Posted by Jim on March 30, 2015
Christy Walsh who is currently hunger striking in pursuit of justice has written to the North’s First Minister, Peter Robinson, and his deputy, Martin McGuinness. A former prisoner, Christy Walsh blogs at The Fundamental Flaws in the Arrest, Trial & Appeals of Christy Walsh and can be contacted at email@example.com.
Messrs’ Robinson & McGuinness
GD36 Stormont Castle Stormont Estate Belfast BT4 3TT
23rd March 2015
Dear Messrs’ Robinson & McGuinness
Today marks my 8th day on hunger strike.
Mr Robinson, local media networks have reported your position on crime to be as follows:
“We take the position that if people have committed crimes then they’re answerable, no matter what their position, and if there’s evidence and it’s brought forward then it’s up to due process to determine.”
Why then, Mr Robinson, with due respect to you, would you believe that the Deputy First Minister, Mr McGuinness, might be subject to scrutiny of the law but Mr Ford or the Crown Prosecutor, Mr McCrudden, are not, despite the compelling prima facie evidence against them? Do you believe the unethical conduct of both the Justice Minister and Prosecutor to be above the law as if immune from culpability because of their privileged positions? If that is true then why do you draw a distinction with Mr McGuinness who, it stands to reason, is privileged with even higher public position?
David Ford is aware that one of the RUC’s most senior intelligence figures throughout the whole Conflict could have testified to my innocence at my trial had the Prosecutor not withheld crucial evidence. In 2009, I gained rare access to Northern Ireland Forensic Science Laboratories to examine their files for myself. While I was at NIFSL I discovered that a report signed by Detective Superintendent John Derek Martindale details how another man had originally been caught in possession of the coffee-jar for which I was convicted.
David Ford is also aware that when the former Lord Chief Justice, Sir Brian Kerr, requested that the Prosecutor bring one of his military witnesses before the court to explain why he had retracted his Trial Testimony under PACE caution, the Prosecutor soon afterwards informed the court that his witness could no longer be traced. Police Detective Gary McMurran, who was present in court, told me that the Prosecutor was lying to the court and he knew this because he had been the person tasked to locate the Soldier. The Detective confirmed to me that he had successfully located the witness contrary to what the Prosecutor had just told the Court. I asked the Detective if he would confirm to my lawyers what he had told me. The Detective agreed to do so and later provided my lawyers with a two page written account of the steps he had taken to locate the military witness. The Detective’s written account concludes that the military witness’s reason for refusing to appear before the Court was because he wanted “the past to stay in the past”.
The reliance by the Justice Minister on the proven discredited word, changed statements, coached evidence, and retracted trial testimony of members of the Parachute Regiment against my 24 year consistent and unshakable account says more about the Minister’s religious or political prejudices than all the fabricated evidence he claims he has against me. Furthermore, refusal of the Justice Minister to refer prosecutorial misconduct to the Criminal Justice Inspectorate sends a clear message to barristers, that, their perverting the course of justice is acceptable because they hold privileged position. Barristers do not view corrupt Police Officers as they would view themselves, as this media report tends to indicate:
“Karen Quinlivan QC said (Here): “The entire conspiracy was designed to ensure police were immune from prosecution.” … “It’s difficult to imagine a more fundamental abuse of process of the court, to allow police to manipulate proceedings in order to ensure police officers are protected from criminal sanctions, and to use the same investigation in order to secure the conviction of the victim of the unlawful conduct.“
However, the common law does not afford privileged barristers to pervert the course of justice any more than it would police officers, because: “Unless it is specified in law a lawyer is no more exempt for perverting the course of justice as the average citizen.” The only body with statutory power to investigate criminal conduct within the Prosecution Service is the CJI, which: “By law, CJI is not allowed to investigate individual cases but it can, when asked by the Minister for Justice, undertake specific pieces of work including investigations and reviews.”(Here) The CJI has confirmed to me (Here) that the Minister is fully aware of his statutory powers of referral and provided a list of some cases they had previously investigated at the Minister’s requests. This is irrefutable evidence that the Minister is knowingly and intentionally covering-up unlawful prosecutorial misconduct by refusing to make the proper referral; and he does so at the expense of the “victim of the unlawful conduct”.
Furthermore, we have seen with regard to Loyalists or Republicans, the Police, sparing no resource, will swim the length and breadth of the Atlantic Ocean on the whiff of a rumour or speculation that an audio tape might contain a nugget of evidence. Yet, evidently, when clobbered over the head with real, relevant and available indelible evidence they will do nothing because of the privileged position of the perpetrators’. As a victim of serious crime I have a right for my complaints to be investigated regardless of the political or professional positions of the perpetrators.
I had engaged lawyers to present an array of evidence in open Court, but, at the last minute they ambushed me for reasons only known to them and instead undermined my case on 31st May 2012. During the hearing, Ms Karen Quinlivan, QC, did an extraordinary thing, acting contrary to the best interests of her own client she asked the Court to refrain from considering my case and instead afford the Justice Minister the honours of doing it…again. Did my lawyers fail me because they were in “connivance” with the Minister or because their lives had been threatened by the Minister as Kevin Winters claims? These are serious matters pertaining to the administration of justice that need be addressed as a matter of urgency.
As a man of law, the law has always been on my side even when its human element has not. While the ‘law‘ means whatever those in political power want it to mean in places like Zimbabwe, Saudi Arabia, Burma, Syria, or many similar states, NI is supposed to be a democratic society.
Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charlie Flanagan, TD.
Prime Minister, David Cameron, MP.
Posted by Jim on March 29, 2015
by Eoin Ó Broin
Eamonn McCann’s Irish Times articles are an odd thing. His casual disregard for the facts is matched only by his willingness to join the establishment chorus against Sinn Féin.
Writing in the Irish Times on 12 March Eamonn made a number of claims which are just plain wrong.
He claimed that Sinn Féin had pulled out of the Stormont House Agreement – not true.
He claimed that trade union pressure forced such a move – not true.
He claimed –albeit under cover of quotes from the DUP and Green Party- that Sinn Féin’s stance on welfare cuts was inexplicable and reckless – not true on either count.
And he implied that Sinn Féin was only now opposing welfare cuts – yet again not true.
He also misrepresented ICTU President John Douglas’s address to the Sinn Féin Ard Fheis – although to be fair he probably didn’t even bother to read the speech.
Such flagrant disregard for the facts –particularly when the subject is Sinn Féin- is commonplace in the right wing media.
But for a left wing activist to trade in such sloppy journalism is surprising… or is it?
Unfortunately Eamon suffers from that Trotskyite pathology of always have to attack your more moderate rival on the left, irrespective of whether the facts support your case.
Exposing ‘reformism’ and highlighting ‘class betrayal’ is the strategic imperative for revolutionary socialists such as Eamonn.
The reason is very simple – according to his analysis Sinn Féin is not a potential ally on the left but the main obstacle to the growth of the Socialist Workers Party and its electoral alliance People Before Profit.
As long as working class voters, in Derry and Dublin, support ‘reformist’ parties such as Sinn Féin then the revolutionary left will remain marginal and the prospects of the overthrow of the capitalist state will remain slim.
So at every opportunity ‘real’ socialists must focus their critical attention on the ‘reformist’ left in order to detach the working classes from their ‘misguided’ support for ‘reformist’ parties.
Commentary on all political events must be squeezed into this narrative. If that requires bending and breaking the facts to suit the pre-ordained script then so be it – all in the service of the revolution.
So what are the facts surrounding the latest crisis in Stormont.
Sinn Féin supports the Stormont House Agreement and we want it implemented in full.
As part of our long standing opposition to Tory welfare cuts we ensured that there would be real protections for those dependent on social welfare.
The DUP, as they so often do, are trying to renege on that deal.
Sinn Féin’s last minute opposition to the Welfare Bill was to ensure that they keep to the commitments to protect existing and future claimants.
The trade union mobilisation on 13 March was in opposition to two aspects of the Stormont House Agreement – the voluntary redundancy scheme and the possibility of a reduction of the rate Corporation Tax.
Eamonn is right when he says that thousands of public sector jobs will go under this scheme.
But what he conveniently fails to mention is that that the British government in Westminster has unilaterally cut the block grant to the Assembly by £1.5bn and has imposed additional financial fines on the Assembly because of our refusal to implement welfare cuts.
The origin of austerity in the North is not the Assembly but the British government in Westminster. They are taking the decision to cut spending. The Executive is then left to pick up the pieces.
Eamonn also fails to mention that if the Executive parties had not reached an agreement at Stormont House the Assembly would have collapsed, Direct Rule would have returned, and the scale and depth of Tory cuts would have been even worse.
Sinn Féin has consistently opposed the Tory cuts agenda being imposed by Westminster. We have also outlined a better way to manage our affairs.
Full transfer of fiscal powers to the Assembly and lifting the restrictions on borrowing from bodies such as the European Investment Bank would provide the Assembly with the tools to chart a more progressive policy path.
In the meantime Sinn Féin are trying to mitigate, as best we can, the worst impacts of the Tory cuts agenda.
You would have thought that a left wing activist such as Eamonn would know all of this and at least offer tactical support to Sinn Féin’s efforts while remaining critical of the Stormont House Agreement.
But then he wouldn’t be able to cry class betrayal and his paymasters in the Irish Times wouldn’t have another anti Sinn Féin voice to publish in their newspaper.
So the interests of Trotsky’s permanent revolution and the southern establishment’s defense of its political and economic privilege coincide in their mutual opposition to Sinn Féin.
Enter stage left Eamon McCann, shouting in the service of the system. How ironic.
Originally published in An Phoblacht in March 2015
Posted by Jim on
On Monday April 6, 2015 at noon, The Irish Monument Committee and the Ancient Order of Hibernians Nassau Co. Board will host the annual Easter Sunday commemoration. The event takes place at the Irish Monument, Court House Drive, Mineola, NY. Mike McCormack, AOH National Historian will be the guest speaker. All are invited to attend this event. A social will follow at the Irish American Society Hall, 297 Willis Ave., Mineola. For more information I can be contacted at 516-660-7456 or Timtam614@aol.com.
Nassau Co. Board
Ancient Order of Hibernians
Posted by Jim on
The American Irish Teachers Association has initiated a petition to the Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Commission in Washington to issue a commemorative stamp celebrating the American Declaration of Independence and the 1916 Proclamation of the Irish Republic.
The United States Postal Service has a valued tradition of issuing U.S. commemorative stamps honoring significant events and distinguished persons. On July 14, 1989 the USPS issued a stamp in collaboration with the French government on the French Revolution. On February 26, 1999 the USPS issued a stamp commemorating Irish immigration, an issuance which was the successful outcome of a massive lobbying campaign by the Irish American community during the 150th anniversary period of Ireland’s Great Hunger.
The American Declaration of Independence is recognized for its great gift to all people in laying the foundation principles for a modern democracy, principles that influenced the aspirations of Irish patriots in their quest for freedom and independence.
The proposed model for the stamp would have illustrations of the Declaration of Independence and the 1916 Proclamation of the Irish Republic flanking the Light of Liberty under a banner containing the words “Liberty’s Legacy.”
The American Irish Teachers Association is urging all Irish organizations and individuals to write to Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee, 475 L’Enfant Plaza SW, Room 3300, Washington, D.C. 20260-3501 in support of the commemorative stamp celebrating the 1776 Declaration of Independence and the centennial of the 1916 Proclamation of the Irish Republic.
Posted by Jim on
Please join New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli and Service Employees Union -Local 1199 (SEIU), for the first New York screening of the award-winning documentary, “Inez: a Challenging Woman”, about the life and times of the outstanding Northern Ireland human rights activist and trade union leader, Inez McCormack on Thursday, April 9 at SEIU Penthouse offices, 330 W.43rd St. Doors open at 5:30 pm with light refreshments,Film begins at6:30 pm .
Inez’s historic contributions to peace and equality in Ireland included her sponsorship, along with Dr. Sean MacBride, of the MacBride Principles for Fair Employment in Northern Ireland and her election as the first woman President of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions..
Director – Corporate Governance
Office of the State Comptroller
59 Maiden Lane, 30th Floor
New York, New York 10038
Posted by Jim on March 28, 2015
A secret British army undercover unit may be redeployed to the north in
the run-up to the centenary of the 1916 Rising, according to reports.
It has been reported that up to 60 members of the Special Reconnaissance
Regiment (SRR) have already been returned to the Six Counties in advance
of commemorations this year to mark the 99th anniversary of the
insurrection against British Rule on the streets of Dublin.
Officially MI5 carries out the majority of intelligence gathering work
for Crown-force agencies in the north. However, in the past the British
army has also carried out its own military-grade spying operations.
The 14th Intelligence Company, a forerunner to the SRR, was involved in
suspected shoot-to-kill incidents and has been accused of carrying out
political assassinations with loyalists. Other British army units,
including the Military Reaction Force, were heavily involved in
directing sectarian killings. Members of the unit are believed to have
killed several innocent Catholic men after it was set up in 1971.
Reports of the deployment comes as it appears increasingly likely a
leading member of the British royal family will attend one of the major
commemorative events in Ireland in 2016.
Sinn Fein has criticised the idea. Earlier this month, party delegates
backed a motion against inviting any British royal or government member
from attending any official state event during the 1916 Rising
commemorations at their annual conference in Derry.
But Dublin government officials have expressed concern that the
anniversary of the Rising could spark a resurgence of interest in the
Irish national cause.
“Let us seek to ensure that the Ireland 2016 commemorative programme
does not become an unnecessarily divisive issue,” the 26 County Foreign
Minister Charlie Flanagan wrote this week. He said he wanted to invite
“international friends and partners” to reflect on the events
surrounding the rising.
His comments were echoed this week by Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness, who
said centenary commemorations must be inclusive and reflect all
perspectives of the event.
The deputy first minister stressed the need for a “mature and
inoffensive” approach as he launched his party’s plans to mark the 100th
anniversary of the Rising next year.
Noting the colours of the Irish tricolour, Mr McGuinness said: “The
orange part of the flag is as important as the green and I think we are
very proud to be part of that generation of Irish republicans that is
prepared to appreciate that, is prepared to accept that as we face into
The publicity event saw uniformed re-enactors dramatise some of the
events of 1916, including the declaration of the Republic on the steps
of the General Post Office (GPO) in Dublin.
Mr McGuinness said the leaders’ vision of a republic remained
“So the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising is a time to build – it is a
time to rededicate ourselves to the achievement of the Republic declared
in 1916 – so let us imagine and achieve that better future.
“I have been an Irish republican for over 40 years and over that very
lengthy period of time this is absolutely the most exciting time to be
an Irish republican because of the growth of support for our party
because of the desire to use our mandate wisely for the purposes of
bringing about our primary political objective, which is the unification
of our country by purely peaceful and democratic means. I think all of
this is achievable.”
Posted by Jim on
Taoiseach Enda Kenny [Irish Prime Minister] has met families of civilians who were murdered by members of the Parachute Regiment in the Ballymurphy Massacre over a three-day period in August 1971.
The Taoiseach was welcomed by families at the location of the shooting dead of four of the eleven civilian at the Manse on Springfield road. He was shown the close proximity of the murder scene to the then Henry Taggart Army Barracks, the Taoiseach commented himself that it was not more than 25 yards. He also took the opportunity to lay flowers at the scene and took a moment for reflection. This walkabout in Ballymurphy was followed by a private meeting with families and political representative, including Alliance Party, Sinn Fein and SDLP as well as Fr Tim Bartlett representing the Bishops office.
Commenting afterward John Teggart said ” The meeting went extremely well, the Taoiseach lived up to his promise to come to Ballymurphy and meet with us, it was an opportunity for him to see firsthand the locations of our loved ones deaths and I think he was moved by it. We also had the opportunity to brief him on the progress of the campaign and the new evidence that has come to light since we last met in January 2014.”
The new evidence is the report by Dr Laurence Rock former consultant in the RVH casualty department, who has stated that had Joan Connolly received proper medical attention she may have survived her injuries.
The recent acquittal of Terry Laverty who’s case has demonstrated that no “riot” took place and that the Army personnel lied to secure a conviction.
The ordering of Coroner Kitson of the exhumation of Joseph Murphy.
Briege Connolly added that the Taoiseach has committed himself to again fully endorse the independent Panel Proposal and he has agreed to call on British Prime minister David Cameron to meet with the families. We are delighted to hear that he is making progress on drawing up an all party motion in the Oireachtas, in support of the Ballymurphy Massacre Campaign, which he will be putting forward at the end of march.
The PSNI and The MOD have consistently delayed and obstructed the disclosure process and documents have been over redacted making them useless in many cases, families raised this with him today. The Taoiseach has reassured the families that he will be raising these issues with the Prime minister as a matter of urgency. He has already committed the Irish governments full resources to the Kingsmill families in terms of disclosure, which the Ballymurphy families welcome. The Ballymurphy Massacre families have called on David Cameron to show leadership and follow the example of the Taoiseach in this matter.
John Teggart can be contacted on 02890230222
The Ballymurphy Massacre Film is being shown today in Rome as part of the Irish film Festival
Posted by Jim on March 27, 2015
Radio Free Eireann is heard on WBAI 99.5 FM and wbai.org on the web where
it is archived for 10 days..
This week we will be back home at Rocky Sullivan’s of Red Hook. Even before then
you can come to Rocky’s for the pizza and the best pint in New York
Rocky Sullivan’s of Red Hook, 34 Van Dyke Street in Brooklyn.
Come stop by Rocky’s for a pint and listen to the show live. Enjoy some good food and great people.
Posted by Jim on March 26, 2015
by Michael J. Cummings
According to a 2015 FORBES magazine survey 41 million Americans claim Irish heritage . Far fewer, of course, know anything about that Irish heritage either here or on yonder shamrock shore. I was one of them. In 1972 I listened to Bernadette Devlin speak in NYC and, as the expression goes, that has made all the difference. Over many St Patrick’s Day celebrations since, I have observed that around the feast day many important things are going on in America and in Ireland that usually go unnoticed by most celebrants. Take, for example, this year.
THE THREE AMIGOS
Remarks about the Anglo-Irish conflict of His Eminence Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Vice President Joe Biden and a Goldman Sachs analyst Kevin Daly were widely quoted in the media. This is unusual in itself as none of them have been known to say anything of significance about Ireland’s conflict before. The Cardinal claimed the IRA and ISIS were alike. Apart from its disregard of the facts, virtually no one, even ex-British Army types, agreed with the analogy. In Washington, Vice-President Biden greeted N. I. Assembly leaders with “..if you are not wearing green you’re not welcome here” or words to that effect. Not the affable Joe’s finest hour! Goldman Sachs rolled out their ‘house’ Irish face, Kevin Daly, to explain why he thought the policies of Sinn Fein in Ireland would be troublesome for Ireland’s economy. This from the firm at the center of the mortgage meltdown which stopped America’s economy in its tracks!! Decades ago British leaders were behind a patently false article in the ECONOMIST magazine in order to scuttle talks about a re-united Ireland. You can be sure Mr. Daly is but a prop in that larger struggle.
It is customary for the British to have some royalty prancing around America and this year it was ‘Chazz’ and ‘Cammy’ who had a private audience with President Obama. At the same time, the State Department was canceling a scheduled meeting with Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams. Ironic No? Royal relics are ushered into the Oval Office while the door is shut in the face of a Member of the Irish Dail and the elected leader of a political party….for a meeting the Department scheduled! Added to this farce we have Dana Millbank of the Washington Post reporting on a press conference of U. S. Representative Price by citing St Patrick’s Day as “..the festival of inebriation.” A pathetic performance by the Department of State and a predictable performance by the Post. Britain’s dark forces at Whitehall… behind so much of the mayhem and slaughter in the North of Ireland… must have been doing cartwheels in Trafalgar Square.
Her Majesty’s Government has always been concerned that their dirty war in Ireland is covered up and that their treacherous role in Irish history be ‘cleansed’ in publications. Their influence in this respect is masterful and this St. Patrick’s Day was a shining example of their prowess. The NEW YORKER magazine published a long article by a Patrick Keefe who rehashed an old news story about a 1972 IRA killing not long after the British Army murdered 14 civil rights protesters in Derry and shortly after Britain’s Widgery Report not only absolved the murderers but blamed the victims. All the British buzz words were there. For example, “the Troubles’, as if Britain’s murderous reign was the equivalent of constipation. Or labeling as “one of the worst atrocities” the IRA execution of a British Army informer. The ‘atrocity’ label clearly belongs without question to the British Army 1974 no-warning bombing of Dublin and Monaghan killing 33 (mostly women and children shopping) and injuring 300. Or my favorite, citing “British repression” in quotes as if there was any question of the three decade record of their injustice and violence. The author noted that there was no response to his requests from Sinn Fein as though there was any need to respond to his tired tripe and smear.
Not to be outdone, the WALL STREET JOURNAL ( writer is a subscriber ) offered for their celebration of St Patrick’s Day a book review of R. F. Foster’s book VIVID FACES which generally panned Ireland’s revolutionary leaders. Like so many previous British smear artists the reviewer chose to highlight the homosexual tendencies of some of the leaders. The Anglophile newspaper that quotes Winston Churchill or Margaret Thatcher with utter abandon can be most scholarly and observant on many matters but not when it must follow a British diktat on Ireland!
Members of Congress hastily held a public hearing of the Helsinki Commission in Washington to explore England’s many delay tactics in addressing issues of the past in N. I. and their many failures in protecting human rights and promoting justice. Key witness Patrick Finucane’s widow Geraldine has become an international symbol of how America remains incapable or unwilling to demand the British bring her husband’s killers to justice. Chairman Chris Smith (R-NJ) did not explain the absence of the Department of State’s human rights officials at the hearing . Nor did he explain how the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act (S. 284) which he sponsors could sanction British officials for that murder and others. Perhaps for another day.
So you see there are other things about the Irish heritage of Americans going on around St Patrick’s Day besides parades. Hopefully in the not too distant future more Americans will become aware of such activities and demand change. When Gerry Adams addressed an audience in NYC with his first visa, he told them that the game-changer was radically opposed by the British not because they were afraid of him but because they were afraid of Americans. Now if only half of those 41 million Irish Americans could make that truth a reality.
Michael J. Cummings
Posted by Jim on March 25, 2015
Neil F. Cosgrove
It is difficult to find the word to express my deep disappointment and outrage over an Associated Press photo from the New York City St. Patrick’s Day parade displayed in the March 18 Journal News.
It was not that one of the world’s largest parades, a seminal event for Irish Americans everywhere, and one which hundreds of Lower Hudson residents take part in, merited no more coverage than a single photo buried literally with the obituaries, but the image chosen appears to summarize the meaning of the parade and the day. The editors chose to eschew the countless sacrifices that Irish Americans have made as typified by the NY 69th whose roots trace back to the Irish Brigade of the Civil War and the legions of first responders who marched on the avenue. They did not choose to focus on the commemoration of the life of St. Patrick, the Patron Saint of Ireland, who is the reason for the day, or the countless families along the parade route maintaining a centuries old tradition.
What did the editors think was the image that best encapsulated St. Patrick’s Day? A photo of a young man wearing a shirt with “I (Recycle Symbol) Drunk Girls.” It would appear we have not moved on from the negative stereotypes and tropes targeting Irish Americans and St. Patrick’s Day first promulgated by bigoted 19th century journalist Thomas Nast.
At any parade or celebration, one can find a few individuals who don’t comprehend the true meaning of the day and denigrate it. However, it often seems that when it comes to St. Patrick’s Day, The Journal News makes an effort to seek out those confused individuals who think the day is “Mardi Gras II” rather than focusing on the majority who embody the true spirit of St. Patrick’s Day – something I do not note when they cover other ethnic celebrations. Such undeserved notoriety only further encourages this disrespectful and inappropriate behavior.
Before covering another St. Patrick’s Day event, I suggest the editors read President Obama’s proclamation of March as “Irish American Heritage Month” and heed his call to honor the numerous contributions of Irish Americans to our country, rather than promote individuals with questionable taste who seem to have little respect for the Irish or women. In the interim, I ask for an apology to the Irish American Community for the denigrating depiction of St. Patrick’s Day it promoted.
The writer, a New City resident, is national anti-defamation chair, Ancient Order of Hibernians.
Posted by Jim on March 22, 2015
by The Broken Elbow 3/22/15
The leaked story in today’s Sunday Telegraph reporting the British police’s intention to pursue six IRA activists who had been given so-called ‘comfort letters’ by the Blair government is another indication that the British are determined to continue waging war against the IRA despite the peace process and the reality that the Provisional movement has effectively accepted British rule in Northern Ireland.
This, along with the Cameron government’s expressed intention not to stand over the Blair letters to the so-called ‘On The Run’s’ or OTR’s – IRA suspects given promises of non-prosecution – and the pursuit of Ivor Bell, who will learn in a fortnight whether he will face charges in connection with the disappearance of Jean McConville, amount to a British default both from the spirit of the peace process and the commitments given during good faith negotiations with Sinn Fein and the IRA.
That the British intention to continue to pursue IRA suspects, try them in the courts and then imprison them amounts to an act of war against the IRA is undeniable in the context of the conflict since 1969.
Whereas the IRA’s campaign was characterised in the main by the shooting and bombing of British targets, the British response in the main took the form of trying to put as many IRA members as they could behind bars, using the police and the courts to do so (while the British also shot and killed many IRA members the greater part of their energies was spent trying to imprison them).
The fact that the IRA has completely abandoned violence against the British, has stopped shooting or bombing them and furthermore co-operated in the destruction of its arsenals while the British now trumpet their resolve to keep putting former IRA activists behind bars whenever they can, highlights an unspoken and unacknowledged reality: the IRA has ended its war against the British but the British have not ended their war against the IRA.
This would be completely uncontroversial had the Troubles in Northern Ireland ended in any way other than by a series of negotiated accords with each side making and giving concessions and no side claiming victory over the other.
This latter commitment was the defining principle of the peace process, the oil that greased the wheels: no-one came out and said ‘We Won!’ and by not doing so this enabled the already difficult process of making and demanding concessions to happen.
Implicitly and in an unspoken way, at least in public, the Troubles ended in a draw with every participant agreeing on ways of enabling each other to withdraw from the field of battle. It wasn’t easy and it took a long time to happen but without that agreement it probably never would have.
The fact that the British, or to be precise the Cameron government, are now flouting this principle amounts to a declaration of victory over the IRA and a hollowing out of the core of the peace process.
Had the Provos done something similar, for instance by announcing that the IRA was back in the business of acquiring weapons, how loud would be the cries of anger from London? And from Dublin? How grave would the resulting crisis be for the peace process? How quickly would Unionists have withdrawn from the GFA institutions?
But the Provos haven’t, and they won’t. And nor have they raised as much as a squeak in protest, at least in public, even though one very real consequence could be the abandoning of former comrades to jail time (except when their leader was briefly threatened with the same fate and that protest was quickly put down).
And ultimately it is this silence from Sinn Fein that is making it possible for the British to behave in this way. And by staying silent Sinn Fein is also admitting that the British are right; they won and to the victors go the spoils, including the right to put former adversaries behind bars, peace process or no peace process.
Posted by Jim on
On behalf of the CA State Board and the Orange County Board, I would like to invite all of you to join us in celebrating the 99th anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising. The Easter Rising was a
watershed event in human history, an armed struggle where the Irish people challenged the might of the British empire and declared to the world in blood their right to the unfettered control of Irish destinies. It is right that we should gather to remember the sacrifices of the men and women who gave the last full measure of devotion to the cause of freedom.
The event is to be held at 1 pm on Saturday April 4, 2015, at the VFW in Anaheim, CA. The VFW is located at 805 E. Sycamore St, Anaheim, CA 92805. The Keynote Speaker will be Mick Byrne, Orange County #3 Brother. Admission is free and open to the public.
There will be plenty of music, singing and story-telling, as well as solemn recitations and rousing orations. The VFW has a full bar and there will be sandwiches and desserts as well. When the formal event has ended, there will likely be a sing along session in the bar area for those who are interested. This part of the evening is always well-attended.
The event is always a great time so I encourage all of you to come with your friends and family and soak up this living history with your Hibernian brethren.
P.S. For further details, please visit our websites at aohoc.org or aohca.org
Posted by Jim on March 21, 2015
There has been “dishonourable silence” from the British government on
evidence of deep collusion between the British forces in Ireland and
unionist paramilitaries during the conflict, an Irish human rights
researcher author has told a US congressional panel.
Anne Cadwallader, a former journalist who currently works with human
rights group, the Pat Finucane Centre, testified before the Commission
on Security and Cooperation in Europe on Capitol Hill, discussing the
findings in her 2013 book, ‘Lethal Allies: British Collusion in
The book covers the murders of more than 120 people from 1972 to 1978 in
counties Tyrone, Armagh and Monaghan, providing evidence that Loyalists
killers were helped by members of the then RUC police and the British
Army’s Ulster Defence Regiment.
The murders were linked to the Glennane Gang in Tyrone and Mid-Ulster, a
region that became known as the “Murder Triangle” during the 1970s
because of the number of murders carried out on Catholics.
Ms Cadwallader testified before the committee, also known as the
Helsinki Commission, about a bomb attack on the Step Inn bar in Keady,
County Armagh in August 1976 that killed two Catholics, mother of three
Elizabeth McDonald and 22-year-old Gerard McGleenan.
She told the committee that a paper trail has been found showing that
the bomb was made, transported and detonated with the active involvement
of members of the RUC and the British Army.
“To this day, no one in authority has ever gone to any of the bereaved
families or the injured to acknowledge the state’s involvement in these
horrific crimes,” she told the committee. “The papers establishing the
state’s guilt lay for over 30 years in locked police archives. Those who
knew at the highest levels, and I mean the highest levels, must have
hoped they would never be discovered.”
There has been “deafening silence” from the London government since her
book was published, she said.
“It is, in my view, a most shabby, unworthy and dishonourable silence.
The guilty silence of a disgraced establishment that hasn’t the courage
to face the truth,” she said.
Ms Cadwallader appeared with Geraldine Finucane, widow of lawyer Pat
Finucane who was murdered by loyalists in 1989, and Kieran McEvoy, a law
professor at Queen’s University Belfast.
The Pat Finucane Centre wants the British government to release all
records showing collusion between the British Crown forces and
loyalists, and a public inquiry to be held into Mr Finucane’s killing.
The committee’s chairman, Congressman Chris Smith, remarked that the
British government’s reputation had been tarnished by the refusal to
hold a public inquiry into Mr Finucane’s murder and his committee was
“not gonna let up” until all the information about the killing is “laid
bare” and the people responsible are held to account.
“It is bewildering how a mature democracy like the United Kingdom could
be so obstinate in not letting this information out,” said Mr Smith, who
was chairing his 15th hearing since 1997 on human rights in the north of
Ireland, nine of which involved members of the Finucane family providing
Congressman Brendan Boyle, a member of the commission, described Ms
Cadwallader’s evidence of collusion as “overwhelming”.
“It’s time for Britain to finally deal openly and honestly with this
issue and release all of the evidence,” he said.
Posted by Jim on March 14, 2015
It is our time of the year. Weekends full of parades and celebratory events. Our County and our Division needs our support. Please try and make it a point to participate in our parades and events and support our members being honored.
Meetings : Division 12 meeting at K of C’s Dongan Council on March 19 with a 7:30 start.
Division 19 meeting at Baile na nGael on March 18 with a 7:30 start.
Division 22 meeting at American Legion Hall on March 18
Division 35 meeting at K of C’s Columbus Council on March 17*
* Subject to change due to Saint Patrick’s Day
Kings County Board meeting at Baile na nGael on March 23 with a 7:30 start
March 15 – Irish American Saint Patrick’s Day parade in Park Slope,
meet up at 9th Avenue and 12th Street at noon.
Honoree, yours truly, Steve Kiernan
March 17 – NYC Saint Patrick’s Day Parade.
Meet up at 5th Avenue and E48th Street
(not sure of corner at this moment, but will reach out when I know).
Honoree is our County President John O’Farrell.
March 22 – Bay Ridge Saint Patrick’s Day parade in Bay Ridge.
Attend 9:00am Mass at Saint Patrick’s,
line up after invited guest attend breakfast at Hunters Steak House.
Honoree is Division 12 member Mark Langton.
March 28 – Gerritsen Beach Saint Patrick’s Day parade in Gerritsen Beach.
Line up after mass at Resurrection.
Posted by Jim on March 11, 2015
by James O’Shea
Reps Joe Crowley and Richard Neal: Conflict in Northern Ireland was about identity not religion, say US congressmen.
Two leading Irish American congressmen have slammed Cardinal Timothy Dolan’s recent comments on CNN comparing the IRA to ISIS and saying both misused religion for their own ends.
The strongly worded statement by the two congressmen, who are leaders of the Congressional Friends of Ireland group, was released Tuesday.
The comments by Reps. Richie Neal from Massachusetts and Joe Crowley from Queens came after a flood of protest from Irish groups including the AOH, America’s largest Irish organization.
“The IRA claimed to be Catholic,” Cardinal Dolan told anchor Chris Cuomo. “They were baptized. They had a Catholic identity.” But, he continued, “what they were doing was a perversion of everything the church stood for.”
Dolan said that, like the IRA, the Islamic State extremists “do not represent genuine Islamic thought” but are “a particularly perverted form of Islam.”
“The analogy (to the IRA) is somewhat accurate,” said Dolan, who will lead the St. Patrick’s Parade as Grand Marshal in New York.
The statement from the congressmen points out many Irish patriots were Protestant and that the IRA had laid down their arms over ten years ago. They stated the conflict was about identity not religion.
The statement in full reads:
“As longtime leaders in the United States Congress on issues relating to Ireland, we strongly disagree with recent comments comparing the IRA to ISIS.
“While the claim is not factual on a number of counts, it’s important to note that historians credit Irish republicans like Theobald Wolfe Tone, Robert Emmet and Thomas Russell as founders of the Society of United Irishmen, an organization that believed that Ireland should be a free and independent republic.
“They were Irish rebels who were resisting British rule, were inspired by the American Revolution, and died for their beliefs. Simply put, they were key architects of modern Irish republicanism. And they were Protestants.
“Further, the IRA never claimed to be Catholic, even though many Catholics of course filled their ranks and leadership. Historians also know that, despite common misconceptions, the conflict in Ireland was never about religion, nor did it originate out of a desire to overthrow the British government.
“It was about identity and the willingness and desire of the Irish people to live in an independent and sovereign state where human rights were respected. That is why people like Charles Stewart Parnell and Robert Erskine Childers, both Protestants, are regarded as heroes for their efforts to secure a free Ireland.
It was why the IRA was initially formed under Michael Collins and others in the wake of the 1916 Easter Rising. They were not fighting for religion, but rather for their love and dedication to their country. And, they were fighting to help bring an end to human suffering that took place, not least through the then-British role in refusing to fully address the Great Hunger that killed one million Irish, including Catholic and Protestant, and forced millions more to flee the country.
“Can anyone make the same claim about ISIS whose campaign of terror is beginning to spread across the globe?
“Just last week, Nigeria’s Boko Haram pledged its allegiance to ISIS. Jihadists from the Arabian Peninsula and North Africa have also developed close ties with the militant group. These brutal extremists have beheaded innocent people, conducted mass killings including women and children, kidnapped religious minorities, and forbid western education.
They are fighting wars in Syria and Iraq and have the potential to destabilize the Middle East. The recent terror spree in France and Denmark was carried out by their supporters. In the name of religion, ISIS has become a dangerous and menacing threat. History proves that you could never make the same claims of the IRA.
“In 2011, Queen Elizabeth paid a historic visit to Dublin’s national garden of remembrance where she laid a wreath to those who died fighting the British for Irish independence. Acknowledging Britain’s role in Ireland’s troubled past she said, ‘there were things we wish had been done differently or not at all.’ It was a speech that demonstrated how far the relationship between Ireland and Great Britain has come since the days of Wolfe Tone.
“There is still a long, long way to go and much important work to be done. But, the Queen’s state visit was another milestone on the path toward peace and reconciliation. And it would never have happened if armed organizations from both traditions had not agreed to put their weapons beyond use and decided to pursue their political goals through exclusively peaceful means.
Posted by Jim on March 10, 2015
by Niall O’Dowd
New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan the target of Irish ire like never before. Photo by: Getty
There was a not so quiet revolution in Irish America last week, one that should not go unnoticed.
Four different Irish American groups, most notably the Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH), America’s largest Irish Catholic group, ripped into Cardinal Timothy Dolan regarding his CNN interview comparing Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) with the Irish Republican Army (IRA).
This is not your father’s Irish America!
AOH President Brendan Moore deserves great kudos for speaking out. The AOH is an organization that, in general, is deeply reverential to clergy and especially cardinals.
Moore, however, was obviously deeply upset by the Cardinal’s flippant comparison and didn’t pull his punches.
He knew that Cardinal Dolan had no earned authority on this issue, has never been known to speak out about it, and when he eventually did, he spoke in the most patronizing fashion.
Dolan’s remarks were plain wrong. A five minute study of the history of Ireland would reveal that the IRA never claimed religion as their motivation, rather theirs was a nationalist demand. A second grader would have figured that out.
Unlike his revered predecessor, Cardinal John O’Connor, who knew and understood the Northern Irish issue better than any prelate anywhere. Cardinal Dolan has no track record whatever on addressing the Northern conflict.
Moore stated: “The fact is that, unlike ISIS, the Irish Republican Army never used religion to justify its resistance to Loyalist sectarianism and/or British misrule.”
Father Sean McManus, a doughty fighter for civil rights in Northern Ireland for a generation and founder of the Irish National Caucus and originator of the MacBride Principles, was hardly holding back either.
McManus embodies the term “turbulent priest” and Dolan must have been smarting as Fr. McManus said the Cardinal’s statement, equating the IRA to ISIS was, “Profoundly ignorant, totally irresponsible and lacking all credibility.
“It is sadly consistent with a man who for 40 years never opened his mouth about the oppression of Catholics in Northern Ireland.”
What was extremely interesting about the intervention of Michael Cummings, a leading figure in groups such as the Irish American Unity Conference and AOH was how he did not hesitate to put the boot in on the various clerical scandals once taboo for Irish American Catholic groups to mention.
“…Given the church scandals in Ireland it takes a brave man to cite the Irish Bishops for anything save incompetence, arrogance and “narcissism” to quote Taoiseach Enda Kenny.”
Paul Doris of Irish Northern Aid was equally outspoken. “With the revelations of the past few years against the Catholic Church in Ireland I believe it would be more productive if Cardinal Dolan spent more time on that instead of opining on matters which he seems to know little or nothing about.”
Whew, heavy stuff and certainly a new departure for many of the Irish organizations which are conservative at the core.
Cardinal Dolan and his church depends in part on large donations and support from Irish Americans and many of those Irish Americans would find his take on the Northern troubles deeply troubling. There surely is a lesson here in this.
One wonders what John “Dagger” Hughes, the great Archbishop of New York and a Tyrone native who fiercely defended the Famine Irish from prejudice and the “know nothings,” would have made of such blather by one of his successors.
Not much I’d wager.
Posted by Jim on March 7, 2015
New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan is deservedly a tremendously popular figure within the Catholic community and the Irish-American community as well. It is therefore both disappointing and distressing to read his most recent (CNN, March 3) public comparison of the Irish Republican Army with ISIS.
In his statement last month (New York Post, Feb. 17) the Cardinal commended the leadership of Ireland’s bishops for condemning the IRA during the period referred to as The Troubles. One needs to wonder if The Troubles might have been avoided or diminished had those same Irish bishops spoken out to vigorously condemn long-standing institutionalized discrimination in employment and housing in the north of Ireland. How different things might have been had those same bishops stood shoulder to shoulder with their people during the civil rights campaign in British-occupied Ireland, for if they had they would have witnessed first-hand the routinely brutal beatings meted out to unarmed, peaceful demonstrators at the hands of the sectarian Royal Ulster Constabulary.
The fact is that unlike ISIS, the Irish Republican Army never used religion to justify its resistance to Loyalist sectarianism and/or British misrule. Cardinal Dolan’s statement (“everything they were doing was a perversion of everything the Church stood for”) appears to be contradicted by the heroic utterances and activities of many Catholic priests, among them Alex Reid, Des Wilson, Raymond Murray, and Denis Faul. Indeed, Cardinal Tomas O Faich (Thomas O’Fee) was consistently criticized in the media and elsewhere for his “excessive” closeness to militant Irish republicans.
Fortunately, we are into a new era in which the armed struggle has been replaced by a solid determination to make the political system work. Primary focus must now be placed on the fulfillment of the aspirations engendered in the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement, and there is so much that we can partner with Cardinal Dolan in working to achieve. Together we must look to a future in which all of Ireland’s daughters and sons can share in the blessings of equality, justice, and peace.
Ancient Order of Hibernians in America
Posted by Jim on March 5, 2015
As written in ” Ireland Calling”
One of the many tragic ironies of famine stricken Ireland is that as people died of starvation, thousands of tons of grain that could have saved them was instead shipped out of the country.
How could such a seemingly perverse and inhuman policy be allowed to continue?
Unshakeable belief in Free Trade
The answer lies in the political and economic beliefs of the British ruling classes at the time. The Whig government of Prime Minister Lord John Russell had an unshakeable belief in free trade. They were opposed to anything that would distort the market and damage the balance of supply and demand.
This was an approach enthusiastically enforced by Charles Trevelyan – the Secretary of the Treasury and the man in charge of famine relief in Ireland. His main priority, far above that of feeding the starving, was that there should be no interference with free trade. If landowners could earn more for Irish produced grain by selling it in England or in Europe rather than making it available to the destitute in Ireland then so be it.
This caused enormous resentment in Ireland and was even too much to take for some of Trevelyan’s own administrators. In the summer of 1846, the Commissary General Sir Randolph Routh, urged that Irish ports should be closed to prevent the export of grain.
Trevelyan flatly refused and wrote back saying: “Do not encourage the idea of prohibiting exports, perfect Free Trade is the right course.”
“Serious evil” to export food
Routh stood his ground and again insisted that it was essential to close the ports. Otherwise more than 60,000 tons of grain that could be used to feed the starving would instead be shipped abroad. He said was a “serious evil” to export food in the middle of such a crisis.
Trevelyan, with the full backing of the government, would not be moved. He replied: “We beg of you not to countenance in any way the idea of prohibiting exportation. There cannot be a doubt that it would inflict a permanent injury on the country.”
From the outset, the Irish were left in no doubt as to the approach to be taken by Trevelyan. He made his position clear as soon as he came to office by closing down the depots providing maize for the poor which had been set up by the previous government of Sir Robert Peel the year before at the outbreak of the famine.
He wanted there to be no free hand-outs to the poor.
Trevelyan increased public works
Instead, he increased the public works projects, ensuring that that the starving would have to work to earn some money if they wanted to be fed. These work projects were carefully designed so they did not interfere or compete with private enterprise. Therefore they were confined to areas such as building roads and walls, or repairing fences – the kind of projects that would not interest businesses as they would not be sufficiently profitable.
All these works were financed out of local Irish taxes. The cost to the central Treasury was to be kept to a minimum.
As the death toll mounted in September and October, the clamour for the government to provide more help grew so strong it could no longer be ignored. The Belfast newspaper the Vindicator captured the national mood in this article published on 3 October 1846.
“Give us food or we perish,” is now the loudest cry that is heard in this unfortunate country. It is heard in every corner of the island – it breaks in like some awful spectre on the festive revelry of the rich – it startles and appals the merchant at his desk, the landlord in his office, the scholar in his study, the minister in his council room, and the priest at the altar.
“Give us food or we perish.”
It is a strange popular cry to be heard within the limits of the powerful and wealthy British Empire. Russia wants liberty, Prussia wants a constitution, Switzerland wants religion, Spain wants a king, Ireland alone wants food.
Trevelyan reluctantly tried to help
Trevelyan reluctantly accepted that something would have to be done, although his heart wasn’t really in it. He tried to buy corn abroad as Sir Robert Peel’s government had done the year before with admirable haste, but it proved hard to find. The European harvest had been low that summer and there was very little surplus available. America had supplies but attempts to ship it to Ireland would be hampered by the coming winter which would freeze the trade lines of the American rivers.
Severe winter increases death toll
In the meantime, the public works schemes designed to give the poor the chance to earn money for food were running into difficulties. There were delays in getting them started due poor administration and once they did get going there were further delays due to lack of equipment and skilled engineers to oversee the work.
Then, as everyone thought things could surely get no worse, one of the severest winters for years set in. To add to the death toll from hunger, and famine related diseases, many labourers on the public works schemes collapsed and died from exposure.
Meanwhile the government continued to dally, the starving continued to die, and the ships laden with oats, wheat and barley continued to sail out of Irish ports.
Posted by Jim on
as reported by WPIX
The former Archbishop Cardinal Edward Egan died at 82 years old Thursday afternoon in a Manhattan hospital.
The cardinal was pronounced dead at NYU Langone Medical Center at 2:20 after going into cardiac arrest, according to Katherine Greenwood of the Archdiocese of New York.
Pope John Paul II appointed Cardinal Egan as the archbishop of New York from 2000 to 2009, and was made a cardinal in 2001 after the death of Cardinal John O’Connor. He served as the spiritual leader for many New Yorkers after the September 11 terror attacks, presiding over funerals and anointing the dead, along with holding prayers for justice.
In 2014, Egan also led the procession at the funeral for Avonte Oquendo, the Queens boy with autism whose remains were discovered on a College Point beach.
Egan is remembered as a financially savvy leader who was unpopular at the time for closing parishes and enacting cost-cutting measures that are now regarded as tough but necessary measures.
He was succeeded by Archbishop Timothy Dolan and was retired as archbishop in May of 2009 at the age of 77. Dolan asked for people to celebrate his life and priesthood, saying in a statement on his website:
“Thank God he had a peaceful death, passing away right after lunch today, with the prayers and sacraments of his loyal priest secretary, Father Douglas Crawford, in his residence at the Chapel of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary. He was rushed to NYU Langone Medical Center where he was pronounced dead at 2:20 pm this afternoon.”
He continued living in Manhattan and working with the Archdiocese and the Vatican after his retirement.
Posted by Jim on
CARDINAL CONFUSION by Mike Cummings
In an interview with CNN’s Chris Cuomo on NEWDAY, Cardinal Archbishop Dolan made an unfortunate reference to the Irish Republican Army comparing them to ISIS.
First, the IRA never claimed their armed resistance to British terror was in the name of God. It may come as a surprise to the Bishop Dolan but the depiction of the ‘N. I. conflict as religious’ has been a useful spin provided by the British which never had a basis in fact. Second, most military experts, even British ones, would disagree with his comparison of ISIS with the IRA. The casualty figures for 30 years of conflict, although no consolation to anyone, show the British and their loyalist thugs had more in common with ISIS in that the majority of their victims were innocent civilians. Third, the machinery of British murder and injustice is amply documented by Anne Cadwallader in her book LETHAL ALLIES. I commend it to the Bishop. Would he deny the right of self-defense against such murderous mayhem? Fourth, he cites the periodic condemnation of the IRA by the Irish Bishops as constructive. Far from it. While no one expects clergy to advocate violence, they are obligated to speak out and condemn injustices as did Pope John Paul at Drogheda in Ireland and Paul VI at the U. N. Ever since the 19th century when Bishop Moriarity of CO Kerry condemned the Fenians stating that for them “Hell is not hot enough nor eternity long enough” the Catholic Bishops have at best been silent on British atrocities like the Dublin Monaghan bombings and at worse instruments of British oppression.
In his defense, the Cardinal may be unfamiliar with the Irish conflict. There is no record of his voice speaking out against the discrimination against Catholics in jobs, housing and voting or in favor of the MacBride Fair Employment Principles; or in support of the Hunger Strikers; in protest of the murders of attorneys Patrick Finucane or Rosemary Nelson or indeed the killing of nearly 1000 Catholics whose deaths have yet to be investigated or in opposition to current cases of injustice like the Craigavon 2. Like many other Bishops he may have hid behind the U. S. National Conference of Bishops who, in turn, hide behind the Irish Bishops.
Let’s not forget that it was Bishop Philbin of Belfast who forced Mother Theresa out of town because of her work for the poor. Voices of reason, justice and non-violence like those of Fr Des Wilson, Fr. Joe McVeigh, Fr. Raymond Murray, and Fr. Denis Faul were isolated and marginalized as being too close to the poor. Given the church scandals in Ireland it takes a brave man to cite the Irish Bishops for anything save incompetence, arrogance and “narcissism” to quote Taoiseach Enda Kenny.
Michael J. Cummings
Posted by Jim on March 4, 2015
Dear Editor: U. K. Prime Minister Cameron defended British security services which repeatedly interviewed but failed to detain Mohammed Emwazi aka ‘Jihadi John’ (“Cameron Defends…” 2/28). Ironic no? Britain spent most of 1971-1972 throwing hundreds of Irish men and women in jail without arrest, charge or trial and continues to do so today in the case of the Craigavon 2. Anne Cadwallader’s book Lethal Allies documents those same security services, using loyalist thugs to kill hundreds of Catholics labeled as terrorists.
Mr. Cameron assured the media that there was “robust oversight of the security and intelligence services …and when people commit heinous crimes against British Subjects ” the government ” will do everything it can to put them out of action.” What happens when it is the security services of the government that commit those heinous crimes? The Royal Ulster Constabulary made good on its threats to kill attorney Rosemary Nelson (1999). The de Silva Report into the murder of attorney Patrick Finucane (1989) a British Subject and Irish citizen, cited the security services as doing all they could to pervert the ends of justice. Those culpable in those murders have not been “put out of action.” So penetrating is Irish bigotry even militant jihadists are treated better!!
Had British ‘security’ services not spent decades spinning the N. I. civil rights protest into a guerilla war, they might have recognized the real enemy.
Posted by Jim on March 1, 2015
Irishtown’s code of silence made it a formidable opponent for the US authorities in the Brooklyn Whiskey Wars. Photo by: LOC
The Famine Irish settled along the Brooklyn waterfront neighborhoods in large numbers after the Great Hunger and continued pouring in throughout the late 1800s. From Greenpoint to the Gowanus Canal, Brooklyn wards were filled with families looking for regular work and the piers and docks where the ships let off provided the best opportunity.
The people of Irishtown were a gritty, hard-working lot employed by the ship builders of the local Brooklyn Navy Yard and the gas works companies. They were longshoremen, firemen or factory workers and filled the ranks of what became known as the Fighting 69th, New York Infantry of Thomas Meagher’s Irish Brigade during the American Civil War.
Workers in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, 1861
The residents of Irishtown became known for their distinct Irish spirit – and spirits.
Long before Prohibition in the 1920s, Brooklyn’s Irishtown was famous for its home-made, illegal whiskeydistilleries and the battles pitched to defend them.
“Whiskey was the prevailing beverage down there, and water was mainly used to wash with,” said a resident.
Secrecy was what made Brooklyn’s Irishtown different than Manhattan’s Five Points. All the same things happened in Irishtown that happened in Manhattan’s infamous neighborhood (portrayed in “Gangs of New York“), but Irishtown kept its secrets.
As the famous bank robber Willie Sutton (born on Nassau and Gold streets in Irishtown) once quipped, “a code of silence was observed in Irishtown more faithfully than omertà is observed by the Mafia… Nobody ever talked in Irishtown.”
It was a separated society, similar to a commune, that violently closed itself off and refused the influence of Anglo-America. The people of Irishtown provided their own policing measures when someone got out of line, which was inevitable in such a rollicking neighborhood. The numerous gangs were the ones that maintained order as the local authorities and courts were largely ignored.
Inevitably though, there would be a showdown between the street corner “bucks” in Irishtown and the American notion of law and order. Similar to what brought Al Capone down much later, the U.S. government would confront Irishtown over alcohol and taxes.
Distilleries were honeycombed throughout Irishtown, hidden in tenement basements and rooms. But what made them illegal was the fact that Uncle Sam didn’t get to dip his finger into the profits.
Brooklyn’s Irishtown as viewed from the Brooklyn Bridge, 1883.
According to lore from local bards, revenue officers supported by the police “invaded” the neighborhood to overturn the stills, but were harassed and their blackjacks were no match for the great number of loyal Irishtown residents who had no interest in allowing outsiders to tell them what they could and could not do.
Inevitably, a few barrels were dumped in the East River, but gangs fought them deftly. Mothers shamed them away, and at the end of it Irishtown distillers used their political connections to remedy the problems the police and revenue officers created.
Newspaper articles from the time note that when a police officer “made himself obnoxious, his transfer to some other district was easily secured.”
But more telling are the many stories of police and revenue officers having an open-handed policy toward the distillers; an “open hand” as in they accepted bribes and were allowed a portion of the distillers’ profits in exchange for keeping the Irishtown “raids” controlled or giving a notice in advance. And it was certainly true that after these raids, “the illicit product would go on as merrily as if a still… had never been seized.”
The Irishtown distillers, in fact were a boastful, blaguarding lot. Fellows like “Ginger” Farrell, “Ned” Brady and John Devlin were “men of robust physique, bluff manners and iron determination.”
Using Irishtown’s built-in defenses, these men made great profits without having to pay tribute to the government.
As one paper wrote, “The margin of remuneration was wide enough to lead the illicit distillers to take desperate chances in preparing and disposing of their fraudulent fluid.”
But for The Gas Drip Bard, an Irishtown native storyteller of “dear old Irishtown,” the distillers were famous for other reasons. These Irishmen, who had come from extreme poverty, suffering, and even, some say, genocide, suddenly become rich beyond their dreams. Prancing around the neighborhoods “gaudily tinseled” they gave orders to all the paupers like the gypsy-kings of Kings County they were and “had wild, barbaric notions of what constituted real luxury.”
This black market Irishtown economy had no shortage of comical double-dealers and swindlers. One story tells of a miscreant jeweler named Grady who seemed to rise above them all, dubbed “purveyor of ornaments.”
According to a resident, Grady had “by his sly machinations bled each of (the distillers) of a small fortune” by selling them stolen merchandise such as headlight-sized diamond studs and large gold watches with gold chains “long enough to hang a ten year old boy by the heels.”
Irishtown was by no means a wealthy neighborhood, but it had its own stories and drank its own “sweet poteen.” The neighborhood was held together by its own ruffian gangs that patrolled the streets and were connected to the right people with their own rogue businessmen who paid outsiders to stay away.
Then came the decorated Brooklynite and Anglo-American politician Silas B. Dutcher. On December 3, 1873, under Dutcher’s command “as the snow was falling fast,” the United States Marines, reinforced by the revenue officers and police all marched out of the Navy Yard with bayonets fixed to their guns. The Siege Of Irishtown was underway.
The Velvet Caps of Irishtown, a gang that was headquartered on the Little Street docks, sprung to action and fought valiantly. People took to the clapboard and tenement rooftops with their “Irish confetti,” throwing “dornicks” (rocks), paving stones, chimney bricks and from kitchen windows women threw streetwise their “kitchen utensils… gyrating through the air.”
A great battle ensued, but the soldiers had ten-day rations and held fast. Although illegal stills and gangs didn’t completely disappear, the old days of Irishtown’s insular, Celtic civilization began to wear away, particularly so after the immigration of so many other ethnic groups into the area.
Unlike Five Points, Irishtown stayed powerful, if not insularly powerful, up until Prohibition. During this time, however, the New York Harbor and its great shipping industry was slowly giving way to new methods of transportation, and so went the people of Irishtown, who found new jobs and moved up and out. To New Jersey, Long Island, upstate or Connecticut and eventually Florida they went, as the great exodus from America’s cities to the suburbs had begun.
But also unlike Five Points, the story of Irishtown is little-known today. Ultimately, what kept the old Irish ways in Irishtown alive for so much longer than Five Points, was also what kept its reputation out of the lime light. The Code of Silence may have kept the police and others out during Irishtown’s heyday, but in the long run it also left historians without much to speak of.
Eamon Loingsigh is the author of Light of the Diddicoy, the first book in the Auld Irishtown trilogy. The second book is due out March, 2016 via Three Rooms Press. Read more of his writing on his blog, artofneed.
Posted by Jim on
A St Patrick’s Day parade in Scotland is facing cancellation because it
could be attacked by loyalists, according to reports this week.
The St Patrick’s Day parade next month in Glasgow is being opposed
because of official “nervousness” about the response of loyalists and
the anti-Catholic Orange Order.
The “nervousness” is contained in a report drawn up by the British/Irish
Parliamentary Assembly (BIPA), which has controversially urged that
symbols of Irishness in Scotland be suppressed over fears of a sectarian
BIPA is comprised of parliamentarians from both the Dublin, London and
Edinburgh parliaments, as well as members of the Welsh and Stormont
Its draft report warned that symbols of Irishness could be “demonised by
sectarianism”. It revealed that at least two Irish centers in Scotland
have been burned down in sectarian attacks, and suggested the centers
were at fault for exhibiting excessive Irishness.
Some Irish community organisations were regarded as “troublemakers”, it
said, and Irish songs and symbols were “contentious”.
A committee of members produced the document, but it was not adopted by
the full Assembly after some Scottish members said that it was
inflammatory — to unionists.
Mary Scanlon, a Scottish Conservative and Unionist, objected to
labelling the Irish in Scotland as a minority, which she claimed was
“I am a unionist for the UK. We have just come out of the most divisive
election ever in the history of my time in Scotland,” she said.
Labour MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire North Jim Sheridan said the Irish
should not be regarded as a minority and insisted public money must not
be spent on a St Patrick’s Day march in Glasgow.
“People need to look forward, move forward and think of a modern
Scotland and stop living in the past,” he said.
Posted by Jim on February 26, 2015
Martin Galvin with a letter in today’s Irish News. Martin Galvin is a US Attorney with a long history of campaigning on behalf of Irish republicanism and the rights of nationalists in the North of Ireland.
It seems contradictory to be called ‘anti-agreement’ under the Irish News February 5th headline (TUV leader and ex-Noraid member agree on parade). I can hardly agree when Jim Allister’s biggest argument against infiltrating the PSNI into New York’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade, is outrage over the British constabulary following me, as an Aide to the Grand Marshal.
Recently Bloody Sunday families marched in Derry against the PSNI’s failure to arrest those who shot down their loved ones. CAJ’s report “Apparatus of Impunity?” put the PSNI center stage in gifting de facto immunity to crown force members for shoot-to-kill or collusion murders. SDLP member Dolores Kelly said the PSNI was shielding agents complicit in the 1997 murder of GAA official Sean Brown. A former Scotland Yard constable charged that the PSNI shelved his damning investigation into RUC and UDR collusion in 120 Glennane Gang murders.
Are we expected to applaud this disgraceful record in a parade celebrating our Irish heritage? Must the many relatives of victims who march or watch the parade stomach this!
There are fundamental issues at stake. The parade has a proud history that dates back more than 250 years. Many times, when freedom from British rule for any part of Ireland seemed a hopeless cause, the parade was a beacon of hope and support.
Last year Allister voiced unionist objections about a British constabulary marching amidst Irish flags and “England get out of Ireland” banners. The British dismissed his protests, pursuing old objectives of normalization, criminalization and Ulsterization.
If the PSNI were accepted, so British strategists thought, it would mean their constabulary was now viewed as a normal police force, that those it arrested like Gerry McGeough and Ivor Bell must therefore be criminals, and American scrutiny of British injustice was outdated. It would signal that Americans were starting to forget that six contingents in the parade represented counties where freedom from British rule is still unfinished business.
The British went to great efforts. Last year the PSNI was initially refused. They were permitted entry on the eve of the parade only after Irish parties interceded for them. Photos with Enda Kenny were arranged. It was claimed as a success.
Such claims were premature. They succeeded in reminding Americans about the six contingents which the British want forgotten. Draw your own conclusions about my being elected an Aide.
The PSNI told Allister that its members will not attempt to enter this year’s New York parade. They refuse to say why. Perhaps they will try a last minute u-turn. Perhaps they will try again behind next year’s Aides. It will not matter.
We will not let down those six contingents or the six counties they represent. There is unfinished business.
Posted by admin on February 21, 2015
New research has shown the 26 County state is now the most unequal
country in the European Union for the distribution of income, and one of
the worst in the western world for health inequality.
A report by the TASC research institute shows the gap between rich and
poor is on the rise, with more than a third of all income concentrated
in the hands of the top 10 per cent of earners.
With one in five workers on low pay, the system in Ireland is in danger
of being “stretched to breaking point”, the report warns.
“Income inequality leads to poverty and social exclusion. But it also
lowers demand in the economy in a downward spiral of lost spending,”
said Nat O’Connor, director of Tasc.
“The concentration of income in fewer hands gives the wealthy more power
to lobby for tax cuts that will disproportionately benefit them.”
Meanwhile, separate international research has shown that the gap in
physical health between rich and poor young people is higher in Ireland
than in almost every other country in Europe or North America.
When life satisfaction was measured according to socioeconomic
background, Ireland ranked third worst in the world, after Greenland and
The findings come at a time when inequality is starting the dominate the
political agenda in Ireland.
After the European Union and the International Monetary Fund bailed out
the 26 County economy and its banks in 2008, socialists have argued that
the strict austerity conditions attached made the economy more
unsustainable, not less.
For decades to come, every child born in the state will inherit a debt
of some ten thousand euro as the state is forced to pay billions in
interest on its bailout loans.
With ever increasing taxes and charges, and government politicians
determined to re-inflate Ireland’s property bubble, the state remains one
of the five most expensive countries of Europe.
Irish families are facing life on the streets for the first time since
the great Hunger, according to leading homelessness campaigner Fr Peter
McVerry, as up to a hundred home repossessions go through the courts
Sinn Fein TD Peadar Toibin today welcomed the publication of the
“We know from Eurostat and OECD data that Ireland has one of the highest
rates of underemployment in the EU, and low pay in the developed world,”
“The challenges facing low income households have been compounded by
each of the regressive budgets introduced by Fine Gael and Labour over
the last four years.
“Tackling the prevalence of income inequality is fundamental to ensuring
Ireland’s recovery is fair and sustainable, but government’s attention
must be equally directed towards fair taxation, equitable public service
delivery and supports, as well as industrial relations policy.”
Posted by Jim on
Anti-austerity activists have embarked on a hunger strike in protest at
their incarceration at Wheatfield prison in Dublin, and are now also
threatening to refuse fluids.
Five protestors were ordered to be locked up for up to 56 days by a
court earlier this week as a result of violating orders to stay away
from sites where water meter installations are taking place.
It was announced today that two of the prisoners, Derek Byrne and Paul
Moore, are now on hunger strike.
In a statement, Derek Byrne said the men have been confined to a cell
for the last three days “on complete lock down” in Wheatfield Prison in
Clondalkin, after being moved out of Mountjoy Jail in Dublin’s north
city centre, because of what he said was “a political decision”.
A number of protests have already taken place in Dublin city and outside
Mountjoy jail against their imprisonment. In the largest display so
far, a crowd of ten thousand gathered at short notice this afternoon in
support of the activists.
“We have taken the steps to go on hunger strike and have been on hunger
strike since yesterday,” Mr Byrne said in a statement.
“If we are not moved back to Mountjoy Training Unit, as we were told we
would be, then on Monday morning we will be taking it further and
refusing fluids until we are moved back to Mountjoy.”
He said it was harder for their families to make the journey to
Clondalkin to visit them.
“Every decision made, from our court cases to our incarceration, has
been of a political nature,” he said.
His two young children are now “in an emotionally distraught state” and
the family is suffering financially. But he said he refused to back down
from a “point of principle”. He also asked for protests at shopping
centers and “silent peaceful candlelit vigils” outside houses owned by
those politicians that he blamed for their incarceration.
RALLIES DEMANDS EQUALITY
The protest in Dublin city centre today was led by the families of
jailed anti-water charge activists and marched to a rally at Mountjoy
A number of organisations including the Anti Austerity Alliance, the
Socialist Workers Party, trade union Unite and Eirigi addressed the
workers outside the Central Bank in advance of the march.
The location of the rally was intended to highlight the disparity
between the treatment of the protestors versus the bankers who escaped
unpunished after perpetrating a fraud which has cost the 26 County state
billions of euro.
The umbrella ‘Right2Water’ campaign urged all those at the march to
remain calm and peaceful.
Another demonstration was also taking place today in Castlebar, where
the annual conference of the governing Fine Gael party is being held. Up
to a thousand protesters gathering outside the constituency offices of
Taoiseach Enda Kenny before marching on the Royal Hotel, where the
conference is taking place.
About 300 members of the groups Right2Water, People Before Profit and
Forgotten Farmers were met by barricades and a large contingent of
Posted by Jim on
Terry Laverty was an 18 year old boy on the evening of 11th August 1971 when he went out onto the streets of the Ballymurphy area of West Belfast. Terry and gone out with his older brother, John Laverty, as this was the start of the British army’s Operation Demetrius internment policy in the North of Ireland. There were troops patrolling the streets of Ballymurphy and during the course of the 11th August 1971, 11 innocent civilians were shot and killed. These included Terry Laverty’s older brother John. Terry and John had become separated during the confusion. The soldiers who killed John Laverty apprehended Terry, threatened him, abused him and took him to Gridwood Barracks. There he was violently beaten. He did not know that he brother was dead. He was held for 56 hours.
Terry Laverty made a confession to the RUC following his torture and was sentenced to six months in the Crumlin Road Jail for riotous behaviour. Since that time Terry Laverty has campaigned for the truth regarding the murder of his brother by the British army and his own wrongful conviction and sentence for a crime he has always maintained he did not commit.
In 2009, on behalf of Terry Laverty, KRW LAW LLP applied to the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) for his conviction and sentence to be examined. Together with the NGOs Relatives for Justice and British Irish Rights Watch, we assisted the CCRC on behalf of Terry Laverty. On this basis the CCRC recommended that Terry Laverty’s conviction and sentence to be reviewed by the courts. Today Terry Laverty’s conviction was quashed and his innocence exonerated and justice, at last, was done
Kevin Winters of KRW LAW LLP said “We have been proud to be instructed by Terry Laverty in his quest for justice to overturn an unlawful conviction following the Ballymurphy Massacre 1971 in which his brother John was murdered by the British Army. Terry Laverty has now had his conviction and sentence for a miscarriage of justice reviewed and quashed after 44 years. His innocence of this crime has been proved, the quest he pursued with his family has been exonerated and this decision importantly informs the on-going quest for answers about that dreadful night in 1971 which became known as the Ballymurphy Massacre of which Terry was a victim and which saw the murder of his brother and other innocent civilians.”
Posted by Jim on February 20, 2015
The following article was written by Belfast lawyer, Peter Madden, the long-time partner of the assassinated criminal solicitor, Pat Finucane. Together they founded and ran the well known Belfast legal firm Madden & Finucane. This article was delivered as a speech to mark the 26th anniversary of Pat Finucane’s death and is a forensic examination of the British government-ordered, de Silva review of the circumstances of his death at the hands of a Loyalist assassination squad at his north Belfast home on February 12th, 1989.
REVIEWING THE REVIEW
by Peter Madden
12 February 2015
This is an analysis of the de Silva Report dated 12 December 2012
Let me start by stating that, without doubt, the most important conclusion made by de Silva was that the FRU did not know that the UDA was targeting Pat Finucane. It is my view that this conclusion exonerates the FRU for any part in Pat’s murder. FRU is the Force Research Unit which was the British Army agent handling unit in existence at the time of the murder.
In paragraph 21.209 page 414 of Vol 1 de Silva states that
“…Having considered and analysed a great deal more evidence than was available to Justice Cory, I must respectfully differ with inferences he draws in relation to the FRU’s prior knowledge of the targeting of Patrick Finucane. I am firmly of the view that in this instance Nelson withheld critical information from his handlers.”
If FRU is believed by de Silva to have had no targeting information on Pat Finucane then there was no such information to pass up the chain of command to the very top. Ed Moloney gives a very good analysis of this in his online blog, Broken Elbow.
Nelson’s Journal gives an account of how Nelson passed all information from the UDA to his handlers in FRU including the targeting of Pat Finucane. Nelson shifts around a bit on different occasions about whether he passed on information or not but this issue alone should be enough to justify the establishment of a Public Inquiry because there is credible suspicion that Nelson did pass on such information to FRU. There are also allegations that FRU people were helping in the targeting of Pat.
The de Silva Review is one man’s analysis of a large amount of material. He has been selective. It is impossible to arrive at the truth unless this material is provided and analysed by others who have an interest in the issues. A public Inquiry with a number of interested parties would allow these interested parties to pursue their own theories and use the relevant material provided to make their own analysis.
There are concerns about the authenticity of much of the documentation he refers to in his report.
There is no indication in the Report as to how he validated the documents he examined.
This is one of the main objections to de Silva’s process. He has gone into minute detail by analysing the documents, particularly the Contact Forms and other intelligence documents without taking a view that some may not be genuine. He has then reached conclusions that may not be true.
More importantly he makes the assertion that he used the intelligence documents as a yardstick to test the validity of other material. He says that he had ” the advantage ” of having contemporaneous intelligence records. He doesn’t say how he knew they were “contemporaneous” and it would be difficult to know unless you ask questions.
At page 390 of volume 1 he states,
“As with all intelligence material, the above information is necessarily limited in its evidential value, though I have not seen any material to suggest there are any doubts as to the accuracy of this information.
Judge Cory, who published his report on 1 April 2004, examined material and he was assured that he was furnished with all information that might bear on the issues he was examining and on that basis he was satisfied that his review was as comprehensive as possible. However, as de Silva has stated in this report, Judge Cory did not get all the material he was assured he would get. He doesn’t say why Cory and Stephens didnt get this material.
In chapter 11 page 250 de Silva refers to new information that has just come to light but he doesn’t say what it is. He refers to Contact Forms ( CFs ) and the Security Service’s “compendium of leaks” published in 1989 but he doesn’t make it clear if this is what he means by new information. CFs were examined by Cory.
Interestingly, Judge Cory’s document review was similar to de Silva’s in that they both had no power to subpoena witnesses nor to require the production of documents and other material. At least Cory didn’t claim to find the truth about what happened because he was clear that conflicts of evidence, which he found, could only be resolved by examining witnesses in a Public Inquiry.
He set out the areas where he could not make any findings and stated that only a Public Inquiry, where documents and witnesses could be examined, could resolve the conflicts and arrive at conclusions. In other words, a review of documents, although useful, was not the end of the matter. Judge Cory’s task was to determine if there was a prima facie case that collusion existed.
Judge Cory’s report was a far shorter exercise resulting in 115 pages compared with de Silva of 800 pages.
de Silva took a view that the papers that he examined were authentic, which in my view makes it a fundamentally flawed process.
In terms of size, the Report is certainly formidable but he has given us is snippet upon snippet of carefully selected material. Unless all the material is examined ( or as much as is legally possible to examine), it is impossible to form a view.
He refers to many documents but annexes only a few. He has picked extracts from others. He doesn’t say why. He refers to certain documents and we are not permitted to read these documents in full, let alone challenge the contents. Nor were we entitled to examine any of the original documents. He refers to documents that we did not know existed. Basically, he has read the documents and come to his own conclusions about the content. He has referred to many documents that we have not seen as if he is the only person who can make sense of them and come to the truth about them. Some of these, as he says, he has redacted and annexed but most have just been referred to in footnotes. We don’t know what other material he has examined. Where is the rest of it?
In view of the fact that there exist over a million pages of documents, he has to be selective. However, we have not been told how he selected the material. There is no explanation for failing to disclose material. We don’t know how many pages of material exists. Over a million could mean closer to two million.
Documents can be verified. Authenticity can be verified. There is a forensic way of doing this. Documents have to be examined in the context and with other documents. You have to know what to look for. If we suspect that a document is forged, we can have the original examined by an expert in that field. If we think that the contents of a document are not credible, we can explore by cross examination, where interested members of the public can see and hear witnesses.
There is an allegation by Ian Hurst ( aka Martin Ingram) that the Contact Forms (CFs) were forged. Ian Hurst was a member of FRU and a whistleblower. This has to be a starting point in any scrutiny of the bona fides of the documentation that was examined by this Review. It is incomprehensible that De Silva can come to a conclusion about this without a thorough examination of the documents and a proper examination of Ian Hurst, who he dismissed as a “Walter Mitty” character, and all those others involved. When you take into consideration that the FRU had a year to “sort out” the documents, this whole area needs examined. This was highlighted in John Ware’s Panorama programme. It took a threat to arrest the GOC General Waters to get Nelson’s intelligence material and the CFs weren’t produced to the Stevens team for nearly a year . Hurst said that the FRU had the material during this time and were doctoring it. As highlighted in Panorama, Stevens’ team thought that the documents were tampered with.Hurst is no Walter Mitty character and I met him in Dublin a few years ago introduced by Greg Harkin. Hurst would be a crucial witness in a Public Inquiry but de Silva dismissed him without even seeing him.
This in itself raises the issue of the “cover-up” of the collusion. It is the accountability escape route. If, for example, there was incriminating material in the Nelson/FRU documents/ recordings/transcripts, there was plenty of time to get rid of it or change it. (p 410 – 415 Vol 1)
This goes to the heart of the matter.
The fact that the Stevens Investigation eventually got the FRU documentation and there was no reference to the targeting of Pat Finucane and no reference to Pat at all until the morning after the murder when Nelson phoned Margaret Walshaw, his handler. All this is very suspicious. At a Public Inquiry, Ian Hurst would not be the only witness on this issue as there are other FRU members including the commanding officers and those up the very short chain of command who could deal with this particular issue. Many of them made statements to the Stevens team.
It is inconceivable that this plot was not known to the FRU. They must have known about it and they must have known that Nelson would be in the thick of it, as chief Intelligence Officer and their only loyalist agent, according to de Silva. Questions would be asked about this at a Public Inquiry. It is just not believable that FRU did not know about the plot. It is believable that they knew about it through Nelson and it is believable that they helped Nelson with targeting Pat as they did with targeting other people and it is believable that they directed the murder and that they doctored the documentation to remove all reference to the targeting of Pat Finucane and to paint a benevolent picture of FRU’s links with Nelson.
There is also the important issue of how far up the chain of command did this plot go. The FRU had a chain of command directly to the top of government and there were very few links in the chain: agent – FRU handler – OC Det – OC FRU – CLF & GOC- Defence Minister – and then to the Joint Intelligence Committee chaired by Margaret Thatcher in London.
Due to the fact that, according to de Silva, Nelson was the British Army’s only loyalist agent, and that he reported to his handlers on a weekly basis, his weekly FRU reports could easily be dealt with at the weekly Joint Intelligence Committee meetings, in London chaired by Margaret Thatcher. It is inconceivable that Nelson was not a focus at these meetings. Nelson in his diary strongly suggests that Thatcher was a personal recipient of intelligence.
There are numerous inconsistencies in the report that cant be left on the shelf.
For example de Silva says FRU was founded in 1982 but other authors such as Mark Urban in “Big Boys Rules” quotes CLF Glover who says he established FRU in 1980 to form a ” triumvirate” with the 14th intelligence and SAS.
Cory says ” In 1985 Brian Nelson walked in off the street to offer his services to the British Army as an agent”. (page 24 Cory Report) whereas de Silva says, quoting Brian Fitzsimmons, [Nelson] “appears not to have become involved in paramilitary activity until May 1984, when he contacted the Army to offer his services as a source of intelligence (para 6.6 at page 99 de Silva Vol 1 ).
Brigadier Arundell David Leaky, on the other hand, a director of Military Operations in the Ministry of Defence who filed an affidavit in injunction proceedings says that “In 1983 Nelson offered his services to the Army as an agent in the UDA”. This document is not referred in de Silva report nor Cory but was published in the “Sunday Tribune” on 14 April 2002 in an article by Ed Moloney. This is an example of the limited nature of the de Silva process. He was limited by virtue of his terms of reference.
So what is the truth of the recruitment of Brian Nelson? And what is the truth about the formation of FRU?
Cory says, “At this time he [Nelson] was a member of the UDA and acting as an Intelligence Officer for that organisation in West Belfast.” (para 1.45 page 24 Cory Report) but De Silva says ” Despite his previous conviction for involvement in serious sectarian violence, the FRU tasked Nelson with rejoining the UDA ( quoting from Nelson’s journal). ( para he was 6.7 page 99 of de Silva Vol 1 )
So was he already in the UDA when he offered his services or was he ” tasked with re-joining the UDA ” after offering his services?
These are important issues because the suspicion is that he was a soldier and then a UDA sectarian killer and that these credentials made him a very good candidate for targeting uninvolved Catholics or republicans . Was this the continuation of the classic Kitsonian death squad? In other words a British military unit using local agents as killers whilst funding and supporting them and directing them.
There is a suspicion by many that Nelson never left the British army and when he went to Germany in 1985, it was not to get away from the UDA but to train with the British Army in Germany before his re- introduction in a more specialised system and when it is alleged he came back to Belfast from Germany in 1987 is it a coincidence that this coincided with a shipment of modern weaponry from South Africa to arm loyalists in a revived murder campaign against Catholics and republicans. There are many questions to be asked about this.
de Silva says that Nelson was not involved in the South African arms shipment in 1987, even though he accepts that Nelson travelled to South Africa in 1985 and discussed arms shipments to the North.
There is an interesting issue about Nelson’s trip to South Africa.
Judge Cory states that FRU paid Nelson’s expenses for the trip but de Silva doesn’t mention that at all in his report. I wonder why? The absence of this crucial bit of information from de Silva’s report is significant.
This is another example of de Silva exonerating FRU and thus the British Government, in the murders Catholics and republicans post 1987. Nelson remained in his targeting role up until his arrest in 1990.
This whole issue would be closely examined at a public inquiry where one document could lead to another and all interested parties would be entitled to examine all the documentation, as well as cross-examine relevant witnesses. None of that happened during the de Silva process.
There is so much information and misinformation in the public domain about Pat’s murder. There has to be public clarification. It can’t be allowed to be swept under the carpet by Cameron and de Silva.
This is just a short narrative of what I think are important areas that have not been properly examined in this review process and which cannot be examined properly until all the documentation is furnished, not just snippets and footnotes.
The following examples are some of the important areas that needs thorough examination in a public forum at a Public Inquiry where there is no hiding place:
the role of the RUC in Pat’s murder, from the death threats to solicitors from Castlereagh and the other holding centres of which Pat bore the brunt, to the RUC briefing by Jack Hermon to Douglas Hogg with false information about Pat’s family members. de Silva published what he says is intelligence material about this. The detail of the contact between the SB and FRU is crucial and requires a full public examination along with the connection between the RUC and the RUCSB.
He published what he calls intelligence which alleges that Pat laundered money for the IRA in the firm where we worked closely together for 10 years. I know this to be completely untrue but I don’t know who concocted it and questions need to be asked about that. He also published allegations that Pat was a finance officer and an intelligence officer in the IRA p 353 Vol 1. He cleverly makes it clear that there is no evidence that Pat was involved with the IRA but I think what is interesting about this is that de Silva published documents in Vol 2 of his report which allege just that. This is a cynical exercise in deception and there can be no excuse for it. He should not have published this material because there was no mechanism in his process for the family members, or me for that matter, to challenge it.
the fact that there was an RUC SB file on Pat which seems to have been packed with fact and fiction. Questions need to be asked about how false information got into this file.
This whole area needs explored as it will show that this intelligence information was faked beforehand to justify the murder and it had to be beforehand as some of it was briefed to Douglas Hogg in November 1988, when Hogg travelled to Belfast to meet the RUC hierarchy, according to de Silva.
the role of the FRU in its entirety and the calling of FRU witnesses to explain themselves and the role of the people in that chain of command.
There was a British army file on Pat and the word “PIRA” next to his name. de Silva accepts the British army explanation that this was only an administrative reference (whatever that means – he doesn’t say what it means) p 409/410 vol 1
In Chapter 15 there is a what is called Propaganda Initiatives by MI5 in which Pat was targeted and where de Silva implies that the targeting of Pat in this initiative was inadvertent. This needs examined because it is new. I never heard of it before the publication of this report.
The various death threats to Pat starting in 1981 which State agents knew about but they decided not to warn Pat about them. Things might have been different if warnings were given.
There is the inconsistency in Gordon Kerr’s role, see p 488 Vol 1 that refers to Cory’s analysis of Kerr’s testimony as misleading and also referred to the highly dubious numerical analysis. de Silva challenges Cory at pages 488/489 and goes into a lengthy analysis of the FRU documentation, again accepting their authenticity and says that his analysis takes him in a different direction to that of Cory p 491. In other words Cory got it wrong, according to de Silva. This requires a full examination at a Public Inquiry as there is a clear conflict between Cory and De Silva on this crucial issue of Kerr’s evidence at NELSON’s trial. Cory said that only a Public Inquiry could resolve this issue.
The role of government ministers who were cleared by de Silva on the basis that the paperwork showed that ministers were not included in the distribution lists of some intelligence reports. de Silva says at p 500 that Government Ministers were not on the distribution list for a particular report and this is just not believable and it is also convenient. He took the view that because he didn’t see any evidence of ministerial involvement that there wasn’t any.
At pages 56-60 of Nicholas Davies book ” Ten Thirty
Three” the author states that Margaret Thatcher was chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee ( JIC ) which met weekly at Downing Street and she ordered a complete review of the security and intelligence set-up in NI ( after the Brighton bomb in 1984 ) and ” from that moment on Margaret Thatcher decided to become far more closely involved in the Irish question. The author states that in her memoir ” The Downing Street Years”, Thatcher said she played a vital role in co-ordinating the services through the powerful and influential Joint Intelligence Committee. The Joint Irish Section (JIS) was strengthened. Interestingly de Silva refers to about half dozen books in his Report including “The Downing Street Years” but not “Ten Thirty Three” which is remarkable since it is based on Nelson and FRU. The British Government took injunction proceedings against the author to stop publication and succeeded in preventing parts of his draft from getting into the final publication. Yet none of this is mentioned in the de Silva Report.
Another area to be examined at a Public Inquiry is the reference to a redacted statement of Alan Simpson who was the RUC officer in charge of the murder investigation where Simpson says two army personnel spent an hour in Pat’s house after the murder ( p 137 Vol 2 ) and although he says that he doesn’t think there was anything sinister in that and that it happens all the time, I think questions have to be asked about it.
Finally, I would like to comment on perception.
According to the Mail Online 25 September 2009,
Sir Desmond De Silva is a member of the Carlton Club, St James Street London. This club was bombed by the IRA on 25 June 1990. Lord Kaberry, who was injured in the attack, died in March 1991 aged 83. Douglas Hogg is a member of this club as is Margaret Thatcher, John Major and Boris Johnson and other Tory notables. Past members were Winston Churchill and Ted Heath. The club describes itself as the oldest, most elite, and most important of all Conservative clubs.” Membership of the club is by nomination and election only. He is also a member of the Naval and Military Club and Brooks club.
So there you have it. Cameron obviously cared little that there might be a perception that de Silva might be biased in some way. It’s unlikely that he would ever be selected to head a Public Inquiry into Pat’s murder due to this perceived bias.
I dont know how many times throughout this report de Silva refers to his ” full public account”. It is not a full account. It is definitely not a public account and it is so flawed in its failure to authenticate documentation that it is not anywhere near an account of the truth.
David Cameron made a statement in the House of Commons on 12 October 2011 that ” the really important thing .. is to open up and tell the truth” but the truth will have to wait for another day.
Posted by Jim on February 18, 2015
by Michael John Cummings
The 1998 signing of the Belfast Agreement brought an end to the armed conflict in Northern Ireland. But the pact had more to do with helping Britain manage partition without all the bloodshed. Justice, democracy and the rule of law are still on the long finger. Anxious about the judgment of history, Britain has spent the past decade destroying evidence and scrubbing the truth from its records. Americans might be surprised to learn that the U. S. ‘hear no evil, see no evil and speak no evil ‘policy on N. I. gave cover to British violence.
The ‘truth’ of Britain’s deeds in the North has always been there for those who chose to see. The civil rights protest in 1969 exposed the sectarian garrison and a new UK policy unfolded to keep Ireland divided, in flames if necessary, and to prevent the rise of an economic rival. That policy rollout went something like this.
- 1969-1976 Army and police are unleashed with the Ballymurphy and Bloody Sunday murders, the McGurk’s Bar and Miami Showband killings, internment without charge, Diplock courts without juries and daily intimidation of Catholics to drive them into the IRA. The British Army through its Military Reaction Force, 14th Intelligence and Force Research Units provided all this mayhem including the Dublin-Monaghan bombings killing 33 civilians, mostly women and children. The strategy worked. Armed resistance ensued. The U. S. response to all of this was the cowardly “it was an internal matter.”
- 1977-1986 Britain sponsors more loyalist killers. Loyalist collaborator Robin Jackson alone was suspected of killing 100 Catholics. The partnership with the Glennane Gang reaped 140 Catholic killings. Journalist Anne Cadwallader’s book Lethal Allies documents how the corrupt judicial system minimized British culpability. The changing of Coroners Rules only in N. I. aided the cover-up of their crimes. America’s Longshoremen union showed how to protest the death of Bobby Sands but the U. S. Department of State could only whimper. U. S. remains silent while reports from Amnesty International, British Irish Rights Watch, the EU, the United Nations, the European Court of Human Rights, the Association of the Bar of the City of New York document and question British actions.
- 1986-1998 Britain increased their loyalist and IRA informers who alone account for the killing of hundreds. Keeping the cover for IRA informer Steaknife necessitated 40 murders and loyalist double agent Brian Nelson, who coordinated the assassination of attorney Patrick Finucane, required a dozen more. Sir John Steven’s Inquiry documents all this mayhem but took 13 years and 3000 pages (only 20 of which were released). He recommended 23 police and Army individuals be charged with conspiracy to commit murder. Still no reaction from the U. S. In a desperate attempt to incite an IRA response, MI-5 and the Special Air Services (SAS) forces killed 5 elected Sinn Fein Councilor’s and 9 campaign workers. Their crimes? Canvassing and poll watching. The U. S. Secretary of State is silent. By the time President Clinton issued a visa to Gerry Adams in 1992, the British had begun the cover-up. But the sinister forces were not done yet. The corrupt RUC and MI-5 knew where and when the Republican dissidents were to detonate the 1998 Enniskillen bomb but did nothing to stop it. In 1999 loyalist dissidents assassinated Lurgan attorney Rosemary Nelson, who had testified in Congress about police threats to her life. Her death may well mark the unofficial end of the extra-judicial execution campaign waged for 30 years by Her Majesty’s forces.
Did U. S. Presidents know of Britain’s role in all the murders? Did the British lie to U. S. leaders? Did the U. S. censor by denying visas to witnesses of British lawlessness? Were U. S. deportation and extradition cases brought to persecute those who were victims of British cruelty? President Reagan ignored a congressional embargo of sales of Ruger pistols to the Royal Ulster Constabulary. Wasn’t that a seal of approval for their role in the killing fields of N. I.? How could the Departments of Justice and State ignore Mutual Legal Assistance treaty requirements in processing politically motivated subpoenas from the police force that conspired to execute attorney Patrick Finucane?
Americans deserve better than three decades of relative silence on the conflict in Ireland. If the late Congressman Joe Moakley could lead fact finding missions to El Salvador and report on army abuses and killings why not such a team for N. I.? The U. S. sponsored a U. N. investigation in to the assassination of Lebanese leader Rafik Hariri so let’s sponsor one for the murders of Rosemary Nelson, Pat Finucane and hundreds of other Catholics? The Department of State should certify they have read all research and publications concerning the police and military excesses in N. I. If the British don’t cooperate then all joint military and police training should cease and all MLAT subpoenas from the UK returned. The British government refuses to hold all those accountable for the killing of Patrick Finucane but we can demand their names and add them to travel and financial sanctions list provided in the “Magnitsky” law. Since the UK is doing all it can to bury their dirty war, the congressional Joint Committee on Security and Cooperation in Europe should hold hearings to examine Britain’s campaign of human rights abuses, extra-judicial executions and corruption of law and justice in the North.
All of this doesn’t nearly make up for three decades of U. S. silence, excusing British excesses or looking the other way. But it is a damn good start.
Posted by Jim on February 13, 2015
Saturday, March 7th, 7:00 p.m.
at Glucksman Ireland House NYU
Dr. Feargal Mac Ionnrachtaigh will deliver the tenth annual Barra Ó Donnabháin Lecture on “‘Ó Chumann Chluain Árd go dtí an LÁ DEARG’- Ag Tógáil Gaelphobail ón Bhun Aníos i dtuaisceart na hÉireann”; or, “From Cumann Chluain Árd to An LÁ DEARG: Building Gaelic Communities from the Bottom Up in the North of Ireland.”
Using research undertaken for his widely acclaimed book, Language, Resistance and Revival: Republican Prisoners and the Irish Language in the North of Ireland, Dr. Mac Ionnrachtaigh’s lecture will draw on his ground-breaking research on the bottom-up community language revival in the north of Ireland. He will discuss Northern Irish governmental policies on language and the roll of communities and activists, including the dangers of co-option and institutionalization. He will also look at the historical legacies of the Troubles and peace process, particularly the power sharing agreement at Stormont in 2007. Drawing on his direct experience as a full-time activist in the language revival movement, Dr. Mac Ionnrachtaigh will assess the political reawakening taking place amongst grass-roots activists and groups, as manifested in this year’s historic language rights rally, AN LÁ DEARG.
The Barra Ó Donnabháin lecture is an annual lecture established by Glucksman Ireland House NYU in 2006 to commemorate Barra Ó Donnabháin, a beloved and influential teacher and advocate of the language. Ó Donnabháin, from Leap, Co. Cork, took a degree in Irish and Latin at University College, Cork and immigrated to the US in 1963. One of the leading Irish linguists in the tri-state area, Barra wrote an Irish language column in the Irish Echo for many years as well as contributing essays and articles to a variety of other publications.
This lecture will be delivered bilingually in English and in Irish.
Introductions by Profs. Pádraig Ó Cearúill and Hilary Mhic Suibhne of Glucksman Ireland House NYU.
Free admission to Members of Glucksman Ireland House NYU and to all students/faculty with a valid NYU I.D. card. For non-members: $10 donation at the door for the general event series.
In order to ensure a seat at events, please RSVP by submitting the form below, or by calling 212-998-3950 (option 3) or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, except for the Blarney Star Concert Series which does not accept reservations.
All events are supported by members of Glucksman Ireland House. Become a member.
Áras Glucksman na hÉireann
Ollscoil Nua Eabhrac
Glucksman Ireland House
New York University
One Washington Mews
New York, NY 10003
Posted by Jim on February 11, 2015
New York Attorney and long-time republican activist Martin Galvin shares his opinion on the recent case of the Derry Four, questioning the true motivation behind their case being dismissed and hinting at a continuing policy of British state cover-up.
There can be few wrongs more likely to bring justice into disrepute than innocent men and women sent to prison by forced confessions and perjury. The ‘Derry Four’ case was a chance to prove that crown courts would no longer whitewash those in British uniforms who committed such wrongs. Instead the crown added insult to injury.
The injury to Michael Toner, Gerry Kelly, Gerry McGowan and Stephen Crumlish took place in 1979, when as innocent teenagers they were lifted and made sign fabricated confessions to the IRA shooting of a British Lieutenant.
The insult took place when crown prosecutors called no witnesses against former RUC members for taking these discredited confessions, while ‘Derry Four’ witnesses protested outside the Court with a banner proclaiming ‘Justice Delayed Justice Denied’.
This was no isolated or inconsequential case. After the British shifted from Internment to Diplock Courts, what were termed ‘Castlereagh confessions’ made up the evidence in four out of five political prosecutions. Diplock judges of the day routinely rubberstamped RUC claims that all confessions were voluntary and rejected the testimony of those beaten or threatened. Most victims were denied bail and unjustly sentenced. Many live today with the disqualifications of a conviction, while RUC who beat or threatened them are rewarded with pensions.
The ‘Derry Four’ case was unusual in one respect. They got bail. They fled to escape 15 years in the H-Blocks. Their lives were shattered. It would take almost 20 years before their false confessions and charges would be overturned.
Meanwhile new structures and safeguards were supposed to guarantee a new dawn of justice. Constabulary Boards, Partnerships and an Ombudsman were put in place. A compromised justice ministry was agreed and Barra McGrory appointed DPP.
The ‘Derry Four’ sought justice through these new structures. They went to the Ombudsman in 2005. Years later their file went to the DPP. At each step these victims were not only cooperative but keenly so. Their case tested whether the new safeguards worked and the RUC would no longer be gifted with de facto immunity or impunity for line of duty crimes against republicans.
The case collapsed. The crown said it would call no witnesses, with witnesses literally left out in the cold, protesting the crown’s refusal to call them. There was claimed to be some problematic statement taken long ago. No such statement has been seen by the ‘Derry Four’.
Observers may draw a different conclusion. Observers may conclude that all these heralded safeguards merely safeguard impunity for those who committed crimes, including torture and perjury, in the name of British rule.
Posted by Jim on
Lessons learnt? The ‘intelligence services’ and the destruction of evidence in the North of Ireland.- By Dr Kevin Hearty PhD Transitional Justice.
The attention of human rights observers and activists in the North of Ireland turned yet again this week to the legacy of the sordid activities of the ‘intelligence services’. Following recent revelations that evidence relating to a notorious RUC ‘shoot-to-kill’ operation in Lurgan in 1982 was withheld and then deliberately destroyed, Director of Public Prosecutions Barra McGrory (Pictured Below) has ordered the PSNI and Police Ombudsman to launch investigations into the matter.
During the RUC operation in question 17 year old Michael Tighe was killed and Martin McAuley seriously wounded after being fired upon by RUC officers who alleged they had been confronted by an armed McAuley emerging from the hay shed. McAuley subsequently received a prison sentence in 1985 for possession of 3 rifles found in the hay shed at the centre of the undercover operation. The conviction was recently quashed on appeal following a successful appeal brought by the Criminal Case Review Commission. During the appeal it emerged that the ‘security services’ had first withheld and then destroyed an audio recording from a listening device in the shed that comprehensively contradicted the RUC’s version of events that they had opened fire on an armed man after issuing a warning. Moreover it also emerged that the then Deputy Head of RUC Special Branch ordered the destruction of tapes and monitor logs relating to the incident in case the disclosure that the RUC had acted outside the law caused ‘deep embarrassment’.
Commenting on the recent revelations when ordering the new investigations McGrory noted “the actions of police and security service personnel in relation to the concealment and destruction of potential evidence requires further investigation as does the identification of all those involved in such actions”. There is little reason to find fault or argument with McGrory’s synopsis of the matter. This was by all accounts a deceitful course of action taken by the intelligence services and police force that involved perverting the course of justice to not only secure an unsafe conviction against one young man but to also ensure the exoneration of those involved in the unlawful killing of another young man. There is clearly a need for an investigation into the case, and that need feeds into a wider need to investigate state violence and wrongdoing during the conflict. The failure of the HET and the constant heel dragging by the British state and PSNI where inquests are concerned will not disguise nor diminish the need to comprehensively ‘deal with the past’. Whether the recently established Historical Investigations Unit will deliver where the HET has thus far failed to, remains a matter of conjecture.
In accepting that the murky dealings of the ‘intelligence services’ in the past need inquiring into, however, one should not assume that such dealings are themselves a thing of the past. Regarding such activity as a product of a bygone area when ‘spooks’ were fighting the ‘dirty war’ may provide peace of mind but empirical evidence suggests it would be misguided and foolhardy. Recent revelations relating to the ‘intelligence services’ campaign against what is termed ‘violent dissident republican’ (VDR) activity points to the continued practice of evidence destruction by the ‘intelligence services’. In an environment where the ‘intelligence services’ have increasingly thwarted whatever threat the residual elements of militant republicanism pose, there may be a prevailing opinion that they should be largely unencumbered to continue doing so. A wider ‘war on terror’ climate that has seen increasingly indiscriminate and bloody ‘terrorist’ attacks – whether in Paris, Belguim, Nigeria, Boston or London – strengthens such as argument. The end it seems may justify the means, even if that means involved perverting the course of ‘justice’ and curtailing human rights on a whim. What this argument fails to overlook is that the means that set out to tackle ‘terrorism’ can often become as dangerous as ‘terrorism’ itself. Where does the line between what is acceptable in an ‘anti-terror’ context and what is unacceptable in an ‘anti-terror’ context get drawn – Gulags? Internment camps? Mass deportation? Censorship of free speech? Denial of the freedom of political expression? Moreover is one type of ‘terrorism’ more dangerous or acceptable than another form? Does ‘VDR’ merit an equal, greater or lesser response than fundamental Jihadi ‘terrorism’? Who decides the answers to these questions and who adjudicates on the fairness of such answers?
Take the use of Regulatory Investigative Powers Act (RIPA) for example. As an ‘anti-terror’ legislative provision, one could be forgiven for thinking its usage would be limited to combating militant Irish republican splinter groups engaged in VDR and against fundamentalist Jihadi groups. The reality is that RIPA has been used to target journalists in relation to tracing their sources (used almost half a million times for this purpose last year alone) and has been used to target those evading paying a TV license fee. RIPA was not enacted for these purposes, just as the Justice and Security Act 2007 was not enacted to target legitimate political opponents of the Good Friday Agreement in the North of Ireland (CAJ has shown that political policing remains a live issue in the North of Ireland post-Patten) and just as the Prevention of Terrorism Act was not designed to detain Iraqi and Palestinians in Britain during the first Gulf War. Empirical evidence, of course, tells a different story. The recent recommendations for strengthening ‘anti-terror’ provisions to include forcing people into internal exile (a modern permutation of the ‘exclusion order’ process debarring Irish republicans from the British mainland) and targeting air lines carrying returning Jihadis is another slip towards the post-9/11 ‘big brother’ state under the auspices of counter-terrorism- your civil liberties and human rights are being taken from you bit by bit but for God’s sake at least be thankful as we are saving you from the omnipresent ‘terrorist’ threat!
Two cases are instructive in showing that the ‘intelligence services’ continue to engage in questionable practices in the North of Ireland. Ironically both of them centre on the same geographical area as the Tighe case. In October of last year Lurgan man Ryan McKenna was acquitted of charges relating to an attempted mortar attack on the PSNI in Lurgan in 2007. He was acquitted after the state offered no evidence against him. In light of the collapse of the McKenna trial there have been claims that the ‘intelligence services’ had interfered with evidence from a covert surveillance operation relevant to the alleged mortar plot. According to McKenna’s solicitor SAS debriefing notes, radio logs and notebooks had been destroyed as well as a soldier statement having parts of it deleted. In the case of the Craigavon 2 a conviction was secured against John Paul Wooton (and Brendan McConville) despite similar interference with evidence by the ‘intelligence services’. During a recent appeal by John Paul Wooton and Brendan McConville it emerged that the ‘intelligence services’ had deliberately deleted evidence from a tracking device attached to John Paul Wootons car. As the claim that John Paul Wooton was a ‘get away’ driver in the Continuity IRA attack that killed PSNI constable Stephen Carroll is central to the case against him questions must be asked in relation to what data was deleted from the device and why? One can assume that if the evidence corroborated the apparent guilt of Wooton it would be produced in court rather than deleted.
Given that the director of the PPS has outlined his views on the destruction of evidence by the ‘intelligence services’ one may expect that an investigation was ordered into the case. Surely, on the basis of McGrory’s own statement, those involved in the deliberate destruction of data from the tracking device on Wooton’s car have been investigated and identified. This has yet to happen and rather than pursuing the ‘intelligent services’ on this matter the PPS actually went to court to have Wooton’s sentence increased. What was unacceptable conduct by the ‘intelligence services’ in 1982, one may deduct from this course of action, is therefore not necessarily unacceptable in 2009. It is hard to identify the logic that underpins such a conclusion. Some questions do however spring to mind.
Is it perhaps that one happened during ‘the war’ rather than in a post-Patten context? The implication of this being that it can now be addressed in an environment where, while causing mild discomfort and the odd red face, it will not limit the current approach of the ‘intelligence services’ in tackling VDR. Could it be that there is a belief that in a post-Patten environment where policing oversight bodies have been set up such a thing is deemed unlikely to happen? CAJ have comprehensively dismissed such a notion in their benchmark research on ‘the policing you don’t see’, while any informed observer would be aware that the remit of accountability bodies in the North of Ireland do not include the activities of the ‘intelligence services’. Might there be a political element to the decision, whereby in a post-9/11 ‘war on terror’ context ‘dissident republicans’ are game for the misdeeds of the ‘intelligence services’? Could it just be possible that, as David Cameron told parliament recently in relation to the Finnucane killing, the mistakes of the past have been learnt as the ‘intelligence services’ now have – to quote Cameron – ‘compliance with human rights and other legal obligations’ enjoying ‘a fundamental place at the centre of activities’. Presumably Cameron was unaware of the Craigavon 2 and McKenna case when he made these comments.
The answer to why there has not been an investigation into the McKenna and Craigavon 2 cases may lie in all of the above- it may conversely lie in none of the above. Who knows? What can be said for certain, however, is that if interference with evidence by the ‘intelligence services’ in 1982 spawned a miscarriage of justice there is no viable argument as to why it cannot have done the same in 2009.
Posted by Jim on
PRESS STATEMENT FROM RELATIVES FOR JUSTICE
Ballymurphy Massacre Torture Case Conviction Quashed
A man tortured during the Ballymurphy Massacre and who was subsequently convicted of riotous behaviour today had his conviction quashed.
Terry Laverty, and his brother John, were caught up in an attack on their local area by the British Army’s Parachute Regiment, in what has become known as the Ballymurphy Massacre, August 9th to 11th 1971. The incident claimed 11 lives, including Terry’s brother John. Many others were injured.
Terry Laverty was detained, stripped, beaten, and made to run barefoot over broken glass and through a gauntlet of British Army soldiers who beat him. One soldier told Terry he’d ‘already killed one Irish bastard and that another wouldn’t matter.’ This same soldier put his gun to Terry’s head and pulled the trigger, unknown to Terry the safety was on. Terry was then taken to Girdwood Barracks and held for 56 hours were he was further tortured.He was then charged with riotous behaviour and brought directly to court in a forced state of undress and with glass still in his bloodied feet, unaware that his brother John had been murdered only yards from where he was assaulted.
In a statement, released through Relatives for Justice Terry Laverty said:
“This is an emotional day. I survived with horrific consequences. My family and I have struggled to get this far. I want to thank my wife and my family who have been there for me throughout the darkest of times as a result of my experiences and who are supporting me to right this wrong.
“My brother John was murdered. I owe it to my family and my brother’s memory to ensure that the lies are challenged and the truth is officially told about what really happened over those three days in August 1971. I believe that the soldier who made reference to killing ‘one Irish bastard’ was the same soldier who killed my brother John.
“My parents went to their grave without the truth being officially acknowledged and told. They had to live with the loss of their son John, and the official lies.
“I can still see my father standing in the public gallery of the court where I appeared after being tortured. I can’t imagine his anguish bearing up and supporting us all, with John’s body still in the morgue. And how he broke that awful news to me and yet also struggled to get bail for me to attend John’s funeral. “My mother’s dignity and love saw us through those darkest of days. “I’ve gained my courage from both of their memories.
“This is a significant step towards righting a terrible injustice and setting the record straight. There remains a distance to go but this is a good first step.
“Finally I want to thank Relatives for Justice for all their help and support and especially Andrée Murphy who has supported me for the past decade.
“I also want to thank my lawyers Kevin Winters, Joe McVeigh and Chris Stanley.”
RFJ’s Deputy Director, Andrée Murphy, said: “This is an important step forward in addressing an egregious violation that by any standard constitutes a war crime. “There will be many others who were also subjected to such torture and hopefully the courage of Terry will give them hope to come forward.” ENDS
Posted by admin on
It appears New York Mayor Bill de Blasio will again boycott this year’s St. Patrick’s Day parade on Fifth Avenue because of the lack of an Irish gay group in the line of march, multiple sources have told the Irish Voice. A non-Irish gay group from NBC, OUT@NBCUniversal, will march.
On Tuesday, City Council Member Daniel Dromm of Queens confirmed to the Irish Voice that a majority of council members, including Speaker Melissa Mark Viverito, will not take part in the parade. The council formally boycotted and withdrew its banner
from last year’s march in protest, and plans on doing the same for 2015, Dromm confirmed.
“And there will be no council banner in this year’s parade – of course there won’t,” he added.
Multiple calls and emails to the mayor’s press office went unreturned as the Irish Voice went to press on Tuesday afternoon. Viverito’s press secretary also declined comment on the parade.
But sources have told the Irish Voice that it’s highly unlikely the mayor will join the line of march for 2015, even after the announcement by the parade committee last September that a gay group from NBC, which broadcasts the parade, would be allowed to march with its own banner – a development first reported by the Irish Voice.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan was named as grand marshal for 2015 and publicly gave his support to the inclusion of OUT@NBCUniversal, saying the parade committee had his “confidence and support.”
Posted by Jim on February 9, 2015
The meeting was held and hosted by Brian O’Dwyer at his offices the Law Offices of O’Dwyer & Bernstein.
In attendance representatives of the Irish-American, Ulster and Irish business, artistic, community and historical organizations. including the Ancient Order of Hibernians in America represented by National President Brendan Moore, National & NYS Board member Dan Dennehy and members from New York area.
Current and longstanding Justice, incarceration, policing, historical inquiries and painfully remaining issues many covered by Anne’s book Lethal Allies like Pat Finucane, Bloody Sunday, Loughlinisland, Ballymurphy were among discussed in an open and clear dialog w SOS and NIO representatives.
The SOS related that 10 weeks of talks often faced collapse and were restored by commitment and patience from all parties, that it is a preference to remain committed and work harder on the issues of the North, even those that were not seen to agreement.
Very grateful to Brian O’Dwyer and NIO for opportunity to attend, share the views, opinions and suggestions at in round table and clear face to face discussions with SOS Villiers and other representatives of NIO and SOS and NY British consular staff on up to date issues including dealing with the past, victims, Craigavon2, flags, policing, strip search, education, jobs, etc. and no topic was limited and many viewpoints and positions demonstrated by all participants.
The Irish peace process in the USA saw the Offices of ODB as the setting for the 1st meetings with then candidate Bill Clinton on N Ireland. It is gratifying that once again a new level of commitment, dialog and communications has been set at that venue.
National & NYS Immigration:
Ancient Order of Hibernians in America Inc
Posted by Jim on February 8, 2015
A decision not to include the PSNI police in this year’s St Patrick’s
Day parade in New York has been welcomed by US-based republicans.
The decision follows outrage over the force’s inclusion last year. Among
those who marched last year were former RUC individuals suspected of
engaging in collusion with loyalists.
Prominent republican Martin Galvin, an aide to the parade’s Grand
Marshall Cardinal Timothy Dolan, said that the PSNI was not invited to
take part in this year’s event.
Last year the PSNI approached organisers for permission to take part in
the parade and was turned down following a grassroots campaign against
their inclusion. Mr Galvin said that decision was reversed only after
the intervention of the Dublin government and senior members of Sinn
He condemned the PSNI as unacceptable. “They can arrest [republican
veterans] Gerry McGeough, Ivor Bell and Seamus Kearney but they can’t
arrest anybody for Bloody Sunday,” he said.
“I don’t believe the PSNI should ever be in the St Patrick’s Day parade.
That year and every year there will be ‘England get out of Ireland’
LOVE ULSTER 2?
Meanwhile, loyalists are planning to stage another sectarian parade
through Dublin city centre later this month in a rerun of the ‘Love
Ulster’ event in 2006, when a major riot erupted on the streets of
Prominent loyalist lobbyist Willie Frazer will meet gardai on Monday to
discuss the route of the parade, which he said will take place on a
Saturday and will go from O’Connell street to Leinster House, on Kildare
Frazer said the majority of people in Dublin were “not interested one
way or the other. Unfortunately there will be a section there who will
try to stir it up.”
In 2006, fourteen people were hospitalised when the then Minister for
Justice Michael McDowell backed Frazer’s Union Jack-waving supporters,
including ‘Kick the Pope’ flute bands, to march down O’Connell Street.
Local youths reacted instinctively, resulting in one of the most intense
riots Dublin has witnessed in recent decades and forcing the parade to
be abandoned at an early stage.
Mr Frazer said this march would not be a repeat of what happened in
“There will be a few bands but they will not be playing any sectarian
tunes. There will be not paramilitary trappings, or sectarian slogans
On Monday, Fianna Fail councillor Jim O’Callaghan tabled a motion at
Monday’s meeting of Dublin City Council in a bid to have the march
blocked. He described plans for another march as provocative and
“By organising a march to the centre of Dublin, Willie knows that what
he is really trying to do is to provoke,” Mr O’Callaghan said.
Fine Gael senator Catherine Noone also called for the march to be
“Dubliners will remember the absolute chaos that unfolded on our
streets, at a cost to both the taxpayer and the city’s reputation, in
2006,” she said.
Posted by Jim on February 7, 2015
The New York Minor Board Gaelic Athletic Association held their 45th
annual awards dinner dance on January 24th at the Villa Barone Banquet Hall,
located in the Throggs Neck section of the Bronx. Over 450 people enjoyed
the music of the Cunningham Brothers during the wonderfully staged event.
The Rockaway Rovers Peter Glynn and James Leahy were on
hand to collect plaques for captaining their U8 (under 8 years of age)
squad to the FDNY Sean Fallon Fall Memorial Gaelic Football championship.
Fellow footballers Matty Glynn, Bridget Leahy, Julia Israel and Joe Foye
came to the awards presentation to show support for their club and teammates.
The Rovers are a local Gaelic Football Club co-sponsored by Ancient Order
of Hibernians Division 21 and Navillus Construction consisting
of boys and girls from all over the peninsula and Broad Channel. They
just completed their first season in the NYGAA and will be putting U8,
U10 and U12 teams together for the upcoming spring and fall seasons. The
spring season is expected to start in the middle of April and the club plans
on starting their training sessions as soon as the weather breaks. If you are
interested in playing Gaelic Football with the Rovers contact Mike Leahy
Posted by Jim on February 6, 2015
A Belfast Telegraph article by Ruth Dudley Edwards mocked Americans for their support of Ireland’s struggle for freedom. Her ire was principally aimed at Martin Galvin, a Bronx based attorney selected as an Aide to the Grand Marshal of the 2015 NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade. He was for decades Publicity Director of the Irish Northern Aid Committee and a former Editor of the IRISH PEOPLE newspaper. Ms. Edwards depicts herself as a journalist, satirist, free-lance writer and historian. However, when the subject is her native Ireland she is a British apologist, a character assassin and a propagandist. She is badly informed on Northern Ireland.
I worked alongside Martin for many years exposing Britain’s corrupt and violent legacy in N. I. Ms. Edwards sees Galvin and “stupid NORAID people” as arrogant Americans who had some cheek interfering with Britain’s internal colonial affairs. Like some fossil aristocrat from a DOWNTON ABBEY episode, she longed for the days when internment, censorship, the police and the British Army could keep Catholics in their place in the North.
She claimed NORAID peddled “hate filled propaganda” but offered no examples. The loyalists were taught to hate Catholics. The best example of how well they were taught was the daily attacks in 2001 on primary school girls at Holy Cross School in North Belfast. It’s only parallel in America would be the white supremacists of Alabama taunting and injuring black students seeking an education. She has little to say of those like Rev. George Seawright who called for the incineration of Catholics or the daily and violent intimidation of Catholics in the workplace. Loyalists, she insists, are the real ‘victims.’
Rages Edwards: Who was Martin Galvin to appear at a peaceful protest in Belfast after Her Majesty’s Government had banned him? A violent police rush through the seated crowd to stop Galvin resulted in the unlawful and unjustified killing of Sean Downes. She glibly excuses his death as justified by a loyalist judge. Instead of relying on press releases, she really should read LETHAL ALLIES by Ann Cadwallader, the de Silva report of the murder of attorney Patrick Finucane, or British police reports by John Stalker and Sir John Stevens all of which document the lawless, corrupt and murderous actions of the police and British Army. Galvin did.
She cites Martin’s support of dissidents opposed to the 1998 “Good Friday” pact as encouraging those who months after planted a bomb in Omagh killing 29 civilians. Edwards neglects to mention that British police and MI-5 knew the target and tracked the bombers but chose to do nothing to stop the slaughter. You see it wasn’t only dissident Republicans who had doubts about the Agreement. So did MI-5 and the Royal Ulster Constabulary who had the most to lose if peace came to the North. In 1974 the British Army operatives delivered and detonated car bombs in the shopping centers of Dublin and Monaghan in the largest mass murder ever in Ireland. Britain hides behind the Official Secrets Act and refuses to disclose details of these ‘ bookend’ bombings which framed the conflict. Mums the word from Ruth Dudley Edwards!
This conflict would still be raging were it not for American voices like Martin Galvin’s opposing U. S. arms for the lawless RUC, supporting the MacBride Fair Employment Principles, advocating for a visa for Gerry Adams, protesting prisoner treatment, demanding an end to internment and, yes, raising questions about the ‘reformed’ RUC and the malevolent forces still covering up the legacy of British misrule.
Most American and Irish citizens, and I would add, most British Subjects, know little of Britain’s ham fisted rule in Ulster. It is that swamp of ignorance in which she thrives and which Galvin sought to eliminate. His gritty determination, personal sacrifice and courage are what makes America great. It will one day rid Ireland of those who have divided the people of Ireland and still work to postpone reconciliation and peace.
Michael J. Cummings
Posted by Jim on February 5, 2015
February 4, 2015 by
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.
Posted by Jim on February 2, 2015
AOH Division 14
St. Patrick’s Dinner Dance
Sunday, March 15, 2015
Irish American Center
297 Willis Ave.
Mineola, NY 11501
Our Past Fr. Frank Shannon
AOH & LAOH &
Members Maureen Corrigan
3:30 PM to 8:00 PM $35.00 per Adult
Cash Bar – Hot Buffet $12.00 per Child
Music by Tommy Mulvihill
Please make checks payable to Qns. County AOH Div.14
Contact: Bill Corrigan 516 746-3555 Maureen Corrigan 516 741-6040
Walter Cooper 347 724-6438
Friday Business Casual Please NO JEANS
Posted by Jim on January 25, 2015
So advised Michael Mansfield QC, the defence counsel for the Birmingham Six, to a packed auditorium at St. Mary’s College on the lower Falls Road in Belfast, metres from where Gerry Conlon had grown up. The lecture, titled ‘Democratic Bankruptcy’ had been organised as the first of an annual event in memory of Conlon, one of the Guildford Four wrongly imprisoned for 15 years by the British state, the story retold in the film ‘In the Name of the Father’ (1993). After coping with returning to civilian life after the injustice he had been through, including seeing his father die in prison, Conlon went on to be a campaigner for others wrongfully targeted by the state, and passed away last year of lung cancer at the age of 60. Mansfield was here to talk about ‘a system that at its heart has collusion, between higher politics, the upper echelons of the police, and the media.’
By way of illustrating the momentous effect that Conlon and his comrades had delivered with their successful fight for justice, Mansfield listed a few of the cases since, where the marginalised ‘took mental sustenance from what had gone before’ – the Marchioness disaster in the Thames, where ‘50 people died because of corporate greed,’ and the resolute demand of the families for an inquiry resulted in changes to safety standards. Or the Lawrences, whose perseverance has finally led to two convictions for the murder of their son. ‘They recognised,’ said Mansfield, ‘just like Paddy and Gerry did, that the battle isn’t over when you’re out; that’s when it’s just beginning…’ Doreen Lawrence, now a Life peer in the House of Lords, regularly summons senior politicians and police chiefs to a public hearing where they are asked how many of the new recommendations have been implemented. ‘And they all turn up, because they’re worried about votes of course. And she’s got the moral high ground!’
Mansfield gave as his last example Bloody Sunday. The famous verdict from Saville’s ‘historic inquiry’ was that British paratroopers had fired first, had shot fleeing civilians, and had concocted lies to cover their actions. ‘I was in Derry the day (the Report) was broadcast – and I’m not particularly religious but for me it was spiritual. The whole place erupted.’ Mansfield repeated that the key word was ‘accountability’, what Gerry Conlon and Paddy Joe Hill had fought for, what the families of those murdered on Bloody Sunday had fought for, and the predominant lack of which was the reason for the lecture’s title – ‘Democratic Bankruptcy.’
Michael Mansfield’s comments were bookmarked by his reading of Gerry Conlon’s open letter to Obama, speaking out against Shaker Aamer’s detention and Guantanamo Bay, which Mansfield linked to the continued abuse of the legal system and government power to cover atrocities, as with the perpetually delayed Chilcot Inquiry. The child abuse scandal has been ‘another case where the families have had to set the agenda,’ with the government prevaricating and delaying. Chairs of inquiries have been appointed and then forced to stand down due to conflicts of interest.
Mansfield ended, however, on a positive note, noting that ‘where the system refuses to rectify its own mistakes,’ people’s tribunals have emerged to challenge abuses, as with the ongoing Russell Tribunal on Palestine, where Mansfield sits as a member of the jury, assessing whether Israel’s military has committed war crimes. A similar tribunal was set up by Iranian émigrés in London, in the face of the regime’s failure, and the international legal system’s failure, to account for massacres and mass burials in 1980s Iran. Another inspiring example is the campaign to save ‘one of the most successful hospitals in the UK, in Lewisham’ from closure by Health Minister Jeremy Hunt, where 25,000 took to the streets in protest. The proposal to cut had ‘nothing to do with performance, everything to do with the private finance initiative’, and with regard to the wider legislation mandating further privatisation of the NHS, to do with the ‘nearly 200 … members of the Houses of Parliament with their fingers in the private pie. I think it’s what we would call in the law a conflict of interest.’
Gerry Conlon and Paddy Hill’s time in, and after, prison was illuminated through Hill’s stories and anecdotes. Hill recalled how the Bishop of Leicestershire offered to conduct ‘a few prayers’ before he concluded a visit to the two at Wormwood Scrubs Prison, to be met with ‘a few prayers? It’s not prayers we need, it’s money!’ The Bishop, surprised, dutifully slipped his wallet across the table as they rose to pray while Hill took what he could find – ‘Me and Gerry went back in the jail and got two ounces of weed.. stoned for a week!’
The stories continued and the auditorium laughed, but Hill ended on a sombre tone, saying ‘We have nothing to be guilty about, but we feel so guilty about what happened to our families. Gerry felt the same (particularly for) what happened to his dad Giuseppe.’ Giuseppe Conlon died in prison after his health deteriorated, exactly (and apparently coincidentally) 25 years before tonight’s event. ‘When (Gerry) died, thankfully that burden of guilt was lifted off his shoulders, and he’s now at peace.’
Written by Jack McGinn
Posted by Jim on
Lá Gaeilge: Irish Language Day
Saturday, March 7th, 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
at Glucksman Ireland House NYU
Discover the Irish language in a program designed for learners of all levels, led by Paul Ferris, Hilary Mhic Suibhne, Pádraig Ó Cearúill, and Shane Ó Ruairc.
Followed by the tenth annual Barra Ó Donnabháin Lecture by Dr. Feargal Mac Ionnrachtaigh on “From Cumann Chluain Árd to An LÁ DEARG: Building Gaelic Communities from the Bottom Up in the North of Ireland,” which will be delivered in Irish. Read more and RSVP to the evening event.
About the Instructors:
Paul Ferris, NYU
Paul Ferris is an alumnus of Glucksman Ireland House’s MA Program. He has been an Irish language instructor for NYU’s Speaking Freely program and at Drew University in Madison, NJ. Paul studied Irish at An Acadamh in County Galway and Oideas Gael in County Donegal, and is a former member of the executive board of the North American Association of Celtic Language Teachers.
Born in Limerick, Hilary Mhic Shuibhne has been active in the regional Irish language community since moving to the U.S. in the mid-90’s. She currently teaches Irish language to undergraduates in NYU Irish Studies Program. Having earned her Bachelor’s in Commerce from University College Dublin and trained as a Graphic Designer, Hilary completed her Masters in Irish and Irish-American Studies at NYU.
Pádraig Ó Cearúill, Senior Irish Language Lecturer, NYU
A native of Gaoth Dobhair, County Donegal, Pádraig Ó Cearúill grew up with Irish as his first language. After earning his Bachelor’s degree in Irish Language and History and completing graduate studies in Education at Trinity College, Dublin, Padraig came to New York University in 1995 where he became the Irish Language Lecturer for Glucksman Ireland House and earned his Masters’ degree in Communication and Culture.
Shane Ó Ruairc, Fulbright FLTA, NYU and Drew University
Shane Ó Ruairc is a past teacher of Irish Language in a Gaelcholáiste (Irish Language medium secondary school) in Dublin, he is currently an Irish Language Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant at NYU and Drew University. He has earned a BA in History and Modern Irish from University College Dublin (UCD), as well as two Masters degrees from University College Dublin, one in Irish Language Journalism and Communications and another in 20th Century Irish History.
Made possible through the support of the Department of Gaeltacht Affairs, the government of the Republic of Ireland, through the National Lottery.
Free admission, though seating is limited. RSVP highly suggested.
Posted by Jim on January 22, 2015
WALL STREET JOURNAL
1211Avenue of the Americas
New York, New York 10036
You rightly note alarm and skepticism over the untimely death of Argentinian prosecutor Alberto Nisman (“A Troubling Death in Argentina” 1/20) who was investigating the 1994 Hezbollah/Iranian bombing of a Jewish Cultural Center in Buenos Aires which killed 85. He alleged in 2013 the government of Cristina Kirchner was conspiring to whitewash that massacre with a “truth commission” as part of a diplomatic plea bargain with Iran.
In 1989 in Northern Ireland another officer of the court, solicitor Patrick Finucane, was murdered for being too good at his job representing the many victims of British security forces collusion with loyalist killers. Unlike the death of Mr. Nisman, Finucane’s death was neither lamented or editorialized by the WSJ despite the de Silva report confirming the collusion and citing “the governments sustained effort to defeat the ends of justice.”
Why the difference in your concern? The Thatcher government killed Finucane. But the 85 deaths in Buenos Aires were the work of Hezbollah and Iran. One demands you look the other way while the other yields a platitudinous call to not let “…the killers off the hook.” How long will Britain remain off the hook and unaccountable for their crimes? And why don’t Irish lives matter?
Michael J. Cummings
Posted by Jim on January 21, 2015
Posted by Jim on January 18, 2015
The Irish Cultural Society announces its annual writing contest
for students in the 9th through 12th grades in the Nassau County high schools. The materials describing the contest have been mailed to the English Departments of the Nassau schools, public and private, and they have been posted on the Society’s web site.
The writing project for the 2015 contest is built upon the English Regents Text-Analysis Response model. The writers have to identify a main idea in a radio address given in 1943 by President of Ireland Eamon de Valera and to analyze the rhetorical devices he used, such as metaphor, parallelism and antithesis, to persuade his audience to adopt his proposal. In the past the English Regents has used President John F. Kennedy’s First Inaugural Address for a Text-Analysis Response.
The Society’s web site also contains “Helpful Hints,” suggestions to the contestants about how to approach the writing task. The project itself is a task promoted by the new Common Core Curriculum. Entries are due by March 17, 2015.
The Society has been sponsoring a writing contest for over thirty years. This year thirty-nine prizes will be awarded from $200 to $35 at the Society’s May 6 Awards Ceremony at the Garden City Library. Every entrant will receive a Certificate of Merit mailed to the student’s sponsoring teacher. The library of the schools which have an entry into the contest will receive books on an Irish subject in appreciation of the role libraries play in promoting literacy.
Any interested student can get copies of the materials for the contest in the English Department of the student’s school and on the web site, www.Irish-Society.org.
Posted by Jim on
by James O’Shea
Tens of thousands of young Irish American men and women between 18 and 26 may have the opportunity to spend up to ten free days in Ireland learning about Irish culture and history – if a proposed government initiative gets off the ground. The Irish Times reports that Minister for the Diaspora Jimmy Deenihan has outlined proposals for “an orientation course on what it is to be Irish” for young people with a connection to Ireland, “similar to the Israel Taglit-Birthright scheme which has seen more than 400,000 young Jewish people visit Israel over the past 15 years.” The idea was first framed by Irish American leaders.
The Deenihan proposal is part of a broader package that also addresses issues such a emigrant voting rights.
The Israeli program, founded in 1999, sends young men and women of Jewish origins to Israel for a ten day immersion in the language, culture, history and modern day life of Israel. To date over 400,000 young adults from all over the world have taken part in Birthright, which began as the initiative of two philanthropists Charles Bronfman and Michael Steinhardt, who shared the belief that it was “the birthright of all young Jews to be able to visit their ancestral homeland.” Participants have come from 66 countries, all 50 U.S. States and Canadian provinces, and from nearly 1,000 North American colleges and universities. To be eligible, applicants must be between the ages of 18 and 26, have graduated from high school, have at least one Jewish parent, and identify as Jewish. Those who have been on prior educational trips to Israel or who have spent more than three months there since the age of 12 are not eligible, and Israeli citizens or those who were born there may only apply if they left Israel before the age of 12. An Irish outreach program would likely involve a similar blend of private philanthropy and government funding and would provide a powerful new linkage between the Irish Diaspora and Ireland at a time when there is much discussion about the future. IrishCentral spoke with Birthright participants to get a sense of how Ireland could model its initiative on the program and what it could do differently. Most lauded the degree of planning involved and the effort made to allow participants to see as much of the country as possible. “The trip was well planned and covered (as in miles) so much of the country. We saw the nature, the culture and the religion all in a week and a half,” said Hana Itkis, a playwright who went on Birthright seven years ago. “I met some amazing people and after spending ten hours on the bus with them for the first couple of days, it already felt as though we were longtime friends. The night we slept in the desert was by far the most memorable evening for me. We camped outside in Bedouin tents, cooked dinner and ran around like wild children. We played music and fell asleep under the stars,” she recalled. In addition to displaying the idyllic and historic aspects of Israel, including Herod’s Temple, the Wailing Wall, and the desert fortress Masada, they said that the trip also exposed them to some of the harsher realities. Lauren Taylor, a 26-year-old film/TV freelancer in Brooklyn, went on Birthright in January 2014 with friends she’d known since the age of 13. “We went to the West Bank border and saw the extremely intimidating security checkpoints regular people have to go through to and from work everyday, or not – sometimes the gates aren’t open and they just can’t get through to the other side,” she said. “It was hard to see and it’s still hard to understand. Being exposed to these things forced me to examine and question the past and to keep hope for the future.” A few past participants who identified as Jewish more culturally than religiously said they found the religious emphasis of Birthright a challenge. “The trip would have been incredible if it wasn’t so focused on religious conversion. The guide should have taken a step back from pushing her views onto us,” Itkis shared. “I think just by exploring and talking to some of the locals I gained a better sense of what the country was going through, rather than sitting in a circle and discussing whether or not I would shoot down a child running at me with a bomb. But the general consensus seems to be that the program offers a small taste of everything Israel has to offer. “It felt like we were constantly getting on the bus and off of it and I could have spent days at the Dead Sea, not just a mere 3 hours. I wanted to sink my teeth into it,” Taylor said. But then again, that may be just the point. “I guess they want that, so you go back,” she added. It also provides a unique chance for young American Jews to bond with each other and with their Israeli counterparts. Michelle Ronay, a lawyer in Chicago, went on Birthright five years ago when she was 21 and found the experience to be so positive that she still volunteers with an afiliated organization. “I loved Birthright and overall,” she said. “For me, the best parts of the trip were being able to talk and bond with the young Israelis who accompanied us. We were able to ask them probing questions about Israel’s politics, religion, culture, etc and likewise, they were fascinated by our American culture. Naturally we didn’t agree on every topic, but I think Birthright is very smart to have Israelis accompany Americans on the trips. It does a great job driving home the sense of the diaspora yet also reminding us of the similarities we share. “Not only are you ultimately bonding with Israelis who are your age, you are also bonding with other American Jews. For many people on the program, it was the first time they ever got to be with other Jews and not feel like a minority.”
Posted by Jim on January 16, 2015
Sean Bresnahan looks at the OTR issue.
a Tyrone republican who frequently contributes to online discourse.
Much ado the past few days about Blair, ‘On The Runs’ and the peace process, but let’s keep in mind that without the Troubles there would have been no OTRs to begin with. And also that some should have profited from this scheme but instead were thrown to the wolves by their own, likely deemed unworthy of inclusion by an arbitrary decision-making process that excluded potential adversaries at the behest of the Sinn Fein leadership.
Many in the Unionist community take issue that a ‘deal’ on OTRs was reached at all, when the truth is the scheme did not go anywhere near far enough. My issue with OTRs is not that it let anyone off the hook but that it didn’t go far enough and (like everything else the leadership negotiated) we got the short end of the stick.
Like everything else it was done on Britain’s terms with a carrot thrown in to keep us happy – or more accurately to keep THEM happy and to secure their position, with no threat of two years in gaol for some. The greatest leadership in history my arse. Spin that yarn to Gerry McGeough, who spent two years in Maghaberry thanks to their ineptitude. Or was it ineptitude? Perhaps something more was afoot.
The dogs in the street know McGeough was shafted to put him out of the picture politically, while Michelle Gildernew, the Adamsite darling, could only be the better-positioned for it. God forbid an independent-minded voice within the republican movement. A calculated political move which raises its own set of questions regarding the relationship of the leadership to the state and a disgrace from start to finish – from the original selection convention in June 2000 to the carting away in the back of a police car at the count in Omagh nearly seven years later. I’d venture the two are connected at some point, if only in terms of the agenda being served.
That aside, the reasoning in McGeough being gaoled is it sets his actions as an IRA Volunteer inside the paradigm of an acceptable British law. In this narrative McGeough is breaking the law and being suitably punished whereas state agents, like his direct opponent, are elevated to a higher moral plateau – as are the mechanisms used to ensure a conviction. That OTRs pose a threat to this narrative is the source of the recent hullabaloo.
The key aim of the British is to frame the conflict as a criminal undertaking and the arrest, political show-trial and unsafe ‘conviction’ of those like Gerry McGeough is part of its strategy. Many, out of blind loyalty to the leadership and its pathetic negotiating abilities, are sadly content to go along with that, regardless of how it impacts on the legitimacy of men like Pete Ryan, Jim Lynagh, Martin McCaughey and their actions.
This approach would see such men happily subjected to British Diplock Courts today, if they’d somehow managed to escape the death-trap set for them, went on the run and returned home years later thinking it was safe to do so – absent of course that all important letter, which some were deemed worthy of and others not. Would Jim and Pete have been deemed worthy? Would Martin? Who knows but who would trust it.
Some would have it they should just be grateful no matter, sure what’s two years away from your family and loved one’s anyway. That’s the pitiful notion those like Sinn Fein Councillor Michael McIvor promote when publicly claiming McGeough done alright and should be thankful for his lot – whether they see it or not.
Constitutional issues aside, the 1998 Agreement was poorly negotiated around such issues as prisoner-releases and conflict-related ‘offences’. It created a situation whereby it was acceptable practice for a British Diplock Court to try and convict this man, and others such as Scotchy Kearney, using all the various legal manipulations and lowering of the standards of ‘law’ long employed against and objected to by republicans.
That some now accept the legitimacy of these legal processes is a victory for Britain and a shafting of the IRA Volunteers who stood up against and called such reactionary ‘laws’ for what they were and are – repression. That ‘letters of comfort’ are set to be withdrawn while the republican leadership continues to sit in Stormont is just the broom-handle being rammed up their backsides all the harder.
Under the British-imposed narrative, in which republicans now acquiesce, the state had a right to prosecute its violence whereas republicans had none – not even to defend themselves and their community. The evidence around Bloody Sunday, collusion in the murder of Pat Finucane and the refusal to grant inquests into a plethora of state killings speaks for itself, the British justice system is designed to protect its own and set them apart from ‘terrorists’ like Gerry McGeough, who are to be gaoled while the state and its agents walk free.
Those who consider the underhand mechanisms employed to stick McGeough and his like behind bars as acceptable fare, and anything other than the product of inept negotiating at best, the deliberate removal of a political foe at worst, are either fooling themselves or are that far removed from the republican struggle they no longer care about the broader picture.
What amounts to the effective collapse of the OTR scheme, at the behest of political Unionism, serves the same end for Britain as the gaoling of McGeough and Kearney, to show republicans their place within the British law, which can be altered and employed against them at will, if and when required. The only difference on this occasion is that ordinary Volunteers were not alone in being shafted, this time the leadership was shown its place in the order of things too.
Posted by Jim on January 15, 2015
January 15, 2015
WALL STREET JOURNAL
1211 Avenue of the Americas
New York, New York 10036
In “The Scandal of Free Speech” (1/13) you note that the practice of killing blasphemers came to an end during the Enlightenment and that free speech survives in America thanks to the First Amendment to our Constitution. Much American blood was spilled to assert that right against British tyranny in 1776. In recent decades British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher inspired those who would silence the voice of others and showed the world her deadly contempt for free speech.
She was so enraged by the speeches of Sinn Fein candidates and elected officials that the British Army Special Air Services teams were unleashed to assassinate 6 elected Sinn Fein Councilors and 9 campaign workers. Those speaking in defense of victims of British injustice infuriated her. Her Minister Hogg in Parliament claimed “some lawyers were too close to the IRA ”and within months Belfast attorney Patrick Finucane was killed with the collusion of MI-5 and loyalist thugs. Inspired by their success murdering Finucane, 10 years later the same sinister security (sic) forces murdered Lurgan lawyer Rosemary Nelson by the weapon of choice, a car bomb. Her crime? She testified before Congress about police corruption and murder. Her testimony, in part, expressed a fear for her life. She, too, was Charlie!!
Allegations of systematic anti-Catholic discrimination or police corruption could not be heard by the British public. Ms. Thatcher instructed the BBC to silence the voices of Sinn Fein representatives whether they were talking about the price of milk or police and judicial malfeasance. Her greatest fear was letting Sinn Fein speakers or ex-prisoners speak in the U. S. For decades Britain literally dictated to the U. S. Departments of State and Justice a policy of arrest and immigrant harassment of potential speakers. The Iron Lady even convinced the Bush administration to deny a visa to Gerry Adams, the elected head of a legal political party, an elected Member of Parliament, an author and a man who has never been convicted of any crime!! He survived one assassination attempt by British agent Brian Nelson. He, too, was Charlie!
Ms. Thatcher knew the lawless, sectarian and violent colonial appendage called Northern Ireland could only tolerate so much truth and free speech. She was willing to do anything to limit it. She was willing to kill someone for their political or legal views that conflicted with the official spin on N. I. So how does she differ from those who butchered the journalists and Jews in Paris?
Michael J. Cummings
Posted by Jim on January 10, 2015
A group of concerned individuals has established “Reclaim the Vision of
1916–A Citizens’ Initiative for 2016,” in order to reassert the
political principles and objectives that animated the 1916 Rising and to
show their continuing relevance for Ireland today.
In 1916 the Proclamation of the Irish Republic declared the right of the
Irish people to the ownership of Ireland and to the unfettered control
of Irish destinies. They wanted to realise this in a sovereign,
independent Irish democracy that would have the welfare of all the
citizens as its guiding principle. This vision has never been achieved,
and the Irish people have borne the consequences of this failure.
We believe that the 100th anniversary of the Rising presents an
opportunity to open a meaningful dialogue among the citizens about the
principles of 1916 and how they can be applied to the task of building
an Irish democracy in the twenty-first century. In a genuine Republic
the people would have full control over their own lives; the common good
would be at the centre of decision-making; and all the citizens would
reap the benefits of a fully human society.
Reclaim the Vision of 1916 intends to organise three national events: a
National Parade of Celebration on Sunday 24 April 2016, a national
seminar in the spring of 2016, and a significant publication. It is
hoped that many individuals and groups throughout the country will
affiliate to the Initiative and participate in the national events, as
well as organising their own activities. We invite those who are
interested in joining us in this project to contact us now, and we wish
to co-operate with those who share our concerns and are organising their
The Citizens’ Initiative has set out its ideas and aspirations in a
Proclamation for a New Irish Republic, together with a Political
Statement. Alongside the programme outlined above we want to encourage
wide discussion and debate about the ideas contained in these documents.
The Proclamation for a New Irish Republic states:
We affirm that the only solution to this failure and crisis will be
found in a sovereign, independent Irish democracy that puts the common
good at the heart of government and where sovereignty rests with the
people and democratic power is exercised by them.
We want Ireland to develop a culture that fosters and encourages
independence of thinking and action. We recognise that there may be
differences between us about how our vision can be implemented, but we
insist that everyone who believes in the democratic right of the people
to govern themselves should support our shared struggle for a better
society for all.
In such a democracy, the common good would come before the freedom of
capital and the markets or the pursuit of private profit. The wealth of
the country belongs to the people, and the natural resources, industries
and services must be utilised in the interests of all the people and
subjected to their democratic control.
At the end of this initiative we hope there will be a deeper
understanding of the need for a real Irish democracy and what that would
mean, and that as many people as possible will have been drawn into the
circle of discussion, thinking, and participation.
Reclaim the Vision of 1916–A Citizens’ Initiative for 2016 will be
officially launched at a public rally in Dublin at Easter 2015. We will
be contacting the widest range of individuals and groups to discuss
these ideas and to see how we can work together to ensure that the
centenary of the 1916 Rising is properly celebrated.
Signed: Robert Ballagh, Finbar Cullen, Eugene McCartan
Posted by Jim on
A murder investigation into the Bloody Sunday massacre will restart
ahead of the 43rd anniversary of the killings in Derry, it has been
Lawyers for the victims have been told the investigation into the events
of January 30 1972, in which British soldiers killed 14 civil rights
protestors and injured another 22, is to be resumed.
The original inquiry was stopped last year just three days before
investigators were due to start interviewing the soldiers responsible
for the killings.
Lawyer Peter Madden, who represents the majority of Bloody Sunday
families, said the PSNI told him that a number of its members have now
been assigned to the case.
“We lodged judicial review proceedings on behalf of the Bloody Sunday
families and wounded challenging the decision of the Police Service of
Northern Ireland to effectively end its murder investigation into the
events of Bloody Sunday,” Mr Madden said.
“Since that time, and in advance of a court hearing, we have engaged in
extensive and detailed correspondence with the PSNI, challenging the
legality of its decision and decision making process and as a direct
consequence of issuing proceedings the PSNI has now decided to
recommence the investigation.”
Mr Madden said his firm “cautiously” welcomed the new development.
It is understood the new investigation team will again consider
interviewing former members of the notorious Parachute regiment who
carried out the killings in Derry on Bloody Sunday.
John Kelly, whose brother, Michael was one of those killed, said the
re-opening of the investigation was a step in the right direction.
“It’s a second bite at the cherry but hopefully this time we’ll get to
eat the full cherry,” he said.
The original Widgery report on the Bloody Sunday massacre was
discredited as a whitewash and a cover-up. However, the 2010 Saville
Report concluded that British soldiers from the Parachute Regiment had
opened fire on victims who had been entirely innocent, and British Prime
Minister David Cameron said in Westminster: “I am deeply sorry”.
As a lengthy justice campaign by the families entered its fifth decade,
a police investigation was finally promised. However, in November it was
revealed that most of the Bloody Sunday investigation team was to be
laid off because of “budget cutbacks”.
Sinn Fein Assembly member Raymond McCartney has welcomed the news that
the investigation will restart.
“Sinn Fein supported te families’ call that this investigation be
properly resourced to ensure the relatives get access to justice,” he
“This will help engender public confidence in the investigation. We will
continue to support the Bloody Sunday families in their campaign for
truth and justice.”
The investigation will be handled by a new PSNI legacy unit until the
creation of a new ‘Historical Investigations Unit’ (HIU), as proposed in
the Stormont House Agreement, to take over responsibility from the now
defunct Historical Enquiries Team (HET).
Posted by Jim on January 8, 2015
Police are due to recommence their investigations into the events of Bloody Sunday later this month.
Lawyers for the family said 12 new detectives had been assigned to the case and would begin work soon.
Thirteen people were shot dead by the British Army on 30 January 1972 at a civil rights march in Londonderry. A 14th man died later from his wounds.
Detectives want to re-interview former soldiers and civilians who gave evidence to the Saville Inquiry.
In 2010, the Saville Inquiry into Bloody Sunday was heavily critical of the Army, finding that soldiers fired the first shot without issuing a warning.
The report also found that all of those who were killed were unarmed. It said some of them were clearly fleeing or going to the assistance of others who were dying.
Detectives announced last January that officers were to begin questioning more than 1,000 witnesses.
However, police cuts meant the majority of the team that was in place were laid off in October.
Peter Madden, of Madden & Finucane, who represents the families of those killed and wounded on Bloody Sunday, lodged judicial review proceedings in response to the police decision.
“Since that time, and in advance of a court hearing, we have engaged in extensive and detailed correspondence with the PSNI, challenging the legality of its decisions and decision-making process, and as a direct consequence of issuing proceedings the PSNI has now decided to recommence the investigation,” Mr Madden said.
“We cautiously welcome this development.”
The new team of 12 detectives, which is being led by Det Ch Insp Ian Harrison, will begin work on 12 January.
Mr Madden said he would be meeting with Mr Harrison soon.
Posted by Jim on January 3, 2015
The Fine Gael/Labour coalition has lost its mandate and now clings to
power, imposing policies that are alienating huge numbers of citizens,
as it stumbles from one political crisis to another.
May’s Local and European election results were a clear message that the
government needed to change political direction but they refused to
The over-riding theme of the Fine Gael/Labour coalition has been a
deeply unfair economic policy.
It has imposed destructive austerity measures on struggling families
and vulnerable citizens. Its budgets have been among the most regressive
in the state’s history.
The imposition of domestic water charges in the face of huge public
opposition is the final straw for many.
In the year ahead, Sinn Fein will continue to fight the water charges
until they are scrapped.
As we head into 2015, Irish society faces a choice between the failed
politics of the conservative parties who have ruled the 26-County State
since the 1920s – or a genuine republican alternative that offers the
prospect of radical political change.
In the North, the most vulnerable have been protected against Tory
welfare and budget cuts. Progress has also been made with regard to the
issues of flags, the past and parading.
But much more needs to be done. The British and Irish Governments have
failed to deliver on commitments such as a Bill of Rights, Acht na
Gaeilge, and an inquiry into the killing of Pat Finucane and other
However, the Stormont House Agreement demonstrates that with the five
main parties acting together, significant progress can be made to
safeguard the most vulnerable and rebuild the reputation of the
As we look forward to a new year Sinn Fein will continue to work
towards a United Ireland and a new republic which cherishes all
identities and puts the interests of citizens first.
For now, I wish you all a Happy and Peaceful New Year.
Bliain ur faoi mhaise daoibh go leir.
Posted by Jim on
2014 bore witness to an unprecedented expression of Irish sovereignty
exercised by a people demanding fundamental change. The mass
mobilisation of people, on repeated occasions throughout Ireland, was
testament to the revolutionary fact that these demonstrations were not
merely protests against the status quo but rather an unstoppable
advocacy for a new and sovereign Ireland.
All the old formulas are now redundant and stand indicted of abject
failure. Chief amongst these is partition itself. The failure of
partition is so complete as to render arguments and protests against the
legitimacy of its provenance as academic.
Both statelets are in default of Emmet’s epitaph. Both statelets are
injurious to the ideals of the 1916 Proclamation. And both statelets
have demonstrated, consistently, that our people’s well being is
subordinate to sectarian considerations and the interests of financial
elites. Their own actions have de-legitimised them as Parliaments worthy
of the allegiance of the people.
Stormont has demonstrated that the level of agreement that can be
reached between its participants is in accordance with how much
Westminster is prepared to pay for it.
Leinster House has demonstrated that no price is too high to ensure that
those who bankrupted the State, and their political facilitators, are
financially secured through the labour of the people.
Both the Good Friday Agreement and the Bank Bailout Arrangement has
entrusted political governance on the island to institutions that are
politically and economically controlled by outside financial interests.
The issue of Water Taxes has exposed the nefarious nature of this
arrangement with an overwhelming dynamic of simplicity. That such a
basic human right would be exploited to pay off a debt not of our
making, and a national resource ultimately sold off for private
profiteering, has proved a step too far. The issue of sovereignty is now
to the fore of national politics.
For republicans this coming year must see us rehabilitating our ideals
and strategies with a language which is both relevant and constructive
to this real mood for change.
The 32 County Sovereignty Movement views the Centenary of 1916 as an
unprecedented focal point for republicans to offer guidance so that
maximum political and constitutional change can be realised.
This requires two essential components; republicans must work together,
as the lesson of Easter Week has taught us, and we must make these
combined endeavours work in tandem with those already mobilised. Our
leadership must be as decisive as the clarity of our message.
Our message reiterates the Irish people’s right to national sovereignty,
to sovereignty over our national territory, our natural resources, over
the fruits of our people’s labour and to the collective wisdom of their
Before the United Nations sits two documents; one makes the case for the
continuance of British Parliamentary activity in Ireland the other makes
the case for Irish National Sovereignty. The former has yet to yield a
credible physical or intellectual argument as to why an Irish person
should not fight for their freedom. The latter contains the resolution
as to why they have always done so.
This movement for change is not confined to Ireland. The recent Scottish
referendum on independence and the growing trend of English nationalism
is proof positive that a new political dispensation is on the cusp.
British Imperialism, like its EU financial counterpart has failed. The
legacy of this imperialism in Ireland is armed conflict and enforced
debt. To those in Scotland, England and Wales demanding national
autonomy for their respective countries we have called upon them to
extend those demands to Ireland.
Irish republicans are keen to establish a new democratic relationship
between the countries of these islands but this can only be based on a
mutual recognition of our respective sovereignty.
2015 must see an end to confusion in republican thinking. Absurd claims
and counter claims concerning Irish unity by certain dates or in certain
formats fails to grasp the core message of Pearse and Connolly. Irish
unity may well be generations away but Irish sovereignty is close to
hand. And only on the attainment of our sovereignty can the process of
Irish unity begin.
Posted by Jim on
Republican Network for Unity extends New Year greetings to members,
supporters, activists and political prisoners, in Ireland and worldwide.
In particular we send greetings to our imprisoned comrades in
Portlaoise, Maghaberry & Hydebank. RNU would like to take this time to
offer solidarity to all oppressed people involved in revolutionary
struggle at home and abroad.
2014 was a year of transition for Republican Network for Unity,
undergoing the necessary conversion from a pressure group to a
revolutionary party, offering to represent the working class people of
Ireland at all levels of struggle, which in hindsight was undoubtedly
the correct decision.
In 2013 we took the decision to stand in local council elections with
the view of giving the working class an alternative voice, in 2014 we
carried out the wishes of our membership and support base and dipped our
toes in the political arena. With this decision came challenges,
challenges which our membership overcame with hard work and consistent
activism regardless of the bias media, paramilitary police force and
hostile state attempting to arrest progression.
The election campaign and it’s heartening results brought a new energy
to the movement, a new dynamic swept across the membership and activists
at all levels discovered new talents which they have since put to use in
building a revolutionary movement capable of taking back every inch of
Ireland and putting it in the hands of ordinary people.
This renewed energy has also brought growth, while small, it is
undoubtedly progressive. At a time when Republicanism is, for the most
part at an impasse, RNU has not only extended already existing Cumain,
but we have established party structures in areas that were dormant for
a number of years.
The continuous growth of RNU can largely be attributed to the selfless
nature of our activists who consistently immerse themselves in the daily
struggles of the working class, from small initiatives such as gritting
roads and feeding the homeless to large national campaigns such as the
anti-water tax protests in Dublin. The struggle for the Irish Republic
is a peoples struggle, and RNU has responded to this, throughout
Ireland, from Belfast to Cork.
It has been another year of struggle for Irish Republican Prisoners
throughout the country, in particularly in Maghaberry where Cogus POWs
have refused to allow a Thatcherite criminalisation policy to prevail
without resistance. Throughout the last 12 months we have witnessed
state thugs ramp up the pressure on Republican Prisoners and their
families, using their limited arsenal of early lock-ups, cancelled
visits, denying medical appointments and repressive visiting
arrangements. All those efforts by the malevolent Prison Administration
were quashed and treated with the contempt they deserved by Republican
Prisoners and their families, who remain steadfast at the coalface of
Irish Republican Prisoners have time and again showed initiative,
courage and resilience to create a conflict free environment within Roe
House, they have offered the Prison Administration and the Justice
Department the opportunity to replicate their courage and innovation and
fully implement the 12th August 2010 agreement. This opportunity mustn’t
be squandered. Republican Network for Unity reiterate the call for the
unconditional and immediate release of the Craigavon Two who are
currently suffering a major miscarriage of justice.
2014 also seen the continued internment of Portlaoise Republican POW
Michael McKevitt. Once again Michael and his family have been denied any
semblance of justice after the prejudice judicial system turned down a
number of appeals for early release, which Michael should’ve been
entitled to. This man is now entering his 14th year of imprisonment, he
was convicted on the word of David Rupert an agent and convicted
fraudster, in the pay of MI5, FBI and in all probability also in the
employment of the 26 county intelligence services.
Michael McKevitt was tried and convicted in the media long before he
appeared before the special criminal court, he was arrested on a warrant
that has now been ruled unlawful but not in Michael’s case, even after
all the long years of imprisonment these agencies still fear his
principled unyielding Republicanism.
At this time we also keep in mind the capitulation of the puppet
politicians in Stormont who recently agreed to punish the most
vulnerable in our society for a crisis they didn’t create. The Stormont
House agreement, as they call it, is nothing more than a neo-liberal
orientated document set to increase the gap between rich and poor,
making the rich richer and taking the last scraps from the tables of the
poorest, manifesting in the form of devolved corporation tax and a
commitment to implement the much dreaded ‘welfare reform’.
It is today we must organise, not tomorrow or next week. The struggle to
abolish Tory driven welfare cuts must take place in every community and
workplace, everyone must get involved. It cannot be left to one group,
for that will ultimately mean failure, and failure on our part is simply
not an option, for failure will pave the way for poor benefits, badly
paid employment, homelessness, less hospital beds, poor education and
widespread impoverishment. When stripped down to its core, this is what
the Stormont House Agreement will bring to the working class people, so
ultimately it is up to the working class people to struggle to abolish
Republican Network For Unity also continues to stand on the frontline
with the communities in the 26 counties, who have stood firm in their
opposition to water charges being imposed on them by a draconian 26
County Government masquerading as Dail Eireann.
Water is a human right, it is a natural resource, water belongs to all
the citizens of this island. RNU encourage the people of Ireland to
stand up for what is rightfully yours, and organise by whatever means.
Only community empowerment and the organisation of the working class can
defeat the water charges. The Republican Network for Unity Cumain in the
North used constant pressure and direct action to force Stormont to ban
water meters, albeit temporarily, this process must be repeated on an
While some political parties continue to pay lip service to the issue
and use it for political mileage, Republican Network for Unity will
continue to organise and stand shoulder to shoulder in solidarity with
the people of Ireland on this unjust measure being imposed by immoral,
disingenuous, self-serving governments.
Almost 17 years on from the signing of the Belfast Agreement, there has
been a process by constitutionalists to tame the radicalness of
Republicanism. The revolutionary fervour of a progressive ideology has
been diluted by those who currently claim its mantle and have resigned
it to the board rooms of Stormont and Leinster House.
What is deemed as ‘mainstream Republicanism’ is seeing more and more
administrators, rather than dedicated Republicans. More and more career
politicians are replacing the revolutionaries, and instead of thinking
about the next generation, they are simply thinking about the next
This is not surprising, as the whole history of the Irish national
liberation movement proves that the capitalist class and those who
sought to appease them have been disloyal to the national cause,
bargained and made agreements with the British government at the expense
of the interest of the working class, time and again they have betrayed
the struggle for freedom.
The conflict between the oppressed nation and the oppressor nation was,
mirrored by the conflict within Ireland between oppressed and oppressor
classes. Thus the all-too-material question of combating capitalism and
its defenders was at the very core of the Republican struggle, and must
take its place once again.
RNU note that the current partitionist settlement is not a solution, nor
a stepping stone to a solution. It is simply a copper-fastening of
British Rule in Ireland. It stands contrary to the basic tenants of
Republicanism and the ideals of those who fought to defend Irish
We believe we have mapped out the path for a solution in our
Revolutionary Republicanism document. We are therefore entering into a
new year in a spirit of determination and confidence, armed with the
strong belief in our ideological position. RNU encourage all Republicans
to revisit and help strengthen the Revolutionary position, and reject
the lure of the reformist crave for a short cut by submitting Irish
sovereignty to Britain.
Posted by Jim on January 1, 2015
Anglo-Irish relations ‘brought to lowest point by parade decision’
Éamon Phoenix. Irish News ( Belfast). Tuesday, December 30, 2014
This year’s release of previous confidential state files from Stormont and the Northern Ireland Office covers the year of 1986. The Public Record Office in Belfast has released 749 files relating to that year. Reporting on the Belfast files for The Irish News is political historian Dr Éamon Phoenix with additional reporting from Gavin Cordon for the Press Association
THE difficulties posed for the Anglo Irish Agreement over an RUC decision to allow an Orange parade to pass along the Garvaghy Road area of Portadown on 12 July 1986 are highlighted in declassified files released this week.
Despite an initial RUC decision, communicated to the Secretary of State Tom King, that only a Church parade on 6 July would be permitted to pass through the Nationalist area of the north Armagh town, the RUC finally decided, after negotiations with Orange and Unionist leaders, to allow a July 12 march through the Catholic Garvaghy Road. This decision was seen by nationalists in general as ‘provocative and triumphalist’.
To make matters worse, it became clear that the RUC had refused a request for consultations from the local Nationalist community.
The march was followed by Loyalist attacks on Catholic homes in Rasharkin, Co Antrim and elsewhere.
In a confidential report on the Portadown decision for the Secretary of State, dated 17 July 1986, J E Mc-Connell of the NIO felt that the only winner had been the DUP leader Ian Paisley ‘who gained the kudos for having led “successful negotiations with the RUC”‘ while upstaging local UUP politicians who ‘were trying to reach an acceptable compromise’.
The most worrying aspect of the Twelfth and its accompanying violence, he noted, was the inevitable increase in community tension across NI and ‘the re-emergence of vicious sectarian attacks’.
The RUC decision in Portadown provoked a strong statement from the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Peter Barry on 15 July 1986 alleging that ‘members of the minority community had been left unprotected’. It was ‘intolerable that provocative demands by the Unionist marchers had been listened to and that the Nationalists had been denied equal treatment under the law’. The Minister’s statement and a riposte by Tom King, supporting the RUC and seen as a rebuke to Dublin, had, in the words of the NIO official, ‘brought Anglo-Irish relations in general, and Barry-King relations in particular, to their lowest point’ since the signing of the Agreement in November 1985.
In the wake of the violence the British received a seven-page analysis from the Irish, passed through the Maryfield Secretriat on 16 July as representing Mr Barry’s position. Its main points were that a) ‘expectations had been raised among Catholics that the 12 and 14 July marches would not be allowed through Catholic areas’, especially in light of the AIA; b) that police assurances that the march would not be allowed down Garvaghy Road had been ‘treacherously breached’ (‘the word current in Dublin’, the official noted) and c) that the decision to allow the march ought to have been a purely policing one.’
Posted by Jim on December 31, 2014
Galvin Honour Welcome
I was delighted to read that Martin Galvin has been selected as an aide to the Grand Marshal for the 2015 St. Patrick’s Day parade in New York City (12/12/2014).
A man of proven integrity and principle, Martin has never wavered in his commitment to the ideal of a United Ireland free from British interference and he is seen by many as being firmly in the tradition of those Irish-American leaders who have consistently stood for Irish
independence down the centuries.
Mr. Galvin is held in the highest esteem among traditional republicans throughout Ireland and when speaking to a large crowd at a recent event in East Tyrone he made a huge impression upon a whole new generation of Irish nationalists.
In addition, he has done Trojan work on behalf of the Ancient Order of Hibernians in New York and has helped facilitate close contacts between both wings of our trans-Atlantic organisation in recent times.
Finally, in light of Martin’s now officially recognised role in the forthcoming New York parade, it goes without saying that all those who march behind him de facto share in the “England out of Ireland” theme that he promotes.
AOH Division 207,
Posted by Jim on
Here’s wishing you all a very Happy and Prosperous New Year! The past year, 2014, was of course the one during which the British were supposed to have left Ireland. At least that was the on record promise made some time ago by a leading Sinn Féin figure. Oh well, ho-hum!
Now we must bide our time until 2016 when an even more prominent Sinn Féin figure has publicly promised a British withdrawal from the Six Counties. While one is prepared to give the benefit of the doubt in all instances, it’s probably true to say that very few people seriously
believe that the British State will begin to vacate its forces from Ireland in about twelve months from now. The real wonder is that supposedly astute politicians would tie themselves to such definite dates in the first place. Sooner or later all those who have placed their faith in these
individuals will be disappointed by them. Sinn Féin leaders come and go of course, albeit at a glacial pace, and the fate of the Irish Nation is far more important than the ambitions of individual egotists. It is to be hoped that 2015 will mark the beginning of a serious debate that will
end the cult of leadership and the curse of factionalism within the wider Irish Republican family. The cause of Irish freedom remains a noble one and Irish Republicans are a formidable people, forged in the fiery tradition of true Patriotism. Unity is strength. Let’s work towards it in 2015.
Éirinn go Brach!
Posted by Jim on December 24, 2014
Gail Bell. Irish News (Belfast). Monday, December 29, 2014 Gail Bell delves into the newly released historical government papers to look at business issues THE percentage of Catholics in the Northern Ireland workforce may have risen for the 12th successive year, according to the latest Equality Commission report. But in 1986 the religious imbalance at Short Brothers was causing major headaches at Stormont – and even threatened to ground support from the United States. A stream of confidential correspondence flowed between Belfast officials and high- ranking American politicians over fair employment legislation in relation to the workforce at the Belfast aircraft factory and has now been revealed in secret government files released under the 20-year rule. Extensive folders – entitled ‘Fair Employment’ and ‘Short Bros PLC West Belfast Facility’ – show the extent of the influence of the US in ensuring fair employment practice was properly executed at the company which employed an overwhelming majority Protestant workforce in 1986. Against a background of protests to the Anglo-Irish Agreement and unemployment which stood at 129,432 in July that year – representing a whopping 19 per cent of the working population and the highest of all UK regions – it was not exactly a smooth flight for the aircraft manufacturers. Short Brothers was one of a number of Northern Ireland companies investigated in relation to fair employment practices and had agreed to implement an ‘Affirmative Action’ programme to be monitored by the FEA (Fair Employment Agency). Prior to the programme, the agency had concluded that the percentage of Catholics employed by Shorts “did not reflect that in the population as a whole”. In a confidential letter from Department of Economic Development to the Department of Finance and Personnel at Parliament Buildings, the seriousness of the situation was spelled out and assurances given that both Shorts and the FEA were “anxious to identify the causes of the gap” between recruitment figures and the level of applications from Catholics. “As you will appreciate, there is considerable political interest in what might be alleged to be a failure to afford equality of opportunity by a government sponsored company, not least by the United States,” Mr Lewis Nesbitt wrote, while asking for “urgent approval” for funding of up to £25,000 for independent analysis of the figures. Individual academics were also put forward to carry out the exercise, but the FEA believed they might not have the “necessary standing” for such an investigation, which was deemed “likely to be subject to critical analysis, especially in the United States”. The fears, it seems, were well-founded, with pressure coming from both Harrison J Goldin, Comptroller of the City of New York, and Paul Simon, US senator. “I share your concern that although there has been some progress in employment of Catholics at Short Brothers in apprentice-ship positions, the level of Catholic new-starts for other positions actually fell, despite a rise in Catholic applications,” Mr Simon stated in a blunt letter to the under-secretary at the DED. Meanwhile, Mr Goldin – who was described as “unflagging” in his efforts to promote the MacBride Principles for US companies doing business in the north – commended the FEA’s action in a letter to Dr Rhodes Boyson MP, then Minister of State at the Northern Ireland Office. He added that he hoped Shorts management would now “recognise that the time for change has come”. Following the Affirmative Action Programme, changes implemented by Shorts included more objective recruitment procedures, greater contact with Catholic schools and the development of the West Belfast facility at Dunmurry – a move bitterly opposed by unions. Terry Carlin of the NIC ICTU wrote to Shorts’s management at the time, stating he was “convinced” that dividing Shorts into separate companies would make it easier to eventually privatise the company. Shorts was acquired three years later in 1989 by Bombardier Aerospace. The latest Fair Employment Monitoring Report by the Equality Commission shows the company currently employs 3,931 Protestants (82 per cent) and 827 Catholics (17.4 per cent) out of 4,993 employees.
Fr. Sean Mc Manus, Irish National Caucus
Posted by Jim on December 23, 2014
AN ENVOY WITHOUT PORTFOLIO?
A recent Embassy of Ireland press release addressed the status of talks in Northern Ireland. It included a statement from Gary Hart, the U. S. representative to the discussions. Hart, a former U. S. Senator from Colorado, described his role rather vaguely as though he were a man without a mission. The phrase ‘ window dressing” immediately came to mind. Once again America has an opportunity to seek from Britain what we seek from other nations: the rule of law, respect for human rights, democracy, justice and accountability. But Ireland gets a diplomatic dance with our ‘special relationship’ partner . It hurts Ireland and endangers the peace process. Why do I think so?
Two references in Hart’s statement give us a clue. His alludes to culture (read parades and flags) in an odd way. He notes that “our nations immigrants did not give up their culture and histories “ to become American citizens. This an apparent reference to the ‘victim’ theme so often pressed by loyalists when discussing ‘culture.’ Britain is anxious to cultivate this loyalist ‘victim’ nonsense and may have sold Hart on it. The only culture the loyalists had to give up was the systematic police lawlessness and discrimination against Catholics in voting, housing and jobs. Only armed resistance broke them of those habits but at a terrible loss of life. Second, Hart emphasizes that “…ghosts of the past must not be allowed to haunt the future…” and “all had a desire to move [the talks] beyond the past.” Here he is singing from the British song book. The truth is that over three decades Britain’s double agents, Army, police and collusion with loyalists served to promote instability and strife. The British assassination of Sinn Fein officeholders and workers perverted political progress . Using violence and promoting sectarian hatred worked for them. Having bullied and bribed the leaders of the 26 Counties, England held on to the six County garrison into the Third Millennium. No small feat in the post-colonial world! Knowing that any independent public inquiries into murders of 1000 Catholics, could end up re-writing the entire history of the conflict, Cameron has fought the truth on all fronts. Is the U. S. position to forget this past and cover-up the truth? Is Gary Hart just a ‘beard’ in these discussions and playing patsy for the British?
Most troubling is Mr. Hart’s repeated claims to “having no agenda.” Why doesn’t he? Are we not demanding the UK live up to its Treaty obligations and agreements like the obligatory independent public inquiry required into Patrick Finucane’s murder? Could not Envoy Hart cite the painful reports of the U. S into the My Lai Massacre, Kent State and most recently torture reports to justify demanding the truth from Britain of the largest loss of life in the conflict courtesy of the British Army: the Dublin Monaghan bombings? Could he also not offer Cameron U. S. aid and expertise to complete Coroners Inquests and investigations into the murders of 1000 Catholics as we have aided the investigation into the murder of Rafik Harari, the assassinated Premier of Lebanon?
Is this “no-agenda” position a policy dictated from Foggy Bottom (U. S. Department of State) or has Cameron bargained with President Obama over Ireland? The signs are ominous. The U. S. Ambassador to Great Britain, Matthew Barzun tells us something. He perfectly fits the job as described in the Huffington Post. The “… heavy lifting is handled by the State or the CIA while the Ambassador woos investors, chats up the London chattering class or hobnobs with the royals.” Mr. Barzun fills that bill and is obviously clueless about N. I. Consider a recent statement. The “ special relationship is vibrant, versatile and it is vital.” But when it comes to Ireland that relationship is also venomous. Again from Ambassador Barzun: “We value a UK in the EU because we see eye to eye on the important issues …like Russian aggression.” Is that because Putin’s tactics are so different from the British?
- British annex 6 counties in Ireland and arms a minority despite democratic elections. Russia annexed Crimea in the same way.
- Britain executes lawyers Pat Finucane and Rosemary Nelson. Russia murders lawyer and whistleblower Sergei Magnitsky.
- British hire loyalist thugs in N. I. to kill innocent Catholics and defends their lawlessness. U. N. Report documents Russian hiring of mercenaries and local gangsters to achieve a total breakdown of law and order in Eastern Ukraine.
- Britain bombs Dublin and Monaghan Towns and blames Ireland for the troubles. Russian Premier Putin’s security services bomb an apartment complex in Moscow to blame Chechens and to distract from the economy. The Secretary General of NATO, Andres Rasmussen recently declared “…Russia is an enemy of liberty, democracy and the rule of law.” Do Barzun and Rasmussen not realize the hypocrisy of criticizing Russian for the same tactics England has employed in Ireland? Yes, the times were different. And yes, Britain and Russia are much bigger and more powerful than Ireland. Does that mean they can act with impunity and earn America’s silence?So envoy Hart has no agenda. Ambassador Barzun is clueless. Secretary Kerry, who has knowledge and understanding of N. I., is otherwise occupied. Add to this mix an Irish leadership with so many domestic problems it is more than willing to go along with whatever Prime Minister Cameron wants and bells should be going off in President Obama’s National Security Council. The late Czech leader Vaclav Havel remarked that when dealing with Russia “..our own historic situation has taught us that evil must be confronted rather than appeased. “ America’s approach to the dialogue ongoing in Belfast is not based on truth and is aimed at appeasing the British. The UK gave six counties of Ireland a sectarian, lawless and corrupt government for over 80 years and seeks today to demand the people of the North clean up the legacy of the failing garrison economy they created. President Obama rightly ended the 50 year of Cuban isolation “to try something different.” One can only hope that our President will also see that more than 50 years of appeasing Britain over Ireland needs a reset!!
- Michael J. Cummings
- 12 Marion Ave, Albany, NY 12203
Posted by Jim on
Bronx County AOH announces the selection of Martin Galvin as Aide to the Grand Marshal
and will be hoping to promote the parade theme of “England out of Ireland”
Kings County AOH announces the selection of John O’Farrell as Aide to the Grand Marshall of the Parade
Richmond County AOH announces the selection of John MacDonald as Aide to the Grand Marshall
New York County AOH announces the selection of Pat Brady as Aide to the Grand Marshall
Westchester County AOH announces the selection of Dan Dennehy as Aide to the Grand Marshall
Nassau County AOH announces the selection of Joe McDonald as Aide to the Grand Marshall
Posted by Jim on December 21, 2014
Nollaig Shona Daoibh! We wish the very warmest of Christmas greetings to all our friends throughout Ireland, the United States and beyond.
At this time of year we thank God for the gift of true friendship and acknowledge that we have been blessed to have known so many good and decent people who have stood by us through thick and thin. May God bestow bountiful blessings upon you all.
During this season I have been reflecting on the historical fact that Ireland and the Irish are never stronger than when they totally embrace Christianity, which lies at the very root of our ancient culture and national identity. This Faith we must never abandon.
A very Happy and Joyous Christmas to everyone. Vivat Christus Rex!
Posted by Jim on December 18, 2014
PLEASE SEND CHRISTMAS CARDS TO IRISH REPUBLICAN POLITICAL PRISONERS
For tips on writing to IPOWs see http://www.irishfreedomcommittee.net/POWs/tips_for_writing.htm
IRISH FREEDOOM COMMITTEE POW LIST – DECEMBER2014
REMEMBER THE POWs AT CHRISTMAS AND YEAR ROUND PLEASE SEND CHRISTMAS CARDS TO IRISHREPUBLICAN POLITICAL PRISONERS
Cards can be mailed in bulk envelope to prisons, separated into individual floor/landing groupings (**Please message us for further information re: individual affiliation). Individua lenvelopes are not recommended, as they may be confiscated. Please print recipients’ name inside the cardalong with your own return address.
Posted by Jim on
New York’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade was a symbol of Irish achievement and traditions when such symbols were few. It was a beacon of hope for Irish freedom when such hopes seemed unattainable. As one who cherishes this parade, I was grateful and honored to be nominated as Aide to the Grand Marshal by BronxCountyAOH. Cardinal Dolan being Grand Marshal, made it more special. It is therefore disappointing that anyone should hype controversy by misrepresenting my beliefs and background.
It is certainly true that I support freedom for all of Ireland and have marched with banners and badges proclaiming “England out of Ireland!” These are fundamental principles of the AOH and St. Patrick’s Day Parade. The reporter need not have gone back years to get speeches in Ireland or America. Two weeks ago I spoke for Irish freedom in Tyrone remembering close friend and former Bronx resident Liam Ryan, one of the hundreds of British collusion murder victims. Why is it ‘controversial’ to want freedom for all Ireland?
It is also true that for almost twenty years I was one of the leaders of Irish Northern Aid and for fifteen years editor of the IRISH PEOPLE NEWSPAPER. Those who flooded the streets in front of British Consulates, filled legislatures for the MacBride Principles, and packed Irish-American Candidates Forums never got due credit. They made Ireland an American issue until leaders like President Clinton were willing to take the groundbreaking question from me about a visa for Gerry Adams. I take pride in what was accomplished working with the AOH and many Irish-American organizations. During those years the same pro-British propagandists that claimed top Republicans in Ireland were ‘mindless godfathers’, claimed that money we gave families of political prisoners was funding the IRA. Why should discredited British claims from so many years ago matter now?
It is finally true that after I led a 1983 American fact-finding tour which embarrassed the British, the Thatcher government tried to ban me from returning with a second tour in 1984.Sinn Fein leaders said we must not to allow this censorship ban to succeed and be used to silence other Americans. When I was called upon by Gerry Adams, the Royal Ulster Constabulary opened fire with plastic bullets. They murdered one man and
wounded scores more. Britain was condemned and put one man on trial for murder. After I was arrested alongside Martin McGuinness at Free Derry Corner in 1989 and shipped back under military guard, the British sent me a letter saying it had all been a mistake. Why should British murders or admitted mistakes be resurrected against my nomination today?
It is categorically untrue that I support armed actions today by any IRA or as your writer puts it, “denounce the Sinn Fein leadership as traitors.” The Irish Central’s own Nuzhound on December 14th reprinted an interview I gave the DERRY JOURNAL in Ireland. The headline, “Conditions do not exist for a return to violence” could not be clearer. That reporter bothered to speak to me before publishing. Readers of the Irish Voice may also recall seeing a full page of photographs of the October 26th Woodlawn AOH Awards Event, which was attended by some prominent American supporters of Sinn Fein. Why can Irish Republicans not respectfully disagree on some issues while working together where there is common ground?
I personally believe that the British did not intend the Good Friday deal as an open door to freedom for the six counties but as their chance to nail the door shut. Why is it wrong or controversial to point out British injustices and speak for new political strategies to overcome proven British bad faith?
As noted, I cherish the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and what it means to the Irish. I am grateful to Bronx County AOH for nominating me. I do not understand why my presence as one of the Aides to Cardinal Dolan should cause any controversy. Indeed it would only be controversial if we forgot there will be six counties represented in this parade who are still denied freedom in Ireland!
Posted by Jim on
Despite longstanding promises that the Irish government would this week debate and decide on the question of a presidential vote for Irish living abroad, they have failed to do so.
Sinn Féin Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh criticized the government for failing the Irish diaspora again, by not following up on their commitment to implement the Constitutional Convention’s recommendation to hold a referendum on voting rights in Presidential elections for Irish citizens abroad.
Senator Ó Clochartaigh noted that the recently appointed Minister for the Diaspora Jimmy Deenihan “has been traveling extensively, giving the impression that a decision on this was imminent. It is clear that he has failed to impress this on his Cabinet colleagues who have once more kicked these rights to touch.”
“Sinn Féin had been advocating for these rights for a very long time and we would also like to see the debate extended to voting rights in Dáil & Seanad elections also,” he added in a statement. “We also need to address the issue of representation for the diaspora in the Seanad itself.”
According to globalirish.ie, a 2006 study of countries that allow their emigrants to vote included:
– 21 African nations
– 13 North and South American countries
– 15 Asian countries
– 6 Pacific countries
– 36 European countries.
Sixty-five of these countries allow for external voting for everyone, while about 25 place restrictions on it, based on such factors as to whether they intend to return permanently or how long they have been away. Citizens in the US can vote no matter how long they stay away, while citizens of Britain are disqualified after fifteen years away.
Some countries, like France, reserve seats in their parliaments for citizens who live abroad, while others vote in the constituency in which they used to live. Other countries only allow for votes in national or presidential elections.
Emigrant advocacy groups had been actively campaigning this week. We’re Coming Back is planning to hold a #toastforavote event on Friday, which already has almost 600 attendees.
Posted by Jim on
From An Phoblacht Online – www.anphoblacht.com/contents/24645
LAST THURSDAY, the British Prime Minister engaged in the worst form of car-crash diplomacy, and his front-seat passenger was An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny.
After nearly ten weeks of talks which at no stage became a real negotiation, the two leaders arrived. That, and the tabling of their joint paper, could have heralded the start of a negotiation but this was never the plan.
Over three weeks ago, Sinn Féin said all the indications pointed towards the ground being prepared for a predetermined British document, with an Irish Government sign-off.
It was apparent for some time that a ‘take or leave it’ paper was potentially being drafted, the core of which would include the imposition of welfare cuts; increased austerity; fewer Executive departments and fewer MLAs: as well as dilution of Haass; and no movement on outstanding issues from the Good Friday Agreement and other agreements.
Sinn Féin told the Irish Government before An Taoiseach came that a potential moment of opportunity did exist and that a comprehensive talks outcome should not be squandered with a setback.
They were reminded that wider community and republican confidence in the political process had been undermined, and that national leadership was required from the Irish Government. Power-sharing, equality, the all-Ireland agenda, adherence to the Haass proposals, Acht na Gaeilge, Pat Finucane inquiry, and Maze/Long Kesh project were all set out as necessary and reasonable requirements – that is, they are already agreed.
These issues are a litmus test of the Irish Government’s determination to ensure the national and democratic position mandated in referendum advanced; the British sought primacy for its own and unionism’s agenda.
Instead, the paper signed off on by the Irish Government supported the latter.
It went from being a partner in talks to becoming a cheerleader for austerity in the North and the rolling back of the Good Friday Agreement.
The Haass proposals last winter provided a road map for political stability. Had the British Government and unionism agreed then, we would have been able to tackle our economic challenges now from a better position. At that time, Sinn Féin compromised on all our positions regarding the past, parades, and identity and flags. So too did the SDLP and Alliance Party.
The two governments’ paper takes unionist rejection of the Haass proposals and compliance with British Tory austerity as its starting point.
Their paper is aimed at getting Sinn Féin to compromise again on the very compromises which the party made during the Haass talks as a means to encourage unionism to perhaps begin compromising!
That’s really what Foreign Minister Charlie Flanagan meant when he demanded “tough compromises” from Sinn Féin on Monday. His intervention, and yesterday’s exchanges in Leinster House, are the warm-up for an inevitable blame game led by the governments. Expect to hear from the British soon.
The two governments’ joint strategy was about trying to jump-start a phoney negotiation, in reverse gear. It didn’t work, so David Cameron walked out.
Given this British administration’s track record, that type of stroke is no surprise. Its focus is the Westminster elections, and trying to keep the DUP sweet.
However, it is a disgrace for any Irish Government to play fast and loose with the political process.
It has now turned away from its commitments to the Barron Inquiry requirements on the Monaghan and Dublin bombings, the Pat Finucane inquiry, and the Ballymurphy Massacre independent panel.
The paper the Irish Government jointly authored has accepted the primacy of British national security interests over truth for Irish citizens.
The rights of Irish citizens in the North have been fundamentally compromised by this Irish Government’s actions. It has broken faith with the Good Friday, Weston Park, St Andrew’s and Hillsborough Castle agreements.
The joint paper presented in the Irish Government’s name is a setback for Irish national and democratic interests.
The politics of last Thursday/Friday were eerily reminiscent of the mid-1990s when the British Tories and Fine Gael were also in power.
This Irish Government has behaved with reckless indifference towards the fate of the political process in the North, and all because of selfish electoral interests in the 26 Counties.
Posted by Jim on December 15, 2014
This has been a busy week for the families meetings with the
SDLP, SF and the justice minister and irish foreign affairs department
expressing our concern that inquests are under threat in the talks about
dealing with the past. We also protested outside Stormont house
yesterday where parties were holding talks on dealing with the past.
Families were demanding that inquests are not affected in money saving
measures and that all inquests are fully resourced and that they should be
funded by the British government outside the block grant. We are in
London today along with other campaign groups on international human
rights day to show the British government and British people that we have
rights too and that the British government needs to accept responsibility
for their actions and implement mechanisms for dealing with the past.
Families take ‘Footsteps’ campaign to London (opposite Downing St between 12 noon and 3pm)
Families who demand answers from the British government will take their
‘In Their Footsteps’ shoe campaign to Westminster to mark International
Human Rights Day this Wednesday 10th December. The poignant ‘sea of shoes’ exhibition with over 150 pairs of shoes will
be displayed opposite Downing St between 12 noon and 3pm and highlights
the many lost and ruined lives due to the conflict. This is part of a bold
new campaign for truth, initiated by many bereaved families and those
injured during the conflict.
This latest Day of Action will see relatives and campaigners travel to the
heart of the London where they will collectively call upon the British
government to ‘Set the Truth Free’ about historic cases here. Campaigners
will also have an audience with MPs in the House of Commons at 5 pm.
The hugely emotional exhibition has shocked and moved audiences since its
inception earlier this year, drawing huge numbers to Days of Action in
Derry, Belfast and Dublin.
Families from all over Ireland have already thrown their weight behind it,
and are calling on other bereaved families to add to the ever-growing
collection of shoes as the campaign gathers momentum.
All the different groups, organisations and individual families who have
all donated shoes ask only for one thing – for the truth to be set free.
Campaigner Robert McClenaghan urged the public to get behind the campaign.
“Over 3,600 people were killed as a result of conflict here, and over
40,000 were seriously injured – and this initiative is open to every
single one of these families, no matter who they are if they agree that
effective independent mechanisms should be put in place. It’s a very
potent, very visual reminder of all we have lost and it gives ordinary
people an insight.
“We’re taking this campaign to London for International Human Rights Day
where we will let them know that London cannot wash its hands of
responsibility and must fund this part of the peace process in order for
people here to move on. This is one of the key issues we will be
highlighting during our Day of Action in Westminster.”
To get involved, show support or contribute shoes to this important
initiative, please contact:
The Pat Finucane Centre on 02871 268846 / Paul O’Connor 07989 323418 / Email email@example.com;
Ciaran Mac Airt from the Mc Gurks Bar families on 077430 339633; or
John Teggert from the Ballymurphy Massacre campaign 07860 382930/ 07512166867.
Posted by Jim on December 10, 2014
by Patrick Roberts @ Irish Central
A leading Irish American etiquette expert thinks it would be just dandy if we all bow or curtsy to Prince William and Duchess Kate now they are in New York.
“Americans are not required to bow or curtsy (to the royal family) but they should do so out of respect, ” says Patricia Napier-FitzPatrick, who has a fashionably double-barreled last name. She was speaking to the New York Daily News.
According to her website, Napier-Fitzpatrick is an “internationally-recognized etiquette expert. She is certified in Etiquette and International Protocol, and Adult and Corporate Etiquette by the THE WASHINGTON SCHOOL OF PROTOCOL. Additionally, she is certified in Children’s and Teen Etiquette by THE AMERICAN SCHOOL OF PROTOCOL(Caps are hers).
What FitzPatrick knows nothing about clearly is the PROTOCOL LEFT TO US BY IRISH AND AMERICAN HISTORY (Caps are mine).
Americans do not bow to royalty, they shake hands and greet in a friendly and open fashion any foreign-born folk who happen to style themselves as royalty.
The United States is a republic, as enshrined in the constitution where all are equal. We don’t do royalty over here much as FitzPatrick might wish otherwise.
FitzPatrick may remember the American revolution which was fought over this very issue. The words of the “Star Spangled Banner” may remind her.
“Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: “In God is our trust.”
Not in royalty we trust, or bend the knee to. That is not the American way.
In 1908, in London, at the Olympics, Irish Americans Ralph Rose and Martin Sheridan announced “This flag dips for no earthly king,” when the US team paraded past the royal box. Nor should any American bow.
This policy is no reflection on the royal couple who have rescued the monarchy after years of titillation and terrible reviews, especially around the issue of Lady Di’s death.
But we are Americans. FitzPatrick might also remember her ancestral roots and the fight her forefathers over there put up to never have to bow or scrape to a queen, king, prince or princess.
Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney, in a much later rendition of the right to be a Republic stated “No glass of mine was ever raised to toast a British queen.”
So FitzPatrick grow a pair, you are not a British ‘subject’ but an American citizen. Give the British royal family the respect they deserve but please no bowing and scraping.
Too many Irish and Americans gave their lives to ensure that you wouldn’t have to.
AS AN AMERICAN I BOW TO NO MAN NOR KING
To those who wish to bow to these people, please read the poem below written by Gerry McGeough
Posted by Jim on December 6, 2014
To the Fallen Heroes of Tyrone A Tribute
In the silent hours, we retrace the years
And remember them, with pride and tears
The fallen ones, who have gone to rest
Our gallant comrades, they were our best
They gave their lives, for cause and home
Defending Éireann, and green Tyrone
Against foreign might, and Saxon ways
They sacrificed, their golden days
Honour was theirs, and courage too
Withstanding the many, though they were few
They craved not laurels, nor sought they fame
In quiet dignity, they endured all pain
Soldiers were they, who knew no fear
They gave their all, for the land they held dear
Some died together, others alone
But we guard them all, in bushy Tyrone
From heathery hills, to meadows of green
And deep wooded glens, to the lough water’s sheen
Their names are alive, their memories revered
And by traitors and foes, are eternally feared
And they speak to us yet, though their voices are still
They speak to our hearts, and convey us their will
Comrades never despair, get confused or give in
It’s for Ireland we fight, and for Éireann we’ll win
We shall never forget them, the brave and the true
But honour and praise them, for all they did do
We salute them with pride, for they were our own
Our comrades who died, Volunteers from Tyrone.
Posted by Jim on December 1, 2014
Former taoiseach John Bruton: the Kilmichael Ambush Commemoration was told at the weekend that his comments about the Easter Rising and the War of Independence marked the most extreme articulation of a particular view of Irish history.
by Barry Roche, the Irish News
Former Taoiseach, John Bruton has been accused of failing to recognise the context in which the 1916 Easter Rising took place when he said the rebellion was not justified and Ireland could have achieved freedom through the Home Rule Bill.
Historian and pamphleteer Jack Lane told the annual Kilmichael Ambush Commemoration in west Cork at the weekend that Mr Bruton’s comments about the Easter Rising and the War of Independence marked the most extreme articulation of a particular view of Irish history.
“It is mind-boggling to hear an ex-taoiseach condemn the founding fathers of this state of which he was a leader. Can you imagine a US president denouncing George Washington for their War of Independence or a French president denouncing the French Revolution?
“It is unimaginable and there was a lot more war and bloodshed in establishing these and other states than was the case here where overwhelming popular support for independence minimised the bloodshed,” he told the crowd of about 800 people who gathered at the ambush site.
The annual commemoration marks the victory by Tom Barry and members of the Flying Column of the West Cork Brigade of the IRA over a contingent of Auxilaries from Macroom in the War of Independence
Mr Lane of the Aubane Historical Society said that when Mr Bruton feels the need to claim that Easter 1916 and the War of Independence were misguided and seeks to promote that view, then it is necessary to examine very closely the merits of his arguments.
Mr Bruton had argued that Volunteers of 1916 should have trusted in the Home Rule Bill as it was on the statute and would have evolved into a republic and that there was therefore no need for war and bloodshed, he said.
However this view ignored the fact that the Home Rule Bill was immediately suspended and that volunteers of 1916 had for a period trusted in the Home Rule Bill as evidenced by Padraig Pearse sharing a platform with John Redmond in support of Home Rule in 1912.
However Pearse and others had changed their minds when they witnessed a very real rebellion against the British government’s plan for Home Rule when Tories and unionists “organised themselves to set up an alternative provisional government to prevent Home Rule” in 1912.
An illegal army, the Ulster Volunteer Force, was set up and arms were imported which led to the establishment of the Irish Volunteers “to support the government in implementing Home Rule – to assist in implementing the law not to break it as the UVF were planning to do.”
The British army supported this unionist rebellion with the Curragh Mutiny of 1914 when officers refused to enforce the law on Home Rule and the British government allowed all this to happen and conceded all along the line, he said.
Mr Lane said critics of the Easter Rising say that the organisers had no mandate but the same point could be made about the British government, as it failed to hold an election as it should have done in 1915 and instead did a deal to invite Tories and unionists into government.
“The unionists had their own army, with plenty arms, they had British army support and now they were in government. They had won and it was absolutely clear that Home Rule or any form of Irish independence was off the agenda,” Mr Lane added.
“There was no two ways about it. If that government had its way, we would still be waiting for Home Rule. It was already suspended on the day it was passed on 18th September 1914 and that is where it would remain.”
It is true that those who organised the Easter Rising had no mandate but neither had the British government nor had the unionists for their rebellion other than what they gave themselves. “There were no mandates all around,” he said.
Similarly, Redmond committed the Irish Parliamentary Party to a British war on Germany and Turkey without an electoral mandate as he never put to the Irish electorate that he would take Ireland into an imperial war if the empire gave him Home Rule.
“The Irish Volunteers decided that a rebellion was the only way to get the government to respond to what had been proved by the success of the Unionists and this is the political and moral case for the 1916 rebellion,” he said.
Unfortunately, this narrative had been twisted and was not articulated in either academia, the media or by mainstream politicians, which is why commemorations such as Kilmichael offered a valuable opportunity “to put the record straight about 1916 and the War of Independence”.
Posted by Jim on
Today we stand together. Family members and close friends, each with deep personal feelings and memories of Liam Ryan, stand alongside others too young to have known him. All of us can feel anger at his murder. Surely, it is murder when the vaunted British crown forces arrange killings by loyalist proxies and paid agents. It is murder, even when the murder victim was, like Liam Ryan a Republican, or like Michael Devlin in the company of a Republican, or as other families here know, the parent or aunt of a Republican. All of us can be angered by the British policy of murder cover-up. European Law says that the families of state murder victims have a right to justice. Britain deems such rights null and void when the victims are Republicans or justice means ending the one-sided immunity or impunity for British troopers or constabulary. Even today families of the victims are still denied justice, still denied truth, still stonewalled and still told lies. Even an Ombudsman or Coroner, who makes the mistake of actually trying to get truth, soon finds they will be denied the funds or documents to do it. All of us –and I do not want to be misinterpreted as speaking about armed actions in the different conditions and circumstances of today-but we are not here for any sorry initiatives, not here to demean his legacy by apologies –all of us are here to honor the memory of a true patriot with pride. There is today another ongoing round of talks. Last year’s Haas talks have become this year’s Hart talks. We frequently hear words like parity of esteem and equality. We will not accept a “parody of esteem” where we are expected to hide our grief, our anger, and our pride in this brave soldier, lest we give offense to others who believe Republicans in Ireland are not entitled to such feelings. To understand Liam Ryan, first understand the times in which he lived. He was born before the British shifted from one party Orange rule, to granting shared space tied to an immovable DUP anchor, where every legitimate demand for justice, as Gregory Campbell so crudely said, can be treated like toilet paper. Liam was born before civil rights marches. Because he was a Ryan from Ardboe, and where his parents sent him to Church and school, that was enough to mark him as suspect, second class and someone the six county state could best do without. They did their best to send this message with a whole system to deny nationalists jobs, housing, and gerrymander votes. Just to be sure he understood, the crown forces would remind him when they met him on the road. It is easy to understand why when people speak of the beginnings of civil rights in the six counties, they speak of marches in Coalisland or Dungannon or the first housing sit- in by a Tyrone family. It was easy to understand why when British troopers proved they did not come to back civil rights but to impose Internment, and to shoot down those who got in the way at Ballymurphy, or protested in Derry, that Liam came to believe you would not never get civil rights from a regime ready to answer civil right protests with Bloody Sunday. He came to see that the injustices he lived under were no accident but were allowed by the British because they served British interests. He went to New York where I would come to know him. He found a new life where being a Ryan from Ardboe, did not count against him and indeed often counted for him. He found work with the power company Con Edison. He had sisters and cousins nearby. He found an apartment near Gaelic Park where he spent Sundays. He found Tyrone Societies and Clan na Gael. And who could have blamed him if he enjoyed this new life and put thoughts of Tyrone or the six counties behind him or perhaps attended a few protests outside the British Consulate or given some money for Republican prisoners. We would have been glad to get it. That was not Liam. You could take Liam Ryan out of Tyrone but never take Tyrone out of Liam Ryan. The struggle and injustices here were never out of his thoughts. His dream was always to live and raise a family in a Tyrone where the injustices he lived under were a thing of the past. He dedicated his life to help make that so. He worked in Clan na Gael and with Irish Northern Aid. He was one of those men and women from the six counties who were a constant inspiration and reminder to all of us. They were the vanguard of everything we in America did to raise money for the families of political prisoners or to build American political support for Irish issues. He made his home a refuge and landing spot for others. There I would first come to hear of Gerry McGeough. He cannot be here because he is under threat of Internment by License. Gerry McGeough like Ivor Bell, or Seamus Kearney and others are living reminders that the British will go back 30 or 40 years and have no shortage of money to trump up charges against some Republicans. They then tell us there is no money to arrest the Bloody Sunday troopers, or give the Ballymurphy Massacre families an inquiry, or take any steps which threaten the blanket immunity or impunity for British troopers and constabulary. There I first met Lawrence McNally who would die alongside Liam‘s cousin Pete and Tony Doris. Their car was fired upon until it burst into flames. They still cannot get an Inquest. I remember asking why Lawrence had given instructions to be buried in Monaghan instead of Tyrone. I was told so that that so he could be buried and mourned without his grave and family being abused by crown forces. The next day I saw Pete Ryan’s family jeered and taunted about barbecues and barely let out of their homes to bury him. How right Lawrence had been. I even met John Crawley there on one occasion and Liam for once was wrong about John. He said we would not see John for a very, very long time. Then about six weeks later he rang and told me to turn on the news. There was John coming off the Marita Ann in handcuffs near the spot in Kerry where they caught Roger Casement. Sometimes when the struggle was at a high point and intense Liam would get very quiet. He would say he was wondering how things were with Pete or Jim referring to Jim Lynagh. He would say it with genuine concern and worry about those who were under great pressure. He had what I will describe as a great pointed sense of humor. He would tell jokes that had a great deal of subtle wisdom and insight behind them. As he was preparing to come back and open the Battery he was arrested in New York for sending weapons to the IRA. He faced a possible jail sentence. His lawyer, friends including myself pressured him to apologize as is customary in American courts. He told us he had done no more than one of his relatives who had helped Erskine Childers bring arms into Dublin for the Easter Rising. Finally he agreed to make an apology in the American court. Liam told the Judge that the only apology he wanted to make was to apologize to the IRA Volunteers who did not get the weapons. Judge Sifton who had no Irish connections but who presided over several Irish trials smiled and said that the Irish accused like Liam were unlike the criminals who came before him and let him go with unsupervised probation. He came back to Tyrone and opened the Battery. Whenever I would call and tell him I would be visiting Ireland he would always begin by saying” we will have you up at the Battery for a free drink.” I was banned from the north and the British had used my presence to attack a peaceful rally in Belfast. So we could meet in Dublin, or more likely Monaghan, but not in the Battery Bar in Ardboe, County Tyrone. When I met him he would always laugh that “it would do no harm to have the Brits watching for you on the road and you not coming, and add that maybe it will help someone on another road where no one is watching.” Once when he asked me to speak at a Clan na Gael Easter Commemoration. I asked what I should say. He joked that I should get up right after they read the Proclamation of 1916. Remind everyone that when those great Irish patriots were about to sign, six of them stood up. They said there was one among them who must have the honor of signing first, because he had suffered the most, waited the longest and worked the hardest to make that day possible. Remind them it was a Dungannon man Thomas Clarke. Ask why the indefeasible right to freedom vanishes before it got as far as Dungannon. Then tell them that now is no time for anyone to stand back. Tell them that people in the six counties are still suffering, waiting and working for the end of British rule and now is the time when the exiled children in America should unite with people across Ireland to give them that freedom . He said it as a joke but it stuck with me as one of the best Easter speeches I ever heard. “We will have you up at the Battery for a free drink,” Liam joked when I telephoned him twenty-five years ago to say I would be traveling to Dublin for weekend meetings between the Irish Northern Aid executive and Sinn Fein leadership. “Our friends have been about this last week,” he continued. It meant that the Royal Ulster Constabulary backed by British troopers had been patrolling heavily in the Ardboe area. He added, “I may be back in the Bronx with you but will say more when I see you.” These words were ominous. For Liam to hint at leaving Ardboe meant that he was under serious threat which he would not talk about on a likely tapped telephone line, but would explain when we met. I would never see him again. The following evening the crown forces which had been flooding the Ardboe area, would suddenly disappear. At closing, as Liam Ryan stood by the door, a loyalist death squad would arrive at precisely the correct time and place. Liam Ryan would be murdered as he attempted to slam the door shut and protect those patrons still inside. It was taken for granted that the British crown forces had given the intelligence, cleared and shielded the arrival and escape of the murder gang. The RUC would eventually arrive, with smug smiles not bothering any pretense of sympathy, as they dismissed any chance that anyone might ever be caught or identified. There was a phrase often used on newscasts about incidents which had all the hallmarks of the IRA. Liam’s murder had all the hallmarks of a crown directed collusion murder. How could crown collusion in so many murders at such a high level of cooperation over so wide an area and so long a time continue without the knowledge and approval of the British at the highest levels? There is now another round of talks that is supposed to tell us agreed formulas and legal mechanisms to deal with past events like Liam Ryan’s murder. Shakespeare had a fictional character named Lady MacBeth who wandered at night trying to wash away the stain of murder. We have a character named Theresa Villiers who tries to wash away the stain of British shoot-to-kill and collusion murders by cutting off funds, denying inquiries and pretending that Britain needs agreement from the DUP before it can comply with International Law by giving us the truth. It did not work for Lady MacBeth and will not work for Lady MacBeth Villiers. I cannot speak of him without remembering that he was murdered because he wanted freedom for all of Ireland so deeply. Many hoped that the Good Friday agreement had opened the door to this freedom. It seems clear that the British saw it as a way to nail the door shut. We are less than 18 months from the centenary of the Easter Rising, and that pledge of freedom, which Liam Ryan always said should apply as much to Thomas Clarke’s county as anywhere else. You and the people across the six counties have suffered the most, waited the longest, and worked the hardest .You have it within to produce patriots like Liam Ryan who can inspire others thousands of miles away. Now is the time to push so that the freedom Thomas Clarke signed up for in 1916 for all of Ireland can finally make its way to Thomas Clarke’s county and to the rest of Ireland.
Posted by Jim on November 29, 2014
MORE ON THE IGNORANCE, LACK OF MANNERS AND BREEDING, OF GREGORY CAMPBELL.
CAMPBELLâ IF YOU CAN BELIEVE IT â IS THE FORMER â CULTURE MINISTER â!
IN ANY DECENT COUNTRY CAMPBELL WOULD HAVE HAD TO RESIGN AS A PUBLIC FIGURE. HE WOLD HAVE BEEN SHAMED OUT OF OFFICE. BUT IN NORTHERN IRELAND, UNIONIST POLITICIANS STRENGTHEN THEIR BASE BY INSULTING CATHOLICSâ JUST LIKE SEGREGATIONIST POLITICIANS IN THE DEEP SOUTH USED TO SHORE UP THEIR BASE BY SHOWING CONTEMPT FOR AFRICAN-AMERICANS.
The bigotry of the Unionists in Northern Ireland is no joke
Niall O’Dowd @niallodowd November 28,2014
Gregory Campbell from the DUP is a former culture minister. His actions this week have been scary.Photo by: Irish Voice
Sometimes when you see the hatred some Unionists have for their Nationalist neighbors and their traditions up close it is a scary sight.
Gregory Campbell from the Democratic Unionist Party is a former culture minister in the Northern Irish government.
In that job he had clearly encountered Nationalist culture, from fellow Derry man Seamus Heaney to Field Day (which currently has a play on Broadway) to the West Belfast Festival. So surely he understood that it was a dynamic and extraordinary culture that has won Nobel Prizes, not to mention world accolades.
Instead of being proud of that and sharing that culture widely in the new Northern Ireland, Campbell has adopted the Bourbon motto that he will learn nothing and forget nothing.
His new attack on the Irish language is bigoted, saying essentially that he would wipe his backside with the Irish Language Act if given the opportunity.
âOn behalf of our party let me say clearly, and slowly so that CaitrÃona Ruane and Gerry Adams understand, we will never agree to an Irish Language Act at Stormont and we will treat their entire wish list as no more than toilet paper. They better get used to it,â he said.
This is a man first to the ramparts when his beloved Orange marches, pure walking bigotry, are rerouted away from Nationalist areas, a man who will rail at the slightest hint of an insult against his beloved and deeply sectarian Orange culture.
Yet he cannot see, except like a Cyclops out of one eye.
When he deeply insults the Nationalist culture he sees no harm in that or no blowback reflecting on his own bigotry.
But surely his party leader, Peter Robinson, would admonish his colleague, call for his resignation even, given the crass and bile filled nature of the attack?
Not at all. Not even likely.
Robinsonâs response to the BBC was equally telling:
“Lighten up will you? It’s a party conference and it was a bit of comedy in the middle of it; let’s get on with some real business.
“If all that you have out of the whole of the party conference is to question me about that, then there are better things I could be doing with my time.â
One wonders what his response would have been if a SDLP or Sinn Fein member had talked about wiping their backside with an Orange flag or a Union Jack. The outrage can only be imagined.
Dominic Bradley, Irish language spokesman for the Nationalist SDLP, was appalled and said it best. Campbell’s remarks were “beneath contempt and reflect more on his own narrow-minded mentality and his unwillingness to move forward.â
He added, “Peter Robinson’s attempt to trivialize these remarks clearly shows the tensions within the DUP. It remains to be seen if Mr. Robinson has the remaining leadership clout to face them down.”
Itâs a sad day yet again in Northern Ireland where bigotry is treated as a joke.
> Fr. Sean Mc Manus
> Irish National Caucus
> P.O. BOX 15128
> Capitol Hill
> Washington, DC 20003-0849
Posted by Jim on November 26, 2014
by James O’Shea @irishcentral November 24,2014
Fears that some undocumented Irish will be stranded at home if they return for the holidays.
Irish immigration groups and Irish Foreign Minister Charlie Flanagan are warning Irish immigrants who are undocumented not to return home for Christmas as the Obama executive order documents will not be available until spring 2015 at the earliest.
In a tweet on Sunday Minister Flanagan stated:
Kieran OâSullivan, a counsellor at the Irish Pastoral Centre in Boston told the Irish Times that undocumented returning home for Christmas would be making a major mistake.
âIâve heard from people who are thinking of going home to Ireland for the holidays and family events,â he said.
âWe have issued a general note of caution on such travel and the point we want to make is that anyone about to leave the USA should first speak to an immigration attorney.
âLeaving the US carries great risk if an individual does not consult an experienced immigration attorney,â said the pastoral center.
In order to travel to Ireland undocumented would need the Employment Document Authorization (EDA), which will be given out by the Obama administration after background checks and a cleared application.
With that in hand they will need advanced parole, given on humanitarian grounds when the person can show difficult circumstances back home such as an illness or funeral. The rules covering advanced parole will also be issued next year.
At this point there is no definitive date for the issuance of the EDAs and the advanced parole documents, but experts say it will take at least nine months if not longer.
To qualify for the EDA undocumented must prove that they have:
– have a U.S. citizen or LPR (Legal permanent resident) child as of November 20, 2014
– continuously resided in the United States since before January 1, 2010
– are physically present in the United States on November 20, 2014 and at the time of applying
– have no lawful immigration status on November 20, 2014.
Undocumented immigrants with questions can contact centers run by the Irish Apostolate USA, which is supported by the Department of Foreign Affairs, in Boston, New York, San Francisco, Seattle, Ocean City, Milwaukee, Baltimore, San Diego and Chicago for more information.
> Fr. Sean Mc Manus
> Irish National Caucus
> P.O. BOX 15128
> Capitol Hill
> Washington, DC 20003-0849
> Tel. 202-544-0568
> Fax. 202-488-7537
Posted by Jim on November 22, 2014
A video and website that was used by the Dublin government to launch its
programme for the anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising are set to be
scrapped following a public outcry.
The video including cameos from British Prime Minister David Cameron,
English queen Elizabeth Windsor and internet companies such as Google
and Facebook, but made no mention whatsoever of the signatories of the
Proclamation of the Irish Republic in 1916.
“Embarrassing unhistorical sh*,” was how Diarmaid Ferriter, the UCD
historian and 2016 Government advisor described it.
The website, which featured sections which had been (badly)
machine-translated into Irish, also appeared destined for an electronic
bin. It featured a message informing visitors that it is “temporarily
under-going maintenance and will be back up running as soon as
Officials at the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht were
ordered by minister Heather Humphreys take the website offline to allow
“experts” to resolve a number of “outstanding issues” with it.
Meanwhile, the 1916 Relatives Association, which is understood to
represent around 850 descendants of the men and women who fought, are
hoping for a turnaround in government policy to end their boycott of the
government’s plans for 2016.
The association’s Belfast-based spokeswoman Una McNulty, whose
grandfather Peadar and great-uncle Michael McNulty were in the Four
Courts garrison, said that despite tensions she remained hopeful the
centenary could still be “worthy of the men and women who died”.
“The government underestimated how important the centenary is to the
people of Ireland. They need to open up the channels of communication
with relatives and with the Irish people all over Ireland. We would like
to work with the government in partnership,” she said.
Ms McNulty said the association was keen to hold meetings on both sides
of the border to listen to people’s ideas, adding: “People care deeply
about this issue and we need to keep knocking on the door until the
government listens to us.”
Posted by admin on November 21, 2014
Speaking today following last night’s announcement by President Obama of changes in how the US Government deals with undocumented immigrants, Sinn Féin Leader Gerry Adams TD said: “Over the past number of years Sinn Féin has raised the issue of the estimated 50,000 undocumented Irish in the United States. Their absence is felt in communities and families across Ireland.
“I welcome the announcement by President Obama as it will bring relief to some,
“However I am concerned that the majority of undocumented Irish will not benefit from these limited changes.
“Many of these people have been forced into economic emigration since 2007, due to the economic mismanagement of successive Fíanna Fail, Fine Gael and Labour governments
“Undocumented Irish workers contribute to the US economy and community. This should be recognised and their futures secured. Today is another step in the right direction but there is further to travel.
“We will continue to work with the parties in the US Congress, and the recently appointed US ambassador, to ensure full recognition is given to those Irish living and working in the US.”
Posted by Jim on
The events of Bloody Sunday, 21 November 1920, are generally regarded as having marked a decisive turning-point in the military struggle between the British forces and the IRA, the military wing of the underground Dáil government. Three separate but connected events occurred on Bloody Sunday. First came the killings by Michael Collins’s ‘squad’ of twelve British Intelligence agents in their Dublin suburban homes that morning; two auxiliary policemen were also killed. In the afternoon came the killing by British forces of fourteen civilians—including a Gaelic footballer, Michael Hogan, who was playing for Tipperary that day—at Croke Park. Finally, in the evening came the arrest and killing (in somewhat murky circumstances) of two high-ranking Dublin IRA officers, Brigadier Dick McKee and Vice-Brigadier Peadar Clancy. In all, 30 people died within fifteen hours on that fateful day in Dublin.
The assassinations of the British Intelligence officers virtually crippled the intelligence operations of Dublin Castle. Bloody Sunday also marked an emotional turning-point in the War of Independence and has gone down as a central event in nationalist history. Although thousands were in attendance at Croke Park that day, the exact events which led to the killings have never been conclusively proven, with each side contradicting the other. The only public statement issued by the authorities was one hurriedly drafted by Dublin Castle, blaming the IRA for shooting at Crown forces when they arrived to raid Croke Park. No authoritative account from the British side had ever been published. Now, after almost 83 years, the official British record of a military inquiry, known to have been carried out in lieu of an inquest on the fourteen Irish fatalities but held in camera, has recently become available in the British Public Record Office at Kew. It finally enables rival accounts to be compared.
The court of inquiry and inquest
The file contains the proceedings of the military inquiry held at some time before 8 December 1920, and probably at military headquarters, Parkgate, Dublin. The documents now released contain no date or precise location. The inquiry was held in camera under the Defence of the Realm Act. The personnel of the three-man inquiry were Major R. Bunbury, president, Lieutenant S.H. Winterbottom of the 1st Lancashire Fusiliers and Lieutenant B.J. Key of the 2nd Worcester Regiment. There are two different versions of the proceedings; one is handwritten and the other typed, but the contents are practically identical. Evidence was given by over 30 witnesses—depending on which set of documents one relies on. The details of the identities of the witnesses were generally withheld, although they were mainly from the RIC and the auxiliaries. In the case of a handful of Dublin Metropolitan Police witnesses, one has no problem in identifying the force to which they belonged. Uncharacteristically, one is even named and his rank specified.
In addition to the main inquiry there was also a separate one, again ‘in lieu of an inquest’ (under the Restoration of Order in Ireland Act), into the deaths of fourteen civilians at Croke Park—John Scott, James Matthews, Jeremiah O’Leary, Patrick O’Dowd, Jane Boyle, William Robinson, Thomas Hogan, James Burke, Michael Feery, James Teehan, Joseph Traynor, Thomas Ryan, Michael Hogan and Daniel Carroll. In all these cases evidence was given by relatives who had identified the bodies and by doctors who had received and examined them in Dublin hospitals. Documents relating to this second inquiry have also been released, showing that the verdicts were, predictably, death from bullet wounds in most of the cases, with heart failure listed as the cause of death in the remaining cases. The descriptions make grim reading. In the inquest on the death of Thomas Hogan, Dr Patrick Moran of the Mater Hospital stated:
‘Thomas Hogan was admitted to this hospital at 4pm on November 21st. There was a small round wound 3⁄8 inch in diameter under the spine of the right scapula. There was a large round wound one inch in diameter just beneath the acromion process in front. This was apparently an exit wound. There were two other small wounds a quarter inch in diameter one inch above acromion process, and about an inch apart. These might have been caused by bone splinters. On admission the patient was bleeding profusely, and was in a state of severe collapse. The right arm was amputated on Monday, 22nd November. The shoulder joint was found to be completely disorganised. The head of the humerus was completely severed from the shaft and about 2 inches of the shaft was shattered. The auxiliary border of the scapula was also shattered. A small piece of nickel casing was found in the region of the shoulder joint. Gas gangrene set in after the operation and the patient died at 12.30 on November 26th. Death was in my opinion due to toxaemia following gas gangrene following gunshot wounds.’
There are undoubtedly difficulties in taking on board such material. Because the sittings of the main inquiry were held in camera, no witness had any legal representation and there appears to have been no cross-examination. There was only one exception to this routine. After five military witnesses and three ambulance men had been heard, i.e. between witnesses 8 and 9, two lawyers briefly addressed the court. James Comyn BL said that he was led by Michael Comyn KC (his brother), that they appeared for the family of Jane Boyle (a 26-year-old woman killed at Croke Park) and wished to produce witnesses. However, Michael Comyn KC told the court that because the inquiry was ‘held behind closed doors’ he would not take part in the inquiry, and led his party out.
On 8 December 1920 the verdict of the court of inquiry, whose proceedings were destined to be kept secret for over 80 years, was issued. The court found that during a raid on Croke Park on 21 November 1920 by a mixed force of RIC, auxiliary police and military, firing was started by unknown civilians, either as a warning of the raid or else to create a panic, and that the injuries to dead civilians were inflicted by rifle or revolver fire from the canal bridge by the RIC, some of whom fired over the crowd’s heads, others of whom fired into the crowd at persons believed to be trying to evade arrest. It also found that the RIC firing was carried out without orders and in excess of what was required but that no firing came from the auxiliary police or the military, except that soldiers in an armoured car (at the St James’s Avenue exit) fired a burst into the air to stop the crowd from breaking through and out of the ground.
Appended to the inquiry report is a copy (marked ‘Secret and V. Urgent!’) dated 21 November 1920 of the (unsigned) order given by a brigade major, Infantry Brigade, to the RIC and containing details of the operation planned to take place that day at Croke Park. The ground was to be surrounded and pickets placed at specified points, e.g. on the railway and at the three known exits. One infantry platoon was to be kept in reserve and at 3.15pm two (army) armoured cars would meet the mixed RIC and auxiliary police at Fitzroy Avenue (opposite the main entrance). A quarter of an hour before the end of the match a special intelligence officer would warn the crowd by megaphone that anybody trying to leave other than by the exits would be shot, and that all males would be stopped and searched.
The opinion of the competent military authority (dated 11 December 1920), which convened the court of inquiry, was:
(i) that it agreed with the court findings [summarised above];
(ii) that the first shots were fired by the crowd and led to the panic;
(iii) that the firing on the crowd was carried out without orders and was indiscriminate and unjustifiable, with the exception of any shooting which took place inside the enclosure.
This opinion was signed by Major-General G.F. Boyd, commanding officer, Dublin.
Because much of the evidence at the court of inquiry is at variance with accounts given by Irish survivors (including at least two of the 30 footballers involved), the credibility of this inquiry, published so long after the deaths of all involved on both sides, must be open to challenge. However, the withholding not only of the identities of witnesses (all also presumably dead) but also of the identities of the forces (other than the Dublin Metropolitan Police [DMP]) to which they belonged presents difficulties to any challenge more than 80 years after the event. Nevertheless the inquiry cannot be discounted as it offers the only known piece of official documentation for one of the most important events in modern Irish history.
Who fired first?
The central point in dispute was that of who fired first. Common to all reports is that the firing started at the south-west corner of the ground (that is, the corner where Jones’s Road crosses the Royal Canal). Was the government claim that their forces were fired on first true? There were undoubtedly IRA men in the grounds that day. At the time there was considerable overlap between membership of the IRA and membership of the GAA. It is certainly not out of the question that shots could have been fired at the Crown forces. If that was the case, it was obviously an extremely irresponsible act.
The alternative theory is that the RIC and auxiliaries raided Croke Park in reprisal for the attacks of that morning. Such reprisals were becoming common. Balbriggan had been sacked in September. Less than three weeks after Bloody Sunday Cork city felt the brunt of such a reprisal. These were mainly unofficial, but little was done by high-ranking officers to discourage their men, who felt justified in exacting revenge on a population protecting what they regarded as a ‘murder gang’.
The inquiry is by no means conclusive but it does shed some light on a number of points. Several of the RIC witnesses contend that the firing began from inside the ground, presumably by armed spectators, before any Crown forces had entered. Admittedly, down the years this allegation has occasionally been made, and Tim Pat Coogan’s biography of Michael Collins could be said to accept it as valid by implication. But precisely how this allegation, even if true, justified the shooting dead of at least fourteen unarmed civilians (including two young boys and a 26-year-old woman), as well as the wounding of scores of spectators, by the mixed force of police and military is not explained in the inquiry’s conclusions. Indeed, the court of inquiry found the shootings to be unauthorised and far in excess of what was deemed appropriate even if the Crown forces were fired on first. The documents now released also reveal that a total of 228 rounds of small arms ammunition were fired by the RIC (including auxiliaries) and that the army machine-gun at the St James’s Avenue exit fired a total of 50 rounds.
Of those who admitted to firing rounds, one member of the Crown forces was especially graphic:
‘On November 21st 1920 I was in the second lorry of the convoy to Croke Park. The lorry halted just over the canal bridge. I saw no civilians on the bridge. There were some civilians in the passage leading to the turnstiles. I got out and went to the turnstiles as quickly as I could. As I got to the turnstiles I heard shots. I am certain they were revolver shots, a few shots fired quickly. They were fired inside the field. I tried to get through the turnstiles and found that they were locked. When getting over them a bullet hit the wall convenient to my head. This was the wall on the right hand side inside the archway and splinters of brick and mortar hit me in the face. It could not have been fired from outside the field. As I got inside I landed on my hands and feet. I saw young men aged between 20 and 25 running stooping among the crowd, away from me between the fence and the wall. I pursued and discharged my revolver in their direction. My duties were identification of persons. I was in plain clothes having a Glengarry cap in my pocket for identification by my own men if necessary. Having been fired at I used my own discretion in returning fire. I aimed at individual young men who were running away trying to conceal themselves in the crowd. I used a .450 revolver and service ammunition. I chased them across the ground nearly to the wall on the east side. I then saw that a number of people were going back towards the main gate by which I came in. I rushed to that gate and took up my position outside to try and carry out my duties of identification. I stayed there until the ground was cleared, that is about an hour and a half.’
Many of the RIC witnesses stated that when the first of their members got out of their lorry a group of civilians, ranging in number from 3–4 to 8–9, who were at the start of the passage from the canal bridge down to the canal entry turnstiles and who appeared to be acting in concert, turned and ran at speed through the turnstiles. Some of the party, it was alleged, fired back in the direction of the men dismounting from the lorry. It is this alleged engagement between armed IRA men and the raiding party that is at the core of apportioning blame for the deaths at Croke Park.
Among those backing up this version of events was the eighth witness, who states:
‘On 21st November I was in the first car of the convoy detailed to go to Croke Park. Immediately we came to the canal bridge on the rise overlooking the park I observed several men rushing back from the top of the bridge towards the entrance gate of the park. I observed three of them turning backward as they ran and discharging revolvers in our direction. Almost immediately the firing appeared to be taken up by members of the crowd inside the enclosure. At this time the members of our party were jumping out of the cars. Most of them rushed down the incline towards the entrance gate.’
The first and second DMP witnesses were on Jones’s Road near the canal bridge. Neither reported seeing any civilians who could have threatened the Crown forces, nor did they report any shots being fired outside the ground. The first DMP constable called stated that shortly after 3.30pm about fifteen lorries of military and RIC arrived at the canal bridge entrance. The occupants of the first car ran down the passage leading to the football grounds. He stated that he did not know who started the firing but he reported that a military officer came running up to the bridge and said ‘What is all the firing about, stop that firing’. The third DMP officer was on duty further down Jones’s Road, outside the main entrance to Croke Park. He gave evidence concerning a separate group of RIC who arrived at the main gate:
‘On Sunday 21st inst. I was on duty outside the main entrance to Croke Park in Jones’s Road. At about 3.25 p.m. I saw six or seven large lorries accompanied by two armoured cars, one in front and one behind, pass along the Clonliffe Road from Drumcondra towards Ballybough. Immediately after a small armoured car came across Jones’s Road from Fitzroy Avenue and pulled up at the entrance of the main gate. Immediately after that, three small Crossley lorries pulled up in Jones’s Road. There were about ten or twelve men dressed in RIC uniforms in each. When they got out of the cars they started firing in the air which I thought was blank ammunition, and almost immediately firing started all round the ground.’
On the face of it, the DMP evidence differs from other Crown forces witnesses on the crucial question of who fired first. Since they might be expected to corroborate the evidence of other forces, their testimony may be the most significant of all that given to the inquiry.
Evidence of spectators
The evidence of two of the three spectators who gave evidence to the inquiry, one of whom is easily identified (see below), is of interest, since it too is in conflict with the bulk of the evidence from the RIC, auxiliaries and military. Witness 9, who appears to have accompanied to the game Jeremiah O’Leary (killed), stated that the first shooting came from the canal bridge, and that it came from auxiliaries (‘men in RIC caps and khaki trousers’). According to this witness, the officer in charge at the bridge (probably from the first lorry to reach the bridge) also wore this uniform and had a bonnet, i.e. a Glengarry cap, peculiar to the ‘Auxies’.
The next witness (no. 10) described himself as manager of Croke Park. Although also unnamed, this was Luke O’Toole, general secretary of the GAA, who resided beside the canal bridge. He told of how, from a low mound, then on the site of the recently demolished Nally Stand (to which he had moved from a seat in the stand when firing began), he saw firing commence at the canal end. Of all the statements known to have been made after Bloody Sunday, this is believed to be the only one made by a GAA official to the British authorities. However, O’Toole died suddenly in 1929, long before any statements from the Irish side were ever made, either to Irish newspapers or to the Military History Bureau.
The shooting at Croke Park lasted only a matter of minutes, yet almost 83 years later the events of that day are still emotive and controversial. The overall findings of the military inquiry, now released, must be viewed with some suspicion. However, contained within its pages is much new information on this event.
Tim Carey is former Administrator of the GAA Museum and is currently writing a book on the history of Croke Park. Marcus de Búrca is author of The GAA: a history.
Posted by Jim on November 17, 2014
Commodore Barry Club of Brooklyn
P. O. Box 090-824
Brooklyn, NY 11209
Mary Nolan, President
by Brian Kassenbrock
Director of Public Relations
COMMODORE BARRY RESEARCH PAPER
The Commodore Barry Club of Brooklyn, Inc. is pleased to announce an opportunity for undergraduate college students who are interested in researching Irish American history and the contributions of Irish Americans to the United States. The Club is calling for these students to submit a five to eight minute research paper of about one thousand words on the theme of the accomplishments of Commodore John Barry. In particular, the writer will address the problems that Barry faced in his time and how he solved them.
The contest will begin on Monday, Dec. 1, 2014 and will end on Monday, Jan. 26, 2015. Entries shall be submitted electronically to the above cited website, “Contact Us” page during that time frame.
The first prize will be five hundred dollars ($500), the second prize two hundred fifty dollars ($250) and the third prize one hundred dollars ($100).
A blind jury of educators who have participated in past educational presentations will be the judges.
The prize winners will be asked to deliver their papers at ceremonies at Commodore Barry Park, located at Flushing Avenue and Navy Streets in downtown Brooklyn tentatively scheduled for 11 AM on Thursday, March 12th and to be our guests for a luncheon which will follow.
Each paper shall use the following format:
Name of Student:
Title of Paper:
Text of Paper:
Should you have any questions or concerns, please contact us through the website or by phone. We look forward to receiving your submissions.
Posted by Jim on October 5, 2014
The 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
Posted by Jim on September 10, 2014
When 9/11 arrives, remember the living
They sacrificed their health. Photo by MATT MOYER
BY Richard Alles , James Slevin
In a little more than a week, we will mark the 13th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.
Here in New York, the names of those killed in the attacks will be read aloud by their family members, friends and coworkers. Across the country, Americans will gather at memorials to honor the memories of those who died.
As a nation, we rightly resolved to never forget the attacks. But the truth is, we haven’t entirely kept that promise.
What many Americans may not know is that as the nation recovered, a public health disaster was just beginning to unfold. Thousands are sick because of the attacks, as well as the rescue and recovery operations that continued for months afterward.
In the days approaching this Sept. 11 and on the day itself, we ask Americans to remember all the victims of that terrible day — those who lost their lives, and the thousands of living victims who are sick and dying from illnesses and injuries, some of which have taken years to fully manifest.
We all know the outlines of the story. After 9/11, Americans from all 50 states rushed to Ground Zero to help in any way they could. Thousands of people worked in extremely hazardous conditions, often without proper protective equipment.
As they labored, the site smoldered, and rescue and recovery workers breathed in a toxic stew of chemicals, asbestos, pulverized cement and other health hazards released into the air when the towers fell.
The dust cloud that so unforgettably rolled through lower Manhattan after the attacks settled in homes, offices, buildings and elsewhere — exposing tens of thousands more to the same toxins.
Thirteen years later, more than 30,000 9/11 responders, as well as survivors of the attacks and area residents and workers, have an illness or injury caused by the attacks or their aftermath, and over two-thirds of those have more than one illness.
Many are disabled and can no longer work. They are suffering from a host of chronic diseases: asthma, obstructive pulmonary disease and gastroesophageal reflux disease, to name but a few.
Medical research has identified more than 60 types of cancer caused by 9/11 toxins. At least 2,800 people have been diagnosed with cancers caused or made worse by the aftermath of the attacks, a number that is sure to grow in the years to come.
More than 800 New York Fire Department members and more than 550 New York Police Department personnel are struggling with serious 9/11-related illnesses, many of them cancers, and have had to retire from their jobs for health reasons.
That is in addition to the more than 70 firefighters and 60 NYPD officers who have died from their 9/11-related illnesses.
Memorials and monuments to our losses continue to be built across the country in Arizona, Florida, Maryland, New Jersey and elsewhere. This outpouring of commemoration — not just in metal and stone, but in solemn ceremonies and prayer vigils, stair climbs and other events — is important to the American spirit. It is a source of comfort for those who lost loved ones and shows that the nation truly remembers those who lost their lives.
But sadly, there is still little mention that 9/11 is, on a daily basis, impacting the health of thousands of living Americans every day. That needs to change.
This Sept. 11, as Americans gather to honor and remember those who lost their lives that day, we are calling on the organizers of these memorials — governors, mayors, city councils and neighborhood and civic groups throughout America — to recognize the living victims of the attacks as well.
As your town or neighborhood holds a 9/11 remembrance, we hope you will remember and mention the thousands who struggle every day with illnesses or injuries caused by the attacks. These heroes need your support, too.
Alles is national legislative director with the Uniformed Fire Officers Association. Slevin is vice president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association. Both are members of the 9/11 Health Watch board of directors .
We shall never forget
We shall keep this day,
We shall keep the events and the tears
In our minds, our memory and our hearts
and take them with us as we carry on.
Posted by Jim on August 25, 2014
AOH member has advised us that their timeshare is for sale or rent in Mystic Dune 5 Star Resort. The two bedroom condo sits on PGA alternate Golf course with screened in porch opening on course. The Resort is 10 mins. away from Disney Gate and Universal. Condo can sleep 8, has full Kitchen, washer/dryer, dinning room, huge living room with big screen TV, Master Suite has separate bath with whirlpool tub. Resort has 5 pools, offers miniature golf, basketball, tennis and fitness center. Country Club has fully stocked Pro-Shop, light snacks and sandwiches, full Restaurant offering 5 Star menu and Conference and Banquet Hall. The cost to buy Deeded Condo is $11,000.00 per Unit. The cost to rent is $1,000.00 per Unit per week. Anyone wishing more information on these properties contact Jim@BrooklynIrish for forwarding info.
Posted by Jim on April 30, 2014
Residents of a quiet Antrim seaside village have used the 83rd anniversary of the sectarian murder of three local men to call on the British government to apologise for its role in the slaughter.
On June 23, 1922, a British army and Special Police battalion entered Cushendall, singled out three young nationalists and dragged them up an alley, where they were shot dead.
The murders of John Gore, John Hill and James McAllister were in reprisal for the IRA murder the previous day of Field Marshal Henry Wilson — the man who ordered the pogroms against Northern Catholics throughout the early 1920s.
Wilson was shot dead in London by the republicans Reggie Dunne and Joseph O’Sullivan, who had served in the British army during World War I. Both men were later hanged.
A subsequent British government inquiry into the Cushendall killings dismissed claims from soldiers and police that they had been fired upon first.
The English official FT Barrington-Ward, who headed the investigation, concluded: “No one except the police and military ever fired at all.”
Medical reports revealed powder burns on the dead bodies, indicating the victims had been shot from close range.
However, the then Northern unionist government, led by Ulster Unionist James Craig, rejected the findings and held its own inquiry into the shootings.
The Northern government dismissed all the evidence given by residents of Cushendall implicating the British army and police and accepted the soldiers’ claims that they had been fired upon first.
After the killings, Britain’s Liberal government — at the behest of TP O’Connor, the Westmeath-born MP for Liverpool — threatened to publish the findings of Barrington-Ward’s inquiry.
However, the Liberals were replaced at the next election by the Conservative Party, which was more sympathetic to the Ulster Unionist administration.
One of the first acts carried out by the new Tory government was to place the details of the Barrington-Ward inquiry under the Official Secrets Act, barring it from view for 50 years.
Historian Michael Farrell best explains the cover-up in his book Arming the Protestants.
He writes: “O’Connor was told that the British government had commissioned the report only because British troops had been involved.
“The Northern government showed no concern to discipline its forces and stamp out reprisals and seemed oblivious to the effect this must have on the Catholic population. The British coalition government made only a very feeble effort to get Craig’s government to take action. Their Conservative successors did nothing at all.”
Barrington-Ward’s report was again due to be made public in 1972 but publication was delayed for a further 25 years because of the Troubles.
It was not until 1997 that the people of Cushendall became fully aware of the horror that had occurred in the village on June 23, 1922.
Sinn Féin councillor Oliver McMullan has led the calls for the British government to apologise for its role in the three murders.
He said: “These were innocent men killed by British troops in cold blood.
“The British government’s own inquiry ruled that the only people to open fire in Cushendall that night had been the military.
“If the then Northern government was satisfied that the soldiers had been fired upon first, why were the circumstances surrounding the shootings covered up for 75 years?
“The people of this village are owed an apology.”
Relatives of John Gore, John Hill and James McAllister still live in the north Antrim area, as do the families of two other men wounded on the night, Danny O’Loan and John McCollum.
Two Cushendall men whom the Special Police falsely accused of opening fire on the military and prompting the murders were forced to flee to the United States, fearing for their lives.
Several other nationalists in the village, including Oliver McMullan’s grandfather, were threatened by the Special Police with death.
Mr McMullan said a British government apology would go some way to lifting the shadow of the murders that has hung over his village for close to a century.
He said: “A few years ago, locals clubbed together and put up a plaque commemorating the lives of John Hill, John Gore and James McAllister.
“Their needless deaths are something we always have in the back of our minds.
“It was certainly the biggest sectarian murder ever to occur in Cushendall and one of the worst in the Glens area.
“An apology won’t bring them back but it at least will give some comfort to the families of those murdered.
“The British government should recognise the role its forces played in what were nothing more than sectarian state killings.”
Posted by Jim on March 12, 2014
We Only Want the Earth
“Be moderate,” the trimmers cry,
Who dread the tyrants’ thunder.
“You ask too much and people By
From you aghast in wonder.”
‘Tis passing strange, for I declare
Such statements give me mirth,
For our demands most moderate are,
We only want the earth.
Our masters all a godly crew,
Whose hearts throb for the poor,
Their sympathies assure us, too,
If our demands were fewer.
Most generous souls! But please observe,
What they enjoy from birth
Is all we ever had the nerve
To ask, that is, the earth.
The “labor fakir” full of guile,
Base doctrine ever preaches,
And whilst he bleeds the rank and file
Tame moderation teaches.
Yet, in despite, we’ll see the day
When, with sword in its girth,
Labor shall march in war array
To realize its own, the earth.
Posted by Jim on January 10, 2014
Tuesday, January 21st
At 7:00 p.m., we’re kicking off a new
Irish language beginners’ class
then a new,
more advanced class
takes over at 8:00 p.m., to be followed by our
set dancing class at 9:00 p.m.
and our weekly trad seisiun at 10:00 p.m.
34 Van Dyke Street (at Dwight Street) Brooklyn, NY
Posted by Jim on November 15, 2013
Although Irishtown had been known as Brooklyn’s most recognizable, infamous waterfront neighborhood for Irish immigrants in the mid 1800s, it was the city’s long waterfront property that stretched both north and south of Irishtown that was heavily settled by the Famine Irish. In truth, Irishtown could only be seen as the capital amidst the long stretch of Brooklyn waterfront neighborhoods facing the East River and Manhattan.
By the census year of 1855, the Irish already made up the largest foreign-born group in New York. This constituted a dramatic shift in the ethnic landscape of Brooklyn. In just ten years, the amount of Irish-born inhabitants had jumped from a minimal amount, to 56,753. Out of a total population in Brooklyn of 205,250, its newly arrived Irish-born inhabitants made up about 27.5%.
The impact of such a large amount of immigrants in a short period of time may be difficult to imagine, but it must be remembered that these newly-arrived were not only all from one ethnic background, but they were also terribly destitute, bony from intense starvation, malnourished, disease-ridden, uneducated and untrained people that came from an outdated medieval agrarian community. On top of all of this, at least half of them did not speak English and instead spoke Gaelic and were landing in a culture that was traditionally hostile to their form of religion: Catholicism.
Famous sketch from the 1840s of an Irish mother digging with her children desperately to yield a crop in time to save their lives.
The Great Hunger in Ireland of 1845-1852, or what is commonly, if not erroneously called the “Potato Famine,” caused over 1.5 million (if not more) Irish tenant farmers to flee for lack of food.
“Few newcomers had the resources to go beyond New York and therefore stayed for negative reasons,” said Ronald H. Bayor and Thomas J. Meaghan in their book, The New York Irish. “Most… had no other options… The best capitalized Irish immigrants were those who did not linger in New York, but went elsewhere, making New York and other harbor cities somewhat atypical of the rest of Irish America.”
The waterfront neighborhoods of antebellum Brooklyn was such a place. These neighborhoods of mostly English Protestants and old Dutch aristocracy were quickly overwhelmed by these Catholic “invaders” crippled by diseases, starving and with a legacy of rebelliousness, secrecy, violence and faction fighting within their fiercely communal cooperations. In short, these great numbers of Brooklyn immigrants were in no way interested in assimilating into the incumbent Anglo-Protestant culture.
Since 1825 and the opening of the Erie Canal, Brooklyn had begun to boom as the New York Ports along the Hudson and East Rivers now had access to the great and rising cities in the midwest and beyond.
A color drawing from 1855 looking west toward Brooklyn’s Navy Yard. Just beyond it in the area that looks shaded was “Irishtown.” The New York Times described it in an 1866 editorial thusly, “Here homeless and vagabond children, ragged and dirty, wander about.”
Soon, New York become the busiest port city in the world. There was labor work to be had in Brooklyn, in the manufacturing and loading and unloading of goods to be sent around the country and around the world.
Brooklyn was broken down into wards at that time, and although much of the population lived along the waterfront, there were plenty of other neighborhoods inland that were heavily populated by the English and Dutch before the Great Hunger. But the newly arrived Irish immigrants did not go inland, they stayed along the waterfront where the labor and longshoremen jobs were.
One neighborhood in particular gained fame, though it is not as much known today as it was then:
The Fifth Ward from an 1855 Fire Insurance Map, where Brooklyn’s Irishtown is located by the Navy Yard. It was called Vinegar Hill (from the 1798 rebellion in Ireland) even before the Great Hunger.
Located in the old Fifth Ward, Brooklyn’s Irishtown never gained the kind of infamous popularity that Manhattan’s Five Points garnered (as I previously wrote about in Code of Silence), it was nonetheless the center of the immigrant, working class slums and the brawling, closed-off culture of the wild Irish.
Located on one side next to Brooklyn’s Navy Yard that built ships and on the other side with the ferry companies connecting Brooklyn to Manhattan across the East River, Irishtown was centrally located.
Although Irishtown was the face of Brooklyn’s Irish community, it did not even have the distinction of having the most amount of Irish-born (which exclude American born of Irish stock) in it during the 1855 census. The dock and pier neighborhoods of Brooklyn were not just in the Fifth Ward, they were spread from the waterfront in Williamsburg north of Wallabout Bay all the way down to Red Hook and the Gowanus Canal.
During this time, there are three other wards that outnumber Irishtown in total Irish-born of the 1855 census. Cobble Hill, the Fulton Ferry Landing and southeast of the Navy Yard, north of Fort Greene Park. The brownstones of Brooklyn Heights are still considered mansions for the rich Brooklyn landowners at this time, but later will be divided and subdivided for the working class Irish.
The densest area of Irish-born is obviously from the Navy Yard, both inland and on the water to the Fulton Ferry Landing, but surprising numbers existed in the north along the Williamsburg waterfront and south in Cobble Hill, Red Hook and the Gowanus Canal. In fact, 47.7% of the total population of Red Hook in 1855 is Irish-born.
- *Census for the State of New York for 1855 (Ward#, area, Irish-born residents)
- Ward 1 (Brooklyn Heights 2,227)
- Ward 2 (now known as DUMBO 2,967)
- Ward 3 (East of Brooklyn Heights 1,964)
- Ward 4 (south of DUMBO 2,440)
- Ward 5 (Irishtown 5,629)
- Ward 6 (Fulton Ferry Landing 6,463)
- Ward 7 (Southeast of Navy Yard, north of Fort Greene Park 6,471)
- Ward 8 (Gowanus 1,717)
- Ward 10 (East of Cobble Hill 6,690)
- Ward 11 (West of Ft. Greene Park, south of Irishtown 4,985)
- Ward 12 (Red Hook 3,332)
- Ward 13 (East of Navy Yard where current Williamsburg Bridge is 2,036)
- Ward 14 (North of Williamsburg Bridge along waterfront 4,314)
- In these wards, Irish-born constituted 32% of Brooklyn’s total population
In fact it is Brooklyn’s most famous Irish-American toughs, the White Hand Gang that originated not in Irishtown, but in and around Warren Street in Cobble Hill and Red Hook at the beginning of the 20th Century.
So, it is right to assume that masses of Famine Irish landed and settled around the more famous neighborhood of Brooklyn’s Irishtown, but it is the general waterfront area from Williamsburg down to Gowanus, in the pier neighborhoods of the fastest growing port and industrial areas of the city where the majority of them settled. In fact, of the 56,753 Irish-born in Brooklyn in 1855, about 51,000 of them lived in the waterfront neighborhoods.
Long before Ellis Island took in immigrants, Southern Manhattan’s Battery Park did. After disembarking there, many Irish immigrants took the ferry to Brooklyn or moved from the slums of Manhattan to the Brooklyn waterfront for the jobs on the docks and piers there.
And they just kept coming, well after the famine ended. With connections in Brooklyn, Irish-born brought their extended families and friends to New York over the coming years, funding new passages to the city helping keep the Brooklyn working class Irish poor for many years to come.
By 1860, Brooklyn was the largest city in America with 279,122 residents, a large portion of which were either Irish-born or of Irish stock as it is still some years ahead of the considerable amounts of Jewish and Italian immigration to Brooklyn later in the century.
By the census of 1875, the population of Irish-born in Brooklyn jumps to 83,069. In 1880, the U.S. census, which counted both place of birth and parents’ birth place as well, estimated that one-third of all New Yorkers were of Irish parentage. By 1890 as Brooklyn neighborhoods were expanding east and south, the amount of people with Irish stock is at 196,372.
Posted by admin on June 1, 2013
Meetings to be held in the Baile na nGael on 2750 Gerritsen Ave. Brooklyn, NY 11229 on the last Monday of the month at 8:00pm unless otherwise indicated.
All County Board members and all Division Presidents and Vice Presidents are required by County By-Laws to attend County Board meetings. All Division Officers should attend and all members are invited to attend. Current Travel cards are required for entry to meetings, those, that can’t attend a meeting, should notify the County President or Vice President at least 24 hrs in advance.
County Officers are as follows:
President: John O’Farrell Div. 35
Vice President: Frank Thompson Div. 12
Recording Secretary: Steve Kiernan Div. 12
Financial Secretary: Tom Crockett Div. 35
Treasurer: Randy Litz Div. 22
Standing Committee: Mike Gaffney Div. 35
Marshall: Jim Healy Div. 12
Sentinel: Joe Glynn Div. 19
We hope that all members of the A.O.H. in Brooklyn work as tireously for this Board as they have for the past Boards.
Slainte, Jim Sullivan, Immediate Past President Kings County and N.Y. State District Director
Posted by Jim on September 22, 2011
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Posted by Jim on September 21, 2011
Posted by admin on July 7, 2011
Pray for the following people and their families: The people and children who suffered with the aftermath of the Hurricane Sandy and the floods that it brought (Midland Beach, South Beach, New Dorp, Sheepshead Bay, Coney Island, Gerritsen Beach, Breezy Point, Rockaways, Broad Channel and Long Beach), the courageous people of the Short Strand section of Belfast, political prisoner Martin Corey. If anyone wants to have us remember a loved one in our prayers, contact us at Jim@BrooklynIrish.com.
Posted by admin on June 20, 2011
Division 12 Elected Officers are:
President – Kevin Mahoney
Vice- Pres. – Frank Thompson
Recording Sec’t – Steve Kiernan
Financial Sec’t – Tim O’Shea
Treasurer – Tom MacLellan
Marshall – ?
Sentinal – ?
Posted by Louise Sullivan on June 20, 2010
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Have a Happy Summer. Don’t forget the Coney Island Great Irish Fair in September
President – Joanne Gundersen Div 22
Vice Pres – Judy Rose Div 22
Rec Sect – Rose Coulson Div 22
Treasurer – Mary Hogan Div 6
Historian – Katherine Keane Div19
Miss&Char – Bridie Mitchell Div 6
Cath Act – Tricia Santana Div 19
Mist Arms – Margaret McEneaney Div 19
Sentinel – Ann Marie Bendell Div 19
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