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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Some unionists don’t want IRA to go away

Posted by Jim on August 27, 2015

Brian Feeney. Irish News ( Belfast). Wednesday, August 26, 2015

There was a joke in 1997. What’s the difference between the Stickies and the Provos? Answer: 25 years.

It was a reference to the Official IRA ceasefire in 1972 and the IRA ceasefire in 1997.

Unfortunately, just like matter and anti-matter, everything here has its destructive counterpart.

What’s the difference between unionists in the 1960s and today? Answer: none.

Bigoted, benighted, backward, blind to any prospect of a new beginning, they can’t see the wood for the trees.

In the 1960s, after the IRA border campaign collapsed, its Marxist leadership settled on a new approach – politics.

Volunteers were to involve themselves in tenant associations, trade unions, housing campaigns, demanding fishing rights and so on.

In the north many IRA men became involved in the civil rights campaign from 1967. Spotting known republicans in civil rights marches and housing sit-ins, unionists stupidly decided it was all a cunning IRA plan.

They looked a gift horse in the mouth, for these people weren’t demanding a united Ireland. They were demanding equal rights and justice.

Instead of breathing a sigh of relief that the IRA had changed, disarmed and entered the political arena, Unionists demonstrated that if the IRA didn’t exist they had to invent it.

They needed to be besieged, beleaguered, threatened by a secret enemy so crafty and devious its powers verged on the supernatural.

Here we go again. Just like the IRA in the 1960s, the leadership in 2005 instructed volunteers to stand down and, as Gerry Adams quoted on Sunday, “to take part only in purely political and democratic programmes and no other activities whatsoever”.

Notice IRA members weren’t told to disband. The aim was to redirect their activities into political action ‘through exclusively peaceful means’ just as in the 1960s. Now unionists are telling us they didn’t know that.

There was an IRA convention in 2007 to endorse Sinn Féin’s decision to support the PSNI. Unionists knew nothing about that?

In 2008 the two governments commissioned a special report on paramilitary activity from the Independent Monitoring Commission.

It reported that “members and former members of all paramilitary groups remain very active in non-terrorist types of crime, a bequest from the Troubles which will dog NI for years”.

Unionists, then sharing power with Sinn Féin, didn’t read that?

On foot of that report the direct rule minister, the late Paul Goggins, told the House of Commons in October 2008 that the IRA “has disbanded its military structure including the GHQ departments responsible for procurement, engineering and training and has stood down volunteers and stopped allowances. It is now firmly set on a political strategy eschewing terrorism and other forms of crime”.

In other words, the IRA still existed but in a different mode. Unionist MPs listening to him didn’t realise that?

Now the chief constable tells them that individual IRA men involved in killing Kevin McGuigan were neither authorised nor acting on orders, and Sinn Féin leaders have disowned them as criminals, but unionists don’t want to hear any of that.

It’s significant that the loudest unionist voices are those of MPs who always opposed the Good Friday Agreement, never wanted to share power and still fantasise about a return to the majority rule of 50 years ago.

As usual unionist rhetoric is recklessly irresponsible, whipping up those supporters most susceptible to emotional reaction knowing full well that our proconsul will not declare the IRA ceasefire over, that the assembly will continue but it will be easier to justify blocking any change nationalists want.

Has it ever occurred to these political idiots that their always predictable ranting intransigence contributes to support for dissidents, makes it easy to convince impressionable youths that Sinn Féin has ‘sold out’ and that the only thing unionists understand is violence?

Of course it has occurred to them. They know what they’re doing. Pretending the IRA is a real and present threat when they know for certain it isn’t is far easier than politics and certainly the politics of compromise.

It’s a matter of record that unionist politicians are happy only when they are demanding more security, more police, more draconian laws.

If they couldn’t conjure up the spectre of the IRA they’d be speechless.

J-1 series: How to stay in the US after the J-1 Visa

Posted by Jim on


Deirdre O’Brien tell us of the US visa options for graduates wishing to remain in the US when their time on the J-1 is up.

Deirdre is an US Immigration Lawyer with O’Brien & Associates in New York.

US visa options for graduates and entrepreneurs

Foreign graduates may qualify for J-1 intern visas to work in the US for up to 12 months. Irish graduates have an added advantage and can obtain a J-1 Intern Work and Travel (IWT) visa to travel to the US to look for an internship. People without a degree but with 5 years of relevant experience may qualify for an 18 month J-1 trainee visa.

The problem with intern and trainee visas however, is they end after 12 or 18 months, respectively, and what to do then? Many US employers will offer an intern or trainee employment but a work visa is required.

The H1B professional visa is the relevant category for degree holders and is granted for 3 years initially. Spouses of H-1B visa holders are not eligible for work authorization.

Sadly, only 65,000 of these visas are available annually and this quota is woefully short of demand. It opens on April 1 every year for a work start date of October 1st and in April 2015, over 233,000 visa petitions were received within days of opening.

When it’s oversubscribed (as it has been for the last 3 years), United States Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) puts all petitions into a computer generated lottery to decide which ones will be accepted for processing; in April 2015, chances of “winning” were nearly 3:1 – only 36% of entrants “won” the H1B lottery.

What about the unlucky 64% and their would-be employers?

 For students on an F-1 visa, Curricular Practical Training (CPT) may sometimes be an option, see:

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) students may apply for a 17-month STEM extension in certain circumstances.

For USCIS Q&A on this topic, see:

For Stem degree list, see:

The problem for J-graduates is they may need to return to their home country or go elsewhere for a period before being able to work in the US again. This is a direct effect of the restrictive H1B program and many graduates are lost to the US as a result.

Other destinations seek to attract foreign talent and Canada regularly advertises its open-door policy, blatantly contrasting it with the lack of H1B visas in the US.

Immigration reform has been stalled to date but promises to be a hot topic in the upcoming Presidential campaign.

The following is a very brief description of the most common visa categories; for more information, see:

E-1/E-2 treaty trader/investor visas are available to nationals of countries which have relevant treaties with the US, including Ireland and the UK. E-1 visas are for foreign companies with US based customers and E-2 investor visas are for companies investing in starting or acquiring a business in the US. An “E company” gains umbrella status and may transfer nationals of the relevant country for managerial or specialist roles. Spouses may obtain work authorization.

This is a great visa option for any graduate who can secure a job with a US company which is owned by nationals of the applicant’s country. Networking in the right places is required! E-2 is also currently the closest thing to a US Start-up visa for entrepreneurs.

L-1 visa is for intra-company transfers and requires the applicant to have been employed as manager or specialist by a related foreign company for at least 1 year before being transferred to the US. It’s generally suitable for more well established companies rather than start-ups. Spouses may obtain work authorization.

O-1 visa for individuals with extraordinary ability or achievement in sciences, education, business, athletics or the arts is worth exploring for entrepreneurs, although many graduates may be too early in their careers to qualify; see: Spouses of O-1 visa holders are not eligible for work authorization. O-1 visa holders may qualify for permanent residence/green card (EB-1 petition).

TN visas are available to Canadian and Mexican professionals under NAFTA and E-3 visas allow Australian professionals to work in the US; spouses of TNs are not eligible for work authorization but E-3 spouses are.

All the categories discussed above are non-immigrant or temporary but in some cases, permanent residence (green card) may be an option or even the best option, see:


As in all walks of life, knowledge is power and advance planning is essential for a positive outcome. Set yourself up to succeed in the US! Take advice so you’re ready to seize opportunities when they arise.

Deirdre O’Brien has been practising US immigration law for almost 20 years; with offices in NY and Kilkenny, Deirdre and her team specialize in business immigration for SMEs and start-ups. O’Brien & Associates has an excellent reputation on both sides of the Atlantic for expertise and professionalism. Deirdre is a regular public speaker and has written extensively on US immigration and related matters.

  • Contact via email:

IRA is gone and is not coming back

Posted by Jim on August 26, 2015

A chara,

The following is the text of Gerry Adams TD’s weekly column in the Andersonstown News that will be published later this evening.

Teachta Adams writes:

“A media storm erupted last week after a press conference was held by the PSNI about the murder of Kevin McGuigan. Kevin McGuigan was shot dead after media speculation had linked him to the killing of Jock Davison last May in the Markets area.

At the press conference Det Supt Kevin Geddes for the PSNI said that; “Action Against Drugs as you may be aware made a public statement on 6 August that they would execute anybody who had any involvement or they believed had any involvement in the murder of Jock Davison”. He went on to say that it was his assessment that; “Action Against Drugs are a group of individuals who are criminals, violent dissident republicans and former members of the Provisional IRA…They are dangerous, they are involved in violence and extortion of the nationalist and republican communities and they have a criminal agenda…My assessment is that this is a separate group from the Provisional IRA”.

However, it was his subsequent comment that a “major line of inquiry for this investigation is that members of the Provisional IRA were involved in this murder” and that he could not say at this stage “whether that was sanctioned at a command level or not and I’m not prepared to speculate on that” that was seized upon and created the subsequent political and media furore.

Some unionist politicians, ever quick to rush to judgement against Sinn Féin, threatened to exclude our party from the Assembly and Executive.

Elements of the media were no less quick. Some main media outlets speculated that ‘Action Against Drugs’ had entered into a working arrangement or joint enterprise with the IRA. Action Against Drugs has been vigorously opposed by Sinn Féin and accused of murder and extortion by Gerry Kelly and other republican leaders.

Journalists, some with long experience who should have known better, speculated that republicans were working with a criminal gang – riddled with agents and informers – made up of people trenchantly opposed to the Sinn Féin peace strategy and leadership. The inconsistency and contradictions inherent in this position were ignored.

During the years of conflict and censorship the idea of balance or of proper journalistic investigation, with some notable exceptions, went out the window. But in these more peaceful times the lack of impartiality and objectivity in this instance is equally striking. A press conference which was supposed to be about a murder investigation, morphed seamlessly into a media and political storm as to the status of the IRA.

As unionist leaders blustered, threatened and condemned Sinn Féin and the political institutions looked increasingly fragile the PSNI Chief Constable held another press conference.

According to George Hamilton the PSNI is “currently not in possession of information that indicates that Provisional IRA involvement was sanctioned or directed at a senior or organisational level within the Provisional IRA or the broader Republican movement.”

He went on to state that while he believes the IRA exists the PSNI assess that:

  • “In the organisational sense the Provisional IRA does not exist for paramilitary purposes…
  • “Our assessment indicates that a primary focus of the Provisional IRA is now promoting a peaceful, political Republican agenda.
  •  “It is our assessment that the Provisional IRA is committed to following a political path and is no longer engaged in terrorism.
  • “I accept the bona fides of the Sinn Fein leadership regarding their rejection of violence and pursuit of the peace process and I accept their assurance that they want to support police in bringing those responsible to justice.
  • “We have no information to suggest that violence, as seen in the murder of Kevin McGuigan, was sanctioned or directed at a senior level in the Republican movement.”
  • “We assess that the continuing existence and cohesion of the Provisional IRA hierarchy has enabled the leadership to move the organisation forward within the peace process.”

He went on to further describe Action against Drugs as “an independent group that is not part of, or a cover name for the Provisional IRA”.

Unionist politicians ignored the bits that didn’t fit with their narrative and jumped on Hamilton’s claim that the IRA still exists to ratchet up the crisis.

I don’t agree with the PSNI Chief Constable’s claim that the IRA exists – even in the benign way he paints it. The war is over and the IRA is gone and is not coming back.

Over the two or more decades of the peace process Sinn Féin and republicans, including the IRA, have taken a series of historic initiatives to create the opportunity for peace; to sustain the process in difficult times and to overcome obstacles.

The progress that has been made is the collective work of many parties, groups, and individuals. But without the active participation of republicans and the risks we have taken for peace there would be no peace process.

Time and again elements of the British and Irish governments or the unionist parties and others have connived to undermine the political institutions. Some have done this in a very premeditated way while for others, crises have been created through their failure to fulfil their obligations or to uphold the Good Friday and other agreements.

The Sinn Féin leadership has worked hard to find imaginative and innovative ways to resolve problems. But this problem is not of our making. Sinn Féin has no responsibility whatsoever for those who killed Kevin McGuigan or Jock Davison. The response of the other political parties to these killings has been self-serving and short sighted.

The political institutions are already in considerable difficulty. There are important elements which have not been implemented. There are major budgetary difficulties and an ongoing effort by London to impose austerity policies on the northern Assembly.

There is also the ongoing and unanswered questions about the sell-off of NAMA’s loan book in the north and the allegation that some politicians and associates have benefited from this. Interestingly, though this goes to the heart of the Irish government, as well as the Executive, there is no speculation of the kind which is now in full flow around Sinn Féin’s worthiness as a political party.

Let me be very clear. Once again. Anyone who breaks the law should be held accountable by the justice and policing agencies. Sinn Féin supports these agencies and we will co-operate with the PSNI in their investigations into the killings of Jock Davison and Kevin McGuigan. We have consistently called on anyone with information to bring that forward so that those responsible can face due process in the courts. We are very mindful of the fact that there are two families and local communities grieving for the loss of loved ones.

It is our firm view that anyone involved in illegal activity should be held accountable before proper judicial processes. The PSNI investigation should go where the evidence takes it. It should be afforded all possible support to this end by all of the political parties and the two governments.

Let me be equally clear. Enough is enough. Sinn Féin has no special, or particular or specific responsibility to respond to the allegations made about the IRA, above and beyond what I have outlined here. There is no basis for the charges made against Sinn Féin by our political opponents and if this descends into a political crisis it is a direct result of their stupidity and party political opportunism.

Indeed given the manner in which the debate has descended into personalised attack, invective and Sinn Féin baiting, it is hard to know how the other parties, Executive Ministers or Irish government Ministers would hope to sort this crisis out.

Unless of course, and I accuse them of this, they are motivated entirely by party political and electoral interests.

Sinn Féin will not allow ourselves or more importantly our electorate to be demonised or marginalised over matters that have nothing to do with us. In this case there is nothing more Sinn Féin can do.

We have done more than anyone else to bring an end to conflict in our country and to open up an alternative peaceful and democratic path for republicans to pursue republican objectives. This never existed before.

The opportunistic and deeply cynical way in which these events have been seized upon to attack Sinn Féin, our integrity and our electoral mandate and the democratic rights and entitlements of our electorate, is shameful and will be robustly resisted by our party and our leadership.

British efforts and unionist posturing in this respect are not surprising. Every and any opportunity and issue is grasped by the unionist leaderships to try and dilute the potential of the Good Friday Agreement and the institutions. But the intervention of Fianna Fáil leader Michael Martin, and Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald and others in Dublin is especially contemptible.

Frances Fitzgerald has uncharacteristically undermined her role as Minister for Justice to politically smear Sinn Féin.

Micheál Martin has also sought to use these killings for party political purposes. He was the Minister for Foreign Affairs when the then Minister for Justice, Dermott Ahern said that the IRA was gone and not coming back.

In 2010 when Sinn Féin successfully negotiated the transfer of policing and justice with the two governments he was part of process. He never raised the matter with me once. But now we are on the cusp of an election and Micheál Martin is in electioneering mode.

His outrageous claim that the IRA funds and provides political intelligence for Sinn Féin while exercising community control is despicable. Last year the people of Ireland in free votes in the European and local government elections gave Sinn Féin the largest vote of any party on this island. Where those votes coerced? Are those voters naive or stupid or intimidated? No. They voted for Sinn Féin because we provide a real alternative to the bad politics of Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and Labour. And that is what really worries these parties.

For our part Sinn Féin will not be distracted from continuing with the difficult work of building the peace, resolving the budget issues in the Executive, getting on with the business of making the institutions function properly and winning support across this island for Irish unity and for the Republican alternative to austerity.

We will also continue to support the PSNI and An Garda Síochána in their fulfilment of their duties and we will make ourselves accountable to the electorate in the upcoming Assembly election and in the general election when the Taoiseach has the courage to call it.”

UUP to quit Executive as election looms

Posted by Jim on

The Ulster Unionist Party is set to withdraw its only Minister from the
Stormont Executive on Saturday after party leader Mike Nesbitt
described the current power-sharing agreement as “threadbare”.

The move follows allegations of an unsanctioned involvement by
Provisional IRA members in the killing of Kevin McGuigan, the chief
suspect in the recent murder of former IRA commander Jock Davison.

Nesbitt is to recommend to his party executive that the party should
withdraw its single Executive member, Transport Minister Danny Kennedy,
and form an opposition to the current five-party coalition. He also
attacked their former government partners in the DUP, who he said were
“incapable of delivering for all the people of Northern Ireland”.

He said: “The UUP stretched itself almost to breaking point to bring
forward the Good Friday Agreement in 1998.

“The Ulster Unionist Party remains wedded to our 1998 vision of a fully
peacefully and prosperous society for all our people, including
nationalists, republicans and unionists.”

Claims of PIRA involvement in the killing of Kevin McGuigan, allegedly
as a reprisal for his role in Davison’s murder, have continued despite
PSNI chief George Hamilton stating last weekend that the killing had
not been sanctioned by the Provisional IRA.

Hamilton said that the PIRA was not engaged in “terrorism”, and that
its primary focus was on promoting a peaceful political agenda.
However, he said that the organisation’s structures still existed —
although “significantly changed” or “dissolved” — and that former
members may be engaged in crime.

With elections looming in both jurisdictions, these statements have
paved the way for political attacks on Sinn Fein, both north and south.

Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness described today’s UUP decision as being
“more about inter-unionist rivalry” than any “feigned concern” about
Sinn Fein’s commitment to peace, which he insisted was “unequivocal”.

Anti-republican media organisations in the 26 Counties have also sought
to generate anti-Sinn Fein sentiment in response to what they
hysterically described as a “renewed IRA threat” to the state.
Yesterday, Fine Gael’s Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald asked
the Garda police commissioner to conduct a “fresh assessment” of the
activities of the the Provisional IRA in light of the reports.

But in recent years a variety of state bodies north and south of the
border, including most recently the Gardai police themselves, have
stated that the PIRA has ceased its armed activities. Former 26 County
Minister for Justice Michael McDowell said this week there had actually
been a decision to encourage an “inert” PIRA to continue to exist and
fade away through natural attrition, rather than risk a rise in
breakaway IRA groups.

Political speculation has now turned to the position of Peter
Robinson’s DUP who will be under pressure from unionist hardliners to
pull their Ministers out of the Executive. Such a move would collapse
the Executive and accelerate the next Stormont Assembly election by
several months.

Speaking on RTE radio, Sinn Fein’s Gerry Kelly said a political crisis
had been artificially created around the difference of opinion that the
Provisional IRA still exists in some form, but not as a military

He said there was the possibility that some former members of the IRA
may be involved in criminal activity, but “this is not the IRA, it is
people acting in a criminal way”.

He said the Provisional IRA made a statement ten years ago that it had
“left the stage” and he believes it had.

Sinn Fein TD Brian Stanley also said the PIRA had been “stood down” and
no longer existed, and that any proposed review would show this. Sinn
Fein leader Gerry Adams also emphasised the point this week, altering
one of his most famous statements in the aftermath of the PIRA
ceasefire by stating that “the IRA has gone away, you know”.

Capital District PBS Station looking for Irish photos or videos

Posted by Jim on August 24, 2015

This was received from the Irish American Heritage Museum today, in hopes of getting the request to the right person.


Hi Folks, Below is a request I received from a lady who is doing a project on the Irish in the Catskills (see below) for WMHT.  I’m passing this along to members of the local Irish American Community.  Please contact Heather Merrill at 917-476-8346  or at if you have any info.

To repeat myself a bit, I’m doing the image and footage research for a documentary for PBS about the Irish in the Catskills. The working title is “Dancing at the Crossroads.” The story looks at Irish and Irish-Americans in the Catskills and in New York City, from roughly the turn of the century up through 1980 or so.

In terms of what we’re specifically looking for:

*photos or footage of Irish emigration, or immigration to the U.S., any time period in the 20th century up to 1980, but especially the 1950s. This could be folks on boats, docks, and/or landing in the U.S.

*photos or footage of Irish dances anywhere in the state of New York, 1900s-1960s

*photos or footage of live musicians playing (Irish or Irish-American), anywhere in the state of New York, 1900s-1960s

*photos or footage of Irish or Irish-Americans in the Catskills or upstate New York from the 1900s -1970s

I know these are broad categories, but hopefully manageable? If this yields a ton of photos, then if you could send me a description of what you’ve got, we could narrow it down to the ones we’d like to see (either jpgs or photocopies).

In terms of footage, again, not sure how much you’ll have, but would love to hear about what might be relevant. For stuff that hasn’t even been looked at, we’d love to hear the description so we can determine whether we want to pay to have it digitized. We’re definitely interested in home movie footage as this is very much a story about how families came together in the Catskills.

Lastly, you offered to contact other local groups and AOH chapters – that would be terrific! Additionally if you know of folks who might have their own home-movie footage stashed away, it would be great if you could reach out to them as well, or give me their contact info and I can reach out. In all cases, we’re not interested in material after 1980, but for any format before 1980, we’ll try and work with it!

Ryan, thanks so much for what help you can give. I really appreciate it! It would be great of in the next 10 days or so, I could get a sense of what you have and then we can move forward from there.

All the best! Take care!

Heather Merrill
Archival Researcher, Associate Producer
Based in Boston with access to NY, LA, and all points in between

Cell 917-476-8346


Firefighter recalls saving Brooklyn tot from burning house By NY Daily News

Posted by Jim on

A fearless firefighter raced inside a burning Brooklyn building Monday and saved a 2-year-old boy from the furious flames.

Lt. Victor Milukas said there was “zero visibility” and “high heat” and that he only had a general idea where little Justin Pierre might be as he searched the second floor of a Marine Park house.

“I just kind of took a chance and figured, ‘I’m gonna have to check this room,’” he said.

Milukas’ hunch proved right and he found the unconscious toddler by feeling around beneath a pile of clothing.

“To me it was a blur,” Milukas said afterward outside Ladder Co. 159 firehouse on the Flatlands/Marine Park border. “Luckily I was able to find the baby.”

Justin was at Staten Island University and in a medically induced coma, but his dad says he expects his boy will pull through.

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

Todd Maisel/New York Daily News

Lt. Victor Milukas of Ladder 159 talks about rescuing the boy from the smoke-filled home.

“He’s critical, but the prognosis is much better,” said Jean Pierre, who is a registered nurse. “He only has a blister and smoke inhalation.”

Justin’s relieved dad said he was told the fire started in his son’s bedroom and was sparked by an electrical malfunction.

The drama on Avenue P began a little after 1 a.m. Monday.

Pierre, a married father of four, said he was at work at Maimonides Medical Center and that his oldest daughter first smelled the smoke and sounded the alarm. He said in their rush to escape the building, Justin got overlooked.

“When my wife went back to get him the first time, the fire completely engulfed the place,” Pierre said.

 Milukas said they got the call at 1:13 a.m. and encountered a “very chaotic scene” and a house engulfed by smoke when they arrived.

“People (were) yelling that the baby was still inside,” he said. “There was a neighbor who had climbed up on a front porch roof and was attempting to enter the building by removing the air conditioner.”

Milukas said they donned their masks and headed into building and the inferno.

“We made our way to the top of the stairs and we had zero visibility, high heat,” he said. “We couldn’t tell where the fire was.”

Milukas said he first checked the rooms “where everyone said the baby was in.”

“As I was going down the hallway, I felt a lot of heat on my right,” he said. “My inside team at that point was searching the rear bedrooms. I made a quick search of the front bedroom and realized that this was a master bedroom and I couldn’t find the baby in there.”

Quickly, Milukas retraced his steps to the spot in the hallway where he felt the high heat. He burst inside a bedroom and found a mattress ablaze.

Milukas said he swept his hand across the mattress to see if the toddler was on it. “It was in flames,” he said.

“I quickly found the wall again and got to a corner and there was a pile of clothes on the floor,” he said. “As I was searching the floor, I came across the (seemingly) lifeless infant.”

Milukas said scooping the boy up into his arms was “surreal.”

“I have kids of my own,” he said. “Your adrenaline goes up even more. Every life is precious but you know, for a child you go above and beyond.”

Milukas said he quickly brought the child outside to another firefighter to immediately begin CPR.

“At that point, I knew the baby was in good hands,” the hero firefighter said. “Got my helmet and went back into the fire building and operated with all the other members to complete the searches and extinguish the fires.”

Milukas, an 18-year veteran of the fire department who lives in East Rockaway, is no stranger to heroics.

Back in 2007, when Milukas was assigned to Ladder 142 in Queens, he saved a 45-year-old man from a burning building in Richmond Hill.

1985: Thatcher’s ego and the need to stop Sinn Fein

Posted by Jim on August 23, 2015

Over 500 files had been made available to historians in Belfast this
week as part of the declassification of government files dating from the

Some 150 files have been largely opened but with some material redacted
(partially censored), while 108 files have been “fully closed” for a
further 56 years (completely censored). The bulk of those files relate
to prison matters or what the British government termed “civil
disobedience” or security matters.

One key file opened in Belfast claimed Margaret Thatcher signed the
Anglo-Irish Agreement in part because she wanted to go down in history
as the person who solved both the problems of Ireland and Rhodesia (now

Robert Andrews, the most senior civil servant in the British
government’s Northern Ireland Office (NIO), wrote in 1985 of Thatcher’s
personal motivation in pressing ahead with the agreement.

In the memo, Andrews set out the background to the Anglo-Irish Agreement
as it was just weeks away from being signed.

It provides a uniquely candid contemporaneous view of the reasons why
Thatcher signed the agreement with Dublin which infuriated both
unionists and republicans.

Andrew said that in 1983, the British government concluded that the
IRA’s armed campaign and a deteriorating economic situation requiring
heavy spending “could not be allowed to continue” and that a “major
effort” should be made to resolve the problem. He added: “The Irish
government under Dr FitzGerald were worried about the alienation of the
minority in the North and the rise of Sinn Fein and were ready to
co-operate in seeking solutions.”

The detailed memo then turned to Mrs Thatcher’s close personal
involvement in the process, and the influence of the previous 26 County
Taoiseach, Charles Haughey.

“The Prime Minister is attracted by the idea of going down in history as
the person who solved both the Rhodesian and the Irish problems (an idea
suggested to her by Mr Haughey); but she does not want to be accused by
the unionists (with whom her sympathies instinctively lie) of a sell-out
to Dublin.”

He said British officials wanted an agreement “for its own sake” because
a failure to reach agreement would cause serious problems in their
relations with the USA “and lead to increased support for NORAID [the
Irish Northern Aid Committee]”.

However, he noted that Thatcher did not want to be accused of a
sell-out to Dublin by the unionists “with whom her sympathies
instinctively lie”. Ultimately, Andrew, who had Thatcher’s support,
said the 1985 deal had to be crafted to encourage nationalists to
support British political institutions and the Crown forces but without
alienating unionists or involving an “unworkable” degree of
“interference” by Dublin in the North’s affairs.

Taoiseach Garret FitzGerald “had a genuine desire to make an historic
contribution to resolving the Irish problem”, he said, but that unionist
hostility would be significant.

However, he went on: “On the other hand, the consequences of not
[underlined] having an agreement would be extremely serious.

“The main plank of our present policy would have collapsed and the
collapse would be a body blow for [Sinn Fein’s nationalist rivals, the
SDLP], who have placed all their faith in the Anglo-Irish talks.

“It would be a gift for Sinn Fein who would regard it as proof that
political means produce nothing and that violence is the only answer.

“Unionists on the other hand would be triumphal and in no mood for
concessions to the minority.”

Concluding that a deal had to be done, he said that “I believe we are
now too far committed to draw back”.


But just after the agreement was signed, British officials found
themselves quickly struggling with the new dispensation.

One note from the NIO claimed that using the Irish language in an
official capacity in the Six Counties could lead to “rabid” behaviour.

The NIO warned against “sentimentalising” the value of Irish language
and culture. One official complained: “The conventional pluralism of
Northern Ireland public policy will be shattered and we shall end up
with two rabidly British and rabidly Irish communities … I see no
reason to believe that there is any route to internal harmony which does
not involve wider, indeed post-national identities.”

NIO officials said the views of the Dublin government on the issue were
“reactionary”, meaning regressive.

“It is only the UK which is in a position to take a properly
comprehensive view and it really cannot do so if we sentimentalise about
the value of Irish language and culture.

“The reality – and a very good thing too – is that Ireland and Britain
are both sharers in mid-Atlantic society.

“It is always possible for the Robin Flowers (an English poet who
translated poetry from Irish) of this world to love romantic Ireland
dead and gone. But it would be disastrous if that spirit played any part
in UK public policy-making.”


The files also contain a complaint by the prominent human rights
campaigner and prison chaplain Monsignor Raymond Murray that he had been
ordered to stop using Irish during a pastoral visit to Long Kesh Prison
in 1985.

On November 22 1985 – just a week after the signing of the Anglo-Irish
Agreement – the then Fr Murray complained to the then British Direct
Ruler Tom King about the incident.

When Fr Murray protested that he regarded the ban on Irish “as an
infringement of freedom of conscience and cultural rights”, he was
informed that the prison governor had instructed that his visit “must
not be conducted in a foreign language”.

The priest asked King to confirm whether visits in Irish were
permissible and, if so, to make this clear to the staff. “Otherwise”, he
added, “it leaves the situation open to accusations of pure bigotry
against Catholics.” The files do not record any direct response on the

Liam Neeson rejoices as De Blasio admits defeat in horse carriages row by Irish Central

Posted by Jim on

Mayor de Blasio has admitted defeat of his proposed horse carriage ban.

Last week, Mayor De Blasio acknowledged that his bill to ban horse carriages won’t be going anywhere without the support of the City Council.

In an interview with Brian Lehrer on WNYC radio, he said that while he still wants to ban the use of horse carriages in the city “the fact is the industry has a lot of support in the City Council, and among the populace.”

Actor Liam Neeson, who has supported the carriage industry, said he is glad the mayor is stepping back from his push to ban horse carriages.

“Mayor de Blasio is finally listening to the will of New Yorkers and we should commend him for that,” Neeson told the NY Daily News.

 “Poll after poll shows broad opposition to the misguided horse carriage ban and our voices are finally being heard,” he said.

While De Blasio’s one time supporters are furious at the mayor for giving up on the bill, polls show that two-thirds of New Yorkers want the horses left alone, the NY Daily News reports.

Last winter, seven council members introduced a horse-banning bill at the mayor’s request, but since then, the council has let the measure sit because there is no suggestion of gathering the necessary 26 votes for passage.

De Blasio went on to tell animal rights advocates to lobby the council.

“What I’d say to every advocate is, ‘You already have my vote, go get the votes in the City Council and solidify the support in the City Council so we can make this change.’ ”

Neeson said the mayor needs to acknowledge it’s over once and for all.

“Shifting blame to the City Council is not the kind of leadership we need from City Hall,” said the Oscar-nominated star.

“The mayor needs to own up to the fact that he put this idea on the table and will now abandon the ban for good.”

“Let the carriage drivers have some peace and comfort that their jobs and families are safe and secure,” he said.

The mayor’s remarks enraged activists who donated heavily to his City Hall campaign.

“The mayor is attempting to walk away from this promise on the grounds that the bill doesn’t have support in the Council and among members of the public, but that’s because he didn’t do any work at all to generate that support,” said Donny Moss, an animal rights advocate who helped elect de Blasio.

Moss said there’s “no evidence” de Blasio tried to persuade Council members to vote for the bill.

“He didn’t even try,” said Moss.

NYCLASS, an activist group which poured $174,000 into the mayor’s race, has declined to comment on de Blasio’s remarks.

Many of the city’s horse drivers are relieved that the mayor is retreating from the ban.

“We are here to stay,” said Declan Kelly, 38, from Queens, who has been a Central Park driver for the past 20 years.

“Mayor de Blasio can’t get rid of us now,” he said.

However, some drivers are still worried.

“The last two years, we’ve been so nervous,” said 40 year old horse carriage driver Ahmet Bilici.

“This year, business was a little bit slow. People hear things, they think we shut down already,” he said.

“I have two kids, a family, this is my job. I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t do this.”

Eirí Amach na Cásca (Part 3)

Posted by Jim on

from The Road to Rebellion by Mike McCormack
In 1911, near 26,000 families lived in Dublin’s inner-city tenements; 20,000 in former apartments divided into one room flats. They died in great numbers from cholera, typhus, influenza and TB.  Requests for improvements to unsanitary conditions were ignored by the Dublin Corporation since 16 of its members owned tenements in the slums and actively prevented enforcement of regulations against their properties.  Other counties were just as bad as low wages forced workers to the cheap life in the slums to which those fortunate enough to have jobs returned, after putting in 17-hour days.

Early attempts at organizing labor unions had been made by James Connolly in 1896, but with limited success since workers were so intimidated by management.  In 1903, Connolly accepted an invitation to work with the American labor movement and emigrated, ending up in Troy, NY.  Then in 1908, along came Big Jim Larkin.  He began to harvest the seeds Connolly had sewn, organizing all workers, Protestant and Catholic, regardless of trade, into one large Irish Transport and General Workers Union (ITGWU).  Meanwhile, in America, Connolly was involved in the International Workers of the World promoting the idea of one union for all workers allowing the use of sympathy strikes to empower  action.  He published a newspaper aimed at the Irish in America’s labor market and included articles on events in Ireland.  Noting Larkin’s struggle, he soon realized that Ireland was where his heart had always been and he returned  in 1910.  He settled in Belfast to help Larkin organize his union along the lines of the IWW.  In a year’s time, Connolly moved his family to Dublin and, with Larkin and William O’Brien, helped to organize the Irish Trade Union Congress and Labor Party.  They were able to secure wage increases for some workers, but the idea of one giant union was beginning to worry employers.  By 1913, 30,000 workers had signed up making the General Worker’s union Ireland’s largest.

Enter William Martin Murphy – an example of how an Irish Catholic could succeed by working within the system of the oppressor.  He owned the Dublin Tramway System as well as the largest newspaper, department store and hotel.  He claimed that he was not against craft unions, but opposed Larkin’s idea where workers would control everything, even the government. The union’s success was from sympathy strikes because when all workers belonged to one union, it was easy to get strikers to walk off related jobs.  In 1912, more than 400 nervous employers responded to Murphy’s call to form the Dublin Employers’ Federation Ltd. (DEF) to break Larkin’s Union by refusing to recognize the ITGWU.  Murphy demanded that his workers reapply for their jobs and a condition of acceptance was a pledge to shun the union.  This act of challenging the worker’s right to organize provoked the greatest labor struggle in the history of western Europe.  Larkin and Connolly saw this as a death threat to their union and knew that they had to act!  They called a walkout by Murphy’s tram workers on 26 August 1913 – the first day of the Dublin horse show!  The workers walked off the job and Murphy fired them all!  He brought in scab labor protected by the Dublin Metropolitan Police (DMP).

A strike is a weapon to gain concessions, but this strike sought no concessions, it was a matter of self-defense. Clashes between workers and police-protected scabs broke out in various places during which police baton-charged the workers.  A warrant was issued for Larkin’s arrest claiming he incited the riots.  Larkin promised to address his followers the next day from the balcony of Murphy’s hotel. On 31 August, police surrounded the hotel and allowed no one to enter except one elderly clergyman.  It was Larkin!  Disguised by the great patriot and Abbey Theater actress, Helena Molony, Larkin appeared on the balcony, pulled off a fake beard and addressed the huge crowd to wild cheers.  Police forced their way up to the balcony and arrested Larkin.  Then they baton-charged the crowd, killing two and injuring hundreds.  Larkin called for sympathy strikes against all parts of Murphy’s DEF and the merchants fired all members of Larkin’s union and replaced them with scabs and unemployed workers from England! This preposterous act became known as the Great Dublin Lockout.  By 29 September, more than 25,000 workers were locked out of their jobs.  With the help of Countess Markievicz, Larkin set up food kitchens at union headquarters in Liberty Hall to feed the striking workers families and the AOH in America sent more than a $1,000. ($25,000. today) to striking members of the AOH American Alliance.

Then, Connolly met Jack White, a disaffected former British Army officer, who proposed the creation of a worker’s militia to protect picket lines from assaults by the DMP and gangs in the pay of the employers.  The notion of a Citizen Army, drilled by White, was enthusiastically accepted as White stated, to put manners on the police.  In 1913, the Countess helped White form the Irish Citizen Army which would become a far more significant force than either of them ever planned.  The Citizen Army drilled and trained at Liberty Hall and even purchased uniforms and arms to alert the DMP that they could no longer attack workers with impunity.  However, despite the assistance provided to the union, as winter winds began to blast the tenements, it was evident that they could not sustain the fight and starving workers began to drift back to work on the employers’ terms.  In January 1914, Larkin conceded, we are beaten.  But they had achieved something more significant.  They opposed Murphy’s attempt to destroy the union and in that they succeeded.  Plus they had created a fighting force in the Citizen Army that would soon join with the IRB, Irish Volunteers, Hibernian Rifles, Cumann na mBan and Fianna Eireann to become the Irish Republican Army and strike for Ireland’s freedom on Easter Monday, 1916.

The last obscenity

Posted by Jim on August 22, 2015

By Sean Bresnahan

Maghaberry is an injustice that undermines the very fabric of our
society, no man or woman should be subject to what goes on in this
hideous place. It should be an international outrage but instead is for
the most part ignored by those with the power to effect change, those
who have bought into the new establishment in Ireland.

Whether for good or bad, for right or wrong, they’ve bought into it all.
And the ‘all’ in question does not just equate to power-sharing, the
equality agenda or any other ‘positive’ relating to the ‘new
dispensation’, it also involves Diplock Courts, internment, secret
evidence, political policing and the torturing of Irish political
prisoners – prisoners such as Gavin Coyle, who has recently entered his
fourth year in solitary confinement.

By any definition that amounts to torture. 23 hours a day on your own is
mental torture. Those who sit in a government at Stormont that permit
this need to examine their conscience. For years they’ve trotted out the
bogus line ‘Raymond McCartney’s working on this behind the scenes’. Well
what has he achieved?

Raymond and his party would do well to remember how this approach was
rejected by none other than themselves when trotted out by the Catholic
Hierarchy and the SDLP during the Blanket Protest. If it was considered
an unacceptable line 30 years ago then how can it be seen as any
different today? It is a token line and a token approach, a point best
illustrated by the fact there is no change we can point to that suggests
this argument has any merit.

Gavin Coyle is over 4 years in solitary confinement and will no doubt
see out his time in the same condition. That this doesn’t register with
the powers-that-be, with those who claim to represent us, speaks volumes
about their participation in the British system. They told us they were
going in to create meaningful change but it seems the only thing
changing is their bank balance.

There is a responsibility on those who participate in this system, and
legitimise it by their presence at the heart of its institutions, to
ensure the brutality ongoing at Maghaberry is given no place or quarter
in this society, the beatings, the abuse, the horror has to stop. It has
no place in our country today – it never had.

If what goes on behind those gates were carried out in some dictatorship
no doubt we’d hear the great and the good speak out, it would be
condemned vociferously and rightly so. But not here, not in our own
country, not when it is done to and on our own. Why do we never hear
this alluded to by our politicians, why is this brushed under the
carpet, why do they not want us to know what is being done in our name?

The time for action is long past, those in positions of authority, who
have achieved high office on the back of a mandate given them by the
Irish people, can no longer sit back as though this were not happening.
They can no longer watch on through covered eyes in the hope this will
just go away. And they have to take responsibility for the situation,
why else have they been elected if not to do so?

Whether we agree or not with the politics of those held in this gaol
there is a basic onus, common to us all, as right-thinking men and
women, that abuse of human rights not be tolerated. Human rights are
sacrosanct. Silence equals complicity, toleration equates to association
and facilitation. Who would honestly want to facilitate and be
associated with this?

* Sean Bresnahan is a founding member of the Thomas Ashe Society in
Omagh and current PRO of the 1916 Societies

Letter reveals farcical Ballymurphy investigation

Posted by Jim on

The failure of the British Ministry of Defence to trace any of the
British soldiers present at the time of the 1971 Ballymurphy Massacre
has infuriated the families of the victims.

British defence officials claimed they had “not yet been successful” in
tracing any of the dozens of paratroopers present in Ballymurphy in
August 1971 when 11 people lost their lives.

A letter sent to the families of the victims read: “Forty seven letters
have been sent out to individuals and responses are awaited.” They also
claimed they have been unable to “uncover any records within its
control” to understand the operation.

Ten people were shot dead in the area in the three days after internment
was introduced, among them a priest and a mother-of-eight. An 11th
person died of a heart attack following a confrontation involving a

Adding to the sense of farce, the letter from the British Ministry of
Defence went on to state that the “member of staff assigned to
Ballymurphy has been reassigned to another inquest temporarily” and that
the PSNI had advised that its resources for the legacy inquest process
“are finite.”

However Eileen McKeown, whose father Joseph Corr was one of the 11
victims, said the soldiers’ names were on a list handed to the coroner
in the original inquests in 1972.

She added: “We know for fact that the now scrapped HET (Historical
Enquiries Team) has traced soldiers from these lists which would have
been handed in at each inquest. We believe that Chief Constable George
Hamilton is ignoring the families just like all his predecessors.”

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams expressed his “deep concern and anger”
after being shown a copy of the letter.

Mr Adams said the matter deserved “the urgent attention” of Taoiseach
Enda Kenny.

He added: “The deliberate withholding of resources and the failure to
speedily identify the soldiers present in Ballymurphy is evidence of a
British government and MoD deliberately frustrating the families


Relatives of the Ballymurphy victims have also expressed concern at
developments in the setting up of the new Historical Investigations
Unit (HIU), which is supposed to take on outstanding cases from the
Police Ombudsman and the HET.

Proposals for the HIU were revealed as part of the Stormont House
Agreement last December. Talks between the Stormont parties about
legislation to set up the independent body have continued in recent
weeks, and a ‘Director Designate’ could be named shortly to head the

Janet Donnelly, whose father Joseph Murphy was one of those shot dead by
the British army, attended a recent workshop on the HIU.

She believes no member of the British Crown forces, past or present,
should be given a role in the body, about which little has yet been

“Where would the independence be?” she said. “Where would the trust be?
There would be no trust.”

“I was not the only person with that opinion, a lot of people feel the
same way and I think victims and families should be asked what they want
and it has to be totally independent.”

In Memory to all deceased Firefighters from all over the world

Posted by Jim on August 21, 2015

Paul Isaac's photo.

Eirí Amach na Cásca (Part 2)

Posted by Jim on

from The Road to Rebellion by Mike McCormack
As the American Irish and their Irish-American sons and daughters coalesced into a wage-earning community of  Diaporadoes, organizations like the Ancient Order of Hibernians were formed in 1836 from early Ribbon societies to defend Catholic values.  They also nursed a dream of an independent Ireland and maintained links with their Ribbon mentors.  In the 1850s, several Ribbon groups in Ireland adopted the AOH name and facing extreme anti-Catholic bias, became effectively a green version of the Orange Order.  While still supporting Irish freedom, they became more religious-oriented than the militant Irish republican groups around them.  However, in America many Hibernians maintained dual membership in the Fenian Society which had sprung from the AOH Emmet Monument Society.  These organizations remained allies as the American AOH raised funds and political awareness to support Irish independence and the Fenian successor, Clan na Gael, supported a military approach in union with the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB).  The AOH also created a military sub-committee called the Hibernian Rifles to drill and train and serve as a protective honor guard for AOH functions.

The AOH in Ireland eventually became a political force supporting the Irish Parliamentary Party (IPP) and Home Rule (a peaceful attempt at limited self-government under the Crown) while the AOH in America grew as a benevolent, but more nationalist society.  Administrative and conceptual differences emerged and in 1886 the Order split between the AOH Board of Erin (BOE) and the AOH in America.  A number of divisions in Ireland, more militant than the BOE leadership, confirmed affiliation with the American AOH calling themselves the AOH American Alliance (AA).  Around 1907 a split occurred between the BOE and AA over registration as a Friendly Society of the British Empire.  The BOE continued to support Redmond’s IPP while the AA and the AOH in America remained allied with Clan Na Gael and the IRB indicating that the split was clearly between physical force and constitutional nationalists.  The American AOH was also regarded as being less sectarian as it had opened membership to more than native-born Irish so that Irish-American sons could join and limited honorary membership was offered to benefactors.  John J. Walsh of the Irish Volunteers in Cork commented on the two Hibernian groups in Ireland saying, They were in opposition on many matters, but the AA was the more national.

AA National Director John Joseph Scollan, noting that the American AOH provided for a military sub-committee, organized a Hibernian Rifles company in each Irish division.  He wrote,  I started a unit in each division and succeeded in getting about 20 men to join in each. These were all highly selected men. At this time the total number of members of the divisions (in Dublin) were 80, 100 and 150, approximately. The first recruiting ads appeared in James Connolly’s newspaper The Worker on 22 November 1913.  It stated that membership was open to all Catholic Irishmen of good character however, Scollan claimed that the Hibernian Rifles was non-sectarian and that its constitution did not bar anyone from joining. It was a semi-public organization open to all religions. The AA national board was supposed to be in command of the Hibernian Rifles but Scollan, as Commandant, directed and controlled the force which consisted of a ranking system of riflemen, captain, vice commandant and commandant.  Each company selected its own officers.  J.J. Walsh was made Vice Commandant and other officers were Captains Breslin, Garret and Sean Millroy.  Sympathetic Irish ex-British soldiers provided instruction in foot drill and military training in the Hibernian Hall at 28 North Frederick St.

Recruitment was from AA Divisions and ads in their newspaper The Hibernian which was published weekly from June 1915 until April 1916 with a national circulation of about 2,500 copies. The Hibernian also serialized a ‘Roll of Honor’ listing those who had been killed, wounded, imprisoned, deported or served with exclusion orders for republican activity.  The paper also carried notices for the Irish Volunteers.  The Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) and Dublin Metropolitan Police (DMP) kept intelligence files on  members of the Order and the DMP applied to the attorney general to have the paper suppressed since it was not registered in accordance with Newspapers Libel and Registration act of 1881.

With the rise of the unionist Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), Scollan detected a feeling abroad that something of a counteraction should take place and this resulted in recruiting for our units becoming much easier.  By late 1913 the Hibernian Rifle units had been established in Armagh, Belfast, Castlebar, Cork, Dingle and Dundalk, each with a membership of 30 or 35 from existing AA Division.  During the 1913 lockout the Hibernian Rifles sided with the striking workers as many members belonged to Connolly and Larkins’s union.  Even those AA who were not part of the Union raised money for the strikers. The BOE and Catholic bishops both actively condemned the strike and supported the employers. Scollan applied to the AOH in America to support the strikers and received more than a $1,000. ($25,000. today).  This money was used to augment the strike pay of Hibernian Rifles members of the union ensuring strong ties with Connolly’s Citizen Army.

After Redmond split the Volunteers by offering them to the British Army to fight in WWI, the Irish Volunteers were free from the influence of the IPP and the BOE Hibernians. As a result the Hibernian Rifles and Citizen Army developed a new attitude toward the IRB-dominated Irish Volunteers and all three groups were united in anti-recruiting activity, attending parades and public meetings organized by Connolly, the IRB and the Irish Volunteers.

Initially the Hibernian Rifles had no arms, but after the formation of the UVF, Scollan wrote to the AOH in America seeking arms.  He recorded, They did not supply any and we received a supply of American Military text books. However, in 1914, with money from America, they soon found a source of arms.  Scollan wrote, There was a division of Enniskillen Fusiliers based in Dollymount and from them we were able to purchase about one hundred rifles.  Notoriously underpaid British soldiers gladly sold their arms as they would be issued new ones.  The Brits would see those rifles again during the Easter Rising – in the arms of Hibernians and aimed at them.

North crisis as Provisional IRA linked to a revenge killing by police

Posted by Jim on

Threat of walkout from DUP if IRA was involved.

The Northern Ireland power sharing government faces a major crisis after allegations from a senior PSNI officer that some Provisional IRA members were involved in the alleged revenge killing of Kevin McGuigan in east Belfast.


McGuigan, 53, was gunned down outside his home in the Short Strand area on Wednesday August 12.

His death was said to be retaliation for the earlier murder of a leading IRA figure Jock Davidson in an internal Republican feud. A senior PSNI officer leading the investigation into the killing of Kevin McGuigan has linked his death to the Provisional IRA.

Detective superintendent Kevin Geddes stated: “A main line of inquiry in this investigation is that Kevin McGuigan was murdered by individuals seeking revenge for the murder of Jock Davison in May. Part of this main line of inquiry is that a group which calls itself Action Against Drugs (AAD) was closely involved in the murder.


“On 6th August, AAD stated that it intended to ‘execute’ the killer or killers of Jock Davison. Our assessment is that AAD is a group of individuals from a variety of backgrounds – some criminals, some violent dissident republicans and some former members of the Provisional IRA – who have formed into a dangerous, possibly murderous, grouping in order to pursue their own criminal agenda.

“It is also our assessment that some members and associates of AAD are, or were, members of the Provisional IRA. One of our major lines of inquiry is that members of the Provisional IRA were involved in this murder.”

First Minister Peter Robinson stated that his party, the DUP, would hold talks about continuing in government with Sinn Féin adding, “before the return of the Assembly from recess we will seek a further update from the chief constable to establish his conclusion regarding those responsible and the role of those in republican movement who are associated with Sinn Féin.”

A DUP refusal to serve with Sinn Féin would bring down the government.

However, Sinn Féin senior figure Gerry Kelly stated that both killings were “absolutely wrong” and denied any IRA involvement, saying there were “no republicans involved in these killings”.

“If it was the AAD, I am telling you it was a criminal gang,” he said. “Anyone that has any information about either of these killings needs to bring it forward. Whoever is involved in these killings needs taken off the streets and the bereaved families need to bring some sort of closure, both bereaved families.”

He said the “IRA has gone. It has left the stage.”

Queens AOH Div. 14 and Queens K of C Council 566 Benefit BBQ August 23

Posted by Jim on August 20, 2015



Holy Child Jesus

Leonard Center Garden

Sunday, August 23, 2015                     1 PM to 5 PM

Adults                Children                    Families

(Accompanied by an adult)                       (Four or more)

$10                         $5                            $30


Sponsored by:

Knights of Columbus                                           Ancient Order of Hibernians

Morris Park Council – 566                                            Queens – Division 14


In honor of the Anniversary of the Apparition of

Our Lady of Knock – Queen of Ireland

(August 21, 1879)

BBQ Sponsorship $ 100.00: contact Walter Cooper 347-724-6438


Proceeds of this fundraiser will be given to:

The HCJ Food Pantry

Mickey Devine – Hunger Striker

Posted by Jim on


Died August 20th, 1981

A typical Derry lad

TWENTY-seven-year-old Micky Devine, from the Creggan in Derry city, was the third INLA Volunteer to join the H-Block hunger strike to the death.

Micky Devine took over as O/C of the INLA blanket men in March when the then O/C, Patsy O’Hara, joined the hunger strike but he retained this leadership post when he joined the hunger strike himself.

Known as ‘Red Micky’, his nickname stemmed from his ginger hair rather than his political complexion, although he was most definitely a republican socialist.

The story of Micky Devine is not one of a republican ‘super-hero’ but of a typical Derry lad whose family suffered all of the ills of sectarian and class discrimination inflicted upon the Catholic working-class of that city: poor housing, unemployment and lack of opportunity.

Micky himself had a rough life.

His father died when Micky was a young lad; he found his mother dead when he was only a teenager; married young, his marriage ended in separation; he underwent four years of suffering ‘on the blanket’ in the H-Blocks; and, finally, the torture of hunger-strike.

Unusually for a young Derry nationalist, because of his family’s tragic history (unconnected with ‘the troubles’), Micky was not part of an extended family, and his only close relatives were his sister Margaret, seven years his elder, and now aged 34, and her husband, Frank McCauley, aged 36.


Michael James Devine was born on May 26th, 1954 in the Springtown camp, on the outskirts of Derry city, a former American army base from the Second World War, which Micky himself described as “the slum to end all slums”.

Hundreds of families – 99% (unemployed) Catholics, because of Derry corporation’s sectarian housing policy – lived, or rather existed, in huts, which were not kept in any decent state of repair by the corporation.

One of Micky’s earliest memories was of lying in a bed covered in old coats to keep the rain off the bed. His sister, Margaret, recalls that the huts were “okay” during the summer, but they leaked, and the rest of the year they were cold and damp.

Micky’s parents, Patrick and Elizabeth, both from Derry city, had got married in late 1945 shortly after the end of the Second World War, during which Patrick had served in the British merchant navy. He was a coalman by trade, but was unemployed for years.

At first Patrick and Elizabeth lived with the latter’s mother in Ardmore, a village near Derry, where Margaret was born in 1947. In early 1948 the family moved to Springtown where Micky was born in May 1954.

Although Springtown was meant to provide only temporary accommodation, official lethargy and sectarianism dictated that such inadequate housing was good enough for Catholics and it was not until the early ‘sixties that the camp was closed.


During the ‘fifties, the Creggan was built as a new Catholic ghetto, but it was 1960 before the Devines got their new home in Creggan, on the Circular Road. Micky had an unremarkable, but reasonably happy childhood. He went to Holy Child primary school in Creggan.

At the age of eleven Micky started at St. Joseph’s secondary school in Creggan, which he was to attend until he was fifteen.

But soon the first sad blow befell him. On Christmas eve 1965, when Micky was aged only eleven, his father fell ill; and six weeks later, in February 1966, his father, who was only in his forties, died of leukaemia.

Micky had been very close to his father and his premature death left Micky heartbroken.

Five months later, in July 1966, his sister Margaret left home to get married, whilst Micky remained in the Devines’ Circular Road home with his mother and granny.

At school Micky was an average pupil, and had no notable interests.


The first civil rights march in Derry took place on October 5th, 1968, when the sectarian RUC batoned several hundred protesters at Duke Street. Recalling that day, Micky, who was then only fourteen wrote:

“Like every other young person in Derry my whole way of thinking was tossed upside down by the events of October 5th, 1968. I didn’t even know there was a civil rights march. I saw it on television.

“But that night I was down the town smashing shop windows and stoning the RUC. Overnight I developed an intense hatred of the RUC. As a child I had always known not to talk to them, or to have anything to do with them, but this was different

“Within a month everyone was a political activist. I had never had a political thought in my life, but now we talked of nothing else. I was by no means politically aware but the speed of events gave me a quick education.”


After the infamous loyalist attack on civil rights marchers in nearby Burntollet, in January 1969, tension mounted in Derry through 1969 until the August 12th riots, when Orangemen – Apprentice Boys and the RUC – attacked the Bogside, meeting effective resistance, in the ‘Battle of the Bogside’. On two occasions in 1969 Micky ended up at the wrong end of an RUC baton, and consequently in hospital.

That summer Micky left school. Always keen to improve himself, he got a job as a shop assistant and over the next three years worked his way up the local ladder: from Hill’s furniture store on the Strand Road, to Sloan’s store in Shipquay Street, and finally to Austin’s furniture store in the Diamond (and one can get no higher in Derry, as a shop assistant).

British troops had arrived in August 1969, in the wake of the ‘Battle of the Bogside’. ‘Free Derry’ was maintained more by agreement with the British army than by physical force, but of course there were barricades, and Micky was one of the volunteers manning them with a hurley.


At that time, and during 1970 and 1971, Micky became involved in the civil rights movement, and with the local (uniquely militant) Labour Party and the Young Socialists.

The already strained relationship between British troops and the nationalist people of Derry steadily deteriorated – reinforced by news from elsewhere, especially Belfast – culminating with the shooting dead by the British army of two unarmed civilians, Seamus Cusack and Desmond Beattie, in July of 1971, and with internment in August. Micky, by this time seventeen years of age, and also politically maturing, had joined the ‘Officials’, also known as the ‘Sticks’.

He became a member of the James Connolly ‘Republican Club’ and then, shortly after internment, a member of the Derry Brigade of the ‘Official IRA’.

‘Free Derry’ had become known by that name after the successful defence of the Bog side in August 1969, but it really became ‘Free Derry’, in the form of concrete barricades etc., from internment day. Micky was amongst those armed volunteers who manned the barricades

Typical of his selfless nature (another common characteristic of the hunger strikers), no task was too small for him.

He was ‘game’ to do any job, such as tidying up the office. Young men, naturally enough, wanted to stand out on the barricades with rifles: he did that too, but nothing was too menial for him, and he was always looking for jobs.

Bloody Sunday, January 30th, 1972, when British Paratroopers shot dead thirteen unarmed civil rights demonstrators in Derry (a fourteenth died later from wounds received), was a turning point for Micky. From then there was no turning back on his republican commitment and he gradually lost interest in his work, and he was to become a full-time political and military activist.


Micky experienced the trauma of Bloody Sunday at first hand. He was on that fateful march with his brother-in-law, Frank, who recalls: “When the shooting started we ran, like everybody else, and when it was over we saw all the bodies being lifted.”

The slaughter confirmed to Micky that it was more than time to start shooting back. “How” he would ask, “can you sit back and watch while your own Derry men are shot down like dogs?”

Micky had written: “I will never forget standing in the Creggan chapel staring at the brown wooden boxes. We mourned, and Ireland mourned with us.

“That sight more than anything convinced me that there will never be peace in Ireland while Britain remains. When I looked at those coffins I developed a commitment to the republican cause that I have never lost.”

From around this time, until May when the ‘Official IRA’ leadership declared a unilateral ceasefire (unpopular with their Derry Volunteers), Micky was involved not only in defensive operations but in various gun attacks against British troops.

Micky’s commitment and courage had shone through, but no more so than in the case of scores of other Derry youths, flung into adulthood and warfare by a British army of occupation.


In September, 1972, came the second tragic loss in Micky’s family life. He came home one day to find his mother dead on the settee with his granny unsuccessfully trying to revive her.

His mother had died of a brain tumour, totally unexpectedly, at the age of forty-five. Doctors said it had taken her just three minutes to die. Micky, then aged eighteen, suffered a tremendous shock from this blow, and it took him many months to come to terms with his grief.

Through 1973, Micky remained connected with the ‘Sticks’, although increasingly disillusioned by their openly reformist path. He came to refer to the ‘Sticks’ as “fireside republicans”, and was highly critical of them for not being active enough.

Towards the end of that year, Micky, then aged nineteen, got married. His wife, Margaret, was only seventeen. They lived in Ranmore Drive in Creggan and had two children: Michael, now aged seven and Louise, now aged five.

Micky and his wife had since separated.

In late 1974, virtually all the ‘Sticks’ in Derry, including Micky, joined the newly formed IRSP, as did some who had dropped out over the years. And Micky necessarily became a founder member of the PLA (People’s Liberation Army), formed to defend the IRSP from murderous attacks by their former comrades in the sticks.

In early 1975, Micky became a founder member of the INLA (Irish National Liberation Army) formed for offensive operational purposes out of the PLA.

The months ahead were bad times for the IRSP, relatively isolated, and to suffer a strength-sapping split when Bernadette McAliskey left, taking with her a number of activists who formed the ISP (Independent Socialist Party), since deceased.

They were also difficult months for the fledgling INLA, suffering from a crippling lack of weaponry and funds. Weakness which led them into raids for both as their primary actions, and rendered them almost unable to operate against the Brits.

Micky was eventually arrested on the Creggan. In the evening of September 20th, 1976, after an arms raid earlier that day on a private weaponry, in Lifford, County Donegal, from which the INLA commandeered several rifles and shotguns, and three thousand rounds of ammunition.


Micky was arrested with Desmond Walmsley from Shantallow, and John Cassidy from Rosemount. Along on the operation, though never convicted for it, was the late Patsy O’Hara, with whom Micky used to knock around as a friend and comrade.

Micky was held and interrogated for three days in Derry’s Stand Road barracks, before being transported in Crumlin Road jail in Belfast where he spent nine months on remand.

He was sentenced to twelve years imprisonment on June 20th, 1977, and immediately embarked on the blanket protest. He was in H5-Block until March of this year when the hunger strike began and when the ‘no-wash, no slop-out’ protest ended, whereupon he was moved with others in his wing to H6-Block.

Like others incarcerated within the H-Blocks, suffering daily abuse and inhuman and degrading treatment, Micky realised – soon after he joined the blanket protest – that eventually it would come to a hunger strike, and, for him, the sooner the better. He was determined that when that ultimate step was reached he would be among those to hunger strike.


On Sunday, June 21st, this year, he completed his fourth year on the blanket, and the following day he joined Joe McDonnell, Kieran Doherty, Kevin Lynch, Martin Hurson, Thomas McElwee and Paddy Quinn on hunger strike.

He became the seventh man in a weekly build-up from a four-strong hunger strike team to eight-strong. He was moved to the prison hospital on Wednesday, July 15th, his twenty fourth day on hunger strike.

With the 50 % remission available to conforming prisoners, Micky would have been due out of jail next September.

As it was, because of his principled republican rejection of the criminal tag he chose to fight and face death.

Micky died at 7.50 am on Thursday, August 201h, as nationalist voters in Fermanagh/South Tyrone were beginning to make their way to the polling booths to elect Owen Carron, a member of parliament for the constituency, in a demonstration – for the second time in less than five months – of their support for the prisoners’ demands.


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

Posted by Jim on

Cab Driver Poetry on Radio Free Eireann

Radio Free Eireann will feature New York City cabdrivers reading their poetry this Saturday August 22nd at 12 Noon New York time when we broadcast live from Rocky

Sullivan’s of Red Hook, 34 Van Dyke Street in Brooklyn. The readers will include John (Cabdavist) McDonagh, Davidson (King Lear of the Taxicab) Garrett and Seth (Stinky)

Goldman, whose poetry is part of the PEN Writers Project.

Come, meet the poets. and enjoy a pint and Rocky’s pizza.


Radio Free Eireann is heard on WBAI 99.5 FM and on the web

where it is archived for 10 days..

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

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

Unrepentant Finian Bastards

Eirí Amach na Cásca (Part 1)

Posted by Jim on August 19, 2015

from The Road to Rebellion by Mike McCormack
John F Kennedy said in a 1962 speech that Those who make peaceful revolution impossible, make violent revolution inevitable which is why we believe that it’s not the rebel that creates the violence, but the violence that creates the rebel.  Early Americans knew that and the American Revolution was the result.  The patriots of 1916 also knew that and the Easter Rising was the result.  But that rising was different from all others in Irish history.

The desire for independence has always been at the core of the Irish heart, but to understand what made 1916 unique, there are three things to consider and coincidentally, three had always been a special number for the Irish.  As far back as the ancient time, the Shamrock was  sacred to the Druids because it illustrated why things natural came in threes like sea, earth and sky, and things human like birth, life and death.  Saint Patrick even validated that number in the Trinity.  Even Irish proverbs came in threes like the three things to be most wary of: the horn of a bull, the bark of a dog and the word of an Englishman!  It is significant, therefore, that the Easter Rising would not have happened were it not for three factors; like the three leaves of the Shamrock of Insurrection, you might say.

The first leaf was the political and economic pendulum that swung back and forth from hope to hostility for an entire century from 1816 to 1916.  In 1816 the peace of a shared prosperity, created by the Napoleonic War economy, ended and by 1820 post-war selfishness on the part of Parliament provoked the Rockite Rebellion which was brutally put down. Then in 1823 a peaceful  attempt by Daniel O’Connell’s Catholic Association renewed hopes of self-reliance.  But, by 1830 it was back to violence as Parliament incited a Tithe War which was again brutally put down.  In 1840 peaceful promise was again tried in the Repeal Association, but from 1845 on, official neglect during the Great Hunger gave rise to violence again in 1848 when the Irish Confederation rose and was defeated.  Then in 1852 another peaceful attempt was born in the Irish Conservative Party but landlord opposition killed that effort by 1858 at which time the Irish Republican Brotherhood was born and that was violently subdued in a failed Rising in 1867.  In the 1880s, another attempt at peaceful accord was made by Charles Stewart Parnell’s Irish Parliamentary Party, but by 1891 Westminster-instigated schemes split his Party until Parnell died.  Then in 1913, a peaceful labor movement ended in the Great Labor Lockout and official violence against workers drove James Connolly to start the Irish Citizen Army to fight back.  Then came 1914 and another peaceful promise  with the passage of a Home Rule Bill.  But that Bill was being undermined by Orange Order opposition, the Curragh Mutiny in which British military refused to enforce it and Parliamentary duplicity in attempting to change the Bill to partition Ireland. History was repeating itself. For 100 years, peaceful attempts had always been frustrated, driving the Irish to violence only to be put down after which a peaceful approach was tried again and the cycle was repeated, over and over. But they never gave up and the goal of every attempt – peaceful or violent, remained the same – self-determination.  But that frustration was common to all previous risings. What made this time different was the second leaf of the Shamrock of Insurrection.

The second leaf was that behind the repeated frustration of promise and conflict, a dream was born with the Gaelic Revival – a national educational movement that revived a pride in their heritage through history.  Indoctrinated by fireside tales in the days before television, few grew up without hearing the seanachie tell of past attempts at eliminating colonial oppression. Those tales were validated by teachers, fathers and grandfathers and a dream took shape with the formation of nationalist-oriented groups.  There came Literary clubs like the Ossianic Society, the Phoenix Literary Society and the Dungannon Clubs. They formed societies like the Gaelic League, the Gaelic Athletic Ass’n, the Hibernian Rifles and Irish Volunteers; Ladies societies like Inghinidhe na hEireann and Cumann na mBan and youth clubs like na Fianna hEireann.  And all the while Newspapers like the Sword of Light, the United Irishman and the Irish Volunteer promoted the nationalist gospel of self-determination.  The Gaelic Revival stimulated the longing for liberation.  Even Pearse recognized that when he said the Irish revolution really began when the seven Gaelic League members met in O’Connell Street.  The germ of all future Irish history was in that back room.  But, if it was the Gaelic Revival that put the frustrated Irish on the Road to Rebellion, it was the Irish in America who paved that road for they were the third leaf of the shamrock of insurrection!

The motivation to action came from the Irish who were forced to flee their homeland, but who never fled their heritage.  Britain had forced into exile angry Irish rebels like John Devoy, Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa and Tom Clarke.  They had also forced into emigration millions of Ireland’s sons and daughters fleeing hunger and eviction during the Artificial Famine.  These displaced Irish formed a desperate Diaspora that I call the Diasperadoes.  Americanized-Irish like Devoy, Rossa and Clarke joined with Irish-American sons of exiles, like Judge Daniel Cohalan and others, to influence existing organizations like the AOH to form such committees as the Emmet Monument Association and they created new societies like the Napper Tandy Clubs, Clan na Gael, Friends of Irish Freedom and more. They organized fund-raisers among the Diasperadoes who had overcome American prejudice to become a community of wage-earners – a community whose memories of the Great Hunger created a mentality that supported retribution.  And they provided the weapon that would enable the Irish to topple the crown.

Miles of Smiles for the Achilles Kids

Posted by Jim on

Miles of Smiles for the Achilles Kids
You are cordially invited “To The Finish Line of Tom McGrath’s 100 Mile Solo Run” to buy “Shoes for the Disabled Achilles Kids” and to attend the Premier of “Every 5 Minutes” (A Documentary Film of Tom’s Life – a true story of Triumph and Tragedy, Salvation and Redemption – to overpower Alcohol)

Date: October 2nd 2015

Time: 1st Showing 7 pm
2nd Showing 8:30 pm

Venue: Helen Mills Theater
137 -139 W 26th St. (Between 6th and 7th Ave)
New York, NY 10001 – 6833

Followed by

Fundraiser: Complimentary Buffet + Cocktails/Party/Music etc.

@The Black Sheep 583 3rd Avenue (38th St.)

After each Showing transport available to Fundraiser

All Donations “Go to The Kids”
Suggested Donation $100 (Which buys 4 pairs of shoes)

Book your seats for first or second showing as soon as possible


Invitation only as seating is limited

Tickets also available at The Black Sheep 212-599-3476

34th Annual Great Irish Fair of New York Sept. 26th & 27th, 2015

Posted by Jim on

The Canny Brothers Band's photo.

43rd Annual Nassau County Irish Feis and Festival Sept. 20, 2015

Posted by Jim on

Feis Logo

The Ancient Order of Hibernians sponsors the 43rd Annual Nassau County Irish Feis and Festival on September 20, 2015. The Feis is a celebration of Irish culture and history. It will be held at Nickerson Beach Park in Lido Beach and will be replete with traditional Irish dance, musc and piping competitions, along with an Irish Marketplace and a special area for the kids.

And since it’s a Sunday, Mass will be celebrated in the morning.

The day centers around Irish tradition. The dance competitions make it the premiere Feis in the New York Area, and pipers from all around come to perform.

Enjoy a great day of.  Irish culture!  Tickets are only $10.00 with children under 16 getting free admission as long as they are accompanied by an adult.

Cancer survivor wins Rose of Tralee in emotional victory

Posted by Jim on

Cancer survivor Elysha Brennan wins this years Rose of Tralee.

Cancer survivor Elysha Brennan was crowned the winner of this year’s Rose of Tralee contest on Tuesday night. She suffered from Hodgkin’s lymphoma but survived the cancer and is now is a medical student. The Rose of Tralee is annually the most watched program on Irish television as 32 women from all over the world compete.


Brennan described how she noticed a lump on her neck before taking her finals in school and the shock when she was diagnosed with cancer.

“It felt like being hit by a double-decker bus,” she said. “It was a huge shock. The first thought with cancer was, ‘I’m going to die.’ “I was given the news that I was in complete remission in February of 2013,” she told host Dáithí Ó Sé. “Two and a half years later, I’m happy and healthy and in a course that I love.”


Despite the cancer treatments, Brennan got into medical school and is entering her third year. Her ambition is to be a pediatrician.

She says she has a passion “for all things song and dance.” “I have been lucky enough to have taken part in the Olympia Theatre Dublin Christmas pantomimes and a Michael Jackson tribute show,” she said. “I made a bucket list two years ago and am slowly ticking things off, including visiting the Statue of Liberty in New York and Greek island hopping.”

Her win comes after last year’s winner Maria Walsh announced she was gay after she won. Walsh was on hand to crown the new rose.


Posted by Jim on August 18, 2015

The political crisis in the North deepened this week when a bomb attack
struck the British Army’s Palace Barracks, the headquarters of MI5 in

The bomb exploded inside a van, from which a fire spread to a number of
nearby vehicles and garages. There were no reports of any injuries.
British Direct Ruler Therese Villiers described the attack as “reckless
and futile”, and Stormont politicians were also quick to condemn it.

The Palace Barracks complex in Holywood, County Down is the main
back-up to MI5 headquarters in London and is its largest base outside
the English capital, with over 1,000 agents.

Soldiers from The Royal Scots Borderers have also been stationed at the
base since August 2014, which has one of the highest levels of security
of any British military installation in Ireland. All vehicles entering
are searched, and anyone regularly entering the building must be first
subject to background security checks.

Friday’s attack represents a major breach of that security and shows
that despite the best efforts of the British military, nowhere is beyond
the reach of the breakaway IRA groups. Significant planning will have
gone into such an operation to ensure the device made it through
security undetected.

Although the bomb was not large, it has undoubtedly caused further
embarrassment for the PSNI, British military and intelligence chiefs.
Five years ago, a bomb containing between 40lbs and 50lbs of explosive
was driven to the same barracks and set off. Spy cameras hidden in trees
were later found to have been gathering information on the #20m base.
Following that attack, security was supposed to have been stepped up.

Friday’s attack has followed an escalation in armed actions in the
North, all without causing injury.

A bomb which exploded in a roadside bin in Derry on Tuesday night was
described as having “all the hallmarks” of an IRA attack, according to
the PSNI. The area around the Skeoge Road was sealed off following
reports of a loud explosion in the Galliagh are.

It was initially thought that a gas cylinder had been thrown onto a
bonfire. However, the PSNI later confirmed the noise was the result of a
roadside bomb.

Last week, a mortar rocket was also found during a major two-day
security operation at the graveyard in the Townsend Street area of the
County Tyrone town of Strabane. The PSNI said the bomb was “viable” and
could easily have been used to mount an attack.


Posted by Jim on August 16, 2015

Pump your fist if you love freedom
Pump your fist if you love culture
For 150 years you’ve been creatin us
Be hatin like Satan
By beratin us in Punch cartoons
You depicted us as swill
And wack TV shows like that dead fool Benny Hill
Amazing you never came to your senses
Figured out you would have to face the consequences
Sent us across the water but you didn’t scope the tide
And now the tide is rising worldwideFrom Devoy to O’Neill and John O’Mahoney

To Joe McGarrity and Michael Flannery
Seditions are tradition and it won’t just go away
Say it loud say it proud I will stay an
Unrepentant Fenian bastard
Unrepentant Fenian bastard
Unrepentant Fenian bastard
Respect to all who refuse to be mastered

Winnie Carney, ‘Typist With the Webley’ and Connolly Confidante

Posted by Jim on

Posted by That’s Just How It Was

Winifred Carney was born into a large family of eight children in Larne, Bangor, County Down, in 1887. Her siblings were Maud; Mabel; Sarah Cassidy Carnet; Marie Winfred Carney [McBride]; Louis Emanuel; and Alfred and Ernest Carney. When she was a very young child, they family moved to the Falls Road in Belfast [meaning “district of the hedges”] . This is the main road through West Belfast – and its name is synonymous with the Irish republican community in the city.

Her mum owned and ran a small family store, which catered for all the people of this area. Never wealthy, they were none the less classified as ‘comfortable’ and the children were all well-educated, well-dressed and well-fed.

Growing up on the Falls Road with a tradition of rioting, as far back as the 18th century, and way beyond then really, ensured that the children living in this area were immersed into the same traditions as their forefathers. One such riot was in June 1886, following the defeat of the Government Act, when a crowd of around 2,000 local people clashed with the Royal Irish Constabulary. Suffice to say, the police had to barricade themselves in Bowers Hill Barracks.

A long siege followed, in which many locals and officers were hurt and wounded. The residents who live in the many streets that branch off the main artery [Falls Road] — one being the loyalist enclave centered on the Shankill Road — form the five wards of the Court District Electoral Area. Interestingly, some of the streets in the Shanklill area, such as Cambria Street, Brussels Street, and Leopold Street are places that were named after people connected with Belgium or Flanders, where the flax for the linen was grown and transported to Belfast to be woven into linen. It was a thriving industry in this era, with Irish linen being a much sought after commodity all over the world, though in later years it declined.  It was against this background of republicanism that Carney grew up.

She was educated at the Christian Brothers in Donegal Street, Belfast. An able and intelligent student, she thrived at her studies. So much so that she then was admitted into Hughes Commercial Academy and qualified as a secretary and shorthand typist – one of the first women in Ireland to do so in this era.  She then went back to teach at the Christian Brothers School for a short time. She became a clerk. As her diligence to her work and her aptitude for learning and organization skills became known, she found herself much sought after by employers.

Carney became involved in the Gáelic Leagues and joined the suffragists and other socialist activities. By 1912, she had met James Connolly (pictured), who was then based in Belfast. He offered her the post of secretary of the Textile Workers Union. [Officially part of the Irish Women Workers Union — it was in practice the women’s section of the Irish Transport and General Workers Union Belfast.] She then joined the Citizens Army and thereby cemented her place in the 1916 Easter Rising. Privy to all of Connolly’s thoughts and communication, she was, some sources say, James Connolly personified into a woman.

Carney’s whole life was centred around Connolly and the trade union. She became a part of his family, and became friends with his daughter Nora. Whichever historical records one researches, it becomes clear that Carney was invaluable to James Connolly, supporting his work with other revolutionary movements and his meetings with fellow republicans, and employers in his role as the union representative. Nora Connolly had always been beside her father in all his daily work and communications [she provided that much needed support to her father during the Easter Rising — in the General Post Office and Moore Street — with some sources saying that he gave Nora his documents in his final days. Still, Connolly’s life became an open book to Carney — it was she who typed all of his publications, including meeting minutes, and she was privy to all this sometimes well into the night, and thus became his confidante.

In their circle of friends, she became known as the typist with the Webley.

By the beginning of April, Connolly was heavily involved in and had been having discussions with the Irish Republican Brotherhood about the planned rising, so he summoned Carney to Dublin by telegram . She arrived all set and ready for whatever Connolly wanted her to do. In Liberty Hall, she found herself typing dispatches and mobilisation orders. On that fateful Easter Monday morning, Carney was the first woman to arrive before dawn, with her typewriter and her Webley. In their circle of friends, she became known as the typist with the Webley. In the General Post Office, she continued in her role as Connolly’s secretary, writing dispatches and mobilisations orders. When Connolly was wounded, she remained by his side until he was arrested, through all the gunfire and the bombs that set the General Post Office on fire, and his transfer to Gorman’s shop on Moore Street. Gravely wounded, Connolly dictated to Carney his final orders.

Carney and her other colleagues in Cumann mBan were later arrested and taken to Kilmainham Gaol, including Helena Melony and Nell Ryan. They were then transferred to Aylesbury Prison, England. These women tried to revoke their internee status with the privileges it brought so that they could be held as normal prisoners with Countess Markievicz. Their request was denied. They were finally released in December 1916.

After her release, Carney stood as a Sinn Fein candidate, but she lost the election. She continued to work for the Transport and General Workers Union. After the Anglo-Irish Treaty, Carney sided with the anti-treaty forces  and was arrested on numerous occasions for her role in the wide-ranging challenges to the newly formed Free State government.

By 1924 Carney had joined the Northern Ireland Labour Party, and was a committed and dedicated member. In 1928, she met and fell in love with a man named George McBride, who was a Protestant [an Orangeman, and a former UVF officer] – they then got married.  It is ironic that it was the formation of the Ulster Volunteers that prompted the formation of the Irish Volunteers, which Carney had joined. Their relationship, however, was based on a common focus — ‘socialism’.  The lived together quite happily in Carlisle Circus, Belfast, despite the fact that their marriage alienated a lot of people. Such was the bigotry and sectarianism held by both Catholic and Protestant [‘Orangeman’ and ‘Papist’] that in marrying each other they were ostracized from social circles.

She fell in love with a man named George McBride, who was a Protestant [an Orangeman and a former UVF officer] – they then got married.

By 1930 Carney had joined the Belfast Socialist party, where she found like-minded people, comrades who accepted her and her husband. Carney continued to lead an active political life until ill heath overcame her — it was this more than anything else that limited her future political activities.

Historical records note that she was appointed as an adjutant to Connolly [adjutant defined as a staff officer who assists the commanding officer in issuing orders] — this alone should have warranted her place in history books. She was, however, a woman, like the rest of Cumann na mBan,, so her place in history has been overshadowed by the men of this period, who instead have been given iconic status.

Carney — “ the typist with the Webley,” “the silent rebel “ — died in 1943 and is buried in Milltown Cemetery. Some sources suggest that her grave remains unmarked, others advise that her headstone was erected by the National Graves Association, Belfast.

Once again, I endorse the words of Fearghal McGarry, Queen’s University, Belfast. He notes, “There could be worse ways of commemorating Ireland’s revolution than restoring these forgotten women, and the lost ideals that inspired them, to prominence.” Amen to that!


Failures in ‘Craigavon Two’ judgement outlined

Posted by Jim on

A lawyer for one of two men convicted of an IRA action in March 2009 has
raised fresh concerns about the case.

John Finucane was speaking at an event organised by the Justice for the
Craigavon Two campaign as part of Feile an Phobail, the West Belfast
festival, on Friday.

A PSNI man was shot dead by a Continuity IRA sniper as he answered an
emergency call in Craigavon. Two Craigavon men, Brendan McConville and
John Paul Wootton, are both serving lengthy prison sentences after being
convicted of the attack under ‘joint enterprise’ laws.

Prosecutors have never been able to attribute a role to either man, who
both deny they played any part in the attack.

Other speakers at the event included members of English based campaign
group Jengba – Joint Enterprise Not Guilty by Association – and academic
Kevin Hearty, who spoke about policing in the north.

During the event Mr Finucane, who represents John Paul Wootton, said
that “if the judge isn’t sure what John Paul did then I don’t think he
can be sure beyond a reasonable doubt that he is guilty of a plan to
murder a police officer.

“The role has never been described,” he said. “The judge made reference
at the trial that it was some sort of logistical support after the

“At the appeal that changed to some type of logistical support either
before or after.

“I don’t think you need to be a lawyer to have concerns that is
exceptionally vague.

“Again it ties John Paul into an act, a conspiracy which really there is
very little evidence for.”

Mr Finucane is a son of human rights lawyer Pat Finucane who was
murdered by loyalists in collusion with the British Crown forces in
February 1989.

A two-tier policing and justice system

Posted by Jim on

By Peter Kearney (for

The 2015 Anti Internment League’s (AIL) march against internment took
place in north Belfast at 2:30 pm on Sunday 9 August to oppose “the
unjust imprisonment of Republicans via internment by remand, revocation
of license and miscarriage of justice to stand as one in opposition to
this British policy in Ireland”.

This year’s march only managed to travel 500 metres from Ardoyne Avenue
to the junction of Old Park Road and Rosapenna Street. It was at this
point that it was stopped by a cordon of PSNI (Police Service of
Northern Ireland), in space-age riot gear, armed with shields, batons
and guns standing between a line of heavily fortified land rovers. This
line was backed up by several other PSNI land rovers to the rear and at
least one water canon truck.

This years march brings to light that a two tier system of policing and
justice may well be in place in the north of Ireland.

This AIL parade was to be the only republican parade of the year to
march through Belfast yet it was still refused full permission by the
Parades Commission (PC). Each year and several times per year, Orange
Order (OO) parades march through the city centre while violating the PC
conditions they march and in a sectarian manner.

Furthermore, as witnessed at the recent 12th July march in Ardoyne, a
member of the OO attempted to murder his republican neighbours by
driving a car into a crowd of on-lookers. He injured two, hospitalizing
a teenage girl in the process. He was released on bail soon after being
arrested and going to court. Contrast that with the imprisonment of
Irish Republicans, for months and sometimes years on end, with no court
appearance and based simply on the word of a police officer. This is a
mere snapshot of how justice and policing is administered in the north
of Ireland.

The Parades Commission (PC) ruling that this march would be blocked
unless it was in and out of Belfast city centre by 1:30pm was an
impossible task. Especially when organisers had already decided to begin
at 2:30pm. Hence the march was blocked.

So why would they not just march at 1:30 and have done with it? The
march would have gone ahead, with full PSNI protection, and for the
second year in a row Republicans would have marched through Belfast city
centre. This would demonstrate a gathering of momentum. The parade goes
through again next year and the year after that and could eventually
lead to the climate being as it should always have been – loyalists
respecting the right of their Republican and Catholic neighbours to
march in their own city.

But march organisers claim they had already accommodated the PC by
moving the march from a busy shopping Saturday to a quieter Sunday. They
also moved the time of their march to 2:30 to accommodate the
Ballymurphy Massacre march taking place in Belfast that day. Republicans
may indeed argue that the need for this parade is based on the fact that
they already move too much. Therefore asking the PC to accommodate their
2:30 start would not be unreasonable.

As this journalist witnessed, this march was a peaceful march.
Furthermore the marchers have no history of violence on such marches and
it was billed as a ‘human rights march’ by organisers. In fact, on more
than one occasion, the marchers have been subject to attack and abuse
from British loyalist groups who have targeted the march in the past.


The AIL believe that since internment was officially reintroduced in
Ireland in 1971 (as it had been in de facto use since at least the
1920s), that it has never been fully revoked. While internment in
Ireland today may not be as brutal or obvious as it was in the 1970s,
like the ‘The Hooded Men’ – they claim it still exists through use of
remand, revocation of license and miscarriage of justice.

The AIL are Irish Republicans who oppose the Good Friday Agreement
(GFA), follow on agreements to the GFA and the British presence in
Ireland. Internment was reintroduced by the British in August 1971 in
Ireland to arrest and imprison, without trial, anyone they believed to
be in the IRA. In fact very few of those arrested were members of the
IRA. Internment served only to harass and persecute the Republican
community and swell the numbers of the IRA.


Today, the AIL believe, that both the British and Irish administrations
in Ireland are implementing internment by remanding Republican activists
in prison on spurious charges. Republicans are later freed, without any
charge, but with severe limitations placed upon their freedom. These
restrictions include, prohibiting them from speaking to the media or
expressing their opinions publicly.

Republican activists believe the intention is to remove them from the
political sphere and to weaken republican activism and protest against
the Good Friday Agreement and British institutions in the north of

Stephen Murney and Dee Fennell are recent examples but the list is much


Additionally, Republicans have been interned through the revocation of
their license, which granted their release from prison under the Good
Friday Agreement. Revocation of this license returns them to prison. One
such case was that of Marian Price, even though she had never been
released on license but on royal pardon. Martin Corey is another such example.

It is on this basis that Irish republicans march against what they
perceive as internment. They do so as close to 9 August as possible, to
commemorate the date the British government reintroduced internment
without trial in Ireland in 1971.


One further and arguably more sinister way in which internment is
implemented, according to those in the AIL, is through miscarriages of
justice. The most publicized of these cases is that of Brendan
McConville and John Paul Wootton – The Craigavon Two – #JFTC2

Jailed for the killing of PSNI Constable Stephen Carroll in March 2009,
campaigners believe the evidence against them is flimsy and their
imprisonment unjust. And despite the continued concerns about the
conviction of the Craigavon Two – Fresh Concerns for the Craigavon Two –
they remain on the inside.

These are the main reasons the AIL believe internment is still being
used as a tool by the British authorities in Ireland against those who
oppose their presence.


These points were raised again at this years march as they had been at
previous marches. In recent years, the 2013 AIL march was marred by
British loyalist violence and was re-routed as a result.

The 2014 rally was relatively peaceful yet it was still attacked by
British Loyalist protestors as it passed through Royal Avenue in Belfast
city centre. The PSNI, again in full riot gear, stood and watched
Republican marchers while standing with their backs to the loyalist mob
on Royal Avenue, that threw missiles, bangers and other projectiles at
the marchers.

The PSNI made no attempt to tackle loyalist protestors or prevent them
from attacking the passing republican parade. Again a two-tier approach
in operation.

When this years march was blocked by Robocop styled PSNI riot squad
there were already countless PSNI land rovers policing the area before,
during and surprisingly afterwards. What was also surprising was the
shut down of Belfast city centre. As my taxi driver said “it’s like the
70s in the city centre”.

Notwithstanding the heavy and semi militarised police presence the
parade was peaceful. Organisers had called for this beforehand and had
asked those with non-peaceful intentions to stay well away. Organisers
even removed one of their marchers, holding the Irish tricolour, who had
made his way onto the bonnet of a PSNI land rover in the police cordon.

Once marchers arrived at the police cordon, the announcement came over
the loudspeakers, as was posted on police signage, that the march could
proceed no further. This met with chants and boos from the crowd but
this was to be the height of the disturbances.

Shortly afterwards speeches were made by one of the organisers and a
Donegal Councillor, Micheal Colm Mac Giolla Easbuig, from the Gaeltacht
region in Donegal. Immediately after these speeches one of the
organisers announced that this was the end of the march and they would
now be dispersing. He asked that everybody do so peacefully. Everybody
followed suit.

Shortly afterwards I noticed, as I conducted my final interview after
the march, that an eerie silence descended as all participants had
dispersed. We were one of the last people left in the area. After this
interview we went on our way and walked for about 10-15 minutes before
getting into a car to leave. We drove around for some time, as most
roads were blocked with traffic leaving Ardoyne, so we had to return to
Old Park Road to get to the Falls Road, where I had parked my car.

It was now at least one hour since the march had ended and some time had
passed since everybody left the Old Park Road/Rosapenna Street junction.
It is therefore surprising that the police still remained. The bands and
marchers had long since dispersed so their presence was no longer
required. Why did the police remain there for so long after the march
had ended and people had dispersed? Why were they still so heavily
armed? Did this in any way contribute to provoking a response from local

When I returned to the Old Park Road area at that time I witnessed some
stone and missile throwing at the police which, by Belfast standards,
was hardly noteworthy. What was noteworthy was the heavy police
presence, the armory they carried and the deployment of a water cannon
truck. I could see little justification for such a presence,
particularly as everybody had left at that time.

Contrast that scene with the scene, 5 minutes away, at the Twaddle
interface. A mere handful of police stood without riot helmets, shields
or batons in front of the loyalist mob gathered there. However, Police
land rovers swooped into the Twaddell area as they noticed that the
Republican marchers were heading towards the shops opposite Twaddell.
The shops area is in a predominantly republican area. Land rovers
swooped in to prevent marchers marching in their own area and on their
own streets and little or no police presence to block loyalists. Again
two tier.

Despite the peaceful nature of the march this is how one Dublin media
outlet reported on it. A similar approach was taken by Belfast outlets

It needs to be remembered that roughly 60% of all parades held in the
north of Ireland are OO or OO related. The vast majority of these are
contentious yet still they march through city centres and through
catholic and republican neighbourhoods. Little is done about their PC
breaches – Parades Commission report 2012 and flash points such as
Drumcree and Twaddell are still tolerated.

Everybody has a right to march through their own city centre and through
their own neighbourhoods. As I witnessed at yesterday’s Anti-Internment
march, the police presence at that time was unwarranted and could have
been provocative. A pregnant woman was manhandled in the most brutal
fashion into the back of a police land rover and the city was put into a
military styled shut down.

While not as brutal as in the past, it would appear as if a two tier
police and justice system – one rule for Irish Republicans and another,
much more lenient one, for the pro British community – is in force today
in the north of Ireland. And this time it has the approval of certain
Republican parties.

Meet the Rose tipped to win this year’s Rose of Tralee By Warren Swords

Posted by Jim on

New York Rose Sophie Colgan is the favourite to be crowned this year’s Rose of Tralee.

Dáithí Ó Sé will be joined by 32 roses for the 56th International Rose of Tralee which will be broadcast live on Monday and Tuesday.

Bookmakers are tipping the New York Rose to win but have been forced to slash the odds for Wicklow Rose Megan Swart following a surge in support.

Rose Of Tralee 2015 Favourites
Scotland Rose Brid Madigan (left) and New York Sophie Colgan have some fun at the Guinness Storehouse

BoyleSports say that Megan was initially ‘installed at 50/1 to win but following support across the country, is now on offer at 12/1 to be victorious.’

‘The Rose Of Tralee betting market is certainly in full growth over the past few days with numerous Roses seeing support to win the crown.’

‘Megan Swart is the youngest Rose in this year’s competition and the Wicklow Rose who was born in South Africa is starting to catch the eye of punters.’

Rose Of Tralee 2015 Favourites
Wicklow Rose Megan Swart (18) celebrates after receiving her Leaving Cert results

On Wednesday, Megan collected her Leaving Cert results and is now looking forward to starting a course in International Hospitality at DIT

The 32 Roses will represent centres in Ireland, Britain, United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, mainland Europe and the Middle East.

If the event wasn’t twee enough, Daniel O’Donnell will perform ‘The Rose of Tralee’ song as the 2015 Rose is being crowned.

Rose Of Tralee 2015 Favourites
The 56th International Rose of Tralee Selection will be broadcast live from the Festival Dome from 8pm on Monday 17th and Tuesday 18th August on RTÉ One

The top ten according to the bookmakers are:

New York Rose – Sophie Colgan 5/2
Dublin Rose – Aisling Finnegan 11/2
Kentucky Rose – Emily Hughes 11/2
Dubai Rose – Maire Ryan 7/1
Cork Rose – Aoife Murphy 8/1
London Rose – Aisling Hillary 8/1
Abu Dhabi Rose – Deirde Ward 8/1
Louth Rose – Jenny Hanlon 8/1
German Rose – Roisin Ni Mhathuna 10/1
Perth Rose – Denise Lynch 10/1


Why “No Irish Need Apply” truth is so important for Irish America by Niall O’Dowd

Posted by Jim on


We need to unashamedly reclaim that legacy for what it is: A magnificent emigrant success story

Rebecca Fried, a 14-year-old Washington, D.C. schoolgirl, has done the Irish American community a great service by exposing the recent myth propelled by a professor that “No Irish Need Apply” signs did not exist except in isolated incidents.

Rebecca’s challenge was to Professor Richard Jensen of the University of Illinois, who had written a deeply influential paper in 2002 that argued that the number of such signs and advertisements had been greatly exaggerated.

His thesis became accepted fact in many corners of academia — until Rachel Fried took it head on.

As The Washington Post, Smithsonian magazine and the Daily Beast all reported, Rebecca with a simple Google search and some old fashioned research found quite the opposite — including evidence that there were violent incidents around such ads.

 Our sister publication IrishCentral issued a call to readers to send in examples they knew of, and soon we soon had over 1,400 cases documented, starting in 1828 and including signs as far away as Alaska and Australia.
 Why is all this important? The Irish community is entitled to the historic truth about what our ancestors faced when they first came to America.

Many came in coffin ships. The only emigrants worse off were the blacks from Africa who came in chains.

Yet there has been a loose movement, much of it from academia and revisionist Irish sources, to undermine the reality of the Irish emigrant experience in America.

It is a dangerous precedent, rewriting the history of a people who by any standard faced very hard times when they arrived on America’s shores.

 It took a 14-year-old high schooler in Washington to set the record straight on an integral part of that history.

As noted Irish American historian Kerby Miller, author of “Emigrants and Exiles” noted, it was difficult to refute assertions made by Professor Jepsen because many in academia were inclined to believe them because of a cultural bias.

In a week where an Irish bishop compared the plight of drowning African emigrants off Europe’s shores to Ireland’s coffin ships, it seems particularly important to get the historical record straight.

Professor Jepsen in dialogue with Rebecca Fried has refused to acknowledge his paper was incorrect, which seems a very churlish position given the overwhelming evidence.

His refusal makes clear the inherent bias that is indeed there out in academia towards Irish Americans in history.

We need to unashamedly reclaim that legacy for what it is: A magnificent emigrant success story, overcoming huge prejudice and discrimination.

Remember the signs lasted well into the 20th century, yet by 1960 an Irish American was in the White House in the person of JFK.

It was an epic journey and we should never forget the facts. A big thank you to Rebecca Fried for setting the truth free.

Mary Courtney concert

Posted by Jim on August 14, 2015

Friday Sept 4th 5:30- 8:00pm.
Mary Courtney plays a solo concert at The Bartow- Pell Mansion, 895 Shore Road Pelham Bay Park in the Bronx. For tickets please call (718) 885-1461 or online at

Racist Attack on Former Republican Prisoner

Posted by Jim on


It is an odious occurrence that a former republican prisoner who is currently a writer has had his home laid siege to in West Belfast. Tim Brannigan was not subject to attack because he had served time or by people opposed to what he actually writes – they might not even be able to read, such is their penchant for the Neanderthal lifestyle. He was targeted because he is black. His home was bricked and bottled while abuse about his skin colour was vented by a gathering of purportedly bonfire revellers but who were not outside his house for the purpose of revelling, but for that of reviling the black man inside.

Had the mob thought about it, they might have noticed the parallels between themselves and the images and footage of others attired with white robes and hoods as they on occasion amassed outside the homes of black families in the southerly states of the USA. Then they are probably not the type given to thinking and maybe if they were they would regard it as something to be proud of, seeing themselves as the Continuity KKK or something.The PSNI are treating it as a hate crime, something Brannigan is adamant about, stating that his home was attacked by “thugs and racists“. What else is it other than a hate crime? What else are the attackers other than thugs and racists?

The attack went on for three hours which has to raise questions about the deficiency in service of policing that is being delivered to the area. It also seems incredible that given the concentration of former republican prisoners in West Belfast, regardless of where their allegiances now lie or what groups they are aligned to – or none – they appear to have been unable to band together and defend the Brannigan home from racist attack.

It is galling to think that anybody is subject to that type of prejudice and hate, made more stinging for former republican prisoners to rue that one of their own number from the days of the H Blocks is not safe from racist attack in the heart of West Belfast. It resonates jarringly of Nazi gangs attacking Jewish people in Israel.

It is facile to explain away violence against people dismissed as ‘foreigners” as something only loyalist communities have a penchant for. Nationalist areas are not, as Brannigan observed, without their own virulence.

My own nationalist and republican community has a healthier attitude. More progressive and open-minded, I would suggest, but by no means is it unblemished.

In the same piece, five years ago, written for the Guardian, Brannigan gave an indication that West Belfast is not some racism-free paradise.

I was born in Belfast and I am black. I endured a barrage of racist abuse over decades from British soldiers and the police. With a Falls Road upbringing in a republican family and a seven-year jail term spent in the H-Blocks during the 1990s, I’d have thought my bona fides as an Irishman were pretty impeccable. To this day, though, the question I hear most is: “Where are you from?” When I tell people I’m from Belfast, they invariably throw in the supplementary: “Where are you really from?” There’s no way an Irish person could possibly be black is the unspoken subtext.

What happened at the weekend is a despicable act of racist violence against a black guy in West Belfast. There is no other way to see it. As Tim Brannigan rightly points out he is a card carrying member of the West Belfast community, he is “not here to be tolerated.”

Tim Brannigan is author of Where Are You Really From?

from The Pensive Quill

Brooklyn Shamrocks Gaa Club Win!!!

Posted by Jim on August 13, 2015

 Brooklyn Shamrocks defeated a tough St Raymond’s at Gaelic Park last night confirming their place in the semi-finals for this season. Big thanks to all the lads who turned up for the battle. Also a big shout out to the supporters who turned up in good numbers too. Lets keep it going. ‪#‎BrooklynStrong

2nd Annual Our Lady of Knock BBQ co-hosted by AOH Div. 14 and Morris Park K of C

Posted by Jim on August 12, 2015

Brothers and Sisters
Division 14 will be co-hosting with the Morris Park K of C a benefit BBQ on Sunday August 23,2015 at the Holy Child Jesus Leonard Center Garden.
The garden is located at 86-13 112 St. Richmond Hill, NY 11418. Proceeds will be donated to the Holy Child Jesus Food Pantry. It will be a great day.
Please try to join us. We thank all of you who took a BBQ sponsorship.
Walter Cooper
BBQ Co-chair.

Peadar Hickey Live at Wolfe Tone’s Irish Pub Aug. 24 at 8:30pm

Posted by Jim on August 11, 2015


Clashes after PSNI (RUC) block anti-internment march

Posted by Jim on August 10, 2015

There were disturbances in north Belfast this afternoon after a civil
rights march against internment was prevented from marching through the

The demonstration, organised by the broad-based Anti-Internment League
(AIL), was blocked from leaving the Ardoyne/Marrowbone area by the PSNI.

In the city centre, several hundred loyalists planning to attack the
parade had been allowed to gather. At one point the loyalists threw
fireworks at the assembled media and towards police.

When the parade was stopped, marchers stood holding placards in front of
heavily armed riot police. Speakers also delivered speeches via loud
hailers at the PSNI lines.

The demonstration then returned to march inside the nationalist area
before dispersing peacefully.

Some two hours later, PSNI vehicles which had remained at
Oldpark/Rosapenna area came under sporadic attack from local youths, and
a small number of stones, bottles and petrol bombs were thrown. The PSNI
responded with water cannon before eventually withdrawing.

The AIL said the intervention of the state this afternoon “served to
confirm the Republican analysis that anyone who opposes the status quo
is a second class citizen in the eyes of Britain” and the Stormont

They said unlike the sectarian parades organised by loyalists, they had
not marched “for marching’s sake”, and their goal of highlighting the
continuing internment policy of Britain and the 26 County administration
had been successful.

“Mainstream media outlets have been forced to confront the reality that
republicans endure as a result of unjust incarceration”, they said, “not
to mention the draconian conditions and torture strategy within
Maghaberry and Hydebank”.

The decision to restrict the protest to an earlier time on Sunday
morning was blamed by the marchers on city centre business interests,
and there were suggestions that future applications to protest would be
made for a Saturday.

The AIL thanked all those who travelled for the event.

“All march participants behaved peacefully and with dignity when facing
down the armed wing of the State, before we took the responsible
decision to march back into the Ardoyne area, avoiding a flashpoint of
the PSNI’s own making.”


Posted by Jim on August 8, 2015

Loyalists say they will attempt to block a nationalist civil rights
march through Belfast on Sunday. The UDA’s political wing, the UPRG, has
threatened to “stop republican scum from marching on the streets of

Thousands are expected to take part in the protest against internment,
organised by the Anti-Internment League (AIL).

In 2013, a loyalist mob went on the rampage on Royal Avenue during a
similar demonstration, and the PSNI forced the march away from the city
centre as a result.

Fears of similar trouble are growing after the UPRG’s north Antrim
branch made an internet appeal to flood the city centre in a bid to stop
the parade.

The AIL parade, billed as a national march against internment by remand,
has been organised to highlight the ongoing detention of nationalist and
republican activists without trial.

The organisation is made up of anti-agreement republicans, human rights
advocates, community workers and trade union members. Sunday’s parade
will coincide with the 44th anniversary of the introduction of
internment in August 1971.

The march is to start at Ardoyne Avenue in north Belfast before
travelling to Belfast city centre where it will move along Royal Avenue
and on to Dunville Park in west Belfast for a rally.

Organisers had wanted to set off from Ardoyne in north Belfast at 2.30pm
but the Parades Commission has said the parade must be concluded by
1.30pm, setting up a dispute which remains unresolved.

Sinn Fein has called for the commission’s determination to be respected.
But in a statement, the AIL said they would not allow their peaceful
protest to be suppressed.

“The attempt by a British Secretary of State-appointed quango to attempt
to restrict our message of opposition, by placing unrealistic time
constraints and limiting public exposure to our message, is futile and
panders to those who wish to support continued injustices by Britain
that are facilitated by the Stormont Executive,” the statement said.

“The days of ‘croppy lie down’ are over, let the State militia of the
PSNI and British Army try to stop us.”

The Irish Republican Prisoners Welfare Association said the Parades
Commission had also tried to force a clash with another republican
event, a parade to mark the Ballymurphy Massacre.

“This can only be viewed as a deliberate attempt to divide republican
opposition to British sponsored atrocities and torture in Ireland both
past and present,” they said.

“The IRPWA call on all our activists, supporters and the broad
Republican family to reject these British tactics by ensuring that
Britain’s continuing torture of Republican Prisoners is highlighted on
9th August.”

DUP North Belfast MLA Nelson McCausland claimed the statement from the
parade organisers was a “clear threat”. But Padraig McCotter, from
republican group Eirigi, accused Mr McCausland of constructing a
“smokescreen”, and pointed out that the parade was due to take place on
a Sunday, when there are very few shoppers in the city centre.

“We’re calling on the general public to give the march their backing and
to add their voice to the growing chorus of discontent at draconian
imprisonment methods,” he said.

Republican prisoners at Maghaberry also issued a statement to welcome
the efforts of all those responsible “for elevating our struggle on to
the main stage of political debate”.

“For those who are yet undecided on attending we appeal to you to join
our struggle,” according to the prisoners on the Roe 4 wing.

“There are few avenues open to Irish Republicans to make a public
expression of our opposition to Internment, whether by remand or through
revocation of licence, forced strip searches, controlled movement and
Isolation of Republican Political Prisoners.

“The British Government know this as well. This of course explains the
increasing effort to hinder this manifestation of resistance. We implore
the Irish Republican people to recognise this and the intent behind it
and conclude that they will not assist the process by staying at home.
No one, not even a British government can thwart such a well organised
and well attended demonstration of resistance.”

* Today [Saturday], 30,000 loyalists are to flood the city of Derry with
150 flute bands for the ‘Relief of Derry’ marches. In sharp contrast to
Sunday’s event, however, there has been no nationalist opposition or
controversy in Derry over the marches, which are held annually by the
Apprentice Boys organisation.

Thomas McElwee – Hunger Striker

Posted by Jim on

Died August 8th, 1981

Sincere, easy-going and full of fun

THE TENTH republican to join the hunger strike was twenty-three-year-old IRA Volunteer Thomas McElwee, from Bellaghy in South Derry. He had been imprisoned since December 1976, following a premature explosion in which he lost an eye.

He was a first cousin of Francis Hughes, who died after fifty-nine days on hunger strike, on May 12th.

One of the most tragic and saddening aspects of the hunger strike was the close relationships between some of the hunger strikers.

Joe McDonnell following his friend and comrade Bobby Sands on hunger strike and then into death, both having been captured on the same IRA operation in 1976.

Elsewhere, similar close ties, parallels, between one hunger striker and another: the same schools; the same streets; the same experiences of repression and discrimination.

And for those families, relatives and friends most acutely conscious of the parallels there is of course an even more intense personal sadness than for most, in the bitter tragedy of the hunger strike.

But of all those close relationships, none was surely as poignant as that between Thomas McElwee and his cousin, Francis Hughes: two dedicated republicans from the small South Derry village of Bellaghy, their family homes less than half-a-mile apart in the townland of Tamlaghtduff, who were close friends in their boyhood years and who later fought side by side in the towns and fields of South Derry for the freedom of their country.

It came then as no surprise to those who knew them when Thomas and Francis stood side by side again in the H-Blocks (along with Thomas’ younger brother, Benedict) in taking part in the thirty-strong four-day fast at the end of the original seven-man hunger strike last December.

And when the deaths of Bobby Sands and Francis Hughes, on the subsequent hunger strike, only months later, failed to break the Brits intransigence, the McElwee family were already certain that either Thomas or Benedict, both of whom had volunteered, would soon be joining the hunger strike as well.


What are the qualities that make a twenty-three-year-old South Derry man ready to die a painful death on hunger strike, in defence of his political principles and to end, for himself and for his comrades, the horrors of the H-Blocks in which he had already spent almost four years?

The story of Thomas McElwee is not of a uniquely courageous, or uniquely principled young man, any more than were any of the hunger strikers unique in some way.

But it is the story of a fairly typical young Derryman, kind and good-natured, full of life, and with a craze for cars and stock-car racing who is also filled with a love of his country and its way of life, who (like many others) had watched that country overrun by foreign and hostile troops, torn by sectarianism and discrimination, and who had spent over half of his young life striving to achieve the liberation of his country.

Within those few years he had become part of a tradition of the resistance of ordinary Irish people, that will never be criminalised.


Thomas McElwee, the fifth of twelve children, was born on November 30th, 1957, into the small, whitewashed home built by his father, along the Tamlaghtduff Road in the parish of Bellaghy.

His father, Jim (aged 65), a retired builder, has lived in Tamlaghtduff all his life, coming from a family of farmers which settled in the area at the turn of the century. One of his sisters, Margaret, married into the Hughes family, and is the mother of the late Francis Hughes. Thomas’ mother, Alice (aged 56), lived in Philadelphia until she was seven years old, her family having moved there from County Derry but later returning, and she has lived in Bellaghy for most of her life.

Jim and Alice married in 1950 and had twelve children, the oldest thirty, the youngest fourteen. They are: Kathleen, the eldest; Mary; Bernadette; Annie; Enda; Thomas; Benedict; Joseph; Nora; Pauline; Majella; and the youngest James. Even within the Irish countryside where strong family bonds are the rule, the McElwee family are considered to be particularly close and considerate to one another, and there are strong ties too between them and the Hughes family.

As children, Thomas and Benedict and Francis Hughes, along with other neighbours’ children, used to walk together each day to the bottom of the Tamlaghtduff road to catch the bus to school, returning home again each evening. They went to St. Mary’s primary in Bellaghy, and then to Clady intermediate, three miles away.

Thomas got on pretty well at school. His favourite subjects were English and Maths, and he was also good at Geography and History.

At home he was quiet, very good natured and sincere, and particularly good towards his mother, helping out around the house and with jobs like cutting the hedge and putting up fencing.

He was also, however, very much an outdoor person, and although more serious than Benedict (who would usually have started off the devilment the pair got involved in), he was full of fun, with a strong sense of humour and adventure.

One of the pranks they sometimes got up to along with other local lads, earning them the temporary wrath of neighbours, was climbing on to the roof of a house, blocking the chimney, and then watching as the smoke began to appear in the kitchens. “They weren’t too popular when that happened”, remembers one of their sisters, laughing.


But frequently too, Thomas was out-at week-ends and during school holidays – helping neighbours, including Protestant farmers, with their crops and machinery. He also used to go to work, picking gooseberries, at the monastery in Portglenone, staying there for maybe ten days at a time, during school holidays.

He had always been a determined person, arguing his point of view with his sisters and brothers, and if he wanted something, often a present for a member of his family, he would work hard to earn enough for it.

From the time he was eleven Thomas had an intense interest in working with cars and all types of machinery. On one occasion his mother brought a lawn mower which Thomas immediately dismantled, to see how it worked. When he reassembled it, it worked, but perhaps not just quite as well as before!

As he grew older, his fascination for engines grew stronger. He got his driving license as soon as he was old enough, and got his own car. He used to travel all over the place to watch stock-car racing, particularly at Aghadowey near Coleraine, in North Derry, and once he even got his own stock-car for a while.

At weekends he used to go to local dances in neighbouring towns and villages such as Ardboe and Clady. Usually, if it was ceilidh dancing, he had to be dragged along, but he enjoyed it once he was there.


Yet, though full of life, there was a serious, reflective side to Thomas too.

He enjoyed playing records, often of traditional music, sometimes of republican ballads, at a time when the ‘troubles’ had barely begun. Even before 1969, the McElwees, including Thomas, would sometimes go to folk concerts in the village where many of the ballads recalled the tradition of resistance to British mis-rule.

Given that background and Thomas’ personal qualities of courage and concern for his neighbours it was not surprising that he joined na Fianna Eireann when he was only fourteen, and subsequently joined the independent unit led by his cousin, Francis Hughes, which concentrated on defence of the local area and ambushes of British forces, before it was recruited in its entirety, after a period of time, into the IRA.

The following few years, before Thomas’ capture in October ’76, were active ones in the South Derry area with a succession of successful bomb blitzes of the commercial centres of towns like Magherafelt, Bellaghy, Castledawson, and Maghera, and a high level of ambushes and booby-traps which made the British forces reluctant to wander into the country lanes surrounding Bellaghy.

Thomas had a reputation of a dedicated and principled republican who knew what he was about, and knew moreover what he was fighting to ultimately achieve. He was particularly interested in local republican history and knew what had happened in Bellaghy and the surrounding areas over the past fifty years.


Because of his discretion as a republican, and, doubtless, good luck as well, Thomas – unlike Francis Hughes – was not forced to go ‘on the run’ and continued to live at home.

After leaving school he had gone to Magherafelt technical college for a while, but later changed his mind and went to Ballymena training centre to begin an apprenticeship as a motor mechanic. But harassment from loyalist workers there forced him to leave and he then went to work with a local mechanic.

Although not ‘on the run’ Thomas was still subject to the extreme harassment at the hands of the Brits and the RUC that began to be felt in the area in the mid-seventies, even before the IRA’s military campaign in the South Derry countryside, led by Francis Hughes, began to bite deep against the occupation


Like many young men, whenever Thomas went out he was liable to be stopped for lengthy periods of time along empty country roads, searched, maybe threatened, and abused.


There were also house raids

The McElwees’ home was first raided in 1974, and Thomas was arrested under Section 10, for three days. That time it was over twenty-four hours later before the family learned that Thomas was being held in Ballykelly interrogation centre. On another occasion, both he and Benedict were arrested, and taken to Coleraine barracks, after a raid on their home.

The last time that the family would be together, however, was on the evening of October 8th, 1976. That evening the ‘Stations’ took place in the McElwees’ home, a country tradition where Mass is said in one house in every townland during Lent, and during the month of October. That month in Tamlaghtduff it was taking place in the McElwees’s and most of the neighbours were there as well. After the Mass there was a social evening, with food and music.

The following afternoon – Bernadette’s birthday – at 1.30 p.m. on October 9th, Kathleen answered the phone, to be told that both their brothers Thomas and Benedict were in the Wavery hospital in Ballymena following a premature bomb explosion in a car in the town, shortly beforehand.


In the explosion, Thomas lost his right eye, while two other Bellaghy men were also injured: Colm Scullion, losing several toes and Sean McPeake, losing a leg.

Benedict McElwee, fortunately, suffered only from shock and superficial burns. Following the explosion, several other republicans in the town were arrested, later to be charged. These included Dolores O’Neill, from Portglenone, Thomas’ girlfriend, and Ann Bateson, from Toomebridge, both of whom joined the protest in Armagh women’s jail.

Thomas was transferred from the Ballymena hospital to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast for emergency surgery to save his remaining eye. It was three weeks, however before he was able to see at all.

After six weeks he was transferred again, this time to the military wing of the Musgrave Park hospital, where Benedict also was. One week before Christmas, both brothers were charged and sent to Crumlin Road jail.

At their subsequent trial in September 1977, having spent over eight months on remand in Crumlin Road, Thomas was convicted, although he made no statements, not only of possession of explosives but also of the killing of a woman who accidentally died in a bomb attack elsewhere in Ballymena that day and with which other republicans were also charged.

That ‘murder’ conviction was, on appeal, reduced to manslaughter but a twenty-year sentence remained, and Thomas returned to the blanket protest he had joined immediately after his trial, in the H-Blocks of Long Kesh.


Their imprisonment was particularly harsh for the McElwee brothers who were frequently singled out for brutality by prison warders, outraged at the stubborn refusal of the two to accept any form of criminal status.

For a while they were able to keep in touch with each other as they were both in H6 Block, but they were split up and had hardly any opportunity to see each other at all for over two years.

Both Thomas and Benedict have been frequently mentioned in recent years in smuggled communications detailing beatings meted out to blanket men. On one occasion Thomas was put on the boards for fourteen days for refusing to call a prison warder ‘sir’. In a letter smuggled out to his sister Mary, one time, Benedict wrote of the imprint of a warder’s boot on his back and arms after a typical assault.

Throughout, though, the brutality and degradation they had to endure served only to deepen yet further, and harder, their resistance to criminalisation.

The McElwee family weren’t surprised last December when they discovered that both Thomas and Benedict had joined the thirty-strong hunger strike, as Sean McKenna neared death, but even then the partial breakdown in communications between H Blocks at that critical time meant that the family learnt first that Benedict was going on hunger strike, only to be informed an hour and a half later that Thomas was going on the fast too.


Speaking of the hunger strike and her sons and their comrades during Thomas’ strike, Mrs. McElwee said: “I know Thomas and Benedict would be determined to stand up for their rights. In the Blocks one will stand for another. If this hunger strike isn’t settled one way or another they’ll all go the same way. There’ll never be peace in this country.”

Thomas McElwee died at 11.30 a.m. on Saturday, August 8th. Indicative of the callousness of the British government towards prisoners and their families alike neither had the comfort of each other’s presence at that tragic moment. He died after 62 days of slow agonising hunger strike with no company other than prison warders – colleagues of those who had brutalised, degraded and tortured him for three-and-a-half years.


Appeals for US intervention in Stormont stalemate

Posted by Jim on August 2, 2015

Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness has travelled to Washington DC this week
to ask for US assistance to prevent British welfare cuts being
implemented in the north of Ireland.

The US administration has received contrasting assessments of the
political crisis that threatens the power-sharing institutions set up
under the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, as the British government’s Direct
Ruler in Ireland also travelled to Washington for talks.

Theresa Villiers announced her visit shortly after Martin McGuinness
announced his, but insisted her visit had been scheduled for months.

Power-sharing between nationalists and unionists in Belfast remains in
danger of collapse due to a bitter row over the implementation of
welfare cuts which were agreed as part of the Stormont House Agreement,
agreed in December.

Without an agreement, the British government could move to withdraw
welfare powers from Stormont, returning such decisions to Villiers and
her officials.

The welfare stalemate has put a number of other outstanding issues from
the Good Friday Agreement on the backburner, such as truth and justice
over state killings, the right to live free form sectarian harassment,
recognition of the Irish language, and Sinn Fein’s call for a Six County
‘border poll’.

The perennially deadlocked Stormont administration has recently been hit
by a wave of scandals over corruption and malfeasance by politicians and
officials. A seven million pound sum uncovered in an offshore account
has been linked to a shady deal with a US vulture fund, while millions
of pounds of public funds which have been frittered away on local ‘pork
barrel’ projects or siphoned off by loyalist crime gangs.

“The British government will not finance a more generous welfare system
in Northern Ireland than in the rest of the UK”, Villiers declared,
before her departure.

“The US remains the UK’s closest ally… The Stormont House Agreement
remains the best hope for building a brighter, more secure future for
Northern Ireland. But for that to happen, the agreement needs to be
implemented in full. I will be looking for continued US support for
that,” she said.

Mr McGuinness met the Friends of Ireland caucus on Capitol Hill, the
State Department and other senior administration officials. After
meeting with State Department officials at the White House, he described
the encounter as “positive and encouraging”.

“The US administration clearly remains engaged with the political
process in the north and they continue to play a constructive role,” he

“At the meeting I made it clear to them that the institutions of the
Good Friday Agreement, which have underpinned the peace process for
almost two decades, are facing a real crisis as a result of the policies
of this British government.

“The political institutions, and the progress we have made over the last
two decades of the peace process, are under a real threat and it is my
hope that the US administration can encourage the British government to
take a more positive approach on dealing with the North.”

It is feared that without a breakthrough the devolved institutions could
collapse. In late June a “pretend” budget was passed, with the goal of
sustaining the institutions into the autumn, in the hope that before the
crisis point was reached the impasse over welfare reform could be

Unionists have accused McGuinness of “looking over his shoulder at the
Irish Republic election” and said he should make “tough decisions” on
welfare cuts.

DUP finance minister Arlene Foster said Martin McGuinness’s trip was a
“waste of time” because “Westminster of course is in charge of our


This week has also seen the subdued anniversary of a Provisional IRA
statement which formally ended its campaign, ten years ago.

Speaking ahead of the anniversary, the British Prime Minister David
Cameron raised heckles when he spoke about how ‘British resolve saw off
the IRA’.

In response, Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adam said the claim that the
Provisional IRA had been defeated was a ‘distortion’.

“More than 20 years ago, in one of the defining developments of modern
Irish history, the IRA announced a total cessation of military
activities,” he said.

“The subsequent success of the peace process and the transformation of
politics across this island and between Ireland and Britain were the
result of the efforts, commitment, political courage, determination and
personal engagement by the key players.”

Mr Adams, who met Cameron in mid-July as part of a Sinn Fein delegation,
said the British PM had shown a “worrying ignorance” of the political
process in the Six Counties.

“The reality is that the IRA was never defeated and that again and again
it was Irish republicans, including the IRA leadership, which took bold
steps to bolster the peace process and to maintain positive political

“Ten years ago this week, on 28 July, 2005, the IRA formally ended its
armed campaign and gave its support to purely peaceful and democratic
means of achieving republican objectives.

“David Cameron would do well to understand that it was such initiatives
which broke the long cycle of conflict and opened up new political

“However, the progress that was made over many years is now in severe
jeopardy, not least because of the attitude of Mr Cameron.”


Posted by Jim on



There has been an angry response after British soldiers mounted raids in Derry’s Galliagh area this week, with Sinn Fein describing them as “unacceptable”.

The use of British army units to carry out policing functions appears to confirm fears of a return to occupation-style control in parts of the North.

Last week saw intense raids and harassment of republicans in Derry following the appearance of an alleged INLA honour guard at the funeral of republican socialist veteran Peggy O’Hara, mother of hunger striker Patsy O’Hara.

The PSNI in Derry admitted the move. It said “military specialists” had been called in to search for “munitions and explosive devices”, which it said was a “high risk search”.

A large number of police accompanied the British soldiers, who were in plain clothes during the searches and also used white armoured vehicles. British Army jeeps painted white were also deployed at the search of two bungalows.

Independent councillor Dermot Quigley called on the PSNI police to explain why homes were not evacuated if there was a risk to the public. “Or is it the police trying to bring British soldiers back onto our streets by stealth,” he said.

It is understood the British Army has also been deployed to the Lurgan area. The personnel were again not wearing standard military fatigues but dark grey boiler suits similar to those worn by the PSNI, with hard hats. The military vehicles used were painted white.

The British army are accountable only to the British government, and their presence on Irish streets is being seen as a sign that the ‘normalisation’ agenda has failed.

Sinn Fein’s Gerry Kelly condemned the move and blamed the deployment on the PSNI.

“The Good Friday Agreement and the promise of a new dispensation for policing was about making policing accountable to the community and did not include the British Army. I want to know at what level in the PSNI was the request made to bring in the presence of the British Army.

“The use of British soldiers in house searches is unacceptable and only makes it more difficult for political leaders and others to achieve genuine policing with the community.”

Kelly’s comments have been criticised by the DUP who claimed they were “illogical and ill-considered.”

East Derry DUP MP Gregory Campbell said that British military personnel had been deployed in the Derry area 168 times in a five-month period.

“Gerry Kelly should cease his faux rage at the soldiers being deployed in Londonderry and instead focus on the reason why there needed to be such a police operation in the first place,” he said.

In Ardoyne in north Belfast a British army unit conducted a six hour search of the old St Gemma’s school site two months ago, assisted by the PSNI who provided back up. On that occasion the soldiers were dressed in jumpsuits rather that in full military uniform.

Ardoyne republican Aidan Ferguson said it was a “myth” that members of the British army were no longer active in Ireland.

“People were fed the lie that there were no longer British soldiers on the streets but that’s a political myth. They have always been active in republican areas. In fact it’s becoming a more common occurrence. The fact they try and disguise their presence wearing PSNI style uniforms is fooling no one”, he added.


British military personnel have also been involved in surveillance operations against nationalists using equipment such as spy drones.

Concerns have again been raised about the role in Ireland of ‘elite’ British military units such as the Special Reconnaissance Regiment and MI5 after it was revealed that the agencies could be carrying out surveillance on nationalist politicians.

It emerged this week that a decades old convention not to tap the phones of politicians has been quietly scrapped. Sinn Fein MP Pat Doherty said the development is “an attack on democracy” but claimed his party has always been under surveillance.

“British intelligence not only routinely listened to the phone calls of Sinn Fein MPs, including conversations with 10 Downing Street, they also bugged Sinn Fein offices, the cars and homes of activists and orchestrated assassination attempts on Sinn Fein elected representatives by loyalist death squads.

“The British government should now state categorically if MI5 has been intercepting the communications of any member of the assembly or European parliament.”

Kieran Doherty – Hunger Striker

Posted by Jim on

Died August 2nd, 1981

A dedicated republican and an outstanding soldier

WHEN the family, friends and former comrades of Belfast IRA Volunteer twenty-five-year-old Kieran Doherty learnt that he was joining the H-Block hunger strike, as a replacement for Raymond McCreesh, it came as no surprise to them.

Although Kieran had spent seven of the last ten years imprisoned, his complete selflessness and his relentless dedication to the liberation struggle left no-one in any doubt that Kieran would volunteer for this terrible and lonely confrontation with British rule inside the H-Blocks of Long Kesh. Last December he was amongst those thirty prisoners who were on hunger strike for four days prior to the ending of the original seven-strong strike.

Kieran was born on October 16th, 1955 in Andersonstown, the third son in a family of six children. His two elder brothers, Michael, aged 28, and Terence, aged 27, were interned between 1972 and 1974.

Kieran has two younger sisters, Roisin and Mairead; and his younger brother, Brendan, aged twelve, is still at school.


Kieran’s mother, Margaret, is a Catholic convert from a Protestant background. His father, Alfie Doherty, who is a floor-tiler by trade, is a well-known figure in Andersonstown.

Kieran’s paternal grandfather comes from Limavady, County Derry, and after his people moved to a house in North Belfast in the ‘twenties, they were threatened that the house was going to be burnt.

This was during the loyalist-initiated pogroms which followed partition.

They had to flee to West Belfast enacting a tragedy which was to repeat itself in front of Kieran’s eyes in the early seventies, and stir him to take action.

Alfie’s uncle, Ned Maguire, took part in the famous IRA roof-top escape from Belfast’s Crumlin Road jail on January 15th, 1943.

Ned Maguire’s son, also called Ned, and a second cousin of Kieran, was an internee in Cage S of Long Kesh in 1974, when he took part in the mass escape from the camp during which Hugh Coney was shot dead by the British army. Young Ned Maguire was one of the three who managed to reach Twinbrook before being recaptured. He is now on the blanket.

Ned’s sisters (and Kieran’s second cousins), Dorothy Maguire, aged 19, and Maura Meehan, aged 30, were shot dead by the British army on October 23rd, 1971, in a car in the Lower Falls area of Belfast. Both were members of Cumann na mBan.

Another relative of Kieran’s, his uncle, Gerry Fox, was part of the famous Crumlin Road jail ‘football team’, who escaped from the jail by climbing over the wall in 1972.


However, Kieran’s childhood was relatively ordinary. He loved sport more than anything else, and was always out playing Gaelic football, hurling or soccer.

Kieran went to St. Theresa’s primary school, then moved to the Christian Brothers secondary school on the Glen Road, where he studied until the age of sixteen.

A keen Gaelic footballer, he won an Antrim Minor medal in 1971 for St. Theresa’s GAC.

Kieran took up cycling for a while, following his brother, Michael, in St. Thomas’ cycling club. His mother recalls him taking part in a race with a faulty bicycle: “Although the chain came off at least twenty times through the race, he was so stubborn that he finished with a bronze medal.”

St. Thomas’ cycling club was later decimated by internment. Kieran, his brothers, and many other Andersonstown boys were to end up behind the wire. To such an extent, that Kieran s young brother, Brendan, asked his mother one day in 1975 when it would be his turn to go where all the ‘big boys’ were kept. Brendan was then six.

In the summer of 1971, Kieran got a job as an apprentice in heating engineering but was laid-off when the firm closed down a few months later. He worked for a while at floor-tiling with his father.


In the meantime, however, internment had burst open the lives of many Andersonstown families. Kieran had never been interested in politics until then: nor had his family ever discussed the political situation in front of him.

Like hundreds of other boys and girls of his age, he was moved by the sight of uprooted families leaving a home in cinders behind them. As all of the evacuees were being catered for in local schools, Kieran and his brothers begged their parents to allow them to go and help. Kieran saw the British army on the streets, his friends and their families harassed. He joined na Fianna Eireann in the autumn of ’71.

Kieran proved himself to be an outstanding member of the Fianna. Reliable, quick on the job, he was obviously giving the best of himself to every task assigned him with the aim of being noticed and recruited for the IRA as quickly as was possible.

Even at this early stage of his involvement, he is remembered for his initiative and his discreet ways. Unlike some boys of his age, he never boasted about his activities.

But the British army soon noticed him too and Kieran, his family, and his home, became a target for frequent British army harassment.

On October 6th, 1972, the British army came to arrest Kieran, despite his father’s objection that Kieran was under seventeen. The Brits had checked up, they said, and after a heavy house raid they took Kieran away in the middle of the night. His father got him released eventually after waking up the sexton of St. Agnes’ chapel and obtaining Kieran’s birth certificate.

The Brits were ten days too early.

True to form, on October 16th, the British army were back in force and swamped Kieran’s district, waiting for his return from work. But relatives managed to warn him and he was driven over the border to an uncle in Limerick.

He did not much enjoy his enforced exile and, bursting to get back into action, he made his way back to Belfast at the beginning of ’73.


A week or so later, he was arrested, taken to Castlereagh, and then interned in Long Kesh where he spent over two years from February ’73 to November ’75. He was among the last internees released.

Always even-tempered and quiet-spoken he used his time developing his military skills.

In a letter to his mother he wrote: “They might intern all of us, but we will come out fighting.”

He made a lot of handicrafts during his two-and-a-half years in captivity.

His parents’ home displays a lot of his work, in particular a hand-carved wooden plaque commemorating Dorothy Maguire and Maura Meehan.

On the eve of his birthday in October ’74, Long Kesh prison camp was burned. When visits were eventually resumed he did not complain to his parents of brutality but just remarked jokingly on the ‘birthday party’ he had been given.

He was released from Long Kesh in November ’75, as undaunted as he sounded in his letters, and reported back to the IRA immediately. Always eager to operate, he was included in a team of Volunteers from around Rossnareen which gave the British army in Andersonstown many sleepless nights until a wave of arrests in the summer of ’76.

As the IRA/British army truce petered out at the beginning of ’76, ‘Big Doc’, as he was known by all, soon had to move out of his parents’ house. Raids were a fortnightly occurrence, at least, with furniture wrecked and floorboards lifted.

Mrs. Doherty was tidying up a first-floor bedroom after such a raid when she fell through the carpet, the floor, and partly through the sitting-room ceiling. The Brits had omitted to replace the floorboards. The scar on the ceiling can still be seen.

Many friends who met Kieran after his internment period found him extremely mature for a lad of twenty, not boisterous like most people of his age. He obviously, by then, had thought things out, made a definite choice, and assessed the dangers.

As an operator he was a perfectionist and his comrades recall feeling extremely safe with him. Even in the eventuality of things going wrong they knew Kieran would not give anything away.


He had many narrow escapes.

One night, as he was shifting ‘gear’ in Andersonstown, he was chased up and down the side streets for over five minutes by two Brit landrovers.

Another time, as he was driving to a night job as security man for a firm, armed, as he often was, he drove into a British army road block.

He calmly took his tie out of his pocket, put it on, tidied himself up, and, winding down the window, shouted: “What’s up lads? Let me through, please, I’m going to my work, over there, security staff.”

And the British soldiers opened the way for him. ‘Big Doc’ was welcome in many Andersonstown homes and highly respected by all who knew him.

Families with whom he billeted remember how security conscious he was, staying away for days, using billets in no regular pattern.


Through those months of intense involvement Kieran had little chance to unwind. He mostly liked to go to local clubs for a quiet pint with a few friends.

He also had a reputation as a practical joker. One day he rang a friend from a pub and told him they were wrecking the place, simply to have his friend rush over in his car to pick him up.

In July ’76, a few weeks before his arrest, Kieran enjoyed one of the rare holidays he ever had since the arrival of British troops on his local streets. With a few close friends he drove to the South and was able to indulge in his love for outdoor activities, exhausting his friends with long walks and swims.

By that time he had met his girlfriend, Geraldine, the only steady relationship he ever formed during his short period of freedom.

They did not get much of a chance, as Kieran’s heavy republican involvement often interfered with their dating and since August ’76 they only met for a few minutes once in a while under the gaze of prison warders.


Kieran’s comrades-in-arms recall one particular operation, of the many he was involved in, when one Andersonstown Volunteer – Sean McDermott – was shot dead.

Kieran got away and was told to lie low for a few days, but nevertheless he appeared at his comrade’s funeral.

Sean McDermott’s mother has a photograph of the funeral cortege in which Kieran can be seen, standing on the footpath, sombre, alone, looking on as the coffin is carried to Milltown cemetery.

Sean’s death, and the arrest of other comrades involved, hit Kieran very hard.


In August ’76, as Kieran and his unit were on a bombing mission, the van in which they were travelling was chased by the RUC near Balmoral Avenue in Belfast.

Kieran got out of the van and commandeered a car, which he left some streets away and walked off.

Meanwhile, the others in the van were cornered, Liam White being captured immediately, and the others, Chris Moran, Terry Kirby and John ‘Pickles’ Pickering – himself later to embark on hunger-strike – finally giving themselves up when surrounded in a house they had taken over.

The RUC picked Kieran up one-and-a-half miles away from the scene, unarmed.

He was later charged with possession of firearms and explosives and commandeering the car. Forensic tests could not link Kieran to the first two charges, and although it was impossible for the RUC to have spotted him escaping, seventeen months later, at his trial, RUC Constable Bryons perjured himself twice in order to see Kieran locked up.

On remand in Crumlin Road jail he met Francis Hughes and developed a great admiration for him. Friends often speak of the similarities between the two, always defiant, always fighting, born free.

In Crumlin Road, Kieran was often ‘on the boards’ as punishment for his refusal to acknowledge the warders in any way. He carried this attitude into the H-Blocks after he was sentenced, in January 1978, to eighteen years imprisonment for possession, and four years for commandeering the car.


Kieran joined the blanket protest immediately as did his comrades sentenced with him. He spent all but two weeks of his three years and almost eight months in the H-Blocks, in H4-Block (the temporary spell was in H6), before being moved to the prison hospital during his hunger strike.

Recollections of Kieran’s experiences in the H-Blocks give an impression of relentless conflict between himself and the warders, who made him a target both because of his height and because of his stubborn defiance of the prison regime.

On ‘appeal’ visits he always had to be dragged away, ignoring all calls to end the visit. He never looked a warder in the face when one addressed him and never replied to their orders. He always refused to submit to the anal searches over the mirror before and after visits and was beaten for this.

The worst incident occurred in July ’78 when Kieran refused a mirror search before a legal visit. Eight warders jumped on him, one squeezing his testicles until he became unconscious. He received blows to every part of his body and was taken to the prison hospital.

Although people who visited him recall how often he arrived pale or with grazes on his arms or bloodshot eyes, he never complained, brushing their questions off with a shrug: “I’m OK. What’s the sceal?”


Although Kieran had not been taught Irish at school, and had no time to learn it, later he became a fluent speaker in the H-Blocks like hundreds of his imprisoned comrades.

Another skill mastered by Kieran, whilst in the H-Blocks, was playing chess – crude chess men were made from scraps of paper and the game was played on a mock board scratched out on the cell floors.

Displayed proudly in his parents’ sitting room is an engraved plaque bearing a stunning yet heartbreaking story in eight words: ‘Kieran Doherty, 1980 Champion, Ciaran Nugent Chess Shield’.

And, next to it, another shield, again engraved ‘Ciaran Nugent Chess Shield’, but this time with twelve metal tags, the top of which bears Kieran Doherty’s name and ‘1980’, the other eleven still blank. A clue to Kieran’s patience and ability, a clue to the blanket men’s grim determination to outlast the H-Blocks.


In June of this year, in the Free State general election, Kieran was elected a member of the Leinster House parliament for the Cavan/Monaghan constituency with 9,121 first preference votes – only 303 votes behind the then-sitting Free State Minister of Education.


To a friend who visited him after the first hunger strike, which ended last December, Kieran said: “They (the warders) are really rubbing our noses in it. By God, they will not rub mine!”

Asked whether he would not settle down – after all, with five years done and remission, another six years would soon be over. He replied: “Remission has nothing to do with it. There is much more than that involved.”

So he went on hunger strike on Friday, May 22nd, having put his name forward for it long ago, as undaunted and full of fighting spirit as when he roamed free on the streets of Andersonstown.

A child, like hundreds of others a product of British brutality and stupidity in the North, who revealed himself to be an outstanding soldier of the republic.

Kieran was a shy, reserved, easily-embarrassed young man who was single-minded and determined enough to have become, in himself, a condensed history of the liberation of a people.


Kevin Lynch – Hunger Striker

Posted by Jim on August 1, 2015

Died August 1st, 1981

A loyal, determined republican with a great love of life

THE EIGHTH republican to join the hunger-strike for political status, on May 23rd, following the death of Patsy O’Hara, was twenty-five-year-old fellow INLA Volunteer Kevin Lynch from the small, North Derry town of Dungiven who had been imprisoned since his arrest in 1976.

A well-known and well liked young man in the closely-knit community of his home town, Kevin was remembered chiefly for his outstanding ability as a sportsman, and for qualities of loyalty, determination and a will to win which distinguished him on the sports field and which, in heavier times and circumstances, were his hallmarks as an H-Block blanket man on hunger strike to the death.

Kevin Lynch was a happy-go-lucky, principled young Derry man with an enthusiastic love of life, who was, as one friend of his remarked – a former schoolteacher of Kevin’s and an active H-Block campaigner: “the last person, back in 1969, you would have dreamed would be spending a length of time in prison.”

The story of Kevin Lynch is of a light-hearted, hard-working and lively young man, barely out of his teens when the hard knock came early one December morning nearly five years ago, who had been forced by the British occupation of his country to spend those intervening years in heroic refusal to accept the British brand of ‘criminal’ and in the tortured assertion of what he really was – a political prisoner.


Kevin Lynch was born on May 25th, 1956, the youngest of a family of eight, in the tiny village of Park, eight miles outside Dungiven. His father, Paddy, (aged 66), and his mother, Bridie, (aged 65), whose maiden name is Cassidy, were both born in Park too, Paddy Lynch’s family being established there for at least three generations, but they moved to Dungiven twenty years ago, after the births of their children.

Paddy Lynch is a builder by trade, like his father and grandfather before him – a trade which he handed down to his five sons: Michael (aged 39), Patsy (aged 37), Francis (aged 33), Gerard (aged 27), and Kevin himself, who was an apprenticed bricklayer. There are also three daughters in the family: Jean (aged 35), Mary (aged 30), and Bridie (aged 29).

Though still only a small town of a few thousand, Dungiven has been growing over the past twenty years due to the influx of families like the Lynches from the outlying rural areas. It is an almost exclusively nationalist town, garrisoned by a large and belligerent force of RUC and Brits. In civil rights days, however, nationalists were barred from marching in the town centre.

Nowadays, militant nationalists have enforced their right to march, but the RUC still attempt to break up protests and the flying of the tricolour (not in itself ‘illegal’ in the six counties) is considered taboo by the loyalist bigots of the RUC.

Support in the town is relatively strong, Dungiven having first-hand experience of a hunger strike last year when local man Tom McFeeley went fifty-three days without food before the fast ended on December 18th. Apart from Tom McFeeley and Kevin Lynch other blanket men from the town are Kevin’s boyhood friend and later comrade Liam McCloskey – himself later to embark on hunger strike – and former blanket man Eunan Brolly, who was released from the H-Blocks last December.


Kevin went to St. Canice’s primary school and then on to St. Patrick’s intermediate, both in Dungiven. Although not academically minded – always looking forward to taking his place in the family building business – he was well-liked by his teachers, respected for his sporting prowess and for his well-meant sense of humour. “Whatever devilment was going on in the school, you could lay your bottom dollar Kevin was behind it,” remembers his former schoolteacher, recalling that he took great delight in getting one of his classmates, his cousin Hugh (‘the biggest boy in the class – six foot one’) “into trouble”. But it was all in fun – Kevin was no troublemaker, and whenever reprimanded at school, like any other lively lad, would never bear a grudge.

Above all, Kevin was an outdoor person who loved to go fishing for sticklebacks in the river near his home, or off with a bunch of friends playing Gaelic (an outdoor disposition which must have made his H-Block confinement even harder to bear).


His great passion was Gaelic games playing Gaelic football from very early on, and then taking up hurling when he was at St. Patrick’s.

He excelled at both.

Playing right half-back for St. Patrick’s hurling club, which was representing County Derry, at the inaugural Feile na nGael held in Thurles, County Tipperary, in 1971, Kevin’s performance – coming only ten days after an appendix operation – was considered a key factor in the team’s victory in the four-match competition played over two days.

The following season Kevin was appointed captain of both St. Patrick’s hurling team and the County Derry under-16 team which went on in that season to beat Armagh in the All Ireland under-16 final at Croke Park in Dublin.

Later on, while working in England, he was a reserve for the Dungiven senior football team in the 1976 County Derry final.

Kevin’s team, St. Canice’s, was beaten 0-9 to 0-3 by Sarsfields of Ballerin, and he is described in the match programme as “a strong player and a useful hurler”. Within a short space of time after this final, Kevin would be in jail, as would two of his team mates on that day, Eunan Brolly and Sean Coyle.


The qualities Kevin is remembered for as a sportsman were his courage and determination, his will to win, and his loyalty to his team mates. Not surprisingly the local hurling and football clubs were fully behind Kevin and his comrades in their struggle for the five demands, pointing out that Kevin had displayed those same qualities in the H-Blocks and on hunger strike.

He was also a boxer with the St. Canice’s club, once reaching the County Derry final as a schoolboy, but not always managing as easily as he achieved victory in his first fight!

Just before the match was due to start his opponent asked him how many previous fights he’d had. With suppressed humour, Kevin answered “thirty-three” so convincingly that his opponent, overcome with nervous horror, couldn’t be persuaded into the ring.

At the age of fifteen, Kevin left school and began to work alongside his father. Although lively, going to dances, and enjoying good crack, he was basically a quiet, determined young fellow, who stuck to his principles and couldn’t easily be swayed.

Like any other family in Dungiven, the Lynches are nationally minded, and young Kevin would have been just as aware as any other lad of his age of the basic injustices in his country, and would have equally resented the petty stop-and-search harassment which people of his age continually suffered at the hands of Brits and RUC.

The Lynches were also, typically, a close family and in 1973, at the age of sixteen, Kevin went to England to join his three brothers, Michael, Patsy and Gerard, who were already working in Bedford.

Both Bedford and its surrounding towns, stretching from Hertfordshire to Buckinghamshire and down to the north London suburbs, contain large Irish populations, and the Lynches mixed socially within that, Kevin going a couple of times a week to train with St. Dympna’s in Luton or to Catholic clubs in Bedford or Luton for a quiet drink and a game of snooker. He even played an odd game of rugby while over there.

But Kevin never intended settling in England and on one of his occasional visits home (“he just used to turn up”), in August 1976, he decided to stay in Dungiven.


Shortly after his return home, coming away from a local dance, he and nine other young lads were put up against a wall by British soldiers and given a bad kicking, two of the lads being brought to the barracks.

Kevin joined the INLA around this time, maybe because of this incident in part, but almost certainly because of his national awareness coming from his cultural love of Irish sport, as well as his courage and integrity, made him determined to stand up both for himself and his friends.

“He wouldn’t ever allow himself to be walked on”, recalls his brother, Michael. And he had always been known for his loyalty by his family, his friends, his teammates, and eventually by his H-Block comrades.

However, within the short space of little more than three months, Kevin’s active republican involvement came to an end almost before it had begun. Following an ambush outside Dungiven, in November ’76, in which an RUC man was slightly injured, the RUC moved against those it suspected to be INLA activists in the town.

On December 2nd, 1976, at 5.40 a.m. Brits and RUC came to the Lynch’s home for Kevin. “We said he wasn’t going anywhere before he’d had a cup of tea”, remembers Mr. Lynch, “but they refused to let him have even a glass of water. The RUC said he’d be well looked after by then.”

Also arrested that day in Dungiven were Sean Coyle, Seamus McGrandles, and Kevin’s schoolboy friend Liam McCloskey, with whom he was later to share an H-Block cell.

Kevin was taken straight to Castlereagh, and, after three days’ questioning, on Saturday, December 4th, he was charged and taken to Limavady to be remanded in custody by a special court. The string of charges included conspiracy to disarm members of the enemy forces, taking part in a punishment shooting, and the taking of ‘legally held’ shotguns.

Following a year on remand in Crumlin Road jail, Belfast, he was tried and sentenced to ten years in December 1977, immediately joining the blanket men in H3, and eventually finding himself sharing a cell with his Dungiven friend and comrade, Liam McCloskey, continuing to do so until he took part in the thirty-man four-day fast which coincided with the end of the original seven-man hunger strike last December.


Since they were sentenced in 1977, both Dungiven men suffered their share of brutality from Crumlin Road and Long Kesh prison warders, Kevin being ‘put on the boards’ for periods of up to a fortnight, three or four times.

On Wednesday, April 26th, 1978, six warders, one carrying a hammer, came in to search their cell. Kevin’s bare foot, slipping on the urine-drenched cell floor, happened to splash the trouser leg of one of the warders, who first verbally abused him and then kicked urine at him.

When Kevin responded in like manner he was set upon by two warders who punched and kicked him, while another swung a hammer at him, but fortunately missed. The punching and kicking continued till Kevin collapsed on the urine-soaked floor with a bruised and swollen face.

In another assault by prison warders, Kevin’s cellmate, Liam McCloskey, suffered a burst ear-drum during a particularly bad beating, and is now permanently hard of hearing.


Even as long ago as April 1978, just after the ‘no wash’ protest had begun, Kevin was reported, in a bulletin issued by the Dungiven Relatives Action Committee, to “have lost a lot of weight, his face is a sickly white and he is underfed”.

His determination, and his sense of loyalty to his blanket comrades, saw him through, however, even the hardest times.

His former H-Block comrade, Eunan Brolly, who was also in H3 before his release, remembers how Kevin once put up with raging toothache for three weeks rather than come off the protest to get dental treatment. It was the sort of thing which forced some blanket men off the protest, at least temporarily, but not Kevin.

Eunan, who recalls how Kevin used to get a terrible slagging from other blanket men because the GAA, of which of course he was a member, did not give enough support to the fight for political status, also says he was not surprised by Kevin’s decision to join the hunger strike. Like other blanket men, Eunan says, Kevin used to discuss a hunger strike as a possibility, a long time ago, “and he was game enough for it”.

Neither were his family, who supported him in his decision, surprised: “Kevin’s the type of man”, said his father, when Kevin was on the hunger strike, “that wouldn’t lie back. He’d want to do his share.”

In the Free State elections, in June, Kevin stood as a candidate in the Waterford constituency, collecting 3,337 first preferences before being eliminated – after Labour Party and Fianna Fail candidates – on the fifth count, with 3,753 votes.

But the obvious popular support which the hunger strikers and their cause enjoyed nationally was not sufficient to elicit support from the Free State government who share the common, futile hope of the British government – the criminalisation of captured freedom fighters.

The direct consequence of that was Kevin’s death – the seventh at that stage – in the Long Kesh hospital at 1.00 a.m. on Saturday, August 1st after seventy-one days on hunger strike.


Cardinal Dolan slams Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant stance

Posted by Jim on July 31, 2015

Frances Mulraney, Irish Central



“Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric is a sad return to a terrible American tradition,” writes Cardinal Dolan. Photo by: Getty Images

Archbishop of New York, Timothy Cardinal Dolan, has slammed Donald Trump’s anti-immigration stance as a “sad return to a terrible American tradition.”

In a powerful article published in the New York Daily News, Cardinal Dolan spoke out against the nativist beliefs of Trump, citing his own Catholic beliefs as the reason why he could not back the billionaire’s campaign for presidency.

Dolan looks back at his time teaching university classes in American religious history, chronicling “the ugly phenomenon called nativism…organized, white, Protestant antagonism toward the Catholic immigrant” throughout the past 200 years.

“It flourished in our country during the 1840s and 1850s — actually becoming a popular political party, the Know-Nothings — and appeared again, in the 1870s, as the American Protective Association; in the 1920s, as the KKK; and during post-World War II America, as Protestants and Other Americans United for Separation of Church and State,” he states.

Trump, Dolan believes, is 2015’s resurrection of the nativist tradition, the tradition that believes immigrants are a threat to Americans and that the country would be better off without them.

“These nativists believed the immigrant to be dangerous, and that America was better off without them,” he wrote.

“All these poor degenerates did, according to the nativists, was to dilute the clean, virtuous, upright citizenry of God-fearing true Americans.”

Dolan recalled how his students reacted with disbelief upon hearing him state that such nativist opinions had never truly left the American psyche.

“This point my students would not buy,” he said. “‘Father Dolan,’ they would say, ‘there’s no denying that this bigotry was there in our past. But, come on! Who could ever believe now that immigrants are dirty, drunken, irresponsible, dangerous threats to clean, white, Protestant, Anglo-Saxon America! Those days are gone.’”

Referring to the GOP candidate as his “Trump card”, he proclaims, “Nativism is alive, well — and apparently popular!”.

Outlining the two popular American stances on immigration throughout history, the New York Archbishop describes the nativist as one who regards immigrants as “the unwashed, ignorant, bothersome brood as criminals and misfits who threaten ‘pure America,’ and are toxic to everything decent in the United States.”

Dolan says those who think differently hold “the more enlightened and patriotic view.” These Americans see “the immigrant as a gift to our nation, realizing that the only citizens whose ancestors were not immigrants are the Native Americans.”

Despite acknowledging that many in this more “enlightened” group still believe in the need for border control, and regulations, policies and laws regarding immigration, he affirms that they also believe that “to welcome them [immigrants] is virtuous, patriotic and beneficial for the economic and cultural future of our country.”

As well as his Catholic beliefs, Dolan’s beliefs as an American also come into play in his criticism of Trump.

“As an American, I take equally seriously the great invitation and promise of Lady Liberty,” he continues.

“It’s one of the reasons why I am so eager to share with Pope Francis the wonderful work being done by our Catholic Charities to assist immigrants who come to New York, and look to the church for assistance and a warm welcome.”


Death in the Family- William Hogan, brother of LAOH National President Mary Hogan

Posted by Jim on July 30, 2015

Dear Sisters and Brothers


It is with great sorrow that I inform you of the death of my brother Billy; he died on Saturday, July 25, 2015. Please remember him in your prayers.

When you remember Bill, please say an extra “Hail Mary” for him in your prayers. Family and Friends are invited to gather on Saturday, August 1 and Sunday, August 2 from 2 – 4 pm and 6 – 9- PM at the VanInwegen-Kenny,Inc. Funeral Home, 111 Sullivan Street, in Wurtsboro,. His funeral mass will be celebrated on Monday,August 3 at 1pm at St. Marys & St. Andrews Catholic Church, Ellenville, NY.

In lieu of flowers please send donation to (Make Ck out to) Saint Vincent de Paul Food Pantry, c/o Saint Anthony and Saint Alphonsus Church 862 Manhattan Avenue, Brooklyn, New York 11222 – See more at:


Obituary of William Hogan William “Bill” James Hogan1963 – 2015William (“Bill”) James Hogan died July 25, 2015 in Brooklyn. He was 52.Bill was born April 11, 1963 and was a long time resident of Greenpoint, Brooklyn who attended Saint Anthony of Padua Church. He was the son of the late John P. and Dorothy R. (Atchison) Hogan. By trade, Bill was a contractor who operated his own business and was an extremely handy person to have around. He was the type who could fix almost any machine – as long as he had a hammer! Bill had a passion for life – he loved to cook and then invite others to share in his many culinary creations, all the while keeping everyone entertained with his many stories and jokes. Bill could probably make anyone laugh or smile. Bill had a heart of gold and never met a stranger who he didn’t call “friend”. Bill is survived by his sisters: Kathleen Rozak and her husband Nick, Mary Hogan, Margaret Cornish and her husband Brian, Ann Frederick and her husband Wayne, Gloria Cunningham and her husband Patrick; his brothers: Daniel, Matthew, Roger, Joseph, Patrick, and Peter Hogan; his nieces and nephews: Mary Ellen, Nicholas & Jack Rozak, Sarah, Molly & Grace Cunningham, John Frederick and his fiancé Bethany Yamrick, Colleen, Liam, Brendan, James & Michael Frederick; his sister-in-law Monique Hogan and his aunt Ruth Auerbach. He was predeceased by his brother John Hogan.Bill shared his life for many years with Patricia DeKenipp (deceased) and her children, Lisa DeKenipp Heintz and Tommy DeKenipp, whom he loved as if they were his own children. Bill is also survived by Lisa’s children Everett, Alistair and Silas and her husband David.In addition, Bill leaves behind several cousins and his many friends from Greenpoint and elsewhere, who are too numerous to mention. Bill greatly valued all his family and friendships, and his life was all the more richer because of them.


Yours in Friendship, Unity, and Christian Charity

Mary Hogan

National President

Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians

Brooklyn Shamrocks Gaa Club

Posted by Jim on July 29, 2015

Brooklyn Shamrocks recorded their first win of the play-off series against a talented Westmeath side in roasting conditions at Gaelic Park tonight. Next up for the men from Kings County is a date v St Raymonds on August 12th.
In other news the club will be announcing the details for the second of its hugely popular trivia quizzes before this weekend. Stay tuned!!

Come support our neighbors in Gerritsen Beach Aug. 2

Posted by Jim on

Gerritsen Beach Cares's photo.

Positive Meeting with US Officials – McGuinness

Posted by Jim on

Sinn Féin MLA Martin McGuinness has said the US administration remains engaged with the political process in the North.

Speaking from Washington after meeting officials from the White House, Mr McGuinness said;

“I had a positive and encouraging meeting with senior officials at the White House today.

“The US administration clearly remains engaged with the political process in the North and they continue to play a constructive role.

“At the meeting I made it clear to them that the institutions of the Good Friday Agreement, which have underpinned the peace process for almost two decades, are facing a real crisis as a result of the policies of this British government.

“The political institutions, and the progress we have made over the last two decades of the peace process, are under a real threat and it is my hope that the US administration can encourage the British government to take a more positive approach on dealing with the North.”

British Government Needs to Re-engage with Peace Process

Posted by Jim on

by Gerry Adams TD

On the eve of the 10th anniversary of an historic statement by the IRA leadership, formally ordering an end to its armed campaign, Sinn Féin Leader Gerry Adams TD has said the British government needs to re-engage with the Peace Process.

In a statement this evening marking the anniversary of the IRA initiative of 28th July 2005, Gerry Adams said:

“More than 20 years ago, in one of the defining developments of modern Irish history, the IRA announced a total cessation of military activities.

“The subsequent success of the Peace Process and the transformation of politics across this island and between Ireland and Britain were the result of the efforts, commitment, political courage, determination and personal engagement by the key players.

“I note the recent remarks of British Prime Minister David Cameron when he claimed that ‘British resolve saw off the IRA’.

“This is a distortion of recent history. It also betrays a worrying ignorance on the part of a British Premier of the dynamics which have propelled the Irish Peace Process for many years.

“The reality is that the IRA was never defeated and that again and again it was Irish republicans, including the IRA leadership, which took bold steps to bolster the peace process and to maintain positive political momentum.

“Ten years ago this week, on 28 July, 2005, the IRA formally ended its armed campaign and gave its support to purely peaceful and democratic means of achieving republican objectives

“David Cameron would do well to understand that it was such initiatives which broke the long cycle of conflict and opened up new political possibilities.

“However, the progress that was made over many years is now in severe jeopardy, not least because of the attitude of Mr Cameron.

“The political structures negotiated so painstakingly as part of the Good Friday Agreement face collapse as a result of the British Government’s ideologically driven austerity agenda

“By slashing hundreds of millions of pounds from the finances of the North’s Executive, the British Government has attacked the ability of the political institutions to deliver for citizens

“The promise of further ‘eye watering’ cuts in the autumn will further undermine the Executive’s ability to provide public services and protect the most vulnerable.

“Sinn Féin wants to see the political institutions work; for that to happen the Executive must have sustainable and workable finances.

“The Executive requires the resources and flexibility to deliver a peace dividend that will be felt in those communities which suffered most as a result of that conflict.

“This includes the resources to tackle the sectarian segregation which perpetuates division and facilitates confrontation.

“Over many decades, successive British governments invested limitless financial resources to pursue a military agenda in the North of Ireland. They now need to bring a similar commitment to building the peace.

“A new approach is required from the British Government – one based on investment, which would allow the political institutions to grow and develop the economy for the benefit of all our citizens.

“There is also an onus on David Cameron’s government to resource the mechanisms for dealing with the legacy of the past, which were agreed at Stormont House.

“The Irish Government cannot escape its responsibilities under the Good Friday Agreement either. It remains detached and it’s attitude to the North is dictated by party political and selfish electoral considerations.

“The Taoiseach needs urgently to take up his responsibilities towards citizens in the North and to be a champion of the peace process.

“In order to restore hope, to rescue the political institutions and re-establish positive political momentum, the British Government must provide the Executive with the tools to invest in public services, grow the economy and address the legacy of the past. The British government needs to re-engage with the Peace Process.”

Royal family won’t get invite to Easter Rising centenary celebrations

Posted by Jim on July 28, 2015

Irish government had initially indicated the British monarchy could play a role in 1916 Easter Rising celebrations



The decision by Dublin to keep the historic events effectively ‘Irish-only’ – by inviting just those already based in embassies in the Republic – removes any lingering doubt that any member of the royal family might attend next year’s celebrations

The programme of events to mark the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising, called Ireland 2016, was launched last year.

An updated programme of events was later revealed after opposition parties and the relatives of the 1916 rebels criticised initial plans.

1916 Rising events to go global as multi-million euro plan unveiled by Irish government 

The Irish government had initially indicated the British monarchy could play a role in the celebrations, following the highly successful visit of Michael D Higgins to the UK last year and the Queen’s historic visit to Ireland i

However, it was later decided such a visit could prove to be a “distraction” from the events, with Taoiseach Enda Kenny ruling out any involvement by the monarchy.

The potentially divisive issue has been the subject of several email exchanges between the Irish government and the British ambassador to Ireland Dominick Chilcott that were marked “sensitive”.

In March, just days before the updated Ireland 2016 programme was launched, an official in the Anglo-Irish division of the Department of Foreign Affairs wrote to Mr Chilcott providing him with the state’s “public line in response to any question about inviting high level visitors to the core Easter 2016 events”.

The statement says: “The events in the Ireland 2016 State Ceremonial programme will be moments for national commemoration.

“Therefore high-level representatives of Ireland’s international partners will not be in attendance at these Easter events.”

The Republic’s  Department of Foreign Affairs confirmed this remained the Irish government’s position. It added that another series of events, the ‘Ireland 2016 Global and Diaspora Programme’, would involve international partners. The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office said: “Her Majesty’s Government is committed to working closely with the Irish government during the decade of centenaries marking the events of 1912-1922 to promote a greater understanding of our shared history, and to do so in a spirit of historical accuracy, mutual respect, inclusiveness and reconciliation.

“Our hosts have suggested that this is something that is appropriate for the diplomatic corps.”

It added: “We wish to be represented at appropriate level and that is a standard part of diplomacy.”

Brooklyn Shamrocks GAA Wednesday night 6:30pm Gaelic Park

Posted by Jim on July 27, 2015

Brooklyn plays Westmeath in the first game of the playoffs Wednesday at Gaelic Park. Throw in at 6:30. Looking forward to seeing and hearing all our fans. Go Brooklyn!

Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa, 100 years on

Posted by Jim on July 26, 2015

A number of events are planned to mark the centenary of the funeral of
Irish patriot Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa of the Irish Republican
Brotherhood. Sinn Fein are carrying out a re-enactment of the funeral as
their first event of their 2016 Centenary programme in Dublin.

The following is an account of his life, and the full text of the famous
oration delivered by Patrick Pearse at his graveside, one hundred years
ago this week.

Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa (1831 – 1915) was born to Irish tenant farmers
on September 11, 1831 in Rosscarbery, County Cork, Ireland. Described as
the last great peasantry of Europe, even the poorest denizens of London
were better off than the typical Irish farmer. When he was twelve years
old, the Act of Union was enacted in January 1801 which abolished the
Kingdom of Ireland with its independent parliament and created the
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland that linked the fortunes of
Ireland to England.

Ireland at that time was a land where absentee landlords controlled 90%
of the arable land, and the majority of crops and livestock produced by
the tenant farmers was being collected and sent across the channel in
lieu of rent. The natives were forced to subsist on little more than the
lowly potato, which provided the nutrients necessary to support life and
had the highest yield per acre. According to the 1841 census, land in
Ireland was divided into holdings among 825,000 people.

By 1845 two and a half million acres had been planted in Ireland with
lumpers, the poorest variety, and planted over and over until it was all
the easier for a disease to infect and destroy them. When the potato
crop failed that year, a good portion of the harvest was lost. It failed
again in 1846, and the crop failed totally in 1847. This year, known
forever after as “Black ’47”, was by far the worst, and spelled certain
death for those whose existence was linked to the tuber. At harvest
time, the potatoes were black when pulled out of the ground and turned
into mush when cooked. Literally millions of Irish men and women were
faced with an inability to pay their rent and subsequently, were cast
out of their rude dwellings. Help from across the channel was not
forthcoming and when it eventually came, it was inadequate. The nation
was suddenly deprived of its primary food source and its only means of
paying “the rint”. Thousands were evicted and crowded the workhouses
while thousands more wandered the roads aimlessly in search of food.
More than a million people chose to emigrate, while more than a million
others stayed and died. For those who remained and survived, the abject
poverty and hopelessness of their lives contrasted sharply with those of
their brethren abroad.

Rossa saw all of this and it left its mark on him. He was too young to
fully realise what a dire situation his family was in but he describes
their plight in a few words:

“I did not know how my father felt, I did not know how my mother felt; I
did not know how I felt myself. There were four of us children. The
potato crop had gone. The wheat crop had gone”.

In order to feed his family, Rossa’s father took a job building roads
and he caught famine fever and died in March 1847. To the end of his
life Rossa refused to acknowledge that the famine was an act of God,
considering it a blasphemy and an injustice to blame God. English
landlords were to blame, he held, and that they were worse than the
malign demons of Hell. It was this undying hatred and uncompromising
focus on Irish freedom that would have impact long after he was gone.

In 1856, he founded the Phoenix National and Literary Society ‘for the
liberation of Ireland by force of arms’. Rossa was still in Cork when
James Stephens, Thomas Clarke Luby, James Denieefe, Garret O Shaughnessy
and Peter Langan founded the Irish Republican Brotherhood in Dublin on
St. Patrick’s Day, 1858. Stephens himself came to Rosscarbery in 1858
and Rossa was one of his first recruits. In December 1858 Rossa was
arrested and jailed without trial until July 1859. Rossa was accused of
plotting a Fenian rising in 1865, tried for high treason and sentenced
to penal servitude for life due to his previous convictions.

He was imprisoned in Pentonville, Portland and Chatham Prisons in
England where, for eight years, he suffered inhumane and cruel treatment
at the hands of the prison authorities. He was fed on bread and water
for 28 days at a time. In Chatham, his hands were cuffed behind him
every morning at 6:45am and to be able to eat his food he had to get
down on all fours like a dog. This went on for more than thirty days. In
1869 he was elected to Parliament for Tipperary but his election was
declared void because he was imprisoned.

In Ireland, Rossa served part of his sentence but was released in the
general amnesty of fenians in 1870 with the understanding that he did
not return. Given a choice, he weighed going to Australia, but settled
on America. O’Donovan Rossa arrived in New York City in January 1871
aboard the steamer SS Cuba with other released Fenian prisoners Charles
Underwood O’Connell, John Devoy, Henry Mulleda and John McClure. Of the
five, only Rossa and Devoy remained active, both joining the fledgling
Clan na Gael, founded by New York Herald scientific reporter Jerome J.
Collins in June, 1867 as a response to the feuding within the Fenian
Brotherhood. Upon his arrival, Rossa joined the Fenian Brotherhood and
edited the American edition of the United Irishman, and ran
unsuccessfully for political office against Tammany Hall’s William Marcy
“Boss” Tweed in 1871. In 1872 he leased The Northern Hotel near Chatham
Square in Manhattan’s notorious Five Points district.

On September 4, 1875 an anonymous letter appeared in Patrick Ford’s
Irish World, the premier Irish American newspaper of the day. The letter
called for militant action, which “does more to keep the faith alive
than a thousand sensible, prudent, wiseheaded patriots who crawl on
crutches…into forgotten graves.” The idea was not lost on Rossa. He
responded with a letter on December 5th and established what he called a
‘skirmishing fund’ to begin soliciting donations to send the war back to
England. He proposed the use of the newly invented dynamite as the
instrument of retribution. Although the like-minded Ford had
editorialised that there were enough Irishmen living in England to “give
London to flames and reduce Liverpool to disaster…spread through all
the emporia of England, terror, conflagration, and irretrievable
destruction”, he held the letter for three months before publishing it
in March, 1876. The fund was wildly successful, collecting $23,000 by
March 1877 from 30,000 contributors in the United States, Canada,
Ireland, England and Scotland. Rossa had accurately gauged the
temperment of the Irish Diaspora.

Rossa began writing a column in the Irish World and in it, he chastised
his old friend Devoy and Clan na Gael for embracing a policy of
co-operation with the constitutional movement. Rossa’s threats of
bombings horrified Clan na Gael. Secretly, they planned the very same
thing and Rossa’s bombast was calling undue attention to them. When the
fund reached $43,000 later in 1877, Clan na Gael seized control, but
left Rossa as secretary.

By the following March, the Northern Hotel had failed but Rossa
continued his anti-English vitriol. When he was seen going from one
tavern to another on Park Row near the Herald offices, Devoy seized the
opportunity and had him expelled from Clan na Gael, supposedly for his
drinking, but more so because of his influence among Irish and
Irish-Americans and his insistence on keeping the Fenian Brotherhood
alive contrary to the wishes of the clan. Devoy had him put in a convent
in Summit, NJ for rehabilitation. The Fenian Brotherhood, hopelessly
divided and powerless, elected Rossa the last “Head Centre” in 1877, but
by 1880 they had begun to disappear, and the group no longer had the
financial support or membership it had once enjoyed.

Rossa’s blustering was nothing more than that until January, 1881 when a
bomb exploded outside a military base in Salford, near Manchester
killing a 7 year old boy. In June 1881 two of Rossa’s men were arrested
in Liverpool with a cast iron pipe filled with explosives smuggled from
America. Two weeks later, six dynamite bombs, dubbed ‘infernal machines’
by the press were discovered aboard the SS Malta, docked in Liverpool
after arriving from America. The bombing campaign was underway and Rossa
had drawn blood.

Rossa, by now a celebrity of international proportions, was questioned
by reporters about the bombings and he admitted to supplying the money.
The British government began calling for his extradition. They found it
appalling that a civilised country such as the United States would allow
such activities against another, and now it has led to bloodshed. Rossa
himself found this strangely ironic as England had paid his passage to
America in 1871 with the condition being he could not return to England,
Scotland or Ireland for twenty years. Now they wanted him back.

When the reigns of Clan na Gael power passed from John Devoy in New York
to Alexander Sullivan of Chicago, the Skirmishing Fund came under the
control of The Triangle, an inner circle consisting of three members of
Clan na Gael who re-instituted Rossa’s original scheme and began in
earnest the “Dynamite War” against England.

The Rossa aspect and the Clan na Gael portion of the entire affair is
lumped together, but the devices used by Rossa’s men were crude and
caused little damage. The explosives used by the clan bombers were far
more deadly and created far more havoc, but it was Rossa’s mastery of
propaganda, more so than his actions that put fear in English hearts.
Due to his campaign, nearly every branch of the nationalist movement
shunned him, and it also nearly cost him his life.

World headline in February 1885. An Englishwoman named Yseult Dudley met
Rossa near Broadway on the pretext of making a contribution to his
skirmishing fund and shot him several times. The incident caused a
sensation in New York as Rossa and even some of his detractors declared
Dudley to be an agent of the English government. England claimed that
she was a mentally unstable woman acting on her own delusions. Rossa
never believed it.

Rossa settled on Staten Island and would tell of his experiences in his
1874 book Prison Life (re-released as Irish Rebels in English Prisons in
1882) and Rossa’s Recollections 1838-1898. For the remainder of his life
he remained the most visible Irish exile in America and an outspoken
critic of the British occupation of Ireland. He appeared at speaking
engagements all over the country relating his prison experiences,
performing readings of his books and giving accounts of his involvement
in the Fenian Brotherhood and his fight against the British. No longer a
political pariah, he visited Ireland in 1894 and was given a patriot’s
welcome. He visited again in 1904 when he was made a freeman of Cork
City. In Dublin, a memorial to Rossa stands on Grafton Street corner and
Richmond Bridge was renamed O’Donovan Rossa Bridge in his honour.
Skibbereen is home to the O’Donovan Rossa memorial park.

On his deathbed at age 83 years, he sent “Rocky Mountain” O’Brien to get
old friends John Devoy and Ricard O’Sullivan Burke and bring them to his
bedside. He died a tired old warrior on June 29,1915 in St. Vincent’s
Hospital on Staten Island after a two year illness. Devoy, aware that
when Young Irelander Terrence Bellew McManus had died in San Francisco
in 1866 the funeral procession became a massive propaganda coup, he
contacted Tom Clarke in Ireland, himself a Clan na Gael member, and
Rossa’s remains were sent home.

His funeral at Glasnevin Cemetery on August 1st, 1915 was a huge affair,
garnering substantial publicity for the Irish Volunteers and the IRB at
the time when a rebellion (later to emerge as the Easter Rising) was
being planned. The eulogy, given by Padraig Pearse, remains one of the
most famous speeches of the Republican Movement. It ended with the
lines: “They think that they have pacified Ireland. They think that they
have purchased half of us and intimidated the other half. They think
that they have foreseen everything, think that they have provided
against everything; but, the fools, the fools, the fools! — They have
left us our Fenian dead, and while Ireland holds these graves, Ireland
unfree shall never be at peace.”

The following is the full text of that oration, with translations.

A Ghaedheala,

[Irish People,]

Do hiarradh orm-sa labhairt indiu ar son a bhfuil cruinnighthe ar an
lathair so agus ar son a bhfuil beo de Chlannaibh Gaedheal, ag moladh an
leomhain do leagamar i gcre annso agus ag griosadh meanman na gcarad ata
go bronach ina dhiaidh.

[I was asked to speak on behalf of those gathered at this place and of
all who are alive of the Irish Family, to praise the lion we lay in the
soil today and to offer encouragement to those who are sad because he is

A chairde, na biodh bron ar einne ata ina sheasamh ag an uaigh so, acht
biodh buidheachas againn inar gcroidhthibh do Dhia na ngras do
chruthuigh anam uasal aluinn Dhiarmuda Ui Dhonnabhain Rosa agus thug se
fhada dho ar an saoghal so.

[Friends, let nobody standing at this grave be sad, but give heartfelt
thanks to the God of Graces who created the noble beautiful soul of
Diarmuid O Donnabhain Rosa and who gave him such a long life.]

Ba chalma an fear thu, a Dhiarmuid. Is threan d’fhearais cath ar son
cirt do chine, is ni beag ar fhuilingis; agus ni dheanfaidh Gaedhil
dearmad ort go brath na breithe.

[You were a fine stalwart man Diarmuid. Your strong manly struggle for
the rights of your race and you suffered much; and the Irish will never
ever forget you.]

Acht, a chairde, na biodh bron orainn, acht biodh misneach inar
gcroidhthibh agus biodh neart inar gcuirleannaibh, oir cuimhnighimis
nach mbionn aon bhas ann nach mbionn aiseirghe ina dhiaidh, agus gurab
as an uaigh so agus as na huaghannaibh ata inar dtimcheall eireochas
saoirse Gheadheal.

[But friends, let us not be sorrowful but rather let us have courage in
our hearts and let ius have strength in our limbs, as we remember that
no death occurs that is not followed by a resurection, and that out of
this grave and from the graves surrounding us will Irish freedom rise.]

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

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

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

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

This is a place of peace, sacred to the dead, where men should speak
with all charity and with all restraint; but I hold it a Christian
thing, as O’Donovan Rossa held it, to hate evil, to hate untruth, to
hate oppression, and, hating them, to strive to overthrow them. Our foes
are strong and wise and wary; but, strong and wise and wary as they are,
they cannot undo the miracles of God who ripens in the hearts of young
men the seeds sown by the young men of a former generation. And the
seeds sown by the young men of ’65 and ’67 are coming to their
miraculous ripening to-day. Rulers and Defenders of Realms had need to
be wary if they would guard against such processes. Life springs from
death; and from the graves of patriot men and women spring living
nations. The Defenders of this Realm have worked well in secret and in
the open. They think that they have pacified Ireland. They think that
they have purchased half of us and intimidated the other half. They
think that they have foreseen everything, think that they have provided
against everything; but the fools, the fools, the fools! — they have
left us our Fenian dead, and while Ireland holds these graves, Ireland
unfree shall never be at peace.

Roma Downey donates $1 million to Irish Arts Center in New York

Posted by Jim on

by James O’Shea


Irish actress and producer Roma Downey.

Irish actress and TV and movie producer Roma Downey has pledged $1 million to the Irish Arts Center new complex being built in New York.

The donation is being made through the American Ireland Fund and was announced at their summer reception on Nantucket Island.

The massive private gift is one of the largest ever made to an Irish non profit and will go towards the $60 million redevelopment plan for the Irish Arts Center on Manhattan’s’ West Side.

The Irish Arts Center is currently raising the final funds to construct a massive new facility which will have new a 199-seat theatre, an 85-seat intimate café venue; studio spaces for classes, rehearsals and the development of new work; technology capability to project Irish Arts Center on the digital platform and a social environment for meetings, collaboration and conversation.

 The City of New York has already pledged major funding as has the Irish government and funding commitments are now over $45 million. Major figures such as Liam Neeson and Gabriel Byrne are also firmly on board.

Pauline Turley, Liam Neeson, Julie Feeney and Aidan Connolly.      Photo: Irish Arts Center

Downey made the announcement of the gift through the American Ireland Fund at their annual summer reception on Nantucket Island in Massachusetts on Saturday. The event was held at the home of Ambassador Elizabeth Frawley Bagley.

Speaking at the event, Roma Downey shared the significance of her gift.

“When I first immigrated to America, it was to New York City I moved. In those early years as a homesick artist, I personally sought out the Irish Arts Center and found solace from the work they were doing there, and strength from the people that gathered there.  So I am incredibly grateful that all these years later I am personally able to support helping The Irish Arts Center expand with this incredible new building and the exciting new programs, and I applaud The American Ireland Fund for its important support of this vibrant program.”

 American Ireland Fund CEO Kieran McLoughlin in welcoming the $1 million pledge to the Irish Arts Center said, “It is marvelous that such a celebrated artist as Roma is doing so much to promote and preserve Irish culture in her adopted home. Her generosity is a tribute to the power of, and necessity for, philanthropy.”

Downey and her husband, reality series pioneer Mark Burnett who created ‘Survivor,’ have established a huge niche in Hollywood with their Christian programming, which has included a retelling of the bible which drew 100 million viewers to the History Channel with a remake of the movie “Ben Hur” coming up next year.

Downey is also host of the New TLC Series ‘Answered Prayers’ on miraculous stories of divine interventions.

Downey, a native of the Bogside area of Derry, shot to fame with her starring role in “Touched by an Angel,” which ran from 1994 to 2003 and has parlayed her success in that series to a huge Hollywood presence.

Tonight 7/26 at the ” Irish Haven “, The Lost Tribe of Donegal

Posted by Jim on

Irish Haven's photo.

An “Irish Haven” in Brooklyn

Posted by Jim on

Neighborhood Joint



Blazing summertime glory barely penetrated Irish Haven’s darkness. The air inside was sudsy — that classic dive-bar tang of decades of beers sloshed around wood paneling and century-old tile floors.

Each time the door opened, heads turned in unison. It was 4 in the afternoon, and few entered, but none were strangers to the patrons clustered at the elbow of the oak bar. They have lived in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, for decades — since immigrating from Ireland, or since birth — and this watering hole on the corner of Fourth Avenue and 58th Street has served as their neighborhood hub since 1964.

Among the bar’s regulars, stories unwind over hours, weaving from present to past and back again.

Linda McDonagh, 63, sat on her usual stool recounting teenage nights of barhopping from the Rainbow on 39thStreet to the Rainbow on 62nd Street but always ending at Irish Haven.

“This is all that’s left,” said Ms. McDonagh, her County Meath lilt detectable, though she left when she was 7. “All the other bars are gone.”

In his boggy brogue, Martin Pryce, 74, told a tale of a Norwegian dockworker shipwrecked in the harbor for two days. The gang nodded along — they remembered the man and they knew the story.

Only if Jimmy Gillick, 66, is bartending will Millie Rodman turn up, sipping vodkas with Coca-Cola from dainty Georgian Irish coffee glasses. Refusing to disclose her age, she said she was old enough to remember Sunset Park, now home to Hispanic and Chinese immigrants, when it was primarily Irish and Scandinavian and the pubs kept legions of stevedores and carpenters in drink and good company.

Brooklyn’s longshoreman trade has thinned, but construction jobs abound. At quitting time, six workers filed in, each choosing a stool. Not one spoke a word except to Mr. Gillick. For Scott Ventre, 53, of East Bedford-Stuyvesant, it’s the same every day: two Guinness and two shots.

“When I leave the job and get to the corner, I say, ‘There’s the subway, and there’s the bar. What do I want to do?’ So I’ll have a beer.”

John Fitzgerald, 53, a contractor, lives a few blocks away and has been drinking at the Haven since moving to New York in 1984.

“I know a lot of people who used to come here,” he said.

“Their ghosts are still floating around. The neighborhood, it’s become hipsterized,” he added, but he doesn’t mind the change. “You need new blood. It’s a culture shock for the old-timers, but not for me. I’m not that old.”

In 2011, Irish Haven almost went under, destined for a Dunkin’ Donuts franchise, but Matt Hogan stepped in and leased the bar from the original family owners. “They were going to cook the doughnuts here and sell them in the satellite ones, like a gas station or 7-Eleven,” Mr. Hogan said.

He changed little: a Facebook page, two functioning air-conditioning units and a trivia night. When bar stool vinyl cracked, he paid a premium to special-order a comparable vintage. Raising the price of a Guinness from $4 to $5 exposed a downside to regulars with long memories. “Some people are still mad,” Mr. Hogan said. “They used to pay $3.50.”

Before leaving, Ms. McDonagh and Mr. Pryce contemplated where they would go if the Haven shuttered.

“The Leif would be the next stop,” Ms. McDonagh said of another of the last remaining neighborhood Irish bars.

Mr. Pryce raised an eyebrow. “That or the cemetery,” he said. “We’d go in the ground.”

Derry name change back on the agenda

Posted by Jim on July 25, 2015

A new effort is underway to have the name of Derry city officially
recognised by the British government and internationally.

A majority of Derry City and Strabane District Council has backed a
motion by Sinn Fein Councillor Eric McGinley to seek information on how
to go about trying to change the city’s name, which officially remains

Derry’s name has been contentious since the Plantation of Ulster when
the prefix -London was attached for Protestant settlers from the city.

Prior to the arrival of the Planters, the city was recorded as ‘Derry’,
‘Daire’ or ‘Doire’ meaning Oak Grove in Irish and had been an important
trading port and ecclesiastical centre of learning during the Middle

The council took a fresh vote after being told that a request had been
received for a public vote on recognising the ‘Derry’ name by way of an
internet campaign.

An online petition, which was launched in May, has to date achieved
support from over 2,700 people.

Previous attempts for an official name change have failed. In 1984 the
council changed its name from ‘Londonderry’ to Derry but the city
continues to be called ‘Londonderry’ by many government agencies.

Speaking on the matter, Councillor McGinley said it was the policy of
the previous Derry City Council to change the name of the city back to

He said the proposal was not about airbrushing London from the history
of the city but rather creating “a clear brand, one single name, one
single identity” to promote it.

“Sinn Fein’s position hasn’t changed since March,” he added. “We would
propose today that Derry City and Strabane District Council seeks to
change the name of the city back to Derry and in that context writes to
the DoE [Department of the Environment at Stormont] seeking clarity of
the process that will allow that to proceed.”

Unionists opposed the change, pointing out that it had been blocked
previously. DUP Councillor David Ramsey said the issue was one of
equality and that a previous ‘Equality Impact Assessment’ was negative,
meaning the council could not make the change.

“London stone masons built the city, full stop,” he said.

When the issue was raised previously, a judge ruled that it was only the
English queen’s ‘Privy Council’ or special legislation which could
change the name. Councillor McGinley said he had wanted the council to
write to the Privy Council.

A recorded vote on Cllr McGinley’s proposal was taken at the council
meeting, with 28 Councillors voting to seek advice on how to change the
name, and nine voting against.

The petition to assert the Derry name can be signed here:

Limerick hero paramedic saves drowning woman from NYC’s Hudson River

Posted by Jim on July 23, 2015


Niall O’Shaughnessy (right) who rescued J-1 from under subway carriage honored for heroism once more. Photo by: FDNY

Cathy Hayes

A New York Fire Department paramedic, originally from Limerick, has been dubbed a hero after jumping into the Hudson River to save a woman from drowning.

Niall O’Shaughnessy (38), a Long Island resident and native of County Limerick, dove into the grimy New York river on Monday morning when he noted the woman was in dire distress.

The FDNY paramedic, a veteran of ten years, told the New York Post “This was my first time I jumped in the water [for a rescue].

“I have no idea why she jumped in, my concern was to just get her out.”

 O’Shaughnessy was stationed with his partner, Moses Nelson, near West and Murray Streets when they received the call, at around 7:23am. There were reports of a woman in her late 20s or 30s who had jumped into the river near Pier 25.

The paramedics were on the scene within minutes and spotted the woman holding on a life ring, thrown to her by the Parks Department authorities on the scene.

The Limerick paramedic said, “She was very tired and started to let go of it.

 “My biggest concern making sure she was OK and that she didn’t submerge.”

Noticing that the woman was beginning to tire O’Shaughnessy jumped into action.

An FDNY spokesman described O’Shaughnessy’s rescue. They said, “He kicked off his boots, clipped off his radio and jumped in.

“He saw her having an incredible amount of difficulty and his brain took over. All that mattered was rescuing her.”

O’Shaughnessy got to the woman and kept her afloat until they were pulled to safety. The woman was brought to Bellevue Hospital and is now in a stable condition.

 O’Shaughnessy’s partner, Nelson, said, “As a Rescue Paramedic, we are trained for this. We shouldn’t be considered heroes, this is our job.”

This is not the first time that O’Shaughnessy has put himself in danger for a stranger. Last July O’Shaughnessy was the heroic paramedic who jumped between subway cars to aid an Irish J-1 student who had fallen onto the tracks at the 49th Street station in Midtown.

J-1 student Mary Downey, from Belfast, had fallen from the platform and, while only suffering a broken shoulder, was stuck under the subway train. O’Shaughnessy, along with firefighter Sean Cummins, a native of Dublin, were first responders.

A cop also on the scene joked, “What is this? An Irish reunion?”

O’Shaughnessy and the other emergency workers kept the 22-year-old student calm by talking about home.

He said “Believe it or not, we had a laugh about it underneath the train.”



Posted by Jim on July 22, 2015

In regards Seamus Daly on his arrest and prosecution in relation to his alleged involvement in the Omagh Bombing 15th August 1998 and the attempted bombings of Lisburn on 30th April 1998. We maintain that the PSNI case being brought against him is flawed and his continued prosecution in this matter violates his human rights.

We maintain that the case against him, being brought by the PSNI contains serious inconsistencies which are contributing to the denial by the State of his right to a fair trial in relation to these offences and consequently his right to liberty.

We maintain that the prosecution has insufficient evidence to satisfy the criminal law standard of proof of guilt ‘beyond all reasonable doubt’. The PSNI accepted under a cross examination at the first bail application brought on behalf of Seamus Daly on 11th April 2014 that no new evidence has been found over a period of 14 years since the Omagh Bombing of 1998. These charges are therefore being brought on a review of available evidence rather than any new material.

Senior Prosecutors working on the case in 1999 would have examined whether there was a reasonable prospect of a conviction against Seamus Daly but the fact that no proceedings were initiated at the time demonstrates that the prosecution came to the conclusion that there was no prospect of a successful conviction at that time. This conclusion, therefore, continues to exist now, consequently, we consider that there is no evidential basis to support the charges being brought against Seamus Daly then or now. Why was he not arrested before if evidence was available?

Furthermore the prosecution case relates to the PSNI failure to locate him before the 7th of April 2014. The PSNI claimed that they had difficulty locating Seamus Daly before he was detained. However, statements obtained from neighbours of Seamus in Jonesborough, Newry, confirm that Seamus Daly has been living there openly for the last number of years. These witnesses include the school crossing-warden for Jonesborough Primary School, who saw Seamus Daly and his wife passing her every morning, and the parish priest Father Dermot Maloney who ‘would have met Seamus regularly about the area’. Father Maloney celebrated Seamus Daly’s wedding in 2012 and confirms his attendance at his son’s confirmation the year previous.

Seamus Daly has now been detained for over 15 months. He has yet to have a committal hearing. This failure to advance a prosecution against him violates his right to a fair trial within a reasonable period under Article 6 of the ECHR. It also violates his right to liberty under Article 5 of the ECHR. If custody time limits were binding in the North of Ireland as they are in England and Wales, Seamus Daly would have been released at least five times over by now. In the case of McFarlane v. Ireland (2010), the ECtHR held that legal proceedings of excessive length constituted a breach of the ‘reasonable time’ requirement under the ECHR. This undue delay in bringing the case against Seamus Daly to trial is a breach of his right to a fair trial under Article 6 of the ECHR and his right to liberty under Article 5.

Seamus Daly understood that at his initial bail application his committal hearing would occur in July 2014. This timetable has not been adhered to. There is now supposedly a                  committal date, which set for the 18th August 2015.

The gravity of a criminal act should not undermine the human rights of an individual. This balance must be respected and guaranteed in a society that respects the rights of an individual and wants to up hold the Rule of Law whilst protecting the victims of crime.

Further to this we believe that this case has been subject to a trial by media before it has been tried in a court.  This does little to reinforce the principle of Justice “innocent until proven guilty”. Perversely certain elements of the media have presented a case of “guilty until proven innocent”.  What we have seen is the media conduct a separate investigation and build public opinion even before the court takes cognisance of the case. While this continues, it is incumbent upon this committee to continue presenting information to the Public. Just as the media have a right to investigate and publish articles on the case, so too do we have a right of reply.

Dail hears Ballymurphy justice appeal

Posted by Jim on July 18, 2015

Relatives of those killed in the Ballymurphy massacre were present for
an emotional debate in the Dublin parliament in which Sinn Fein leader
Gerry Adams vividly described being in the area on the night of the
killings when internment without trial was introduced by the British
government in 1971.

Thousands of British soldiers supported by the RUC police “smashed their way
into hundreds of homes”, he said. He watched his own home being smashed
into and male members of his family being dragged off. “The house was
occupied for days by the Parachute regiment. They destroyed everything,”
he said.

“They shit on beds. They urinated on wardrobes. They broke up family and
religious memorabilia. They dragged away over 300 men and boys into the
night, many of them later to be tortured.”

Ten people were shot dead, including a mother of eight. Mr Adams named
them: Fr Hugh Mullen, Francis Quinn, Daniel Teggart, Joan Connolly,
Joseph Murphy, Noel Phillips, Edward Doherty, John Laverty, Joseph Corr
and John McKerr.

An 11th man, local community worker Paddy McCarthy, died from a heart
attack after a British army patrol subjected him to a mock execution.

This week’s debate stemmed from the British government’s refusal to a
request in 2014 by the Ballymurphy families for a review of the events
that led to the deaths of their loved ones. Following that, the
Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, volunteered to introduce an all-party motion of
support for the families.

Mr Kenny reiterated his government’s disappointment with the decision
not to establish independent reviews. During the debate, he called on
the authorities in the North and Britain to deal with such incidents “in
a manner and a timescale that meets international human rights

The suffering of the bereaved “has been compounded by the anguish caused
by the failure, to date, to establish the truth about the tragic events
which occurred almost 44 years ago”.

Mr Adams said the full resources” of the 26 County state must be
employed to challenge the actions of a neighbouring state in the killing
of Irish citizens.

He urged the coalition to put in place a strategic approach “which sees
the British government challenged on this issue at every meeting and in
every international forum.

“Unless we do this, the British government will continue to refuse to
give the Ballymurphy and other families what they deserve.”

He said the families had campaigned with great dignity for four decades.

“I have accompanied them to meet successive British Secretaries of State
and shadow Secretaries of State. None of them did anything of
consequence. We have also briefed successive Taoisigh and Ministers for
Foreign Affairs. Are we also going to let them down?

“The tenacity and resolve of the families has seen them compile
significant evidence which shows that all who died were killed
unlawfully and in breach of Article 2 of the European Convention on
Human Rights (ECHR).

“They have proposed the appointment of an Independent Panel to examine
all documents relating to the context, circumstances and aftermath of
the deaths of their loved ones. The British Secretary of State has
rejected this proposal.

“For that reason, the families are looking to the Irish government and
to Oireachtas members to demand that the British government stop
blocking and hiding the truth and agree to an Independent Review. This
motion is an important step on the road to achieving this.

“Let no one think that voting for this is enough. As this Dail knows
only too well from the British government response to the Dublin and
Monaghan bombings, motions on their own will not make a difference.”

O’Donovan Rossa Funeral Re-enactment

Posted by Jim on


Sinn Féin will be launching our 1916 commemoration programme on 1st August with a historical re-enactment of a seminal moment in Irish History; the funeral of the “unrepentant Fenian” Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa.

Over a hundred thousand people turned out to watch the spectacle of the funeral in 1915, thronging Dame Street and O’Connell Street to see the cortege. At the graveside, a relatively unknown Patrick Pearse stepped forward to give a graveside oration that would go down in history, with the lst section of that speech now widely seen as the call to arms for the 1916 Rising.

“They think that they have pacified Ireland. They think that they have purchased half of us and intimidated the other half. They think that they have foreseen everything, think that they have provided against everything; but, the fools, the fools, the fools! – They have left us our Fenian dead, and while Ireland holds these graves, Ireland unfree shall never be at peace”

This is your chance to be part of history by commemorating this important event which will include re-enactments of the funeral cortege and taking part in the procession to Glasnevin Cemetery recreating the pomp and circumstance with a band leading, Irish Volunteer Cavalry outriders, horse drawn hearse and uniformed marching guard of honour. People are encouraged to wear period dress for the occasion if they can.

Pay tribute to the men and women of 1916.

Assemble Dublin City Hall, Dame Street, Dublin 2 at 1pm sharp on 1st of August.

See for more details

Displays of Sectarian Hate Around Twelfth Must be Challenged – Adams

Posted by Jim on

Sinn Féin Leader Gerry Adams TD has called for political and legal action to end what he called “displays of sectarian hate” that accompany 12th July events in the North.

Gerry Adams said:

“The open displays of sectarian hatred and intimidation which we witnessed around this year’s Twelfth celebrations are, regrettably, an increasing occurrence.

“These hate crimes are completely unacceptable in any modern democratic society.

“The public burning of the Irish national flag, the burning of the effigies of nationalist and republican representatives and candidates’ election posters are hate crimes pure and simple.

“We have also witnessed major public safety issues around some of these bonfires with people and property at genuine risk.

“It is time that this madness was confronted head-on both legally and politically.

“The organizers of bonfires where these crimes are committed need to be rigorously investigated by the PSNI and the perpetrators prosecuted.

“Police action to date has been derisory but it is no longer acceptable for the PSNI to stand back while an entire community is demonized and subjected to an annual campaign of sectarian hatred.

“I do not believe that the disgraceful scenes we witnessed around some Twelfth bonfires represents genuine Orangeism, but we need to see more leadership from unionist political parties and from the Orange Order to call out unacceptable behavior and to confront this issue.”


Posted by Jim on July 15, 2015


My name is Tricia McAuley and I am the aunt of Phoebe Clawson. Phoebe is 16 years old and last night she was the victim of a deliberate attack when an orange order member drove his car at her and other residents on thw front of the Crumlin road.

Phoebe was trapped underneath the car and has suffered a broken collarbone, broken ankle and a shattered pelvis. She is in extreme pain and is unable to have any surgery until next week. While her physical injuries are severe, the physiological scars may never heal.

Our family would like to thank the people of Ardoyne, and those from across Ireland and beyond, who have sent their best wishes to Phoebe and those who have thought and prayed for her well being. We would like to thank local residents who assisted Phoebe in the immediate aftermath of this attack, and GARC for ensuring the young people were kept fully informed on the ground. I also want to thank all the young people of he area for their restraint while Phoebe waited on an ambulance.

This would not have happened if there was no demand to march through our area. This would not have happened if the PSNI had did what GARC asked them to do prior to the attempted murder of Phoebe and closed the road to prevent sectarian abuse from passing cars. It is time for an end to parades in the morning and evening if the result is a teenage girl lying in hospital with bones shattered by a bigot that tried to kill her.

It is our family’s opinion that this was attempted murder. Not an accident or the result of a man panicking. He wasn’t trying to save himself, he was trying to kill people and very nearly succeeded. His refusal to get out of the car so Phoebe could be freed from underneath shows what type of bigot he is.

This community watched as loyalists threw everything at school girls going to Holy Cross. This included members of our family. Now we have had to watch Phoebe ran over by a loyalist in his car. Enough is enough. The parades through this area have to stop,and the violence that accompanies them has to stop too.

Once more thank you to everyone.

Marcher accused of attempted murder as parade rerouted

Posted by Jim on July 14, 2015

Loyalists rioted on Monday night in north Belfast and drove a vehicle
into nationalists residents, seriously injuring a teenage girl, after
their march was preventing from passing through the Catholic Ardoyne

In line with previous years, the anti-Catholic Orange Order was barred
from walking along the nationalist Crumlin Road due to a determination
of the Parades Commission. The body has been tasked with adjudicating
on contentious parade routes since 1998.

Within minutes of the annual ‘Twelfth’ parade reaching the police lines,
bottles, bricks and metal bolts were thrown at PSNI police, who
responded with water cannon. Shortly afterwards, a vehicle driven by a
parade organiser appeared to suddenly reverse into nationalist
residents, striking three people and running over a 15-year-old girl.

The girl was trapped under the car and sustained grave injuries to her
head and neck. “It’s miraculous that she’s still alive,” said Fr Gary
Donegan, of Holy Cross Catholic Church.

The driver, who was wearing a band uniform and understood to be a member
of the North and West parading organisation, was arrested.

Sinn Fein and PSNI officials appealed for calm, claiming the girl in
question was not badly hurt. PSNI Chief George Hamilton took to social
media to declare that the girl’s injuries were not serious. “She’s in
our thoughts,” he said. He said eight PSNI men were injured in the
clashes, including one senior member.

Sinn Fein’s Gerry Kelly also insisted the injured girl’s condition was
not life-threatening. “She was very lucky,” he said. “This young
teenager is safe and that’s the main thing.”

Earlier, several loyalist bands breached a Parades Commission ruling by
playing music while passing St Patrick’s Catholic Church in northwest
Belfast. The bands played sectarian tunes such as the ‘Famine Song’
near the church, a site of numerous sectarian displays by loyalist
marchers in recent years. One bandsman was seen to spit towards the
church as he passed.

The British Labour’s party spokesperson on the North of Ireland, Ivan
Lewis, condemned the scenes as a “serious step backwards for stability
in Northern Ireland”, while Alliance Party Justice spokesman Stewart
Dickson said “the image of Northern Ireland” would suffer.

“Clearly the use of bolts and other objects as missiles shows there was
premeditated intent to cause trouble. I would call on everyone with
influence at a political or community level to work together to restore
peace to our streets.”

The Greater Ardoyne Resident Coalitions, which opposes sectarian parades
through the community, said the critically injured girl had been denied
immediate help from the nearby Ambulance Station, which had been closed
“due to the demands of Loyal Orders to impose sectarianism on our

“This young girl could have been killed by a sectarian bigot who sees
her as a second class citizen,” they said.

“The question needs to be asked of Loyal Orders, unionist parties and
loyalist paramilitaries – would this young girl’s life have been worth
the demand to trample over residents’ right to live free from sectarian
harassment and intimidation?”

The violence followed almost unprecedented displays of sectarianism at
loyalist bonfires this weekend, with a record profusion of Irish flags,
nationalist election posters, figures in effigy and other sectarian and
political threats.

The most controversial of these was the advertised ‘execution’ of Sinn
Fein election candidate, Michelle Gildernew, who was depicted in effigy
on a gallows on a bonfire in Moygashel, County Fermanagh.

Leadership Required From Political Unionism – Kelly

Posted by Jim on

Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly has called for leadership from political unionism to deal with the outstanding issues around parading.

Speaking after last night’s loyalist violence which followed an Orange Order march in north Belfast, Mr Kelly said;

“The disgraceful scenes of violence witnessed last night in north Belfast must be condemned by all.

“But condemnation is not enough. Those in positions of responsibility within political unionism must show leadership to address the entire issue surrounding parading as well as the disturbances seen last night.

“That leadership has been lacking. In the run up to the 12th we had the withdrawal of marshals and public statements warning of violence, the burning of flags, symbols and effigies and pictures threatening Catholics with crucifixion.

“In order to deal with the remaining issues around parading there needs to be a process of genuine local dialogue with no predetermined outcomes.

“Last nights scenes and those in the run up to the 12th cannot be repeated. Work needs to be pushed forward to address these issues. Complacency is not a solution.”

Gerry Kelly added:

“In terms of the incident last night when a young girl and others were hit by a car the quick actions by local residents and the PSNI need to be commended in saving this girl.

“Our thoughts are with her and her family and we hope for a speedy recovery.”

Martin Hurson – Hungerstriker

Posted by Jim on July 13, 2015

Died July 13th, 1981

A hard-working and extremely likeable republican

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


Killed on Thatcher’s orders’

Posted by Jim on July 11, 2015

The families of three IRA Volunteers shot dead by the British Army’s SAS
in County Tyrone in 1988 are taking legal action against former Ulster
Unionist Ken Maginnis, the British government and the police chief

Brothers Gerard and Martin Harte died along with Brian Mullin when the
SAS fired on them near Drumnakilly.

The families have pointed to a recent television documentary as
confirmation that a ‘shoot-to-kill’ policy of targeted assassinations
was being operated at that time.

Maginnis, a former soldier of Ulster Defence Regiment, was among those
interviewed for the programme. He stated that he had identified the
Volunteers directly to the then British Prime Minister Margaret
Thatcher, and that the people he named ended up dead just over a week
later. He told the programme he was pleased with the killings.

“Of course I felt, thank God that’s the end of those fellows, they will
not be killing any more of my soldiers. And that’s war,” he said.

The families’ lawyer Peter Corrigan said “This is clearly a case where
the state at the highest level has ordered a shoot-to-kill policy
against our clients and we are taking a civil action. It’s clear from
the programme that the authorities have usurped the judicial process.

“Names were provided, no evidence was adduced, there was no trial
process, there was no charging and men were executed by the state on the
authority of the Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.”

Ignatius Harte, a brother of two of the IRA men shot dead at
Drumnakilly, said his brothers had been lured into an ambush.

“It’s evident from what Ken Maginnis had to say that the orders came
from Thatcher herself that Gerard, Martin and Brian had to be taken out
at whatever cost.”

O’Donovan Rossa 100th Anniversary Commemoration

Posted by Jim on

A chara,

Sinn Féin will be launching our 1916 commemoration programme on 1st August with a historical re-enactment of a seminal moment in Irish History; the funeral of the “unrepentant Fenian” Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa.Over 100,000 people turned out in Dublin to watch the spectacle of the funeral in 1915, thronging Dame Street and O’Connell Street to see the cortege.

At the graveside, a relatively unknown Patrick Pearse stepped forward to give a graveside oration that would go down in history, with the last section of that speech now widely seen as the call to arms for the 1916 Rising.

“They think that they have pacified Ireland. They think that they have purchased half of us and intimidated the other half. They think that they have foreseen everything, think that they have provided against everything; but, the fools, the fools, the fools! – They have left us our Fenian dead, and while Ireland holds these graves, Ireland unfree shall never be at peace”.

This is your chance to be part of history by commemorating this important event which will include re-enactments of the funeral cortege and taking part in the procession to Glasnevin Cemetery recreating the pomp and circumstance with a band leading, Irish Volunteer Cavalry outriders, horse drawn hearse and uniformed marching guard of honour. People are encouraged to wear period dress for the occasion if they can.

Pay tribute to the men and women of 1916 and visit our special web page for the full details of the event at

Assemble Dublin City Hall, Dame Street, Dublin 2 at 1pm sharp on 1st of August.

Please note that all private hire buses must register in advance their intention to travel by emailing for specific drop off, parking and pick up advice. And all those attending please pay attention to the information contained in the link to the Garda Traffic located on our special web page.


Rebel Rossa

We are also pleased to announce that LAOH has elected a Brooklyn girl, Joann Gundersen, to the Office of NY State Catholic Action. All the LAOH and AOH are enthused by Joann joining the State Board and wish her the best during her term.

Posted by Jim on

Results are in for election to New York State AOH Treasurer…… John Manning of Breezy Point, NY is the new State Treasurer. John has worked very hard and diligently to achieve his goal. NY is in good hands with the new Board of President McSweeney, VP Vic Vogel and Secretary Tom Lambert. Let us all back this group and proceed to the future with our heads cocked with pride.

Posted by Jim on

NY State AOH election results…. John Manning wins election. He is the new State Treasurer

Posted by Jim on

AOH Death in the Family

Posted by Jim on July 10, 2015

Dear Brothers & Sisters,

It is with deep sorrow that I inform you of the death of our Hibernian brother and friend, Paddy Cosgrave.

Paddy Cosgrave passed on July 8th, 2015 surrounded by his loving family.  Paddy was a beloved member of the Ancient Order of Hibernians Division and on the Corporation of the Baile Na N’Gael and served in several offices within these organizations.

Paddy was born to parents Bridget and Thomas on March 14th, 1935 in Cappamore, Limerick, Ireland.  He is welcomed to Heaven by his wife, Rosemary (Kennedy).  Paddy is survived by his loving children: Patrick (Kimberly) and Maureen Panzarino (Frank). He has four adoring grandchildren: Nicholas, Ryan, Amanda and Emmy.  Paddy served in the U.S. Army and was always very proud of his Irish heritage.  He enjoyed living in Breezy Point.  Paddy was also very proud to have been employed by Brooklyn Union Gas, retiring after 43 years of service to them.

Paddy will be remembered as a husband, father and grandfather but most importantly a “Catholic man of deep faith”. A man who trusted in God and lived the Hibernian motto.  Paddy will be greatly missed by the Ancient Order of Hibernians as well as the Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians of Kings County, Brooklyn. Please stop and say one Our Father for our departed brother, may he rest in peace.



Brother & Sister Hibernians – please assemble on Sunday, July 12, 2015 at 7:30 pm at Marine Park Funeral Home for our prayer service for our brother.  Please wear your Sashes.


WAKE:  (Saturday and Sunday – July 11 & 12, 2015):

Marine Park Funeral Home, 3024 Quentin Road, Brooklyn, NY 11234

Phone: 718-339-8900


Visiting Hours: Saturday 2:00 to 5:00 PM & 7:00 to 9:00 PM and Sunday 2:00 to 5:00 PM & 7:00 to 9:00 PM


MASS of Christian Burial:

Monday, July 13, 2015 at 10:30 AM

at St. Thomas More R.C. Church, 204-25 Rockaway Point Blvd., Rockaway Point, NY 11697


and procession to St. John’s Cemetery, 80-01 Metropolitan Avenue, Middle Village, NY  11379


Yours in our Motto,

Steve Kiernan, AOH Kings County President

New York State AOH Convention opens on Long Island

Posted by Jim on July 9, 2015

Well time has come to all NY State AOH members to heed their Call to Convention. This year it is being held on long Island. Tim McSweeney, current VP, is running for President. Vic Vogal is going for VP and Tom Lambert is up for Secretary. These three men worked admirably the last 2 years at their previous Offices. They deserve the complete support of our membership for their election to the offices they seek.  I, being a current State Board Director, add my support to these distinguished gentlemen. I would also like to support another worthy person, who is running for the position that I presently occupy, that of District 5 Director. His name is Fran McLoughlin from Queens County. You will be hearing a lot from this man in the coming years.

Lastly but not least I would like to give my support to the most contested office in this election that, of course, being the Office of State Treasurer. What started out last Fall as being a battle between 5 truly capable candidates has been narrowed down to 4. These four individuals have been at the apex of what it is to be a Hibernian and I would gladly serve with anyone of them. But, since that is not an option, I must look deeply into what each one can give to the future of our Organization. As I searched my experience with the candidates I had to look more internally. Whose name keeps coming up with new ideas on how to raise money for Charities and who goes out of their way to help other Hibernians in need. Over the last few years one name keeps popping up, going to this fundraiser, going to that golf outing or coming to other Counties and Divisions meetings to show support. Besides all of that, he has raised over $100,000 for Charities for his own Division. This man I speak about is none other than John Manning, current Queens County President and VP of Div. 21. We, in Kings County, were the first to throw our support behind John in June 2014 at our County Board meeting. The vote was unanimous. We once had John in our County. He was a member of Div. 19 and was one who helped build the only AOH Hall in New York City, the “Baile na nGael”, Home of the Irish.

So, please, gentlemen join me in moving our Organization to the next highest level and vote for JOHN MANNING For Treasurer of the New York State Ancient Order of Hibernians.   Yours in our motto, Jim Sullivan Director District 5



Concerts in Brooklyn 2015

Posted by Jim on July 8, 2015

The Canny Brothers Band's photo.

Joe McDonnell – Hunger Striker

Posted by Jim on

A deep-thinking republican with a great sense of humour

Died July 8th 1981

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Three IRA Volunteers managed to escape safely from the area.

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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


MLA appeals for vigilance after armed and masked loyalists are pictured beside chilling death threat

Posted by Jim on July 7, 2015

The chilling graffiti message just yards from the busy Westlink has heightened tensions at the Broadway interface
The chilling graffiti message just yards from the busy Westlink has heightened tensions at the Broadway interface


By Staff Reporter, Andersonstown News

Tensions at a Belfast interface remain high today after a chilling picture in which a gang of loyalists threatens to “crucify” Catholics appeared on social media on Monday afternoon.

The shocking picture shows a gang of around a dozen masked men armed with wooden staves standing beside the deadly graffiti message ‘Taigs Will Be Crucified. VTOT’ just yards from the busy Westlink. The acronym VTOT has been variously claimed to stand for ‘Village Team On Tour’ and ‘Victory To Our Troops’.

The site at the Broadway roundabout where the picture was taken is in the shadow of the landmark ‘Balls on the Falls’ and is close to two loyalist bonfires. Loyalist social media sites have been a hotbed of anger and unrest following the premature ignition of a number of bonfires, notably the monster Sandy Row edifice, which was torched in broad daylight on Thursday, June 25, sending a thick plume of toxic black smoke into the sky.

While many loyalists have angrily claimed that republicans were responsible for that and other bonfire ignitions, no evidence has yet emerged to back that theory.

Sinn Féin MLA Fra McCann said he’ll be reporting the picture to the PSNI as a “sectarian hate crime” and urged people in the Broadway area to stay alert.

“The appearance of an image on social media with up to 12 masked loyalists armed with cudgels and baseball bats standing beside graffiti stating that ‘Taigs will be crucified’ is extremely sinister,” he said. “The picture was clearly taken at Broadway roundabout and will only heighten tensions as we approach the 12th .

“I will be forwarding this picture to the PSNI and reporting it as a sectarian hate crime. They need to investigate this image given the seriousness of the threat and appearance of masked men. I would urge everybody in the vicinity to be vigilant. I would also urge loyalist and unionist political and community leaders to condemn this publicly and to do whatever they can to help any investigation into this.”

The Beechmount Residents Collective said in a statement on their Facebook site: “A few days ago we put up a status saying four to five fellas were spotted at Broadway roundabout and urged residents on Broadway and Donegall Road to be vigilant. Well, this photo has appeared on social media today (Monday) and again we call on all residents to be vigilant over this next number of nights.”

Who will dare say out loud ‘the emperor has no clothes’?

Posted by Jim on July 4, 2015

By Fintan O’Toole (for the Irish Times)

In a normal democracy, urgent questions are asked when the prime minister says things that are wildly untrue. Was he lying or deluded? Which of these possibilities is more alarming? If he was lying, had he never heard of Google? If he genuinely didn’t know what the Government has been up to, why is he in government? But we don’t bother to ask these questions about St Enda’s extraordinary epistle to the Athenians last week, when he urged Greece to follow Ireland : “in Ireland’s case we did not increase income tax; we did not increase VAT; we did not increase PRSI”. Each of these claims is flatly wrong: all three taxes were very substantially increased, both by the present and previous governments. But this truth is utterly irrelevant. Why? Because we all know that the Taoiseach wasn’t making a statement about reality. He was telling a story. At some point in our lives – usually when we’re three or four – we all ask the question: “Daddy, did this really happen or is it a makey-up story?” And once we know which is which, we’re okay with it. And by now, we’re more or less okay with the fact that Ireland’s primary presence on the European stage is as a makey-up story. We don’t live in a country; we live in a narrative, a tale with no more truth content than Cinderella and considerably less than “The Emperor’s New Clothes”. Our current story is called, according to the Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan, “the pride of Europe”. Of course this doesn’t mean that Europe is proud that we’ve almost doubled consistent child poverty, or that we keep centenarians for days on hospital trollies or that basic services like clinics for sufferers of rheumatic diseases are simply disappearing or that we’ve been left with unpayable public debt. It surely doesn’t mean that Europe is proud that little Ireland was forced to bear the cost of a bank bailout put last week by Patrick Honohan, governor of the Central Bank, at [euro]100 billion and rising. At the level of reality, it doesn’t actually mean anything at all. But that doesn’t mean that it’s a harmless fiction. “The Pride of Europe” is a makey-up story that is intended to take the place of the realities it displaces. It’s not a stand-alone narrative. It has an evil twin: Greece. It belongs to a particular genre of fiction: the morality tale. Ireland is the pride of Europe because it is the anti-Greece. We are good because we play along with the bigger stories of the euro zone crisis. Greece is evil because it stopped doing so. One of those stories is that the crisis had nothing to do with reckless lending (by, for example, German state banks) and was created purely by reckless borrowing. The other, even more fantastical, is that so-called austerity (in reality a programme of sucking citizens dry to transfer their resources to private banks) produces economic growth. These stories are as patently false as Enda’s fairy tale, but Ireland is the pride of Europe because it has gone along with them and Greece is the shame of Europe because it has not been able to sustain the suspension of disbelief. Greece’s membership of the euro zone was always a fiction – a story that everyone agreed to believe because it was more convenient than reality. Greece never met the fiscal criteria for membership. So how was it allowed in? By cooking the books. A right-wing Greek government worked with Goldman Sachs to hide its debts using massive currency swaps at fictional exchange rates. Euro zone governments went along with the story. When the crisis hit in 2008, there might have been a moment of truth. Instead we had the classic dynamic of a lie spawning more lies. The banks that lent so recklessly were bailed out by transferring their debts to European taxpayers and the IMF – their culpability disappeared from the story. A new fiction was invented – that Greece could simultaneously have its economy shrunk by relentless austerity and pay back hundreds of billions of euro. The startling thing about the current debacle is that no one really believes this story any more. The IMF has long since admitted that its calculations about the economic effects of austerity were wildly wrong. No objective analyst believes that Greece can pay back its debts. And yet the story must be maintained: Greece must keep punishing its people to pay back the money being borrowed to make the payments on the unpayable loans. In the upside-down world we inhabit, Syriza, which has called a halt to this fiction, is a bunch of mad fantasists, while the troika that goes on acting as if the fictions were real is the voice of hard-headed realism. Everything – from the lives of ordinary Greeks to the foundations of the European Union – must be sacrificed to the story. “The Pride of Europe” is Ireland’s special contribution to this toxic fantasy. We exist, not as a society, but as a necessary validation for a destructive fiction. Just as well that the Pride of Europe knows no shame.

Sinn Fein takes mayoralties in historic advance

Posted by Jim on

The election of a first-ever Sinn Fein mayor in Dublin has underlined
the party’s progress in city councils across the island ahead of the
centennial commemorations of the 1916 Easter Rising.

Long-standing Dublin councillor Criona Ni Dhalaigh was elected mayor
with 41 votes from the 63 member city council — despite a last minute
effort by the right-wing parties to wreck a deal which should have
guaranteed Sinn Fein the post.

Ms Ni Dhalaigh is the 346th mayor of the city, but only the eighth woman
to hold the office.

Sinn Fein became the largest party on the council at last year’s local
elections, taking 16 out of the council’s seats.

A voting pact agreed last June between Sinn Fein, Labour, the Green
Party and some Independents saw Christy Burke, an Independent who was
formerly a Sinn Fein councillor, elected mayor, with the condition that
Sinn Fein would hold the position from June 2015 until June 2016.

As first citizen, Ms Ni Dhalaigh will preside over the 1916 Rising
centenary commemorations in the capital alongside the President and the
Taoiseach. Protocol stipulates that the mayor comes second only to the
President at official ceremonies in the city.

Popular with fellow councillors from all parties, Ms Ni Dhalaigh joined
the council in 2006, representing the Crumlin-Kimmage ward.

Speaking after her election, Ms Ni Dhalaigh said the Proclamation of the
Irish Republic “speaks to us today more urgently than ever.”

“The Proclamation’s commitment to “equal rights and equal opportunities”
for all our people has yet to be fulfilled. We do not yet live in an
equal city, or an equal country.”

Ms Ni Dhalaigh also said that housing families would be the priority
during her mayoralty, and that that she intended to introduce herself
with the Irish language form ‘Ardmheara’ in place of “Lord Mayor”, as
the term was gender free and she was uncomfortable with being described
as a “lord”.

Fianna Fail’s Jim O’Callaghan said he has opposed Ms Ni Dhalaigh because
he was afraid that Sinn Fein would “hijack this important year of
commemoration to justify the 30 year pointless and counterproductive
campaign by the Provisional IRA.”

Sinn Fein’s leader on the council, Seamas McGrattan, admitted his party
pushed to hold the position in 2016, saying it “is an important year for
us”, but he added: “We’re not seeking to hijack anything.”

Congratulating Ms Ni Dhalaigh, Sinn Fein mayor of Belfast, Arder Carson
pointed to the council votes recently which saw Cork elect its first
(Provisonial) Sinn Fein mayor in the person of Chris O’Leary, and South
Dublin County Council elect Sinn Fein’s Sarah Holland to the top post.

“The election of another Sinn Fein mayor highlights the growing support
for republicanism right across the island,” he said.

“As we approach the centenary of the Easter Rising Sinn Fein mayors will
be in place in the four major cities on the island; Dublin, Belfast,
Derry and Cork.”

Loyalists ‘celebrate’ racism, sectarianism

Posted by Jim on

Loyalists’ use of confederate flags as a statement of racist hate has
reinforced concerns over their use of flags to spread fear and
intimidation over the marching season.

One confederate flag, erected on a lamp post in east Belfast, was
described by the PSNI as a “hate incident”. The flag had been tied to a
lamppost outside the home of a black family.

It was removed by the coach of a local football team after it was
pointed out that a teenage member of the targeted family played for the
club. Club members said they were were “disgusted” after the flag
appeared outside the home of the 13-year-old in the Dee Street area of
the city.

Confederate and loyalist flags have also been displayed by the Orange
Order over the marching season.

And scores of loyalist and unionist flags intended to intimidate
nationalists have been raised in interface areas, with the apparent
support of the police.

Last summer, the PSNI said it would treat the erection of flags in the
Ormeau Road area of south Belfast as a breach of the peace, but this
year it entirely washed its hands of the issue.

The PSNI said flag removal was not a PSNI responsibility and they would
‘only act to remove flags where there are substantial risks to public

Loyalists claimed Union Jacks and “Ulster flags” erected in the mixed
areas of south Belfast were placed there with the consent of the police.

South Belfast MLA Mairtin O Muilleoir accused the PSNI of colluding with
loyalists to intimidate.

He said the public commitment to stop the flags being raised was
repeated by the PSNI in private engagements with residents and Sinn Fein

“However, when residents on the Ormeau Road contacted police (last
night) when a large group of up to 20 people were erecting flags, the
PSNI arrived and took no action other than to facilitate this act.

“The Ormeau Road is a vibrant, multicultural community which in many
ways sets an example for the city. No one has the right to mark out
territory in this intimidatory fashion.”


Meanwhile, the socialist republican party eirigi have strongly condemned
those who defaced a republican memorial in Newry. Sinn Fein’s Newry and
Armagh MP Mickey Brady also condemned what he said was “an act of
vandalism and sectarian hate”.

The memorial, situated at the site of the iconic Egyptian Arch ambush,
was erected by eirigi to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the War of
Independence operation which saw three IRA volunteers lose their lives.
The initials of the unionist paramilitary UVF were sprayed across the
memorial early on Tuesday morning.

eirigi’s Newry spokesperson Stephen Murney condemned the incident.

“The sectarian bigots responsible are only interested in stoking
tension, particularly at this time of year,” he said.

“This memorial is in memory of three republican revolutionaries who were
killed as a result of the ambush against the British forces of
occupation at this location. The same occupation continues to this day.”

Short Strand besieged once again

Posted by Jim on

A nationalist community in Belfast has been subjected to a nightly
onslaught of bottles, nuts, bolts, golf balls, bricks and paintballs
before being hemmed in by a wall of steel on Wednesday evening to allow
a loyalist parade by the anti-Catholic Orange Order pass by.

The Short Strand is a tiny nationalist area almost completely surrounded
by loyalist districts in east Belfast. The Orange Order’s ‘Mini Twelfth’
parade took place this week in the adjoining streets following a
military-style operation to erect a solid steel barricade around the
Catholic enclave.

Among the bands taking part in the parade were the YCV and Pride of
Ardoyne flute bands, both of which have engaged in multiple sectarian
provocations over recent years.

Steel security barriers used to fence off the Short Strand have been
deployed during the parade since 2013. Water cannon were also on
standby this year, but in the end the parade passed off without major

Sinn Fein councillor Niall O Donnghaile said that while “by and large”
the parade had passed off peacefully the security operation was “not a
good policing experience for the people of this area”.


Sectarian attacks on Catholic homes in Bryson street have been incessant
for over a year now, and there have been several orchestrated attacks at
the interface over the last month.

Bricks and bottles were thrown into Bryson Street at around 2.30am on
Sunday. This followed after a paint bomb attack on homes on the same
street, at around midnight, again from the loyalist Thistle Court area.

Flares and other missiles were also hurled at Catholic-owned homes in
the Bryson Street and Bryson Gardens area of Short Strand in recent

In the latest incident on Monday night, PSNI seized petrol bombs
following attacks on nationalist homes.

Earlier in the week, sectarian graffiti warning Catholics to stay out of
‘our roads’ also appeared on walls on the Ravenhill and Woodstock Roads.
A slogan written on a wall at Woodstock Road includes the warning: “No
S/S (Short Strand) Taigs [Catholics] on our roads”. Residents from the
Short Strand area would regularly use shops in the area.

In a statement, Republican Sinn Fein said a serious situation was being
ignored by the PSNI.

“Once again the Crown police forces have shown their true colours. So
much for the ‘reformed police’ we have heard so much of,” they said.

“These sectarian attacks have been happening all too often and show that
for many in the Occupied Six Counties life has changed little over these
past few years, there has been no ‘peace benefit’.”

The Republican Network for Unity also urged solidarity with the besieged
residents of the Short Strand.

“The continuing sectarian attacks on the people of the Short Strand
illustrates the unchanging reality of life for large sections of the
nationalist community in Belfast and throughout the North of Ireland,”
they said.

Finucanes will continue to lead collusion campaigns

Posted by Jim on July 1, 2015

The family of murdered Belfast defence lawyer Pat Finucane have said
they will not give up despite the rejection of their legal challenge
against the British government’s refusal to hold a public inquiry.

His son John Finucane said they had not yet decided whether to appeal a
judgment which upheld David Cameron’s controversial 2011 decision to
renege on the British government’s previous agreements to hold an

Delivering his reserved judgment to the High Court in Belfast, Justice
Stephens rejected the family’s judicial review application, saying a
statutory inquiry would be costly and protracted and could not be
confined to narrow issues surrounding the loyalist shooting over 20
years ago.

Mr Finucane was shot dead in front of his wife and three children at
their north Belfast home in February 1989 by a loyalist death squad
believed to be operating under the direction of British military

The high-profile case, which was heard last month, was taken by Mr
Finucane’s widow Geraldine, who said the family had a legitimate
expectation that a statutory inquiry would be held.

John Finucane said: “What is clear and what the court has found is that
there was a clear, unequivocal promise made to my mother; made to my
family as a result of Weston Park.

“The court has felt restricted and limited in interfering in what was a
political decision but I think the public can make their own minds up
that when an unequivocal promise is made to our family by the government
and that is changed quite cruelly – I think they can decide for
themselves what lies behind that.”

Mr Finucane said the family’s campaign had continued for 26 years with
“numerous setbacks and numerous successes” along the way.

“We see today not as a setback which would end our campaign once and for
all. There are certainly comments and material within that judgement,
even with an initial viewing, that would cause us hope.”

The 26-County government has also pledged to continue the push for a
full public inquiry for Mr Finucane.

Sinn Fein spokesperson on Justice and Equality, Padraig Mac Lochlainn
said the British government could no longer deny that collusion with
unionist paramilitaries was a systemic and deliberate policy. He said
it was used as a method of killing Irish citizens “or, indeed, anyone
who got in their way, including Human Rights lawyer, Pat Finucane.”


Meanwhile, the children of a murdered couple have called for a public
inquiry after a coroner admitted he did not have enough resources to
conduct a collusion probe.

The double murder is part of “a cesspit of collusion” between the state
and loyalist paramilitaries in Mid-Ulster, the court heard. Charlie and
Tess Fox were shot dead by the UVF at their home in Moy, County Tyrone,
in 1992. The killings have been linked to 28 other murders and attempted
murders by the UVF’s Mid-Ulster gang.

Peter Corrigan, who is acting for relatives of Mr and Mrs Fox, said
false information had been used to sabotage the investigation into their

He said key suspects — including then UVF leader in Mid-Ulster, Billy
Wright, and Mark ‘Swinger’ Fulton — were never interviewed, and and
questioned whether Wright and Fulton were working for the state at the

Mr Corrigan recalled a conversation with what he described as a senior
member of the now-defunct police Historical Enquiries Team.

“He said clearly and unequivocally that the murders in Mid-Ulster amount
to a cesspit of collusion, involving the security services, security
forces, UDR, state agents, [which] is rotten to the core,” the lawyer

“The families want a public inquiry – they want the truth,” Mr Corrigan

The hearing was told a public inquiry, funded by the British government,
may be the family’s best hope of a full examination of the case.
Relatives believe an over-arching probe examining the other 28 crimes is
the only way they can get to the truth.

Senior coroner John Leckey said the Coroners’ Service did not have the
resources to conduct such a major investigation.

Outside court, Mr and Mrs Fox’s son Anthony welcomed the coroner’s
remarks. “There should be a public inquiry,” he said. “That is what is
needed with the mid-Ulster UVF.”


Separately, the family of a County Donegal teenager murdered by
loyalists is to take legal action against the British Ministry of

Sixteen-year-old Henry Cunningham from Carndonagh, was killed in August
1973 when UVF gunmen ambushed the van he was travelling home from work
in. Henry’s brothers were also in the van but were not seriously hurt.

In 2008, an Historical Enquiries Team (HET) report said that one of the
guns used was stolen from a base of the British Army’s Ulster Defence

It is thought the killers mistakenly identified the brothers as
Catholics. Speaking to BBC Radio this week, Herbert Cunningham described
the moment when they were attacked.

“I saw the three boys on the flyover. I can still see them yet. They
were sitting up on the railing of the flyover firing at me.

“I didn’t know what it was. They burst tyres and I was shouting to the
boys in the van, I thought they were all dead.”

Herbert said that by the time he realised his brother had been shot, it
was too late to seek help.

“Henry says to me “I’m hit” and he just slumped over. That’s all he
said. I went on almost three miles with busted wheels until I couldn’t
go no further.

“We were afraid they were coming after us. We didn’t know what was

Robert Cunningham said their case against is about justice. “This is not
about money, this is justice we’re looking for and we know we didn’t get
it at the time.”

John Dunleavy out as New York St. Patrick’s Parade Chairman

Posted by Jim on


John Dunleavy: Parade officers and board end 22-year reign as chairman. Photo by:

John Dunleavy is out as chairman of the New York City St. Patrick’s Day parade, sources have told the Irish Voice and IrishCentral.


A meeting of the parade officers and board members on Tuesday afternoon resulted in the ouster of Dunleavy, 76, in a move expected after the Irish Voice reported last month that Dunleavy said gay groups would “have a problem” marching in next year’s event. It is not yet known who will replace Dunleavy as chairman.

Dunleavy was also offering the TV rights to the march to other local networks, in retaliation at NBC for being part of a compromise that allowed OUT@NBCUniversal to march behind its own banner this year. OUT is the network’s LGBT support group, and their participation marked the first time that a gay group marched up Fifth Avenue under its own banner.


In April, Dunleavy said that he planned on seeking another term as parade chairman, but his position became untenable because of his fierce opposition to allowing gay groups to march. Dr. John Lahey, the parade’s vice chairman and president of Quinnipiac University, was prepared to resign his position as chairman of the parade’s media deals if Dunleavy and his allies mustered enough support to prevent gay groups from taking part in next year’s event.

“As we discussed at our recent meeting, I made some decisions with our advertisers’ input for the 2015 parade broadcast with which you and some other directors strongly disagree,” Lahey wrote in a May letter to Dunleavy obtained by the Irish Voice.

“I don’t think it is a good thing for us to repeat this inconsistency in 2016, and whoever is chairman of TV and media for the 2016 parade needs the full support and clear direction from the Board of Directors.”

Lahey also stated his wish to see a second gay group take part in next year’s march. Many politicians boycotted the 2015 parade because of the continued exclusion of Irish gay groups.

“I have very clear beliefs…on the need to add one more group in the 2016 parade. As chairman of TV and media, I would be happy to lead any discussions with our advertisers with respect to an appropriate second group if the Board of Directors so authorizes me,” Lahey wrote.

The emergence of an interview video on the parade’s official Facebook page clearly showed Dunleavy’s resistance to having gay groups in the line of march. The video, after its existence was reported in the Irish Voice, was removed from the Facebook page.

“There is going to be some changes,” Dunleavy said when asked about next year’s march by the interviewer at a lunch for parade volunteers held at Antun’s in Queens in April.

“No major changes but there is going to be changes. I am going to run for another term and [at] that time we will put certain items into the changes that we need.”

Clearly commenting on the inclusion of gay groups in next year’s march, Dunleavy warned, “The parade itself is not there to promote anybody’s particular agenda in any way, shape or form. The parade represents our faith, our heritage and our culture, nothing more and nothing less. So we’re going to keep to that, and anybody who wants to mix that up is going to have a problem next year.”

Brooklyn Shamrocks win the O’Donovan Rossa Commemortive Gaelic Football 7’s Tournament to open the Centennial anniversary of the 1916 Rising

Posted by Jim on June 26, 2015

Appeal for Hearings

Posted by Jim on June 22, 2015

June 22, 2015

Honorable Brendan Boyle

118 CHOB

1st Street & Independence Ave SE

Washington, D. C. 20515

Dear Representative Boyle:

Thank you for your timely call for hearings by the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the Committee for Security and Cooperation in Europe (HelsinkiCommission)   into the latest revelations of British security forces collusion with loyalist death squads in Northern Ireland.  Other evidence relating  to the British allowing informers to murder innocent people, the deSilva Report into the assassination of attorney Patrick Finucane, the book LETHAL ALLIES  by  journalist Anne Cadwalladar all  document without question the lawless oppression endured by the Catholic/Nationalist minority for 30 years.

Your voice for accountability reminds me of  the late  Representative Joseph Moakley’s (MA 9th-D) challenge  of America’s support of the military in El Salvador at the time of the assassinations of six  Jesuit priests and their housekeeper at their University in San Salvador.  In 1989 he led a House Task Force which conducted hearings and visited El Salvador essentially to do the work of the  U. S. State Department.    You may face the same challenges.  Our  State Department has a sordid history of silence,  looking the other way  and complicity  when it comes to British lawlessness, murder, injustice and the  crushing of democracy in Ireland from the civil rights protest in 1968 through the assassination of six  elected Sinn Fein officials and seven  campaign workers.  The Reagan administration did everything  it  could to deter Congressman Moakley from holding hearings and meeting with El Salvadorian officials.  But such was his courage and determination that Salvadorian soldiers  were  eventually imprisoned.  In fact, more Salvadorian soldiers were imprisoned for that one act of slaughter than British soldiers ever  imprisoned in 30 years of their  murderous work in the North of Ireland.

In exercising your important   foreign policy oversight function, it is vital that those with the primary  responsibility for implementing foreign policy—the Department of State —be invited to testify.  Perhaps they could address some of these critical areas pertaining to your concern.

State assessment and accountability  for the implementation of the Belfast Agreement (as amended) particularly with regard to the ‘independent’ investigation  into over 1000 killings in the conflict but  particularly those deaths  involving  police and security forces  which are being investigated by current or retired PSNI (RUC).

The official  Department  response, if any,   regarding   the BBC One Panorama and  the Spotlight  documentaries and Brendan McCourt’s  RTE report  regarding British collusion with loyalist death squads (Glennane Gang), the use of informers, the British Army  Military Reaction Force and the  corruption of the justice system in N. I. as  depicted in the book LETHAL ALLIES.

State’s   position  and any documentation exchange with Britain  regarding  its   failure to implement an  independent public inquiry into the assassination of attorney Patrick Finucane as required by the Belfast Agreement, failure to disclose information about the British Army role in the Dublin Monaghan bombings  and British involvement regarding the murder of attorney  Ms. Rosemary Nelson, journalist Martin O’Hagan and six elected Sinn Fein Councilors and seven  campaign workers.

State’s   opinion of the BBC interview  with loyalist leader Ken Meginnis, a member of the Ulster Defense Regiment, in which he asserts he was called by Prime Minister Thatcher after the killing of three UDR soldiers by the IRA.  He was  asked for the names of the killers and he gave her three names.  The next day those individuals  were killed by the British Army.  Does the Department of State understand this action as compatible with the rule of law or the law  of the jungle?

The Department of State’s position with respect to  the  2012 Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) subpoena request from the  Royal Ulster Constabulary (PSNI) for tapes held in the Irish Archives of Boston College.   State had  an important Treaty- defined  role to  play in determining whether  the Justice Department should grant the request or oppose it because it  would be harmful to U. S. interests e. g. the peace process in Northern Ireland;  was in violation of treaties like the Belfast Agreement; was  contradictory to representations made by the State Department in support of U. S.-U. K. extradition treaty amendments;   or contrary to U. S.  policy with respect to human rights.  Did State offer any reservations to  the Department of Justice about the intent of the subpoena request  and the moral obligation to question it?

Disclosure  of State  Department records pertaining to the  1981 statutory embargo  of arms sales to the RUC imposed by Congress  and the  secret resumption of arms sales by the Reagan administration in direct violation of that  statute.   Does State understand the implications for enforcing arms embargoes as a tactic with other nations  if the U. S. government won’t abide by its  own embargo of arms?

Congressman Boyle,  the police force in Northern Ireland is the most discredited police force in Western Europe.  It is worth determining whether or not  any one in the  State Department has  actually seen these  latest documentaries  or read  LETHAL ALLIES or the  Stalker/Sampson and Sir John Stevens  reports from  the 80’s.  Alone each would  justify  opposition to the MLAT subpoena.   Each would justify enforcement of the law banning  arms  sales to the RUC.

Your position is morally and politically defensible but will opposed just as Congressman Moakley’s Task Force was opposed.   I hope you will not be deterred in performing your duties in search of the truth in what was described in the Irish Independent  recently as the  “…bone chilling moral bankruptcy…” of  collusion.  Our Department of State and the British government opposed President Clinton’s granting of a visa to Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams and you should expect similar  opposition even from House leadership with arguments like Northern Ireland is such a small problem in the world and  the U. K. is such a dear friend of the U. S.  You may realize,  as did President Clinton, that  America’s standing in the world was enhanced when it confronted those naysayers.   Congressman, even that big step from President Clinton began with  small steps like  a dialogue between former Senator Christopher Dodd and former New York City Council leader, the late  Paul O’Dwyer and others like colleagues  Joe  Crowley, Peter King,  Richard Neal, Jim McGovern and Eliot Engel and former Representatives Jim Walsh and Bruce Morrison.

In the past, the leadership of organizations like the Ancient Order of Hibernians, the Irish American Unity Conference, the Brehon Law Society, the Irish Northern Aid Committee  and the Irish-American Labor Coalition has   proven to be steadfast in support of efforts such as yours.  I hope you will consider building and expanding   such a coalition again so that they can become  a bulwark in defense of your pursuit of truth, justice, the rule of law for all those   living in Northern Ireland.  If I can be of any assistance in this effort, please do not hesitate to contact me.


Michael J. Cummings

Berkeley forever bonded with Ireland

Posted by Jim on June 21, 2015

Berkeley and Ireland have always enjoyed a special link through the Bishop of Cloyne George Berkeley who gave the city its name — but now they will be bonded forever by the memory of the six young students who perished in the balcony collapse of Tuesday 16 June.
Senator Loni Hancock of Berkeley rose “with a heavy heart” in the Californian State Senate on Thursday to ask that the legislature adjourn as a mark of respect to the dead students. And she spoke for all of Irish America when she pledged to embrace the grieving families and stand in solidarity with the injured.
Minister David Ford made reference to the Berkeley tragedy in comments to the Assembly on Tuesday evening – as news of the extent of the catastrophe was still trickling through — and I am hopeful there will be further opportunities in the chamber tomorrow (Monday) for MLAs of all parties to express their condolences.

Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa – The unconquered and unconquerable man. AOH/LAOH celebrate his Life and Death of Irish Patriot

Posted by Jim on June 20, 2015


Born in Rosscarbery, Co. Cork, in 1831 Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa witnessed the devastation brought upon the Irish people during “An Gorta Mor” as a child in the 1840’s. Rossa became a fervent nationalist coming of age during the era of Daniel O’Connell and the Young Ireland Movement. In 1856 while living in Skibbereen, he founded the Phoenix National and Literary Society, an Irish nationalist group which aimed to remove the British from Ireland. In 1863 Rossa began working for The Irish People, an Irish Nationalist newspaper, and eventually became its business manager. Rossa was convicted of treason against Great Britain and sentenced to life in prison for his part in planning the “Fenian Uprising” of 1865. O’Donovan Rossa served eight years in English prisons, enduring brutal conditions he later chronicled in his 1874 book, “Prison Life.” In 1871, he and fellow Fenians like John Devoy were released on the condition of permanent exile. O’Donovan Rossa, Devoy and the others arrived in New York aboard the ship Cuba and received a hero’s welcome from local Irish nationalists. Rossa became editor of the New York edition of the United Irishman, an Irish Nationalist newspaper. He became an extremely active member of the American Fenian movement, and was also a member of Clan na Gael, the Irish Republican Brotherhood and the Corkmen’s Association. Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa died in Staten Island on June 29, 1915 – and the call came from Ireland to “send his body home”. O’Donovan Rossawas buried in Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin where Padraig Pearse gave his famous graveside oration: “The fools, the fools, they have left us our Fenian dead, and while Ireland holds these graves, Ireland unfree shall never be at peace.”





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Evidence of anti-Irish attitudes in the upper echelons of the US media has
shocked the Irish public as it struggles with a disaster in Berkeley,
California, that this week claimed the lives of six students and injured
a further seven. All of the fatalities were Irish, including one

The students who were all on the J-1 summer work exchange programme died
on Tuesday when the fourth floor balcony that they were on collapsed
into the street. The balcony in question had been constructed of timber
beams. The beams were rotten and had crumpled under the weight of
students attending a 21st birthday party, sending them hurtling to their

Incredibly, the New York Times used this horror as the basis for a
stereotyped story of the Irish as drunken party-goers, and all but
accused the students of damaging the apartment.

The piece by Adam Nagourney, Mitch Smith and Quentin Hardy begins with a
discussion of the J-1 program. It claims, without any basis or evidence,
that this program is a “source of embarrassment to Ireland — marked by
a series of high-profile episodes involving drunken partying.”

Their description of the J-1 programme is completely at odds with the
reality of Irish students working long hours for minimum wage to fill
gaps in the US labour market over the summer season, and an important
cultural link between Ireland and the US.

It then went on to say that the students died at “what neighbors
described as a loud party,” and even spoke to one neighbour who
complained about the noise. It goes on to suggest that Irish exchange
students drink constantly and have a habit of damaging property, linking
the disaster to an isolated incident of student bad behaviour last year.

The story appears to suggest that the students were partly responsible
for their own deaths by standing together on the balcony. There was no
attempt to report on the inherent structural weakness of the balcony,
nor the evidence of dry rot witnessed by emergency workers and
journalists who were present at the scene.

Berkeley’s mayor, Tom Bates, has said investigators believe the wood was
not sealed properly at the time of construction and was damaged by
moisture as a result. Berkeley building inspectors also found another
balcony at the Library Gardens apartment building to be “structurally
unsafe” and “a collapse hazard”, and ordered it to be demolished.

It has also emerged that Segue Construction, which built the building in
2007, paid $3 million (2.6m euro) to settle a legal action alleging
water damage on balconies and windows at another complex.


But the New York Times has a history of publishing pieces denouncing the
Irish and the struggle against British rule. It has rarely mentioned
British war crimes or the hundreds of murders carried out by “security
forces” in collusion with loyalist paramilitaries.

Clearly influenced by British-funded lobbying campaigns, those Irish
Americans who support the Irish cause have typically been at the
receiving end of the New York Times’s high-handed condemnations and
willful ignorance of the situation in the Six Counties.

But the approach to the Berkeley disaster appears to have once again
exposed a vein of general anti-Irish prejudice which used to be a major
force in American politics, particularly in New York.

Tanaiste Joan Burton urged The New York Times to remove the articles
which she said was both “a shame and shocking” in its treatment of Irish
students. Former Irish President Mary McAleese said she found the
article “utterly offensive” and described the six victims of the
Berkeley balcony collapse as ‘young people who worked hard, studied

“What bothers me most is the sheer absence of human empathy, the sense
of sociopathic disassociation of the actual reality from the true story
of these parents, the brokenness of these children’s bodies and the poor
little children fighting for their lives,” she said.

A petition has been started to request the New York Times remove their
article on the Berkeley tragedy and is online at

On This Day June 19, 1946 – Partition a Disaster – Fr. Flanagan of Boys’ Town

Posted by Jim on June 19, 2015

Nice item from the “ On This Day” column in the Belfast Irish News.

Good to know that Fr. Flanagan of Boys’Town was an Irish patriot.
Eamon Phoenix. Irish News. June  19, 2015

Fr. Flanagan of Boys’ Town delivered one of the most inspiring addresses that has been made in Ireland within living memory when he spoke at Corrigan Park, Belfast last night – his final speech to the Gaels of the North.

 Referring to the problem of Partition, Fr Flanigan said he did not come to Ireland as a politician and he hoped he would say nothing that would hurt the feelings of any Irishman, but as a lover of his country, as one anxious to see her play her part in the world of today, he could not – and he spoke for millions of Irish-Americans – look upon Partition as anything but a disaster. In spite of plausible attempts to make a case for it during the war, Partition raises far more problems than it solves. It saddles a small and comparatively poor country with two expensive legislatures and civil services. It tears in two an economic entity which nature obviously intended to be a unit. Worse still, it violates the elementary principles of democracy and fair play.

Fr. Sean Mc Manus, President Irish National Caucus

Assembly Motion & Debate on Collusion last Monday evening

Posted by Jim on June 18, 2015

Statement from Relatives for Justice Director Mark Thompson in advance of Stormont Assembly Motion on Collusion
“Following several recent television programmes highlighting collusion Relatives for Justice and families contacted a number of MLA’s, TD’s, MP’s and MEP’s seeking urgent action concerning revelations from these programmes; we also contacted An Taoiseach, the Irish Government Department of Foreign Affairs for the North, members of the US Congress, and other international political representatives. A further RTE programme on collusion is also to be screen on Monday evening exposing even more collusion. 
“Collectively the families bereaved and those injured through collusion, including the NGO’s supporting them, feel that the issues raised via the programmes require full and comprehensive discussion at the highest levels of government in Belfast, Dublin, London and Washington if there is to be resolution of the appalling vista that is collusion.
“That resolution must be as a result of an independent inquiry such is the scale of collusion affecting hundreds of families from across the community, including regular members of the State’s armed forces who were also allowed to be killed. Collusion is the most egregious violation of human rights.
“Immediately after the Panorama programme Raymond McCartney MLA tabled a motion for debate in the Assembly on collusion.
“And last week a delegation of over 60 families bereaved through the policy of collusion, representing several hundred victims of collusion, also met with MLA’s including the joint First Minister Martin McGuinness in which his support was pledged in addressing collusion.
“The Motion on Collusion will be discussed tomorrow, Monday 15th June, in the Assembly and is scheduled to take place at approximately 6.30pm.
“We believe that it is important that the issue of collusion, and the accompanying impunity, will be debated at the heart of government in this part of the jurisdiction and we very much welcome that first step in ensuring that similar debates are held in Dublin, London, Washington and Brussels.” ENDS
Families wishing to attend should be at the Assembly for no later than 6pm and those requiring a lift can avail of transport from the offices of Relatives for Justice, 39 Glen Rd. Belfast BT11 8BB. Lifts will leave RFJ from 5pm to allow for rush hour traffic and administration access to the public gallery of the debate chamber.


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Allison Morris.Irish Nws ( Belfast).
THE Orange Order said this week that not enough is being done to promote the Twelfth to tourists. Drew Nelson was speaking after “bands activist” – yes apparently that’s a thing – Quincey Dougan said that parades were the “hidden gems within the tourism industry of Northern Ireland”. Mr Dougan does not only have a name befitting a Bond villian, he also has a point. While much of the publicity that surrounds the marching season is negative – and the Orange Order must take responsibility for that – there is a uniqueness and pageantry to the parades that I can see would be attractive to tourists if presented correctly. I’ve covered countless parades over the years. At one point I’d been to so many marches in the space of a month I found myself singing The Sash while hanging washing on the line much to the bemusement of my neighbours. And to lump all parades together is to do an injustice to what can be a very colourful, family orientated day out. I can see the attraction when it comes to marches in rural or uncontested areas where police presence at a minimum and music and merriment at a maximum.

Young, old – and all that comes in between – enjoying a spectacle that would, if properly presented, surely be of interest to tourists visiting these shores. The fact that it’s an exclusively Protestant pastime shouldn’t be a barrier to making parades and the Twelfth more accessible to visitors. The same could also be said of other sporting or cultural pastimes such as GAA or even Irish dancing, which cater almost exclusively to one section of the community. No the wheels come off this grand plan when you take a look at the city parades and the remaining contested routes in Belfast.

Back when I first became a journalist it was Drumcree, the Whiterock and the Lower Ormeau where the news cameras positioned themselves in July.

However, in recent years, and with those three marches either banned or severely restricted, it’s north Belfast where press attention is now focused. The real challenge the Orange Order faces if it wants to transform the image of marching – and if they honestly expect the tourist board to promote the event as culture – is solving these disputes, or at least removing the heat from them. Those of us who have spent a lot of time at the side of the road watching parades go past will tell you in many cases it’s not the Orangemen themselves but the bands and supporters who follow them that cause the real controversy.

Over the years we’ve seen bands named after paramilitary groups, memorial marches dedicated to killers applying to march past the very spot where their victims were murdered, hoards of drunken abusive stragglers following behind shouting sectarian abuse and even bandsmen urinating outside places of worship and disrespecting people who are then asked to show tolerance. Parading in Northern Ireland really has become a game of two halves. In Derry massive efforts have been made to ensure parading in the city has been peaceful for many years. Rural lodges have in the main engaged with communities and in some areas recognised the changing demographics of many towns and villages and adjusted how they engage with communities as a result. Compare that with Ardoyne where, since 2013, a hardcore of Orangemen and their supporters have set up camp at the Twaddell interface and hold nightly protests that have gained nothing apart from raising tensions in the area. They care not for the multi-million-pound policing bill in this time of austerity, nor do they care that what they’re doing has no hope of succeeding. Those who offer political advice to the protesters have done a great disservice to their community by encouraging a futile protest while they continue to claim handsome salaries working in a ‘cross-community’ basis. Talking out of both sides of their mouth, rather than giving sensible guidance, they have created a situation that continues to present the Orange Order in a negative and destructive light. How they expect the tourist board to market that shambles to visitors is beyond me. Caravanning at Twaddell is not my idea of a fun-filled holiday.

Barbara Flaherty
Executive Vice President
Washington Irish Committee Chairperson
Capitol Hill
P.O. Box 15128
Washington, D.C. 20003-0849


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by Michael Cummings

 Who is Louise Richardson?  In 2003, as a terrorism expert and Dean of the Radcliffe Institute of Advanced Study at Harvard, she testified before  the U. S. Senate Banking Committee.  Recently  as the new Vice-Chancellor of St Andrew’s University,  Professor Richardson spoke  before the British Council  and  revealed  a contempt for  both President Bush’s “incompetent” post 9/11 policies  and for the American public by  claiming  the British population was more resilient in coping with terrorist activities.   The  Senate testimony,  her remarks before the Council and in an interview with the FINANCIAL TIMES in  2009 suggest this  Irish born Harvard educated  woman  is just the ‘shill’ the British want and need when the U. S. State  Department and Members of Congress  raise questions and demand answers about  British violence in Ireland.  She also gets to focus the government dollars of   St. Andrews  University ‘s Institute  for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence  set up in 1994.    What better way to define terrorism than to buy the people doing the defining?   You can be sure the American public   will be hearing more  from  Mrs. Richardson  as new  revelations of Britain’s  lawlessness and killing spree in Ireland unfold.


So what might we expect from the academician turned terrorism expert?   In 2003 testimony she defined the characteristics  of  terrorist  movements and distinctions between them.  She mentioned the IRA 5 times in six pages but asserts “terrorism, as we understand it, is conducted by clandestine groups not states”[emphasis added].  Can’t you just hear the imperial “We”?  Although there is nothing the IRA has done in the UK that Her Majesty’s government hasn’t done in Ireland,  British  actions are nicely labeled by her as “covert actions of the  state.”  That is surely a distinction without a difference and cold comfort to the victim’s families.  She then has the temerity to say that State covert actions, although often depicted as terrorism, can be addressed by “…the whole panoply of international laws to assist us.”  She failed to note, of course, that Britain has veto power in the U. N.,   has  managed to fight every violation of the European Human Rights Convention,  has the U. S. Department of State in its back pocket and  has the Irish government so scared it has never  invoked  any treaty, international protocol or covenant to challenge its murder of Irish citizens .


In addition, Professor  Richardson  made  distinctions between  State sponsorship of terrorist groups.  It is no  surprise  she  failed  to cite the  example  of  the United Kingdom as a  State exercising “…considerable control over the [terrorist]movement it sponsors…” e. g.  MI-5 and Special Branch control of loyalist death squads  like the Glenane Gang,  the violence of the uniformed Ulster Defense Regiment and the manipulation of the IRA itself.  You can be   sure  this was no casual omission but an academic sleight of hand to ‘not bite the hand that feeds her.’ Similarly,  her reference to the aims of the 1981 hunger strike were erroneously referred to as “…to secure political prisoner status…”.  With this half-truth she hid from Members of the Senate panel  that the strike was to restore [emphasis added] political prisoner status which Prime Minister Thatcher chose to revoke in favor of her own ‘criminal’ stamp.

Her remarks before the British Council about  President Bush’s   handling of the 9/11 aftermath as “incompetent” and about the   British population coping with  terror better  due to their  IRA experience  were both  ignorant and insulting.  First, in 30 years of conflict with the IRA nothing like 9/11 was ever inflicted upon the British public.  Nor since WW II has England ever experienced anything like 9/11.  The Taliban killed twice as many people in one day than the IRA did in 30 years. To suggest the British public faced anything like that from the IRA may have gratified her new British masters but was a tawdry fabrication.     Second, the response  to 9/11  by  the Bush administration  and Congress was measured, comprehensive  and proportional to the attack.  On the other hand, the British  Parliament and public, were   so frightened by civil rights protests  in N. I.  they unleashed lawless police and loyalist thugs and  embraced  draconian legislation in Northern Ireland like  the Special Powers Act, the Internment Act (1971),  the Emergency Provisions Act (1973) and Diplock courts  instituting arrest without charge and trial without jury.  American citizens were never the victims of any such dictatorial powers  after 9/11 as were Her Majesty’s Subjects.  Such remarks  from a ‘so-called’ terrorism expert may have pleased  Whitehall and the University but are  insulting to Americans and their elected officials.


Perhaps when Vice-Chancellor Richardson  next  visits  America’s university’s or  our  President  and Congress, the students and elected officials  might pose these questions and challenge her understanding of the conflict in Ireland.


  • You stated : “A deliberate strategy of targeting non-combatants is what sets terrorism apart from other forms of political violence.” So when the British Army in 1974 built and delivered car bombs to the shopping centers of Dublin and Monaghan for the largest massacre of innocence in the history of the Irish state killing 34 (mostly women and children), in your opinion this was not an act of terror but a “covert action of the State”?
  • Lawyers Patrick Finucane and Rosemary Nelson and journalist Martin O’Hagan and hundreds of other innocent Catholics were assassinated by agents, uniformed and otherwise, working under the direction and control of the British government. You have indicated that “…the terrorist movement is rendered more effective and more lethal by support of the sponsoring State.  In your expert opinion, doesn’t  this “covert action of the State” strategy of presumably trying to end a conflict actually become a strategy for its continuation?
  • In your academic experience is it common in a modern democracy for the handlers of informer agents to allow murders…even mass murder as in the case of the Dublin/Monaghan & Omagh bombings?   Baroness O’Loan stated serial killers and psychopaths were used as informants and agents in the killing of nearly 900 Catholics; six elected officials among them? Can you identify any other democracy besides the UK that has done this on the scale of the UK?
  • Is it common for terrorist movements, as you define them, to employ the non-violent hunger strike protest? Specifically with respect to the 1981 Hunger Strike led by Bobby Sands, an elected Member of Parliament, where 10 members of what you describe as a terrorist movement gave their lives for the RESTORATION of political prisoner status, is there any parallel anywhere in the world in the last 30 years?
  • You have made a distinction between “terrorism by clandestine groups” and “covert actions by the State” because you apparently have great faith in “…the whole panoply of international law to assist in interpreting and responding to their actions.” Can you specify any law or convention that has proven to be effective in altering the violence of Britain against its own Subjects in Northern Ireland? Or against the citizens of Ireland who have been murdered by British agents in the Dublin-Monaghan bombings or what is more correctly described as an ‘undeclared act of war’ by some scholars? Isn’t it Great Britain that should have been put on a Terror Watch List?In 2009 Mrs. Richardson was baited by Jennie Erdal of the FINANCIAL TIMES to explain why some book reviewers said she had an “over-romantic view of terrorism” because of her Irish roots. “My moral code,” she responded , “is simple: inflicting violence on others is utterly and incontrovertibility reprehensible.” Her recent references to the IRA and the absence of any public references to British violence In Ireland and her characterization of that violence as “covert actions” suggests her employers have had a profound effect on her moral code.


Victims identified in deadly Berkeley balcony collapse

Posted by Jim on June 17, 2015

A balcony that collapsed at a newly renovated apartment complex in Berkeley killed six young people and sent seven others to the hospital with life-threatening injuries early Tuesday morning. The collapse was reported before 1 a.m. at a building on Kittredge Street and Harold Way near the UC Berkeley campus.
The victims have been identified as Ashley Donohoe, 22, from Rohnert Park; Olivia Burke, 21, from Ireland; Eoghan Culligan, 21, from Ireland; Niccolai Schuster, 21, from Ireland; Lorcan Miller, 21, from Ireland; Eimear Walsh, 21, from Ireland.

Donohoe’s cousin was one of the five victims who were from Ireland.

“It looks like it may have collapsed from the fourth floor and then struck the third floor balcony, which is below it, but we don’t know specifically how it happened at this point. That will all be part of the investigation,” Berkeley Police Department spokesperson Jennifer Coats said.

The Board of the United Irish Cultural Center released a statement saying: “Heartfelt condolences, prayers and support are coming to all for the terrible tragedy in Berkeley. The United Irish Cultural Center, its staff, all of its members and Board stand ready to help and support in any way that we can as this incredible tragedy unfolds. The Consul General Philip Grant will let us know if there is any way that we can be of immediate support/help at this point in time. We stand ready for a long term commitment to help as well.”

Irish Consul General Philip Grant is in the Bay Area and said his heart was broken. “It’s something that has left us all frozen in shock and disbelief.”

“It is too early to know the full extent of this dreadful accident, but I have opened my department’s Consular Crisis Center and activated our emergency response line so we can provide assistance and guidance to the families of those affected and to others who have concerns,” Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan said in a statement.
Witnesses say the group was celebrating a 21st birthday when the fourth floor balcony they were standing on collapsed, dumping them 40 feet onto the sidewalk. “I was woken up by my parents who thought it was an earthquake,” Jason Biswas said.
Biswas lives nearby and said the whole building shook. Then, he heard screaming and ran downstairs to find people lying bloody in the street. “It was very sad. I couldn’t stay there for too long. It was a lot to look at,” he said.
The balcony seems as though it folded over, breaking apart from the stucco wall. Police say they are doing all they can to figure out why this happened and keep people back from this potentially dangerous scene. “Right now street is closed for safety reasons because we don’t know what caused this collapse and we are also concerned the balcony might fall to the street,” Berkeley Police Department Ofc. Byron White said.
The victims are being treated at three different hospitals, including Eden Medical Center, John Muir and Highland Hospital.

Police did receive a noise complaint around midnight but did not respond. “We did not respond to that call because four minutes after that call came in we received multiple complains of shots being fired in South Berkeley, so of course that’s a higher priority call so that’s where our officers were dispatched to,” Berkeley Department Police Chief Michael Meehan said.
Five of the victims were from Ireland, working for three months on a J-1 visa and excited about spending the summer in the Bay Area.

“I think we’re all just really shocked and overwhelmed,” Irish student Gemma Parsons said.

Parsons is from Ireland on the same program and is among the many who have left flowers outside the police tape.

ABC7 News is getting new insight into the tragedy from emergency responders as radio conversations from 911 calls started pouring in to Berkley fire and police dispatch starting at 12:41 a.m. “RP (reporting pary) advising that one of the balconies broke and at least 10 people fell,” a dispatch operator said.
“Not sure if this going to be a structural issue or if they were just playing around on the balcony and fell off,” another operator dispatcher said.
Investigators are talking with building inspectors to get a better idea of what may have caused the balcony to collapse.
Father Mcbride from the Irish Immigration Pastoral Center arrived at Highland Hospital to counsel grieving students who have been there all morning to check on the status of their friends.
ABC7 News talked with Highland Hospital’s spokeswoman a short while ago, who had this to say about their patients and the doctors treating them. “Our healthcare professionals are focusing on the patient’s. That’s their first priority,” Jerri Randrup said. We’ve had these situations before, we’re a trauma center we are well prepared to deal with these kind of situations.”

The tragic news was generating panic among their families overseas. “All our phones were going off from our parents calling us. I woke up this morning with 27 missed calls from my mom,” Parson’s said.

Investigators in cranes have been taking pictures and assessing the damage, trying to figure out what went wrong. It’s unclear how much weight the balcony was designed to hold.

The balcony collapse has been traumatic for families on both sides of the Atlantic. The consul general of Ireland says the first families of the dead and injured will be arriving Monday evening and have asked for privacy.
The consul general of Ireland for the Western U.S. said this was supposed to be the start of a memorable summer when 8,000 Irish college students go to the U.S. to work and learn. “This is normally the high point. This is normally a life-forming experience. It’s deeply, deeply tragic and it touches every single family in Ireland,” Grant said. The grief caused by the balcony collapse will be felt across Ireland and certainly among the group of students. “We got around 700 Irish students in the Bay Area at the moment and there’s very few of them who wouldn’t know someone who was at that party or someone who was unfortunately was injured or unbelievably lost their lives.”

Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates assured reporters a thorough investigation will be conducted to learn why the balcony gave way. Extra scrutiny will be given to 13 projects currently under construction. “It’s a wake-up call. We have all these buildings that are under construction and we want them to be built perfectly and we want them to be solid. We want them to hold up and we certainly don’t want this kind of thing to happen,” Bates said.

 The building owner from investment firm Blackrock issued a statement saying: “We are terribly saddened by the tragic accident and our hearts go out to the victims and their families. An independent structural engineer is being dispatched to conduct a thorough review of the situation.”

The Library Gardens building is newly renovated and marketed to students. According to the Berkeley Daily Planet, the building was supposed to open in 2002, but it stayed empty for a long time because the developer backed out.

The first building was finally completed in 2006 and the second building in 2007. Then, the complex was sold and is now managed by a Houston-based developer called Greystar, which manages five other buildings in Berkeley.

Anyone with concerns about friends or family should call the Emergency Consular Response Team at +353 1 418 0200.

Several of the students worked at Fisherman’s Wharf. ABC7 News spoke with a woman from Ireland who lived close to the accident.

“I was asleep when I heard fire brigades going by 2 a.m. maybe. I really don’t know because I was asleep. We were awoken around 4:30 a.m. by our parents’ texting to see if we were okay,” said Andrea Gainford, Wexford, Ireland.

The Irish Immigration Pastoral Center in San Francisco helps coordinate the J-1 visa program that many of the young Irish students used. Several members of the staff are at the hospital helping grief stricken students.

Rep. Brendan Boyle Calls for Collusion Hearing

Posted by Jim on June 16, 2015


By Ray O’Hanlon

U.S. Congressman Brendan Boyle has officially requested a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing to examine what he describes as “the shocking revelations into collusion” between parts of the British government and terrorists on their payroll.

The revelations were aired in a recently broadcast BBC “Panorama” news documentary.

Congressman Boyle is also formally calling on Secretary of State John Kerry to intervene.

“The BBC documentary shines a much needed light on this subject,” said the Philadelphia Democrat.

“As the report states: ‘It is a fact there were murderers on the government payroll acting with impunity.’ It is clear to me Congress must investigate these matters to ensure they are finally dealt with in a just way. I am also calling on Secretary Kerry and the State Department to support an independent U.S. inquiry into this matter.”

Boyle added: “The Good Friday Agreement is one of the great foreign policy achievements of the last thirty years. It is important to remember this would have never happened without direct U.S. involvement to ensure all sides were listened to and represented.

“Similarly, it is quite clear to me that the issue of collusion between the state and terrorists will never fully be known unless the U.S. acts. The interests of justice demand it.”

Boyle has spoken to New Jersey GOP representative Chris Smith, asking for a hearing before his committee in addition to the full foreign affairs panel. Smith chairs the House Human Rights Subcommittee.

Others, including Amnesty International, have called for an investigation after the Panorama broadcast which was entitled “Britain’s Secret Terror Deals.”

Death of LAOH Hibernian Sister, Betty T. Murphy

Posted by Jim on

Dear Sisters & Brothers,


It is with deep sorrow that I inform you of the death of our Hibernian sister, Betty T. Murphy.

Betty was a beloved member of the Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians Division #19 in Gerritsen Beach, Brooklyn and served in several offices within her Division.  She was also an active member of the LAOH Kings County and always assisted with various events especially the Division #19 and County Card parties.  Betty was a longtime parishioner of Resurrection Church and active in many church activities.  She was also a member of the VFW in Gerritsen Beach as well as the Columbus Council #126 Columbiettes.

Betty will be remembered as a wife, mother and grandmother but most importantly a “Catholic woman of deep faith”. A woman who trusted in God, a women who lived the Hibernian motto of Friendship, Unity, and Christian Charity and proud of her Irish heritage, Betty will be greatly missed by the Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians. Please stop and say one Hail Mary for our departed sister, may she rest in peace.


Sister & Brother Hibernians – please assemble on Thursday, June 18, 2015 at 7:30 pm at Byrnes Funeral Home for our prayer service for our sister.  Please wear your Sashes.

WAKE:  (Thursday and Friday – June 18 & 19, 2015):

James P. Byrnes Funeral Home, Inc.

2384 Gerritsen Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11229

Telephone: (718) 743-1099

Visiting Hours: Thursday 2:00 to 5:00 PM & 7:00 to 9:00 PM and Friday 2:00 to 5:00 PM & 7:00 to 9:00 PM

MASS of Christian Burial:

Saturday, June 20, 2015 at 9:30 AM

at Resurrection Church located at: 2335 Gerritsen Avenue, Brooklyn, NY, 11229

and procession to St. John’s Cemetery


Yours in our Motto,

Barbara Wasserman, LAOH Div. 19 President

Gun attack as UVF flags rise over interfaces again

Posted by Jim on June 13, 2015

The unionist paramilitary UVF is being blamed after a masked gang this
week threatened to shoot a man at his home while his 14-year-old son was
inside. Three men, one armed with a gun, threw a brick at the house on
Blythe Street in Sandy Row in south Belfast before threatening the man.

The men were dressed in black and wearing balaclavas. The victim of the
attack, who did not wish to be identified, said he ran out when he heard
the brick hitting the house on Wednesday evening.

“I looked round and three of them were standing there,” he said.

“Then one said ‘get him’.” “I heard click, click, click, but the gun
didn’t go off. It must have jammed or something. I ran back in and told
my son to run upstairs.”

The man said it was the fourth time his house had been attacked within
the last eight months. In two separate attacks in May, a hoax device was
thrown at the house and windows were smashed with a sledgehammer.

“Last night was the worst,” he said. He blames the UVF for the attack
and said the loyalist group have targeted him following a dispute.


The attack comes amid increased loyalist paramilitary activity as the
Protestant marching season advances towards a climax next month.

Again this year, a UVF gang was observed erecting loyalist flags at a
north Belfast interface while under the watchful eye of the PSNI.

The flags were erected on lampposts close to the loyalist protest camp
at Twaddell Avenue earlier this week, within sight of the PSNI armoured
vehicles. The site is just yards from Catholic-owned business and homes
in Ardoyne.

The development comes almost a year to the day since the PSNI publicly
claimed they would treat attempts to raise loyalist flags on a mixed
section of the Ormeau Road in south Belfast as a breach of the peace. At
the time, Sinn Féin assembly member Alex Maskey said the PSNI had
“brought themselves into disrepute” after they stood and watched flags
being put up in the area.

A spokesman for Sinn Féin said the “erection of these flags is a highly
provocative act, particularly at this time of the year and is designed
to intimidate local residents.”


Loyalists and unionists have held almost daily protests in the area
since the anti-Catholic Orange Order were banned by the Parades
Commission from holding a sectarian parade through the nationalist area
in July 2013.

This week, Orangemen expressed further outrage at a decision by the
Parades Commission to restrict the annual ‘Tour of the North’ sectarian
parade from playing their tunes within earshot of St Patrick’s Catholic

The County Grand Orange Lodge of Belfast denounced the Parades
Commission as “increasingly aloof and discredited” and “a mouthpiece for
republican propaganda”.


Earlier in the week, loyalist flags were erected by a gang outside a
Catholic church in east Belfast, close to a volatile interface. The area
has been the scene of increased interface violence in recent weeks with
attacks on property in the nationalist Short Strand.

A house in Bryson Street in Short Strand was attacked with paint bombs
at on Tuesday night while an hour earlier, three petrol bombs were
thrown at a property in nearby Strand Walk causing damage to pipes and

Reports of missiles being thrown have been ongoing since the previous
week, when two bombs were thrown at homes in Short Strand.

Residents have said attacks on their homes have been “organised and
planned” by paramilitaries attempting to stoke up tensions ahead of the
marching season.

One of those attacked, who did not want to be named, said: “I have been
involved in cross-community work trying to keep tensions low. Perhaps
that is why I have been targeted. There is a select few across (the
interface) that have no intention of keeping any peace.”

“This is organised and it is planned. The past two months it has been
intermittent attacks throughout the day. They are trying to get a
reaction from this side of the street.”


Posted by Jim on

The head of the PSNI police in the north of Ireland, George Hamilton,
has said the force has a “vault” of secret information on the conflict
in the North but is concerned its release would create a “one sided
focus” on the force’s actions.

Mr Hamilton was speaking as a new television documentary, the third to
be broadcast in less than three weeks, further increased pressure for
the British state to tell the truth on its murderous collusion with
hundreds of informers and state agents.

Hamilton said he would consider allowing the proposed Historical
Investigations Unit (HIU) to look at the material, which he said
contained “millions of documents”, but that some information would have
to be legally suppressed “to protect lives and to protect people’s

He said that if the vault is opened, “out of that will pour material
that will present challenges for other people in the system”.

“I don’t think we should be exempt from scrutiny from investigation in
the police service, past or present. I think that’s good… but I
actually think other people have stories to tell and questions to
answer,” Hamilton told journalists ahead of the broadcast.

He feared the records, including plans for covert operations and minutes
of meetings, meant that there would be an excessive focus on the role of
the RUC/PSNI police in atrocities.

“My understanding is that the IRA, the UVF and the other players in this
didn’t keep notes or minutes of meetings or records of decisions… we
did. And I think all of that has left us somewhat exposed.”

Lawyer Kevin Winters, whose firm represents many of those who were
victims of collusion, said if the reported “vault” had been opened years
ago, “we wouldn’t have all this civil litigation. If the government had
said: ‘Yes, we saved lives, but we got things wrong as well’… It’s
the blanket denial that’s the problem. The families just want to know
what happened.”

Hamilton was speaking ahead of a documentary by Irish state broadcaster,
RTE, to be aired next Monday, which will allege that collusion between
the Crown forces and loyalist paramilitaries went right to the top of
the British government, with former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
turning a blind eye to it.

The programme points out that the Crown forces concentrated their
efforts on “destroying” the Provisional IRA, at the same time as
publicly stating that it was dealing with the conflict in an even-handed

Such was the extent of collusion with loyalists in the 1980s that a RUC
Special Branchman tipped off a top-level UDA paramilitary ‘brigadier’
about the presence of an informer in the organisation.

The programme includes a statement by a former member of the RUC/PSNI
Special Branch, that when he raised the issue of the use of informers
and agents with government authorities, the message he received from the
Thatcher administration in London was “carry on – just don’t get

Former PSNI Chief Hugh Orde also told documentary marker John Ware that
the former head of the British Army’s secret Force Research Unit (FRU),
Gordon Kerr, should have been put on trial over collusion — without
admitting any complicity of his own. Former Police Ombudsman Nuala
O’Loan tells the same programme that she was pressured to drop her
investigations into PSNI collusion after Orde became PSNI chief in 2002.

Mark Thompson, director of Relatives for Justice, said there was no
longer any doubt that collusion was formally approved by the British
government. He said the ‘Kitsonian doctrine’, or the ‘dirty war’ of low
intensity operations put in place in the early 70s by British Army
brigadier Frank Kitson, had “framed the entire conflict”. He said a
“firewall of protection” existed through unwritten rules and guidelines
that would otherwise create a trail of responsibility to the door of No.
10 Downing Street.

“In meetings with the most senior government, military and police
officials, one imagines, no one specifically identifies a particular
person and says “go and kill’ or “take out that person”, especially
meetings and briefings involving a prime minister,” he said.

“It’s rather more discreet; a convenient framework policy is
intentionally adopted that enables and facilitates practices that have
the exact same desired end result.

“This is as effective as having named and pointed a finger at a
particular individual to be targeted and killed.

“This includes a particular community, or section of society such as the
nationalist community, creating terror and fear among republicans, and
their families including women and children. And fueling internal feuds
within non-state groupings.”

FDNY reassigns trainers amid ‘witch hunt’ for whistleblowers

Posted by Jim on June 7, 2015

By Susan Edelman

Two veteran FDNY fitness trainers have been yanked from the Fire Academy as the department conducts what some call a “witch hunt” for whistleblowers and those trying to uphold standards, The Post has learned.

Lts. Michael Cacciola and Peter Critsimilios — a duo who ensured the strength and agility of more than 8,500 Bravest in the past 14 years — were removed from Randall’s Island on Monday and sent to the ceremonial unit, which conducts funerals and other official events.

Their reassignment sent shock waves through the department.

“I know of no reason why,” said Jake Lemonda, president of the Uniformed Fire Officers Association. “They are two highly experienced and dedicated members who have served the department well.”

Their transfers come as the department has watered down its fitness criteria and standards.

Last month, The Post reported that probationary Firefighter Rebecca Wax, 33, graduated from the academy despite failing the crucial Functional Skills Test, an obstacle course of job-related tasks (inset). Under new criteria, her high academic grades made up for her physical deficiency.

Cacciola, 55, and Critsimilios, 57, rigorously upheld fitness standards, sources say.

Outraged by their ouster, several firefighters who work overtime as mentors to recruits have quit in protest.

“They’re so pissed off at what’s going on, they all resigned,” a source said.

Some contend that Chief of Department James Leonard, appointed last October, harbored a grudge because the trainers once failed his probie son on a fitness test, requiring more training. A spokesman said the son “had nothing to do with it.”

Sarinya Srisakul, president of United Women Firefighters, lauded the transfers — and the department for “taking the right steps” to deter media leaks, she told The Chief-Leader newspaper.

Cacciola will be replaced by Lt. Thomas Tanzosh, the son of Staten Island Deputy Chief William Tanzosh, a spokesman said.

Officials would not explain the moves.

In a statement to The Post, Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said: “I have made changes throughout the department and will continue to do so where I believe we can improve our performance. I believe we do a great job training new firefighters — and going forward we will do even better, while maintaining the high standards we have set.”

But plugging news leaks is also paramount to Nigro. He had issued an internal statement vowing “to do all we can to identify those responsible” for press leaks.

“Behind some misguided sense of ‘protecting the standards,’ their public criticism of members is an embarrassment to me and should be to all of you,” Nigro said.

The lecture offended many firefighters.

“There is a witch hunt against any and all members who exercise their first amendment right in letting the public know they are in danger,” one posted online.

The FDNY confiscates cellphones and subpoenas employee phone records to hunt for those who speak to reporters. One hunt for leakers began after The Post wrote about Wendy Tapia, a probie allowed to graduate from the academy in November 2013 despite failing a required running test.

Larry Seary, president of the New York Press Club, blasted the tactics as “suppression and intimidation.”

“It sends a chilling message to public employees: Don’t rock the boat and don’t expose anything,” he said.

Cacciola and Critsimilios will file grievances to challenge their transfers, sources said. Both were instructed not to speak to the press.

Secretive deployment of toxic gas against prisoners

Posted by Jim on June 6, 2015

Secretive deployment of toxic gas against prisoners

The British government secretly authorised the use of a chemical riot
control agent, fired from aerosols, water cannon or dropped from the
air, to be used on republican PoWs at the height of the conflict, it has
been confirmed.

Papers from 1976 obtained by the Observer newspaper under the British
government’s freedom of information legislation show that the use of
‘CR’ or Dibenzoxazepine — a skin irritant 10 times more powerful than
other tear gases — was permitted from 1973 to be used on the prisoners
in the event of an attempted mass breakout.

The documents confirm that British ministers ordered the chemical agent
to be moved to prisons in Ireland from July 1974. They show that the
authorisation was so sensitive that officials involved in organising
training with the chemical were warned of the consequences of “idle

The man behind this highly classified order was David B. Omand, a
senior official in the Ministry of Defence. He later rose to become head
of security and intelligence at the Cabinet Office, one of the most
senior in the British government.

News of the disclosures will further inflame the controversy over the
use of the chemical in October, 1974, to quell rioting at Long Kesh
prison, something British ministers have always refused to discuss. The
prison held some of the most prominent republicans at the time,
including Gerry Adams. More than 50 of the prisoners at Long Kesh who
were sprayed with the chemical have died or have developed cancerous

Jim McCann, who was in Long Kesh between 1973 and 1981, has led a
campaign for full disclosure of the use of what amounted to a chemical

‘I’ll never forget it, there were grown men screaming for their
mothers,’ he said. ‘We’d all had experience in CS gas, which was easy to
avoid, but this was something different, you couldn’t get away from it.
I felt like I was on fire. They just decided to experiment on us like we
were guinea pigs.’

Sinn Fein spokesman Richard McAuley, who was also at Long Kesh at the
time of the riot, said the chemical had been dropped in capsules from a
helicopter and sprayed by soldiers inside the prison.

‘It was like a thick fog,’ he said. ‘People were being sick and their
eyes were streaming. It was a very frightening experience. The truth of
what happened should be told.’

The use of CR became a priority in 1976 when the government became
concerned about a backlash in prison following the removal of Special
Category status for IRA prisoners. This effectively meant they were no
longer treated as political prisoners.

The documents also show that British Prime Minister James Callaghan
authorised the use of the chemical agent to be fired from water cannon,
in a device called ‘Pigsquirt’. He also authorised the use of a device
called ‘Pussycat’ which fired a polyethylene capsule that threw liquid
CR on rioters on impact with the security fence of a prison.

The effects of CR are similar to the more common riot control agent CS
gas, except that it also induces intense pain to exposed skin. The
affected areas remain sensitive for days and become painful again after
contact with water.

The use of chemical weapons and riot gases were limited by international
agreement at the time. Further notes from senior officials show that
training was carried out in absolute secrecy in a secure training area,
in case it raised suspicions — there was ‘no way the public could find
out about the intention to use chemicals’.


In a separate development, a group of interned prisoners who were
tortured in 1971 have cleared the first stage in a legal battle to have
their case fully investigated.

Lawyers representing the “hooded men” were granted leave to seek a
judicial review at the High Court in Belfast.

Last year the 26 County government asked the ECHR to revise its 1978
judgment that they had been victims of inhuman and degrading treatment,
but short of a finding of torture.

The controversial judgement is said to have encouraged British ministers
to continue to develop and implement torture techniques in conflicts
around the globe.

The men are also seeking a full inquiry into their treatment.

Granting leave to seek a judicial review in both applications, Mr
Justice Treacy ruled they should proceed “in tandem”. There will be a
full hearing over four days starting on November 30.

Oxford Chancellor talking nonsense about 9/11 and Northern Ireland

Posted by Jim on June 4, 2015


Louise Richardson, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford. Photo by: University of Oxford /Alan Richardson

The notion that Britain would not have overreacted to a 9/11 in their own country like the US apparently did is being peddled by the Irish-born, new Oxford University Vice Chancellor Professor, Louise Richardson.

It is poppycock, as the Brits say. Professor Richardson, Waterford-born, is the first woman in 800 years to become head of Oxford. She can surely do better than this.

She cites British reaction to the IRA campaign in Northern Ireland in which she appears to believe it was conducted under Marquis of Queensbury rules by legal and military authorities when dealing with the Troubles.

Nothing could be further from the truth. The Northern Troubles almost fatally undermined British justice with kangaroo courts such as those that convicted the Birmingham Six and Guildford Four, non-jury trials, shoot-to-kill, rules of evidence changed, evidence destroyed and – worst of all – killers set loose as government informants.


No less an authority than former police ombudsman, baroness Nuala O’Loan, has said that the British military allowed “serial killers” – her term – to operate with impunity in order to try and stop the IRA.

She would have been referring to Robert Jackson, the Mid Ulster Jackal who allegedly killed at least fifty people, some claim he killed twice that number, in the Dublin bombings of 1974 and the slaughter of the members of the Miami Showband.

Yet Jackson was never convicted of a crime. Then there was the wholesale cover up and blackening of the name of John Stalker, the top British cop sent to investigate shoot-to-kill allegations, after he bravely revealed that wholesale murder and mayhem was being carried out in the name of law and order.

Should we also discuss Pat Finucane, the Bloody Sunday cover-up etc, etc, or have we made the point that when it came to overreaction the British had few peers?

They were determined to destroy the village to save it, as the recent “Panorama” BBC TV show “Britain’s Secret Terror Deals Revealed” showed with stark clarity.

Indeed, that show highlighted one case where the RUC Special Branch sacrificed one of their own fellow cops. Female policewoman Colleen McCullough was killed by an IRA bomb manufactured in part by one of their informers, who told them the attack was about to happen.

They did nothing to prevent the young officer’s murder, preferring to keep the informer in place.

So I’m not sure what Professor Richardson is saying. She is described as an expert on international terror, but her premise sure seems very flawed.

Was there an American over reaction? Certainly the invasion of Iraq has proven to be an utter disaster.

Would the British have reacted any better given how they operated in the North?

The evidence is clear on that too.

The answer is no.

Police Must Take Open Approach in the North of Ireland

Posted by Jim on June 2, 2015

by Friends of Sinn Fein

THURSDAY’S BBC Panorama programme has raised fresh concerns about the nature and scale of security force collusion with paramilitary agents during the Troubles.

Chief Constable George Hamilton has also come in for criticism over remarks made about former Police Ombudsman Baroness Nuala O’Loan while the discovery in a London museum of a missing assault rifle used in the Sean Graham’s massacre has understandably incensed bereaved relatives.

Some of the most appalling examples of state collusion involving notorious loyalist killers has been well documented but there remains a lingering concern that the full picture has not yet been revealed.

The fact that attempts to hold inquests into some of the most controversial killings have been continually delayed and frustrated only adds to the sense that the British government and state agencies do not wish the entire truth to be told, even decades later in some cases.

Mr Hamilton has taken issue with Baroness O’Loan over her assertion that “hundreds and hundreds” of people died because police and British army informants were not brought to justice.

The chief constable challenged this claim and said the work of informants had saved “thousands of lives”.

He added: “It was her job to investigate this stuff.”

Given the public concern that exists over collusion it is important the most senior police officer in Northern Ireland sends out a clear message on this issue.

There will also be disquiet over the revelation that a Czech-manufactured assault rifle used in the killing of five people in a betting shop on the Ormeau Road in 1992 and which was believed to have been destroyed, was actually on display in the Imperial War Museum.

The museum said the gun had been supplied to them by the RUC’s weapons and explosives research centre.

However, according to Relatives for Justice, the RUC, PSNI and Historical Enquiries Team had told families that this gun – part of a consignment imported by agent Brian Nelson – no longer existed.

It is little wonder victims lose confidence in the police when they hear of unacceptable incidents such as this.

It is essential that a detailed inquiry uncovers the circumstances surrounding this matter and how incorrect information could be given to relatives by investigating authorities.

But of course, this is just one instance among many which continue to cause deep unease.

What is needed from the police is not a defensive attitude but an open, frank and pro-active approach to ensuring the full story of collusion is finally told


Posted by Jim on

Capitol Hill. JUNE 2, 2015— Florida’s repeal of the Mac Bride Principles legislation, passed in 1988, continues to cause political waves and provoke strong emotions.

Governor Rick Scott signed Senate Bill 7024,which repealed Mac Bride  on May 21, 2015

Florida’s action shocked and outraged Irish-Americans who regard the Mac Bride Principles as sacrosanct— and as the most effective campaign ever against anti-Catholic discrimination in Northern Ireland.

Fr. Sean Mc Manus— President of the Capitol Hill-based Irish National Caucus, which launched the Mac Bride Principles on November 5, 1984— did not hesitate to brand the Governor’s and the Senate’s action as, in effect, anti-Irish and anti-Catholic— whatever the intention.

And now Fr. Mc Manus has written to Governor Rick Scott and all forty Florida State Senators polling them on the issue: “Surely you had to be aware that repealing Mac Bride— passed in 1988 to ensure that Florida dollars would not subsidize anti-Catholic discrimination in Northern Ireland— would inevitably be seen as anti-Irish and anti-Catholic? Would you have been similarly complicit in an act that would be seen as anti-Cuban-American, anti-Jewish-American or anti-African-American?

By this letter, I am polling you and all the other Florida State Senators
on this matter. Your response— or lack thereof —will be widely shared among the large Irish and Catholic population of Florida.

Please answer this direct question: Were you aware that you were being complicit in an anti-Irish and anti-Catholic act in repealing the Mac Bride
Principles legislation? Please respond before End of Session — in 18 days.”

Fr. Mc Manus explained:“ I am aware that the Governor and the Senators may have been duped into being complicit, and we want to give them the benefit of the doubt. Back in 2002,  there was a similar sneak attack against the Florida Mac Bride Bill, but we beat it back. This time, however, the sneak attack succeeded but we must not allow it to stand. Mac Bride must be reinstated. This is a matter of justice— and of Irish-American honor and fidelity.”

Fr. Sean Mc Manus


Irish National Caucus

P.O. BOX 15128

Capitol Hill

Washington, DC 20003-0849

What the secret police files on the 1916 Rising reveal

Posted by Jim on

 by Frances Mulraney

Members of the Irish Republican Army photographed during the 1916 Easter Rising.

The National Archives of Ireland has released 100-year-old secret police files compiled by the Dublin Metropolitan Police (DMP) that reveal year-long surveillance of the leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising.

 In a project named “Movement of Extremists,” the DMP compiled daily reports on the actions and whereabouts of some of the Rising’s biggest names, targeting a massive 230 people. Names included the future Proclamation signatories Thomas Clarke, Seán Mac Diarmada and Thomas MacDonagh, Professor Eoin MacNeill and Bulmer Hobson.

The files have been available in the National Archives for years but could only be viewed by specialist scholars on request. They have now been digitized and documents will be made publicly available in chronological order right up until the Rising’s centenary next year.

Thomas MacDonagh was among those tracked by the DMP.


The available reports begin on June 1, 1915 with a detailed account of the movements of J.J. Walsh and founder of the Irish Volunteers, Prof. MacNeill.

“J.J Walsh left 37 Haddington Road at 11.30am and proceeded to MacArthur’s House Agents, 79 Talbot Street where he remained for 20 minutes. He afterwards inspected a vacant shop at 20 Blessington Street,” reads the report.

It continues, detailing Prof. MacNeill’s visit to Thomas Clarke at his shop in 75 Parnell Street. Among the others seen entering the shop were the future President of Ireland Sean T. O’Ceallaigh and Frank Fahy, who was sentenced to death for his part in the Easter Rising.

The reports show that the DMP had a particular interest in Thomas Clarke and kept his shop under strict surveillance. Clarke was a veteran republican and had previously spent 15 years in jail in England. It has been argued that he is the person most responsible for the Rising. The first five days of reports begin with details of the visitors to Clarke’s shop.

Thomas Clarke was closely watched by the DMP.

Some of the reports include publications of the time, such as a copy of the socialist publication “The Workers Republic” dated June 5, 1915 and an issue of the Republican newspaper “Ná Bac Leis” dated May 29, 1915 where translations of the leading paragraphs have been included for the authorities in Dublin Castle.

As well as monitoring individuals, the DMP also kept surveillance on many events throughout 1915 and 1916 where there were many republicans in attendance. These included the funeral of veteran Fenian Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa in August 1915, the annual convention of the Irish Volunteers, and anti-recruitment / anti-conscription rallies.

Any congregation of “Sinn Féin” Volunteers was noted. The entry for June 4 reads: “Thirty members of the Sinn Féin Volunteers without rifles assembled at 25 Parnell Square at 8.30 pm and afterwards in charge of P. Beasley went route marching towards Fairview. They returned at 10.30 pm. About the same hour 44 Sinn Féin Volunteers without rifles and in charge of Frank Fahy marched from 41 Parnell Square towards Glasnevin. They returned at 10pm. and dismissed without further parade.”

The extent of the surveillance is surprising considering that when the Rising took place the British Army was taken by surprise and was unprepared for the rebellion. The lack of knowledge about the Rising was seen as a massive failure of intelligence. Long-serving chief secretary to Ireland Augustine Burrell was blamed for the failure and resigned a few weeks later.

The British Army were still caught off guard when the Rising took place despite the previous surveillance.

The release of the documents is part of a larger digitization project undertaken by the Irish Department for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht for Ireland 2016, the commemoration program for the Easter Rising centenary.

Director of the National Archives John McDonough told the Irish Times that the chronological release of material allows for the public to fully understand the lead up to the Rising. “People will be able to read how key players were identified, followed, and put under surveillance, and read the thoughts of the detectives tracking them,” he said.

The original documents can be viewed here on the National Archives website.

In Northern Ireland, not every murder is treated the same

Posted by Jim on May 31, 2015

Niall Carson/PA

A BBC Panorama programme about state killings in Northern Ireland did not reveal much more than most local people already knew, but it told a lot more people in Great Britain what they did not know at all.

The programme alleged that the British Army and the Royal Ulster Constabulary Special Branch knew that their informers, within both the Provisional IRA and Loyalist paramilitary organisations, were involved in murders but did nothing to stop them. Protecting informers to glean more information was the higher gain. Some of these murders were of other security force personnel but they were mostly innocent civilians – and the bulk of them were Catholics.

The disgusting but rather popular idea that there is a victim hierarchy is shattered by these revelations. The distinction made between victim and victim-maker that has stymied the award of pensions to those injured in the Troubles because Unionist politicians could not stomach giving money to perpetrators of violence, now collapses.

Who now is the victim-maker? The bomber and gunman or their security-force handler who did nothing to prevent murder?

The Panorama allegations of collusion pose are another challenge to the dismissive and flippant response of many Unionists, who have denied similar allegations made in the past. We can anticipate they will be dismissed again.

I am confident in this prediction because one of the features of the peace process is a moral recalibration that results in only selective condemnation. This has stooped so low as to distort the meaning of justice in Northern Ireland.

Justice past and present

Justice is one of the key principles on which to build a better future. Not the only one – there is also the need for fairness, equality of opportunity, hope, social betterment and the alleviation of human need and want – but justice is amongst the keystones. But justice looks backwards as much as forwards; it is about dealing with past injustices as well as making improvements for the future.

This means justice is much broader than merely its criminal applications. It is is not just about prosecuting past criminal wrongs; it is about ensuring that past wrongs are not repeated. And the wrongs that need to be avoided are not only criminal acts; they are all previous social, political, cultural and economic practices which ended up in people being treated as second-class citizens, without regard to their common dignity as human beings.

With this approach, justice is truly blind. All people are of equal worth. All people have equal dignity. All people should be treated fairly. No one is above the law and no one deserves less justice than anyone else.

Justice, sadly, can also be one-eyed, when only some people’s rights to justice are accorded privilege, or when some people’s injustices get attention and other’s injustices are forgotten. When we pursue only some people’s past wrongs, or only some kinds of past wrongs and not other kinds of past wrongs. When this happens, justice is no basis on which to build a better future; it is merely a way to use the past selectively.

Same crime, different outcome

Let me cite just one example of the different treatment accorded to the murder of two innocent mothers. Everyone in the UK has heard of Jean McConville. She was a mother of ten, abducted and murdered by the Provisional IRA in 1972. It is a case used to highlight the inhumanity of the IRA. Gerry Adams was arrested and released without charge over his alleged involvement.

But who is Joan Connolly? She was a mother of eight shot by the Parachute Regiment in the unprovoked killing of 11 civilians in Ballymurphy in West Belfast in 1971. The secretary of state for Northern Ireland has refused an enquiry into these murders. Justice for these two mothers is not equal.

We still wait for answers on Ballymurphy

This is the true significance of the Panorama allegations. State or state-sponsored killings are looked at differently. But when those who make the law break the law, there is no law – and when there is no law, there is no morality. When justice is unjust, morality itself is undermined. Justice that is one-eyed is no justice at all.

Why we should call it the Great Hunger and not the Irish Potato Famine

Posted by Jim on

Casey Egan


Is ‘Irish Famine’ or ‘The Great Hunger’ the better term?

The years spanning from 1845 to 1852 – also known as the Irish Potato Famine – were among the most tragic, but also the most formative in Irish history.

During this time, over one million Irish died and close to two million emigrated – forever altering the course of Ireland’s future and setting the wheels in motion for Ireland’s powerful and extensive diaspora.

Debate continues today about whether these years should be referred to as a famine, due to the potato blight, or whether to label it as merely a famine brushes under the carpet all the political and social maneuvers and decisions that were also at play.

Some claim that “Irish Famine” is the more straightforward, better understood term.I believe that the Great Hunger, which stems from “an Gorta Mór” in Irish, is the proper, more respectful, and fully representative term.

True, it was Phytophthora infestans (the potato blight) that set the chain of events in motion. The fungus arrived in Ireland in 1845, and when crops began failing that year they were believed to be isolated events. Most were able to weather the first year of blight, with reserves set aside from the previous harvest. Then the blight spread, and for the next four years, potato crops, the staple element in the diets of Ireland’s lower classes, particularly in the west, failed.


The lack of potatoes was devastating, but to say that this brought about a population loss of over 3 million is to make a vast over-simplification.

As many leading scholars on the Great Hunger, including the late Cecil Woodham-Smith and Professor Christine Kinealy, currently the Director of the Ireland’s Great Hunger Institute at Quinnipiac University, have noted, one of the most devastating actions taken during these years was the continued exporting of food out of Ireland.

To quote Woodham-Smith, writing in “The Great Hunger: Ireland 1845–1849,” “…no issue has provoked so much anger or so embittered relations between the two countries (England and Ireland) as the indisputable fact that huge quantities of food were exported from Ireland to England throughout the period when the people of Ireland were dying of starvation.”

And, as Kinealy revealed, during 1847 – the worst year of the Hunger, so bad it is remembered as “Black ’47,” while 400,000 men, women and children died, almost 4,000 ships carried food away from Ireland. Exported commodities included “peas, beans, onions, rabbits, salmon, oysters, herring, lard, honey, tongues, animal skins, rags, shoes, soap, glue and seed,” as well as butter.

This, combined with the shocking regulations and lack of aid put in place by the British government during the Great Hunger, shows that it was not simply just the potato blight that caused such tragedy and chaos.

We should not oversimplify, but explain and educate.

Agreement in jeopardy after Stormont vote

Posted by Jim on May 30, 2015

Crisis talks are to take place between the main political parties in the
North this week in a bid to revive the Stormont House Agreement and
sustain the political institutions in Belfast.

The meeting, hosted by the Dublin and London governments will be held at
Stormont House on Tuesday, is being described as a “review” of the

It is not clear whether DUP First Minister Peter Robinson — who is
recovering from a reported cardiac arrest — will be well enough to
attend the meeting.

On Tuesday, key welfare reform legislation insisted upon by the London
government was rejected in the Stormont assembly. Using a petition of
concern, the two nationalist parties, Sinn Fein and the SDLP, vetoed the
legislation after it was discovered that the cuts would hurt the most
vulnerable in society.

Sinn Fein said top-up schemes designed to protect welfare recipients
were not as comprehensive as they had been led to believe in December’s
negotiations, and accused unionists of acting in bad faith.

There had been suggestions that the assembly could collapse within days
after the welfare legislation was rejected, although those were quickly
discounted. However, the crisis deepened further on Thursday when the
parties failed to agree a budget for next year’s public spending.

The DUP has now set a new deadline and warned if the government does not
step in, the assembly will collapse by the end of July. DUP deputy
leader Nigel Dodds said the British government must take control of
welfare powers if nationalists do not accept the planned cuts.

“It is not sustainable to have this level of damage caused to our public
services by parties because they are not prepared to take practical and
sensible financial decisions,” he said.

Sinn Fein said its concern was not just about welfare, but the
implications of further cuts threatened by the Tories as part of a 25
billion pound reduction to be outlined in the July budget.

The cuts – which have been described as ‘eye watering’ by the Tories
themselves – will affect the most vulnerable and lead to the loss of
thousands of jobs within vital frontline services such as health and

Sinn Fein Deputy Martin McGuinness said they “formed absolutely no part”
of the discussions which led to the Stormont House Agreement.

“Last week, I spoke to someone who had recently discussed with Downing
Street officials the extent of what is facing us. He said he could only
describe it in one word – brutal,” he said.

Sinn Fein has also expressed concern at plans by the Conservatives to
scrap the 1998 Human Rights Act, considered an integral part of the Good
Friday Agreement, and to hold a referendum on membership of the European
Union, which could dramatically reinforce the partition of the island.

Mr McGuinness said the crisis facing the Stormont parties was not of
their making.

“The Tories received only 9,000 votes in the north, just over one per
cent of the vote,” he said.

“This is a party, which doesn’t have a single Assembly or local council
seat. They have no democratic mandate for their austerity policies in
the north of Ireland.

“Yet they have already taken 1.5 billion pounds from the Executive’s
block grant. And Cameron’s cabinet of Tory millionaires have announced
plans for further cuts of 25 billion pounds to our public services and
to welfare protections for people with disabilities, the long-term sick
and large families.”

He said representatives from Stormont should join a meeting of the
representatives of the Scottish and Welsh local Assemblies to develop a
common position.

“The current crisis has come about solely through the actions of the
British government. It can only be resolved by the actions of the
British government.”

Who fears to speak of Easter Week?

Posted by Jim on

New York Attorney and long-time republican activist Martin Galvin on the
recent arrest and internment-by-remand of Ardoyne republican Dee Fennell.

As we move towards the Centenary Commemorations of 1916, the British
moved against Easter Commemoration speaker Dee Fennell. My view is that
conditions do not exist to support a continuation of Armed Struggle at
this time but this view will become harder to defend if the British
begin a clampdown on Easter Week Commemoration speakers.

The Carrickmore Easter Commemoration was attended by relatives of
Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa. This Fenian patriot inspired the oft-quoted
words ‘Ireland unfree shall never be at peace’. With six counties
unfree, these words might be said to run afoul of British law. Should we
fear to speak these words and others including Maire Drumm’s, even as
Pearse’s oration is re-enacted in Centenary Commemorations elsewhere in

What of the 1916 Proclamation itself? It says the people of Ireland hold
the right to ‘national freedom and sovereignty’. It seems unlikely that
Tom Clarke put his name to something that did not count the people of
his home county Tyrone, and 5 others, amongst ‘the whole people of
Ireland’. It says this right is ‘indefeasible’, meaning something that
can never be bargained, sold, or bequeathed away (even by referendum).
It even makes reference to ‘standing on that fundamental right and again
asserting it in arms’. Surely these words suggest there have been
conditions where it was ‘legitimate’ to do so.

What of the Roll of Honour? British law today regards those that
resisted them during the Troubles as mere criminals. For example, Gerry
McGeough and Seamus Kearney were imprisoned for IRA actions that took
place in 1981. Ivor Bell faces accusations from 1972. How many
Republicans carry felon licenses, employment bars or travel

The Roll of Honour lists Republicans who were part of that same struggle
and died at the hands of British and pro-British forces. Their names on
a Roll of Honour say they were not criminals but patriots, whose deeds
were not alone legitimate but are remembered with respect and pride. The
Roll of Honour and Easter 1916 Proclamation are customarily read in
Republican commemorations, because we identify those on the Roll of
Honour with the same principles and struggle proclaimed in 1916. Must we
pretend otherwise?

There are no doubt readers and friends who will be at pains to argue
that Dee Fennell’s case will be the last of it. The British would never
clamp down on anyone else. They will make the same arguments they made
after Gerry McGeough’s arrest in 2007. Perhaps they can convince Ivor
Bell, Seamus Kearney or those holding OTR immunity certificates that the
re-elected David Cameron says need no longer be honoured.

Bookmaker murder gun on display in [British] museum

Posted by Jim on

Bimpe Archer . Irish News ( Belfast). May 29, 2015

A MISSING assault rifle used in the Sean Graham bookmakers atrocity was found on display in London’s Imperial War Museum, it has emerged.
The weapon was one of the guns used in the 1992 attack by a UDA murder squad that killed five people and injured several others at the Ormeau Road bookmakers in south Belfast.
The RUC – and subsequently the PSNI and Historical Enquiries Team – told the families of the murder victims that the weapon, a Czechoslovakian-manufactured automatic assault rifle, had been destroyed and no longer existed.
In fact, it was a key exhibit in a British museum which displays memorabilia charting the country’s military endeavour from the First World War to the present day.
The shocking revelation was detailed in a BBC Panorama programme last night examining the extent of security force collusion with paramilitary agents during the Troubles.
Victms campaigner Mark Thompson, director of Relatives for Justice said relatives of victims were “absolutely shocked” to learn of the gun’s existence.
He said families had been informed of the discovery by the Police Ombudsman.
“There still is a deep sense of disbelief, shock and understandable anger,” he said.
“Families and survivors of the attack are struggling to come to terms with this latest information.”
The firearms had been provided by Special Branch/MI5 agent Brian Nelson, and the programme also detailed how the bookmakers’ shooting was linked to nine other murders, with state collusion alleged in all of them.
The development came as Chief Constable George Hamilton hit out at claims there were “hundreds and hundreds” of deaths as a result of security force collusion.
Former Police Ombudsman Baroness Nuala O’Loan told Panorama that the police and British army allowed informers to commit crime, up to and including murder, with “impunity”.
“They were running informants and they were using them. Their argument was that by so doing they were saving lives but hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people died because those people were not brought to justice and weren’t stopped in their tracks,” she said.
Mr Hamilton questioned her assessment of the “scale” of killings and said informers had in fact saved “thousands of lives”.
However, the PSNI chief admitted that during the Troubles, there were “no rules” governing how security force handlers dealt with agents.

Obama, Congress must act after BBC documentary

Posted by Jim on

By Ray O’Hanlon. Irish Echo. May 29, 2015 <>
The U.S. Congress and President Obama should join Amnesty International in demanding action in the aftermath of a BBC television documentary casting light on alleged state-linked murders during the Troubles in Northern Ireland.
“The United States must not be silent about this BBC exposure of forty years of British government state terrorism in Ireland, one of the longest terrorist campaigns in history,” said Fr. Sean McManus, president of the Washington, D.C-based Irish National Caucus.
Amnesty has called for an investigation after the BBC documentary program “Panorama” reported claims that agents inside loyalist and republican terror groups were able to kill and target victims with impunity during the Troubles.
Reported the Guardian newspaper after the documentary, entitled “Britain’s Secret Terror Deals,” was broadcast Thursday night: “Lady Nuala O’Loan, the former police ombudsman in the region, branded informers who were allowed to commit crimes including murder while in the pay of the British state as ‘serial killers.’”
The report added that Panorama had alleged that in many instances the security forces – RUC special branch, military intelligence and MI5 – helped cover up killings carried out by their agents.
Said O’Loan: “They were running informants and they were using them. Their argument was that by so doing they were saving lives, but hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people died because those people were not brought to justice and weren’t stopped in their tracks. Many of them were killers and some of them were serial killers.”
Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty International’s program director for Northern Ireland, said: “The breadth and depth of collusion being alleged here is truly disturbing.
“Killing people targeted by the state, using intelligence provided by the state and shooting them with guns provided by the state – if all this is proven, we’re not talking about a security policy, we’re talking about a murder policy.
“There must now be a full, independent investigation into the scale of the policy where the police, army and MI5 worked with illegal paramilitary groups, resulting in the deaths of perhaps hundreds of people.”
The documentary, according to the Guardian, focused on links between the RUC, army and MI5 with the Ulster Defence Association and the Ulster Volunteer Force, but also explored allegations from the families of those killed by the IRA that, in some cases, those involved in murdering their loved ones were informers for the British state.
Meanwhile, the political crisis in the North prompted by the failure of the Welfare Bill to secure approval in the Northern Ireland Assembly has prompted the Irish and British governments to convene next week for what is being described as a “Review and Monitoring” meeting focused on the Stormont House Agreement.
Invitations have been extended by the governments to the leaders of the Northern Ireland Executive parties. The meeting will take place on Tuesday, June 2.

“Leitrim’s Republican Story 1900 – 2000” to be launched in New York

Posted by Jim on May 28, 2015

“Leitrim’s Republican Story 1900 – 2000” will be launched in Rosie O’Grady’s. 7th Ave, New York on Friday 5 June, starting at 8.30pm.

The book which was hailed in Leitrim as a unique and groundbreaking publication sold out within three weeks of publication but was reprinted in time for last Christmas.  In response to requests from Leitrim people in America, the author is now travelling to New York to launch the book and to speak about Leitrim’s Republican story.

The author, Cormac Ó Súilleabháin, is from Ballinamore and he spent thirteen years researching the book which covers the War of Independence, the Irish Civil War, historic events in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s and also covering the period of The Troubles, as they affected Leitrim.

The author, Cormac Ó Súilleabháin, will speak at the launch.  Copies of the book will be available and can be signed by the author.  Everyone welcome.  Fáilte roimh cách.

Florida’s FFAI Response to Senate Bill 7084

Posted by Jim on

As you already know, I received a call from the Governor’s office on May 21 informing me that Governor Scott regrettably signed Senate Bill 7084 into law, which removed the protection of the Mac Bride Principles from Florida investments in Northern Ireland. Senate Bill 7024 will now permit Florida businesses to invest in the 6 Counties without the statutory restrictions first enacted by the Florida Legislature in 1988.

The FSBA’s (Florida State Board of Administration) three trustees were behind the introduction of this bill to eliminate the investment restrictions imposed by the Mac Bride Principles.  According to a report by Barry B. Burr and comments made by John Kuczwanski (communications manager of the FSBA) in a follow-up e-mail, the FSBA sought a review of the restrictions after they prevented FSBA from investing last year “in an attractive real estate credit portfolio consisting of distressed mortgage loans by several banks operating in Northern Ireland”.

In addition, the end of violence and unrest related to the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement, helped to alleviated FSBA concerns about seeking an end to the Mac Bride investment restrictions.

Unfortunately, the FSBA’s trustees kept this bill buried in committee until it was released for Senate and House approval at the end of Florida’s legislative session. By doing so, they kept it out of the public eye, preventing an organized Irish-American response from taking place. The members of the Florida legislature had literally no time to review this bill and was forced to accept committee recommendations that given the current climate in Northern Ireland, these restrictions were no longer needed. By the time this bill made it to the Governor’s office and became available to the public, our response time to convince the Governor not to sign this Bill was greatly limited. 

Despite these limitations, the Governor’s office was inundated with phone calls objecting to this Bill. Because of the efforts put forth by our Brothers, Sisters and friends, the Governor came very close to vetoing Senate Bill 7024.  However, due to the fact that this Bill was tied into the State Budget and Florida Laws mandates that a Budget be passed and signed into law by the end of the legislative session, the Governor felt that he had no other choice but to do so.

To address the injustice that has occurred with the signing of Senate Bill 7024, Florida’s FFAI Committee is in the process of undertaking steps that are necessary in an attempt to reinstate the Mac Bride Principles in Florida during our next legislative session which begins in December.

In Friendship, Unity, & Christian Charity
Greg Seán Canning
Gríoghár Seán Ó Canannáin
AOH National Director 
AOH National FFAI Co-Chairman
Florida State President of the Ancient Order of Hibernians

No Justice, No Peace

Posted by Jim on

 Sean Bresnahan:
Maghaberry is an injustice that undermines the very fabric of our society, no man or woman should be subject to what goes on in this hideous place. It should be an international outrage but instead is for the most part ignored by those with the power to effect change, those who have bought into the new establishment in Ireland.
Whether for good or bad, whether for right or wrong, they’ve bought into it all. And the ‘all’ in question does not just equate to power-sharing, the equality agenda or any other positive relating to the ‘new dispensation’, it also involves internment, secret evidence, political policing and the torturing of Irish political prisoners – prisoners  such as Gavin Coyle, who has recently entered his fourth year in solitary confinement. By any definition that amounts to torture.
As such there is a responsibility on those who participate in this system, and legitimise it by their presence at the heart of its institutions, to ensure the brutality ongoing at Maghaberry is given no place or quarter in this society, the beatings, the abuse, the horror has to stop. It has no place in our country today – it never had.
If what goes on behind those gates were carried out in some dictatorship no doubt we’d hear the great and the good speak out, it would be condemned vociferously and rightly so. But not here, not in our own country, not when it is done to and on our own. Why do we never hear this alluded to by our politicians, why is this brushed under the carpet, why do they not want us to know what is being done in our name?
The time for action is long past, those in positions of authority, who have achieved high office on the back of a mandate given them by the Irish people, can no longer sit back as though this were not happening. They can no longer watch on through covered eyes in the hope this will just go away. And they have to start taking some responsibility for the situation, why else have they been elected if not to do so?
Whether we agree or not with the politics of those held in this gaol there is a basic onus, common to us all, as right-thinking men and women, that abuse of human rights not be tolerated. Human rights are sacrosanct. Toleration equates to association and facilitation. Who would honestly want to facilitate and be associated with this?

Letter to the Editor by Michael J. Cummings

Posted by Jim on

May 26, 2015

Letters Editor


Irish Times Bldg

Box 74

24-28 Tara St

Dublin 2 Ireland


Dear Editor:


Ms. Frances Fitzgerald, Minister for Justice and Equality has vowed to quickly submit legislation to amend the Constitution pursuant to the results of the recent referendum on legalization of same sex marriage.  This seems prudent in light of the all-party support and 60% vote in favor of  the amendment.


 It is a pity, however, that another referendum, the May, 1998 vote on accepting the amendments to the constitution and supporting the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement has not inspired the same attention by the  Minister.  As a bi-lateral  and international treaty with the British government with  nearly the same voter support (56%) as that of the recent referendum,  Ms.  Fitzgerald is duty bound to enforce provisions of the amended Agreement requiring a public and independent inquiry into the British admitted murder of attorney Patrick Finucane and, more importantly, to use the European Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty to compel British  production of documents regarding the Dublin Monaghan bombings.  She has done neither. 


The rights of anyone in Ireland…gay or otherwise…will mean little if Britain can support the extra-legal murder of  Irish  citizens and be confident the Minister of Justice and Equality will not have the guts to hold them accountable.


Michael J. Cummings

Albany, NY

Response to Florida Senate Bill 7024

Posted by Jim on

Dear Brothers, Sisters and Friends,
Dr. Martin Luther King once said “Injustice anywhere, is a threat to justice everywhere”.As Irish-Americans those words should resonate with us all.

On May 21st, the government of the State of Florida participated in a shameful revocation of the fundamental protections of the Irish Catholic Community in Northern Ireland. By rescinding Florida Statute 121.153, our State government has essentially stripped the Catholic Community of the civil rights protections that they have been afforded since 1988 under the Mac Bride Principles.

While May 21st must be seen as a dark and shameful day for our State government, it will be remembered as the day that countless Irish-Americans from all walks of life flooded the Governors phone lines demanding he halt this shameful act.

The courage and organizational prowess of the AOH, IRISH NATIONAL CAUCUS, and Irish Americans from all walks of life almost convinced the Governor to reconsider. While we did not succeed, we did let the governor and our legislature know we were disgusted by the actions they had taken. Actions that have nothing in common with the values of the American people.

On May 21st, we sent a clear message to our State government, though the battle may have been lost we will never end our struggle to hold government accountable for its actions. We will never abandon the struggle for equality, justice and freedom for the Catholic Community of Northern Ireland.

Again, I would like to thank all of are Brothers and Sisters who took part in this struggle. I would like to personally thank Father Sean Mc Manus of the Irish National Caucus who personally provided me with the actionable intelligence to respond to this veiled legislative action. I would like to thank Greg Sean Canning for having courage to fight a battle based on Principle.

There are those that believe you should never fight a battle unless your certain of victory. If we choose to follow such a philosophy we have lost much more than a battle, we will have lost our moral compass. We must never be willing to turn our back on our suffering Brothers and Sisters in Northern Ireland in pursuit of political expediency.

In closing I ask you to remember the words of Robert Kennedy ” Each time a person stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, these ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance”

My Sincere Appreciation to you all,

Shawn Sidway
State Chair- Freedom For All Ireland Committee

Sinn Féin Will Continue to Stand up for People and Public Services – McGuinness

Posted by Jim on May 26, 2015

by Friends of Sinn Fein

Sinn Féin MLA Martin McGuinness has Sinn Féin will continue to stand up for public services and the most vulnerable in opposing Tory cuts.

Mr McGuinness said;

“The crisis we are facing is not of the making of the parties in the Executive.

“It has been created by the austerity cuts agenda of a Tory administration in London, which is attempting to decimate our public services and punish the most vulnerable people in society.

“They have already taken £1.5 billion from the Executive’s block grant. And Cameron’s cabinet of Tory millionaires have announced plans for further cuts of £25 billion to our public services and to welfare protections for people with disabilities, the long-term sick and large families.

“We made it very clear in our election manifesto that the Executive needs a viable budget for frontline public services and welfare protections for the most vulnerable.

“Sinn Féin will not support a welfare bill, which does not contain those protections and we will not be part of any agenda, which punishes the poor and dismantles public services.

“It has always been my view that the outstanding issues in the welfare bill can be resolved, but this requires political will from all parties in the assembly, to protect the most vulnerable.

“This is a time when the Executive parties need to stand together to defend our public services particularly in health, education and welfare. We need to stand up for the people who elect us, rather than acting in the interests of a Tory elite.

“We need an immediate negotiation with the British government for a budget, which protects our public services and for fiscal powers that give us control over our economy.

“If a choice has to be made to stand side by side with the Tories or stand up for the people here for our economy and public services? I know what side Sinn Féin will be on.”

Gerry Adams TD Challenges Taoiseach on Crisis in The North

Posted by Jim on

by Friends of Sinn Fein

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD today raised the Assembly debate on the Welfare Reform Bill and the crisis in the north with the Taoiseach in the Dáil.

The Sinn Féin leader called on the Taoiseach to meet with the British Prime Minister David Cameron about the failure of that government to honour outstanding Good Friday Agreement commitments, its cuts to welfare payments, as well as its future planned cuts to the North’s budget.

In response, the Taoiseach confirmed that he is scheduled to meet Mr. Cameron in advance of the EU leaders meeting in June and he will raise concerns about the crisis in the North’s institutions.

Teacha Adams said:

“In the Programme for Government, and in the Statement of Government Priorities last year, the Irish government reaffirmed its support for the full implementation of all aspects of the Good Friday Agreement and subsequent agreements.

“As the Taoiseach is aware, there are significant elements of the various Agreements which have not been implemented, including the introduction of a Bill of Rights and an Acht na Gaeilge.

“The British government has also threatened to scrap the Human Rights Act which is an integral part of the Good Friday Agreement structure.

“Today, the Assembly is debating the so-called Welfare Reform Bill. The crisis in the North’s institutions is not solely due to threatened cuts to welfare payments.

“The greater crisis comes from the British Tory governments recent and planned cuts to the North’s budget. Sinn Féin and the SDLP have taken steps to block the current Bill but this is only a short term measure.

“The Taoiseach must engage directly with the British Prime Minister David Cameron and remind him that the Good Friday Agreement is a binding international treaty and that the commitments entered into must be implemented.”

Stormont on brink of collapse

Posted by Jim on

by Staff Writer of Belfast Media Group

A s First Minister Peter Robinson recovers in the Royal Victoria Hospital in West Belfast from a suspected heart attack, his party colleagues will today bring forward a Welfare Bill which could trigger the collapse of the Stormont Executive.

Having abandoned talks with Sinn Féin to close the gap between the two big parties on protections for those worst affected by welfare cutbacks, the DUP will later place in front of MLAs a ‘like-it-or-lump-it’ version of the Welfare Reform Bill.

It’s expected this will fall far short of the pledge in the Stormont House Agreement — endorsed by all five Stormont parties in the mouth of Christmas — that no claimant in receipt of payments under the control of the local Executive would be worse off under the new welfare legislation. At the time, parties estimated protections for the most vulnerable — including children with disabilities, adults with severe disabilities, the long-term ill and large families — would set the Executive back almost £600m over the next six years. In March, Sinn Féin withdrew from talks with the DUP over the new legislation when they said it became clear not all claimants were to be protected.

Sinn Féin and the SDLP have already signed ‘a petition of concern’ which means today’s motion will fall due to lack of cross-community support. DUP Finance Minister Arlene Foster told the BBC this morning that if the Welfare Bill fell it would lead to a financial crisis and mammoth cutbacks.

One alternative being suggested by the DUP is inviting Westminster to take back welfare powers — thus giving London ministers carte blanche to impose the scale of cuts on welfare recipients which are already the order of the day in Britain.

But any tinkering with the devolution of powers by London would put a question mark over the entire Good Friday Agreement structures and could lead to the collapse of the Executive.

And last night Martin McGuinness warned the political structures were not sustainable under the weight of cutbacks planned by the newly-elected Tory Government.

“We made it very clear in our election manifesto that the Executive needs a viable budget for frontline public services and welfare protections for the most vulnerable,” he said. “Sinn Féin will not support a Welfare Bill which does not contain those protections and we will not be part of any agenda, which punishes the poor and dismantles public services. In my view the measure of any society is how it treats those most in need and those most vulnerable. In the face of such devastating Tory cuts our public services, our welfare system, our departments and the Executive itself is not sustainable.”

Stormont has teetered on the edge before only to be saved from collapse by the eleventh-hour intervention of the Irish and British governments and the US administration. But on this occasion, without Peter Robinson at the helm, it’s anybody’s guess whether the DUP, emboldened by the support of the UUP and Alliance on this issue, will re-enter talks with their nationalist counterparts or allow the situation at Stormont to move from crisis to collapse.

Florida rescinds its MacBride Law

Posted by Jim on

By Ray O’Hanlon

As expected, Governor Rick Scott of Florida has signed a state budget bill that includes, in its multitudinous line items, a bill that rescinds the state’s MacBride Principles law.

The budget bill, which had to be passed in totality or not at all, was signed by Scott Thursday even as Ancient Order of Hibernians members in the state were inundating the governor’s office with calls.

The Florida MacBride law had been on the books since 1988, a year of particularly strong MacBride activity across the U.S.

And in another development, it has emerged that Nebraska, with little fanfare or fuss, rescinded its MacBride law in 2011.

The rescinding was presented in January of that year to legislators on the state’s Retirement Systems Committee as a money saving measure.

The amount saved was, according to a transcript of the committee’s deliberations obtained by the Echo, $8,500.

With Florida and Nebraska subtracted, the principles are today law in just 16 states, though they are also enshrined, since 1998, in U.S. federal law.

The Florida rescinding measure was an item in the overall budget bill generated by “Bill Analysis and Fiscal Impact Statement” drawn up for the Florida Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on General Government.

The bill, SB 7024, was then introduced in the Senate back in early March by the Government Oversight and Accountability Committee. The impact statement cover page also refers to the State Board of Administration.

The language 7024 is dry and matter of fact; it give virtually no hint of a political hand behind it. The bill even lists the MacBride Principles.

Nevertheless, the rescinding of the Sunshine State’s MacBride code is prompting an immediate pushback from pro-MacBride groups such as the AOH and Irish National Caucus.

In a statement, Greg Seán Canning, AOH Florida State President, expressed “great disappointment” after receiving a call from the governor’s office “informing me that Governor Scott signed Senate Bill 7024 into law.”

Canning continued: “Despite the loss of our initiative to prevent this legislation from becoming law, there is some positive news. First, the Governor’s office stated that they were inundated with phone calls all day. They also stated that they never realized how organized the AOH was and the strength of our response.

“That being said, I would like to express my gratitude for the quick response from our Brothers, Sisters, and Friends both in and outside of Florida. We only learned about Bill 7024 a few days ago. This Bill was held up in committee throughout most of the legislative process. This kept it out of the public eye.

“When it was finally released, the Senate only had two days to consider it. Many knew nothing of its ramifications. They were informed that this legislation would help the economic situation in the North and that because of the progress being made within the 6 Counties, the Mac Bride Principles were no longer needed. By the time this Bill became public knowledge, it was too late.”

Canning followed up with a call to action stating in part: “First, while we would rather engage in a struggle that we would have a better chance of winning, we cannot always turn away from those that offer little to no chance of success.

“There are those situations (this being one of them) when we as an organization must take a stand based on ethics. If we must always base our actions on victories only, then we have failed as an organization with principals. There will be those times when we will have to engage an issue even if there is no chance of success. I believe that this situation needed a strong response from us.

“Going forward, we must all keep a close watch on future economic bills that might serve to alter the current economic situation in Northern Ireland. This bill may well pave the way for stronger legislation in Florida or similar legislation in other States.

“Make no mistake, the MacBride Principles are under attack. We must seriously think of how to inform legislators from other States on the ramifications of removing the protection of the MacBride Principles in Northern Ireland. Doing so can and will reopen the doors of economic discrimination against the Irish Catholic Nationalist population within the 6 Counties.”

Fr. Sean McManus, president of the Irish National Caucus and the most high profile MacBride campaigner in the U.S. since the 1980s, didn’t mince his words describing the Florida rescinding as “anti-Catholic, anti-Irish.

Said the Washington, D.C.-based McManus in a statement released before Governor Scott signed the budget bill: “If Florida’s governor were to sign a Senate Bill to repeal the MacBride Principles, it will be seen as anti-Catholic and anti-Irish — whatever the governor’s intentions.

“Why would the Florida Senate attempt to do this? Who manipulated them in such a way? The MacBride Principles are universally regarded as being the most important and effective campaign ever against anti-Catholic discrimination in Northern Ireland.

“The Governor would be profoundly ill-advised to be associated with such an awful act. The MacBride Principles were passed to ensure that Florida dollars would not subsidize anti-Catholic discrimination in Northern Ireland. Those who are opposed to these principles will logically and naturally be seen to be anti-Catholic and anti-Irish. That’s politics 101.”

Coucillor Caoimhin Mac Giolla Mhin’s post

Posted by Jim on May 25, 2015

By Gerry Adams 21st May 2015

A few years ago I visited NUI Galway to address the students on the peace process. The hall was packed and for reasons I still don’t quite understand there were very few chairs put out for the hundreds of students who turned up. Most sat on the floor and the craic was great.

I was back there again on Tuesday. The heir to the British throne, Prince Charles, was in Ireland with his wife Camilla for a four day visit. At the weekend the Sinn Féin Ard Chomhairle met and discussed the party’s approach. On her recent visits to Ireland the British Queen Elizabeth had made clear her desire to be part of a process of reconciliation and healing. The meeting between Martin McGuinness and Queen Elizabeth in Belfast and then subsequently during a state visit by President Michael D, were widely acknowledged as historic and a boost to reconciliation efforts.

It was in this context, of peace building, that I raised the possibility of Sinn Féin leaders meeting with Charles during his visit. I believed that such a meeting could be very helpful as we seek to heal the hurt of decades of conflict. Following several conversations it was agreed. On Tuesday morning Senator Trevor O Clochartaigh and I arrived at NUI Galway.
We were to be joined later by Martin McGuinness for a private meeting when the formal NUIG business was over. By the time Trevor and I arrived most of the guests were already assembled. They included school children from Connemara. At Trevor’s prompting they gave us a rousing rendition of Peigín Ligir Móir. I was delighted especially to meet Colm Seoighe a wonderful young guitarist and his fellow students and singers and their teachers. Colm’s guitar is autographed by Christy Moore.
‘Ride On ‘ dúirt mé leis.

In the meantime it rained. Then the sun shone warmly. Then it rained again. Luckily the meeting with Charles was indoors. We were introduced at the reception by Gearoid O Conluain on behalf of NUIG and shook hands.

I welcomed him in Irish and English. “Cead Mile Fáilte. Tá mé sasta go bhfuil tú arais agus tú ag dul go Mullach Mór”

“Welcome. It’s good that you are back and going to Mullach Mór”.

We spoke briefly before I introduced him to Trevor.

Later Trevor joined Martin and me for a private meeting with Charles. This engagement lasted about 20 minutes or so upstairs in an office. It was a cordial and relaxed discussion. Despite some of the difficult issues we each spoke of it was a positive conversation. We acknowledged that he and his family had been hurt and suffered great loss at Mullaghmore by the actions of Irish republicans. Martin and I said we were very conscious of this and of the sad loss of the Maxwell family whose son Paul was also killed.

We spoke also of the hurt inflicted on our friends and neighbours and on our own communities in Derry and Ballymurphy and Springhill by the actions of the Parachute Regiment and other British regiments. In 1971 and 1972 in Ballymurphy and Springhill sixteen local citizens, including three children, a mother of eight, two Catholic priests and ten unarmed men were killed by the Paras.

I also told him of the campaign by victims of the Dublin and Monaghan bombings to get the British Government to hand over its files about these events – believed to involve its agents – to Irish authorities.

He shared his own memories of the conflict starting in the 60s. It is obvious that he wants to play a positive role in making conflict a thing of the past. That is the Sinn Fein view also.

Thankfully the conflict is now over. Tuesday’s meeting is part of the necessary process which must now address in a more substantial way than ever before the issue of reconciliation and healing. That must mean that all victims and survivors of the conflict, who are still seeking justice and truth are given the strongest support.

Whether they were bereaved by the IRA, or by the myriad British state agencies, or through state sponsored collusion, the victims and their families and communities deserve justice. In this context it is crucial that the process of healing and of reconciliation is enhanced and strengthened.

Tuesday’s meeting in itself is a significant symbolic and practical step forward in the process of healing and reconciliation. But for substantial progress to be made the Governments and the political parties will have to build on this opportunity.
Reconciliation is an enormous challenge for all of us. It is a personal process of dialogue, engagement, and compromise. It’s about healing the past and building a new, better and fairer future based on equality.

There is now a peaceful way to end partition and the union. All who want a United Ireland have a duty to embrace this and to make friends with our neighbours.

The participation of myself and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness and Seanadóir Trevor O Clochartaigh and other Sinn Féin leaders in the visit by Prince Charles is a measure of our commitment to resolving outstanding legacy issues and to be part of an inclusive healing and reconciliation process and a new political dispensation between the people of this island.

I have no doubt that some people will be upset at the Galway meeting. That is their right if they are victims or survivors. Others may be upset because of their politics or because they have a narrow view of the past and no real strategy for the future. That also is their right.
But our resolve and responsibility is to ensure that no else suffers as a result of conflict; that no other family is bereaved; that the experience of war and of loss and injury is never repeated.This means all of us working together. That requires generosity and respect from all and for all.

We are all living in a time of transition for the people of the island of Ireland and between Ireland and Britain. I don’t have a lot in common with a member of the British royal family. But we are of the same age. We have some interests in common. These also were touched upon in our conversation. We have both been bereaved in conflict. This week’s engagements are part of the process of building relationships, breaking down barriers to understanding and creating the space – as Seamus Heaney defined it – ‘in which hope can grow.’

There are many challenges facing the political Institutions established by the Good Friday Agreement and by the popular will of the people of the island of Ireland. These challenges, which are multiple and immediate, must be overcome.

Leaders have a responsibility to lead. That is what we are trying to do. As we face into the future let all our steps be forward steps.

Warning over political policing in 26 Counties

Posted by Jim on

The Republican Network for Unity has warned that a policy of selective
internment is now being used against republicans by the state forces in
the 26 counties.

Their statement follows a recent ‘crackdown’ against republicans ahead
of the visit to the state of British royals Charles and Camilla.

“This policy is being used as a means to attempt to break the spirit and
determination of the Republican community,” said RNU spokesperson Ann
McParland. “The recent arrests and the subsequent internment of three
individuals… only serves as a constant reminder of the 26 county
government’s active participation in what is a British government

There is a dark history of imprisoning republicans without trial in the
26 County state, from the 1920’s through the 1970’s, and up until the
present day.

Ms McParland said there had been a return of a “policy of persecution”
and the “normalisation of the infringement of the republican community’s
human rights”. This had been cemented by a recent Supreme Court ruling
to allow the use of evidence gathered illegally.

“The very fact that any republican who engages in electoral work and or
any form of political activism can have charges levied against them,
coupled with the fact that the word of [a police superintendent] is
enough to have you interned, is evidence of the state endorsed campaign
against the Republican community.”

She also called on Sinn Fein and others to “examine their conscience in
relation to the blatant targeting and continuous persecution of
republican individuals and their families through the policy of
political policing.

“The electorate must question the intentions of the current
administration in relation to powers being afforded to Gardai at the
moment to suppress any alternative political voice or opinion.”

The arrest of the RNU chairperson in the Strabane area this week was
also being linked to the agenda of political policing across the island.

“The man who lives with his wife and three children was hauled away by
the RUC/PSNI as armed thugs marauded through his home,” the group said.

“The over-the-top security operation, recognisable to republicans
throughout Ireland, was both unneeded and unnecessary. The state militia
occupied the RNU activist’s home, distressing his young family for over
six hours.

“This comes after a wave of RUC/PSNI and British Army harassment
directed against RNU members and their families in recent weeks, often
involving destructive house raids, stop and searches along with futile

Let the Fun begin. Come to the “Rockaway Irish Festival” and tell them, “Silky sent ya” and receive free entrance for $11.00 each.

Posted by Jim on May 24, 2015

Rockaway Fair

Maghaberry authorities punishing prisoners for complaints

Posted by Jim on May 23, 2015

Republican political prisoners at Maghaberry jail have condemned
“aggressive” punishment procedures and unofficial reprisal actions by
the prison authorities which they said are causing upheaval throughout

Among the tactics the authorities are accused of using are sleep
disruption and deprivation.

In a statement, the prisoners of landing 4 in Roe House at the jail said
the abuses were in response to their peaceful efforts to challenge
efforts to treat them as criminals.

“We have engaged the Prisoner Ombudsman and the jail’s internal
complaints system, as well as pursuing other internal and external
avenues. We have challenged the Ombudsman’s Office on its
ineffectiveness, while simultaneously continually challenging screws
[warders] and officials also in this regard. The jail has also been
challenged on its failure to provide resources to RPPs which are readily
available in other areas of the jail site.

“This has been a source of great frustration to the jail administration
and, in response; they have employed a variety of repressive measures.
Disturbingly, they have used a select number of notorious individuals on
the landings and on night guard-duty to engage in obstructive,
belligerent behaviour including sleep disruption and deprivation. When
RPPs have challenged those engaged in this behaviour the jail
administration has responded by contriving charges against us under
prison rules.”

These charges are designed to intimidate and distract at a time when the
jail had failed to honour its own so-called ‘stocktake’ proposal to
allow six prisoners onto the landings at a time, rather than the current
four, they said.

“These charges and manufactured ‘alarm incidents’ will undoubtedly be
used by the jail administration to present Roe House as an intimidating
environment and, in turn, as an excuse for failing to hold to their own

The prisoners also accused the English governor, Malcolm Swarbrick, of
overseeing a number of “fabricated” PSNI charges, alarm incidents and
the beating of republican prisoners.

“All attempts at resolving potential confrontational situations is met
with threats of ‘charges’, lock-downs and the menacing use of riot
Squads along with Alsatian dogs,” they said.

“Swarbrick has engineered the multiple alarm incidents over recent
months which have culminated in Republican prisoners being beaten, the
PSNI arrests, and the deliberate reinstatement of provocative measures.”

The response by the prison authorities had also affected non-political
prisoners to the point where large parts of Maghaberry jail were
“recently wrecked and then set on fire as a protest”.

“Attempts by the jail administration to downplay, and indeed cover up,
recent serious events will not be allowed to go unnoticed regardless of
such endeavours to censor.”

Letter to the Editor of the Irish News

Posted by Jim on

May 8, 2015



113-117 Donegal Street

Belfast, Northern Ireland





  A chara

       As we move towards centenary commemorations of 1916, the British moved against Easter Commemoration speaker Dee Fennell. My view is that conditions do not exist to support continuation of armed struggle at this time. This view will become harder to defend if the British begin a clampdown on Easter Week Commemoration speakers.

  The Carrickmore Easter Commemoration was attended by relatives of Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa. This Fenian patriot inspired the oft quoted words “Ireland unfree shall never be at peace”. With six counties unfree, these words might be said to run afoul of British law. Should we fear to speak these words and others including Maura Drumm’s, even as Pearse’s oration is re-enacted in centenary commemorations elsewhere in Ireland?

 What of the 1916 Proclamation itself? It says the people of Ireland hold the right to “national freedom and sovereignty.” It seems unlikely that Tom Clarke put his name to something that did not count the people of his home county Tyrone, and 5 others, amongst “the whole people of Ireland”. It says this right is “indefeasible”, meaning something that can never be bargained, sold, or bequeathed away, (even by referendum). It even makes reference to “standing on that fundamental right and again asserting it in arms”. Surely these words suggest there have been conditions where it was ‘legitimate’ to do so.    

 What of the Roll of Honour?  British law today regards those that resisted them during the Troubles as mere criminals. For example, Gerry McGeough and Seamus Kearney were imprisoned for IRA actions that took place in 1981. Ivor Bell faces accusations from 1972. How many Republicans carry felon licenses, employment bars or travel restrictions?

 The Roll of Honour lists Republicans who were part of that same struggle and died at the hands of British and pro-British forces. Their names on a Roll of Honour say they were not criminals but patriots, whose deeds were not alone legitimate, but are remembered with respect and pride.

  The Roll of Honour and Easter 1916 Proclamation are customarily read in Republican commemorations, because we identify those on the Roll of Honour with the same principles and struggle proclaimed in 1916.Must we pretend otherwise?

 There are no doubt readers and friends who will be at pains to argue that Dee Fennell’s case will be the last of it. The British would never clamp down on anyone else. They will make the same arguments they made after Gerry McGeough’s arrest in 2007.

 Perhaps they can convince Ivor Bell, Seamus Kearney or those holding OTR immunity certificates that the re-elected David Cameron says need no longer be honoured.


Firms Gather in NYC for US-Ireland Top 50 Companies Celebration!

Posted by Jim on May 22, 2015

Trailblazing companies with operations in the US and Ireland will be honoured in New York next week at a gala business luncheon during the New York New Belfast Conference.

Tom DiNapoli, Comptroller of New York State who last year made the biggest ever single investment in a Northern Ireland equity fund, will address the sold-out event at Fordham University Lincoln Center campus.

Among the companies taking pride of place at the luncheon will be a string of blue chip multi-nationals which have recently located in Ireland or enhanced their operations there. They include Tyco which now has its European headquarters in Cork and a world-leading R&D centre in Belfast, WhiteHat Security of California which recently invested in Belfast.

Fin Tech company Cayan of Boston and Belfast and global aircraft leasing company Avolon, headquartered in Dublin, are both new names on what is the eighth annual US-Ireland Top 50 Companies listing.

The luncheon will be a highlight of two days of debates, fact-finding visits and presentations at the New York-New Belfast conference which brings leaders of both cities together to explore ways of building bridges of mutual benefit between the two cites.

For more details and registration go to: Aisling Events Website.

Last chance to save MacBride Principles

Posted by Jim on May 21, 2015

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

We have only less then 24 hours to stop Senate Bill 7024.  
We need as many calls as possible from Florida residents to contact Deputy Chief of Staff/Policy Director Jeffrey Woodburn to register our opposition to Senate Bill 7024.
After our contacts with the Governor’s office staff and members of the legislature, the parties involved had no idea of the negative impact this bill will have on the civil rights of Irish Catholics in Northern Ireland.  The impression given to us was that if enough protests are registered today, the Governor might reconsider his support for this Bill.
Please do your part.  Contact Jeffrey Woodburn today, Thursday 21st.  Get your friends to do so as well.  In addition, contact your local Knights of Columbus and solicit their support.  Together, we can make a statement and possibly put an end to this travesty of justice.
We need as many calls as possible during today’s business hours, Thursday, May 21.
Contact Information:
 Deputy Chief of Staff/Policy Director Jeffrey Woodburn
(850) 717-9249
(850) 488-5063
Convey the following message to his office.
State your Name and your City.
As a registered Florida voter, I would like to express my concern regarding the passage of Senate Bill 7024 — specifically the section pertaining to the repeal of Florida Statute 121.153.
I believe that the Governor and the Legislature have not taken into consideration the important civil rights protection that the MacBride Principles have provided for the Catholic Community in Northern Ireland.
I would request that all parties recognize the potential human rights setbacks that this Bill could cause and ask that Senate Bill 7024 be returned to the Senate and to the House to be amended so as to strike the section pertaining to the repeal of Florida Statute 121.153.

Patsy O’Hara – Hunger Striker

Posted by Jim on

Died May 21st, 1981

A determined and courageous Derryman

Twenty-three-year-old Patsy O’Hara from Derry city, was the former leader of the Irish National Liberation Army prisoners in the H-Blocks, and joined IRA Volunteer Raymond McCreesh on hunger strike on March 22nd, three weeks after Bobby Sands and one week after Francis Hughes.

His parents owned a small public house and grocery shop above which the family lived. His eldest brother, Sean Seamus, was interned in Long Kesh for almost four years. The second eldest in the family, Tony, was imprisoned in the H-Blocks – throughout Patsy’s hunger strike – for five years before being released in August of this year, having served his full five-year sentence with no remission.

The youngest in the O’Hara family is twenty-one-year-old Elizabeth.

Before ‘the troubles’ destroyed the family life of the O’Haras, and the overwhelming influence of being an oppressed youth concerned about his country drove Patsy to militant republicanism, there is the interesting history of his near antecedents which must have produced delight in Patsy’s young heart.


Patsy’s maternal grandfather, James McCluskey, joined the British army as a young man and went off to fight in the First World War. He received nine shrapnel wounds at Ypres and was retired on a full pension.

However, on returning to Ireland his patriotism was set alight by Irish resistance and the terror of British rule. He duly threw out his pension book, did not draw any more money and joined the Republican Movement. He transported men and weapons along the Foyle into Derry in the ‘twenties.

He inherited a public house and bookmakers, in Foyle Street, and was a great friend of Derry republican Sean Keenan’s father, also named Sean.

Mrs. Peggy O’Hara can recall ‘old’ Sean Keenan being arrested just before the out break of the Second World War. Her father’s serious illness resulted in him escaping internment and he died shortly afterwards in 1939.

Mrs. O’Hara’s aunt was married to John Mulhern, a Roscommon man, who was in the RIC up until its disbandment in 1921.

“When my father died in 1939 – says Mrs O’Hara, – “John Mulhern, who was living in Bishop Street, and owned a bar and a grocery shop, took us in to look after us. I remember him telling us that he didn’t just go and join the RIC, but it was because there were so many in the family and times were hard.

“My father was a known IRA man and my uncle reared me, and I was often slagged about this. Patsy used to hear this as a child, but Patsy was a very, very straight young fellow and he was a wee bit bigoted about my uncle being a policeman.

“But a number of years ago Patsy came in to me after speaking to an old republican from Corrigans in Donegal, and Patsy says to me, ‘You’ve nothing to be ashamed of, your uncle being a policeman, because that man was telling me that even though he was an RIC man, he was very, very helpful to the IRA!”


The trait of courage which Patsy was to show in later years was in him from the start, says Mr. O’Hara. “No matter who got into trouble in the street outside, Patsy was the boy to go out and do all the fighting for him. He was the fighting man about the area and didn’t care how big they were. He would tackle them. I even saw him fighting men, and in no way could they stop him. He would keep at them. He was like a wee bull terrier!”

Apparently, up until he was about twelve years of age, Patsy was fat and small, “a wee barrel” says his mother. Then suddenly he shot up to grow to over six foot two inches.

Elizabeth, his sister, recalls Patsy: “He was a mad hatter. When we were young he used to always play tricks on me, mother and father. We used to play a game of cards and whoever lost had to do all the things that everybody told them.

“We all won a card game once and made Patsy crawl up the stairs and ‘miaow’ like a cat at my mother’s bedroom door. She woke up the next day and said, ‘am I going mad? I think I heard a cat last night’ and we all started to laugh.”

The O’Haras’ house was open to all their children’s friends, and again to scores of the volunteers who descended on Derry from all corners of Ireland when the RUC invaded in 1969. But before that transformation in people’s politics came, Mrs. O’Hara still lived for her family alone.

She was especially proud of her eldest son, Sean Seamus who had passed his eleven plus and went to college.


When Sean was in his early teens he joined the housing action group, around 1967, Mrs. O’Hara’s conception of which was Sean helping to get people homes.

“But one day, someone came into me when I was working in the bar, and said, ‘Your son is down in the Guildhall marching up and down with a placard!

“I went down and stood and looked and Finbarr O’Doherty was standing at the side and wee fellows were going up and down. I went over to Sean and said, ‘Who gave you that? He said, Finbarr!’ I took the placard off Sean and went over to Finbarr, put it in his hand, and hit him with my umbrella.’

Mrs. O’Hara laughs when she recalls this incident, as shortly afterwards she was to have her eyes opened.

“After that, I went to protests wherever Sean was, thinking that I could protect him! I remember the October 1968 march because my husband’s brother, Sean, had just been buried.

“We went to the peaceful march over at the Waterside station and saw the people being beaten into the ground. That was the first time that I ever saw water cannons, they were like something from outer space.

“We thought we had to watch Sean, but to my astonishment Patsy and Tony had slipped away, and Patsy was astonished and startled by what he saw.”


Later, Patsy was to write about this incident: “The mood of the crowd was one of solidarity. People believed they were right and that a great injustice had been done to them. The crowds came in their thousands from every part of the city and as they moved down Duke Street chanting slogans, ‘One man, one vote’ and singing ‘We shall overcome’ I had the feeling that a people united and on the move, were unstoppable.”


Shortly after his release in April 1975, Patsy joined the ranks of the fledgling Irish Republican Socialist Party, which the ‘Sticks’, using murder, had attempted to strangle at birth. He was free only about two months when he was stopped at the permanent check-point on the Letterkenny Road whilst driving his father’s car from Buncrana in County Donegal.

The Brits planted a stick of gelignite in the car (such practice was commonplace) and he was charged with possession of explosives. He was remanded in custody for six months, the first trial being stopped due to unusual RUC ineptitude at framing him. At the end of the second trial he was acquitted and released after spending six months in jail.

In 1976, Patsy had to stay out of the house for fear of constant arrest. That year, also, his brother, Tony, was charged with an armed raid, and on the sole evidence of an alleged verbal statement was sentenced to five years in the H-Blocks.

Despite being ‘on the run’ Patsy was still fond of his creature comforts!

His father recalls: “Sean Seamus came in late one night and though the whole place was in darkness he didn’t put the lights on. He went to sit down and fell on the floor. He ran up the stairs and said: ‘I went to sit down and there was nothing there’

“Patsy had taken the sofa on top of a red Rover down to his billet in the Brandywell. Then before we would get up in the morning he would have it back up again. When we saw it sitting there in the morning we said to Sean: ‘Are you going off your head or what? and he was really puzzled.”


In September 1976, he was again arrested in the North and along with four others charged with possession of a weapon. During the remand hearings he protested against the withdrawal of political status.

The charge was withdrawn after four months, indicating how the law is twisted to intern people by remanding them in custody and dropping the charges before the case comes to trial.

In June 1977, he was imprisoned for the fourth time. On this occasion, after a seven-day detention in Dublin’s Bridewell, he was charged with holding a garda at gunpoint. He was released on bail six weeks later and was eventually acquitted In January 1978.

Whilst living in the Free State, Patsy was elected to the ard chomhairle of the IRSP, was active in the Bray area, and campaigned against the special courts.

In January 1979, he moved back to Derry but was arrested on May 14th, 1979 and was charged with possessing a hand-grenade.

In January 1980, he was sentenced to eight years in jail and went on the blanket.


What were Mrs. O’Hara’s feelings when Patsy told her he was going on hunger strike?

“My feelings at the start, when he went on hunger strike, were that I thought that they would get their just demands, because it is not very much that they are asking for. There is no use in saying that I was very vexed and all the rest of it. There is no use me sitting back in the wings and letting someone else’s son go. Someone’s sons have to go on it and I just happen to be the mother of that son.”


Writing shortly before the hunger strike began, Patsy O’Hara grimly declared: “We stand for the freedom of the Irish nation so that future generations will enjoy the prosperity they rightly deserve, free from foreign interference, oppression and exploitation. The real criminals are the British imperialists who have thrived on the blood and sweat of generations of Irish men.

“They have maintained control of Ireland through force of arms and there is only one way to end it. I would rather die than rot in this concrete tomb for years to come.

Patsy witnessed the baton charges and said: “The people were sandwiched in another street and with the Specials coming from both sides, swinging their truncheons at anything that moved. It was a terrifying experience and one which I shall always remember.”

Mr. and Mrs. O’Hara believe that it was this incident when Patsy was aged eleven, followed by the riots in January 1969 and the ‘Battle of the Bogside’ in August 1969 that aroused passionate feelings of nationalism, and then republicanism, in their son. “Every day he saw something different happening,” says his father. “People getting beaten up, raids and coffins coming out. This was his environment.”


In 1970, Patsy joined na Fianna Eireann, drilled and trained in Celtic Park.

Early in 1971, and though he was very young, he joined the Patrick Pearse Sinn Fein cumann in the Bogside, selling Easter lilies and newspapers. Internment, introduced in August 1971, hit the O’Hara family particularly severely with the arrest of Sean Seamus in October. “We never had a proper Christmas since then” says Elizabeth. “When Sean Seamus was interned we never put up decorations and our family has been split-up ever since then.”

Shortly after Sean’s arrest Patsy, one night, went over to a friend’s house in Southway where there were barricades. But coming out of the house, British soldiers opened fire, for no apparent reason, and shot Patsy in the leg. He was only fourteen years of age and spent several weeks in hospital and then several more weeks on crutches.


On January 30th, 1972, his father took him to watch the big anti-internment march as it wound its way down from the Creggan. “I struggled across a banking but was unable to go any further. I watched the march go up into the Brandywell. I could see that it was massive. The rest of my friends went to meet it but I could only go back to my mother’s house and listen to it on the radio,” said Patsy.

Asked about her feelings over Patsy be coming involved in the struggle, Mrs. O’Hara said: “After October 1968, I thought that that was the right thing to do. I am proud of him, proud of them all”.

Mr O’Hara said: “Personally speaking, I knew he would get involved. It was in his nature. He hated bullies al his life, and he saw big bullies in uniform and he would tackle them as well.

Shortly after Bloody Sunday, Patsy joined the ‘Republican Clubs’ and was active until 1973, “when it became apparent that they were firmly on the path to reformism and had abandoned the national question”.


From this time onwards he was continually harassed, taken in for interrogation and assaulted.

One day, he and a friend were arrested on the Briemoor Road. Two saracens screeched to a halt beside them. Patsy later described this arrest: “We were thrown onto the floor and as they were bringing us to the arrest centre, we were given a beating with their batons and rifles. When we arrived and were getting out of the vehicles we were tripped and fell on our faces”.

Three months later, after his seventeenth birthday, he was taken to the notorious interrogation centre at Ballykelly. He was interrogated for three days and then interned with three others who had been held for nine days.

“Long Kesh had been burned the week previously” said Patsy, “and as we flew above the camp in a British army helicopter we could see the complete devastation. When we arrived, we were given two blankets and mattresses and put into one of the cages.

“For the next two months we were on a starvation diet, no facilities of any” kind, and most men lying out open to the elements…

“That December a ceasefire was announced, then internment was phased out.” Merlyn Rees also announced at the same time that special category status would be withdrawn on March 1st, 1976. I did not know then how much that change of policy would effect me in less than three years”.

Patsy O’Hara died at 11.29 p.m. on Thursday, May 21st – on the same day as Raymond McCreesh with whom he had embarked on the hunger-strike sixty-one days earlier.

Even in death his torturers would not let him rest. When the O’Hara family been broken and his corpse bore several burn marks inflicted after his death.


Raymond McCreesh – Hunger Striker

Posted by Jim on

Died May 21st, 1981

A quiet, good-natured and discreet republican

THE THIRD of the resolutely determined IRA Volunteers to join the H-Block hunger strike for political status was twenty-four-year-old Raymond McCreesh, from Camlough in South Armagh: a quiet, shy and good-humoured republican, who although captured at the early age of nineteen, along with two other Volunteers in a British army ambush, had already almost three years active republican involvement behind him.

During those years he had established himself as one of the most dedicated and invaluable republican activists in that part of the six counties to which the Brits themselves have – half-fearfully, half-respectfully – given the name ‘bandit country’ and which has become a living legend in republican circles, during the present war, for the courage and resourcefulness of its Volunteers: the border land of South Armagh.

Raymond’s resolve to hunger strike to the death, to secure the prisoners’ five demands was indicated in a smuggled-out letter written by Paddy Quinn, an H-Block blanket man – who was later to embark on hunger strike himself – who was captured along with Raymond and who received the same fourteen year sentence: “I wrote Raymie a couple of letters before he went to the prison hospital. He wrote back and according to the letter he was in great spirits and very determined. A sign of that determination was the way he finished off by saying: Ta seans ann go mbeidh me abhaile rombat a chara’ which means: There is a chance that I’ll be home before you, my friend!”

Captured in June 1976, and sentenced in March 1977, when he refused to recognise the court, Raymond would have been due for release in about two years’ time had he not embarked on his principled protest for political status, which led him, ultimately, to hunger strike.


Raymond Peter McCreesh, the seventh in a family of eight children, was born in a small semi-detached house at St. Malachy’s Park, Camlough – where the family still live – on February 25th, 1957.

The McCreeshes, a nationalist family in a staunchly nationalist area, have been rooted in South Armagh for seven generations, and both Raymond’s parents – James aged 65, a retired local council worker, and Susan (whose maiden name is Quigley), aged 60 – come from the nearby townland of Dorsey.

Raymond was a quiet but very lively person, very good-natured and – like other members of his family – extremely witty. Not the sort of person who would push himself forward if he was in a crowd, and indeed often rather a shy person in his personal relationships until he got to know a person well. Nevertheless, in his republican capacity he was known as a capable, dedicated and totally committed Volunteer who could show leadership and aggression where necessary.

Among both his family and his republican associates, Raymond was renowned for his laughter and for “always having a wee smile on him”. His sense of humour remained even during his four-year incarceration in the H-Blocks, as well as during his hunger strike where he continued to insist that he was “just fine.”


Raymond went first to Camlough primary school, and then to St. Coleman’s college in Newry. It was at St. Coleman’s that Raymond met Danny McGuinness, also from Camlough, and the two became steadfast friends. They later became republican comrades, and Danny too then a nineteen-year-old student who had just completed his ‘A’ levels was captured along with Raymond and Paddy Quinn, and is now in the H-Blocks.

At school, Raymond’s strongest interest was in Irish language and Irish history, and he read widely in those subjects. His understanding of Irish history led him to a fervently nationalist outlook, and he was regarded as a ‘hothead’ in his history classes, and as being generally “very conscious of his Irishness”.

He was also a sportsman, and played under-sixteen and Minor football for Carrickcruppin Gaelic football club as well as taking a keen interest in the local youth club where he played basketball and pool, and was regarded a good snooker player.

When he was fourteen years old, Raymond got a weekend job working on a milk round through the South Armagh border area, around Mullaghbawn and Dromintee. Later on, after leaving his job in Lisburn, he worked full-time on the milk round, where he would always stop and chat to customers. He became a great favourite amongst them and many enquired about him long after he left the round.


During the early ‘seventies, the South Armagh border area was the stamping ground of the British army’s Parachute regiment, operating out of Bessbrook camp less than two miles from Raymond’s home. Stories of their widespread brutality and harassment of local people abound, and built-up then a degree of resentment and resistance amongst most of the nationalist population that is seen to this day.

The SAS terror regiment began operating in this area in large numbers too, in a vain attempt to counter republican successes, and the high level of assassinations of local people on both sides of the South Armagh border, notably three members of the Reavey family in 1975, was believed locally to have been the work both of the SAS, and of UDR and RUC members holding dual membership with ‘illegal’ loyalist paramilitary organisations.

Given this scenario and Raymond’s understanding of Irish history, it is small wonder that he became involved in the republican struggle.


He first of all joined na Fianna Eireann early in 1973 and towards the end of that year joined the Irish Republican Army’s 1st Battalion, South Armagh.

Even before joining the IRA, and despite his very young age, Raymond – with remarkable awareness and maturity – became one of the first Volunteers in the South Armagh area to adopt a very low, security conscious, republican profile.

He rarely drank, but if occasionally in a pub he would not discuss either politics or his own activities, and he rarely attended demonstrations or indeed anything which would have brought him to the attention of the enemy.

It was because of this remarkable self-discipline and discretion that during his years of intense republican involvement Raymond was never once arrested or even held for screening in the North, and only twice held briefly in the South.

Consequently, Raymond was never obliged to go ‘on the run’, continuing to live at home until the evening of his capture, and always careful not to cause his family any concern or alarm.

Fitted in with his republican activities Raymond would relax by going to dances or by going to watch football matches at weekends.


After leaving school he spent a year at Newry technical college studying fabrication engineering, and afterwards got a job at Gambler Simms (Steel) Ltd. in Lisburn. He had a conscientious approach to his craft but was obliged to leave after a year because of a fear of assassination.

Each day he travelled to work from Newry, in a bus along with four or five mates who had got jobs there too from the technical college, but the prevailing high level of sectarian assassinations, and the suspicion justifiably felt of the predominantly loyalist work-force at Gambler Simms, made Raymond, and many other nationalist workers, decide that travelling such a regular route through loyalist country side was simply too risky.

So, after leaving the Lisburn factory, Raymond began to work full-time as a milk roundsman, an occupation which would greatly have increased his knowledge of the surrounding countryside, as well as enabling him to observe the movements of British army patrols and any other untoward activity in the area.


Republican activity in that area during those years consisted largely of landmine attacks and ambushes on enemy patrols.

Raymond had the reputation of a republican who was very keen to suggest and take part in operations, almost invariably working in his own, extremely tight, active service unit, though occasionally, when requested – as he frequently was – assisting other units in neighbouring areas with specific operations. He would always carefully consider the pros and cons of any operation, and would never panic or lose his nerve.

In undertaking the hunger strike, Raymond gave the matter the same careful consideration he would have expended on a military operation, he undertook nothing either a rush, or for bluff.


The operation which led to the capture of Raymond, his boyhood friend, Danny McGuiness, and Patrick Quinn, took place on June 25th, 1976.

An active service unit comprising these three and a fourth Volunteer arrived in a commandeered car at a farmyard in the town land of Sturgan a mile from Camlough – at about 9.25 p.m.

Their objective was to ambush a covert Brit observation post which they had located opposite the Mountain House Inn, on the main Newry – Newtonhamilton Road, half-a-mile away. They were not aware, however, that another covert British observation post, on a steep hillside half-a-mile away, had already spotted the four masked, uniformed and armed Volunteers, clearly visible below them, and that radioed helicopter reinforcements were already closing in.

As the fourth Volunteer drove the commandeered car down the road to the agreed ambush point, to act as a lure for the Brits, the other three moved down the hedgeline of the fields, into position. The fourth Volunteer, however, as he returned, as arranged, to rejoin his comrades, spotted the British Paratroopers on the hillside closing in on his unsuspecting friends and, although armed only with a short range Stengun, opened fire to warn the others.

Immediately, the Brits opened fire with SLRs and light machine-guns, churning up the ground around the Volunteers with hundreds of rounds, firing indiscriminately into the nearby farmhouse and two vehicles parked outside, and killing a grazing cow!

The fourth Volunteer was struck by three bullets, in the leg, arm and chest, but managed to crawl away and to elude the massive follow up search, escaping safely – though seriously injured – the following day.

Raymond and Paddy Quinn ran zig-zag across open fields to a nearby house, under fire all this time, intending to commandeer a car. Unfortunately, the car belonging to the occupants of the house was parked at a neighbour’s house several hundred yards away. Even then the pair might have escaped but that they delayed several minutes waiting for their comrade, Danny McGuinness, who however had got separated from them and had taken cover in a disused quarry outhouse (where he was captured in a follow-up operation the next day).

The house in which Raymond and Paddy took cover was immediately besieged by berserk Paratroopers who riddled the house with bullets. Even when the two Volunteers surrendered, after the arrival of a local priest, and came out through the front door with their hands up, the Paras opened fire again and the Pair were forced to retreat back into the house.

On the arrival of the RUC, the two Volunteers again surrendered and were taken to Bessbrook barracks where they were questioned and beaten for three days before being charged.


One remarkable aspect of the British ambush concerns the role of Lance-Corporal David Jones, a member of the 3rd Battalion, the Parachute regiment. According to Brit statements at the trial it was he who first opened up on the IRA active service unit from the hillside.

Nine months later, on March 16th, 1977 two IRA Volunteers encountered two Paratroopers (at the time seconded to the SAS) in a field outside Maghera in South Derry. In the ensuing gun battle, one SAS man was shot dead, and one IRA Volunteer was captured. The Volunteer’s name was Francis Hughes, the dead Brit was Lance-Corporal David Jones of the Parachute regiment.

In the eighteen months before going on hunger strike together neither Raymond McCreesh or Francis Hughes were aware of what would seem to have been an ironic but supremely fitting example of republican solidarity!

After nine months remand in Crumlin Road jail, Raymond was tried and convicted in March 1977, of attempting to kill Brits, possession of a Garand rifle and ammunition, and IRA membership. He received a fourteen-year sentence, and lesser concurrent sentences, after refusing to recognise the court.

In the H-Blocks he immediately joined the blanket protest, and so determined was his resistance to criminalisation that he refused to take his monthly visits for four years, right up until he informed his family of his decision to go on hunger strike on February 15th, this year. He also refused to send out monthly letters, writing only smuggled ‘communications’ to his family and friends.

The only member of his family to see him at all during those four years in Long Kesh two or three times – was his brother, Fr. Brian McCreesh, who occasionally says Mass in the H-Blocks.


Like Francis Hughes, Raymond volunteered for the earlier hunger strike, and, when he was not chosen among the first seven, took part in the four-day hunger strike by thirty republicans until the hunger strike ended on December 18th, last year.

Speaking to his brother, Malachy, shortly after Bobby Sands death, Raymond said what a great loss had been felt by the other hunger strikers, but it had made them more determined than ever.

And still managing to keep his spirits up, when told of his brother, Fr. Brian, campaigning for him on rally platforms, Raymond joked: “He’ll probably get excommunicated for it.”

To Britain’s eternal shame, the sombre half-prediction made by Raymond to his friend Paddy Quinn – Ta seans ann go mbeid me abhaile rombat – became a grim reality. Bhi se. Raymond died at 2.11 a.m. on Thursday May 21st, 1981, after 61 days on hunger strike.



Posted by Jim on May 20, 2015

Brian Feeney. Irish News( Belfast). Wednesday, May 20, 2015.

The current Conservative government plans (never to be fulfilled) to repeal the Human Rights Act and replace it with a so-called British Bill of Rights Act have proved very useful. They have prodded the Republic’s government into action.

In a strong address to the Seanad last Thursday Charlie Flanagan said: “The protection of human rights in Northern Ireland law, predicated on the European Convention of Human Rights, is one of the key principles underpinning the Good Friday Agreement.” He went on: “The protection of human rights in Northern Ireland law, predicated on the ECHR, is one of the key principles underpinning the agreement.”

He also reminded the British government, for his address was aimed at them and its more clueless members such as our proconsul[ Secretary of State, Theresa Villiers]: “Protecting the human rights aspects of the Good Friday Agreement is not only a shared responsibility between the two governments in terms of the welfare of the people of Northern Ireland, but is also an obligation on them as parties to the international treaty, lodged with the UN, in which the agreement was enshrined.”

The threat to international human rights posed by Cameron’s ranting right has acted as a stimulus to an Irish government which over the past four years has been notable for its detachment from The North. Its inherent hostility to Sinn Féin as a rival for votes in the Republic has meant that instead of promoting the interests of northern nationalists ministers have sought to act as ‘honest brokers’. That’s an absurd position when faced with a government more biased towards unionists than any since Lady Hacksaw’s[ Maggie Thatcher] time.

Our proconsul’s ill-informed response that scrapping the Human Rights Act would not affect the Good Friday Agreement is just plain wrong. Furthermore her remarks show that she does not understand the powers of the UK Supreme Court vis á vis the European Court.

Then again she is such an unthinking Cameron loyalist (or maybe just a loyalist?) that she probably automatically blurts out a defence of any Conservative proposal.

The best dissection of the woolly and unthought-out plan comes from Cameron’s former attorney-general Dominic Grieve QC. In an interview on Sky Grieve pointed out that the Human Rights Act is “embedded” in devolution in the Scotland Act, in Wales and The North “and in the case of Northern Ireland it is part of an international treaty with the Irish Republic so it’s difficult to see how any change to replace it with a Bill of Rights could be done against the wishes of any of those parties”.

Removing certain rights would, Grieve points out, leave the UK incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights. Membership of the EU requires adherence to the ECHR.

Others have pointed out that there could be the ridiculous and untenable position where, since Westminster isn’t about to undo devolution, people in Scotland, Wales and the north would have different rights from people in England.

Then there’s the delusion that scrapping the Human Rights Act would make it easier to boot unsavoury people out of Britain. No, because their own country might not take them but also the International Convention against Torture prevents sending people to countries where they might be tortured or killed.

Which makes you wonder how people can be extradited to the United States, but that’s another issue. The US, which happily beats and tortures people, obviously has no human rights act as you would gather, but still can’t get rid of dozens of men in Guantanamo because no-one will take them. So how’s that easier?

In the end Cameron and his acolyte Gove will be unable to get their legislation passed even with the anti-human rights DUP supporting him unquestioningly. Conservative MPs like Grieve will tear the proposals to shreds. Others such as David Davis have already said they will oppose it. Lord Bingham, former Lord Chief Justice and human rights expert, and others like him, will ridicule Gove’s plans in the Lords beginning with demolishing the idea that the UK Supreme Court is not supreme and that the European court is a ‘foreign court’ when a British judge sits on every UK case. The first question for our clueless proconsul is, what human right do you want to get rid of first?

USS Commodore John Barry here for Fleet Week

Posted by Jim on

USS Barry (DDG 52) will be located at USS The Sullivans Pier, Staten Island

Few Americans are well-acquainted with the gallantry and heroic exploits of Philadelphia’s Irish-born naval commander, Commodore John Barry. Obscured by his contemporary, naval commander John Paul Jones, Barry remains to this day an unsung hero of the young American Republic. As most naval historians note, Barry can be classed on a par with Jones for nautical skill and daring, but he exceeds him in the length of service (17 years) to his adopted country and his fidelity to the nurturing of a permanent American Navy. Indeed, Barry deserves the proud epithet, “Father of the American Navy,” a title bestowed on him not by current generations of admirers, but by his contemporaries, who were in the best position to judge.


The fourth Barry, (DDG 52), was launched on 10 May 1991 by Ingalls Shipbuilding Inc. and was commissioned into the U.S. Atlantic Fleet on 12 December 1992, being placed under the command of Commander Gary Roughead. The Commissioning ceremony took place at Naval Station Pascagoula in Mississippi.

On 21 October 1993, Captain Gary Roughead, Barry’s first commanding officer was relieved by Commander James G. Stavridis.

In November 1993, Barry received orders to proceed to Haiti to take part in Operation Support Democracy. Barry’s duties included enforcing the embargo. On 20 May 1994, Barry departed Norfolk, Virginia on her first Mediterranean deployment. During Barry’s maiden deployment, she served alongside the USS George Washington as the backdrop for the 50th anniversary of D-Day. Barry also sailed the Mediterranean and Adriatic Seas as “Red Crown” in support of the No-Fly Zone over Bosnia-Herzegovina.

On 7 October 1994, Barry received orders to proceed to the Persian Gulf in response to Iraq’s massing of troops on the Kuwaiti border. In what would become known as Operation Vigilant Warrior, Barry’s participation included escort of both the George Washington and an amphibious assault group to anchorage off Kuwait City. Barry also served as alternate Persian Gulf Anti-Air Warfare Coordinator (AAWC), and principal Tomahawk strike platform during the crisis. Barry received a Meritorious Unit Commendation, the Southwest Asia Service Medal, the Armed Forces Service Medal, and the NATO Medal for her actions during the deployment and returned home to Norfolk, Virginia on 17 November 1994.

In October of 2004, Barry departed for the Persian Gulf in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom as part of the USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) Carrier Strike Group. This deployment was part of Summer Pulse 2004, the simultaneous deployment of seven aircraft carrier strike groups (CSGs) which demonstrated the ability of the Navy to provide credible combat power across the globe within five theaters and with other U.S., allied, and coalition military forces. Summer Pulse was the Navy’s first deployment under its new Fleet Response Plan (FRP). During this deployment, Barry also participated in Somalia Operations in the Horn of Africa (HOA). Barry returned from this deployment in March of 2005.

In May of 2006, Barry deployed to West Africa and the Mediterranean Sea as an independently steaming unit. She participated in a port visit in Nigeria, as well as Joint Task Force Lebanon. Barry returned from this cruise in November of 2006.

During April and May of 2008, Barry participated in Exercise Joint Warrior 08-01 in the North Atlantic. This was a multi-lateral NATO exercise involving ships from over eight countries. Barry departed for a Mediterranean Sea/Persian Gulf deployment as part of Standing NATO Maritime Group Two (SNMG2) in August of 2008.

Barry has received many awards, including the Battenberg Cup for the years 1994, 1996, and 1998, earning her the nickname “Battenberg Barry” in the late 1990s. She has also been awarded the Battle E award 4 times, and received the Golden Anchor and Silver Anchor Awards for retention. More recently, in 2004 the Barry received the Arleigh Burke Fleet Trophy for being the most improved ship in the Atlantic Fleet.


MARY NOLAN (718) 833-3405 – President of the Commodore John Barry Club of Brooklyn

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

Posted by Jim on May 19, 2015

Details will be provided as they come in.

Adams greets prince on first day of royal visit

Posted by Jim on

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams caused controversy today when he met
‘Prince of Wales’ Charles Windsor in a meet-and-greet opportunity during
the first day of his four-day royal tour through Ireland.

Mr Adams arrived at the National University of Ireland, Galway at about
midday and said he presumed he would shake Charles’ hand during his
visit to the college. He said he hoped the meeting would contribute to
reconciliation in the north of Ireland.

“I don’t have any expectations other than this being an engagement which
I hope is symbolic and practical, and will assist that entire process,”
he said.

After some behind-the-scenes choreography, Charles approached Adams and
while gripping a cup of tea, exchanged pleasantries before Adams
introduced him to local Sinn Fein representative Trevor O Clochartaigh.

In Derry and Belfast, relatives of some of those killed at the hands of
Charles’ Parachute Regiment in the Bloody Sunday and Ballymurphy
massacres led protests against the visit, and reiterated their demands
for truth and justice.

There were also calls for the British government to finally hand over
files relating to the Dublin and Monaghan bombings, which took place 41
years ago this week. Sinn Fein’s MP for west Belfast Paul Maskey joined
the Ballymurphy protest, even as his party leader was preparing to
welcome the royal visitors.

In a statement issued ahead of the meeting, Adams noted that the prince
had been bereaved by an IRA attack in which his cousin, (‘Earl’) Louis
Mountbatten, was killed in 1979. But he also said that Charles’s
regiment in the British Army had been directly responsible for the
murder of scores of Irish civilians.

“Prince Charles is Colonel-in-chief of the Parachute Regiment, a unit of
the British army responsible for killing many Irish citizens, including
in Derry, Ballymurphy, Springhill and other communities across the

“But he also has been bereaved by the actions of republicans. Thankfully
the conflict is over. But there remains unresolved injustices. These
must be rectified and a healing process developed.”

Tory party grandee, (‘Lord’) Norman Tebbit, accused Mr Adams of having a
“guilty conscience” for saying that British Army paratroopers were
responsible for a number of massacres.

Tebbit, the former Cabinet minister who was himself injured in an IRA
bomb attack in 1984, said Adams’s references were the sign of a “guilty
conscience”. “It is what I would have expected,” he said. “Those with
the most guilty conscience talk the most.”

Tomorrow, Lissadell House is part of the royal itinerary in Sligo, which
begins with a civic reception. Former Sinn Fein mayor of Sligo Sean
McManus, whose son Joseph was killed in a gun battle with British Crown
forces in the North in 1992, will attend the function.

Anti-monarchy campaigners who organised a roadside protest in Galway
condemned reports that Irish schoolchildren are being coached on how to
use royal protocol while speaking to Charles and his wife Camilla.

Meanwhile, republicans in Dublin are organising a vigil at 6pm this
evening at O’Connell Street in memory of all the victims of British
state violence.


Kate Nash, whose 19-year-old brother William was shot dead by British
Parachute Regiment soldiers during Bloody Sunday said she was furious at
Sinn Fein’s approach to the visit.

Thirteen people were shot dead by the British Army on Sunday, 30 January
1972 at a civil rights march in Derry. A 14th man died later from his

“I’m disgusted and furious at the very fact that Sinn Fein are going to
be entertaining Prince Charles here. What they are doing is utterly
disgraceful. It’s indefensible.

“If Prince Charles did anything like use his influence to get the
disgraced parachute regiment disbanded, then I would welcome the man
himself,” she said.

“Sinn Fein are in the business of cleaning up the dirty war that was
inflicted on the people here during the troubles.”

Ms Nash said she failed to see what healing could be gained from the
meeting, and that her brother “has still not got justice.”

“It’s almost five years since we had an apology from the British prime
minister concerning Bloody Sunday and to date not one soldier has been
questioned about those crimes.

“Surely if the man (Prince Charles) has some integrity, he should reject
that title and use his influence to have the parachute regiment

The British Government Planned Genocide of Irish—in 1972!

Posted by Jim on May 17, 2015


FOR CENTURIES THE BRITISH GOVERNMENT have tried to suppress and exterminate their neighbours the Irish. But that’s all ancient history, isn’t it? Unfortunately, no. A formerly secret document outlines a brazen plan by the British government to commit what can only be described, in international legal context, as genocide against the Protestant and Catholic populations of the British mini-statelet of Northern Ireland, created in 1921.


Admirers of Britain’s ruling class will have a tough time explaining away a shocking top-secret document from July 1, 1972 released in 2003 by Britain’s Public Records Office. The 21-page document, or appendix—of which there were only 10 copies produced—was a closely held “contingency plan” by the then-government of “Conservative” British Prime Minister Edward Heath (PM from June 19, 1970 to March 4, 1974).

The plan would have ordered the forcible removal of 200,000 to 300,000 Irish Catholics out of Northern Ireland and into the Republic of Ireland. Protestants would also be forced to migrate. A total of one-third of Northern Ireland’s population would be shuffled around.

The appendix states categorically that such a plan could not be accomplished peacefully and would require complete ruthlessness “in the use of force.”

The document, Redrawing the Border and Population

Transfer, was signed by Sir Burke Trend, Heath’s cabinet secretary (in office from 1963 to 1973). It was written jointly by representatives of the foreign secretary, the defence secretary and the British secretary for Northern Ireland, among others.

Evidently, the British rulers did not bother consulting with Ireland’s prime minister, Jack Lynch (served 1966-1977), about the drastic measure, nor with Catholic or Protestant leaders.

The officials advised Heath: “We have, as requested, considered the possibility of redrawing the border with the republic and effecting compulsory transfers of population within Northern Ireland or from Northern Ireland to the republic.”

Under the terms of this scheme, which the drafters said should be considered only in case of an “extremely grave emergency,” London’s ruling class intended to cede some territory on the border to the Irish Republic, from which land some 200,000 Protestants would then be moved into what remained of British Northern Ireland. At the same time, some 300,000 Catholics would be forced into the Republic of Ireland.

British officials noted that “military planning [was] well in hand” for the purpose of effecting the dual transfers, but recognized that there was the possibility of “outrage from the United States and other British allies” and that the scheme would be problematic in terms of implementation.

However, the fact remains that the so-called “democratic” government of Britain was actually considering such a plan. The only reason the plan was rejected was due to practical grounds, rather than any principled objection to the forced resettlement of half a million people.

Had the plan been carried out, both the Irish Catholics and the Irish Protestants could have charged the British government with genocide under the terms of the international Genocide Convention.
Genocide is defined in the convention as the commission of any of a number of enumerated acts “with the specific intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group.”

The acts specifically cited in implementing legislation for the convention include killing, inflicting serious bodily injury, or causing mental impairment through torture or drugs of members of the group.

Also cited is the subjection of the victimized group to conditions of life designed to bring about its demise, restricting births within the group or transferring, by force, children of the group to another group.

Certainly, the forced and forced transfer of the Irish people would therefore constitute the crime of genocide.

It is interesting to note that in 1999, the Tony Blair government of Britain faked “outrage” over allegations that the Yugoslavian government of Slobodan Milosevic had drawn up a plan to forcibly relocate Kosovo’s ethnic Albanian population.

No evidence of this claimed plan, designated “Operation Horseshoe,” was ever presented.

Yet the British ruling class asserted that the very possibility of the existence of such a plan justified NATO’s ensuing bombardment of Yugoslavia, which inevitably killed at least 500 civilians (some sources say 1,200 to 5,700).

There has been no call by the present British government for the 1972 British genociders to be held to account.

1. Incidentally, 1972 was the bloodiest year of Northern Ireland’s 25-year civil war. On “Bloody Sunday,” January 30, British troops shot 27 unarmed civil rights protesters in Derry, 14 of whom died.

MICHAEL COLLINS PIPER is a prolific author, journalist, media critic, talk show host and marketing professional residing in Washington, D.C. He has been active in the Revisionist movement for 28 years.

Source :


Posted by Jim on

Documents presented to a judicial review this week have confirmed that
the British government staged a fake ‘review’ three years ago before
announcing its predetermined decision to rule out a public inquiry into
the killing of Belfast defence lawyer Pat Finucane.

Government memos show that former British Direct Ruler Owen Patterson
“went through the motions” of examining options in an effort to avoid an
inquiry, counsel for the murdered lawyer’s widow told the High Court.

The memos also show that the focus was on managing any political
fall-out over the refusal to order an inquiry. Barry Macdonald QC said:
“I make no apology for saying the Secretary of State (was) engaging in
this sham process.”

Mr Finucane was gunned down in front of his wife Geraldine and their
three children by a British-led loyalist death squad at their north
Belfast home in February 1989. Mrs Finucane is challenging British Prime
Minister David Cameron’s decision in 2011 to rule out an inquiry into
the shooting.

Cameron commissioned Crown barrister Desmond de Silva to review all
documents relating to the case and produce a ‘narrative’. In December
2012 de Silva’s report confirmed British agents were involved in the
murder and that it should have been prevented. However, it concluded
there had been “no overarching state conspiracy” and said there was no
need for further inquiry.

The Finucane family furiously rejected the findings as a whitewash.


A four-day judicial review in Belfast this week heard that the killing
was part of a British state engagement in loyalist terrorism with
“murder by proxy”. The assassination featured a policy of infiltrating,
manipulating and resourcing loyalist paramilitaries to carry out
“extra-judicial executions”.

Mr Finucane “was identified by State agents, including particular police
officers and army officers as suitable for assassination, and he was
shot dead at the behest of state agents in front of his family in a
particularly brutal fashion,” Mr MacDonald told the court.

“The army and police and security services have all been implicated to
varying degrees in the events surrounding Mr Finucane’s death and the
operation of this policy that led to it.”

More recently, the British government unlawfully reneged on a commitment
to hold a public inquiry. Pledges to set up such a tribunal, based on
the recommendation of retired Canadian judge Peter Cory, were made by a
former Labour government in 2004 and reaffirmed in the following years.

Counsel for the British government argued in court that issues of cost
and speed had to be taken into account.

Responding, Mr Macdonald insisted that the then British Direct Ruler
Owen Patterson had made it clear he was against any more public
inquiries “full stop”. He said that “an elaborate process of
consultation” was carried out following legal advice.

“He had committed himself in opposition to having no more costly,
open-ended inquiries,” Mr Macdonald said. “They go through the motions.”
He said the internal correspondence of government officials showed that
they had “a clear result in mind”.

Internal documents between the British Prime Minister and civil servants
in November 2010 refer to the need to “think carefully” about “handling”
the fallout with their Liberal Democrat coalition partners, Sinn Fein,
the Dublin and US governments, who were all in favour of a public

“There is no mention of how to handle unionists and others who were
against having an inquiry,” he said. “It does tend to suggest they knew
what the decision was going to be. That there would not be an inquiry.”


Mr MacDonald referred to government papers that acknowledged the police
and British army engaged in an “active and significant obstruction” of
an investigation carried out by former London police deputy commissioner
John Stevens.

The barrister also revealed that as well as three investigations carried
out by Stevens, the British government conducted its own confidential
assessment of the collusion claims in 1999 – a never-published document
entitled the Langdon report. The existence of the report emerged only
during the legal discovery process ahead of the judicial review.

Mr MacDonald said all the various investigations detailed evidence that
warranted examination in a public inquiry, and that successive
commitments had created a “legitimate expectation” that an inquiry would
be held.

He said the change of administration in May 2010, with Mr Cameron’s
coalition government taking over from Labour, was soon followed by the
decision to reject a public inquiry and instead commission de Silva’s
sham review of the case documents.

He also quoted correspondence from one of David Cameron’s closest
advisors which described the murder as “far worse” than anything alleged
in Iraq or Afghanistan, and that no argument existed to defend not
holding a public inquiry. Those views, according to Mr Macdonald,
strengthened the case for ordering a full examination of the

“An inquiry is required in this case, and the decision not to have one
is indefensible both morally and legally,” he said.

Mr Finucane’s son John and daughter Katherine were in court for the
hearing, as was the murdered lawyer’s brother Seamus.

Speaking outside court, John Finucane said the judicial review had
provided an insight into the decision-making processes at Westminster
regarding his father’s case.

He said: “What this case this week has shown is that we have a
difficulty with a hidden narrative being provided to us and the public
at large.

“What we want to see, which is reflected by the support that we receive,
is a very public examination of what went on. We wish to challenge
narratives. We wish to cross-examine witnesses, challenge documents and
really find out for ourselves exactly what went on.”

1798: The Year of Liberty

Posted by Jim on

Posted by Joe Gannon on May 13, 2015

What have you got in your hand?
A green bough.
Where did it first grow?
In America.
Where did it bud?
In France.
Where are you going to plant it?
In the crown of Great Britain

— From the United Irish catechism
( The crest of the United Irishmen)

In May 1798, in Ireland, where the native population had been forced to live as slaves by the despots who ruled over them, a desperate people rose up. In several places across Ireland, with little coordination or chance of ultimate success, these Irishmen and women sacrificed their lives in a futile attempt to free their nation from bondage. Though they didn’t fulfill the dream of freeing their people, they did keep the light of Irish freedom burning, passing it to the next generation and they to the next. Looking back through the prism of 200 years, we continue to draw inspiration from their courage.

The Unfortunate Wolfe Tone, below right, in French uniform.

The United Irishmen, the revolutionary organization that led the ’98 Rising, took its inspiration from the American and French revolutions which preceded it. Virtually all of the founders and leaders of the United Irishmen were Protestants, including the famous Theobald Wolfe Tone. The Rising of ’98 is one of the most tragic events in the history of a country whose middle name might well be tragedy. In the space of just a few short months that summer about 30,000 people were killed.

Many of the dead were peasants who charged cannons armed with farm implements or crude pikes, and a significant number of them were women. The fact that so many would take the field so poorly armed, with so little hope of success, is another indication of just how far down the road to total despair England’s corrupt colonial rule had driven the impoverished masses of Ireland. The rebellion was put down with as much violence as the British Empire could muster. Many who tried to surrender were killed on the field and many more executed afterwards. When it was over the British government forced an Act of Union on the Irish people that would prove to be another sad and tragic legacy of England’s misrule of their neighbors.

In 1998 the Irish commemorated that vain attempt to push the stranger back across the Irish sea. On New Year’s Eve, in Enniscorthy, a ceremony was held opening the year of commemorations. Touches were carried to the top of Vinegar Hill, just outside Enniscorthy, to commemorate the final battle of the rising in Co. Wexford.

From late January throughout the rest of the year the National Library in Dublin offered an interactive and animated exhibit telling the story of the Rising. The Down County Museum in Downpatrick had an exhibit on 1798 in Co. Down from April through December. The Ulster Museum in Belfast presents “Up in Arms: The 1798 Rebellion in Ireland” from April through December. On April 13, in Boolavogue they celebrated the official opening of the Fr. John Murphy Centre. Fr. Murphy was one of the leaders of the rising in Co. Wexford.

A Chronology of 1798

Feb. 26: Abercromby, Commander-in-Chief in Ireland, condemns the state of the Army. Mar. 12: Police raid meeting of Leinster directory of United Irishmen at Oliver Bond’s house at Dublin, arresting 12 leaders; four others arrested elsewhere; all but two members of supreme executive thus arrested.

Mar. 30: Privy Council proclamation declaring Ireland in state of rebellion and imposing martial law.

April 19-21: Earl of Clare’s visitation of Trinity College and purge of United Irishmen; 19 expelled.

April 25: Lake succeeds Abercromby as commander-in-chief in Ireland.

May 17-18: Meetings of new national directory of United Irishmen.

May 19: Lord Edward Fitzgerald arrested. (Dies from wound, 4 June.)

The arrest and mortal wounding of Lord Edward Fitzgerald, right. From a cartoon by George Cruikshank. 

May 21-2: Trial at Maidstone, Kent of Arthur O’Connor and Rev James Quigley, United Irishmen; former acquitted of treason but re-arrested, latter convicted and sentenced to death. (Hanged, 7 June.)

May 23-24: Rebellion begins in Leinster, and spreads to Wexford.

May 24: Archibald Hamilton Jacob conducts the Enniscorthy Yeomen Cavalry to the village of Ballaghkeen where they flog a man to death. Thirty-five suspected United Irish prisoners shot in Dunlavin.

May 25: Twenty-four United Irish prisoners shot in the ball alley at Carnew. Four hundred and sixty United Irishmen killed in the unsuccessful attack on Carlow town.

May 26: Insurgents defeated at Tara, Co Meath.

May 26 – Battle of the Harrow.May 27: Battle of Oulart Hill, Co Wexford; detachment of North Cork militia and local yeomanry almost annihilated.

May 29: 350 insurgents killed at Curragh, Co Kildare, by troops under Sir James Duff.

May 30: Battle of the Three Rocks, Wexford town captured by rebels.

May 31: Establishment of civilian government in Wexford Town led by four Catholics and four Protestants.

June 1 – Battle of Bunclody.

June 4: Lord Edward Fitzgerald dies of wounds sustained during his capture.

June 4: Battle of Tubberneering.

June 5: June 5: Insurgents routed at New Ross, Co Wexford, after heavy fighting; massacre of over 100 Protestants by insurgents at nearby Scullabogue. .

June 6: Rebellion breaks out in Ulster: Henry Joy McCracken issues proclamation calling United Irishmen in Ulster to arms.

June 7: United Irishmen, led by McCracken, attack Antrim Town and are repulsed with heavy loss. (McCracken executed in Belfast, 17 July)

Capture and destruction of Carnew, County Wicklow.

June 9: Wexford insurgents, advancing towards Dublin, repulsed at Arklow.

June 13: United Irishmen led by Henry Monro defeated at Ballynahinch, Co Down. (Monro executed at Lisburn, 15 June.)

June 16: Engagement of the Wexford and South Wicklow United Irishmen at Mountpleasant, near Tinahely, County Wicklow.

June 18: Engagement at Kllcavan Hill, near Carnew, County Wicklow.

June 20: Battle of Foulksmills; decisive battle in which the New Ross United Irish division challenged the crown forces under General Sir John Moore.

Marquis Cornwallis sworn in as Lord Lieutenant

June 21: Wexford insurgents defeated at Vinegar Hill, near Enniscorthy.

The charge of the 5th Dragoon Guards at Vinegar Hill, right. By Sadler, National Library of Ireland.

June 22: The famed 45-mile route march out of Wexford under Father John Murphy and Miles Byrne to Kiltealy, the Scullogue Gap and the engagement of Killedmond in County Carlow.

June 23: Engagement at Goresbridge, County Kilkenny.

June 26: Bagenal Harvey, a member of the United Irishmen, hung from Wexford bridge.

July 2: Execution of Father John Murphy and his bodyguard, James Gallagher, at Tullow, County Carlow.

Engagement at Ballygullen, Craanford, west of Gorey.

July 14: John and Henry Sheares executed.

July 17: United Irishman leader Henry Joy McCracken hanged at Belfast market-house.

July 19: French Directory authorizes the sending of three expeditions to Ireland and gives command of the first one to Gen. Humbert.

August 4: Thomas Addis Emmet, Arthur O’Connor, and William James MacNeven deliver to government their ‘Memoir or detailed statement of the origin and progress of the Irish Union’ (on United Irish movement).

Aug. 6: Gen. Humbert’s force of 1100 men sets sail from Rochefort in three frigates.

August 7-14: Examination of MacNeven, O’Connor, Neilson, TA Emmet and Bond by secret committee of House of Lords.

Aug. 22: General Humbert lands at Cill Chuimín, Co. Mayo and captures Killala. Irish rebels rally to them.

Aug. 23-24: Humbert’s Franco-Irish army captures Ballina.

Aug. 25: Cornwallis takes command of British forces in the field and sends urgent request to England for reinforcements.

Aug. 26-27: Humbert takes 1500 man force on a forced march through the mountains to the west of Loch Con and descends on Castlebar.

Aug. 27: Humbert and his Irish rebels defeat government forces at the “Races of Castlebar,” a huge amount of supplies and guns captured. Humbert sends an urgent request for reinforcements to France.

Aug. 28-31: Humbert takes Westport, Ballinrobe, Hollymount, and other towns and proclaims a Republic of Connacht. Cornwallis holds back, assembling a massive army to crush Humbert.

Sept. 3-4: With the British closing in, Humbert evacuates Castlebar towards Sligo. His army is now nearly 3000 strong,

Sept. 5: English force under Col Vereker attacks Humbert at Collooney but Humbert outmanoervers him. Cornawallis has split his army and is closing in on Humbert. Humbert hopes to elude them and move toward Dublin.

Sept. 6: Humbert reaches Drumkeerin, Cornwallis sends a message offering terms, they are rejected.

Sept. 7: Humbert’s army is nearly exhausted, as they reach Cloone in southern Leitrim. Cornwallis is only 5 miles away with 15,000 troops.

Sept. 8: Cornwallis blocks the road in front of Humbert, Lake’s army attacks from the rear at Ballinamuck, Co. Longford. The French surrender after a half-hour fight. The Irish are given no quarter by the British, 500 are slaughtered, many more are hung later. About 1000 escape into countryside.

September 16: Small French force under James Napper Tandy makes brief landing on Rutland Island, Co Donegal. 

Sept. 21-23: British Gen. Trench attacks the French and Irish left behind by Humbert to hold Killela. About 300 Irish rebels are killed, some while trying to surrender.

October 6: Grattan removed from Irish Privy Council on groundless charge of being a sworn member of United Irishmen.

October 12-20: French invasion squadron under Admiral JBF Bompart engaged outside Lough Swilly by British squadron under Sir John Borlase Warren; seven of ten French ships captured.

Nov. 3 : Theobald Wolfe Tone is arrested at Lough Swilley, Co. Donegal, aboard a captured French vessel.

November 10: Tone tried and convicted by court martial in Dublin; sentenced to be hanged. 

November 19: Tone dies from self-inflicted wound in provost-marshal’s prison, Dublin barracks.

The Memory of the Dead
— By John Kells Ingram
Who fears to speak of Ninety-Eight?
Who blushes at the name?
When cowards mock the patriots’ fate,
Who hangs his head in shame?
He’s all the knave, or half a slave,
Who slights his country thus;
But a true man, like you, man,
Will fill your glass with us.

We drink the memory of the brave,
The faithful and the few —
Some lie far off beyond the wave,
Some sleep in Ireland, too;
All — all are gone — but still lives on
The fame of those who died;
All true men, like you, men,
Remember them with pride.

Some on the shores of distant lands,
Their weary hearts have laid,
And by the stranger’s heedless hands
Their lonely graves were made;
But though their clay be far away
Beyond the Atlantic foam,
In true men, like you men,
Their spirit’s still at home.

The dust of some is Irish earth;
Among their own the rest;
And the same land that gave them birth
And we will pray that from their clay
Full many a race may start
Of true men, like you, men,
To act as brave a part.

They rose in dark and evil days
To right their native land;
They kindled here a living blaze
That nothing shall withstand.
Alas! that Might can vanquish Right
— They fell and passed away;
But true men, like you, men,
Are plenty here today.

Then here’s to their memory — may it be
For us a guiding light,
To cheer our strife for liberty,
And teach us to unite.
Though good and ill, be Ireland’s still,
Though sad as theirs, your fate
And true men be you, men,
Like those of Ninety-Eight.

Irish Predominate Among ‘New York Catholics’: A Review

Posted by Jim on

by Fr. John R. Sheehan, SJ on May 14, 2015 at 12:00pm

“NEW YORK CATHOLICS: Faith, Attitude & The Works!”
Patrick McNamara
Orbis Books, October 2014
211 Pages

When I first saw the title, I was apprehensive — I was expecting either a dry history or a dry listing of “inspirational” figures. My reservations were unfounded, “New York Catholics” is a WONDERFUL book! Probably more so if you are from or are in or like New York, but even if you live in Iowa, it will give you a sense of history and conflict and put a personal face on times and events that you may have studied in school. I was intrigued with the introduction and, by Page 6, I was truly excited.

In the Introduction, author Patrick McNamara poses the question “What does it mean to be a Catholic New Yorker?” He splits his book into two parts — Historical Voices and Contemporary Voices, and the choice of some of the people in the first section startled me, because I did not think of them as “historical.”

Later on I realized that the “Contemporary Voices” are drawn from those still alive, so “historical” includes Mychal Judge, Cardinal O’Connor and Dorothy Day. The book is not overtly about Irish Catholics, but the number of Irish-born and Irish descendants is pervasive, starting with Sir Thomas Dongan, appointed governor of New York by King Charles II’s brother James in 1682, up to and including contemporary figures like Mary Higgins Clark, Regis Philbin, and Jimmy Fallon. The influence of the Irish immigrants was a key part of the growth of the Church, before the famines and even more as the numbers of immigrants expanded.

The book is 208 pages, including notes and references. McNamara treats 77 people. He lists 76, but he counts Frank Sheed and Maisie Ward (the famous Catholic husband and wife publishers) as one. Do the math, and you realize that none of the entries can be more than a couple of pages, so that with his gentle style of writing, McNamara has made this an easy and a fun book to read.

McNamara begins “New York Catholics” with the first Catholic Mass in the United States, celebrated by a Jesuit in 1683. (Those who wish to argue with that date and event need to be certain they’re talking about the mainland United States and that the Mass is documented, not assumed.) By the way, that’s part of what makes this book so welcome — it invites you to explore further and learn more about the history the author drops in your way in each section.

Obviously I can’t run through the content, because there is simply too much information. While it would be a great foundational book for a class, it is most assuredly NOT a textbook nor a Wikipedia entry. There is something to be learned in each section, whether dealing with a well-known person or not, something of importance, not simply a tasty bit of trivia to be thrown out at a cocktail party. Simultaneously stimulating and entertaining, it is a picture of the width and depth of the lived Catholic faith over the centuries, and the richness that the Catholic Church has brought to this country and in particular, to this city.

Despite progress, many prejudices remain in place

Each mini-biography starts with a quote, either from or about the person. There are many pictures, although not each subject has a photograph, which is a little disappointing, especially with some of the contemporary figures.

I was startled by how many of the contemporary subjects I knew, although one (Monsignor Gerald Ryan from the Bronx) died shortly before the book went to press, but remained as a contemporary voice. There are omissions, like Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, for instance, the 10th and current Archbishop of the Archdiocese of New York but without writing an encyclopedia, some have to be left out.

Throughout, McNamara has managed to balance the “religious” (cardinal and bishops, priests and nuns and those formally declared “Blessed” or “Saint”) with lay Catholics, and he has included a good sample of the different voices in the Church – Irish, German, Latin American, Black, the poor, women, social activists, media personalities, educators and missionaries to and from New York. I found, to my mild surprise, the section on contemporary voices was less compelling for me than the earlier writing on historical figures. I’m not sure if the author felt constrained by interviewing and writing about people still alive, but the stories of those living seemed more formal and less vivid

It is an easy book to read, but I would encourage readers to not slip through it too quickly. It deserves reflection, because it raises questions and provides examples that, no matter in what part of the book they appear, remain important issues today.

Issues of prejudice against Catholics, prevalent in the 1600s when Dongan was governor of New York, continued, notably with the conflicts faced by Draft Riots-era Archbishop “Dagger” John Hughes. In fact, discrimination against people of color, first confronted by Pierre Toussaint, are still one of the concerns faced by Fr. Greg Chisholm today at St. Charles Borromeo Church, and Brother Tyrone Davis in the Office of Black ministry.

Sr. Elizabeth Ann Seton worked to share the faith and teach children, the same goal Rosanjela Batista wrestles with at Cristo Rey High School. How a Catholic responds to prejudice, to poverty, to the call to speak publicly about the faith in the world of politics, business, social change – these are challenges that have been with us for centuries, and this book provides a look at how one group in one place has answered that call over almost 400 years.

I wish the author had himself answered the question he posed at the beginning of his book (“What does it mean to be a Catholic New Yorker?”). While his answer might be inferred from whom he included, and what he wrote about each, I would like to have been able to stand my reflections against his.

In its totality, “New York Catholics” is a rich and inspiring book and will provide both light and interesting reading, and a deep source for quiet reflection.

Fr. John R. Sheehan,  SJ is himself a New York Catholic, born in Manhattan and baptized at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. He worked in New York as a young actor and singer, and entered the New York Province of the Society of Jesus (now the Upper Northeast Province, after a merger with the New England Province). He worked 12 years in Nigeria, almost three years as chaplain on a military base in the South Pacific, and is the Chairman/CEO of the Xavier Society for the Blind in New York City. He is also chaplain for the Notre Dame Club of NY, Division 7 of the AOH (Manhattan) and National Chaplain for the Catholic War Veterans.

The 5th New York’s Daniel J. Meagher

Posted by Jim on

Tipperary native among the earliest heroes of the FDNY

Daniel J. Meagher was born in Roscrea, County Tipperary, on November 22, 1843, two winters before the onset of the Great Famine, and he came to the United States sometime prior to the outbreak of Civil War. He enlisted May 20, 1861, giving his age as 18 (though he was 17) and was mustered in as a private in Company H, 5th New York Volunteer Infantry (Duryée’s Zouaves).

Left: Our Firemen, by Augustine E. Costello, 1887
Daniel J. Meagher

Meagher’s enlistment papers describe him as 5 feet 6 and one half inches tall, with blue eyes, light hair, and light complexion. The papers list his occupations as plumber’s apprentice and soda water manufacturer; presumably he worked two jobs. He served through the entire two year term of service of the 5th New York, and was mustered out with his company on May 14, 1863. (His brother, James F. Meagher (1841-1915) served in Company K, 69th New York. )

Daniel Meagher married Mary A. McKeon on May 29, 1869. They had four children, several of whom died in infancy.

Meagher’s post-war service in the Fire Department of New York was a distinguished one, and by the 1870s he was Foreman of Ladder Company 3. He was a member of the New York-based Fifth New York Veterans Association.

The firefighter lived in New York City until August, 1902, when he moved to Albany, residing at 32 Chestnut Avenue there. He died in Albany on February 22, 1919, and his remains were interred at Calvary Cemetery, Woodside, Queens.

Augustine E. Costello, in his 1887 history of the New York Fire Department, described Meagher’s heroism in saving the life of a woman trapped in a burning building. The former soldier won the James Gordon Bennett Medal for Valor for the deed, described in Costello’s book, excerpted below:

Daniel J. Meagher, foreman, Hook and Ladder Company No. 3, on the second of May, 1878, at No. 28 East Fourteenth Street, acted promptly on seeing Mrs. Sarah Freeman hanging out of a fourth-story window. A ladder raised was found to be too short, although held by hooks and stood on the stoop. Ordering the ladder to be raised quite erect, and away from the building, Meagher went up, stood on the top rung, told her to be calm and hold her limbs rigid, and then to drop. As she fell he caught her, and passed her safely to John P. Flood, fireman of his company, who despite a sprained foot, aided in the rescue.


— Brian C. Pohanka
(This was first published in 2001

Why Ireland owes Irish America a huge amount

Posted by Jim on


Ireland owes the US on issues such as peace and investment. We should never forget.

by Alan Ó Maonaigh, Irish Central

Having spent some time as a student in the US, I was struck by the genuine warmth and sincerity of Americans. It certainly gave me a new insight into Americans, and into Irish Americans, far removed from the clichéd view that we often have here in Ireland of our friends across the Atlantic.

What also struck me was just how little we actually know of real-life America, and equally how little we know of Irish America.

Much of that can of course be explained by over-consumption of US TV, which is probably as representative of ordinary America as “Love/Hate” or “Fr. Ted” would be of Irish life. Save for St. Patrick’s Day, many of us here in Ireland rarely give Irish America a second thought, and if the truth be known many have a slightly unfair view of Irish America.

I have been as guilty as the next in not regarding the Irish American community as truly Irish, and maybe even smirked at those who proudly claimed to be “Irish” yet were born in America.

To many of us in Ireland, to be Irish is to be born there. It is a geographical definition, and indeed some in Ireland view others to be more or less Irish based on their place of birth. But is that really unusual, I mean, what Irish American is not a proud American first? Should the collective term more accurately not be American Irish?


As I mentioned above I spent some summers in the States as a student, the majority of the time in Chicago – a city I felt as much (if not more!) at home in as my adopted home of Dublin. After spending some time in Chicago, it is hard not to get a feel for what modern Irish America is in relation to America.

To me Irish America is law and order, it is the emergency services, it is construction, it is politics, it is trade and finance and it is work ethic. Irish America, as observed in Chicago in the mid-noughties, is America. It seemed to represent perfectly the American Dream.

The peace that has held on our island for nigh on two decades is a direct result of the influence of, and the power exerted by, Irish America. Were it not for the fact that Irish America had sufficient political power and sway to convince the US administration to lean on both the Unionist and British camps in Northern Ireland, we would still be in a situation where equality of franchise was not guaranteed, and I have no doubt that violence would still prevail to this day. We would still be waiting for an honest peace broker in Europe.

The fact is, that politically, Europe holds Ireland in little regard, and had made little effort to end the Troubles, even though Ireland was a member of the EU/EEC for decades. We are as European as any other nation, but those in the political seats of power in Europe see us, the British and the Scandinavians as a nuisance in some ways.

It was Irish America who helped deliver peace.

The prosperity of modern Ireland would not be possible without the generosity and largely underappreciated dedication of Irish America to Ireland. The US is now Ireland’s largest export market, much of this export being attributed to the large number of American blue-chip multinational firms located here.

What often is forgotten by the commentariat in Ireland is the role of Irish Americans in enabling these firms to locate here – many preferring to think that our island is a utopic destination for FDI and that the investment thus naturally flowed towards our shores.

As an employee of a multinational myself, I see first-hand how the role of the US multinationals in Ireland has revolutionized Irish business culture and ethos on the whole. The US, aided by Irish America is a true friend of Ireland, and when the financial crisis was at its nadir, it was the continued US investment here that allowed us pay our way, and recover.

To many proud Irish Americans it seems being Irish is seen as an ethnicity, stretching through the generations, more akin to a Jewish outlook on heritage, and not bound by a specific border.

In Ireland, conversely, we sometimes get caught up a little too much in our immediate locality, and fail to see that the Irish diaspora is a huge network of underutilized potential.

Both sides perhaps should know more about the other side, as we linked ethnically, culturally and economically. I have come to the belief that to be Irish and to be born in Ireland are two sides of the same coin – we might be facing different ways, but we are intrinsically bound together, whether we like it or not.

Queens County Board Election Results:

Posted by Jim on May 15, 2015

President – John Manning

VP – Walter Cooper

Rec. Sect. – Edmund Seewald

Fin. Sect. – Matthew Glynn

Treasurer – William Parnell

Standing Committee – Michael Foley

Marshall – Dave Carey

Sentinel – Kieran Mahoney

The real history of how the English invaded Ireland

Posted by Jim on May 14, 2015

Garvan Grant


An excerpt from Garvan Grant’s “True(ish) History of Ireland.” Photo by: Mercier Press

You may think you know the story of how the English invaded Ireland, but this excerpt from Garvan Grant’s “True(ish) History of Ireland” sheds light on some of the subtler nuances of this dark chapter in Irish history.

An English Solution to an Irish Problem

And so began eight centuries of fun, games and oppression. From the twelfth century on, the English did everything in their power to make the Irish more ‘English’, including teaching them tiddlywinks, making them eat Yorkshire pudding and, when all else failed, taking their lives. The Irish are a famously stubborn lot, however, and very little worked. Often, the Irish would just turn around to their conquerors and say: ‘Yip, that’s grand, we’re all English now, so you fellas can head off home and we’ll look after things here for you.’

The English usually replied: ‘How jolly decent of you! Back home, they told us you were savages, but you chaps are actually quite good sports!’

And the Irish would reply: ‘Not a bother, me lord sir! See youse later.’

Then, as soon as the English were gone, they would just carry on being all Irish, having fun and staying up late telling stories about how they managed to dupe the English.


However, the English soon realized that their policy of absenteeism was becoming a joke. They knew that the best way to defeat the cunning Irish was to suppress the entire country, which would have cost a fortune … or they could just build a big wall around the greater Dublin area and put signs on it saying, ‘Beyond this wall is Britain. No Irish, no savages, no dogs!’ They decided on the less painful latter option and called the walled area The Pale. These days The Pale is protected by the fast and dangerous M50 ring road instead of a big wall, though most people who live outside it have little or no desire to enter.

More Irish than the Irish Themselves

Ironically, the Norman and English policy of trying to make the Irish less Irish backfired, and by the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries a lot of the former oppressors had become more Irish than the Irish themselves. First among these were the Fitzgeralds, the Earls of Kildare, who looked Irish, ate chips a lot and wore Celtic football shirts. They were descended from a man called Norman Fitzgerald, who, as his name suggests, was more Norman than most Normans. He had been a big pal of Strongbow’s back in the day, but his descendants were now plotting a way to be independent from the English crown.

That particular crown was being worn by Henry VIII at the time and the Fitzgeralds decided it would be best to butter him up and pretend they were ruling Ireland in his name. The other option would have been a massive war, which would have definitely got in the way of traditional leisure pursuits such as coursing, cursing and just hanging out. This arrangement also suited Henry VIII, as he had a lot of domestic issues to deal with. Well, six to be exact.

Horrid Henry Divorces the Church

Henry’s home life also rather famously caused a row with the Church, which wasn’t keen on people divorcing their wives, let alone beheading them. This meant that a split with Rome was inevitable. Naturally, Henry decided to become head of his very own Church and dissolved all the monasteries in England and Ireland. This led Garrett Óg Fitzgerald to quip: ‘As long as “Pope Henry the Wife-Murderer” doesn’t dissolve the pubs, we shouldn’t have a problem.’

Unfortunately, someone told Henry about this particular gag, which led him to crush the Fitzgeralds and force his rule on all Irish clans. He did this using the ‘Surrender and Regrant’ policy, which meant that if you surrendered to him, he wouldn’t kill you and you could keep your land, which was doubly nice of him. The Irish chieftains agreed, but only because it didn’t really affect them either way.

The Virgin Queen: A Mostly Lovely Girl

When Elizabeth I ascended to the English throne in 1558, she took a more lenient attitude towards Ireland, because ‘the trendy young queen is desperate to find a husband, get married and settle down’. (Note: this rather sexist comment appeared in an editorial in the December 1558 edition of Hello! magazine and is not a historical fact.) She even let the people of Ireland carry on being Catholic, speak their own language and live, which was dead nice of her.

In return, all she wanted from the various chieftains who had divided the country up between them was ‘unconditional loyalty’, the swearing of an odd oath and bucket-loads of cash. This suited everyone – until some of the Irish fellas got greedy and started scrapping with their neighbors over bits of land. This led to Elizabeth showing her not so lovely side and coming down quite hard on the Irish.

Eventually, in 1607, four years after Elizabeth’s death, a bunch of Irish earls decided enough was enough. They were going to go to Europe and bring back a fierce army that would defeat the English and end the conquest of Ireland forever and ever. Unfortunately, as the weather and the food were so lovely on the continent, they stayed there and never came back. This was known as The Cowardly Flight of the Earls, though the earls later shortened it to the much more catchy ‘Flight of the Earls’.

If You Can’t Beat Them, Make Them Join You

Tired of fighting, the English then decided the best way to ‘civilize’ the Irish was to send some nice English, Scottish and Welsh people to live on their lands, so the Irish could see just how brilliant being British was. These ‘Plantations’ might have worked too, except that a lot of the planters weren’t very brilliant – or very nice. They hadn’t signed up for it because they loved the Irish and wanted to make them better people; they came because they were given free land with free peasants (or ‘slaves’) to work on it. It was lovely in theory, but probably not a recipe for success on the ground.

Please Tell Me That’s Not Cromwell

Until the seventeenth century war in Ireland had been mainly about unimportant things such as land, money and power, but after the Reformation and Counter-Reformation, it became more about good, old-fashioned religion. How God felt about this change was anyone’s guess.

In 1649, when the latest war in England ended and Charles I lost his head and couldn’t find it anywhere, the English sent over a lovely chap by the name of Oliver Cromwell. He was only in Ireland for nine months, but managed to get in more violence than many other English people had done in decades.

His theory of how to win a war – and it has yet to be proved wrong – was to kill everybody. He and his army – they were originally going to call it the New ‘Slaughter Everybody’ Army but eventually decided on the much catchier New Model Army – basically attacked anyone they met who wasn’t one of their soldiers.

Many English people look on Cromwell as a great hero and a military genius; Irish people, on the other hand, lean more towards the genocidal nutcase description. However he was viewed, he certainly made his mark on Ireland. The Act of Settlement of 1652 basically meant that if you were Irish, Catholic or just in the way, you could be slaughtered and have your land confiscated. The only other option was … actually, in typical Cromwellian fashion, there wasn’t any other option.

Oliver’s Army

The Irish are a generous people and are never keen to criticize anybody, even if that person’s sole aim is to wipe them off the face of the planet. They were even quite nice about Oliver Cromwell. The following is a selection of quotes from various members of the Sweeney clan who knew and loved the real Oliver Cromwell:

• Ah, sure, he wasn’t the worst by any means. Yes, he slaughtered all of us, including me, my wife and the kids, but who wouldn’t have done the same in his situation? Just doing his job.

• Religious type, as far as I remember. Big into all the God stuff. And golf. Yeah, God, golf and killing Irish people: those were his things!

• Complete loony!

• Good-looking chap and could really hold a tune. Also a sharp dresser. But apart from that, a bit of a bastard.

• Complete bitch and I really doubt he was a virgin! Or is that Queen Elizabeth I’m thinking of? Now she was a piece of work, not that I ever met her. Cute nose, though! Or was that Cleopatra?

• Total psycho.

• A gentleman through and through. You really couldn’t have met a nicer chap. And a professional, a consummate professional. If you wanted Irish Catholics taken care of, he was your only man.

Tory assault on Good Friday Agreement

Posted by Jim on May 13, 2015

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD today warned that the British Conservative government’s plans to repeal the Human Rights Act is a direct attack on the Good Friday Agreement and the international Treaty that gives effect to it in law.

Speaking in the Dáil today, the Sinn Féin leader called on the Taoiseach Enda Kenna, as co-guarantor of the Agreement along with the British government, to urgently raise this matter with the British Prime Minister David Cameron.

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams said:

“Following their election victory last week, the Conservatives have said that they plan a fundamental change to human rights legislation, including repealing the current Human Rights Act and replacing it with a new Act.

“Part of their focus is to end what they describe as the ‘excessive influence of the European Convention on Human Rights’.

“Under the Tory’s plan, the ECHR would no longer be able to make binding decisions over the British Supreme Court or force the government to introduce laws to bring them into line with Europe.”

Teachta Adams warned that:

“The implications of the Tory plans to repeal the Human Rights Act and reject the current oversight role of the European Convention on Human Rights are enormous for the administration of government, for justice, policing, and equality in the north.

“It is also a direct and scandalous attack on the Good Friday Agreement and the international treaty signed by the British and Irish governments which gives legal affect to the Agreement.

“This would be a grievous breach of the Good Friday Agreement.

“Under the terms of the treaty between Ireland and the Britain, which incorporates the Good Friday Agreement into law, and is lodged with the United Nations, the British government is obliged to complete the incorporation into law in the north of the European Convention on Human Rights.

“The Agreement also commits to safeguards to ensure that the Assembly and public authorities in the north cannot infringe the European Convention on Human Rights.

“These safeguards also apply to policing.

“The Tory government proposal is a clear and significant breach of the Good Friday Agreement and of the International Treaty that underpins it. There is an onus on the Irish government as a co-guarantor of the Agreement to raise this matter as a matter of urgency with the British government.”

Fleet Week New York May 20 – 26, 2015 led by USS Barry (DDG 52)

Posted by Jim on

USS Barry (DDG 52) will be located at USS The Sullivans Pier, Staten Island

Few Americans are well-acquainted with the gallantry and heroic exploits of Philadelphia’s Irish-born naval commander, Commodore John Barry. Obscured by his contemporary, naval commander John Paul Jones, Barry remains to this day an unsung hero of the young American Republic. As most naval historians note, Barry can be classed on a par with Jones for nautical skill and daring, but he exceeds him in the length of service (17 years) to his adopted country and his fidelity to the nurturing of a permanent American Navy. Indeed, Barry deserves the proud epithet, “Father of the American Navy,” a title bestowed on him not by current generations of admirers, but by his contemporaries, who were in the best position to judge.


The fourth Barry, (DDG 52), was launched on 10 May 1991 by Ingalls Shipbuilding Inc. and was commissioned into the U.S. Atlantic Fleet on 12 December 1992, being placed under the command of Commander Gary Roughead. The Commissioning ceremony took place at Naval Station Pascagoula in Mississippi.

On 21 October 1993, Captain Gary Roughead, Barry’s first commanding officer was relieved by Commander James G. Stavridis.

In November 1993, Barry received orders to proceed to Haiti to take part in Operation Support Democracy. Barry’s duties included enforcing the embargo. On 20 May 1994, Barry departed Norfolk, Virginia on her first Mediterranean deployment. During Barry’s maiden deployment, she served alongside the USS George Washington as the backdrop for the 50th anniversary of D-Day. Barry also sailed the Mediterranean and Adriatic Seas as “Red Crown” in support of the No-Fly Zone over Bosnia-Herzegovina.

On 7 October 1994, Barry received orders to proceed to the Persian Gulf in response to Iraq’s massing of troops on the Kuwaiti border. In what would become known as Operation Vigilant Warrior, Barry’s participation included escort of both the George Washington and an amphibious assault group to anchorage off Kuwait City. Barry also served as alternate Persian Gulf Anti-Air Warfare Coordinator (AAWC), and principal Tomahawk strike platform during the crisis. Barry received a Meritorious Unit Commendation, the Southwest Asia Service Medal, the Armed Forces Service Medal, and the NATO Medal for her actions during the deployment and returned home to Norfolk, Virginia on 17 November 1994.

In October of 2004, Barry departed for the Persian Gulf in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom as part of the USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) Carrier Strike Group. This deployment was part of Summer Pulse 2004, the simultaneous deployment of seven aircraft carrier strike groups (CSGs) which demonstrated the ability of the Navy to provide credible combat power across the globe within five theaters and with other U.S., allied, and coalition military forces. Summer Pulse was the Navy’s first deployment under its new Fleet Response Plan (FRP). During this deployment, Barry also participated in Somalia Operations in the Horn of Africa (HOA). Barry returned from this deployment in March of 2005.

In May of 2006, Barry deployed to West Africa and the Mediterranean Sea as an independently steaming unit. She participated in a port visit in Nigeria, as well as Joint Task Force Lebanon. Barry returned from this cruise in November of 2006.

During April and May of 2008, Barry participated in Exercise Joint Warrior 08-01 in the North Atlantic. This was a multi-lateral NATO exercise involving ships from over eight countries. Barry departed for a Mediterranean Sea/Persian Gulf deployment as part of Standing NATO Maritime Group Two (SNMG2) in August of 2008.

Barry has received many awards, including the Battenberg Cup for the years 1994, 1996, and 1998, earning her the nickname “Battenberg Barry” in the late 1990s. She has also been awarded the Battle E award 4 times, and received the Golden Anchor and Silver Anchor Awards for retention. More recently, in 2004 the Barry received the Arleigh Burke Fleet Trophy for being the most improved ship in the Atlantic Fleet.


MARY NOLAN (718) 833-3405 – President of the Commodore John Barry Club of Brooklyn




Monday, May 18, 2015

Event: Military Band Concert

Time: 9 – 10 a.m.

Location: Cohen’s Children’s Medical Center | New Hyde Park, New York

  • Navy Band Northeast scheduled to perform. Event is free and open to hospital patients and staff only.

Event: Military Band Concert

Time: 4 – 5 p.m.

Location: Brooklyn Central Library | Brooklyn, New York

  • Navy Band Northeast scheduled to perform at the Brooklyn Central Library, located at 10 Grand Army Plaza. Musical entertainment will include patriotic, classical, contemporary, big band swing, country, and the latest top-40 hits. Event is free and open to the public.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Event: Navy Band Concert

Time: 12:30 – 1:30 p.m.

Location: Bryant Park | Manhattan, New York

  • Navy Band Northeast “Pops Ensemble” will perform. Comprised of 35 talented professional Navy musicians from across the country, the band performs a wide variety of musical styles, specializing in traditional concert band literature, popular standards, jazz and patriaotuc favorites. Event is free and open to the public.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Event: Parade of Ships

Time: 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Location: New York Harbor

  • Three U.S. Navy ships, four U.S. Naval Academy Yard Patrol boats, and two U.S. Coast Guard cutters will participate in the Parade of Ships. The ships can be seen along the Hudson River from Battery Park to just south of the George Washington Bridge. Event is free and open to the public.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Event: Marine Day

Time: 6:30 a.m. – 7 p.m.

Location: Bryant Park | Manhattan, New York

  • The U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) will host Marine Day in Bryant Park featuring a boot camp style exercise session (6:30 a.m.), followed by USMC displays, demonstrations and a performance by the USMC Band. Event is free and open to the public.

Event: General Public Visitation

Time: 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Location: Pier 92 | Manhattan, New York; USS The Sullivans Pier | Staten Island, New York

  • Ship tours will be held aboard U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard ships. Lines may be capped at 3 p.m. to allow guests to finish their tours. Tours are free and open to the public.

Event: General Public Visitation

Time: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Location: Pier 86 | Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, Manhattan, New York

  • Ship tours will be held aboard U.S. Naval Academy Yard Patrol boats. Lines may be capped at 3 p.m. to allow guests to finish their tours. Tours are free and open to the public.

Event: U.S. Navy Dive Demos

Time: 8:30 – 10 a.m.; Noon – 1:30 p.m.; 3 – 4:40 p.m.

Location: USS The Sullivans Pier | Staten Island, New York

  • The U.S. Navy’s EOD mobile dive tank is a 6,800 gallon, dynamic display that allows interaction with the public and prospective recruits for the Navy Special Warfare and Navy Special Operations programs. Free and open to the public.

Event: “A Walk of Heroes”

Time: 9:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Location: The Hudson River Park Trust “Clinton Cove” at Pier 95 | Manhattan, New York

  • The Bob Feller Act of Valor Award Foundation will host “A Walk of Heroes.” The event visually tells the story of 37 Major League Baseball Hall of Famers who served during World War II. During the walk, people can learn the important lessons of citizenship, service, sacrifice and about the legacy of generations of heroes who served our country. Come meet Hall of Famer Tommy Lasorda, former LA Dodgers manager (10:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.) Free and open to the public. Event Flyer

Event: Aviation Demonstration

Time: 9 – 11 a.m.

Location: Linden High School | Linden, New Jersey

  • The event will include an air demo by a MH-60S helicopter, as well as a U.S. Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal demo. After the air demo, the MH-60S will land and be available for display for school faculty and students. Navy Band Northeast’s “Popular Band” will perform. Event is not open to general public.

Event: U.S. Coast Guard Search and Rescue Demo

Time: Noon – 12:30 p.m.

Location: Coney Island, New York

  • U.S. Coast Guard will conduct a Search and Rescue demo in the water off of Coney Island for visitors to see. Event is free and open to the public.

Event: Aviation Demonstration

Time: Noon – 2:30 p.m.

Location: Cranford High School | Cranford, New Jersey

  • The event will include an air demo by U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) MV-22 Osprey, CH-46E Sea Knight, and AH-1W SuperCobra aircraft. After the air demo, the aircraft will be on display for school faculty and students. Event is not open to general public.

Event: Larchmont Memorial Day Parade

Time: 7 – 10 p.m.

Location: Larchmont, New York

  • The annual parade starts at the Larchmont Train Station lot above Interstate-95 and ends at Village Hall. Event is free and open to the public.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Event: General Public Visitation

Time: 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Location: Pier 92 | Manhattan, New York; USS The Sullivans Pier | Staten Island, New York

  • Ship tours will be held aboard U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard ships. Lines may be capped at 3 p.m. to allow guests to finish their tours. Tours are free and open to the public.

Event: General Public Visitation

Time: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Location: Pier 86 | Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, Manhattan, New York

  • Ship tours will be held aboard U.S. Naval Academy Yard Patrol boats. Lines may be capped at 3 p.m. to allow guests to finish their tours. Tours are free and open to the public.

Event: U.S. Navy Dive Demos

Time: 8:30 – 10 a.m.; Noon – 1:30 p.m.; 3 – 4:40 p.m.

Location: USS The Sullivans Pier | Staten Island, New York

  • The U.S. Navy’s EOD mobile dive tank is a 6,800 gallon, dynamic display that allows interaction with the public and prospective recruits for the Navy Special Warfare and Navy Special Operations programs. Free and open to the public.

Event: Aviation Demonstration

Time: 8:30 – 11 a.m.

Location: Sachem North High School | Ronkonkoma, New York

  • The event will include an air demo by USMC MV-22 Osprey, CH-46E Sea Knight, and AH-1W SuperCobra aircraft. After the air demo, the aircraft will be on display for school faculty and students. Event is not open to general public.

Event: Aviation Demonstration

Time: 9 – 11 a.m.

Location: Paramus High School | Paramus, New Jersey

  • The event will include an air demo by MH-60S helicopters, as well as an EOD demo. After the air demo, the helicopters will land and be available for display for school faculty and students. Navy Band Northeast’s “Rhode Island Sound” will perform. Event is not open to general public.

Event: Military Band Concert

Time: 10 – 11 a.m.

Location: Staten Island University Hospital | Staten Island, New York

  • Navy Band Northeast will perform for patients and staff at the Staten Island University Hospital. Event is free and open to hospital guests and staff only.

Event: USO Bike Build

Time: 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Location: Pier 92 | Manhattan, New York

  • The USO, along with volunteers, will build bicycles on the pier for participating Fleet Week New York service members. Event is not open to general public.

Event: Joint Re-enlistment/Promotions Ceremony

Time: 2 – 2:30 p.m.

Location: 9/11 Memorial Plaza | Manhattan, New York

  • Reenlistment and Promotion ceremonies celebrate service members’ renewed commitment to uniformed military service. Reenlistees agree to additional years of military service. Promotees gain a promotion in rank, which includes increased responsibility and pay and an extended service requirement. Event is free and open to the public.

Event: Aviation Demonstration

Time: 12:30 – 2 p.m.

Location: Glen Cove High School | Glen Cove, New York

  • The event will include an air demo by USMC MV-22 Osprey, CH-46E Sea Knight, and AH-1W SuperCobra aircraft. After the air demo, the aircraft will be on display for school faculty and students. Event is not open to general public.

Event: Military Band Concert

Time: 5 – 8 p.m.

Location: Military Island at 43rd – 44th St. Plaza | Times Square, New York

  • Navy Band Northeast’s “Rhode Island Sound” and the U.S. Marine (USMC) Band will perform. The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) Silent Drill Team will also perform. Line-up: USCG Silent Drill Team (5 – 5:30 p.m.); Navy Band Northeast’s “Rhode Island Sound” (5:30 – 6:30 p.m.); USMC Band (7 – 8 p.m.). Event is free and open to the public.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Event: General Public Visitation

Time: 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Location: Pier 92 | Manhattan, New York; USS The Sullivans Pier | Staten Island, New York

  • Ship tours will be held aboard U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard ships. Lines may be capped at 3 p.m. to allow guests to finish their tours. Tours are free and open to the public.

Event: U.S. Navy Dive Demos

Time: 8:30 – 10 a.m.; Noon – 1:30 p.m.; 3 – 4:40 p.m.

Location: USS The Sullivans Pier | Staten Island, New York

  • The U.S. Navy’s EOD mobile dive tank is a 6,800 gallon, dynamic display that allows interaction with the public and prospective recruits for the Navy Special Warfare and Navy Special Operations programs. Free and open to the public.

Event: Aviation Demonstration

Time: 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Location: Eisenhower Park | East Meadow, New York

  • U.S. Navy (USN) (10 a.m. – Noon, including MH-60S helicopters) and U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) (Noon – 2 p.m., including MV-22 Osprey, CH-46E Sea Knight, and AH-1W SuperCobra aircraft) will display aviation and operational equipment. USN EOD personnel will also be in attendance. After the air demo, USN and USMC helicopters will land and be available for display. Navy Band Northeast “Brass Band” will perform. Event is free and open to the public.

Event: U.S. Coast Guard Search and Rescue Demo

Time: Noon – 12:30 p.m.

Location: Pier 92 | Manhattan, New York

  • U.S. Coast Guard will conduct a Search and Rescue demo in the water off of Manhattan for visitors to see. Event is free and open to the public.

Event: Military Band Concert

Time: 5 – 6:30 p.m.

Location: Military Island at 43rd – 44th St. Plaza | Times Square, New York

  • Navy Band Northeast’s “Rhode Island Sound” and the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) Silent Drill Team will perform. Line-up: USCG Silent Drill Team (5 – 5:30 p.m.); Navy Band Northeast’s “Rhode Island Sound” (5:30 – 6:30 p.m.) Event is free and open to the public.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Event: General Public Visitation

Time: 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Location: Pier 92 | Manhattan, New York; USS The Sullivans Pier | Staten Island, New York

  • Ship tours will be held aboard U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard ships. Lines may be capped at 3 p.m. to allow guests to finish their tours. Tours are free and open to the public.

Event: U.S. Navy Dive Demos

Time: 8:30 – 10 a.m.; Noon – 1:30 p.m.; 3 – 4:40 p.m.

Location: USS The Sullivans Pier | Staten Island, New York

  • The U.S. Navy’s EOD mobile dive tank is a 6,800 gallon, dynamic display that allows interaction with the public and prospective recruits for the Navy Special Warfare and Navy Special Operations programs. Free and open to the public.

Event: U.S. Marine Corps Aviation/Marine Air-Ground Task Force Demo

Time: 11:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Location: Rye Playland, Rye, New York

  • Event will include a ceremony in honor of Memorial Day at 11:45 a.m., followed by a barbecue for veterans and their families. A U.S. Marine Corps Aviation/Marine Air-Ground Task Force demo will take place from 2 – 4 p.m. including MV-22 Osprey, CH-46E Sea Knight, and AH-1W SuperCobra aircraft. Event is free and open to the public.

Event: U.S. Coast Guard Search and Rescue Demo

Time: Noon – 12:30 p.m.

Location: USS The Sullivans Pier, Staten Island, New York

  • U.S. Coast Guard will conduct a Search and Rescue demo in the water off of Staten Island Homeport for visitors to see. Event is free and open to the public.

Event: Greenpoint Veterans Memorial Parade

Time: 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Location: American Legion Post #519 (Leonard St.) | Brooklyn, New York

  • Military personnel scheduled to participate. The annual parade starts at the American Legion Post 519 and ends at St. Anthony’s Church. Event is free and open to the public.

Event: College Point Memorial Day Parade

Time: 12:30 – 5 p.m.

Location: College Point Blvd. & Mac Neil Park | College Point, New York

  • Military personnel scheduled to participate. The annual parade is hosted by the Citizens of College Point. Event is free and open to the public.

Event: Military Band Concert

Time: 1 – 2:30 p.m.

Location: Military Island at 43rd – 44th St. Plaza | Times Square, New York

  • Navy Band Northeast’s “Brass Band” and the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) Silent Drill Team will perform. Line-up: Navy Band Northeast’s “Brass Band” (1 – 2 p.m.); USCG Silent Drill Team (2 – 2:30 p.m.) Event is free and open to the public.

Event: Maspeth Memorial Day Parade

Time: 1 – 5 p.m.

Location: Grand Ave. & 72nd St. | Maspeth, New York

  • Military personnel scheduled to participate. The annual parade will conclude with a short memorial service followed by a wreath-laying. Event is free and open to the public.

Event: Village of Hastings-on-Hudson Memorial Day Parade

Time: 1 – 6 p.m.

Location: Warburton Ave. and Main St. | Hastings-on-Hudson, New York

  • Military personnel scheduled to participate. The annual parade is hosted by the Village of Hastings-on-Hudson Fire Department. Event is free and open to the public.

Event: Fleet Week New York Community Music Festival

Time: 1 – 5 p.m.

Location: Flagship Brewery (40 Minthorne St.) | Staten Island, New York

  • The Flagship Brewery and Staten Island community members scheduled to host a music festival in honor of Fleet Week New York. Navy Band Northeast “Rhode Island Sound” (3:30 – 5 p.m.) and local bands will perform. Event is free and open to the public.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Event: General Public Visitation

Time: 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Location: Pier 92 | Manhattan, New York; USS The Sullivans Pier | Staten Island, New York

  • Ship tours will be held aboard U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard ships. Lines may be capped at 3 p.m. to allow guests to finish their tours. Tours are free and open to the public.

Event: U.S. Navy Dive Demos

Time: 8:30 – 10 a.m.; Noon – 1:30 p.m.; 3 – 4:40 p.m.

Location: USS The Sullivans Pier | Staten Island, New York

  • The U.S. Navy’s EOD mobile dive tank is a 6,800 gallon, dynamic display that allows interaction with the public and prospective recruits for the Navy Special Warfare and Navy Special Operations programs. Free and open to the public.

147th Kings County Memorial Day Parade

Time: 8 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Location: 101 St. & 4th Ave. | Brooklyn, New York

  • Military personnel scheduled to participate. The annual parade is hosted by the United Military Veterans of Kings County. Event is free and open to the public.

Bayville Memorial Day Parade

Time: 1:30 – 6 p.m.

Location: Bayville Ave. | Bayville, New York

  • Military personnel scheduled to participate. The annual parade is hosted by American Legion Post 1285. The parade will conclude with a short memorial service followed by a wreath-laying. Event is free and open to the public.

Pelham Memorial Day Parade

Time: 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Location: Town of Pelham, New York

  • Military personnel scheduled to participate. The annual parade includes a one-mile walk from Pelham Manor to the business district of Pelham, and a formal Memorial day ceremony honoring 88 Pelham residents who died while serving in the military. Event is free and open to the public.

New Rochelle Memorial Day Parade

Time: 10:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Location: Hudson Park | New Rochelle, New York

  • Military personnel scheduled to participate. The annual parade includes a 1.5-mile walk to Hudson Park. Event will include a concert and a U.S. Marine Corps static display. Event is free and open to the public.

    Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Day Observance

    Time: 10 a.m. – Noon

    Location: Soldiers and Sailors Monument | Manhattan, New York

  • Military personnel scheduled to participate. The annual event includes a memorial service. Event is free and open to the public.

88th Annual Little Neck-Douglaston Memorial Day Parade

Time: 1 – 5 p.m.

Location: Northern Blvd. & Jayson Ave. | Great Neck, New York

  • Military personnel scheduled to participate in the annual Memorial Day parade. Event will include a flag folding and wreath-laying ceremony. Event is free and open to the public.

Allied Veterans Memorial Parade

Time: 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Location: Ridgewood/Glendale | Queens, New York

  • Military personnel scheduled to participate in the annual Memorial Day parade hosted by the Allied Veterans Organization. Event is free and open to the public.

Event: U.S. Navy Flyover

Time: 11 a.m.

Location: Pier 86 | Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, Manhattan, New York

  • A missing man formation aerial salute comprised of FA-18 Super Hornets based out of Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia Beach, Va. will be performed in conjunction with the Intrepid Memorial Day Commemoration at Pier 86.

    97th Annual Staten Island Memorial Day Parade

    Time: Noon – 6 p.m.

    Location: Forest Ave. | Staten Island, New York

  • Military personnel scheduled to participate in the annual Memorial Day parade hosted by the United Staten Island Veterans Organization. Event is free and open to the public.

Annual New York Mets/USO Military Appreciation Day/U.S. Navy Flyover

Time: 1:10 – 4 p.m.

Location: Citi Field | Flushing, New York

  • The Mets will take on the Philadelphia Phillies. The Joint Service Color Guard will present colors, and a member of Navy Band Northeast will sing the national anthem. Two FA-18 Super Hornets based out of Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia Beach, Va. will fly over signifying the start of the game.



Event: U.S. Coast Guard Search and Rescue Demo

Time: 1:30 – 2 p.m.

Location: Pier 86 | Manhattan, New York

  • U.S. Coast Guard will conduct a Search and Rescue demo in the water off of Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum Pier for visitors to see. Event is free and open to the public.



Event: U.S. Marine Corps Aviation/Marine Air-Ground Task Force Demo

Time: 2 – 5 p.m.

Location: Glen Island Park, New Rochelle, New York

  • USMC Aviation/Marine Air-Ground Task Force demo including MV-22 Osprey, CH-46E Sea Knight, and AH-1W SuperCobra aircraft. The event will showcase airborne insertion and extraction of aircraft with combat equipped Marines. Event is free and open to the public.



City Island Memorial Day Parade

Time: 2:30 – 5 p.m.

Location: City Island | Bronx, New York

  • Military personnel scheduled to participate in the annual Memorial Day parade hosted by the American Legion Post #156. Event is free and open to the public.



Tuesday, May 26, 2015


Event: Ships Depart

Time: TBD

Location: Pier 92 | Manhattan, New York; USS The Sullivans Pier | Staten Island, New York

  • U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard ships will depart Fleet Week.

Tiocfaudh Ar La. Erin go Bragh

Posted by Jim on May 12, 2015


Sinn Féin - Republican Youth's photo.

99 years ago today James Connolly was executed by British Army firing squad. We remember him in our struggle for a truly independent Republic that cherishes all of our people.

‘A great crowd had gathered outside of Kilmainham

Their heads all uncovered, they knelt to the ground.

For inside that grim prison

Lay a great Irish soldier

His life for his country about to lay down.

He went to his death like a true son of Ireland

The firing party he bravely did face

Then the order rang out: Present arms and fire

James Connolly fell into a ready-made grave

The black flag was hoisted, the cruel deed was over

Gone was the man who loved Ireland so well

There was many a sad heart in Dublin that morning

When they murdered James Connolly-. the Irish rebel’

A murdered Catholic lawyer was the victim of British state engagement in terrorism through loyalist terrorists, the High Court heard today.

Posted by Jim on

By Alan Erwin – 11 May 2015

Pat Finucane was gunned down as part of a policy of infiltrating, manipulating and resourcing paramilitary groupings to carry out “extrajudicial executions”, it was claimed.

As the solicitor’s family began a legal bid to force a public inquiry into the killing, a judge was told the government unlawfully reneged on such a commitment.

Counsel for the Finucanes claimed the killing was among the most notorious in Northern Ireland’s bloody history.

Barry Macdonald QC said:  “He was identified by State agents, including particular police officers and army officers as suitable for assassination, and he was shot dead at the behest of State agents in front of his family in a particularly brutal fashion.”

Mr Finucane’s widow, Geraldine, is seeking to judicially review the government over its refusal to order a full, independent probe into the killing.

The lawyer was shot dead by the Ulster Freedom Fighters at his north Belfast home in February 1989.

His killing has been surrounded by claims of security force collusion with the loyalist killers.

In December 2012, a report by lawyer Sir Desmond de Silva confirmed agents of the state were involved in the murder and that it should have been prevented.

However, it concluded there had been “no overarching state conspiracy”.

The Finucane family have rejected the findings as a sham and a whitewash.

Opening the legal action in Belfast, Mr Macdonald described the murder and surrounding allegations as “an iconic case”.

He quoted correspondence from one of Prime Minister David Cameron’s closest advisors which described the murder of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane as far worse than anything alleged in Iraq or Afghanistan.

In an email to another senior Downing Street official Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood also said he could not think of an argument to defend not holding a public inquiry, the court heard.

His views, according to Mr Macdonald, strengthened the case for ordering a full examination of the circumstances.

“An inquiry is required in this case, and the decision not to have one is indefensible both morally and legally,” he said.

The barrister argued that a clear and unambiguous promise was previously made to hold such a public probe – creating a legitimate expectation on the part of the murdered lawyer’s family.

“The frustration of that expectation is so unfair as to constitute a misuse of the government’s powers,” he contended.

“This is not a case where the competing arguments were finely balanced – the Cabinet Secretary could not think of an argument to justify the decision.

“All of the available material pointed to one conclusion, but the government arrived at the opposite conclusion.”

Mr Justice Stephens was told the only explanation could be that the government had “set its mind against having a public inquiry”.

According to counsel for the Finucane family, the Secretary of State’s own special adviser had warned that holding such a probe would leave the administration open to attack from elements within the Conservative party and the right-wing press.

“When the decision not to have an inquiry was announced it was justified on grounds that were not only irrational but transparently false,” Mr Macdonald claimed.

He was scornful of explanations at the time that the best way to get at the truth was through a review of available papers.

Everyone from Peter Cory, the retired Canadian judge who examined the case, to civil servants took a contrary view, the court heard.

The barrister insisted: “This case is one of the most notorious of the Troubles, and it’s notorious for good reason.

“The available evidence suggests agents of the state devised and operated a policy of extra-judicial execution – the essential feature of which was that loyalist terrorist organisations were infiltrated, resourced and manipulated  in order to murder individuals identified by the State and their agents as suitable for assassination.

“In other words, a policy of murder by proxy, whereby the state engaged in terrorism through the agency of loyalist paramilitaries.

“It’s difficult to imagine a more serious allegation against a liberal democracy founded in the rule of law.”

He argued that Pat Finuncane became a victim of that policy.

“He was identified by State agents, including particular police officers and army officers as suitable for assassination, and he was shot dead at the behest of state agents in front of his family in a particularly brutal fashion,” Mr Macdonald continued.

“The army and police and security services have all been implicated to varying degrees in the events surrounding Mr Finucane’s death and the operation of this policy that led to it.”

Questions remain to be answered about the level at which that policy was authorised, and the extent to which it was known about within the government, it was claimed.

In an attempt to emphasise the seriousness of the alleged abuse of power in not holding a public inquiry, Mr Macdonald cited an email Sir Jeremy sent to Simon King, a private secretary to the prime minister, ahead of a ministerial meeting in July 2011.

In correspondence disclosed to parties in the legal case, he asked: “Does the prime minister seriously think that it’s right to renege on a previous government’s clear commitment to hold a full judicial inquiry?

“This was a dark moment in the country’s history – far worse than anything that was alleged in Iraq/Afghanistan.

“I cannot really think of any argument to defend not having a public inquiry. What am I missing?”

A reply email stated that the prime minister “shares the view this is an awful case, and as bad as it gets, and far worse than any post 9/11 allegation”, the court heard.

Mr Macdonald added: “Notwithstanding the gravity of the matters at issue, and the binding nature of the commitment to hold a public inquiry into these allegations, the government decided to renege on the commitments.

“That is a decision that can be fairly characterised as not only unlawful, but as bad as it gets in public law.”

The hearing continues.

Human Rights Act: Tory pledge to scrap law ‘breaches NI peace deal’

Posted by Jim on

The government’s pledge to scrap the Human Rights Act would be a “flagrant breach” of the Good Friday Agreement, a human rights organisation has said.

Scrapping the act and replacing it with a British Bill of Rights was a Conservative election manifesto pledge.

But the Committee on the Administration of Justice (CAJ) said the move would “significantly roll back” Northern Ireland’s peace settlement.

The Ministry of Justice said the plan would be discussed in due course.

‘Deeply concerning’

The CAJ, Belfast-based human rights group, said it has written to the Northern Ireland secretary of state asking for “urgent” clarification.

In a separate statement, Les Allamby, the chief commissioner of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC), described the plan as “deeply concerning”.

The Conservative Party’s 2015 manifesto states: “The next Conservative government will scrap the Human Rights Act, and introduce a British Bill of Rights. This will break the formal link between British courts and the European Court of Human Rights and make our own Supreme Court the ultimate arbiter of human rights matters in the UK.”

The Good Friday Agreement, an international treaty signed by the British and Irish governments in 1998, marked a significant moment in the Irish peace process and paved the way for the return of devolved government in Northern Ireland.

In its statement, the CAJ said: “The Tories have committed to plans to repeal the Human Rights Act 1998 which incorporates the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) into UK law, including Northern Ireland law, within 100 days of taking office.”

‘International outlaw’

The human rights group said that it wrote to Theresa Villiers on Monday, the day she was reappointed as secretary of state for Northern Ireland, to ask about her new government’s intentions in respect of ECHR.

CAJ’s director Brian Gormally said: “The secretary of state should urgently clarify the government’s position as to whether it intends to breach the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement in this way.

“Such a step would make the UK an international outlaw and significantly roll back the peace settlement in Northern Ireland.”

Les Allamby, the chief commissioner of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, warned that the move could “undermine a foundation stone of the Northern Ireland peace process”

In his statement, the NIHRC’s chief commissioner said: “The Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement committed the UK government to incorporate the European Convention on Human Rights into Northern Ireland law, with direct access to the courts, and remedies for breaches of the convention. The Human Rights Act fulfilled this commitment.

“The commission has repeatedly advised against a move which can only serve to undermine a foundation stone of the Northern Ireland peace process, reduce hard won protections for everyone living in the UK, and damage the state’s international reputation,” Mr Allamby added.

The BBC asked Ms Villiers for a response to the concerns raised by human rights organisations, but the Northern Ireland Office referred the query to the Ministry of Justice in London.

In a brief statement, a Ministry of Justice spokesperson said: “The government was elected with a manifesto commitment to replace the Human Rights Act with a British Bill of Rights. Ministers will be discussing their plans on this and making announcements in due course.”

Francis Hughes – Hunger Striker

Posted by Jim on

Died May 12th, 1981

A determined and totally fearless soldier

THE SECOND republican to join the H-Block hunger-strike for political status – a fortnight after Bobby Sands – was twenty-five-year-old Francis Hughes, from Bellaghy in South Derry: a determined, committed and totally fearless IRA Volunteer who organised a spectacularly successful series of military operations before his capture, and was once described by the RUC as their ‘most wanted man’ in the North.


Francis Hughes was born on February 28th, 1956, the youngest son amongst ten children, into a staunchly republican family which has been solidly rooted, for most of this century, in the townland of Tamlaghtduff, or Scribe Road, as it is otherwise called.

His parents who married in 1939, are Patrick Joseph Hughes, aged 72, a retired small cattle farmer born in the neighbouring town land of Ballymacpeake, and Margaret, aged 68, whose maiden name is McElwee, and who was born in Tamlaghtduff.

A quarter-of-a-mile away from the Hughes’ bungalow, on the other side of the Scribe Road is the home of Thomas and Benedict McElwee – first cousins of Francis. Benedict is currently serving a sentence in the H-Blocks. Thomas – the eldest – embarked on hunger strike on June 8th, and died sixty-two days later on August 8th.

In Tamlaghtduff, as throughout the rest of Bellaghy, sympathy as well as active support for the republican cause runs at a very high level, a fact testified to by the approximately twenty prisoners-of-war from around Bellaghy alone.

Francis was an extremely popular person, both to his family and to his republican colleagues and supporters.

His father recalls that as a boy he was always whistling, joking and singing: a trait which he carried over into his arduous and perilous days as a republican, when he was able to transmit his enthusiasm and optimism both to Volunteers under his command and to Sympathisers who offered them – at great personal risk, food and shelter

It was qualities like these, of uncomplaining tirelessness, of consideration for the morale of those around him, and his ruling wish to lead by example, that have made Francis Hughes one of the most outstanding Irish revolutionary soldiers this war has produced and a man who was enormously respected in his native countryside.


As a boy, Francis went first to St. Mary’s primary school in Bellaghy, and from there to Clady intermediate school three miles away.

He enjoyed school and was a fairly good student whose favourite subjects were history and woodwork. He was not particularly interested in sport, but was very much a lively, outdoor person, who enjoyed messing around on bikes, and later on, in cars.

He enjoyed dancing and regularly went to ceilidh as a young man, even while ‘on the run’, although after ‘wanted’ posters of him appeared his opportunities became less frequent.

His parents recall that Francis was always extremely helpful around the house, and that he was a “good tractor man”.


Leaving school at sixteen, Francis got a job with his sister Vera’s husband, as an apprentice painter and decorator, completing his apprenticeship shortly before ‘going on the run’.

In later days, Francis would often do a spot of decorating for the people whose house he was staying in

On one occasion, shortly after the ‘wanted’ posters of him had been posted up all over South Derry, Francis was painting window frames at the front of the house he was staying in when two jeep-loads of British soldiers drove past. While the other occupants of the house froze in apprehension, Francis waved and smiled at the curious Brits as they passed by, and continued painting.

It was such utter fearlessness, and the ability to brazen his way through, that saved him time and time again during his relatively long career as an active service Volunteer.

On one such occasion, when stopped along with two other Volunteers as they crossed a field, Francis told a Brit patrol that they didn’t feel safe walking the roads, as the IRA were so active in the area. The Brits allowed the trio to walk on, but after a few yards Francis ran back to the enemy patrol to scrounge a cigarette and a match from one of the British soldiers.

A turning point for Francis, in terms of his personal involvement in the struggle, occurred at the age of seventeen, when he and a friend were stopped by British soldiers at Ardboe, in County Tyrone, as they returned from a dance one night.

The pair were taken out of their car and so badly kicked that Francis was bed-ridden for several days. Rejecting advice to make a complaint to the RUC, Francis said it would be a waste of time, but pledged instead to get even with those who had done it, “or with their friends.”

Notwithstanding such a bitter personal experience of British thuggery, and the mental and physical scars it left, Francis’ subsequent involvement in the Irish Republican Army was not based on a motive of revenge but on a clear and abiding belief in his country’s right to national freedom.


During the early part of ‘the troubles’, the ‘Officials’ were relatively strong in the South Derry area and Francis’ first involvement was with them.

However, disillusioned, as were many others, with the ‘Sticks’ unilateral ceasefire in 1972, he left to set up and command an ‘independent’ military unit in the Bellaghy area. About the end of 1973 the entire unit – including Francis – was formally recruited into the IRA.

Francis’ involvement brought him increasingly to the attention of the British army and RUC and he was regularly held for a few hours in Magherafelt barracks and stopped on the road by British patrols; and on one occasion he was held for two days at Ballykelly camp.

As the 1975 IRA/British army truce came to an end Francis, fearing his imminent arrest, went ‘on the run’. From that time on, he led a life perpetually on the move, often moving on foot up to twenty miles during one night then sleeping during the day – either in fields and ditches or in safe houses; a soldierly sight in his black beret and combat uniform, and openly carrying his rifle, a handgun and several grenades as well as food rations.

The enemy reacted with up to fifty early morning raids on Francis’ home, and raids on the homes of those suspected of harbouring him. Often, houses would be staked out for days on end in the hope of capturing Francis. Often, it was only his sheer nerve and courage which saved him. One night, Francis was followed to a ‘safe house’ and looked out to see the Brits surrounding the place and closing in. Without hesitating, the uniformed Francis stepped outside the door, clutching his rifle, and in the darkness crept gradually through their lines, occasionally mumbling a few short words to British soldiers he passed, who, on seeing the shadowy uniformed figure, mistook him for one of themselves.

On numerous occasions, Francis and his comrades were stopped at checkpoints along the country roads while moving weapons from one locality to another but always calmly talked their way through. Once, a UDR soldier actually recognised Francis and his fellow Volunteers in a car but, fully aware that Francis would not be taken without a shoot-out, he waved their car on.


The years before Francis’ capture were extremely active ones in the South Derry and surrounding areas with the commercial centres of towns and villages like Bellaghy, Maghera, Toome, Magherafelt and Castledawson being blitzed by car bombs on several occasions, and numerous shooting attacks being carried out as well.

Among the Volunteers under his command Francis had a reputation of being a strict disciplinarian and perfectionist who could not tolerate people taking their republican duties less seriously, and selflessly, than was necessary. He also, however, inspired fellow Volunteers by his example and by always being in the thick of things, and he thrived on pressure.

During one night-time operation, a weapon was missing and Francis gave away his own weapon to another Volunteer, taking only a torch himself which he used to its maximum effect by shining it at an oncoming enemy vehicle, which had its headlights off, to enable the other Volunteers to direct their fire.

Francis’ good-humoured audacity also showed itself in his republican activity. At the height of his ‘notoriety’ he would set up road-blocks, hoping to lure the Brits into an ambush (which by hard experience they learned to avoid), or he would ring up the Brits and give them his whereabouts!

Such joking, however, did not extend only to the enemy. One day, lying out in the fields, he spied one of his uncles cycling down a country road. Taking careful aim with his rifle he shot away the bike’s rear wheel. His uncle ran alarmed, into a nearby house shouting that loyalists had just tried to assassinate him!


The determination of the British army and RUC to capture Francis Hughes came to a head in April 1977. In that month, on Good Friday, a car containing three IRA Volunteers was overtaken and flagged down on the Moneymore Road at Dunronan, in County Derry, by a carload of RUC men.

The Volunteers attempted to make a U-turn but their car got stuck in a ditch as the armed RUC men approached. Jumping from the car, the Volunteers opened fire, killing two RUC men and injuring another before driving off. A hundred yards further up the road a second gun battle ensued but the Volunteers escaped safely.

Subsequently, the RUC issued a ‘wanted’ poster of Francis Hughes and two fellow republicans, Dominic McGlinchey and Ian Milne, in which Francis was named as the ‘most wanted man’ in the North.

When his eventual capture came, it was just as he had always said it would be: “I’ll get a few of them before they get me.”


At 8.00 p.m. on March 16th, 1978, two SAS soldiers took up a stake-out position opposite a farm, on the south side of the Ronaghan road, about two miles west of Maghera, in the townland of Ballyknock.

At 9.15 p.m. they saw two men in military uniform and carrying rifles, walking in single file along the hedgeline of the field towards them. Using their ‘night sights’ in the darkness, the SAS men observed the military behaviour of the two on-comers and having challenged them, heard the men mumble a few words to each other in Irish accents and assumed that the pair were UDR soldiers.

One of the pair, in fact, was Francis Hughes, the other a fellow Volunteer, and with only a second’s hesitation both Volunteers cocked their rifles and opened fire. One SAS man fell fatally wounded but the other – though shot in the stomach – managed to fire a long burst from his sterling sub-machine gun at the retreating figures, and to make radio contact with his base.

Within three minutes, nearby Brit patrols were on the scene and the area was entirely sealed off. The following morning hundreds of Brits took part in a massive search operation.

Fifteen hours after the shooting, at around 12.15 p.m. the next day, they found Francis Hughes sitting in the middle of a gorse bush in a field three hundred yards away, bleeding profusely from a bullet wound which had shattered his left thigh. As he was taken away on a stretcher he yelled defiantly, through his considerable pain: “Up the Provies”.

His comrade, though also wounded, slightly, managed to evade the dragnet and to escape.


How he survived the night of the shooting, possibly the coldest night of that year, bears eloquent testimony to Francis’ grim determination to evade capture. After being shot, he dragged himself – unable to walk – across the Ronaghan road and across two fields without a sound, before burying himself in a thick clump of gorse bushes.

At one point, en-route, Francis fell down a sharp drop between fields, and his left leg – the muscle and bone completely disintegrated – came up over his shoulder; but Francis worked it carefully down before continuing to crawl on his way. In his hiding place, he lay through the night, motionless and soundless, till his capture.

When he was found, unable to move through the cold, pain and stiffness, Francis, knowing that both Brits and RUC were on instructions to shoot him on sight, gave his name as Eamonn Laverty and his address as Letterkenny, County Donegal.

Francis was taken to Magherafelt hospital and from there to Musgrave Park military hospital in Belfast, and it was only then that his true identity was revealed. He spent ten months in Musgrave Park where his leg was operated on, reducing his thigh bone by an inch-and-a-half and leaving him dependent on a crutch to walk.


On Wednesday, January 24th, 1979, Francis was taken from Musgrave Park hospital to Castlereagh interrogation centre where he spent six days before being charged on January 29th. For more than four days Francis refused food and drink, fearing that it might have been drugged to make him talk.

His behaviour in Castlereagh was typical of the fiercely determined and courageous republican Volunteer that he was. His frustrated interrogators later described him as “totally uncooperative”.

Nevertheless, at his trial in Belfast in February 1980, after a year on remand in Crumlin Road jail, Francis was found ‘guilty’ on all charges.

He received a life sentence for killing the SAS soldier, and fourteen years for attempting to kill the other SAS man. He also received fifty-five years on three other charges.


In the H-Blocks, Francis immediately went on the protest for political status and, despite the severe disability of his wounded leg, displayed the same courage and determination that had been his hallmark before his capture.

And, just as always wanting to be in the thick of things and wanting to shoulder responsibility for other political prisoners as he had earlier looked after the morale of fellow Volunteers, Francis was one of those to volunteer for the hunger strike which began on October 27th, 1980. He was not one of the first seven hunger strikers selected but was among the thirty men who joined the hunger strike in its closing stages as Sean McKenna’s condition became critical.

That utter selflessness and courage came to its tragic conclusion on Tuesday, May 12th, when Francis died at 5.43 p.m. after fifty-nine days on hunger strike.


AOH Kings County Board Convention

Posted by Jim on May 9, 2015

Pleased to announce that Steve Kiernan has been elected Kings County Board President.

go maire tú an lá!


Posted by Jim on


The end of the United Kingdom foretold after Scottish vote by Niall O’Dowd

Posted by Jim on May 8, 2015


Much of the Scottish drive, strangely enough dovetailed with the film “Braveheart” starring Mel Gibson, who portrayed the Scottish leader William Wallace.

This British election will go down in history not for the shock margin of victory by the Conservatives but for sounding the death knell of the United Kingdom.

 The Scottish Nationalist Party has surpassed all expectations by winning 56 or so of the 59 seats in Scotland up for grabs in the British parliament.

What that means, pure and simple, is another referendum on Scottish independence probably within the next five years.

 While the last one failed there is clearly a massive case of buyer’s remorse among Scots. The vote next time will not be close if the 2015 election is any indication.

If a new referendum is held there seems no doubt that the Scots will vote to depart from the union. The 1707 Acts of Union declared that the kingdoms of England and Scotland were “United into One Kingdom by the Name of Great Britain.”

Not for long more it appears.

The unionists of Northern Ireland ought to be very afraid. The United Kingdom they cling to may soon not exist.

The massive Scottish nationalist gain, up from 6 seats five years ago, is the latest manifestation of the drumbeat for independence that has swept across Scotland for the past few years.

Put succinctly – the Scots are fed up of being second class citizens, far from London, their issues ignored.

The rule of thumb is that the farther from the center the less attention. That has certainly been the case in Scotland.

Much of the Scottish drive, strangely enough dovetailed with the film “Braveheart” starring Mel Gibson, who portrayed the Scottish leader William Wallace.

“Braveheart” appeared to help channel the momentum to the Scottish nationalist movement which stalled in the latter part of the last century.

The Labour Party bastions in Scotland have fallen like ninepins and the failure to compete in the rest of Britain creates a huge issue for the party. Their decision to oppose Scottish independence has been a disaster for them.

But they may yet see defeat as a blessing in disguise.

David Cameron now has to deal with the centuries of disregard for Scottish needs, which have now reached a perfect storm for the Scottish nationalists. Will he want to be known as the Prime Minister who lost the United Kingdom?

United Kingdom no more? Nicola Sturgeon the SNP leader has vowed her party will seek a new way to deal with the overlords in London.”The tectonic plates have shifted,” she said.

That will surely mean an independent Scotland by decade’s end.

Irish Consulate Lecture Series

Posted by Jim on May 6, 2015

Shock at murder of senior PIRA figure

Posted by Jim on

Prominent Belfast republican Gerard ‘Jock’ Davison was shot dead this
morning in the Markets area in a killing which has shocked the city
less than 48 hours before polls open in the Westminster general

A former senior commander in the Provisional IRA, Mr Davison is
believed to have been shot several times at about 9am at Welsh Street.
Members of Mr Davison’s extended family and friends later attempted to
break through the PSNI security cordon at the scene.

Sinn Fein sources and others have blamed a criminal gang for what they
described as a “brutal murder”.

Mr Davison has been centrally involved in the power struggles of
central Belfast for many years. He is also alleged to have been
indirectly involved in the pub row that subsequently resulted in the
high-profile death of east Belfast man Robert McCartney in Magennis’s
Bar close to the Markets in early 2005.

Mr Davison was one of three IRA figures who were said to have been
court martialled and disciplined by the Provisional IRA after it
carried out its own investigation. He was later accused of working as a
police informer by Mr McCartney’s sister, Catherine. He remained a key
Sinn Fein supporter in the area throughout and in recent years took on
the role of a community worker.

The dead man is survived by a partner and three children. Sinn Fein
Assembly members Alex Maskey and Mairtin O Muilleoir visited the scene
to offer assistance to the Davison family.

Mr Maskey described the killing as “brutal”, adding: “The people who
took his life have robbed this community not only of a family member
but of a person who had been working tirelessly on behalf of the
community.” He described Mr Davison as “a longstanding republican and
community worker”.

Mr Maskey said he did not want to speculate on who might be responsible
but added that “clearly they have nothing to offer”.

Sinn Fein’s representative in the nearby Short Strand, Niall O
Donnghaile, said: “My friend has been callously murdered while working
for the people of the community he loved. He and his beloved family are
foremost in my mind.”

The Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams also offered his condolences to Mr
Davison’s family and said people were appalled at the murder.

“This brutal act will be condemned by all sensible people. There can be
no place today for such actions. I would urge anyone with any
information to bring that forward to the PSNI,” he said.

The Hunger Strike 1981

Posted by Jim on April 28, 2015

Fast Til Death (May-Oct 1981)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Jim on

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

Posted by Jim on

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

Further information will be posted as it is received.

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

Posted by Jim on April 25, 2015

April 21, 2015


Letter to Editor


620 8th Avenue, 6th Fl.

New York, New York 10018



Dear Editor:


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


Michael J. Cummings

Albany, New York 12203-1814


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

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

Time for Irish to stop calling Irish Americans Plastic Paddies

Posted by Jim on


by James O’Shea @ IrishCentral

A failure to understand what the Irish American identity means.

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Posted by Jim on

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Jim on April 24, 2015


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

by Frances Mulraney Irish Central

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The best ways to learn the Irish language for free

Posted by Jim on April 23, 2015

by Frances Mulraney for Irish Central


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

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


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

1. Duolingo

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

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

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

More information can be found at:

2. Clilstore

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

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

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

More information can be found at:

Search results for “faoi” on Clilstore.

3. SpeakTalkChat

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

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

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

More information can be found at:

4. Social media

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

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

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

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

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


5. Irish language media

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

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

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

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

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

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

6. Use the Irish language option on your smartphone

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

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

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

Take advantage of your phone to use Irish every day.

7. Make use of other online resources

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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




Sinn Fein 1916 Commemorative Events 2016

Posted by Jim on April 22, 2015

Irish Hunger Memorial Walk & Talk May 3rd, 2015

Posted by Jim on

Irish Hunger Memorial Walk & Talk

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

Event Details

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

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

O’Donovan Rossa Commemorative 7’s GAA Tournament

Posted by Jim on

O’Donovan Rossa Commemorative 7’s GAA Tournament

Saturday, June 27 at 10:30am

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

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

Posted by Jim on


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


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

Posted by Jim on April 20, 2015

Irish Government is afraid to speak of Easter week

Posted by Jim on April 18, 2015

By Gerry Adams

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Posted by Jim on

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let the Summer Fun begin

Posted by Jim on April 17, 2015

Denny McCarthy's photo.

Britannia Waives Rules on OTR Letters

Posted by Jim on

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

A chara,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Martin Galvin

AOH National FFAI Chair on Justice for the Craigavon 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

bloody sunday 15

Mary Courtney Appearances in NY

Posted by Jim on

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

Posted by Jim on April 14, 2015

Bombay St 2

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


Bombay St 1

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

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

Patrick Pearse’s Graveside Oration for O’Donovan Rossa

1 August 1915 at Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Easter Greetings from Gerry McGeough

Posted by Jim on

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


Posted by Jim on April 13, 2015


April 9, 2015

Letters Editor

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

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

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A user's photo.

The Leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising: Sir Roger Casement

Posted by Jim on April 12, 2015

Posted by That’s Just How It Was


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The carriage on which Sir Roger Casement was laid in Ireland

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

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

Leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising: Seán Heuston

Posted by Jim on April 11, 2015

Posted by That’s Just How It Was


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Heuston Station in Dublin is named in his honour.

This says it all.

Posted by Jim on

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

Posted by Jim on

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

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

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

However there remains vacuity at the centre of the plans.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1916 Memorial Construction at the Cohalan Court Complex in Suffolk County

Posted by Jim on

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising: Patrick Pearse

Posted by Jim on April 9, 2015

Posted by That’s Just How It Was

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

While writing to his mother, Pearse said:

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

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

Here is a poem Pearse wrote for his mother:

The Mother

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

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

Insulting to remember British Army deaths equally during 1916 events

Posted by Jim on


by Niall O’Dowd

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

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

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

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

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

But are they all equal?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amen to that.

Leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising: James Connolly

Posted by Jim on April 8, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Jim on April 7, 2015


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising: Éamon de Valera

Posted by Jim on April 6, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising: Tomás Séamus Ó Cléirigh

Posted by Jim on April 5, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising: Seán Mac Diarmada

Posted by Jim on April 4, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Irish Republican Brotherhood Easter Press Release

Posted by Jim on








William James McGuire, President Of The Irish Republican Brotherhood.

For further information please go to:


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


00353871228541 (Primary Contact)

00353872297888 (Alternate)

Leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising: Eámonn Ceannt

Posted by Jim on April 3, 2015