Posted by Jim on January 29, 2015
- Twelve-year Saville Inquiry concluded murdered protestors were unarmed
- Soldiers could face murder, attempted murder and criminal injury charges for deaths which occurred in 1972
As many as 20 retired British soldiers could face being arrested for murder in connection with the Bloody Sunday shootings of 1972.
Attempted murder and criminal injury charges could also be brought against the men, most of whom are now in their sixties and seventies.
The soldiers face questioning under criminal caution for their involvement in the incident which killed 14 Catholic civil rights protestors in Londonderry, Ireland.
An armed soldier attacks a protestor on Bloody Sunday when British Paratroopers shot dead 14 civilians on a civil rights march in Derry City
As many as 20 British Paratroopers could face murder charges for the deaths of Irish protestors on Bloody Sunday in 1972
The development comes three years after a £200m inquiry by Lord Saville into the shootings produced its report based on 12 years of investigation.
Its findings concluded that all those shot by paratroopers during the march in the Bogside area of Londonderry were unarmed, rendering their deaths ‘unjustified and unjustifiable’.
The judge added the army had lost control of the situation which is known as one of the most poignant incidents of the Troubles.
The Ministry of Defence has started sourcing legal representatives on behalf of the soldiers, who have never been formally interviewed by police in relation to the shootings.
Colonel Edward Loden, who commanded the unit involved in the attack, was killed earlier this year in Kenya.
Loden was exonerated by the Saville Inquiry into the killings, which said that he did not realise his soldiers might be firing at people who did not pose a threat.
A source close to the case told The Sunday Times: ‘It is possible that some of the soldiers will be prosecuted’, adding that action would be ‘imminent’.
The Police Service of Northern Ireland however said the case could take a little longer.
A spokesman said: ‘Preliminary work has begun into what will be a lengthy and complex investigation into the events of January 30, 1972.
‘For the investigation to be as comprehensive and effective as possible, police will be asking for public support in the form of witnesses who gave evidence to the Saville inquiry.’
The representative also revealed detectives would be prohibited from including Saville testimony to pursue criminal charges.
Posted by Jim on
As thousands of Civil Rights marchers set off from the Bishops Field in Creggan just before 3 o’clock the mood was upbeat. The sun was shining, the air was crisp and the atmosphere was akin to a carnival. The march had been banned by the Stormont government but there was no sense of fear as the marchers, singing and chanting, wound their way down from Creggan and through the Brandywell and Bogside. It was common knowledge that the IRA had withdrawn from the Bogside.
As the march reached the Army barricade at William St the great bulk of protesters followed the platform party on a lorry. A minor confrontation occurred at this barricade but by the standards of Derry in 1972 it was low key and as 4.00pm approached it was petering out.
Bernard McGuigan (41)
Gerard V Donaghy (17)
Hugh P Gilmore (17)
John F Duddy (17)
James Mc Kinney (34)
James J Wray (22)
John P Young (17)
Kevin McElhinney (17)
Michael G Kelly (17)
Michael M McDaid (20)
Patrick J Doherty (31)
William A McKinney (27)
Died later as a result of injuries received on Bloody Sunday
William N Nash (19)
John Johnston (59)
Name: John J. McDevitt
Address: 41, St Columbs Wells
On Sunday 30th January 1972 I was a steward at the Civil Rights march. The following is a true account of events as I saw them happen. When the marchers reached the junction of William Street and Rossville street the march proper turned up Rossville street. A number of people continued to walk on towards the military road block at the Old City Picture house. They commenced to throw stones at the troops who replied with rubber bullets and C.S. gas. As stewards we were trying to get those stoning the troops to go up Rossville street towards Free Derry Corner where a meeting was being held.
I was standing at the taxi office in William Street when I heard a shot, it seem to come from the direction of the Post Office sorting office. I ran in the direction of the sorting office and I saw a whisp of blue smoke ascending from the roof of the sorting office. I could see no-one on top of the roof. Just then I heard a woman say, “Someone had been shot.” in the vicinity of Stevensons bakery. Before I had left the area I saw British soldiers in the sorting office yard. There were also soldiers with rifles at a window above a newspaper shop at the city cinema. The number of people throwing stones at the army was now very small as most of them were driven away by C.S. gas. I decided to move in the direction of the meeting at Free Derry corner and had just gone a few yards up Rossville St. when I heard vehicles coming from William St. they were traveling at great speed, I ran towards the new houses on my right and as the vehicles drew slightly pass me they stopped. Doors flow open and a machine gun was fired from the open door. A number of soldiers jumped from the back and were firing rifles from the hip apparently at no one in particular. I saw a man fall and a soldier went to him and turned his body over with his boot, he raised the rifle as if to shoot the man again but whether he did or not I cannot say as I had to run for cover behind a wall when I heard the firing getting worse. There was definitely nothing more than stones being fired at the army, no nail bombs or petrol bombs whatsoever. This is all I actually saw at this time. But when the soldiers had left it was clear to me that the situation was a lot worse than I had ever imagined.
I am willing that this statement may be used for publication or for purpose that the N.I.C.R.A. approve of.
Signed. John McDevitt
Michael Bridge of 10 Tremore Gardens, Creggan, Derry states:-
1. I am aged 25 years and am a labourer and present unemployed. I was a steward of the CRA march on 30 January 1972. I was asked to take an armband coming down Southway. The march was orderly till it reached the William Street barricade. There was there some stoning and rubber bullets were fired. A water cannon sprayed us with purple dye and CS gas was used. All this time with the other stewards I was trying to control the crowd.
2. The platform lorry went down Rossville Street announcing a meeting at Free Derry Corner. I was affected by gas. I went down the alley into the waste ground. I was sick there. Then I went back into William Street. At the corner of Chamberlain Street I was hit with a rubber bullet. I went and sat down in Chamberlain Street for perhaps 10 minutes or so. People started shouting that the Saracens were coming. Everybody ran over Chamberlain Street. I went to Eden Place. I went down Eden Place and looked into the open ground. I saw the first soldiers there. They were jumping out of the back of a Saracen. The Saracen was parked at the rear of the houses in Chamberlain Street with the rear facing towards Eden Place. The two soldiers who jumped out began firing in the direction of William Street and Eden Place. Beyond, I remember that soldiers were attacking civilians on the open ground.
3. I turned to get back up Eden Place. A soldier appeared behind me, round the corner of Eden Place. He fired a shot. An old man fell down, but he got up again and I am certain he was shot. I was making my way up Chamberlain Street towards the Rossville Flats when someone came running towards me shouting that someone had been shot in the car park at the Flats. I made my way into the car park and noticed a body lying fairly near the end of the low wall. As I approached the body I cannot remember hearing any shooting. I got within a few yards of the body. I turned and started shouting towards the soldiers. At this point I was aware of shooting very close to me. I was hit in the leg.
4. While I was standing in the car park, just before I was shot, I noticed a Saracen parked in the waste ground between the rear of the houses in Chamberlain Street and the high flats in Rossville Street. I also noticed a soldier in a kneeling position with his rifle aimed into the car park at the corner of the Rossville Street flats. There was another soldier standing a few feet from the rear wall of one of the houses in Chamberlain Street. He had his rifle in his shoulder in an aiming position. I noticed that he did not have a riot visor down over his face. There was no camouflage paint on his face.
5. I was taken to 33 Chamberlain Street and given first aid and subsequently to the Altnagelvin Hospital.
(Signed) M Bridge
At 3.55pm., away from the riot at the bottom of William St., Paratroopers opened fire. 5 shots were fired from a derelict building on William St. 2 men, 59 year old John Johnston and 15 year old Damien Donaghy, were hit.
I, John Johnston aged 59 of 50 Marlborough Street, Londonderry say:-
On the 30 January 1972 I was walking down William Street with the intention of calling on a man in Glenfada Park. Because of CS gas I went through wasteground south of the old bakery. I saw soldiers, in firing position, in a burnt out house almost opposite to this waste ground and north of William Street. As I was crossing this waste ground I turned and looked at the soldiers I heard a crack of a shot. I was hit in the right leg near the hip and then another shot hit me in the left shoulder. At first I thought I was hit by a rubber bullets. Another shot, which I believe was a ricochet, grazed my hand but I have no idea when this happened. Just before I was hit I saw a boy fall near the corner of the waste ground and William Street. I was taken to a house of people named Shiels in Columbcille Court. The boy was already there lying wounded on a couch. I was attended, I believe, by Docter McClean and the Knights of Malta. Also I was attended by Father Carolan who drove me to Altnagelvin Hospital.
I did not have a weapon of any kind nor did anybody else including the wounded boy, as far as I could see. I can not see any reason for the troops to assume that any offensive action was being taken against them by a civilian.
I heard no other shooting and I heard no nail bombs or anything similar.
(Signed) John Johnston
Statement of Damien Donaghy, 144 Rinmore Drive, Creggan Estate, Derry aged 15 years.
I was coming down William Street on Sunday 30 January 1972 at about 4.00 pm. I noticed a cloud of CS gas around the junction of William Street and Rossville Street. As I reached the “Nook Bar” in William Street I looked over to my left andI saw three soldiers lying on a ledge at the rear of the Great James Street Presbyterian Church.
I also noticed two soldiers inside the former premises of Abbey Taxis in William Street. The soldiers on the ledge had their rifles aimed towards the direction of Columbcille Court. I went round the corner of the “Nook Bar” and into the waste ground beside it. I was walking towards Columbcille Court then. I heard the sound of a rubber bullet being fired and I saw it bounce off the wall on my right and I then ran to pick it up. As I was bending down to pick it up I heard a shot ring out and I felt a twinge in my left hip. I fell to the ground and saw the blood coming from a hole in my trousers just above my right knee. I then realised that I was shot. Some of the men came and I shouted to them that I was shot. Just as these men were coming to pick me up I heard two more shots and they were not rubber bullets shots. Some men then picked me up and carried me to a house in Columbcille Court and I was eventually taken to hospital in Father George Carolan’s car. At no stage did I have a gun or a nail bomb in my possession.
(Signed) Damien Donaghey
At approximately 4.07pm. the order was given for the 1st Battalion the Parachute Regiment to begin an ” arrest ” operation. 3 minutes later soldiers of the Support Company began firing. By 4.40pm the firing had ceased.
Name: Tony Doherty
Address: 218 Carnhill Derry
Occupation: Chemical Operator
I was in William St. and C.S. gas was fired at the crowd. I moved up to my aunt’s house at Kells Walk and went into the living room. Whilst in the house I heard that a young boy and man had been shot in William St. I was in the house about 10 minutes when four Saracens and 2 lorries came into Rossville St. They were traveling very fast. Behind that came two other Saracens which parked I front of the house. Two soldiers came down Rossville St. with a man in a black suit – half walking and half dragged receiving blows from the muzzle of the soldiers gun and from the butt of the other soldier’s gun. When they got behind one of the Saracens, I saw him struck on the body and fall. Whilst on the ground, I saw him kicked by two other soldiers. They lifted him and threw him bodily into the Saracen. One of the same soldiers struck him on the face with the fist and with the edge of the soldiers helmet.
I saw another young boy arrested on the waste ground facing the house. He was only struck once with the butt of a rifle. They sat him inside the Saracen.
I noticed a fellow with blue denim jacket and jeans standing on the waste ground facing me. He was empty handed and he looked confused as if he did not know where to run. One paratrooper close to the flats gave a signal to another one to arrest him. The paratrooper went towards him but didn’t touch him. The young boy seemed to be pleading with him. The paratrooper who had given the signal ran back behind the boy and hit him on the back of the head with the butt of his rifle. The other paratrooper moved towards the boy and grabbed him and as he marched him to the Saracen kept hitting him with the muzzle of the gun. When he was behind the Saracen he was kicked towards William St. where another soldier was waiting. He made a run at the boy and pulled him bodily to the ground with such force that he fell himself. On rising, he hit the young lad a ferocious kick on the backside and he stumbled towards William St.
After that, I heard gunfire and we all hit the floor. When we got off the floor again I glanced out the window and I saw a soldier in a kneeling position, firing straight up Rossville St. towards the barricade. He seemed to have fired a full magazine before he arose and ran back into William St. I stayed away from the window after that.
I did not hear any nail bombs or petrol bombs. I noticed a camera man filming from below the Saracens in Rossville St. (about Aden Place).
This is a true statement of what happened to me on 30.1.72. I grant permission for this statement to be used in any investigation.
Signed: T.A. Doherty
The Killing Zones
Rossville Flats Car Park
As the Paras advanced 2 people, 18 year old Alana Burke and 53 year old Patrick Campbell were hit by military vehicles. Rubber bullets were initially fired and then the unmistakable sound of live rounds was heard. 17 year old Jackie Duddy lay dying and Margaret Deery, Micheal Bridge, Micheal Bradley and Patrick McDaid had been wounded.
William McChrystal 11 North Street Derry Aged 42 Storeman.
I was in Chamberlain Street behind a crowd of youths who were throwing stones. I looked across the waste ground and saw a Saracen tearing across Rossville Street. I was running back towards the flats when I heard a rifle report from William Street direction and a bullet chipped the wall above my head. Someone shouted at reporters who were running with us ‘That’s not a rubber bullet – report that you —–!” As I came into the courtyard of the flats I saw Fr. Daly kneel over the body of a fallen youth. there was another man with him assisting. I ran to their aid – and as I was kneeling with them at the spot, the Army fired over our heads. The bullets hit the back wall of the courtyard. When I arrived at the youth’s side there was no evidence of any weapon, gun, nail-bomb, or stone.
We carried the youth up either High Street or Harvey Street to Waterloo Street. We spread out the coats and Mrs. McCloskey spread eiderdown which we laid him on. He was dead at this time. His name was Jackie Duddy.
Mr. Patrick Harkin 15 Elmwood Road Derry Aged 42 Occupation: Machine setter.
I was in parade and had got as far as Macari’s when parade was stopped. When they shot the first lot of gas, I cut across a lane into what was previously Pilots Row. I made my way to my mother’s house in Garvan Place (high flats). When I got in, I was looking out the window into William St. for a few minutes. There was stone-throwing still going on in William St., but main body of the crowd had moved towards Free Derry Corner.
Three or four Saracens came flying up Rossville St. and one drove into car park at the rear of the flats, into the crowd. They could have mowed down several of the crowd, but luckily only one boy whom I couldn’t identify, but he was taken into the first house in Chamberlain St. He was aged about 18 years.
About five or six soldiers came out of this Saracen and started to attack people with their gun butts. Two soldiers caught hold of one man aged about 50 years. I don’t know his name but he was a bin man with the corporation. They beat him about the head with their rifles. They took him around by what was Eden Place.
Four or five other soldiers then took up positions along the back wall of Chamberlain St. and started shooting with automatic weapons. They had no rubber bullet guns or any other weapons. They seemed to aim most of their fire in the direction of the opening between the intersection of the flats in line with the telephone kiosk.
They were shooting at a fleeing crowd going in direction of Free Derry Corner. I noticed then there was a young boy bleeding in the car park in the rear of Rossville St. Flats. He didn’t appear to have anything in his hands. I then saw a man coming to his aid and Fr. Daly administering the last rites. Each time these four or five soldiers emptied the magazines of their guns, four or five others replaced them and continued firing. This went on for about ten minutes. During this time there was no question of any nail bombs or petrol bombs being thrown.
My brother-in-law, Patrick O’Reilly (22 Garvan Place, Derry), was a witness with me to above statement and will be willing to verify. At the time of this shooting, I noticed a civilian standing alongside the soldiers. He appeared to be carrying a camera. It was obvious at the time that the soldiers were not being fired at as they were standing in upright position and didn’t try to find cover.
This is my statement and I grant permission for it to be published or used in any investigation.
Signed: Patrick Harkin
Rossville Flats forecourt
As people fled for safety the shooting continued. Hugh Gilmore was murdered as he sought safety in the Rossville Flats. Paddy Doherty was murdered as he tried to crawl to safety and Barney McGuigan, hearing the dying man’s cries, was murdered as he attempted to go to his aid.
Geraldine Frances Christina Richmond, 5 Swilly Gardens, Creggan Estate, Derry
1. I took part in the march on 30 January. When it was halted in William Street I went onto the ground round Rossville Street to get away from the CS gas.
2. I was between Eden Place and Pilot Row, near a man whom I did not know then, but whom I now know was Hugh Gilmore. Someone shouted “They’re in, they’re in” meaning soldiers had come into the Bogside. I saw some Saracens coming into Rossville Street. We all started running down Rossville Street. Up to this time I had heard no shooting at all, except the rubber bullets and the gas.
3. Hugh Gilmore was running beside me. He was going away from the soldiers and he had no weapon. The soldiers jumped out of the Saracens and started shooting. Some were standing or kneeling as they shot, they were not lying down or taking cover. There were a lot of people running to get away.
4. Just as Mr. Gilmore and I reached the main section of Rossville Flats, he said “I’m hit, I’m hit”. I said “Try and keep running”. He started to stumble. I got my two hands under his arm at the shoulder and supported him till we got round the corner of the building. I was looking round as we ran. There was continuos firing all the time. People kept falling. A lot of them were diving for cover but I think at least one of them was shot by the wall of the flats along Rossville Street.
5. We got round the corner and against the end wall of the building near a telephone box. I put Mr. Gilmore down and opened his shirt. I saw a bullet wound in the lower part of the stomach, a small entry wound and a big exit wound. I knew it must be a fatal wound and in fact he died in a few minutes.
6. There were about half a dozen people beside the telephone box taking cover. A man took me from Mr. Gilmore’s body along towards the box. At this time we could hear the cries of wounded at the other end of the shops (the centre block of Rossville flats). There was firing down Rossville Street and also between the two buildings from the waste ground in front of Chamberlain Street. This kept us pinned where we were.
7. A man was shouting out that he did not want to die. We wanted to go to him but could not because of the gunfire. Mr. Barney McGuigan said “I’m not going to let him die by himself. If I take my white hankie they’ll not shoot me”. We tried to dissuade him but he took out his handkerchief and moved out from the wall a few paces waving it on front of him. We shouted to him to come back because the shooting did not stop. Then he was hit, just about 4 paces out from the wall. He fell and he was dead as he hit the ground. He was hit in the back of the head.
8. I could not remember much after this. I was taken to hospital and treated for shock. He was in a blue anorak coat with a white shirt and grey suit. He was in the Peace Committee and on the Tenants’ association. He was certainly carrying no weapons.
(Signed) G Richmond
Statement taken and witnessed by J L Heritage 24 February 1972
The Rubble Barricade, Rossville Street
Kevin McElhinney was shot as he tried to crawl to safety in the Rossville Flats. Micheal Kelly fell at the rubble barricade, as did John Young, William Nash and Micheal McDaid. Three of these young men may have been shot from Derry’s walls by British Army snipers and Alexander Nash, the father of William, was wounded as he went to his son’s aid.
Helen and Margaret Johnston 69 Creggan Rd. Age: 31 Occupation: Dispatch in Bakery
We were standing at the mouth of Rossville St. when the soldiers started firing C.S. gas. I started to move back along Rossville St. and we saw a young boy who had been badly struck by a gas canister on the face. We crossed over to see if we could help. There was enough people there to look after him. So we crossed back to Glenfada (opposite Rossville St. flats). Then we heard Saracens coming in and we moved back because at the same time we heard gunfire. Then we moved into a small alleyway where there were a number of people already there. From where we were standing we could see the remains of a barricade. Lying at the barricade were three men all on top of the other. Immediately beside them on his back was an elderly man. He appeared to be alive as his arms were moving. I asked some of the men, could they not pull him in. They said it was much too dangerous and the other three were dead. Then the chippings came off the wall where the bullets were striking the wall by where we were standing. So we decided to try and move on. We moved to the next alleyway where there was already some people including Fr. Bradley. The fire continued. On the opposite side of the street at the High Flats two boys were crawling along the road. The first one made it up to the doorway. The second one appeared to get shot. He was jerking and when he got to the door he stopped altogether. We were all screaming to the boy inside the doorway to reach out and pull the other lad in, which he did.
Margaret called to me to get behind the wall and I noticed a small boy sitting against the wall. He had blood all over him. I asked him if he were all right. He said, “They shot me mate beside me.” He seemed to be in a dazed condition. Then when I looked to the other side of me in the courtyard four men were lying face down. They appeared to have been shot while running away from the army. As I said Margaret to look at the four fellows, a tiny flat (?) soldier came round the corner. He said, “Fucking bastards, move,” We immediately moved. One of the soldiers reached for Fr. Bradley and Margaret yelled at them that he was a priest. Then the soldiers started kicking us. One made a lunge at me again. Margaret got between him and myself. The soldier immediately beside him struck Margaret on her head with his rifle butt. One then on my left came running at me again. Margaret got between the soldier and myself again, the soldier behind yelled, “This way.” I turned round and said which way. He indicated that we move away from the boys who had been arrested. We moved away then. We went to Dr. Swords and told him about the men. He went over to where the men were lying. Then we just tried to help where we could.
Signed: Margaret A. Johnston
As people sheltered in Glenfada Park, away from the carnage on Rossville Street, they were unaware that 4 Paras were approaching. When these soldiers came into view the crowd attempted to escape. Joe Friel, Daniel Gillespie, P. O’Donnell and Joe Mahon were wounded.
Jim Wray, wounded and unable to move, lay just yards from his grandparents home. A Para murdered him as he lay wounded and defenceless. Gerard Donaghy, Gerard McKinney and William McKinney were killed as they sought to escape the murderous advance.
Mr. Malachy Coyle 13 Nicholson Sq. Derry City Occupation Pupil of St. Joseph’s Derry Age 14 years Dated 1/2/72
This is a statement taken on behalf of Mr. Malachy Coyle by Leonard Friel, 19 Garden Place, Derry City.
I was at the front of the march on Sunday 30th January 1972. The steward went forward and was arguing with the soldiers. The officer in charge paid little attention to his words. He turned his back on the steward and the soldiers moved forwards. The crowd ran when they saw this, and the soldiers started firing gas and spraying dye. People were running everywhere caught by the gas and dye. I went towards Colmcille Court to get some fresh air. When I reached Colmcille Court I heard that a man and a boy had been shot. I stood around for about five minutes, when everyone started running. I ran into Glenfada Park and stood behind a row of garages. I knew at this time that the army had fired live bullets at the crowd. I could hear the gunfire coming closer and I ran for an opening in Glenfada Park. Before I reached the opening I man pulled me into a backyard. We hid behind a dustbin and looked out to see if we could see the army. I could see three unarmed men lying on the ground in Glenfada Park. One of the men had his left eyebrow shot away. He was lying face down on the ground.
I made a move towards this man but the man in the yard with me pulled me back. We then tried to get into this house, but the man said we should not as the door of the back yard was open and the army would be able to see us. We looked towards the wounded men on the ground and the man with the eye wound looked up at us and exchanged a few words with the man in the yard with me. I heard another shot coming from the direction of the soldiers and I then knew that the man had been shot again in the back of the left-hand shoulder. He gave a groan and I could then see that the man was dead. I looked across the court, and saw about eight soldiers running across from my left to right. The first soldier looked around the corner and saw a group of women taking shelter from the army gunfire. He shouted that he was going to shoot them. He also called them bastards. The man in the yard with me said that we show ourselves as the army would shoot us if they had seen us in the yard. I followed the man out with my hands on top of my head. We stood looking at the soldiers who were still threatening the women. I saw a youth wearing a dark blue suit panic, and start running. One of the soldiers shot him in the stomach before he had even made a step. The soldier had shot him from almost point blank range. On seeing this, I panicked and ran towards the opening on my right hand side. I heard more shooting but I kept running until I was well away from the gunfire danger.
This is my statement. Malachy Coyle.
In the immediate aftermath of Bloody Sunday the British Army claimed that they had come under sustained attack from gunmen and bombers. Not one soldier was treated for injuries received on Bloody Sunday. No weapons or explosives were seized by the military save for 4 nail bombs that were planted on Gerard Donaghy by the authorities.
I, Raymond Manassas Rogan of 10 Abbey, Londonderry say –
On 30 January 1972 I was in my house. During the afternoon I heard firing coming from beyond Glenfada Park. I looked out of my window and I saw two men lying on the ground with people round them on the footwalk which ran at right angles to my house. I opened the door and gestured to the people to bring them in. A young man whose name I later learnt was Gerald Donaghy was brought into my sitting room. He was unconscious and badly wounded in the lower left abdomen. A man who said he was a doctor was present. The doctor told me that he would have a chance of living if he was got to hospital soon. I volunteered to take him in my car and I set off for Altnagelvin Hospital with the wounded man in the back seat. Mr. Leo Young accompanied me. As I drove off my car I was aware of further shooting coming from the same direction as before. I drove down Fahan Street, turned right down Lecky Road, left into St. Columbs Wells, left into Lone Tower Street and then into Barrack Street where I was stopped at an army barricade by the Royal Anglican Regiment. I was immediately pulled out at gunpoint, thrown against a fence. I attempted to protest as I had a wounded man but was told to shut up or I would be shot. After half an hour I was made to sit down and after another half hour we were taken to an army compound on the Craigavon Bridge. My car had been driven away but I didn’t see this being done. I had asked an officer to contact the RUC but he told me he was contacting nobody and also told me that if I made a move I was dead as one stiff wasn’t enough for them.
At the Army compound I was searched and photographed with a soldier named Poole who was put down as the arresting soldier although this was not correct. I put this to Poole but he just said that he was there. I was then handed over to the RUC and made a statement to Detective Sergeant MacTaggert. The statement related exactly the same facts that I have made above. I was then stripped and searched and tested with a jellysniff and I heard the operator say it was negative. I was then told by MacTaggert that a bomb had been on the wounded man in my car and that they had broken open the boot of my car. I protested about this as they had the keys. There was then an explosion and MacTaggert indicated, but didn’t actually say, that it was of the bomb found on the wounded man being detonated.
I was then transferred to Victoria Barracks and was kept there for about 2 1/2 hours. I was there told that I was being detained under the Special Powers Act for questioning by the Special Branch and the reason given was that explosives had been found in my car. I then identified myself as the Chairman of the Abbey Street and Area Tenants Association and as such was known to Inspector McCullough and asked for him to be informed of my arrest. After half an hour the sergeant told me I was released and that I had to go to the compound to get my car. I was there my MacTaggert. He came with me in my car to the police station. He told me my car would have to be checked and he would arrange for this to be done that night. During the time of checking I was told by MacTaggert that the wounded man was dead and I was told to claim for damage to my car.
(Signed) Raymond Rogan
Statement taken and witnessed by C G Leonard 23 February 1972.
Posted by Jim on
This Saturday, January 31, starting at 12 Noon New York time Radio, Free Eireann will feature Eamonn McCann on Bloody Sunday and Brian Fleming on his one man show.
Eamonn will talk about the anniversary of Bloody Sunday when British paratroops murdered 14 men in Derry. He was one of the organizers of the original Bloody Sunday march and wrote Bloody Sunday: What Really Happened and The Bloody Sunday Inquiry: The Families Speak Out to expose the British government coverup.
Musician and dramatist Brian Fleming will talk about the one man show he will be performing in New York to coincide with the Queens St. Pat’s for All Parade.
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 January 27, 2015
Staten Island – a few things going on in Staten Island over the next couple of weeks. On Sat. Feb. 7 they will be conducting a Major Degree on S.I. at Holy Rosary Church at Noon. The following week on Feb. 14 they will be having a Fundraiser for their Parade at Sacred Heart School from 1:00pm to 6:00pm cost is only $ 10.00 per person. The following week Feb. 21 is our Hibernian Ball at the Staaten on Forest Ave. from 6:00pm to 11:30pm, cost is $ 85.00.
Margaret Del Bagno
Dr. Bob Griswold
Miss Hibernia Pauline Murphy
Her Attendant Megan Crimmins.
Parade this year is on March 1st on Forest Ave. It steps off at Noon.
Queens – THE QUEENS COUNTY ST. PATRICK’S DAY PARADE COMMITTEE IS PROUD TO ANNOUNCE THAT OUR 40TH ANNUAL ST. PATRICK’S DAY PARADE WILL BE HELD ON THE FIRST SAT IN MARCH 2015 IN ROCKAWAY BEACH, QUEENS NEW YORK. SAT MARCH 7th, 2015, BEACH 129TH AND NEWPORT AVE, START TIME IS 1 PM SHARP.
ANTUNS GALA INSTALLATION BALL SAT, FEB 21 ST, 2015
EMAIL: KROPPYBOY@AOL.COM FOR TICKETS OR SPONSORSHIP/JOURNAL ADS
PARADE 2015 HONOREES
THE HONORABLE STEPHEN J. CASSIDY,
GAEL OF THE YEAR
CONGRESSMAN JOE CROWLEY
HONORARY GRAND MARSHAL
JOHN T. DUNLEAVY,
CHAIRMAN NYC ST. PATRICK’S DAY PARADE
OUR DEPUTY GRAND MARSHAL’S:
DONNA MORAN – L.A.O.H
DOLORES ORR – CHAIRLADY COMMUNITY BOARD
MICHAEL LEAHY – ROCKAWAY YOUTH SPORTS, ROCKIES HOCKEY
FRANK BAGLEY – KNIGHTS OF COLUMBUS
LT PATRICK O’MALLEY – NYS COURT OFFICERS ASSOCIATION
DR. JONATHAN ECKSTEIN – ST. JOHN’S HOSPITAL, COMMUNITY
SEAN PRICE – SHANNON GAELS SPORTS CLUB
JIMMY McGOORTY – DEPARTMENT OF SANITATION
BRIAN O’CONNELL – PRINCIPAL, SCHOLARS ACADEMY
THOMAS MURPHY – CURRAN’S MEAT MARKET
BRIDIE MITCHELL – NYIC AND L.A.O.H
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 23, 2015
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
Once again, human and civil rights activists in the north of Ireland are looking to Irish-American organizations like the AOH (FFAI) Brehon Law Society and the IAUC to help put pressure on the British government to put an end to the continued miscarriages of justice by the British government and the Diplock courts that serve them.
Monsignor Raymond Murray, long time activist for human rights in NI, and Independent CCL Angela Nelson, along with the Craigavon 2 defense team: Sean Finucane (son of Pat Finucane) and Peter Corrigan (former attorney for Gerry McGeough) have been asking for our help and support in getting this tragedy of justice and unsafe conviction overturned.
Won’t you please help?
See updated information on the case below:
Justice for the Craigavon Two Panel discussion recently held in Derry, keynote speakers included Gerry Conlon’s daughter Sarah & human rights activist Monsignor Raymond Murray. #JFTC2
please watch and share
Gerry Conlon (one of the Guildford Four and Miscarriage of Justice campaigner) speaking about the case of the Craigavon Two Brendan McConville and John Paul …
Dublin TD Maureen O’ Sullivan yesterday raised the miscarriage of justice of the Craigavon Two with Taoiseach Enda Kenny in the Irish Parliament.
Maureen O’Sullivan : “Our group is also concerned with miscarriages of justice similar to those suffered by the Birmingham Six and the Guildford Four. The late Gerry Conlon took up the issue of the Craigavon Two. The two men concerned have been in prison for a number of years, despite the fact that the case was not proved against them; it was reliant on the word of a very dubious witness and the forensic evidence was contradictory and discredited. However, the men will be in prison for another two years while they wait for their case to go before the UK Supreme Court.”
Case synopsis by Thomas G Maher and published by Clare Daly TD. #JFTC2
by Thomas G Maher In 2012, John Paul Wooten and Brendan McConville were convicted of the 2009 killing of PSNI Constable Steven Carroll in Craigavon, Co. Armagh. Both men have maintained their innocence since the day of their arrest…
Posted by Jim on January 21, 2015
Posted by Jim on
Eamonn McCann witnessed the Bloody Sunday massacre in 1972, when British soldiers killed 14 demonstrators in Derry. He spoke to Judith Orr about the long campaign for justice.
You once wrote that the families of those shot on Bloody Sunday didn’t need to be told the truth – they just wanted the truth to be told. What was it like in the Guildhall when they finally saw the Saville inquiry findings?
I arrived about an hour and a half before the report was made public. I bounded up the grand staircase of Guildhall in Derry to the main hall where there were about 200 members of the families assembled, and you didn’t have to ask them what they thought of the report. Half of the people there were weeping, half had shining smiles on their faces, and then we were just in a frenzy of hugs and backslapping. It was a highly emotional moment, one of the most intense and emotional experiences in my political life.
I was absolutely 100 percent confident that all the dead and wounded would be exonerated and was being rebuked in the days leading up to the publication of the report by other campaigners for taking too much for granted. My certainty was based quite simply on the evidence given to Saville. It became clear that none of the soldiers were seriously claiming that any of the dead and injured had been handling weapons; their consistent account was that they hit innocent people by accident when firing at terrorists. An obvious cock and bull story.
We didn’t have a plan B. As soon as I arrived at the Guildhall I read out to all the families the text of what it was proposed should be said outside. It had been written for days, I had it in my pocket, and we didn’t have to change a word. Had Saville found that some of the dead and wounded had been armed or doing something else which “justified” their shooting, we would have been at a complete loss. Everything in our whole presentation, family by family saying “innocent”, and all the pictures for the big screen had been prepared. Once or twice on the long nights before we thought, “We better have got this fucking right.” But we did. It was great.
How did the family campaign evolve?
The family campaign dates from around 1987. In the aftermath of Bloody Sunday the Civil Rights Association (CRA), which had organised the Bloody Sunday march, organised commemorative marches. By the mid-1970s the CRA had faded from the scene and Sinn Fein started organising the march. But there were families who simply refused to take part either because they disagreed sharply with Sinn Fein or because they didn’t want any political party involved. So it was an unsatisfactory situation.
By the mid to late 1980s the feeling developed that there was no point in Republicans marching the route every year demanding a second inquiry – it would have to be a much broader campaign. The organisation that subsequently became the Bloody Sunday Trust emerged and we began to organise the annual march and to look for wider support. Initially we found very little, but we kept fighting and eventually it became part of conventional wisdom that there had to be a second inquiry.
Winning the second inquiry was an enormous achievement.
The scale of the achievement is difficult to exaggerate because there was the Widgery inquiry in 1972 set up under the 1921 Tribunals of Inquiry (Evidence) Act. It was conducted by the Lord Chief Justice no less and he pronounced the “official truth”. Constitutionally speaking it ought to have been utterly impossible to have a second inquiry under the same act into the same event, and when we started the campaign proper 25 years ago nobody at all gave us any encouragement, even in Derry.
President Mary Robinson refused point blank to meet the families. She only agreed to meet them once some went with placards and picketed her official residence. The Catholic cardinal Cahal Daly refused point blank to meet the families. I went to Dublin with the families to launch a book I wrote for them called Bloody Sunday in Derry: What Really Happened. We invited about 30 members of parliament to it in a hotel literally across the street. Only one turned up, an independent, the late Tony Gregory. There wasn’t a single editorial in the Dublin newspapers saying there must be an inquiry until the late 1990s when the thing began to develop a momentum.
After all these years of the struggle for justice can you remember how you felt on Bloody Sunday itself?
On the day it was just like a thunderclap. It took some time after all the killings to quite get it into one’s head what had actually just transpired on the streets. Like many others I spent a couple of hours the night of Bloody Sunday walking from one wake house – houses where people had been killed – to another. There was just constant silent movement around the Bogside and the Creggan area. With one exception everybody came from the same relatively small area. Mickey Bridge, who was wounded, had been a friend of mine from school. The older brother of Hugh Gilmour who died had been in the same class as me in school. Jim Wray was shot in the back as he lay wounded in Glenfada Park – Jim’s father is also a friend of mine, and he and I were on the committee of the local tenants’ association. Willie Nash was killed and his father Alex was wounded on a barricade. I knew the Nash family – everybody in Derry would have known them.
So it was not just the atrocity that had just been committed: these are people you’d be running around with and in and out of their houses as a child. It was a wound inflicted on a whole community.
There is a whole younger generation of activists and trade unionists who will not be familiar with the outpouring of solidarity that came from workers in the following days.
There was a huge reaction immediately afterwards. Dockers blacked British ships on the east coast of the US which caused great consternation. At one point in the week after Bloody Sunday the general secretary of the TUC – Vic Feather – came over and met with Derry trade unionists in a room above a pub to ask them to tell the US dockers that Derry trade unionists didn’t want them to strike because it was damaging! The trade union movement disgraced itself in the aftermath of Bloody Sunday.
There was a mass upsurge in solidarity and anger in Southern Ireland, and the highlight of that was the burning of the British embassy in Merrion Square in Dublin. The police stood aside and let it happen because they realised that that was the popular will and had they tried to stop it there would have been incalculable consequences.
The Dublin government was terrified. In the immediate aftermath of the killing a general strike was called. The march that burned the British embassy was called and led by the Dublin Council of Trade Unions, a rank and file trade union group. The strike covered the whole of Southern Ireland. Nothing moved. Every airport was closed, the post was closed, no buses ran, no trains ran, no factories opened, pubs and shops were closed, for two full days.
On the second day of the action government ministers began declaring their support for it and called it a period of mourning. It wasn’t mourning – it was a strike – but the politicians wanted to transform it into that.
The victory is that the Saville report shows the dead and injured were innocent. But what does it say about who is to blame?
To get to some of the interesting stuff in Saville you have to get to the main body of the report, and that’s a daunting task as it is over 5,000 pages long. But it does reward. Some of Saville’s conclusions seem to be unsustainable. It is a highly political and deeply flawed report.
Saville exonerates senior British army officers in defiance of the evidence simply by stating that they’re innocent. The main person criticised is Lieutenant Colonel Derek Wilford, the commander of the first battalion of the Paras on the day. Of course he was a commander and was on the ground, and he deserves all that can be thrown at him, but above him was Major General Robert Ford, who was commander of land forces in the North. It was Ford who decided to bring the Paras from Belfast to send them into Derry. He had written memos in the previous couple of weeks after a visit to Derry talking about the need to go in hard in the Bogside. He was very critical of the garrison regiments in Derry and said they were useless and namby-pamby and that the police chief, Frank Lagan, was far too sympathetic to the Bogside and so forth.
Ford wanted someone to go in and teach the hooligans a lesson. He said that selected ringleaders of the rioters and hooligans in Derry should be shot. Ford says all that on 7 January 1972. He then sends the Paras into Derry.
Saville sees no significance in this, and just takes Ford’s word that he had no reason to believe that the Paras were going to behave improperly in Derry. But Ford would have known the reputation of the Paras; he would have known that they killed 11 people in Ballymurphy the previous August. It’s just nonsense that he had no idea that the Paras would behave in a reckless and unjustifiable way.
If you go on down the chain of command something terribly interesting happens. Below Ford was Wilford and he gets a kicking from the report. Below Wilford there is Captain Mike Jackson, who subsequently became General Sir Michael Jackson, chief of the general staff and Nato commander in the Balkans. He was number two to Wilford and was on the ground in the Bogside. You would think that if Wilford was responsible for this unacceptable behaviour his underling, Jackson, must share some of the blame. But not at all. You bypass Jackson and come to the people below him, the soldiers on the ground, and they are all attacked by the report.
Jackson wasn’t a senior officer at the time, but he was soon to become a very senior officer indeed, and Saville lets him off the hook. Jackson had copied out in his own handwriting the “shot list” – lies purporting to be an account of what had happened. And he is exonerated. There are a number of things like that in the report. It’s much less favourable to people on the ground than initial reaction would suggest.
It was obviously much too politically dangerous to have Jackson carry the can at all.
There’s Major Ted Loden who prepared this shot list, which is totally inaccurate because some of the shots he describes would have had to go through brick walls to hit their targets. It’s nonsense. But in the report, “We are satisfied that Major Loden prepares his list in good faith and not for the purpose of deliberate deception or cover-up to place the army in good light.”
Saville talks about the difficult circumstances under which the list was prepared, the cramped and dark quarters, the unavailability of some soldiers, their unfamiliarity with the area. Those may be relevant factors, but at the end of the day he got it completely wrong and those lies were distributed around the world by British information services. The official propaganda unit wired every British embassy and consulate with that shot list. It became the basis of the cover-up and all Saville has got to say is that circumstances were very difficult. Loden passed this shot list on to Jackson, Jackson then wrote it out in the middle of the night. He then had to pass it on to army headquarters in London from where it was disseminated. Jackson then gave evidence in October 2003 in London to the tribunal in which he said he had no memory at all of any of this, couldn’t remember a thing.
Jackson was in the Bogside when all this shooting was going on around him and didn’t see any of it. Mike Jackson gets off the hook. Such is the nerve of the British ruling class and its military associates that immediately after David Cameron had sat down after announcing the Saville inquiry’s findings the BBC had Jackson on, responding and acting as if he was a suitable person and not a contemptible liar.
It would be very cynical to think that the reason for this resounding victory for the families is that the establishment and the ruling class hoped the cheers would drown out any criticism. Though incidentally it was widely reported that it was amazing to hear this nationalist crowd in Derry, if that’s how they can be described, cheering a British prime minister up on the big screen. Martin McGuinness, and others who have made their peace with imperialism, went round saying Cameron did a great job.
But the reason people were cheering was because they had forced Cameron to say the things he said. It was a shout of triumph and not applause for Cameron. The biggest cheer of the day was at about 3.20pm when people saw at one of the windows of the Guildhall this little hand with a wristband around it, which identified the person as a member of one of the families, just turning their thumb up.
Part of the black propaganda that went out about the day included the claim that the bodies of the “real terrorists” shot by the Paras had been secretly spirited away.
It’s an utterly ludicrous story of course, the idea that their family told the neighbours that “Oh, he’s got a job in England” to explain someone’s sudden disappearance. It was madness, but it shows how difficult it was to account for what happened.
The cover-up included the destruction of the rifles used on the day, didn’t it?
That was much later, yes. The MoD were informed that five rifles which had been identified by Saville’s officials as having been used on Bloody Sunday were to be preserved as evidence. They were bagged and directed to be held securely. Nevertheless when Saville came back for them they had disappeared.
There were also ten British army photographers on duty on Bloody Sunday taking pictures, for historical record but also to identify rioters to be arrested later. Not a single photograph survived. If they had a photograph of someone pointing a gun from the crowd that would have been preserved. The reason the photos disappeared was because they would have shown a very extensive record, minute by minute, of what happened and they would not have borne out the British army story. Film taken from a helicopter also disappeared.
The forensic evidence introduced in the original Widgery tribunal was shown by Saville to have been fraudulent – not mistaken, fraudulent. So alongside senior British officers, senior civil servants and politicians you also had forensic scientists involved in the cover-up. The entire establishment came together to tell the world a lie about Bloody Sunday.
Why did they do it? Was it to show they could crush Derry or was it about propping up Stormont?
I think the military were not particularly concerned about shoring up Stormont. I sat day after day waiting for evidence of a memo or some statement to the tribunal which said, “Well, we had to preserve Brian Faulkner’s government at Stormont.” They didn’t say that at all. In fact the attitude of the military people towards the Unionists in Northern Ireland was almost contemptuous. To suggest that Bloody Sunday happened because of a perceived necessity to shore up the Unionist government is to try and put Bloody Sunday into the context of the preferred narrative about the Northern Troubles – with Catholics and Protestants fighting one another and the British army just there to hold the ring between them.
Everything was put down to the internal dynamics of this twisted society of Northern Ireland, but this was a very British atrocity by the British army, with the deliberate support of politicians. One of the strongest things in the minds of British officers, in the memos that have been published and the minutes of the joint security committee meetings, was their outrage at the existence of Free Derry, from which the forces of the state had been excluded. General Ford was quivering with anger that this existed and thought the British army officers on the spot, the garrison regiments in Derry, weren’t taking a sufficiently hard line. He felt this was an insult to Britain and its army.
So outrage that working class people had taken control of their lives and cut themselves off from the authority of the state was a major motivation for sending in the Paras.
Where do the families go from here? Do you think there will be prosecutions?
I think it is very unlikely, even when they found that somebody has been shot who was entirely unarmed and innocent, for example Jackie Duddy who was 17 years old and the first person shot dead on Bloody Sunday. He is the young guy whose body is being dragged away in that iconic photograph with the priest waving the handkerchief. We know exactly where he was when he was shot, that he was shot by a bullet fired from the other end of a car park, and that he ran away and was shot in the back. But there were three soldiers shooting in that space. Any one of them could have shot Jackie. So how could you prove within reasonable doubt that it was soldier A rather than soldier B? I’m just being practical about whether you would actually get the case into court. One of the reasons you can’t tell who fired the fatal shot is that all three of those soldiers perjured themselves about what they were doing, the shots they did fire and what they were aiming at.
Saville is very clear and quite trenchant about the perjured nature of their evidence. But should they have to bear all the responsibility? You’re reminded of Rudyard Kipling writing that the rank and file Tommy Atkins pays the price while senior officers continue with their dinner.
Some of the families do want prosecutions, and present the simple argument that when the state guns down an innocent citizen that’s a crime and whoever did it on behalf of the state ought to be charged with murder. If you don’t you are putting a cheaper price on the life of that person than would be put on a person who was murdered in any other circumstances. That’s a very sound argument. I think myself that the punishment for Bloody Sunday should go a lot higher than the grunts on the ground.
The Saville inquiry was portrayed as part of the Peace Process, as a way to bring “closure”.
The Saville report was used in an orchestrated way to try to give the British government a soft landing. The content of Cameron’s speech had been signalled to Nationalist politicians in the North of Ireland in advance. On the morning of the report Cameron let Brian Cowen, the Taoiseach in the South, know what was going to be said. So everybody could make their matching statements. Of course this collusion is also what happened during the negotiations of the Peace Process. Then the IRA actually saw statements which were to be made by Tony Blair in the Commons before they were made, and we have the word of Jonathan Powell that on occasion senior British officials, including “security officials”, helped to write IRA council statements.
People have called the Saville inquiry a staging post on the way to reconciliation. What are we talking about? If we mean reconciliation between the Catholic and Protestant people that’s absolutely grand. Some of us, particularly socialists, have wanted that for a long time. But what politicians really mean is for people to reconcile themselves to authority and to the nature of the state. That’s a different sort of reconciliation. To see the Bloody Sunday event as a way of reconciling people to the British political establishment is a wee bit cheeky.
The proper questions we should be asking are, what does the report say about the British army? What does it say about the nature of Britain’s role in Northern Ireland? What does it say about Britain’s role in Afghanistan? These are the questions that ought to be asked.
Posted by Jim on January 19, 2015
Martin Galvin, a co-founder of Noraid which funded the IRA, says the popular appetite for republican violence has receded
A hardline Irish-American backer of the IRA, who was once banned fromNorthern Ireland
by Margaret Thatcher’s government, has said the conditions no longer exist for dissident republicans to continue their “armed struggle”.
Martin Galvin, a co-founder of Noraid and later a bitter critic of Sinn Féin’s peace strategy, is the latest voice within dissident republicanism to call into question the use of violence by the new IRA
and other anti-ceasefire paramilitaries.
The New York-based lawyer said he was an unapologetic supporter of Provisional IRA violence during the Troubles. But Galvin – the public face of the Provisionals in the US for several decades – said there was a lack of support for armed struggle within the republican community at present.
“You would need a sufficient popular acceptance or acquiescence in the use of force in nationalist areas, or at minimum in republican heartlands. You will not get such support until political alternatives fail and are seen to have failed,” he said in an interview with the Guardian.
“You must have the personnel, resources and support network to sustain a campaign. There must be a well-developed political strategy in which armed struggle is only one part. Republicans had the capacity to sustain a long campaign across the north [of Ireland] which could not have been done without meeting these conditions.
“I have no inside information about any armed group and do not pretend to have any special knowledge or expertise in this area. I am making a personal judgment based upon information publicly available. It does not seem that these conditions exist today.”
In 1997 the Provisional IRA split
with a minority faction opposed to further political compromises, which broke away to form the Real IRA. At the time Galvin broke with Sinn Féin and openly supported Real IRA figures including its founder, Michael McKevitt.
The former spokesman for Noraid also admitted there was a debate going on within the armed anti-ceasefire groups about the efficacy of using violence. “I would expect and believe that the leaders of any armed republican group are evaluating their own capabilities in relation to these same conditions and making a pragmatic as well as moral judgment on whether their campaigns are advancing the objective of ending British rule and uniting Ireland.”
The recent election of independent republican candidates to local councils in Northern Ireland was an encouraging sign, Galvin said. “The issues are there to be raised. The unionists have Jim Allister as the Traditional Unionist Voice
tail that wags the Democratic Unionist party dog. Could independent republicans do the same?
“Suppose an independent republican made a real issue of the crown arresting Ivor Bell [a former IRA negotiator] and other republicans on decades-old charges, while drip feeding the Bloody Sunday families with empty promises of still more investigations. Could Sinn Féin take up a call to walk away from its justice ministry compromise or [police] constabulary boards? Could it afford not to do so and be seen as party to such injustices? Could it still get away with lip-service?” he asked.
“It should be remembered that not so many years ago the SDLP scoffed at the idea of Sinn Féin ever winning seats and taunted them with questions about having no support and being afraid to contest elections.
“The openings are there if independent republicans have the political will, commitment and strategy to make proper use of them.”
In August 1984 the Thatcher government banned Galvin from entering Northern Ireland but he defied the ban, turning up at a republican rally in west Belfast. When Royal Ulster Constabulary riot squad officers tried to arrest him outside a Sinn Féin office there were violent clashes. During the disturbances a policeman fired a plastic baton round into the chest of a local man, Sean Downes, who later died from his injuries. In 1989 Galvin again tried to defy the ban but this was time was arrested and deported to the US.
The ex-Noraid publicity director and former editor of the pro-PIRA
newspaper the Irish People is the third major figure in the disparate dissident republican family to call for a halt to the armed campaigns of the new IRA, Continuity IRA and Oglaigh na hEireann.
The Guardian has also obtained a taped conversation between a leading dissident republican, the late Tony Catney, and members of the Presbyterian church in Belfast. On the tape Catney reveals his own doubts about ongoing “armed struggle”.
Catney, who after breaking with Sinn Féin became an influential figure within dissident republicanism, tells Fitzroy Presbyterian church in Belfast it is time to admit that the IRA lost the war it fought from 1969 to the ceasefires of the mid-1990s.
In the interview, Catney is particularly scathing about romantic portrayals by some of his former comrades of the Troubles and the armed campaign. “I think part of the dilemma we face at the minute is because the conflict, the war, the Troubles, whatever term you want to put upon it has been so fudged that it has become an old black and white newsreel. Which isn’t really real and didn’t have consequences.
“It was a ‘bit of craic’ to burn buses on the Falls Road; it was a ‘bit of craic’ to barricade yourself into the area so the Brits couldn’t get in; it was a ‘bit of craic’ to hijack the local bread lorry and then give the bread out free to the residents. It was all ‘craic’ and fun because the consequences of it are not openly dealt with,” he tells the Presbyterians.
The convicted IRA killer, who served 16 years in prison for shooting a Protestant teenager during an attempt to steal the victim’s shotgun in 1974, tells his interviewer from the church that there exists a “potent mix” of continued social deprivation and the mythologising of the conflict.
“There is the mystique of ‘let’s-get-back-to-the-early-70s’, let’s-get-back-to-getting-the-balaclavas on’ … it becomes Robin Hood, resistance in the second world war and it also becomes glorification, the jingoism rather than someone turning around and saying: ‘Look, listen, let me tell you I was involved in it and I wish, I wish it had been otherwise.’”
The tape was made last January and only handed to the Guardian after Catney was buried with full paramilitary honours in August. His interview was part of an engagement between mainstream and dissident republicans and members of the Protestant churches, facilitated by a Belfast Catholic priest. The talks are aimed partly at persuading hard-line republicans opposed to Sinn Féin’s peace strategy to abandon armed campaigns.
Earlier in 2014 Gerard Hodgins, Catney’s close personal friend and an IRA hunger striker, also called publicly on the three armed republican organisations to declare ceasefires and create the space for “alternative republican politics”. Hodgins, also a critic of Sinn Féin, told the dissident groups: “The tactics and strategy they are trying to develop are tactics and strategy that we tried, but which failed: the British can deal with these frames of reference. There is also no popular support for armed insurrection and, without a support base, armed insurrection is irresponsible.”
from The Guardian
HENRY McDONALD INTERVIEW
1-Can you elaborate on why you say the conditions do not exist for the continuation of armed struggle at this time?
My views about armed struggle are no secret. When I joined Irish Northern Aid, decades ago, I took a considered decision to join an organization whose guiding principles included moral support for the armed struggle to end British rule. For more than fifteen years as INA Publicity Director I gave interviews and speeches, and also as Editor of the IRISH PEOPLE weekly newspaper, wrote editorials and columns defending this viewpoint.
Just last month I spoke in Tyrone at the 25 year commemoration of my closest friend Liam Ryan. He was a victim of a ‘collusion murder’ arranged by crown forces as he worked in the Battery Bar. I did not go to demean his life and legacy by any ‘sorry’ initiative, but to remember a patriot with pride. I recounted the British injustices which drove him and so many others to armed resistance to break British rule and establish a 32 county Ireland that could belong equally to all of its citizens without sectarian divisions.
Obviously anyone who ever believed armed struggle against British rule was justified, must have been convinced that British rule was wrong, irreformable and could only be maintained, indeed propped up by deeper injustices. That argument can still be made despite the reconfiguration of British rule. Today Britain is determined to stay in the north and confident they nailed the door shut on Irish reunification by sanctioning the DUP to treat any moves toward justice like toilet paper.
However beyond the injustice of British rule there must be a reasonable possibility of successfully ending British rule and achieving a free and united Ireland. This means a reasonable expectation that the struggle, as part of an array of political and economic forces, can convince Britain to leave, after negotiations where they are persuaders for Irish unity with guarantees of equality, instead of guarantors of continued British rule and persuaders for unionist intransigence.
You would need a sufficient popular acceptance or acquiescence in the use of force in nationalist areas, or at minimum in Republican heartlands. You will not get such support until political alternatives fail and are seen to have failed. You must have the personnel, resources and support network to sustain a campaign. There must be a well developed political strategy in which armed struggle is only one part. Republicans had the capacity to sustain a long campaign across the north which could not have been done without meeting these conditions.
I have no inside information about any armed group and do not pretend to have any special knowledge or expertise in this area. I am making a personal judgment based upon information publicly available. It does not seem that these conditions exist today.
2-In your own opinion, do you think those groups involved in armed action should call off those campaigns?
I would expect and believe that the leaders of any armed Republican group are evaluating their own capabilities in relation to these same conditions and making a pragmatic as well as moral judgment on whether their campaigns are advancing the objective of ending British rule and uniting Ireland.
3-Do you think that a tactical cessation at this time would enable the emergence of alternative Republican politics?
Clearly there are issues which provide openings for alternative Republican politics. There is an inherent contradiction between partnership with the DUP in British ministries and advancing Republican objectives. Look at justice issues for a start. I accept that there were people who did not join constabulary boards and partnerships or back David Ford’s justice ministry intending to become cheerleaders for the constabulary. Today that constabulary carries out the same policy of undeclared immunity or impunity gifted to the Bloody Sunday or Ballymurphy Massacre Troopers or those who arranged hundreds of collusion murders. That constabulary meanwhile has no difficulty in moving against respected Republicans like Ivor Bell, Gerry McGeough, Seamus Kearney and others on decade’s old charges.
Are those who took up places on these boards unwilling or unable to do anything about these injustices? The British certainly use them as cheerleaders, pointing to them to deflect any Irish- American pressure about these injustices.
Look at the Tory cuts bludgeoned through by David Cameron and Theresa Villiers. Why has so much already been spent on water meters for the north if they are not going to be used? Where are the peace dividend jobs for West Belfast and across the north beyond slots for party workers?
The universal response to these and other potential issues seems to be that if you raise such inconvenient truths you want a “return to the past.” That is just code words to scare voters by falsely linking votes for any Independent Republican with an armed campaign.
I would expect and believe that leaders of any armed Republican group are taking this on board as they make their own pragmatic and moral judgments whether their campaigns are advancing the objective of ending British rule and uniting Ireland.
4-You make reference to emerging support for alternative/independent Republican representatives in Ireland, say for example in Derry. Do you see hope of that force building?
The issues are there to be raised. The unionists have Jim Allister as the TUV tail that wags the DUP dog. Could independent Republicans do the same?
Suppose an Independent Republican made a real issue of the crown arresting Ivor Bell and other Republicans on decades old charges, while drip feeding the Bloody Sunday families with empty promises of still more investigations. Could Sinn Fein take up a call to walk away from its justice ministry compromise or constabulary boards? Could it afford not to do so and be seen as party to such injustices? Could it still get away with lip-service?
If issues like the lack of peace dividend jobs or the money spent for water meters were raised by Republicans such questions could no longer be deflected or dismissed as unionist point –scoring.
It should be remembered that not so many years ago the SDLP scoffed at the idea of Sinn Fein ever winning seats and taunted them with questions about having no support and being afraid to contest elections.
The openings are there if Independent Republicans have the political will, commitment and strategy to make proper use of them.
5-I assume you still hold the position that the current SF leadership’s policy of being in a British backed power sharing government is not going to deliver a British withdrawal and a united Ireland?
The British have no such illusions about any such strategy. David Cameron formulates twenty-five year plans for the six county economy. His priority in the Stormont House deal was bludgeoning through cuts on the road to austerity. Theresa Villiers, like a modern Lady Macbeth, walks around trying to rub away the bloodstains from British hands by denying inquiries and giving speeches whitewashing the record of British forces in the six counties.
They would not bother unless Britain planned to stay. Republicans may have thought they had an agreement which would open the door to a British withdrawal. Britain sees it as a chance to nail that door shut.
Britain need no longer answer for its own injustices. It can simply nod as the DUP treats any move towards justice, much less a united Ireland like toilet paper. The British then say it is a devolved matter or the parties will not agree, while denying funds and disclaiming any responsibility. The British deflect any Irish-American pressure by saying that Sinn Fein supports their policies and is integral to their administration and constabulary boards.
Where is there any pressure for British withdrawal? They feel they have consolidated their strategic objectives of normalization, Ulsterization and criminalization as never before, masked by Sinn Fein’s visible presence.
6-Do you think-at present at least-that the armed Republican groups are being ground down and thwarted in large part by British forces arguably as never before?
I have no special knowledge about what is happening inside of any armed Republican group. I would be hesitant to make any assessment in those terms. I can still remember one of Villiers’ predecessors, Roy Mason, boasting of squeezing out Republicans like a tube of toothpaste. I would not want to risk sounding so foolish.
Posted by Jim on January 18, 2015
An investigation into the destruction of evidence in a Crown force
murder ambush has been announced just weeks after the reported death of
the deputy head of the police Special Branch who was central to its
On Wednesday, the chief Crown Prosecutor in the Six Counties, Barra
McGrory, announced that he had asked for a police investigation into the
circumstances surrounding the destruction of evidence in the 1982 Crown
forces killing of 17-year-old Michael Tighe and the wounding of Martin
McCauley, then aged 19.
The PSNI has agreed to investigate whether the MI5 and the (then RUC)
Special Branch colluded to falsify records and carry out the destruction
of vital evidence.
The investigation is to concentrate on the role played by the former
deputy head of Special Branch in the disappearance of a copy of a
recording made inside a hayshed in Lurgan November 1982, where the
shooting took place.
The hayshed had been under surveillance, but a recording of the incident
was destroyed within 24 hours of the shooting, allegedly on his orders.
However, it is understood that the former RUC boss died in November
following a lengthy illness, a fact which will greatly hamper any
A second copy of the tape made by MI5 was kept secret during McCauley’s
original trial and was also destroyed, two and a half years later.
The bugging operation was discovered when John Stalker, the former
deputy chief constable of Greater Manchester Police, conducted his probe
into allegations that the RUC was operating a ‘shoot-to-kill’ policy of
planned assassinations and ambushes.
McCauley successfully appealed his conviction last year. His lawyers
said had the tape been presented in evidence it would have backed his
claim that the RUC issued no warnings before opening fire.
It was also alleged during McCauley’s appeal that the deputy head of
Special Branch also ordered monitor logs to be destroyed because of the
“deep embarrassment” they might cause the force.
Sinn Fein’s John O’Dowd welcomed the launch of an investigation.
“They were two innocent young boys who were shot by the RUC in a hayshed
in Armagh in 1982, with Michael Tighe being shot dead,” he said.
“It has already been made public that potential evidence was destroyed
and facts surrounding the shooting concealed and it is absolutely right
this is investigated further.
“As well as this case, the deaths of five other men who lost their lives
in a series of shoot-to-kill operations carried out by the RUC in Armagh
1982 should also be properly investigated.
“More than three decades after these shootings the families are still
waiting for truth and justice and this is unacceptable.”
Posted by Jim on
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 firstname.lastname@example.org;
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
Posted by Louise Sullivan on
Posted by Louise Sullivan on
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
Posted by admin on
Have a Happy Summer. Don’t forget the Coney Island Great Irish Fair in September
President – Joanne Gundersen Div 22
Vice Pres – Judy Rose Div 22
Rec Sect – Rose Coulson Div 22
Treasurer – Mary Hogan Div 6
Historian – Katherine Keane Div19
Miss&Char – Bridie Mitchell Div 6
Cath Act – Tricia Santana Div 19
Mist Arms – Margaret McEneaney Div 19
Sentinel – Ann Marie Bendell Div 19
Posted by Louise Sullivan on