based on equality and tolerance.

“I want an Ireland in which one can be British or Irish and live in
harmony and mutual respect with their neighbours,” he added.

There was a wave of disquiet among Sinn Fein’s grassroots, particularly
in Derry, although none have voiced their opinions publicly.

Meanwhile, traditional republican organisations saw McGuinness’s
decision to attend the banquet by Elizabeth Windsor — the commander in
chief of the British armed forces — as a confirmation of their view
that Sinn Fein want their ‘snout in the trough’.

Eirigi press officer Stephen Murney said that as McGuinness dined at
Windsor “families across the country have to rely on food banks to
survive”.

He warned that those who “rightly” oppose his attendance would be
accused of being ‘anti-peace’.

“What will be going through his head when he has to stand for ‘God save
the queen’?” he asked. “Amazing that this is the same man who had the
audacity to call Republicans ‘traitors’.”

The revolutionary women’s movement, Cumann na mBan, was set up 100 years

Posted by Jim on

The revolutionary women’s movement, Cumann na mBan, was set up 100 years
ago this week. It maintained the struggle for independence following the
Easter Rising and in 1921 became the first organisation to reject the
treaty which partitioned Ireland. Sally Richardson looks at their stand
for equality and unity.

The Easter Rising lit the touch paper of revolution, but in the
immediate aftermath it was left to women to prevent it from fizzling
out. Of the seventy-seven women arrested after the rising, all but six
(all Citizen Army) were released almost at once. While the men were
forced to pursue their further education at the University of
Revolution, Frongoch internment camp, the women were left to reorganize
and regroup.

If the Volunteers’ dependents’ fund provided a conventionally charitable
outlet for their activities, women also maintained the revolutionary
momentum with vigorous and imaginative propaganda campaigns. These took
several women to the United States, including Hanna Sheehy Skeffington
who got access to president Wilson to present him with a Cumann na mBan
petition.

The Conference of Women Delegates, set up in April 1917 by women
including Kathleen Clarke, Aine Ceannt, Kathleen Lynn and Helena Molony,
demanded adequate representation of women on Sinn Fein’s Executive not
just in the light of the Easter proclamation’s commitment to equality
and the women’s efforts during the Rising but also on account of ‘the
necessity of having their organized cooperation in the further struggle
to free Ireland and the advantage of having their ideas on many social
problems likely to arise in the near future.’

In other words, women’s inclusion was not only their right; their
contribution was of particular value, too. A Convention of Women
Delegates resolution affirming women’s equality within Sinn Fein was
passed at the Sinn Fein convention in 1917.

The General Election of 1918, in which Constance Markievicz was elected,
did not appear to be much of a triumph at the time. One seat in the Dail
seemed a pitiful harvest. Many women had assumed that their hard work
and commitment would automatically lead to nominations for winnable
constituencies. Markievicz’s nomination for the Dublin constituency of
St Patrick’s was followed only by that of Winifred Carney for a largely
unionist Belfast constituency which she had no chance of winning. Hanna
Sheehy Skeffington refused the equally unwinnable constituency of North
Antrim. Kathleen Clarke, then in Holloway Prison with Markievicz, found
her hopes of standing dashed by the machinations of Richard Mulcahy.

Sinn Fein were mindful of the impact that newly-enfranchised women could
have on the election and were prepared to use this in their publicity
(‘You can save Ireland by voting as Mrs Pearse will vote’). The
resulting landslide owed much to women’s efforts, although there was
anger at the lack of resources given to Markievicz’s campaign.

Cumann na mBan’s separate status gave it autonomy and gave the women the
chance of leadership. If it had been absorbed into the Volunteers it is
likely women would still have been confined to their traditional roles
and would have had no voice of their own. If, like the Irish Citizen
Army, the Volunteers had been established with the principle of gender
equality at the outset, perhaps more progress would have been made.
However, Cumann na mBan had grown in confidence; they aspired to be more
than just ‘animated collecting boxes’ and sought to ‘participate in the
public life of their locality and assert their rights as citizens.’

Looking through the records of this amazing period, one cannot help but
be struck by the modernity of these women. For all their studied
antiquarianism and the plundering of Ireland’s distant past for
inspiration, these women were very much of their own time. Many were
highly educated (three out of the six women in the Second Dail were
graduates). They earned their own living (and demanded equal pay); they
were independent minded, bold and confrontational; they were prepared to
defy convention and break rules. It was to warlike heroines such as
Granuaile and Maeve rather than more conventionally ‘feminine’ women
like Emer that they looked for role models.

According to IRA commandant Michael Brennan, the flying columns would
have collapsed without Cumann na mBan. “In despatch carrying, scouting
and intelligence work, all of which are highly dangerous, they did far
more than the soldiers . . . the more dangerous the work the more
willing they were to do it.”

They were anxious to prove their worth and determined to show that they
could share the dangers and responsibilties of war. If women accepted
traditional ‘women’s work’ and did it willingly and without complaint,
it was not because they ‘knew their place’ but because they were
prepared to do anything that needed to be done. If they weren’t given
the chance to fight, then they could still cook, launder, nurse and
carry despatches.

IRA memoirs are dominated by men’s activities, but women get some
positive mention. Tom Barry, while relegating Cumann na mBan to the
“sole purpose of helping the Irish Republican Army”, acknowledged that
they were “indispensible to the Army” and paid tribute to their work. If
women were given the drudgery of the armed struggle, at least they were
not taken for granted. It is worth mentioning that Barry’s wife, Leslie
Price, served in the GPO during Easter week while he was in Mesopotamia
with the British Army.

Women also set up a network and framework of safety and security for the
IRA to operate in. Housewives provided safe houses and went short
themselves to feed the Volunteers. Cork IRA man Connie Neenan’s mother
(a “fighting type”) and aunt were two of many who transported and hid
IRA weapons. Volunteers’ mothers gave much support, often in the absence
of or without the knowledge of their husbands. The ‘separate spheres’
culture that then still largely obtained meant that while fathers
usually involved themselves little in family life, mothers were often
close to their children and shared their subordinate position. Perhaps
this fostered the rebelliousness which they taught their children –
instead of the ‘slave mentality’ that Connolly so despised, these women
were transmitting rebellion down the generations.

Women’s hardline stance, evident before the Easter rising, continued
after it. Cumann na mBan members opposed the Treaty by a huge majority.
Women certainly stood to lose by a compromise settlement; it was clear
that their rights would only be guaranteed by a Republican victory. The
General Election of 1921 saw the election of six women to the Second
Dail. It is perhaps significant that strongly Republican Cork and
Limerick selected and returned women candidates (Mary MacSwiney and Kate
O’Callaghan). Republican strongholds — especially in urban areas — had a
more progressive attitude towards women.

These women all voted against the Treaty. It was remarked on (then and
ever since) that four had lost brothers, husbands and sons in the Easter
Rising and the Tan War; but the assumption that they were little more
than the mouthpieces for dead men was patently unfair. As Kate
O’Callaghan explained, she had been a separatist since girlhood. Mary
MacSwiney and Kathleen Clarke were also committed republicans of many
years’ standing.

The vote against the Treaty was lost in the Dail, but the women scored
an important victory in securing the franchise for all women over
twenty-one. The vote had been granted in 1918 only to women aged thirty
or over. Thus Irish women were fully franchised from 1921 onwards; Thus
Irish women were fully franchised from 1921 onwards; women in Britain
had to wait until 1928 before they got the vote on equal terms with men.

The occupation of the Four Courts by the anti-Treaty IRA — “Easter week
in reverse” as Desmond Greaves called it — echoed Easter week in more
ways than one. Women like Maire Comerford carried despatches under fire
and Linda Kearns risked her life tending the wounded. Though wishing to
share the discomfort and dangers equally with the men, the women were
disconcertingly treated with a rather touching chivalry and shielded as
much as possible from danger. On surrender, Comerford tore off the Red
Cross band placed on her arm by a priest.

Louie Bennett and Rosamond Jacob were among a number of republican women
who joined the campaign set up by feminists to oppose the First World
War that was to become the Women’s International League for Peace and
Freedom (the ‘Peacettes’ as the Daily Express derisively called them).
Irish women, at least, unlike feminist peace campaigners in Britain,
were able to oppose the war and conscription without accusations of
being unpatriotic. As the women at Greenham Common would find out,
objections to men’s right to kill one other without good cause brings
down opprobrium onto feminist heads.

If women tended to fill gaps left by men’s absence, or to do the work
men would not do, Ireland’s fight for freedom gave Irish feminists an
arena to continue to operate in which prevented the feminist movement
from fizzling out once the vote had been won. Often engaged on several
fronts at once, women played a vital role in bringing together the
different strands of the revolutionary movement: the military,
political, feminist and socialist causes were thus integrated.

Much had been achieved. The most progressive republican men had on the
whole been ready to treat women as comrades and to accept them as
equals. The conservatives who took power in the Free State did their
best to exclude women from public life and power. It was a cold climate
for a lot of men as well. But precedents had been set. Women’s voices
had made themselves heard. They still speak to us today.ted.

 

ADAMS’ ACTIONS COUNTER TO MCGEOUGH CLAIMS” Irish News, April 5, 2014.

Posted by Jim on

 

Dear Editor, Irish News:
 
Newton’s skewered Laws of Reality
 
Here we go again.  Newton Emerson, the world’s un-funniest would-be satirist and less than convincing, intellectual pretensions is once again making a feeble attempt to smear Gerry McGeough.
 
Although Gerry has dismissed the opinions of an “inbred Portadown Planter” as being utterly irrelevant, I nevertheless feel that it’s important to counter his outrageous claims in today’s (April 5th, 2014) Irish News.
 
In gushing praise of Gerry Adams, Newton suggests that ex-RUC Special Branch man Norman Baxter’s recent allegation that Adams demanded the British Government intervene and have McGeough released following his post-election arrest in 2007 somehow undermines McGeough’s credibility!
 
If anything, McGeough’s credibility is considerably enhanced by the whole episode. Apart from his sinister RUC background, which involved liaison work with MI5, Baxter’s testimony is questionable by any standards and the man clearly has an axe or two to grind. He provides no evidence to date to support his claims and even Gerry Adams himself disputes the allegations.
 
The dogs in the street know that had Gerry McGeough been a member of Sinn Féin he would never have been imprisoned or even arrested. Sinn Féin DID intervene to have John Downey released and they left Gerry McGeough to his fate.  Had Adams and SF ever been serious about the McGeough case they would have refused to go into government with the DUP in 2007 until McGeough and McAnespie were released and all proceedings dropped in that and future cases. You can be sure that Blair, Ahern, et al, would have moved heaven and earth to acquiesce in order to get the Assembly finally up and running with Paisley and Co all aboard.
 
There can be no doubt that Adams did contact the British over Gerry McGeough’s arrest on March 8th, 2007. The man was under enormous pressure with egg all over his beard. Sinn Féin had just railroaded the republican electorate in the Six-Counties into supporting the RUC/PSNI, urging them to become informers en masse and even join up. 
 
Gerry McGeough had warned against this policy and now found himself arrested and about to pay a high price for the stance he’d taken. The electorate were disgusted, feeling that they had been sold a pup by Sinn Féin and were telling them so in no uncertain terms following McGeough’s arrest. The treachery of the British made the Sinn Féin leadership look like a bundle of gullible fools. Naturally, Adams, probably very reluctantly, called on the British to release Gerry McGeough.
 
It is the understanding of the “Justice for Gerry McGeough Campaign” that Adams spoke with the then Secretary of State for the Six-Counties Peter Hain about the matter. Hain’s response, apparently, was that Gerry McGeough would “only have to do two years”! This, incidentally, was days before McGeough was officially charged with anything. Clearly the British had already made their decision. The rubber-stamping show-trial would follow.
 
For Newton Emerson to try and portray this in any other light and somehow suggest that Gerry Adams and the British conspired to free Gerry McGeough is pathetic beyond words. Obviously, the collective fear of what Gerry McGeough represents and stands for remains very real in the psyche of these people.
 
Helen McClafferty,
Chairwoman Free Gerry McGeough Campaign USA

Utmost Bias – Any History of the IRA that Excludes Gerry Adams

Posted by Jim on April 2, 2014

 

John McDonagh (JM) and Sandy Boyer (SB) interview author, journalist and former director of The Belfast Project Ed Moloney (EM) about the Boston College tapes on Radio Free Éireann

WBAI 99.5FM Pacifica Radio

New York City

29 March 2014

(begins time stamp 31:58)

SB: We’re talking to Ed Moloney, the author of Voices From the Grave (and) A Secret History of the IRA. And Ed was the director of what was called The Belfast Project. It was a unique oral history of The Troubles speaking to people from the Provisional IRA and the Ulster Volunteer Force who actually did the fighting.

And now, if you are a regular listener to the show you know, those tapes were handed over the the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) and now they’ve been used to charge Ivor Bell, former Chief-of-Staff of the Irish Republican Army, with aiding and abetting the murder of Jean McConville. Ed, thanks for being with us and what can you tell us about that?

EM: Which bit, Sandy? There’s a lot there.

SB: About the use of the tapes for the project you directed to charge Ivor Bell.

EM: First of all there is no evidence that this is Ivor Bell that was interviewed. As I understand it one of the reasons why the police have let it be known that they want to question Anthony McIntyre, the interviewer, is to provide evidence about the identity of someone who’s only known in court as “Z”, “Interviewee Z”.

And they’ve also let it be known that if they do proceed to trial on this they will identify the person “Z” by what they call “the jigsaw method”. I’m not exactly sure what that means.

But there is no confirmation, believe it or not, despite all the media reports that this is actually Ivor Bell that is featured in this interview at the center of this court case. So, you know, that’s point number one. And that should be borne in mind.

There’s a great deal of sloppy journalism and reporting about this case and that has to be up there at the top of the list I think.

SB: Ed what tapes were actually handed over to the Police Service of Northern Ireland? Was it all the tapes from The Belfast Project?

EM: No, no, no, no indeed. And you said in your introduction that the Boston College tapes were handed over – as if all them were handed over. My estimate is that maybe two to three percent of the archive has actually been handed over to the PSNI. A very small fraction – much, much less than the PSNI were actually seeking in the first place and a very, very small number of interviews. I mean, if the police had been trying to get, say, all of a person’s interviews that they gave to the Boston College they were refused that.

They were only allowed interviews which actually made mention of the Jean McConville case or associated elements of it and that dramatically reduced the number of interviews that were actually handed over.

So again, I was watching news reports in Belfast during the week which were saying that the PSNI now have full access to Boston College archives. Nothing could be further from the truth. They’ve got – as I said my estimate is about two to three percent – very small number – eleven in total – and that is very small.

JM: Ed, you were speaking about how it was covered over in Ireland. We’re going to go to two clips now: 0ne from Ulster Television and the other from RTÉ and this is how they covered it. (ED Correction: both reporters are from UTV Northern Ireland).

Audio clip of two news broadcasts by UTV Reporter Sharon O’Neill and UTV Northern Editor Tommie Gorman

JM: And that was two news clips about how it’s being reported over there.

Also Ed, what’s coming out now is how Sinn Féin is going on the attack, particularly of you and Anthony McIntyre, calling the Boston tapes a “touting programme” on one hand and then Gerry Adams issuing statements that if anyone has any information on the killing of Jean McConville to please come forward to the PSNI. So, they want it both ways.

EM: So what’s your question, John? I don’t quite follow you.

JM: How did you perceive the two clips there? Were they accurate? And Gerry Adams’ hypocrisy on telling people to come forward and then criticising the tapes themselves.

EM: well, I mean both of those reports were just so full of inaccuracies that it highlights exactly what I’m talking about here, that in Belfast at the moment we do not have a fully functioning media. First of all, Paul Bew’s involvement in this project, which is now being highlighted by Gerry Adams, was marginal. He was a message boy from Boston College to a number of people in Belfast back in 2000-2001. If anyone had any ideas for projects or things that Boston College could do to commemorate the peace process – to record The Troubles – Paul Bew would pass on their ideas to Boston College and we were one of the ideas that was put forth. So his role is marginal but is being played up by Gerry Adams because he was also at one stage advisor to David Trimble so he’s trying to make this appear to be a Unionist plot of some sort which it is absolutely not.

Secondly, I was never an interviewer. I coordinated the project. The interviews were conducted on the Republican side by Anthony McIntyre and on the Loyalist side by Wilson, Wilson MacArthur. So again, another, another inaccuracy.

And Sharon O’ Neill, the UTV person, who is the one I was referring to who said that The Belfast Project, the archives at Boston College, that the PSNI now have full access to them.

I rang her up and I said: ‘Sharon, that is not true’ and I repeated to her what I just repeated to you, that they got a very tiny percentage of the reports.

And she said: ‘Oh, terribly sorry, Ed, it was because it was a live report.’ In other words when you go on live reports in UTV and you’re the Justice Correspondent you’re apparently allowed to say the first thing that comes into your mind and accuracy is a second option as far as people like that are concerned.

This is part of the problem. You’re getting just absolute rubbish journalism covering this story.

If this was the United States of America and it was happening by this stage, for example, The New York Times and The Washington Post – I would certainly hope and I think they probably would – would have had a team working on the story:

Is it possible to get a conviction?

Would a case like this even go trial on the basis of the evidence that we have?

And the evidence? Let me just go through it:

We have this interview or portion of an interview, small portion of an interview from someone called “Z” who the police are claiming is Ivor Bell.

That was an interview that was not taken under caution such as most police statements have to be in order to be presented into court.

It was not a sworn statement. It was conducted by someone who was an academic researcher and not someone who was a forensic interrogator from the RUC or PSNI. Excuse the Freudian slip.

There’s no supporting evidence. There’s no forensics evidence. There’s no ballistic evidence.

And most crucially of all: there is no admission by anyone, least of all “Z”, least of all whoever “Z” is, if it’s Ivor Bell or not, I don’t know.

There’s not a lawyer that I have talked to in the week or so since Ivor Bell was arraigned on these charges who believes: a) that this could secure a conviction and many of them believe it won’t even go to trial.

Yet none of this is reflected in the media coverage. Not one journalist as far as I can make out has made an issue out of trying to examine what are the real legal possibilities of even going to trial on something like this never mind securing a conviction.

And on the basis of that the PSNI have been allowed to present a fantastic triumph – breaking, cracking the case of Jean McConville’s disappearance – when in fact as I think events will ultimately prove – you couldn’t be further from the truth.

Now in relation to what Gerry Adams is calling for well, you know, we’ve gone through this before. And we’ve gone through all the attacks that he has launched against Boston College and against this particular project.

I’m asking, or I’m saying this very simply:

That if anyone was to conduct a serious history of the Provisional IRA during The Troubles and decided to leave out, because they have fallen out of favor, people like Brendan Hughes and Dolours Price – incidentally, you know, it would help if Tommie Gorman could actually pronounce her name – it’s not Dolers or Dolores – it’s Dolours. It means sadness. He couldn’t even get that basic fact right.

But if we were to try to conduct or try to construct a history of the Provisional IRA during The Troubles and you left those people out – Dolours Price was in charge of the first bombing team that attacked London back in 1973.

Brendan Hughes was at the side of all the Belfast Commanders from the early 70′s onward including Gerry Adams. He was the closest friend of Gerry Adams. He shared a cubicle with Gerry Adams in a hut in Long Kesh during internment. He led the 1981 hunger strikes. He led the debate inside Long Kesh which led to the reorganisation of the IRA in the mid and late 1970′s. He was involved in all the major phases of the republican struggle. And one’s supposed to leave someone like that out because Gerry Adams doesn’t like or didn’t like Brendan Hughes’ attitude towards him and towards the peace process?

I don’t think so.

I think if you were an historian and you left those sort of people out of any attempt to chronicle the real story of the IRA you would be accused by historians of utmost bias.

And we went and we sought people like Brendan Hughes because of their value and the totality of what they could contribute in terms of their knowledge of the IRA and their knowledge of the Provisionals and their history.

And the sections in which he criticises Gerry Adams is actually, when you look at the totality of these interviews, were very small indeed. The rest of it, in relation to the Gerry Adams issue was either neutral or in fact very pro, because he was very close to Gerry Adams and very fond of him and said many, many nice things about him as well as being critical of him.

SB: Ed, getting back to Gerry Adams: I find it very interesting that Ivor Bell is charged with aiding and abetting the murder of Jean McConville.

As far as we know Gerry Adams has not even been questioned about that. But both Brendan Hughes and Dolours Price said he gave the orders for that.

Why is it do you think he doesn’t even get questioned?

EM: Well, actually, I don’t know what’s happening on, on that particular issue, Sandy, because Gerry Adams issued that offer, if you want to call it that, to the PSNI several days ago and the PSNI have been conspicuous in their silence since.

Some people have said this is a very clever move by Gerry Adams because it will force the PSNI to say “no” we don’t want to interrogate or question Gerry Adams.

But on the other hand the PSNI might consider it wiser to leave the option open and not to give him an answer at this stage. So, you know, what all that is about I am not entirely sure.

But from what we know – and incidentally – the only person who has actually linked Gerry Adams to the Jean McConville disappearance in our interviews that I know of is Brendan Hughes. Dolours Price – Everyone seems to forget this.

Dolours Price did not mention the Jean McConville business in her interview with Anthony McIntyre.

Not once did the words “Jean” and “McConville” leave her lips!

She did not talk about her disappearance. She did not talk about the woman. She did not talk about how she was killed or anything like that.

That’s forgotten. It’s just assumed – as was assumed in those reports – none of which are based upon any research. None of those journalists bothered to ring me up, the director of this project, to ask basic, factual questions before they went on air.

I mean it’s astounding! The abysmal standard of journalism that we have in Northern Ireland these days. And that’s a perfect example.

There is only one person who has actually linked Gerry Adams to Jean McConville and that is Brendan Hughes.

Yet, Gerry Adams is coming on and painting with this hugely broad brush about what was said about him and Jean McConville in the Boston archive. in fact it comes down to one person out of all of the ones that have been talked about.

JM: Ed …

EM: Where do you hear that mentioned in the media reports? Not at all. It’s disgraceful!

JM: Ed, you’re talking about the small percentage of the tapes that were handed over. And it seems to be there might be six other people involved.

Do you know what the process that Boston College went through of the editing of these tapes? And who sat down and picked out which parts were going to be handed over?

EM: Well, this is, this is, this is the interesting story, isn’t it?

As you know myself and Anthony McIntyre tried to get included in the case and we were consistently rebuffed. First of all at the district court level, then at the First Circuit level and then we tried to get into the Supreme Court and apparently we quite narrowly failed on that as well.

And we were trying to argue that we had certain rights and what have you – those were not recognised by the courts. So the entire case in relation to dealing with the tapes was left to Boston College.

They claimed at district court level that the librarian at Boston College when asked by the judge to go through the interviews and to hand over to him those interviews which were respondent to the subpoena he claims, can you believe, that he had not read one of them and didn’t know what was in them.

Now you can take that with as large a pinch of salt as you can possibly manage to get between your forefinger and your thumb.

But anyway that’s what he said. So the judge said well in that case I’ll go through them all. Hand over the entire archive to me. So he hand, Boston College handed over the entire archive to the judge, Judge Young, in the district court.

When the case was then lost and Boston College announced that it was not going to appeal and that, the process of resisting the subpoena as far as they were concerned was over there was an outraged reaction from all sorts of people, not least ourselves, leading the criticism of Boston College for abject cowardice.

That forced them into a re-think.

And the re-think was that they then appealed to the First Circuit that only those interviews which actually dealt with and were respondent to the subpoena – i.e. dealt with the Jean McConville case – should be handed over.

So originally something like forty-six or forty-seven interviews were to be handed over (if not more) but as a result of that action, and the judgment of the First Circuit, that was reduced down to eleven out of forty-six.

So as result of that a very, very much smaller number of interviews were put at risk as a result.

But no thanks to Boston College. None of this need have happened. If they had been honest at the outset and told the judge: Yeah – we’ll go away and look at them and we’ll give you over – they could have, they could have handed over even less if they really wanted to.

I know, for example, that one of these interviews – it was handed over on the basis of a question and answer which amounted to: did you know anything about the “unknown cells”. This was the unknown cell that “disappeared” people. Answer: I heard of them but didn’t know anything about them.

And on the basis of that or a question very similar to that an interview was handed over and therefore, in the words of Tommie Gorman and Sharon O’Neill, that is then translated into really crucial, exciting evidence about Jean McConville’s disappearance.

A lot of nonsense being is talked. Very little research, very few questions being asked by the media and the result is what we have.

SB: Ed, thank you very much for setting the record straight. This is an incredibly important case and we’re going to continue to keep on top of it. I think we’ll be back next week with more on this subject. So thank you very much, Ed.

EM: No problem. (ends time stamp 53:20)

 

We Never Had a Chance

Posted by Jim on

How many more articles like this one have to be published by sincere, honest and decent republicans as well as by Gerry McGeough and countless others for Irish Americans to OPEN OUR EYES and to start questioning the fact that all of these decent people are telling the truth as to the real facts of what is happening in the north under Sinn Fein’s watch.   It is NOT okay anymore to remain silent or sit a fence once you have been presented with the facts.
We Never Had a Chance

Posted: 01 Apr 2014 01:00 AM PDT – The Pensive Quill
Guest writer Gerard Hodgins with his take on Sinn Fein’s failure to combat political policing in the North.

Having endorsed the British Constabulary in Ireland in 2007, two years later Sinn Fein went on record to denounce physical-force republicans as “traitors to Ireland”. In between those two dates Martin Mc Guinness went on record to offer his condolences on the death of former RUC Chief Constable Jack Hermon who oversaw shoot-to-kill policies against republicans, torture of republicans in interrogation centres and instigated the disgusting and disturbing attacks upon funerals of dead republicans in the early 1980s. Thank-you Mr. Eastwood!!

With the devolution of policing and justice powers to the Northern Ireland Assembly in 2010 we were assured that the nationalist nightmare was over and that accountability mechanisms would ensure community control over policing with no more political policing focussed vindictively on any community.

It didn’t happen though. Sinn Fein’s trajectory from cutting-edge national liberation and social justice to acquiescing in the one-sided policing of our past was successfully sold to enough of the republican base for them to maintain the fiction for long enough that “everything is alright, the Big Lad knows what he’s doing”, until such a time when a critical mass would build up in votes rendering the republican base not only unnecessary but a bit of an embarrassment to the aspirations of career politicians in the neo-conservative world order.

Republican and Loyalist veterans will be hauled before the courts occasionally to maintain the false perception that British Law is the fairest, most equitable law in the world: due process, fair trial, the right to remain silent, consult with a solicitor, full disclosure of the evidence against you, evenly balanced and applied etc. etc. etc.

It is a one sided approach in that the working class foot-soldiers of Loyalism and Republicanism will forever live under a Sword of Damocles not knowing when a knock will come to the door from 30, 40, 50… years back. No knock-on-the-door will have anything to do with justice though; the knocks will come in accordance with the political expediency of the day and maintaining the fiction of the impartiality and fairness of British Law.

The state, along with their agents within Republicanism and Loyalism will not live under this mortal threat.
The killers of Pat Finucane will not come under the scrutiny of British law. Nor will the assassination squads who stalked our streets in the 1970s, the British Army unit The MRF; nor any of their descendents in the FRU who ran the UDA’s targeting of civilians – despite having full access to British Army and RUC intelligence files on IRA and INLA soldiers the UDA failed miserably to make any impact with their targeting preferring instead to phone an innocent taxi driver from a depot known to employ Catholics and then shoot the poor man dead and claim he was in the IRA.

Closed Material Procedures now in operation in the court system facilitates imprisonment and victimisation of people the state holds a grudge against, peopled perceived to be a threat to the state and the occasional scapegoat to appease political expediency – assessment of threat and grudge will rest with HM Security Services who have a record of not getting it right.

The days of a fair trial with full disclosure of allegations and evidence against you with the right to rebuttal are dead and gone. Secret allegations and secret “evidence” can be, and presently is being presented to closed courts by police/security officers from which the accused and his/her legal representatives are forbidden: Franz Kafka’s “The Trial” has come true. It is possible to be imprisoned and cast into a limbo-existence on undisclosed and legally forbidden to be disclosed “evidence”.

Being processed through the justice system today is more nightmarish than at any time over the past fifty years. All legal safeguards are gone at the stroke of a pen and the most worrying thing is that practically nobody knows; the erosion of civil liberties is a silent, creeping cancer kept from our vision by distractions of manufactured news and entertainment in a world driven by celebrity, spin and image.

Internal exile, an old favourite of the Soviet Union in Cold War days and much criticised by the British as a gross violation of human rights now operates as a facet of the British Justice system in Ireland. Martin Corey despite being freed from Maghaberry Prison is not allowed to return home to his family and friends, if he returns to live in, or even visit Lurgan he will be returned to prison. If he or his solicitor speaks with the media or anybody else about the terms of his release and internal exile he will be returned to prison.

Similar stringent bail conditions exist and are in operation now which exile people from their own home towns, from returning to their families while they await trial, prohibit them from travelling in cars except for taxis along with a plethora of other repressive measures designed to socially isolate and demoralise the individual and prohibit all contact with friends, family and comrades.

The arrest and malicious charging of Ivor Bell is but the latest travesty of justice. Ivor Bell is a sacrificial offering on the altar of political expediency and peace process politics; the British know Ivor Bell well and know he had no part to play in the abduction and disappearance of Jean McConville. They also know he was court-martialed by a man who was never in the IRA and sentenced to death in 1985, sentence suspended so long as he doesn’t speak about it and the reasons for it to anybody.

Peace process politics are the politics of illusion; nothing changes in real terms, only the faces of the architects of our oppression. Poverty levels and social injustices increase while opportunities for progress decrease. Health, housing and education conditions are being savaged. Wages and salaries are frozen for the men and women of little or no property while wages/salaries for politicians and councillors rise extraordinarily!

The Holy-Grail of Policing and Justice was achieved by Sinn Fein but all it has done is tighten the control of the police-state over all our lives, histories and futures. The Policing Board – that great accountability mechanism for us the people – is a white elephant! The Policing Board can talk till the cows come home about burglaries, robberies, car crime, and any other issue relevant but it is absolutely forbidden by law from engaging in any talk about political policing. Discussion of any sort relating to counterinsurgency and the threat or otherwise from dissident republican groupings is prohibited. Given that the main area of contention in policing tends to be its approach to Irish separatists then the Policing Board is as useful a tit to a bull. The devolution of Policing and Justice to the Northern Ireland Assembly has not been a liberating experience it has been a tightening of the British noose around our Irish necks.

The hypocrisy of the British in this entire charade is exposed in their one-sided, vengeful pursuance of geriatric republican and loyalist foot-soldiers while psychopathic paratroopers and their ilk still go unquestioned, uncharged and their daily lives totally uninterrupted with visits to interrogation centres and prisons. The political elite of British society who oversaw the Dirty War and gave the orders for executions will never have the inconvenience of having to answer any questions about their roles in the deaths of Irish citizens. Such is the peace our world-class negotiators negotiated us into. We never had a chance.


mcclafferty

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

Posted by Jim on

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

TRANSCRIPT: Belfast Media’s Abysmal Reporting

Posted by Jim on April 1, 2014

Boston CollegeEd MoloneyGerry AdamsJean McConvilleJournalismPSNI

TRANSCRIPT: Belfast Media’s Abysmal Reporting
Radio Free Éireann
WBAI 99.5FM Pacifica Radio
New York City
29 March 2014
John McDonagh (JM) and Sandy Boyer (SB) interview author, journalist and former director of The Belfast Project Ed Moloney (EM) about the Boston College tapes.
(begins time stamp 31:58)
SB: We’re talking to Ed Moloney, the author of Voices From the Grave (and) A Secret History of the IRA. And Ed was the director of what was called The Belfast Project. It was a unique oral history of The Troubles speaking to people from the Provisional IRA and the Ulster Volunteer Force who actually did the fighting.
And now, if you are a regular listener to the show you know, those tapes were handed over the the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) and now they’ve been used to charge Ivor Bell, former Chief-of-Staff of the Irish Republican Army, with aiding and abetting the murder of Jean McConville. Ed, thanks for being with us and what can you tell us about that?
EM: Which bit, Sandy? There’s a lot there.
SB: About the use of the tapes from the project you directed to charge Ivor Bell.
EM: First of all there is no evidence that this is Ivor Bell that was interviewed.
As I understand it one of the reasons why the police have let it be known that they want to question Anthony McIntyre, the interviewer, is to provide evidence about the identity of someone who’s only known in court as “Z”, “Interviewee Z”.
And they’ve also let it be known that if they do proceed to trial on this they will identify the person “Z” by what they call “the jigsaw method”.   I’m not exactly sure what that means.
But there is no confirmation, believe it or not, despite all the media reports that this is actually Ivor Bell that is featured in this interview at the center of this court case. So that’s point number one. And that should be borne in mind.
There’s a great deal sloppy journalism and reporting about this case and that has to be up there at the top of the list I think.
SB: And what tapes were actually handed over the the Police Service of Northern Ireland?   Was it all the tapes from The Belfast Project?
EM: No, no, no, no indeed. As you said in your introduction that the Boston College tapes were handed over as if all them were handed over.
My estimate is that maybe two to three percent of the archive has actually been handed over to the PSNI. A very small fraction – much, much less than the PSNI were actually seeking in the first place and a very, very small number of interviews. I mean, if the police had been trying to get say all of a person’s interviews that they gave to the Boston College (archive) they were refused that.
They were only allowed interviews which actually made mention of the Jean McConville case or associated elements of it and that dramatically reduced the number of interviews that were actually handed over.
So again, I was watching news reports in Belfast during the week which were saying that the PSNI now have full access to Boston College archives. Nothing could be further from the truth. They’ve got as I said my estimate is about two to three percent – very small number – eleven in total – and that is very small.
JM: Ed, you were speaking about how it was covered over in Ireland. We’re going to go to two clips now: ne from Ulster Television and the other from RTÉ and this is how they covered it.
(Audio clip of two news broadcasts by UTV Reporter Sharon O’Neill and RTE Northern Editor Tommie Gorman)
JM: And that was two news clips about how it’s being reported over there.
Also Ed, what’s coming out now is how Sinn Féin is going on the attack, particularly of you and Anthony McIntyre, calling the Boston tapes a “touting programme” on one hand and then Gerry Adams issuing statements that if anyone has any information on the killing of Jean McConville to please come forward to the PSNI.
So, they want it both ways.
EM: So what’s your question, John? I don’t quite follow you.
JM: How did you perceive the two clips there? Were they accurate? And Gerry Adams’ hypocrisy on telling people to come forward and then criticising the tapes themselves.
EM: Both of those reports were just so full of inaccuracies that it highlights exactly what I’m talking about here.
In Belfast at the moment we do not have a fully functioning media.
First of all, Paul Bew’s involvement in this project, which is now being highlighted by Gerry Adams, was marginal. He was a message boy from Boston College to a number of people in Belfast back in 2000- 2001.
If anyone had any ideas for projects or things that Boston College could do commemorate the peace process – to record The Troubles – Paul Bew would pass on their ideas to Boson College and we were one of the ideas that was put forth.
So his role is marginal but is being played up by Gerry Adams because he was also at one stage advisor to David Trimball so he’s trying to make this appear to be a Unionist plot of some sort which it is absolutely not.
Secondly, I was never an interviewer. I coordinated the project. The interviews were conducted on the Republican side by Anthony McIntyre and on the Loyalist side by Wilson MacArthur. So again, another inaccuracy.
And Sharon O’ Neill, the UTV person, is the one I was referring to who said that The Belfast Project, the archives at Boston College, that the PSNI now have full access to them.
I rang her up and I said: Sharon, that is not true and I repeated to her what I just repeated to you, that they got a very tiny percentage of the reports.
And she said: Oh, terribly sorry, Ed, it was because it was a live report. In other words when you go on live reports for UTV and you’re the Justice Correspondent you’re apparently allowed to say the first thing that comes into your mind and accuracy is a second option as far as people like that are concerned
And this is part of the problem. You’re getting just absolute rubbish journalism covering this story.
If this was the United States of America and it was happening by this stage, for example, The New York Times and The Washington Post – I would certainly hope and I think they probably would – would have had a team working on the story:
Is it possible to get a conviction?
Would a case like this even go trial on the basis of the evidence that we have?
And the evidence? Let me just go through it:
We have this interview or portion of an interview, small portion of an interview from someone called “Z” who the police are claiming is Ivor Bell.
That was an interview that was not taken under caution such as most police statements have to be in order to be presented into court.
It was not a sworn statement. It was conducted by someone who was an academic researcher and not someone who was a forensic interrogator from the RUC. Or PSNI. (excuse the Freudian slip.)
There’s no supporting evidence. There’s no forensics evidence. There’s no ballistic evidence.
And most crucially of all: there is no admission by anyone, least of all “Z”, least of all whoever “Z” is, if it’s Ivor Bell or not I don’t know.
There’s not a lawyer that I have talked to in the week or so since Ivor Bell was arraigned on these charges who believes: a) that this could secure a conviction and many of them believe this won’t even go to trial.
Yet none of this is reflected in the media coverage. Not one journalist as far as I can make out has made an issue of trying to examine what are the real legal possibilities of even going to trial on something like this never mind securing a conviction.
And on the basis of that the PSNI have been allowed to present a fantastic triumph – breaking, cracking the case of Jean McConville’s disappearance – when in fact as I think events will ultimately prove – you couldn’t be further from the truth.
Now in relation to what Gerry Adams is calling for well, we’ve gone through this before. And we’ve gone through all the attacks that he has launched against Boston College and against this particular project.
I’m asking, or I’m saying this very simply:
if anyone was to conduct a serious history of the Provisional IRA during The Troubles and decided to leave out, because they have fallen out of favor, people like Brendan Hughes and Dolours Price…
…incidentally it would help if Tommie Gorman could actually pronounce her name – it’s not Dolers or Dolores – it’s Dolours. It means sadness. He couldn’t even get that basic fact right.
But if he were to try to construct a history of the Provisional IRA during The Troubles and you left those people out – Dolours Price was in charge of the first bombing team that attacked London back in 1973.
Brendan Hughes was at the side of all the Belfast Commanders from the early 70′s onward including Gerry Adams. He was the closest friend of Gerry Adams. He shared a cubicle with Gerry Adams in a hut in Long Kesh during internment.
He led the 1981 hunger strikes.
He led the debate inside Long Kesh which led to the reorganisation of the IRA in the mid and late 1970′s.
He was involved in all the major phases of the Republican struggle.
And one’s supposed to leave someone like that out because Gerry Adams doesn’t like or didn’t like Brendan Hughes’ attitude towards him and towards the peace process?
I don’t think so.
I think if you were an historian and you left those sort of people out of any attempt to chronicle the real story of the IRA you would be accused by historians of utmost bias.
We went and we sought people like Brendan Hughes because of their value and the totality of what they could contribute in terms of their knowledge of the IRA and their knowledge of the Provisional’s and their history.
And the sections in which he criticises Gerry Adams actually, when you look at the totality of these interviews, were very small indeed. The rest of it, in relation to the Gerry Adams was either neutral or in fact very pro, because he was very close to Gerry Adams and very fond of him and said many, many nice things about him as well as being critical of him.
SB: Ed, getting back to Gerry Adams: I find it very interesting that Ivor Bell is charged with aiding and abetting the murder of Jean McConville.
As far as we know Gerry Adams has not even been questioned about that. But both Brendan Hughes and Dolours Price said he gave the orders for that.
Why is it do you think he doesn’t even get questioned?
EM: I don’t know what’s happening on that particular issue, Sandy, because Gerry Adams issued that offer, if you want to call it that, to the PSNI a couple of days ago and the PSNI have been conspicuous in their silence since.
Some people have said this is a very clever move by Gerry Adams because it will force the PSNI to say “no” we don’t want to interrogate or question Gerry Adams.
But on the other hand the PSNI might consider it wiser to leave the option open and not to give him an answer at this stage. What all that is about I am not entirely sure.
But from what we know – and incidentally – the only person who has actually linked Gerry Adams to the Jean McConville disappearance in our interviews that I know of is Brendan Hughes. Everyone seems to forget this.
Dolours Price DID NOT MENTION the Jean McConville business in her interview with Anthony McIntyre.
Not once did the words “Jean” and “McConville” leave her lips!
She did not talk about her disappearance. She did not talk about the woman. She did not talk about how she was killed or anything like that.
That’s forgotten. It’s just assumed – as was assumed in those reports – none of which are based upon any research. None of those journalists bothered to ring me up, the director of this project, to ask basic, factual questions before they went on air.
I mean it’s astounding! The abysmal standard of journalism that we have in Northern Ireland these days. And that’s a perfect example.
There is only one person who has actually linked Gerry Adams to Jean McConville and that is Brendan Hughes.
Yes, Gerry Adams is coming on and painting with this hugely broad brush about what was said about him and Jean McConville in the Boston archive in fact it comes down to one person out of all of the ones that have been talked about.
Where do you hear that mentioned in the media reports? Not at all. It’s disgraceful!
JM: Ed, you’re talking about the small percentage of the tapes that were handed over. And it seems to be there might be six other people involved.
Do you know what the process that Boston College went through of the editing of these tapes? And who sat down and picked out which parts were going to be handed over?
EM: This is the interesting story, isn’t it?
As you know myself and Anthony McIntyre tried to get included in the case and we were consistently rebuffed. First of all at the district court level, then at the First Circuit level and then we tried to get into the Supreme Court and apparently we quite narrowly failed on that as well.
We were trying to argue that we had certain rights and what have you – those were not recognised by the courts. So the entire case in relation to dealing with the tapes was left to Boston College.
They claimed at district court level that the librarian at Boston College when asked by the judge to go through the interviews and to hand over to him those interviews which were respondent to the subpoena he claims, can you believe, that he had not read one of them and didn’t know what was in them.
Now you can take that with as large a pinch of salt as you can possibly manage to get between your forefinger and your thumb.
But anyway that’s what he said so the judge said well in that case I’ll go through them all. Hand over the entire archive to me. So Boston College handed over the entire archive to the judge, Judge Young, in the district court.
When the case was then lost and Boston College announced that it was not going to appeal and the process of resisting the subpoena as far as they were concerned was over there was an outraged reaction from all sorts of people, not least ourselves, leading the criticism of Boston College for abject cowardice.
That forced them into a re-think.
And the re-think was that they then appealed to the First Circuit that only those interviews which actually dealt with and were respondent to subpoena – i.e. dealt with the Jean McConville case – should be handed over.
So originally something like forty-six or forty-seven interviews were to be handed over (if not more) but as a result of that action and the judgment of the First Circuit that was reduced down to eleven out of forty-six.
So as result of that a very, very much smaller number of interviews were put at risk as a result.
But no thanks to Boston College. None of this need have happened. If they had been honest at the outset and told the judge: Yeah – we’ll go away and look at them and we’ll give you over – they could have handed over even less if they really wanted to.
I know, for example, that one of these interviews – it was handed over on the basis of a question and answer which amounted to: did you know anything about the “unknown cells”. (This was unknown cell that “disappeared” people.) Answer: I heard of them but didn’t know anything about them.
And on the basis of that or a question very similar to that an interview was handed over and therefore, in the words of Tommie Gorman and Sharon O’Neill, that is then translated into really crucial, exciting evidence about Jean McConville’s disappearance.
A lot of nonsense being is talked. Very little research, very few questions being asked by the media and the result is what we have.
SB: Ed, thank you very much for setting the record straight. This is an incredibly important case and we’re going to continue to keep on top of it. I think we’ll be back next week with more on this subject. So thank you very much, Ed.
EM: No problem.
(ends time stamp 53:20)

mcclafferty

An Answer To Gerry Adams, Mary Lou McDonald And Other Critics Of The Boston Archive

Posted by Jim on

by the Pensive Quill

Monday, March 31, 2014  AM

Ed Moloney with a piece on the Boston College project. It initally featured on The Broken Elbow on 29 March 2014.

“This was a bona fide academic exercise of considerable intellectual merit.”- Judge William G. Young

Aside from myself and Anthony McIntyre there is only one other person who has read all of the interviews lodged in the Belfast Project oral history archive at Boston College and that is Judge William Young of the Federal District Court in Boston, Massachusetts.

Judge Young got to read them because at the end of his hearing rejecting an application to quosh the subpoenas in December 2011 he asked Boston College librarian Bob O’Neill to select interviews that were respondent to the PSNI/DoJ request. O’Neill replied, in a sealed affidavit which was leaked in court, that he could not help as he had not read the interviews.

So we know from that exchange that the person at Boston College who was supposed to read the interviews hadn’t, or at least said he hadn’t and we know from what followed that Judge Young did. In response to O’Neill’s startling admission, Young said he would himself read the entire archive over the Christmas holidays and that is how we know that he is the only other person to have read the interviews.
A lot of other people, Gerry Adams and Mary Lou McDonald of Sinn Fein among them, act as if they have and pronounce judgement on them as if they have. But they haven’t. In fact they haven’t read a single interview from beginning to end. Not a single one.

Judge William Young - the only person aside from Anthony McIntyre & Ed Moloney to read the entire archive
Judge William Young – the only person aside from Anthony McIntyre & Ed Moloney to have read the entire archive
Unlike this guy....... who hasn't read a single one
Unlike this guy……. who hasn’t read a single one
.....or this one
…..or this one

This is what Mr Adams had to say in his blog Leargas on Friday last:

This project was flawed and biased from the outset. It was an entirely bogus, shoddy and self-serving effort. It was not a genuine or serious or ethically based history project.

Mary Lou said something very similar on RTE’s Late Late Show a week ago on the same day that Ivor Bell was refused bail in the Belfast Magistrates Court (an event that brought banner headlines in contrast to the virtual non-coverage, e.g. Irish Times, when four days later High Court judge, Reg Weir did grant him bail).

The comments of Adams and McDonald have been widely reported but I am still waiting for a reporter to call me for my take on the matter of political bias or lack of integrity vis a vis the archive.
Almost since this subpoena affair began we have run a blog which was set up and is regularly updated by Carrie McIntyre. Here is the address for the benefit of any in the media who don’t know about it:

I strongly recommend that reporters consult it at times like this because there is no other source to rival it in terms of a comprehensive record of events and archive of documents dealing with all aspects of the case.

On the opening page of the blog can be found the words of Judge William Young that have great relevance in light of the Adams/McDonald critique of the archive  and here is what he says about it (And I think one can presume that Judge Young is not a critic of the peace process or a sneaking regarder of dissident republicanism!):

[These materials] are of interest – valid academic interests. They’re of interest to the historian, sociologist, the student of religion, the student of youth movements, academics who are interested in insurgency and counterinsurgency, in terrorism and counterterrorism. They’re of interest to those who study the history of religions.- Judge William G. Young

So that’s the judgement of the guy who read the entire archive, unlike Gerry Adams or Mary Lou McDonald. Do you get that? Unlike Gerry Adams & Mary Lou McDonald. Do I need to repeat that? UNLIKE GERRY ADAMS or MARY LOU McDONALD.

Is it too much to expect, to ask the media when next they report on the criticism of people like Adams & McDonald that they at least nod in the direction of someone who actually read the archive?

PANDORA’S BOX OF IVOR BELL ARREST – Martin Galvin’s letter to the Editor of the Irish News

Posted by Jim on March 29, 2014

MARTIN GALVIN

                          ATTORNEY-AT-LAW

                         BRONX, NEW YORK, 10451

 

 

                                             March 24, 2014

 

EDITOR

IRISH NEWS

113-117 Donegal Street

Belfast, Northern Ireland

BTI 2GE

 

        PANDORA’S BOX OF IVOR BELL ARREST

 

 

  A chara

The British may think it time for self-congratulations after arresting respected Republican icon Ivor Bell. With one stroke the crown muted the Westminster outcry over its bartered OTR immunity certificates, placated Unionist adherents, and sent a sinister warning to potential Independent Republican candidates or campaigners. All the while the British continued long-fingering arrests for Bloody Sunday or collusion murders towards oblivion.

 

 On St. Patrick’s Day a constabulary delegation originally put out of the New York parade due to Irish-American opposition, was reinserted, amidst the ‘ENGLAND OUT of IRELAND’ banners, after public pleas by Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness for the new constabulary. Within days this new constabulary repaid them in old RUC form, by selectively targeting a 77 year old veteran Republican who was with one or both in negotiations with William Whitelaw.

 

  The arrest of Ivor Bell on 1972 charges, contrasted with the failure to arrest any Bloody Sunday 1972 troopers, despite overwhelming evidence in hand, should end any questions about the one-sided immunity or impunity granted those who murdered while wearing British Army or Constabulary uniforms.

 

 Independent Republicans are told they have a democratic right to contest elections and put their political analysis before the voters. Some point to Jim Allister as the proverbial tail wagging the DUP unionist dog on issues like the Long Kesh u-turn. They ask whether Independent Republicans at Councils or Stormont could lead other nationalist representatives on prisoner and justice issues. It has been suggested that Gerry McGeough’s arrest at the vote count and imprisonment at Maghaberry had more to do with his election campaign than with events thirty years earlier. It must now be asked whether Ivor Bell’s real crime is daring to lend his name to Ciaran Mulholland’s campaign.

 

 This case opens a legal Pandora’s Box which will effect more than Ivor Bell. If the Boston tapes are deemed credible evidence, sufficient to imprison Ivor Bell, should we not expect the same evidence to be used against others? Who else is named on these tapes?

 

 Once we had the ability to turn every British injustice into a campaign which made the crown end, or at least pay a costly political price for its injustices. The Blanketmen were locked away in Long Kesh but they broke Thatcher and her attempt to brand them criminals. Internment, Castlereagh Confessions, Supergrass trials and more were broken by such campaigns. We highlighted the wrong, enlisted support from human rights activists, and gradually forced nationalist representatives to stand with us or be proven complicit in British injustice.

  

 Can we unite to fight and defeat this injustice now? Must others stand in the dock because we lost our ability to do so?

 

 Slan, Martin Galvin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Only A General Amnesty Will Yield The Truth

Posted by Jim on March 28, 2014

As the impact of the arrest of the veteran activist Ivor Bell continues to reverberate within Republican circles there is a lot to agree with in this analysis by Kevin Cullen of the Boston Globe:

“Ivor Bell is awaiting trial in Belfast on charges he aided and abetted the murder of Jean McConville, a widowed mother of 10 who in 1972 was abducted, shot, and secretly buried by the IRA after she was accused of being an informer.

Bell’s lawyer said Bell was innocent, but acknowledged that Bell was the man referred to as Mr. Z in a series of tape-recorded interviews made by a researcher hired by BC to compile recollections of republicans and loyalists who fought in Northern Ireland.

That researcher, former Irish Republican Army volunteer and prisoner Anthony McIntyre, told me from Ireland that he expects police to knock on his door any day. If they do, they’ll be wasting their time. “I wouldn’t even tell them hello,” he said.

Neither will Bell, 77, who was a senior IRA commander before his star dimmed…

Bell was among a group of IRA veterans who opposed the compromise accepted by Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams in 1998, effectively ending the Troubles.

Now, police would love Bell to implicate his former comrade turned foe, Adams, who has repeatedly denied involvement in McConville’s murder. Adams says BC naively allowed McIntyre, who openly opposed his leadership, to interview former IRA members who were inclined to implicate him for political reasons.

McConville’s children believe that Adams was behind their mother’s murder and insist he face justice. But this debacle has never been about justice. It’s about politics, specifically about sticking it to Adams and his party…

…the prosecution is so biased and politically motivated as to undermine all credibility.

The police in Northern Ireland have shown no interest in the other half of the oral history project: interviews with loyalists, who presumably could shed light on state-sanctioned murders they carried out with the covert assistance of the police and British military.

Ed Moloney, the journalist who oversaw the Belfast Project paid for and archived by Boston College, called Bell’s arrest “a cheap publicity stunt” by police and prosecutors who know that the oral histories, given to an academic by people who were neither under oath nor given legal warnings about self-incrimination, will not stand up as evidence in court.

As critical as he is of the authorities in Northern Ireland, Moloney said it wouldn’t have gotten this far if the US Department of Justice had rebuffed British authorities who asked their American counterparts to gain custody of the BC tapes, or if BC officials were willing to risk fines and even imprisonment to defy the government.

What a mess. An American university has been unwittingly and unwillingly used by a foreign government, with the acquiescence of the US government, to build a criminal case.

Oral history and academic freedom are dead and gone.”

The author Ed Moloney has suggested on several occasions that the pursuit of the forty-year old McConville case by Britain, and particularly by the PSNI or the British paramilitary police force in the north-east of Ireland, has more to do with the settling of old scores than any concerns over justice delayed. During the Irish-British conflict from the late 1960s to the early 2000s the RUC, the much-feared predecessor to the PSNI, incurred thousands of casualties amongst its officers while combating the (Provisional) Irish Republican Army and others. Though that came to an end

with the Peace Process of the late-to-mid 1990s the negotiated settlement also brought an end to the RUC. However despite promised reforms many hardcore RUC men were kept within the ranks of the new PSNI or subsequently rejoined it when the political spotlight moved on to elsewhere. Under their influence, and that of some senior British government officials, retribution upon former opponents has become a primary impulse of law and order in the north-eastern region of Ireland. This post-conflict vendetta is one that anti-Sinn Féin elements of the Irish and British media have proven eager to pursue with little thought for the consequences (which in this case is a not inconceivable eruption of renewed armed conflict). Nor is SF itself blameless. Elected members of the party, notably Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness, have been less than honest with their electorates and the Irish people as whole. While there were good reasons for their obfuscation during and in the immediate aftermath of the war those reasons are looking increasingly threadbare now that we have had over a decade of (near) peace. Furthermore Sinn Féin’s willingness to see former, now rival, Republican comrades and colleagues thrown to the PSNI wolves is less than edifying.

All this is not to excuse the Republican movement of any wrongdoing when it comes to the central issue of Jean McConville’s death. It is clear that after a considerable debate McConville was executed/killed/murdered by the (Provisional) Irish Republican Army on the orders of senior officers within the organisation, her body hidden and her relatives left with no (honest) account of what had happened. Repeated claims by the news media in Ireland and elsewhere that McConville was killed because she had lent aid to a British soldier wounded outside her home by a sniper are completely unfounded. It simply never happened, as a 2006 investigation by the Police Ombudsman Nuala O’Loan made clear. Indeed the belief that such a gesture of simple human decency would elicit the ultimate penalty says much about the wilful ignorance of the conflict by observers both in Dublin and London.

While the O’Loan examination went on to find no evidence of McConville communicating with the British Forces, and specifically denied that she was a known informer, it did reveal that the British Army had initially insisted that her disappearance was a hoax or later that she had willingly deserted her children and was living elsewhere in Ireland. Whether that reflected poor intelligence or something more sinister has never been established (certainly such rumours may have originated with the IRA in an effort to confuse any potential investigation though local people were aware of her execution and the reasons behind it within weeks). Unfortunately Britain has refused access by journalists and members of the McConville family to the regimental records of British Army units deployed in Belfast during this period which is why so much of the case remains in the realms of speculation. However we do know that no serious investigation was carried out by the RUC into her disappearance until some considerable time after her death (and that the subsequent investigation was thrown off track by the misinformation supplied by the British military despite the RUC’s more informed sources). The evident reluctance of the British to address the disappearance of Jean McConville in 1972/3 remains the subject of much discussion, both fair and unfair.

The Irish Republican Army is adamant in its counter-claim that Jean McConville was a known informer who had been warned about her activities until finally discovered in the possession of a concealed military radio transmitter supplied to her by the British Army. Though we cannot be sure it seems likely that she was seized by the IRA’s Belfast Brigade the day before her known disappearance, interrogated (perhaps beaten) and then released. That would match British military reports and statements from some of her family relating to the discovery of a woman likely to be McConville in streets near her home in a state of some distress and confusion the day before she was abducted. With the radio transmitter in its hands the IRA must have discussed what actions to take based upon the evidence gained, no doubt in part spurred on by fears that Jean McConville would be spirited away to safety by the British now that her cover was truly blown or that she had further knowledge to impart to the enemy (her son, Robert McConville, was a member of the Official IRA and detained in the infamous Long Kesh concentration camp at the time of her death. During this period the OIRA and PIRA were bitter rivals, especially in Belfast and McConville remained a committed Republican activist going on to serve with the insurgent INLA). This resulted in her arrest the next day by the Irish Republican Army and transport across the border to the spot where she was shot dead. Or at least we can suppose that is the sequence of events. The truth is, of course, that everything to do with the killing of Jean McConville is supposition. We simply don’t know what happened during that dreadful period some forty years ago. However, as yet, no one has produced a plausible reason for the controversial killing of a mother of ten from an intensely closeknit community beyond that offered by the killers themselves.

The only legitimate way to end yet more years of speculation and anguish for the McConville family is for the governments of Ireland and Britain to agree a general amnesty that will allow all participants to the conflict, willing or otherwise, to give truthful testimonies free of fear or repercussion. Only then will we learn the truth about Jean McConville. Or about Gerry Adams.

A Hilarious “LETTER TO MEMBER NY ST. PATRICK’S DAY PARADE COMMITTEE” by Realbreeze

Posted by Jim on

To: Patrick Brian Boru Murphy                                             From: Cornelius McSclawvey,
NY St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee                                            Teernagoogh.
New York.                                                                                                  Republic of Ireland.

20th March 2014.

Re. invitation to PSNI to march in NY Parade

 

Dear Patrick Brian Boru Murphy,

I’m so sorry to hear of all the abuse you had to endure over your Committee’s decision to invite the Police Service of Northern Ireland to participate in the NY City’s Parade this year. To be honest, it was an overdue decision – even Sinn Fein accepted the PSNI years ago!  And of course urged your Committee to stand by the invitation — fair play to them although I’ve never liked them, I have to say.

But just who do these yobbos think they are? Those Irish-Americans who objected are living behind the times. And the gall of them to remind you of Peter King, selected Grand Marshall for the 1985 NY Parade, visiting IRA man Joe Doherty when he was in NY jail fighting extradition back to the UK! And the Philadelphia Parade committee making the same Joe Doherty Grand Marshall of their Parade back in 1989. Sure are we not all permitted a mistake or two in our lives?

Of course it was from the Irish Consulate that the suggestion first came to invite the PSNI. Some people, like that Larry Kirwan (of “Black ’47” musical notoriety), accused the Consulate of catering only for the rich Irish-Americans, the lace-curtain crowd. Yes, he did – he even put it in one of his books! Or so I’ve been told – I wouldn’t waste my time reading any of his rubbish. What’s wrong with lace curtains anyway? They let in light and keep your nosy neighbours’ eyes out – not that any neighbours live on our couple of acres of garden anyway, but still …

The cheek of that Wexford blow-in! And even if it were true, aren’t the successful Irish-Americans the ones who really matter? The likes of the Kennedys, O’Neill and even Republicans like Reagan (I mean the US political party), the ones who made — and keep on making – the USA great! Sure you couldn’t expect a country’s consulate to be looking out for the likes of building workers, bar and hotel staff, nurses and nannies! And even computer programming is pretty run of the mill these days.

Anyway, the Consulate lobbies for more green cards for Irish migrants, allowing them to emigrate to the USA legally, helping to sustain the economy back home through relieving us of paying them social welfare benefits and allowing them to earn money to send back home instead. Of course we know there are not enough green cards and a lot will still be illegal migrants but what can one do? And no doubt that helps keep the wages down … and stops them going on demonstrations and the like ….

Sorry, I’ve been drifting off topic. Your critics have been saying that the PSNI are just the RUC under a different name – that they are the same repressive and sectarian force as always. Well, maybe, but some things we have to just grin and bear, don’t we? And as for repression, sure they’re only persecuting dissidents, people who don’t agree with the Good Friday Agreement. The dissidents say that they’re being persecuted because of their legal political activities and not for breaking any laws. But if you stand against the tide, you must expect a good soaking, I always say.

Anyway, I just wanted to say “well done!” to you and to the rest of the Parade Committee. Hopefully next year you can not only invite the PSNI again but the Ulster Defence Regiment as well! As you know, they were formed from the B-Specials, much as the PSNI were from the RUC. It’s healthy to change the name of organisations every once in a while ….  And maybe the year after that, you can invite the British Parachute Regiment! They will probably never change their name but they are so colourful, with their red berets and wing badges … Fág an Balaugh!

Yours most sincerely,
Cornelius Mc Sclawvey

 

“The Truth Shall Set You Free”…Well, maybe not all of the time.

Posted by Jim on

Below is an article by SF MLA Gerry Kelly on “the new beginning to policing…fair and impartial, free from partisan political control”.  Interesting, Mr Kelly, since the majority of arrests, incarcerations and interments without trial has been due to the PSNI/RUC’s relentless pursuit of republicans on alleged offences dating back to the troubles post Good Friday Agreement.   Mr. Kelly goes on to say…”with the PSNI replacing the RUC in 2001”.   Did you say, “Replacing the RUC”?  Don’t you mean replacing the RUC’s name with the name PSNI in order to protect the guilty?  This may be an old cliché, but it still holds true – ‘a rose by any other name is still a rose’ Mr. Kelly.
“The GFA, which created the political architecture to facilitate a peaceful and democratic path to the re-unification of our country”…Mr. Kelly, there is nothing “democratic” about republicans still being pursued, arrested and interned without trial. The illegal detention of Marian Price, Martin Corey, Stephen Murney  and the highly publicized arrest, trial and incarceration of Gerry McGeough on 32 year old charges to name a few, was far from democratic.  In fact, it was down right undemocratic and it happened on Sinn Fein’s watch, as they were now part of the “new policing structures and accountability in the last 6 years”.
While Mr. Kelly’s article below practically applauds the PSNI/RUC and suggest we here in America should embrace them with open arms, the PSNI/RUC continue their relentlessly pursuit of republicans while the security forces are left unscathed, unprosecuted and protected by the British government, DUP and Sinn Fein in spite of the part they played in the murder of innocent Catholics through acts of collusion with loyalist death squads during the same time period as those republicans who have been or are being arrested right now on alleged offenses dating as far back as 1972.
Mr. Kelly says that “Given such a scenario, protests against joint PSNI-GARDA participation in an event such as the St. Patrick’s Day parade-a manifestation of Irishness and Irish culture-is unwarranted and has been met with a degree of surprise and nonchalance by the nationalist and republican community in the North of Ireland. Oh, really?  If that was truly the case, Mr. Kelly, you wouldn’t have taken the time out of your busy day to write this article and have it distributed throughout America by Friends of Sinn Fein USA if you really believed that. Secondly, no one protested the GARDA.  They protested the PSNI/RUC.
In reading this article over a few times, I believe I am starting to understand the real reason behind why Mr. Kelly wrote this article in the first place.  It certainly wasn’t to tell us that “the protests were met with a degree of nonchalance in the north”.  No, there is more to it.  Reasoning tells me that the PSNI/RUC invite by the parade committee and the tweets by Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness supporting the PSNI/RUC marching in the New York St. Patrick’s Day parade ignited a rather large flame under the majority of Irish-Americans who support the cause of Ireland’s self-determination and were outraged by this stunt.
You see, prior to the PSNI/RUC marching in the St. Patrick’s Day parade and post GFA, the media, the British government, and now Sinn Fein, have been able to demonize those who think and speak outside the box.  Good people, with good intentions, who have been involved in the cause of Irish freedom and the re-unification of Ireland for more than 20-30 years, who dare to question, criticize or challenge some of Sinn Fein’s policies are labeled “dissidents”.  A buzz word deliberately used to most likely alienate them from the heard.  However, this time, Sinn Fein can’t label us ALL dissidents because too many of us, from all different Irish-American groups, including solid supporters of Sinn Fein, spoke out in protest against the PSNI/RUC marching in an Irish Catholic parade.  Therefore, Sinn Fein is now trying to explain away why they supported the invite to begin with and I see this article as nothing more than a form of “damage-control” and trying to keep us Irish-Americans in our place.
 Helen McClafferty

Gerry Kelly MLA on dispute over PSNI in New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade

Posted by Jim on

In observing the dispute over the PSNI joining the GARDA in the St. Patrick’s Day parade in New York, one wonders what all the fuss is about! Policing, like politics in general is in transition mode in the 6-counties, since the emergence of the Good Friday Agreement almost 16 years ago.

The GFA, which created the political architecture to facilitate a peaceful and democratic path to the re-unification of our country, also promised a new beginning to policing…..fair and impartial; free from partisan political control. This remains a work in progress, with the PSNI replacing the RUC in 2001 and Sinn Fein entering the new policing structures and accountability mechanisms 6 years later. In 2010 with the signing of the Hillsborough Agreement, policing and justice powers were subsequently transferred from Westminster to the local political institutions.

Nationalists and Republicans now populate and in some areas control, the local accountability mechanisms, PCSP’s (Policing & Community Safety Partnership’s) across the 6-counties. They also occupy key positions on the Policing Board which has the power to hold the Chief Constable of the PSNI to account on a continuous basis, either as representatives of Sinn Fein or the SDLP or as ‘independent’ members.

Nationalists and Republicans also sit on the Justice Committee in the Assembly which exercises oversight over all decisions taken by the Justice Minister in addition to any draft justice bills. Raymond McCartney of Sinn Fein, an ex-pow, is vice chair of this committee. In effect the PSNI is not a continuum of the RUC and participation in the oversight mechanisms outlined represent the best guarantee against any potential for the current policing and justice agencies to return to partisan political control. Our active participation on these mechanisms will also prevent any potential emergence of a Unionist militia as the bulwark against the realization of Nationalist and Republican aspirations.

We clearly recognize that elements of the old policing and justice regime are still active within the new structures and ‘anti-republican’ mind-sets and practices have emerged on occasion around different issues. But the strength of the accountability mechanisms and the tenacity of its incumbents have ensured that they have been isolated and confronted over time. Again we emphasize that it is still a work in progress, within which much has been achieved but much remains to be done!

Given such a scenario, protests against joint PSNI-GARDA participation in an event such as the St. Patrick’s Day parade- a manifestation of Irishness and Irish culture-is unwarranted and has been met with a degree of surprise and nonchalance by the nationalist and republican community in the North of Ireland.

Gerry Kelly
MLA
Member of the Policing Board

Irish Judicial System in disarray after new spying scandal

Posted by Jim on

The Dublin government is in crisis and the 26 County judicial system on
the point of collapse following revelations that illegal recordings
have been made of telephone conversations to and from police stations
for some three decades.

The news first emerged shortly after Garda police commissioner Martin
Callinan resigned (officially, ‘retired’) amid an ongoing scandal over
the force’s handling of motoring offences and accusations of corruption
by two Garda whistleblowers. He was also accused of spying earlier this
year when it emerged that a sweep of the Garda Siochana Ombudsman
Commission (GSOC) had found evidence of high-tech electronic
surveillance.

But the new scandal has the potential to overshadow such events, and
could see hundreds of trials aborted, judgements overturned, and
prisoners set free.

Following a Cabinet meeting yesterday, the Fine Gael-Labour government
announced the setting up of a Commission of Investigation into the
recordings. Taoiseach Enda Kenny denied opposition claims that he
“sacked” Callinan as a result of the crisis.

As the coalition government appeared to descend into chaos, denials
were issued on behalf of Minister for Justice Alan Shatter, Attorney
General Maire Whelan and senior civil servants.

A key issue is whether client-lawyer privilege was abused by the
recordings.  The nature and number of which remain unknown, but they
are understood to include every landline phone call at every major
Garda station from the 1980s.  More than 2,500 tapes have already come
to light — some of which may be “mouldy”, according to Minister for
Finance Michael Noonan — but since 2008, the calls were recorded
electronically.

While it is clear that previous administrations will face their share
of blame for the fiasco, the current government’s handling of the
situation has brought the crisis to a climax as court cases were being
halted today until more information on the spying is forthcoming.

INACTION

Public records indicate the issue of recorded telephone conversations
arose in the courts as far back as 2011. Concerns was also raised by a
report of the Ombudsman’s office in June of last year. At that time the
Ombudsman said that the ‘Garda Commissioner may wish to re-evaluate his
practise regarding the recording of such calls.’ The Ombudsman’s report
was subsequently sent to the Garda Commissioner and to the Department
of Justice.

The issue is also at the heart of legal proceedings in November
surrounding a very high profile murder case in County Cork, the 1996
death of Sophie Toscan du Plantier in 1996. It is understood this is
the case which first brought the matter to the attention of the
Attorney General, but she inexplicably failed to raise the matter
before Cabinet. She also refused to discuss the matter over the phone,
the Taoiseach said today.

Minister Shatter has attempted to sidestep criticism by insisting that
he only became aware of the secret recordings yesterday, although
admitting his department received a letter from Callinan two weeks ago
detailing the situation.

The audacious Minister for Justice eft journalists slack-jawed today
when by blamed the delay partly on his involvement on behalf of the
government in the St Patrick’s Day festivities in Mexico.

“I don’t think that any reasonable person could claim with any
credibility that there has been any inaction on my part or the part of
the government to what has undoubtedly been a series of disturbing
issues,” he said.

“Rather, we have been unflinching in our determination to face up to
past difficulties.”

COURTS IN CRISIS

As the blame game continued and pressure on Minister Shatter reached
unprecedented levels, the adjournment of an IRA trial added to sense of
disarray.

Lawyers for two men accused of IRA membership successfully applied to
the juryless Special Criminal Court today to have their trial halted
“in light of recent events”.

Barristers for the two men told the court that their clients had
telephone calls with their lawyer while in garda custody and before
they were subsequently interviewed by the gardai.

The barristers sought disclosure of any records of the phone calls that
might exist. Prosecuting counsel insisted that gardai were “completely
unaware” of any recordings.

Sinn Fein’s Gerry Adams said that it was not credible that Minister
Shatter was unaware of last June’s Ombudsman’s report.

“This is the latest in a series of debacles around An Garda Siochana,
the administration of justice and the Minister for Justice,” he said.

“Minister Shatter has on every occasion sought to protect the Garda
Commissioner who has now resigned; he tried to discredit the Garda
whistle-blowers Sergeant Maurice McCabe and former Garda John Wilson,
and he undermined the office of the Garda Ombudsman over the bugging
allegations.

“The Taoiseach has said he will not ask Minister Shatter to resign.
That is a mistake”.

‘VINDICTIVE’ POLICING AS 77-YEAR-OLD IS CHARGED

Posted by admin on March 22, 2014

Veteran republican Ivor Bell has been charged this Friday night with
IRA membership and “aiding and abetting” the execution of informer Jean
McConville in 1972.

The arrest of the well-known 77-year-old on Tuesday came as a shock to
the republican community. On Thursday the PSNI were granted permission
to interrogate the pensioner for a fourth day, despite his advanced
years and frail health. There were fears among his friends and
colleagues that he was being treated vindictively.

Mr Bell is expected to appear before Belfast Magistrates’ Court
tomorrow [Saturday].  A white-tine picket has been organised to call
for Mr Bell’s immediate release. The picket will be held at the top of
Castle Street in Belfast at 1.30pm.

The senior figure is alleged to have been a commander in the Belfast
brigade of the IRA throughout the 1970s. In 1972, he was among a group
of top republicans, including the current Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams,
who were flown to London in 1972 for ceasefire talks with the British
government.

Regarded as a militant, he was ousted from the IRA in 1985 for opposing
the political direction advocated by Adams.

There had been speculation in the mainstream media that the arrest came
in response to the PSNI securing the tapes of an interview with former
IRA Volunteer Dolours Price. There have also been claims that Mr Bell’s
arrest may impact on Mr Adams, who has long denied widespread
allegations that he was involved in or even ordered the kidnapping of
McConville.

Between 2001 and 2006 a Boston College project conducted ‘confidential’
interviews with prominent members of the Provisional IRA. While the
university quickly submitted to a court challenge to hand over the files
in question to the PSNI in 2011, two researchers employed by it took a
Supreme Court challenge against their release in 2012, but ultimately
lost.

Earlier this week, a Six-County government council candidate spole of
his concern over the arrest Mr Bell, who is his election manager. Ciaran
Mulholland, who is standing as an independent republican socialist
candidate in west Belfast in this year’s local elections, said Mr Bell’s
arrest was an example of “political policing”.

Mr Mulholland called on the Stormont administration parties to condemn
the situation.
“This is an attack on all our human rights and a threat to democracy,”
he said.

“Let it be known to those who support the idea of political policing,
that this will not deter the hard work or voice of the working class and
the will of our people will only be strengthened by such actions. We are
confident and determined to succeed.”

Mr Bell’s arrest has also reopened the question of the letters issued to
some of those ‘On the Run’ (OTR) from prosecution for past IRA actions
which were seen to grant a form of immunity.

One such letter was cited by an Old Bailey judge in releasing Donegal
man John Downey as his trial was due to get underway in London late last
month.

Davy Hyland, an independent local election candidate in Newry, said he
had recently been subjected to a politically motivated arrest and
questioned for two days by the PSNI in connection with the 1999 death of
another IRA informer, Eamon Collins.

“During the interrogations, not one iota of evidence to link me to his
murder was found,” he said.

“The entire episode smacks of overt political policing and the police
being influenced by the current OTR debacle. By this I mean you’re fair
game if you are not in an establishment, constitutional party.”

 

Kenna’s ‘War in the Shadows’ Highlights U.S.-Based ‘Dynamiters’

Posted by Jim on

War in the Shadows: The Irish-American Fenians Who Bombed Victorian…
By Shane Kenna

Merrion Press
Available from Amazon.com

Reviewed By Sandy Boyer

“Now there is an Irish nation in the United States, equally hostile with plenty of money, absolutely beyond our reach, and within ten days’ sail of our shores.” – British Home Secretary William Vernon Harcourt

Shane Kenna has written the definitive history of the bombing campaign by U.S.-based Fenians that produced more than 20 explosions in British cities between 1881 and 1885. It is a fascinating and highly readable account of a too often neglected phase of Irish nationalism in the U.S.

War in the Shadows recounts the parallel history of the Fenians in the United States out to take dynamite to British cities and Britain’s secret intelligence service determined to infiltrate and destroy them. The most devoted students of Fenians may already know at least a little about what Kenna reveals about the U.S.-based dynamite plots but his information about the British secret policing is available for very first time.

Almost a century after the American Fenians, the Provisional IRA launched its own bombing campaign in Britain supported by arms and money from America. But the contrasts between the two campaigns on each side of the Atlantic were at last as important as the similarities.

For the Provos, bombing Britain was an extension of the ongoing war in Ireland. The Fenian bombing campaign was very much made in America.

It was explicitly a substitute for building an organization in Ireland, born out of frustration that the time for action in Ireland never seemed to be right. The men leading the U.S.-forged bombing campaign were often actively hostile to the Irish Republican Brotherhood in Ireland, feeling that it was ineffective and wasting time and money.

Although the IRA’s war received critical arms and money from America, NORAID (Irish Northern Aid) firmly denied that it ever sent money for guns, insisting that all its funds were used to sustain prisoners’ families. When NORAID founder Michael Flannery was tried for gun running, he proudly acknowledged that he had accepted contributions to arm the IRA. But he insisted that these were totally separate from the contributions he received for Irish Northern Aid.

The Irish-American Fenians shouted their intention to wage war against Britain from the rooftops. Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa used the pages of The Irish World, the most popular Irish-American newspaper of the time, to launch a “skirmishing fund” to finance action against Britain.

Pledging $20, Thomas J. Kavanagh wrote that “there must be some blood spilt.” “Rory of the Hill” was even more explicit: “In case you at any time soon deem it expedient to fit and equip a detachment of secret service whose object will be by the aid of explosives … for the purpose of blowing up the Parliament in London and some other forts and castles throughout England and Ireland – if such is mediated by you I am at your service.”

For a period of five years that was just what the Irish dynamiters in America set out to do. They bombed the House of Commons, the Tower of London, and the Westminster Crypt on the same day, January 24, 1885. They also set off explosions at Scotland Yard, London Bridge, the London Underground and at police and army barracks. These bombings were carried out by men the American Fenians organized, armed, financed and often dispatched from the U.S.

The British government had a contradictory, perhaps hypocritical, attitude toward secret policing. It was perfectly acceptable to recruit informers and agents provocateur in Ireland. In Britain the Victorians wanted their policing done exclusively by uniformed constables.

‘Not a cent for blatherskite but every dollar for dynamite’

The Fenian bombers made that impossible. The government reluctantly set up a secret policing operation reporting to the Home Secretary. Such were the prejudices of the age that the Home Secretary had to maintain what would now be called deniability.

Just as MI5 infiltrated the Provisional IRA in the 20th century, the British Home Office planted informers and agents provocateur at high levels in the Fenian dynamite organization.

‘Red’ Jim McDermott of Dublin posed as the most militant Fenian dynamiter. He electrified the founding convention of the United Irishmen of America by saying their policy would be “not a cent for blatherskite but every dollar for dynamite.” McDermott was in fact on the British payroll the entire time.

Moving to London and Cork he infiltrated a Fenian cell, providing them with money and nitroglycerin. The men he was supposed to be helping to bomb London were captured and sentenced to penal servitude for life when Red Jim testified against them in secret.

After he was exposed, the government arranged for McDermott to move first to Germany and then Denmark.  He settled in Paris, married a wealthy woman and lived in luxury, styling himself the Count de Neonlier.

Dr. Henri Le Caron, actually Thomas Breech from Colchester in England, may have been the most successful British agent in the American Fenians. He gained the total confidence of Alexander Sullivan, the leader of the dynamite wing writing that “For a period of twenty years I used this man as my dupe…no man in the whole course of my career in the secret service proved a more valuable, albeit an unconscious, ally than he.”

Le Caron had access to all the Fenian plans and turned them over to the Home Office. The American organization sent him to London and Paris where he successfully infiltrated the Fenian organization and was even introduced to Parnell in the House of Commons.

He wound up testifying in London that Charles Stewart Parnell and the Home Rule Party he led were secret supporters of the Fenian dynamite campaign. He was a key part of a British government effort to libel and politically destroy Parnell.

Before he testified Le Caron made sure that he was well taken care of asking for “either a lump sum of ten thousand pounds or an annuity for life of four hundred pounds a year.” – an immense amount at the time. But Kenna makes it clear that unlike McDermott, a total opportunist, Le Caron (Breech) was never motivated primarily by money — he was an Englishman serving his country.

Kenna demonstrates that British intelligence “could only contain rather than defeat Fenian conspiracy.” As in the 20th century, an armed campaign could only be ended by a political arrangement. The Fenian dynamite campaign ultimately succumbed to the perception that Parnell was going to deliver home rule, not to Britain’s long campaign of infiltration and disruption.

War in the Shadowsshould be read by everyone with an interest in Fenianism and Irish nationalism in America. The story Kenna has to tell and the characters he introduces make it fascinating in its own right. The many parallels to the history of the Provisional IRA and MI5 make it still more compelling.

From The Wild Geese

 

 

 

 

 

From James Connolly’s “Songs of Freedom”

Posted by Jim on March 12, 2014

We Only Want the Earth

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

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

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

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

Posted by Jim on March 4, 2014

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

Irish words litter New York City slang

Posted by Jim on January 28, 2014

by Brendan Patrick Keane @irishcentral January 23,2010

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.

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

Posted by Jim on January 10, 2014

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

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

718-246-8050

 

Martin Galvin’s Letter to the Irish News Editor published 12/16/13

Posted by Jim on December 17, 2013

EDITOR

IRISH NEWS

113-117 Donegal Street

Belfast, Northern Ireland

BTI 2GE                                        November 28, 2013

                                                 BELATED TRUTH ON MRF

 A chara

 Fergal Hallahan was more right than he imagines (25th November) about the derision accorded anyone with the temerity to accuse Britain of deploying a Military Reaction Force of plain-clothes British troopers who gunned down unarmed nationalists using non-military weapons.

 During my years as both editor of the IRISH PEOPLE weekly American newspaper and National Director of Irish Northern Aid, I was tasked with presenting such facts to the American public and especially Congressmen.

 The contention we Republicans repeatedly made was that the crown had sent out the MRF, and later wiped British fingerprints from their killings by shifting from the MRF to having the shots fired by loyalist proxies. This tactic had obvious advantages, including avoiding British Army casualties like those inflicted by the IRA at the Four Square Laundry. It allowed the British plausible deniability. Collusion in murders carried out by loyalists could be denied outright or blamed on a cadre of crown force bad apples, no matter how much targeting intelligence, agent control or safe passage the British had supplied.

 Britain’s answer to these charges never changed. British officials would declare, self-righteously that “Her Majesty’s government” would never stoop to deploy such a unit. The British Army “yellow card” rules were sacrosanct, they scoffed, and this code was rigorously applied whenever British troopers opened fire. These sanctimonious British denials were believed by the public, politicians and journalists to the extent that this hand-picked death squad remained largely unknown to the public.

 Panorama’s programme,”Britain’s Secret Terror Force” proves that Republicans were right about Britain’s deployment of a terror force, the MRF. It proves that those high-ranking British officials who denied that the crown would stoop to such tactics were either deliberately misled by the crown or deliberately misleading others on the crown’s behalf. Members of this British terror squad have no worries that they will face justice for killing unarmed Irish civilians like Daniel Rooney or Patrick McVeigh. They freely boast of their misdeeds, for the television cameras, confident that they enjoy a selective immunity and impunity, not granted Republicans like Gerry McGeough, Seamus Kearney or John Downey.

  We Republicans were right about the MRF and just as right about Britain’s tactical shift from the MRF terror force to doing their ‘dirty war’ work through loyalist proxies. Must we await another Panorama documentary before people face the facts about Britain’s complicity with loyalist killers in collusion murders? Must we wait to see members of British forces who directed collusion murders congratulating themselves in televised interviews? 

                                         Slan,  MARTIN GALVIN

The Brooklyn Irish

Posted by Jim on November 15, 2013

Posted on November 4, 2013 by

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

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

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

digging for potato during famine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Irishtown.

Fifth Ward

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

0002989

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

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

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

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

AOH Kings County Board meeting Monday Apr. 28 at 8:00PM in the Baile na nGael 2750 Gerritsen Ave. B’klyn 11229

Posted by admin on June 1, 2013

 

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

 

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

 

County Officers are as follows:

President: John O’Farrell Div. 35

Vice President: Frank Thompson Div. 12

Recording Secretary: Steve Kiernan Div. 12

Financial Secretary: Tom Crockett Div. 35

Treasurer: Randy Litz Div. 22

Standing Committee: Mike Gaffney Div. 35

Marshall: Jim Healy Div. 12

Sentinel: Joe Glynn Div. 19

 

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

AOH Div.19: No report given

Posted by Jim on September 22, 2011

LAOH Div. 6: no report on next meeting

Posted by Louise Sullivan on

LAOH Div.22: no report given for next meeting

Posted by Louise Sullivan on

AOH Div.22: No report given

Posted by Jim on

Division 21 Breezy Point/Rockaway Beach(AOHRBNY21.org): Membership meetings are held on the last Tuesday of every month at the Knights of Colombus 333 Beach 90th St.,Rockaway Beach NY. Meetings start promptly at 8:00pm.

Posted by Jim on September 21, 2011

Contact: for prayers or announcements of fundraisers, etc. please contact Jim@BrooklynIrish.com or Louise@BrooklynIrish.com

Posted by admin on July 7, 2011

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

Division 5: No report given on their next meeting

Posted by Jim on June 20, 2011

AOH Div. 12 (aohdiv12bklyn.org) : Meeting are held on the 3rd Thursday of the month at 8:00 PM in the K of C # 1251 Dongan Council 8122 5th Ave. (718)745-9175 Bay Ridge – All members should attend

Posted by admin on

Division 12 Elected Officers are:

President – Kevin Mahoney

Vice- Pres. – Frank Thompson

Recording Sec’t – Steve Kiernan

Financial Sec’t – Tim O’Shea

Treasurer – Tom MacLellan

Marshall – ?

Sentinal – ?

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

Posted by Louise Sullivan on June 20, 2010

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

Posted by admin on

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

 

President – Joanne Gundersen Div 22

Vice Pres – Judy Rose Div 22

Rec Sect – Rose Coulson Div 22

Treasurer – Mary Hogan Div 6

Historian – Katherine Keane Div19

Miss&Char – Bridie Mitchell Div 6

Cath Act – Tricia Santana Div 19

Mist Arms – Margaret McEneaney Div 19

Sentinel – Ann Marie Bendell Div 19

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

Posted by Louise Sullivan on