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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The history thieves

Posted by Jim on September 26, 2016

———————————————————
Investigative journalist and author, Ian Cobain, has published a new
book examining Britain’s record of covert government actions and
cover-ups. Included in “The History Thieves: Secrets, Lies and the
Shaping of a Modern Nation” are accounts of Britain’s colonial wars in
the 1960s and ’70s, the rise of mass surveillance, and a chapter
dealing with Britain’s dirty war in Ireland. The following is an
excerpt.
———————————————————-

“On the evening of Monday 8 January 1990, a group of British detectives
decided that they had done enough for one day. It was getting late now,
and some of the officers had been working for thirteen hours on a
complex and politically fraught investigation that was being conducted
against a backdrop of escalating violence.

Northern Ireland’s savage little war had just entered its twenty-second
year. Eighty-nine people had died the previous year. One, Pat Finucane,
a lawyer, had been shot fourteen times after gunmen used sledgehammers
to smash down his front door while he was having Sunday dinner with his
wife and three children. Another was Loughlin Maginn, a father of four
who was shot dead at his home in a village south of Belfast. It was the
circumstances surrounding these murders, along with a string of others,
that the police team led by John Stevens were investigating. At just
past 9 p.m. they flicked off the lights of their incident room, locked
up, and left the building.

The facility from which they were working was no ordinary police
station. It was located beyond the chain-link fences, the razor wire and
the CCTV that protected a seventeen-acre complex that the Royal Ulster
Constabulary (RUC) operated on the outskirts of Carrickfergus, a coastal
town twelve miles north of Belfast. Known as Seapark, the complex was
home to forensic science laboratories, exhibit stores, a suite of
offices and no end of confidential archives. It was one of the most
secure policing facilities anywhere in the world.

Twenty minutes later, four members of Stevens’ team who had been
conducting inquiries elsewhere arrived back at the incident room,
intending to lock some paperwork away for the night.

First they smelt the smoke. Then they saw the flames. The entire
incident room was ablaze and they rushed to raise the alarm. Sarah
Bynum, one of the detective constables, later recalled: ‘There were a
number of fire alarm points in the building and I went to one and I
smashed it with the heel of my shoe and nothing happened. I ran down to
another one and smashed that and again nothing happened.’

A heat-sensitive intruder alarm had also failed. Bynum raced to the
guardhouse at the entrance to the complex, where an armed officer from
the RUC was on duty. ‘My first word to him was to call for the fire
brigade and he replied that the phones were down. I then told him to get
on his radio to call for help and his reaction was one of almost
disinterest, of: “Well what do you expect me to do about it?”‘ By the
time the fire was eventually extinguished, the team’s desktop computers
had melted into pools of metal and plastic; steel filing cabinets had
buckled, and the documents inside had incinerated.

Whoever started the fire clearly intended to destroy every scrap of
documentary evidence that the police team had gathered.

The immediate suspects were not members of one of Northern Ireland’s
paramilitary groups, however, but British soldiers. Stevens and his team
were convinced that the arsonists were from the Force Research Unit – a
shadowy British Army Intelligence Corps body known as ‘the FRU’ that
worked closely with MI5 and Special Branch, the intelligence wing of the
RUC. They also suspected that detectives from Special Branch had helped
the FRU to slip into the high-security complex and break into their
office.”

This of course was just one of many incidences throughout the Long War
when the documented records of the British authorities in the north-east
of Ireland, civil, military and paramilitary, were “accidentally” or
deliberately destroyed, or simply went missing. Invariably these losses
coincided with research being carried out by third parties from the
United Kingdom or in the wake of some notable atrocity.

Of further interest to Irish readers will be Cobain’s detailed
examination of the activities of Brian Nelson, the Abu Musab al-Zarqawi
of UK terrorism in Ireland. The former British soldier from Belfast
began his murderous career by taking a blowtorch to a young, disabled
Irishman named Gerald Higgins, proceeding to torture him to near-death
in 1974 (he succumbed to his injuries several weeks later). At the time
Nelson was a member of the UDA-UFF, a militant pro-Britain or “loyalist”
faction, while also serving as an agent for the Royal Ulster
Constabulary (RUC), the UK’s regional paramilitary police force. In 1985
he was recruited by the British Army’s Intelligence Corps (IntCorps)
while temporarily living in Germany.

Returning to the Six Counties and the UDA-UFF, the Belfast man led a
reign of terror against the Irish nationalist community the likes of
which had not been seen since the late 1960s and early ’70s. Under the
direction of the counter-insurgency strategists of the RUC, IntCorps and
MI5, the Security Service in London, the agent transformed the
“loyalist” gangs into a body of organised death squads spreading murder
and mayhem across the north-east of the country. Answering to his
immediate superiors in the infamous Force Research Unit (FRU), one of
the many acronyms making up the British intelligence agencies, he became
the United Kingdom’s most effective weapon in its war with the
(Provisional) Irish Republican Army and the population supporting it.

“Soon he was appointed as the intelligence officer for the UDA in west
Belfast, playing a central role in selecting and locating targets for
assassination. Although he occasionally kept this information to
himself, Nelson would frequently pass details of these planned murders
to the FRU.

In June 1985, Nelson embarked upon the most extraordinary operation of
his undercover Army career. The UDA’s leadership asked him to help
arrange a deal with Armscor, apartheid South Africa’s arms corporation.
A unionist from Armagh who had emigrated to Durban and was working for
the company had been identified as a possible source of weaponry, and
Nelson was asked to meet this man. The FRU not only encouraged him to do
this, it paid for his airline tickets to South Africa and met his hotel
bills. One of Nelson’s FRU handlers, a man whom he knew as Ronnie, had
told him: ‘You’ve really hit the big time here Brian.’ While some have
claimed the FRU sponsored this arms-trafficking enterprise in order to
intercept the weapons and prevent them from falling into loyalist
paramilitaries’ hands, others suspect that the FRU, and some of their
political masters, were determined to help arm Ulster’s loyalists.

In Durban, Nelson examined a number of weapons, and was particularly
taken with an automatic shotgun called the Striker which ‘could be used
to devastating effect . . . in close-quarter combat’. Armscor made it
clear that it would accept a cash sale, but also wanted to know whether
the UDA could provide it with one of the latest generation of
ground-to-air missiles that were under development at Shorts, an
aircraft and armaments factory in east Belfast.

Armscor provided weapons to loyalist paramilitaries in a trafficking
operation that was financed by a #325,000 robbery from a bank in
Portadown, thirty miles south-west of Belfast. The corporation’s
European agent, an American called Douglas Bernhardt, had learned that a
large cache of arms held by a Lebanese militia in Beirut had come onto
the market. Bernhardt arranged for the arms to be loaded into a
container, which was shipped to Belfast via Liverpool, accompanied with
bills of lading and notes of origin that indicated it held ceramic floor
tiles.

The weapons arrived at Belfast docks in late December, and were smuggled
into the country undetected. Early the following month, at a farmhouse
in County Armagh, the arsenal was divided three ways between the UDA,
the UVF and a third loyalist paramilitary group, Ulster Resistance. The
UDA lost its entire portion within minutes: its share of about 100
weapons was loaded into two hire cars, which were stopped and seized at
a nearby police roadblock. Some of the UVF’s weapons were also recovered
over coming weeks, but most remained in the group’s hands, and
transformed the loyalists’ firepower over the years that followed. The
portion that went to Ulster Resistance was never captured, however. Nor
were these weapons decommissioned during the peace process: they remain
hidden today.

…the consequence was that loyalists’ access to high-calibre weapons –
and their ability to slaughter both republicans and uninvolved Catholics
– changed immediately. In the six years prior to the importation of the
South African weapons, from January 1982 to December 1987, loyalists
killed seventy-one people. In the seven years afterwards, from January
1988 to 1 September 1994, loyalists killed 229 people.”

The British state in the north of Ireland, civil and military, put guns
and explosives into the hands of British terrorists one with purpose and
one purpose only: to kill as many Irish men, women and children as
possible. That it did so in the forlorn hope of achieving some sort of
militarily victory over the Irish Republican Army is no excuse. As Niall
Stanage, an editor with the US politics’ site, The Hill, wrote way back
in 2002:

“The British state has been conspiring to murder its own citizens in
Northern Ireland.

That is the only credible conclusion that can be drawn from the evidence
that has seeped slowly into the public domain over the past decade. It
now seems clear that members of the security forces, acting in cahoots
with loyalist paramilitaries, have facilitated sectarian and political
killings.

Nationalists in Northern Ireland are being told what they have always
known – that the police and army have been actively working against
them. From their perspective, the chief surprise is that a false image
of Northern Ireland’s political landscape – in which impartial security
forces have held the line against “mindless terrorists”, “gangsters” and
“psychopaths” – has endured for so long.”

Families walk away from humiliation meetings

Posted by Jim on

Families of victims of state killings have announced that they will be
suing the British government, DUP leader Arlene Foster and Sinn Fein’s
Martin McGuinness as the London and Belfast regimes again stonewalled
their demands for legacy inquests.

The move followed a walk out from a meeting on Monday with the new
British governor in Ireland, James Brokenshire, of the families of
eleven people killed in the 1971 Ballymurphy Massacre. Brokenshire
claimed the British government could not afford the costs of holding the
inquests.

About fifty inquests are pending but stalled. They relate to almost a
hundred deaths, some of them going back four decades.

The next day, they gathered with other families at Stormont to protest
against the failure of the British government to comply with its
international human rights obligations with respect to legacy inquests,
and hand-delivered notice of their legal challenge to the offices of new
British Secretary of State. Similar letters were also delivered to the
offices of Stormont’s First Minister Arlene Foster, Deputy First
Minister Martin McGuinness, and to the Six County Department of Justice.

“How many more secretaries of state do families have to meet before they
get justice for their loved ones?” the Ballymurphy Families group group
said in a statement following their dramatic walkout.

It was their first meeting since Brokenshire became the Secretary of
State and families were hopeful that he would advance their inquests.

They gave an emotional account of what happened to their loved ones in
August 1971 after which they asked him directly to intervene and provide
funding and resources to allow their inquests to resume.

However, Brokenshire, like his predecessors, simply referred the matter
back to the Stormont Executive, and denied the British government was
responsible. The families were so angered by his intransigence the
walked out, ending the meeting after 45 minutes.”

Speaking afterward, the group’s spokesman, John Teggart, whose father
was among ten people shot dead in August 1971, said that the families
were disgusted by the minister’s attitude.

“It was a terrible meeting,” he said. “James Brokenshire refused to
answer many of our questions and it was just going round and round in
circles.

“It was just the same old, same old. The families poured their hearts
out about what had happened to their late relatives and were basically
pleading for him to release the funding, but it was going nowhere.

“We explained that there is a wide range of families waiting for these
inquests and the inquests don’t need litigation. Lord Justice Weir said
in January our inquest is ready to and can be started within the year.

Mr Teggart pointed an accusing finger at the Democratic Unionist Party
as “representative from the other six parties were at meeting supporting
the families.” He said the DUP was blocking the funding from going
through the Executive.

Briege Voyle, whose mother was Joan Connolly was fatally shot four times
said: “What do we have to do for these people to see sense?

“We need this funding released right away. Campaigners Mary Murphy and
Joe Corr have died in the past few weeks. We need our inquests which
were granted in 2011 started now, not just for us, but for all the
ninety five families. James Brokenshire needs to make that decision
now.”

Earlier this month, the North’s most senior judge Sir Declan Morgan
called on political leaders to sort out the contentious funding issue
for legacy inquests.

His request for ten million pounds to fund a five-year programme that
would deal with controversial Troubles’ deaths was blocked by the DUP.

Outstanding inquests into more than 80 deaths that took place during the
30-year conflict have yet to be heard.

SDLP West Belfast MLA, Alex Attwood, said that the British government
seemed to be giving the the DUP a “veto” on a legacy issue.

“Victims and survivors, their grief and their needs, should not be
subject to a shallow veto,” he said. “If the DUP can veto funding for
inquests, they or others could try to do so again and attempt to veto
other proposals to achieve truth, justice and accountability. Where
would we be then? This cannot be allowed to happen.”

Sinn Fein’s legacy spokeswoman Jennifer McCann said the Ballymurphy
families had been “let down”.

“The British government has failed to uphold commitments made in the
Stormont House Agreement on how to deal with the legacy of the
conflict,” she said.

Nichola Baxter, whose cousin Craig McCausland was killed by loyalist
paramilitaries in 2005, said the families were being denied closure.

“I come from a unionist background. We are waiting 11 years for an
inquest and therefore a death certificate, simple things that the law
says we are entitled to as families,” she said.

“There are answers we’re not getting and it’s the same for everybody
here, some people are waiting longer than 11 years and it’s an absolute
disgrace.”

British Penetration of Irish-American Groups

Posted by Jim on September 8, 2016

CAPITOL HILL. Thursday, September 8, 2016

Recently released British/Northern Ireland Office (NIO) State Papers have caused considerable interest, and have given further insight into how the British Embassy spied on Irish-Americans.

The Papers were released the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI), and cover the period 1980 to 1989. The Papers were released under the “30/20 rule”— the phased release of official documents that were previously secret for 30 years, but are to be released after 20 years.( Google PRONI CAIN for the released Papers).

As always, such released Papers are of intense interest to historians, the media and all those concerned about the history of The Troubles in Northern Ireland. Not, of course, that the full truth is ever revealed by the British Government.

Fr. Sean Mc Manus—President of the Capitol Hill-based Irish National Caucus— whose life-long work always features in such Papers, said : “ This time the Papers are of particular interest for a two-fold reason : (1) they reveal how deeply worried the British Government was about our Mac Bride Principles campaign (which they accurately state is ‘ largely instigated by the Irish National Caucus’; and (2) the Papers reveal how the British Embassy penetrated and spied on Irish-American organizations.

Irish American Unity Conference

One of the released papers, titled “Irish American Unity Conference [IAUC],” consists of a report dated October 10, 1985, by the British Embassy to the Head of the Civil Service in Northern Ireland, Ken Bloomfield. (Yes, the same Mr. Bloomfield, whom another released State Paper  exposed as outrageously stating  that the Catholics in West Belfast are “ alienated from normal civilized behavior.”). The Paper gives a Report on the IAUC meeting in Philadelphia, August 23-25, 1985, and explains how one of the IAUC Members, Steve Ryan,  monitoring the meeting was spying for the British Embassy. The Report lists a number of those present at the meeting, several members of Irish Northern Aid, and others, including  Bob Linnon who would become the president of the IAUC(1987-1995), and a Ms. Patricia O’Hagan,  Chairperson of the New York IAUC.

The Report exposes, “the IAUC’s … intense rivalry with Fr. Sean Mc Manus and the Irish National Caucus, ” and that “… the meeting revealed a deep hatred of Father Sean Mc Manus among the IAUC elite.”  The Report states Ms, O’Hagan, “declared she ‘hated’ McManus.’

When asked to comment, Fr. Mc Manus said: “I have a life-long policy of not responding to personal attacks. But I have to make an exception in this case as it is not really a personal attack but one gloried in, and  recorded by the British Embassy. It is sad and pathetic that at the height of the Mac Bride Principles campaign—which I initiated with Sean Mc Bride’s personal consent  and which I launched on November 5, 1984— that the Brits could report that another Irish organization was spending its time in attacking me. How absurd and traitorous is that!

I Do Not Take It Personally

Fr. Mc Manus explained: “However, I do not take all that stuff personally. My “feelings” are not hurt because on the Irish issue I don’t do feelings. I do analysis and discernment: because of my life-long experience and background, I can figure out from whence come the constant, systematic  attempts to sabotage my work. And it has ALWAYS come, one way or another, from the British Embassy,  and, at least in the early years, from the Irish Embassy. Thus it has always been. For example, I follow a rule of thumb, which is also a good religious principle: if one never had a personal confrontation or had personally offended a person, then an attack from such a person can never be “personal.” Something else is always behind it. In all my 44 years in America, and in all my Irish activity, I’ve never had a personal fight or a nasty confrontation with any person on the Irish issue. And even though I have received hundreds of thousands of letters, phone-calls an emails, not one person has ever outlined to me what they disagreed with in my work. And that is because no genuine Irish person could reasonably oppose the main pillars of my life’s work on Irish justice. However, any time anyone contacted me to make individual suggestions as to how I could do my work better, I always listened with great respect and attention. And I will always be eternally grateful for the huge and splendid individual and collective support I’ve received over all these years.”

Ms. Patricia O’Hagan

Fr. Mc Manus continued: “Regarding Ms. O’Hagan: I had never heard of her and I’ve no idea who she is. Therefore, I know her attack was not personal. She was — willingly or unknowingly —used by one of the aforementioned Embassies. It also must not be forgotten that Denis Donaldson, a British Agent was later in the late 90’s placed in charge of the Irish Northern Aid Office in New York City. So for a crucial period, a British Agent was telling members of Irish Northern Aid and other Irish organizations what to believe and what to do. In fairness, it could be said Michael Flannery was probably too old to be held responsible, but the younger New York City Irish Northern Aid leaders and spoke persons, and those in charge of the Irish People newspaper, must surely accept some responsibility and blame. I know if I had placed a British Agent in charge of the office of the Irish National Caucus, I would never hear the end of it, nor should I.”

Fr. Mc Manus concluded: “However, in all of this pathetic stuff, the central issue is: By what right and under what law is the British Embassy — or, indeed, the Irish Embassy— entitled to spy on Americans who are exercising their Constitutional rights? What has the State Department to say about this? What if the Soviet/Russian or China embassies were spying and recruiting spies in the United States, would the State Department be silent?”

Mayor Di Blah, Blah, Blah again proves he is not a mayor of the whole city

Posted by Jim on

New York Mayor enrages Irish over St. Patrick’s Day parade violence claim

J’Ouvert takes place in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn, throughout the night before the West Indian Day Parade, held every Labor Day.

“I’m outraged… this is a libel against the Irish community in this town,” lawyer Brian O’Dwyer, Chairman of the Emerald Isle Immigration Center, said.

“There were some hooligans we took care of, but there was never year-after-year of people being killed, shot and stabbed,” O’Dwyer added.

The mayor also compared the festival’s violence to the Puerto Rican Day parade, angering the city’s Puerto Rican community.

“This is disrespectful — this is shameful for him to say that. The Puerto Rican Day Parade has never got a death, killing, bloodshed,” State Senator Ruben Diaz said.

Even his own Police Chief Bill Bratton disagreed with his boss, saying St.Patrick’s and other parades dealt only with “quality of life issues.”

That is true and de Blasio knows it. I don’t know what weed de Blasio was smoking.

Someone forget to tell him that the last shooting or serious violence connected to the St. Patrick’s Day Parade was an IRA hit in 1923 on the informer “Cruxy”O’Connor by Pa Murray of the Cork IRA after “Cruxy” was identified and followed at the parade.

Since then there have been issues with the parade, God knows, but never gun violence. The worst was beer showers and boos for Mayor David Dinkins when he marched with a gay group in 1991.

Why does de Blasio choose to lump in the Irish parade with the murderous events at the J’Ouvert carnival, where two people were shot dead, one a young girl who objected to being fondled by a pervert?

Gangs use J’Ouvert as a time to settle scores, marring the celebration. As in other years, deadly violence broke out.

At 3:45 am on Monday, at Flatbush Avenue and Empire Boulevard in Crown Heights, Tyreke Borel, 17, was shot in the chest. He later died at Kings County Hospital, sources said.

At 4:15 a.m., Tiarah Poyau, 22, was fatally shot in the eye at Washington Avenue and Empire Boulevard, police said.

Poyau’s LinkedIn page showed that she was an international tax intern at PricewaterhouseCoopers and an aspiring accountant. She listed St. John’s University as her undergraduate and graduate school.

These are terrible tragedies and the clear and obvious thing to do is cancel J’Ouvert until the community and police can get their act together. Two deaths in a year when the police presence was higher than ever before is more than enough to warrant this. No one attending is safe, as these two killings make clear.

Instead, de Blasio announces the parade can go on. “I think it was very clear yesterday that we were not including the option of ending something which has gone on for decades and decades,” de Blasio said at a news conference with police officials. “We have to find out a way to make it safer.”

De Blasio’s PC mentality blazer is getting worse the longer he is in office, and he now cannot distinguish fact from political correctness.

There’s a huge difference between ensuring people are not publicly drunk (the main issue with the St. Patrick’s Day parade) and shooting dead two unarmed citizens, as happened in Brooklyn.

De Blasio implies an equivalence that is plain nutty but this mayor is well known for having strange demons to exercise.

He refused to appoint an Irish community liaison, has rarely ever attended an Irish event other than keeping the community waiting until the last moment to announce an Irish community breakfast on St.Patrick’s Day, and arrives incredibly late at St.Patrick’s services.

Saying the St. Patrick’s Day parade has been violent is nonsense.

Indeed, there is marvelous security provided for marchers and the public by the hundreds of volunteers who staff the parade and the police who provide security.

This mayor has shown his tin ear and total contempt for the Irish once again.

Arlene’s aberrations are really annoying

Posted by Jim on September 7, 2016

Brian Feeney. Belfast Telegraph. Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Let’s be clear at the outset. Máirtín Ó Muilleoir is quite right to raise the question of EU funds for Peace IV and INTERREG which have produced £1.5 billion and £820 million respectively since the ceasefires in 1994.

Another £500 million are due from these funds in the next four years. Ó Muilleoir’s question is whether the UK Treasury will guarantee that money. So far they have said they will underwrite only any plans signed off before November even if the UK gets out of the EU before the money is paid over.

That kind of money is vitally important for the north because of the jobs it supplies particularly in impoverished districts and also to people affected by the Troubles across the north. It’s pretty obvious as Ó Muilleoir says that if the money is not forthcoming hundreds of jobs will go. Now equally it’s a lot easier to sign off on schemes already planned than to anticipate schemes which might come on stream in the next four years so he’s doing his job to try to nail down the Treasury to meet the British share of money the EU has promised.

You have to wonder why Arlene Foster felt it necessary to step into this area. Her intervention contributed nothing except to get herself on TV. She said she was ‘disappointed’ and that Ó Muilleoir was ‘causing alarm among the business community’. Let’s leave aside the fact that as a successful businessman in his own right the finance minister has a lot more hands-on experience in business than Arlene.

Is this the same Arlene Foster who signed a joint letter with Martin McGuinness on August 10 standing her Leave campaign on its head by registering concern about the north’s access to EU funds and agricultural support? She also signed up to pointing out that the ‘north is uniquely vulnerable to the loss of EU funding’ and ‘recognised the possibility that it cannot be guaranteed that outcomes that suit our common interests are ultimately deliverable’. Hmm.

So it’s OK for Arlene to say it but not Ó Muilleoir? Accused of doing a U-turn by implicitly admitting that advocating Leave vote was a major miscalculation – which it was – she subsequently said a letter from the Treasury in August provided ‘clarity’ in relation to EU funding. It didn’t. It provided what concerns Ó Muilleoir, namely a guarantee that anything sent in before November is OK. After that who knows? Not Arlene. Foster’s sniping  raises again a wider matter. She seems to have no concept of sharing power. She seems to regard herself as prime minister able to control other ministers. In reality, by interfering and sniping she diminishes the office of first minister. Engaging in inter-party political banter demonstrates she can’t see the wood for the trees and shows she hasn’t yet learnt the difference between being first minster and an MLA.

If every statement by a Sinn Féin minister or a UUP MLA that annoys her leads her to yield to the irresistible urge to tweet a reply or issue a press statement then she shows no sense of priority let alone gravitas. All her utterances assume equal importance (or unimportance) so no-one can distinguish between what she thinks important enough for the first minister to comment on and what is another cheap trivial shot.

In the end her inability to button her lip reinforces what a report last week for the Centre for Democracy and Peace Building found, that is the executive is so divided with fundamentally different views about how to respond to Brexit that it will be extremely difficult to agree a position. The fact that Foster and Ó Muilleoir met the secretary of state for Brexit separately last week proves that.

Nonetheless we come back to the fundamental point which is that Arlene Foster got it wrong, the voters in the north rejected her case and she’s still in denial. It’s Ó Muilleoir who’s accurately expressing the concerns of the majority in the north. Perhaps that’s why Foster was so piqued by the positive reception his remarks received.

It seems her signing up to her U-turn letter on August 10 was an aberration.

Trevor Ringland might learn something by watching 66 Days

Posted by Jim on September 6, 2016

Letters to Irish News (Belfast).

Fr Joe McVeigh. Tuesday, September 6, 2016
Trevor Ringland, a man with very fixed unionist views, clearly does not like republicans or republicanism. As a unionist he is pro-monarchy and anti-republican. That’s his choice, which limits greatly his understanding of the world. He describes republicanism as a ‘flawed ideology.’ And suggests that the 10 men died for ‘a flawed ideology’.

Mr Ringland began his letter – ‘Hunger strikes sadly a recurring theme of Irish republicanism’ (August 29) – by stating “I probably won’t watch 66 Days…” Such a negative approach to begin with suggests that he is not open to learning and discovering the mind of republicans. He goes on to condemn the hunger-strikers for ‘taking their own lives for a political cause’.

The use of hunger strike as a weapon to obtain justice has a long history in Ireland and indeed in other countries like India where it was used by Mahatma Gandhi. In Ireland it was used as a means of protesting against injustice in Celtic times and was known as troscadh (fasting on or against a person) and cealachan (achieving justice by starvation).

It is important to put the hunger strike in context.

In 1976 the British Labour government introduced a new policy of criminalisation. From then onwards republican prisoners sentenced would be required to wear prison uniform and conform to new prison rules. When the prisoners refused to conform to this new regime they went on a protest of wrapping themselves in a blanket and refusing to be forcibly taken to the toilets.

In August 1978, Cardinal Tomás O’Fiaich visited the H Blocks in Long Kesh prison to see the situation for himself. Afterwards he stated: “I was shocked by the inhuman conditions prevailing in H Blocks 3, 4, and 5, where over 300 prisoners are  incarcerated. One would hardly allow an animal to remain in such conditions, let alone a human being…The stench and filth in some of the cells, with the remains of rotten food and human excreta around the walls, was almost unbearable. The nearest approach to it that I have seen was the spectacle of hundreds of homeless people living in sewer pipes in the slums of Calcutta. From talking to them it is evident that  they intend to continue their protest indefinitely and it seems they prefer to face death rather than submit to being classed as criminals. Anyone with the least knowledge of Irish history knows how deeply rooted this attitude is in our country’s past.”

The British condemned the cardinal’s remarks. The cardinal was ridiculed in the British press, where it was often noted that he came from Crossmaglen in south Armagh.

The refusal by Margaret Thatcher and the British government to respond to the cardinal’s appeal for justice and mercy led to the first hunger-strike in 1980. When it ended with the promise from the British to introduce reforms a second hunger strike led by Bobby Sands began. In his diary he outlined the reasons why they resorted to the second hunger strike in 1981. From his point of view to accept the new regime would have been to criminalise the entire struggle for Irish freedom. The protesting prisoners hoped that the British would be forced to change their attitude as a result of world opinion and introduce a humane regime in Long Kesh summarised in the five demands.

The prisoners on the fast were acting in solidarity and in the cause of justice and human dignity.

Mr Ringland, being a monarchist, would not understand. I think Mr Ringland should go to see 66 Days.

He might learn something and he might learn to be a little more respectful of others who differ from him politically.

Fr Joe McVeigh

Co Fermanagh

A beautiful poem for my friend Billy Sheehan upon his recent death

Posted by Jim on September 4, 2016

 

“Death is nothing at all, I have only slipped away to the next room."

The poem was popularized by the Carmelite monks in Tallow, County Waterford.

 

Death is nothing at all
I have only slipped away to the next room.
I am I and you are you.
Whatever we were to each other,
That, we still are.

Call me by my old familiar name.
Speak to me in the easy way
which you always used.
Put no difference into your tone.
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.

Laugh as we always laughed
at the little jokes we enjoyed together.
Play, smile, think of me. Pray for me.
Let my name be ever the household word
that it always was.
Let it be spoken without effect.
Without the trace of a shadow on it.

Life means all that it ever meant.
It is the same that it ever was.
There is absolute unbroken continuity.
Why should I be out of mind
because I am out of sight?

I am but waiting for you.
For an interval.
Somewhere. Very near.
Just around the corner.

All is well.

Nothing is past; nothing is lost. One brief moment and all will be as it was before only better, infinitely happier and forever we will all be one together with Christ.

James O’Shea

*Originally published in March 2015. 

Passing of Bill Sheehan of Kings County Division 19.

Posted by Jim on

Dear Fellow Hibernians,
It is with great sadness that I report of the passing of Bill Sheehan of Kings County Division 19.
Today we lost a loyal Hibernian.  Though hampered by illness for years, he was always counted on and relied on in many Hibernian events.
We lost a Hibernian Brother and a true friend.
Details to follow when we receive them.

Sadly reported,
Steve Kiernan, President
AOH KINGS County Board

AOH Kings County Div. 35 Dinner/Dance Oct. 14th

Posted by Jim on September 2, 2016

AOH 35 Dinner

A reckless Tory right is wrecking the Northern Irish peace process

Posted by Jim on

Talk of scrapping the Human Rights Act is part of a pattern of insensitivity.

By Liam McNulty. New Statesman. Friday, September 2, 2015

As the Cabinet reconvenes in Chequers after the summer recess, the preparations for Brexit are top of the agenda. Yet amongst all the various options being considered by government ministers, there is one critical aspect of Britain’s disengagement from the European Union which has barely figured at all in the official debate – the impact on Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic.

Such an omission is a symptom of the parochial insularity characterizing the Tory right’s drive for Brexit, and is of a piece with Westminster’s historically disdainful attitude towards Ireland.

A history of after-thoughts

The political historians Alistair B. Cooke and John Vincent once wrote in their study of the Home Rule crisis of the 1880s that the “Irish policies of British governments at Westminster cannot be explained in terms of Irish circumstances. They must be explained in terms of parliamentary combinations.”

In other words, domestic British politics trumps whatever impact Westminster policy may have across the Irish Sea. This was true of their immediate subject, and it was an analysis confirmed for the subsequent 1910-1914 Home Rule crisis in a more recent study, Ronan Fanning’s Fatal Path.

As summed up by one reviewer, Fanning established that for Asquith and Lloyd George “the essential issue…was never Ireland but was, rather, their own party advantage and, above all, their personal career advantage. Both had to spend more time calculating the consequences of their policies for internal British politics, and their own positions, than for Anglo-Irish relations.”

The same indictment applies to the Tories who, by instrumentalizing Ulster Protestant resistance to Home Rule (playing “the Orange Card” in the infamous words of Lord Randolph Churchill), brought Ireland to the brink of civil war in order to destroy their Liberal rivals.

These events have been prominent in the public consciousness in Ireland during the “decade of centenaries” and in this year especially, one hundred years after the Easter Rising.

Though the stakes are not of the same magnitude, now too can the Tory Party be accused of treating Ireland as an after-thought. The gamble of a European referendum that showed scant regard for the consequences of exit for decades of careful conflict resolution.

 The 56 per centers

The new Prime Minister, Theresa May, treads a treacherous, though hopefully not fatal, path as she deals with the fall-out of the European referendum for Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic.

During the referendum, the then Secretary of State, Theresa Villiers, took a Leave position, even as the Irish government and most of the North’s political parties warned it would be disastrous. Her position was unsustainable after 56 per cent of Northern Ireland and a clear majority of its parliamentary constituencies voted for Remain, and she has been replaced by the pro-Remain May ally James Brokenshire.

Brokenshire now has the unenvious task of raising Northern Ireland’s situation in a heated Cabinet argument about Brexit, the terms of which have been framed with little or no reference to the situation across the Irish Sea.
May and Brokenshire’s current bind is this. Though keeping conspicuously quiet throughout the referendum campaign, May has been keen to shore up her right flank by disavowing any notion that the decision to leave the EU would be undone on the sly: “Brexit,” she has repeated, “means Brexit.”
On one level this is meaningless, since in any referendum with a binary choice it is nigh-impossible to identify the individual motivations of the millions who voted for one or other side.
Yet it is simply inescapable that the mood music of the referendum was the desire to limit immigration from the EU into the United Kingdom.

The Human Rights Act tripwire
It is this commitment, at the very least, that the Tory right in the Cabinet expects to be upheld. Though May was quick to reassure Stormont that “nobody wants to return to the borders of the past”, what this means in practice is far from clear.

Fears that May will opt for a form of Brexit-lite, in the form of remaining in the European Economic Area (EEA) – implying some sort of freedom of movement – has had the right wing playing hardball over the summer.

A particularly reckless example of this was Liam Fox’s call in late July for the UK to leave the European customs union in order to seek bilateral trade deals with individual states. The Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charles Flanagan, expressed himself to be “very surprised” at the comments, and Fox was promptly shot down by Downing Street.

A pattern of narrow British insensitivity is forming. Arguably more serious again are the recent comments by Liz Truss, May’s Justice Secretary, who has reconfirmed support for the Tory’s election manifesto commitment to replace the Human Rights Act with a British Bill of Rights.

The Human Rights Act 1998 incorporated the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR) into UK law and, if the intention with a British Bill of Rights is to leave the ECHR, it could have grave implications for the whole Northern Ireland settlement.

Though the principle of consent underpinning any changes to Northern Ireland’s constitutional position applies only to the option of a united Ireland, the general spirit of consent and bilateralism could be violated by England and Wales’s unilateral action.

More to the point, the Good Friday Agreement presupposes joint EU membership and adherence to the ECHR. As Ian McBride has recently written: “During the 1990s the EU provided a stage on which Irish and British politicians met as equals. The wider context of European integration also took much of the heat out of the border issue. It made the idea of a region whose inhabitants had the right to be ‘Irish, British, or both’ easier to imagine.”

The ECHR does not just have a symbolic presence in the peace process, but provides practical safeguards designed to ensure there can be no return to the majoritarian Unionist domination of the past.

The arrogance of Brexit

Whatever its faults, the Agreement governs relations in a region of the United Kingdom and should be treated seriously in the discussions around Brexit. Moreover, it is a bilateral treaty with the Irish government, lodged after its ratification with the United Nations.

That such a settlement could be so casually jeopardized in a fit of sour isolationism and post-imperial arrogance demonstrates once more the British Government’s disregard for its international obligations. It is particularly galling in the Irish case that Britain’s involvement and obligations were unwanted and unasked for in the first place by a majority of the island’s inhabitants.

It should give Unionists pause for thought that Northern Ireland, once more, is only an incidental detail in a Westminster power-play.

Perhaps this crisis will, in James Connolly’s words “throw the Irish people back upon their own resources” and provoke discussion of an internal solution to the Irish question.
An optimistic prognosis now, perhaps. Yet, as the Brexit wagon trundles ever onwards, it is a conversation that will become increasingly necessary.

HONEST AND TRANSPARENT DEBATE NEEDED ON UNITED IRELAND – PATRICK DONAHOE

Posted by Jim on September 1, 2016

A welcome off-shoot from the recent ‘Brexit’ referendum in Britain is that talk of a United Ireland has come again to the fore of political discourse all across Ireland – even in the mainstream of the 26-Counties – coupled also with more favourable polling numbers regards the prospect of Irish Unity.

Radio stations such as Newstalk took reporters onto the streets and asked the general public their opinions. Unsurprisingly there was a warm response to the notion of a reunified Ireland, but lacking from the discourse was an honest addressing of the facts – with experts plucking figures from thin air and passing them off as gospel in relation to the annual deficit the Six Counties accumulates and that Britain supposedly bridges as an act of charity (from £6-14 billion!).

Regardless, it’s worth noting that Ireland as a singular entity ceased being a net contributor to Britain in 1911 – Britain a few years later shedding itself of the non-contributory part of Ireland and keeping the industralised North (which at the time of partition generated 75 percent of the economic output on the island and was wealthier per head than any part of Britain).

The decision to divide Ireland was sold at the time, and to this day, as a gesture of goodwill and love for their loyal patrons who died in World War I. I’d argue otherwise and say that, like every other decision, it was an act of self-interest done purely on an economic basis.

Just as the reasons given for partition have been distorted, so too are the arguments as to why it should be maintained. As noted earlier, various experts continue to trot out random figures for the prospective tab the 26-Counties would need to pick up in the event of Irish reunification. All are false and indeed English economist Michael Burke, in a report using the British government’s own ONS data from 2013, showed that the annual fiscal deficit was closer to £730 million and not anywhere near the £10 billion quoted by many.

Findings by the University of British Columbia also forecast a €36 billion injection into the economy (over eight years) upon an end to trade barriers internal to Ireland and a corresponding harmonisation of the tax systems in the event of Irish Unity, highlighting that we would operate better as a single economy with a single tax code, currency, public services, governmental bodies etc.

All of this has been ignored by the chattering classes since new-found interest on the merits of a United Ireland emerged in wake of the Brexit vote – which is disappointing but not at all surprising.

In Scotland likewise, Britain refuses transparency on key issues and as with the North uses smaller regions to bolster England’s economic health at their expense, distorting the picture. A prime example is Scottish whisky. Hugely popular worldwide and with a large market in North America, it contributes £4.5 billion per annum to the UK Exchequer. The vast majority of that total is not attributed to Scotland as the UK state attributes it to the point where it leaves the UK itself – which conveniently is largely England.

There are similar goings-on in the North, which distorts appearances and impacts on those seeking a reasoned decision on where they see their future. As with the ‘love bomb’ David Cameron threw at Scotland during the referendum campaign in 2014 – just as with Ireland in 1922 – their desire to keep Scotland was not based on any spirit of benevolence towards Scotland or her people.

It was purely with self-interest in mind for England, mirrored in this country with corporate interests such as gold mines in Tyrone and fracking in Fermanagh. The reality is that, despite protesting otherwise, Britain does have selfish and economic reasons for staying in Ireland. Indeed this would explain the lack of transparency in the figures she makes available.

It is difficult for republicans to counter the ‘voodoo economics’ perpetuated by Britain to maintain the Union when the media ignores known facts when discussing the matter. What hope then that the dodgy bookkeeping distorting the debate in the pro-union camp’s favour will ever be seriously looked into? That Britain has no right to govern here in the first place aside, we should be making the case for reunification when and where we can, demanding transparency from our opponents so people can at least be armed with the facts.

Nelson Mandela once said, ‘let your choices be defined by your hopes and not your fears’. Making a positive case for Irish Unity is in my opinion vital to the campaign for a national referendum on Irish Unity. Should we succeed towards that objective and take part in such an act of self-determination, deciding our country’s constitutional future, we must ensure our arguments are clear and coherent and that we indeed appeal to the hopes, not the fears, of the Irish people.

Patrick Donahoe is a former Organiser with the 1916 Societies and current Secretary of the Sean Heuston Society in Dublin.

West Belfast was bleak and poor, but never uncivilised

Posted by Jim on

Allison Morris. Irish News (Belfast). Thursday, September 1, 2016

The Belfast of my childhood was bleak. There’s no point in trying to dress it up as anything other than that. It was grey and at times terrifying but it was also all I knew.

Being a child growing up in what was then effectively a war zone isn’t in any way normal.

Our house regularly shook from the tremor of bomb blasts. At times I was woken with the shudder of the rattling windows or the sound of automatic gunfire.

The deaths of the hunger strikers were marked by the banging of old metal bin lids on the pavements outside our house.

The first dead body I ever saw was that of Kieran Doherty, his family lived at the top of our street and I could hear the adults around me speaking about him in hushed tones.

I’ve always been nosey, an essential quality in a reporter. I sneaked away and positioned myself in the queue of mourners outside the Doherty home.

I’d my wee brother by the hand – I was supposed to be minding him – when I reached the top of the queue a man said to another, “there’s two kids here, what will I do?”

I remember as clearly as if it were yesterday he said, “let them in, she should see, everyone should see”.

Watching my dad cry when my cousin was murdered. Being stopped and having your school bag searched by British soldiers on your way to school. The endless funerals, there were so many funerals.

It’s not a normal way to grow up, the look of horror on my own children’s faces when I tell them stories of my childhood makes me realise how far removed it is from the life they’ve lived post peace process.

When I look at what is happening in the world today, the plight of children in Palestine, Syria and Iraq, little bodies washed up on beaches and realise I was actually quite lucky. Their wee lives make my childhood look like a Disney cartoon.

Then last week the release of state papers from 1987 brought it all back to me, the stuff seared in my memory and some events that had been lost in the annals of time.

It was a time when the world I lived in was filled with death and destruction but as a teenager my thoughts were filled with discos, boys and puffball mini skirts.

Sir Ken Bloomfield, a man I interviewed at home a few years ago and found to be welcoming, full of stories about the fascinating experiences he’d had in his lengthy career, made the most horrendous slur on my community.

In a memo to former secretary of state Tom King the then head of the civil service said west Belfast had a “ghetto mentality” and a large section of the population was alienated from “normal civilised behaviour”.

And I didn’t recognise the place he was referring to. Abnormal yes, but there were historic, political reasons for that. Terrified, yes, poor, most definitely, it was an economic waste ground, although current deprivation statistics would indicate there’s much still to be done in that respect. But uncivilised – that I dispute.

We were raised with food in our bellies, shoes on our feet and a sense of right and wrong.

My mother would have walked us around burning buses to make sure we availed of an education never offered to her, not even a riot would deter her.

This description of my friends and family as ‘uncivilised’ angered me in a way a 30-year-old dispatch never should.

The memo was in fact saying that any investment in west Belfast needs to take into account the wider perception of the people who live there.

Mr King was warned not to anger the unionist community by being seen to reward the poor people of my community.

Look at it like that and what chance did we really stand? Being misruled by people who treated us like savages and penalised us so as not to anger a unionist community they had helped pit against us.

When those who govern are conspiring against an entire community and yet still we thrived and survived, that’s something to look back on with pride.

What’s a Diddicoy?

Posted by Jim on August 30, 2016

What’s a Diddicoy?

caravan

What once are derogatory, offensive terms often change in time. “Irish” was once a terrible and oppressive thing to be called. In the ports of New York, Boston and New Orleans and in the Pennsylvania mines, the Appalachian mountains and anywhere else in the United States after the Famine, to be named such a thing was akin to spitting in your face. The Irish were clan-like, fiercely communal people who fenced themselves off from the incumbent Anglo-Saxon culture.

They worked hard, sure. But they played like animals. Bare-knuckle fist fighters that fought each other for the spirit in it and the fun. For blood and boast. Pride in the prowess of their ancient surnames. Gamblers that played a foreign card game called “faro” with words that harkened to an ancient language. The language of a nomadic Celtic past that had been banished from the mainland of Europe centuries earlier by Julius Caesar. Pushed to the Western-most islands of the continent. Now pushed passed the isle of Ireland, they took to the sea and landed in a new world. Born to soldier and brawl.

 

Like the Irish in the 19th and early 20th centuries, African-Americans have fenced themselves off from the Anglo-Saxon culture. Many have mixed their race with whites, whether on purpose or of rape. If there is one thing that mystifies the people of homogenous countries, it is the idea of the typical American being of mixed race. An entire country of mostly mixed-blooded people clashing together to make the most powerful culture the world has ever known. All were once desperate to leave their homogenous cultures like traveling gypsies running from war or famine, or were enslaved, only to land in a mish-mash of mixed raced people.

That is a Diddicoy. A mixed-blooded gypsy.

In Ireland still to this very day, a group known generally as Travelers roam the boreens (country roads) in caravans challenging each other to bare-knuckle fights for the right to boast. One-on-one they fight with almost no rules between them, other than honor. Some of them are part Romani, some of them are not sure if they have any true Romani gypsy blood as they almost all carry Celtic or Norman surnames like the Joyce’s and the Doherty’s. There are many derogatory terms for them like Tinkers, Pikeys or the Pavee and of course, Diddicoys.

In Chapter 7 of Light of the Diddicoy, the first book in the Auld Irishtown trilogy, an immigrant is shot at 25 Bridge Street, the saloon that the White Hand Gang calls headquarters under the Manhattan Bridge in Brooklyn, 1915. Detective William Brosnan, a 53-year old Dubliner turned New York cop investigates as the immigrant takes his last breath on the floor among the mortar hods and shovels in the corner of the saloon.

The candles that light the saloon flicker when the front door is opened and the sounds of the trolleys rushing overhead along the Manhattan Bridge rail tracks breaks the silence inside. Brosnan is attempting to extract information from Paddy Keenan, himself a native of a small town outside Kilkenny, Ireland and the saloon’s tender. When Keenan, who is known as the gang’s Minister of Information, refuses to part with any knowledge of the shooting, Brosnan slams his hand on the bar and looks upstairs where the office of the gang’s leader is, Dinny Meehan. Brosnan then points his finger at Keenan and says, “This gang ain’ nuttin’ but a bunch o’ thiefs an’ diddicoys, anyhow. They’re days’re numbered, ye heard it from me right here and now!”

It takes a Dublin jackeen who knows English slang to describe the gang as Diddicoys, as the word comes from the derogatory description of a mix-blooded Romani-gypsy, particular to England. But a good description it is. You see, I spent three and a half years reading articles about the White Hand Gang and its members. When you pull police reports and death certificates and any description you can find of the lifestyle and habits of the Irish-American gangsters along the Brooklyn waterfront of the era, you find out a lot about them.

What I found in them that is most glaring is a complete lack of regard for law, as most gangsters do, of course. Actually, calling it a “lack of regard” isn’t strong enough. Not close enough. I would rather describe it as a complete distrust in law.

IMG_0171An excellent description of the mentality of the people who lived in what used to be called Irishtown in Brooklyn, which nowadays we call DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) and Vinegar Hill, was Willie Sutton’s book Where the Money Was. He said the people who lived where he grew up didn’t believe in even the most basic organizations such as hospitals because it was said “they’d give ye the black box.” This black box symbolized death and the reason the Irish always got it was because the hospital administrators didn’t believe the Irish were worth the bed. And when someone more upstanding arrived at the over-crowded hospital, they had to make room. So they gave the black box to the Irish to give the bed to more law-abiding, respected citizens. Sounds crazy and superstitious, but that was his description. And I found a consistency to that in my own research of the White Hand Gang members of Brooklyn’s Irishtown.

famine photoAfter reading so much about these gangsters and coming across Sutton, the greatest bank robber of his time, I began to put it all together. It suddenly made sense: These Irish-Americans were the offspring of victims of possibly the worst, most atrocious and horrific miscarriage of justice the world has chronicled. They were the Famine-Irish that settled originally along the waterfront in Brooklyn. The ones that survived the casket ships and the Great Hunger of 1845-1852, An Gorta Mor, it’s called in Irish. It was law that starved their people and their children to an emaciated death in the ditches and road-side graves back in Ireland. Over a million dead and a million more sent to places like the Five Points in Lower Manhattan and “Auld Irishtown” in Brooklyn. Their tenant farms replaced by cattle, a more suitable income for English landowners in Ireland.

It was law that sent them to foreign lands. And it would be law that instilled the greatest distrust in them.

It would not be unlikely to assume that some, if not many, of the original Famine-Irish were actual gypsies, for there is a great relation to gypsy culture and the gangsters of Irishtown in Brooklyn. Not just in the disbelief in man-made law, but the superstitions, the thieving from the established people, the tradition of bare-knuckle fighting, the powerful belief in honor and, of course, the great Code of Silence that pervaded men and women who lived underneath the bridges in Brooklyn.

Unknown-2There are countless examples of a gangster getting shot and refusing to name his perpetrator. “I got mine, I’ll make sure he gets his” was usually the answer. The Traveller community in Britain and Ireland still think this way. They do not seek law to settle their disagreements, they seek blood. Whether it be retribution or a challenge. Just as was done in Irishtown and the Diddicoys of the White Hand Gang. A challenge is a challenge. One-on-one. Man against man with no weapons and no rules. Just a pair of fists and a man’s will. That was the character of the people of Auld Irishtown.

Eamon

Bittersweet ceremony unites tragic Ballymurphy family

Posted by Jim on August 28, 2016

A priest has spoken about God’s “perfect timing” after he officiated at
the joint funeral mass of a man murdered by British soldiers and the
wife who campaigned in his memory, despite them dying exactly 45 years
apart.

Joseph Murphy, who was buried with his wife Mary on Thursday, was one of
the 11 victims of the Ballymurphy Massacre which happened during the
introduction of internment without trial in August 1971.

Ten people, including Mr Murphy, a priest who had gone to the aid of one
of victims and a 50-year-old mother of eight children were shot dead by
British soldiers in west Belfast. Inquests have yet to be concluded into
the killings.

An eleventh victim, who does not come under the terms of the inquest,
Paddy McCarthy, died from a heart attack after a soldier allegedly put
an empty gun into his mouth and pulled the trigger.

It is believed that most if not all of the killings were carried out by
members of the British Parachute Regiment. The incident took place
months before the same regiment was involved in the Bloody Sunday
killings, which resulted in the deaths of 14 innocent civilians.

Last October, as part of the Ballymurphy inquests, the coroner ordered
that Mr Murphy’s body be exhumed so that an investigation could be
carried out into his family’s belief that he was shot on two occasions
by the British army.

In hospital before his death, Mr Murphy told his family he was first
shot in the upper thigh on the streets of Ballymurphy, but soldiers then
brought him into the nearby Henry Taggart barracks and shot him again
through his open wound.

A suspected bullet fragment found among his remains after his exhumation
supported his dying comments, and this will be a factor in the inquests
into his killing.

With other members of the Ballymurphy families, his widow Mary
campaigned for decades to establish the truth behind the killings. It
had been her hope that a second funeral Mass could be heard for her
husband before he was re-interred.

However, Mrs Murphy died from cancer on August 22nd, the same date that
Mr Murphy died from his injuries in 1971.

“Little did she think that he would be buried 45 years to the day when
he was first buried,” said officiating priest Fr Darach Mac Giolla
Cathain.

“More than that, that she would have the grace when she died that they
would be side by side in the church and be laid to rest together,” he
added. “God’s timing really is perfect.”

Their daughter has spoken of her mixed emotions that her beloved parents
were laid to rest together.

Janet Donnelly, said that the family had found out only the day before
her mother’s funeral that the Coroner’s Office were releasing their
father’s remains to them.

“The original plan was to have daddy buried and for our mummy to be
there. Our mother was a woman of great faith. When our daddy’s body was
exhumed in October she insisted that there was a priest present and that
there were prayers at the graveside. She wanted him to have a proper
funeral when the time came for him to be reburied. Little did we know
that he would be waiting for her in the chapel 45 years from the day of
his original funeral.”

After her husband’s death Mary Ellen Murphy was left to raise nine
children alone – three of her children have already passed away. She
remained in the same house in Ballymurphy Parade until her own death.

“After daddy passed away our mummy raised us on her own. She did what a
lot of women back then had to do: she just got on with it, she worked
non-stop. She had a house shop, she sold candy apples and she took any
work she could get, that’s what people did back then. Her faith carried
her through those hard years, she said her Rosary every day.

“It is bittersweet.. we’re happy because she always wanted to see him
buried again and we promised her it would happen.”

Janet says all the Ballymurphy families know the truth about their loved
ones, but it’s vital that the truth is put on record.

“We want an inquiry, we need for the rest of the world to know what
happened to the victims of the Ballymurphy Massacre. It’s about
justice. In years to come when people look back on history we want it
stated clearly in black and white that our loved ones were innocent
victims.

“Now that mummy has passed away it’s even more important for the
inquests to be heard as our witnesses are dying… there’s money sitting
there for inquests, it needs to be released.”

Bryson sought revenge for Dervock band — report

Posted by Jim on

A dispute over a sectarian loyalist parade through the mainly
nationalist town of Rasharkin last week is being linked to the “leak” of
private messages targeting Sinn Fein Assembly member Daithi McKay.

Loyalist blogger Jamie Bryson is being accused of taking revenge against
Mr McKay, who was forced to resign his post earlier this month, after he
helped lobby the Parades Commission to prevent a notorious loyalist band
from taking part in the County Antrim parade.

According to the Sunday Life newspaper, Bryson reportedly told his
cronies that by leaking private messages from Mr McKay about his
appearance before a Stormont committee, he could end his political
career and also bring pressure for a full public inquiry into the
scandal over the sale of properties in the north of Ireland.

The controversy over the Rasharkin parade began when independent
councillor Padraig McShane was spat at and taunted by masked loyalists
during a parade in nearby Ballycastle on July 12. Mr McShane suffered a
serious head injury when he was violently arrested in the subsequent
scuffle.

Last week, after coming under nationalist pressure, the Parades
Comission refused permission for the band involved, the ‘Dervock Young
Defenders’, to march in last week’s Rasharkin parade. That march passed
off relatively peacefully on Friday, August 19th.

Bryson is a prominent loyalist marcher and ‘flags’ protestor who has a
reputation as a publicity-seeker. His insistence that he was not
responsible for the transcript ‘leak’ won few believers, and he lost
further credibility when he claimed some messages he received from McKay
had been removed from the transcript, a claim he then failed to
substantiate.

Refusing to comment further, he says: “My focus is on the legal
preparation for the pending application to the Secretary of State asking
for a full public inquiry into NAMA (the Dublin government’s National
Asset Management Agency).”

Mr McKay was forced to resign last week because the messages showed that
he communicated inappropriately with Bryson on how to present his
testimony to the Stormont Finance Committee investigating NAMA’s
dealings in the North. Through the account of another Sinn Fein member,
Bryson was advised how to present his evidence of corruption against the
DUP leader Peter Robison without being interrupted or blocked by DUP
committee members.

The loyalist was called to the committee after making a number of online
allegations relating to 7 million pounds in an offshore bank account
linked to the deal which had allegedly been earmarked for a politician
in the Six Counties.

Bryson told the committee that former DUP leader Peter Robinson was to
receive a payment upon its completion. Robinson, who has since quit
politics, continues to deny that he was to profit from the sale of the
portfolio to the American company Cerberus.

Sinn Fein has made clear that Mr McKay had been acting on his own
initiative and had “paid the price”. Speaking in Derry’s Bogside, Mr
McGuinness blasted McKay’s actions as “profoundly disturbing” and also
derided allegations that he was part of a conspiracy to damage the
former DUP leader.

“Does anybody think for one minute that I would even contemplate being
involved in anything that would involve someone like young Bryson, who
has effectively got his own agenda which is about ill will towards Peter
Robinson,” he said.

Sinn Fein’s current Finance Minister in the Six Counties, Mairtin O
Muilleoir, also issued a statement making clear he had “absolutely no
knowledge” of the communications, and rejected calls to step aside while
Stormont’s Finance Committee holds an investigation into the ‘back
channel’ communications.

Although the current DUP leader Arleen Foster said the messages were a
“disgraceful attempt to impugn and discredit” her former colleague, her
party has indicated it is ready to move past the controversy.

Meanwhile, Sinn Fein has selected Daithi McKay’s predecessor at Stormont
to replace him. Philip McGuigan returns to the assembly, having
previously served as a Sinn Fein Assembly a decade ago, representing
North Antrim at Stormont from 2003-2007. The father-of-four is currently
a Sinn Fein representative on Causeway Coast and Glens Council.

“Impromptu BBQ & Get Together” ~ Saturday September 03, 2016 @ 7:00 PM, Columbus Council #126

Posted by Jim on

Columbus Council 126

Address: 3051 Nostrand Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11229

 

Greetings LAOH & AOH. On Saturday September 03, 2016 @ 7:00 PM, Columbus Council #126 will be having an “Impromptu BBQ & Get Together” in the council yard & hall. The cost will be $10.00 PP for the food & soft drinks. The Tap Room will also be open and has 2 new air conditioner units for your comfort & they work very well, so you may need a light jacket or sweater.

 

If you are interested in attending, please contact me by 11:00 PM Thursday September 01, 2016 as I will be picking up the food on Friday. Please include number of guest attending with you. I am only picking up enough food for those folks who have responded as attending.

 

Please contact me via this email, phone text or call.

 

Thank you,

Eddie Velinskie

347-210-1249

Don’t take them down.

Posted by Jim on August 27, 2016

‘DON’T TAKE THEM DOWN’

The chairman of a County Antrim Gaelic sports club has resigned after it
voted to remove entrance gates dedicated to the memory of two Irish War
of Independence martyrs in order to secure a grant from a
unionist-controlled council.

Eddie Haughey quit after members of Oisin Glenariffe hurling club took
the decision in a secret ballot at a special meeting last week. It is
understood the managers of two of the club’s teams have also resigned.

The club’s grounds are named after two IRA men, Charlie McAllister and
Pat McVeigh, who were killed during a gun battle with B-Specials near in
Glenariffe in May 1922 – months after the Anglo-Irish Treaty was signed.

The Glens of Antrim club had sought 180,000 pounds from Causeway Coast
and Glens Borough Council to help build a new community centre on its
land. Unionist councillors moved to block the funds as part of an effort
to remove the erase the memory of the two local heroes. The DUP claimed
that the gates leading onto the site would “re-traumatise” people.

On Tuesday night, following the club’s decision to submit to the DUP
demands to remove the gates, the council narrowly approved the funding
when it met in Coleraine.

Sinn Fein councillor Cara McShane noted the council approval placed no
conditions, such as the gates having to be moved. She accused the DUP of
“political posturing” and seeking to use “any means possible to treat
people in this part of the borough as second class citizens.”

She said there is no political agenda in the building of the centre.
“The last thing anyone wants is for this facility, which is a
much-needed in a rural community, to be used for political
point-scoring. People are very emotional,” she said.

There have already been calls for the club’s decision to be reversed.
Ballycastle based councillor Padraig McShane accused the council of
“intransigence”

“The club members should not have been put in that position,” he said.
“They were put in this position because of the unrelenting anti-Irish
sentiment of Causeway Coast and Glens council.”

Mr McShane urged the GAA community in the Glens to stay unified.

“I wish Glenarriffe and all the fellow Gaels the very best,” he said. “A
unity of purpose will see us rise a monument fitting to the two
volunteers

The success in the US of the MacBride Principles played a key role in a new Fair Employment Act in 1989

Posted by Jim on August 26, 2016

Éamon Phoenix. Irish News (Belfast). Thursday, August 25, 2016
Seán MacBride

THE success of the campaign for the MacBride Principles in the US encouraged the British government to introduce a new Fair Employment Act in 1989.

Named after Nobel Peace Prize recipient Seán MacBride, the fair employment principles act as a corporate code of conduct for US companies doing business in Northern Ireland.

State papers show how Sir Antony Acland, the British Ambassador to the US, wrote to Northern Ireland secretary Tom King in 1987 about continuing controversy in the US around fair employment in Northern Ireland.

Acland said US interest in Northern Ireland had declined following the signing of the Anglo- Irish Agreement and was “no longer anywhere near the top of most American politicians’ agenda”.

But he said among several areas for concern fair employment was “the most difficult” and “finally, and most important, MacBride”.

Acland welcomed King’s decision to “shift the emphasis of British efforts [in the US] away from the Principles” and to the MacBride campaign’s impact on investment in Northern Ireland.

On the MacBride campaign, the ambassador’s view was that “even with increased resources, we would have little or no chance of halting the campaign altogether. We shall still be dealing with legislators who see no reason to change their embedded view of NI”.

David Fell, head of the Stormont Department of Economic Development, circulated a confidential memo on MacBride commenting on the British ambassador’s remarks.

He acknowledged that in face of the mounting campaign, “the credibility of HMG’s commitment to fair employment is now a major objective”.

“An important consequence”, he wrote, “has been the need to secure real progress on fair employment on the ground”.

But he added: “It must be pointed out that, for whatever reasons, there has been no new US investment in NI since 1984.”

In his view, a political decision was required whether to adopt a laissez-faire approach to MacBride or continue resistance which would be very costly.

In reply to Acland in November

RADIO FREE EIREANN will broadcast this Saturday August 27 – Noon-1-pm New York time or 5pm-6pm Irish time on WBAI 99.5 FM

Posted by Jim on August 25, 2016



RADIO FREE EIREANN will broadcast this Saturday August 27 – Noon-1-pm  New York time or 5pm-6pm Irish time on WBAI 99.5 FM or WBAI.ORG or anytime after the program concludes on WBAI.ORG/ARCHIVES

 Kate Nash, whose brother was one of the Bloody Sunday murder victims in Derry,will discuss the announcement that a four year constabulary investigation has ended and what it means to the families in their decades long fight to bring British troopers to justice.

Independent Councillor Padraig McShane will give us the latest developments on the funding controversy surrounding the Gaelic Athletic field at McAllister-McVeigh Memorial Park where Unionists witheld funding because the park is named for Irish patriots killed almost a century ago.He will also discuss the recent Orange parade in Ballycastle.

We will also feature a discussion of a new documentary film on the groundbreaking Irish band “BLACK 47”

Go to RADIO FREE EIREANN’S  new web site, RFE123.ORG  where you can read written transcripts of last weeks  headline making interviews with Belfast Republican Dee Fennell on a public debate challenge with Gerry Adams TD and author and political commentator Anthony McIntyre’s  discussion of the continuing fallout from the “Brysongate” scandal.

Follow us on Twitter.

John McDonagh and Martin Galvin  co- host.

Radio Free Eireann is heard Saturdays at 12 Noon New York time on WBAI 99,5 FM and wbai.org
It can be heard at wbai.org  in Ireland from 5pm to 6 pm or anytime after the program concludes on WBAI.ORG/ARCHIVES listed in date and time order.

Come to the AOH Irish Festival at Nickerson Beach on Sept. 18

Posted by Jim on

 

The Ancient Order of Hibernians in Nassau County, N.Y., are proud to announce their 44th annual Feis & Irish Festival, to be held at Nickerson Beach, 880 Lido Blvd., Lido Beach, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 18.

 

Young and old and in between will be sure to have a fabulous time with live music all day long, entertainment and attractions, including Irish step dancing, bagpiping, Irish vendors, traditional Irish singing, children’s games, Irish language, Irish art, Gaelic Cúl Camp and plenty of food and beverages. $10 per person. Children under 16 get in free.

 

This year’s honoree will be renowned Hibernian and long time Feis & Festival chairman and treasurer Jack Ryan, a member of AOH Division 15 in Massapequa, an AOH Nassau County Board officer and New York State AOH officer.

 

Catholic Mass will be celebrated at 11 a.m.

 

For more information, call (646) 481-3347 or visit www.NassauAOHfeis.com

 

Come enjoy all that’s best about the Irish! Come to the Feis & Festival on Sept. 18.

 

About our honoree:

 

John M. (Jack) Ryan joined the AOH in 1973 at Division 15 in Massapequa Park. He served the division as president, vice president, recording secretary and sentinel. In 1976 he was a founding member of the Tara Pipe Band and serves as a drum major. He served on the Division’s Board of Trustees for 20 years.

 

Jack joined the Nassau County Feis Committee in 1975 and has served as general chairman, piping and drumming chairman and currently serves as the corporate treasurer. He has served on the County Board as president, vice president, recording secretary and treasurer. He is now serving as chairman of the standing committee. In 1991 he was elected as aide to the grand marshal of the NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade. He has been awarded National Life Membership in the Order.

 

On the state level, Jack served two terms as state director of District Six, and has also served as state organizer and Catholic Action chairman. For the last 10 years he has served as the state chairman of Veterans Affairs.

 

Jack is married to the former Noreen Keenan of the Bronx. They live in Massapequa Park. The couple has four daughters: Patricia, Kathleen, Noreen and Mary Ellen. They are the proud grandparents of 13 children.

You are invited to a private friends and family screening of How To Defuse A Bomb: The Project Children Story on Friday August 26th, 2016 at Thomas P Morahan Waterfront Park in Greenwood Lake NY at 8pm. This feature-length documentary film tells the story of Project Children’s work helping children caught-up in the Northern Ireland Troubles. Featuring exclusive contributions from Bill Clinton and Martin McGuinness and narrated by Oscar nominated actor Liam Neeson, the personal stories of the now-adult children are positioned within the wider political story of how Washington struggled to deal with Northern Ireland and Irish-America’s complex relationship with home.

Posted by Jim on

Evidence shows man who shot Michael Collins met him before ambush

Posted by Jim on August 22, 2016

Casey Egan

 

New information has emerged in recent years about the man believed to have shot Ireland’s revolutionary leader Michael Collins, including the revelation that he had previously met “the Big Fella” twice.

Denis “Sonny” O’Neill, a former Royal Irish Constabulary and IRA officer who fought on the Anti-Treaty side in the Irish Civil War, was at Beal na Blath  94 years ago today, on August 22, 1922, for the ambush that took Collins’ life.

According to pension records published by Ireland’s Military Archives and analyzed by the Irish Independent, he claimed that his presence that day was an accident.

“We accidentally ran into the Ballinablath [sic] thing. We took up a position, and held it there until late in the evening,” he said in a sworn statement delivered in 1934 when he was applying for a military pension.

The Collins party had been delayed and O’Neill and his comrades were about to abandon the ambush when they heard the Collins group approaching.

Collins leaped from the car and began firing when they came under fire. He was shot by a single bullet through the head and died instantly.

O’Neill also had two personal encounters with Collins while working with the IRA during the War of Independence. The first in 1920, when he was introduced to Collins and a number of his confidantes; the second in 1921, when he was entrusted to deliver a message to Collins from London.

That these records survive is remarkable in itself, given that a 1932 government order directed all files pertaining to the Civil War be burned.

O’Neill, described in army intelligence files from 1924 as “a first class shot and a strict disciplinarian” and “undoubtedly a dangerous man,” was born in Timoleague, Co. Cork in 1888.

He served in the RIC and as a marksman for the British Army in WWI, but was discharged after being shot in the arm.

Back in Ireland, he rose through the ranks of the IRA thanks to the access granted him by his RIC past. In the Irish Civil War he fought on the Anti-Treaty side. The pension files paint a picture of a man on the run after the war ended, never staying in the same house two nights in a row.

Years later he settled in Tipperary, becoming a peace commissioner and a director of elections for Sinn Fein and Fianna Fail. He died in 1950.

All of this information about O’Neill was included in the second cache of Military Pensions Archives published by the Irish Defense Forces and just made available online.

Between 1924 and 1949, the Irish government made those who had fought or performed intelligence work in the War of Independence and the Irish Civil War eligible for pensions.

In order to receive benefits, however, they had to provide evidence, personal testimony and second hand testimony of their service.

Because of this, the records are exceptionally detailed. The portion released, for example, includes 1,158 individual pension records, 77 administrative files and 173,000 scanned documents, letters and photographs. The site also includes a map of activity during the 1916 Easter Rising and a photo identification project

Originally published in 2014.

AOH asks for Help the Flood Victims in Louisiana

Posted by Jim on

Help the Flood Victims in Louisiana

20 August 2016:

Radio Free Eireann WBAI 99.5 fm in NY

Jim Sullivan announced on today’s show that the National Board of the AOH is asking those who wish to help the flood victims in Louisiana to contact the Archdiocese of New Orleans to make a donation through Catholic Charities Appeal.

Please call 504-523-3755 to make a donation. Thank you!

Mickey Devine – Died August 20th, 1981

Posted by Jim on August 20, 2016

 

[Image]

 

A typical Derry lad

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

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

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

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

Micky himself had a rough life.

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

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

CAMP

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

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

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

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

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

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

BLOW

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

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

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

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

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

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

STONING

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

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

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

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

TENSION

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

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

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

INVOLVED

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TRAUMA

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

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

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

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

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

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

TRAGIC

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

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

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

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

Micky and his wife had since separated.

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

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

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

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

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

ARRESTED

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

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

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

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

SEVENTH

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

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

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

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

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

 

RADIO FREE EIREANN will return to regular programming – Noon-1-pm this Saturday New York time

Posted by Jim on August 19, 2016

  Belfast Republican Dee Fennell , will discuss how an Irish Republican Prisoners Welfare Association leaflet criticizing the PSNI Constabulary has generated a public challenge for  Republican community debate with Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams.

Newly elected  Ancient Order of Hibernian National  Director Dan Dennehy will discuss the AOH’s new initiatives on Irish immigration, including special issues relating to former Republican prisoners, and the importance of the appointment of an Immigration Senator in the Irish Senate.

 

Go to RADIO FREE EIREANN’S  new web site, RFE123.ORG  where you can read written transcripts of last weeks  headline making interviews with Tyrone Republican Gerry McGeough and Richard O’Rawe’s discussion of the movie on Bobby Sands.

Sands film opens at 16 more cinemas

Posted by Jim on

Gareth McKeown. Irish News (Belfast). Friday, August, 19, 2016

THE critically acclaimed documentary Bobby Sands 66 Days has become one of the widest released documentaries in Irish cinema history and will open at a further 16 theatres today.

The film, based on the life of IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands, pictured, is heading into its third week of release and is now playing at 41 cinemas across Ireland.

In the north further screenings have been added for the controversial documentary in Omagh, Downpatrick, Armagh and Craigavon.

Since its release 66 Days has proven hugely popular with cinema goers recording the Republic’s highest opening weekend returns for an Irish-made documentary.

In the north it came fifth in the box office chart for opening weekend, with more cinema-goers seeing the documentary than viewing Star Trek and Ghostbusters.

Written and directed by Ardoyne-born director Brendan Byrne the documentary is based around extracts from the late republican’s prison diaries as read by west Belfast actor Martin McCann.

The 27-year-old IRA man died after 66 days on hunger strike in the Maze prison in May 1981.

East Derry’s Sinn Féin MLA Caoimhe Archibald has welcomed the additional Irish screenings of the “important” documentary.

Since its release 66 Days has attracted criticism in some unionist quarters after receiving tens of thousands of pounds in public funding from the BBC and Northern Ireland Screen.
Tom Elliott, the MP for Fermanagh and South Tyrone, the constituency where Sands was elected just month before his death, labelled the decision to screen the film in Enniskillen as “divisive”.

AOH is not forgetting Louisiana flood victims

Posted by Jim on August 18, 2016

The AOH is not forgetting the LA flood victims. Please do what you can.
For those who would like to help the flood victims of Louisiana, the Archdiocese of New Orleans is asking that people who want to make a monetary contribution to do so through Catholic Charities. They can be reached at 504-523-3755.

For any Hibernians or others who wish to put together a trailer or truck with supplies, we encourage you to contact Catholic Charities as well.

Here are the items that are most needed:

1. BOTTLED WATER (SINGLE SERVE, JUGS, CAMELS OR THE LARGE DISPENSER CONTAINERS)
2. BABY FOOD AND POWDERED MILK, NONPERISHABLE FOOD ITEMS (CANS WITH PULL TOP LIDS)
3. DISPOSABLE DIAPERS (KIDS AND ADULTS)
4. RUBBER BOOTS (ALL SIZES – EVEN KIDS) AND DISPOSABLE RAIN PONCHOS
5. GLOVES (ALL TYPES) AND DUST/SURGICAL MASKS BY THE BOX
6. HANDSANITIZER AND LIQUID SOAP; WET WIPES (THE BIG CONTAINERS)
7. PET FOOD, KITTY LITTER AND PET CRATES (ALL SIZES)
8. FIRST AID KITS (TO PREVENT INFECTION DURING CLEAN UP)
9. BOX FANS TO ASSIST WITH DRYING ITEMS
10. MOPS, LARGE PLASTIC PUSH BROOMS, BUCKETS, BLEACH AND DAWN DISH SOAP (THE BIGGER THE BOTTLES THE BETTER) DAWN IS THE BEST CLEANING ITEM FOR REMOVING MOLD AND MILDEW.
11. SPONGES, PAPER TOWELS AND RAGS
12. TRASH BAGS AND BOXES; LARGE TRASH CANS
13. UTILITY KNIVES WITH EXTRA BLADES FOR CUTTING SHEETROCK OUT OF THE AFFECTED HOUSES AND BUSINESSES
14. DAMP RID (ALL CONTAINER SIZES)
15. BATTERIES (ALL SIZES)
16. SHEETS AND TOWELS
17. TOYS FOR CHILDREN

Eleven years ago, many Hibernians throughout the nation gave generously to help those of us like myself in New Orleans who had been ravaged by the floods following Katrina. Our divisions down here are coming together to help our fellow brothers and sisters., and we welcome whatever assistance you all can render.

With faith in the foundations of our Motto, I remain,

John D. Fitzmorris III
President – Orleans Parish Division 1 (Archbishop Philip M. Hannan Division)
State Secretary
National Catholic Action Chair

Michael Collins (Irish leader)

Posted by Jim on

Michael Collins (Irish: Mícheál Ó Coileáin;[2][3] 16 October 1890 – 22 August 1922) was a soldier and politician who was a leading figure in the struggle for Irish independence in the early 20th century. Collins was an Irish revolutionary leader, politician, Minister for Finance, Director of Information, and Teachta Dála (TD) for Cork South in the First Dáil of 1919, Adjutant General, Director of Intelligence, and Director of Organisation and Arms Procurement for the IRA, President of the Irish Republican Brotherhood from November 1920 until his death, and member of the Irish delegation during the Anglo-Irish Treaty negotiations. Subsequently, he was both Chairman of the Provisional Government and Commander-in-chief of the National Army.[1] Collins was shot and killed in an ambush in August 1922 during the Irish Civil War.

Early years

Born in Sam’s Cross, near Clonakilty, County Cork, Collins was the third son and youngest of eight children. Most biographies give his date of birth as 16 October 1890, but his tombstone cites 12 October 1890. Referred to in a British secret service report as “brainy”, the Collins family were part of an ancient clan, widely spread over County Cork. They had republican connections that can be traced back to the 1798 rebellion.[4]

Collins’ father, Michael John (1816–1896), was a farmer by profession. A mathematician in his spare time, he had been a member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) movement. The elder Collins was 60[5] years old when he married Mary Anne O’Brien, then 23,[6] in 1876.[7] The marriage was apparently happy. They brought up eight children on a 90-acre (36 ha) farm called Woodfield, which the Collins had held as tenants for several generations.

On his death bed, his father (who was the seventh son of a seventh son) predicted that his daughter Helena (one of Michael’s elder sisters) would become a nun. She later did, known as Sister Mary Celestine, based in Whitby.[8] He then turned to the family and told them to take care of Michael, because “One day he’ll be a great man. He’ll do great work for Ireland.” Michael was six years old when his father died.[9]

Michael Collins at the age of 8 with his family.

Collins was a bright and precocious child with a fiery temper and a passionate feeling of Irish nationalism. He named a local blacksmith, James Santry, and his headmaster at Lisavaird National School, Denis Lyons, as the first nationalists to personally inspire his “pride of Irishness.” Lyons was a member of the IRB, while Santry’s family had participated in, and forged arms for, the rebellions of 1798, 1848 and 1867.[4][10]

There are a number of anecdotal explanations for the origin of his nickname, “The Big Fellow”. The most authoritative comes from his family, stating that he was so called by them while still a child. It had been a term of endearment for their youngest brother, who was always keen to take on tasks beyond his years. It was certainly already established by his teens, long before he emerged as a political or military leader.[11]

At the age of thirteen he boarded at Clonakilty National School. During the week he stayed with his sister Margaret Collins-O’Driscoll and her husband Patrick O’Driscoll, while at weekends he returned to the family farm. Patrick O’Driscoll founded the newspaper The West Cork People and Collins helped out with general reporting jobs and preparing the issues of the newspaper.[12]

Collins as a young recruit.

After leaving school at fifteen, Collins took the British Civil Service examination in Cork in February 1906,[13] and was then employed by the Royal Mail.[14] In 1906, he moved to the home of his elder sister Hannie (Johanna) in London where he became a messenger at a London firm of stockbrokers, Horne and Company.[13] While living in London he studied law at King’s College London.[15] He joined the London GAA and, through this, the IRB. Sam Maguire, a republican from Dunmanway, County Cork, introduced the 19-year-old Collins to the IRB.[16] In 1915 he moved to the Guaranty Trust Company of New York where he remained until his return to Ireland the following year[17] joining part-time Craig Gardiner & Co, a firm of accountants in Dawson Street, Dublin.[18]

Easter Rising

The struggle for Home Rule, along with labour unrest, had led to the formation in 1913 of two major nationalist paramilitary groups who would launch the Easter Rising: the Irish Citizen Army was established by James Connolly and the Irish Transport and General Workers Union (ITGWU), to protect strikers from the Dublin Metropolitan Police during the 1913 Dublin Lockout. The Irish Volunteers were created in the same year by the IRB and other nationalists in response to the formation of the Ulster Volunteers (UVF), an Ulster loyalist body pledged to oppose Home Rule by force.

An organiser of considerable intelligence, Collins had become highly respected in the IRB. This led to his appointment as financial advisor to Count Plunkett, father of one of the Easter Rising‘s organisers, Joseph Mary Plunkett. Collins took part in preparing arms and drilling troops for the insurrection.

The Rising would be Collins’ first appearance in national events. When it commenced on Easter Monday 1916, Collins served as Plunkett’s aide-de-camp at the rebellion’s headquarters in the General Post Office (GPO) in Dublin. There he fought alongside Patrick Pearse, James Connolly, and other members of the Rising leadership. The Rising is generally acknowledged to have been a military disaster, yet the insurgents achieved their goal of holding their positions for the minimum time required to justify a claim to independence under international criteria.[19]

Captured Irish soldiers in Stafford Gaol after the failed Easter Rising. Collins is fifth from the right with an ‘x’ over his head.

Arrested along with thousands of other participants, Collins was subsequently imprisoned at Frongoch internment camp in Wales.

Collins first began to emerge as a major figure in the vacuum created by the executions of the 1916 leadership. He began hatching plans for “next time” even before the prison ships left Dublin.[20]

At Frongoch he was one of the organisers of a program of protest and non-cooperation with authorities, similar to that later carried on by IRA internees of the 1980s. The camp proved an excellent opportunity for networking with physical-force republicans from all over the country, of which he became a key organiser.[21][22]

While some celebrated the fact that a rising had happened at all, believing in Pearse’s theory of “blood sacrifice” (namely that the deaths of the Rising’s leaders would inspire others), Collins railed against the military blunders made, such as the seizure of indefensible and very vulnerable positions like St Stephen’s Green, which were impossible to escape from and difficult to supply. Public outcry placed pressure on the British government to end the internment. In December 1916, the Frongoch prisoners were sent home.

1917–1918

Before his death, Tom Clarke, first signatory of the 1916 Proclamation and widely considered the Rising’s foremost organiser, had designated his wife Kathleen (Daly) Clarke as the official caretaker of Rising official business, in the event that the leadership did not survive. By June 1916, Mrs. Clarke had sent out the first post-Rising communiqué to the IRB, declaring the Rising to be only the beginning and directing nationalists to prepare for “the next blow.” Soon after his release Mrs Clarke appointed Collins Secretary to the National Aid and Volunteers Dependents Fund (NAVDF) and subsequently passed on to him the secret organisational information and contacts which she had held in trust for the independence movement.

Michael Collins and Arthur Griffith

Collins became one of the leading figures in the post-Rising independence movement spearheaded by Arthur Griffith, editor/publisher of the main nationalist newspaper The United Irishman, (which Collins had read avidly as a boy.) [21] Griffith’s organisation Sinn Féin had been founded in 1905 as an umbrella group to unify all the various factions within the nationalist movement.

Under Griffith’s policy, Collins and other advocates of the “physical-force” approach to independence gained the cooperation of non-violent Sinn Féin, while agreeing to disagree with Griffith’s moderate ideas of a dual monarchy solution based on the Hungarian model.[23] The British government and mainstream Irish media had wrongly blamed Sinn Féin for the Rising. This attracted Rising participants to join the organisation in order to exploit the reputation with which such British propaganda had imbued the organisation. By October 1917 Collins had risen to become a member of the executive of Sinn Féin and director of organisation for the Irish Volunteers. Éamon de Valera, another veteran of 1916, stood for the presidency of Sinn Féin against Griffith, who stepped aside and supported de Valera’s presidency.[23]

First Dáil

Members of the First Dáil
First row, left to right: Laurence Ginnell, Michael Collins, Cathal Brugha, Arthur Griffith, Éamon de Valera, Count Plunkett, Eoin MacNeill, W. T. Cosgrave, Kevin O’Higgins (third row, right)

In the 1918 general election Sinn Féin swept the polls throughout much of Ireland, with many seats uncontested, and formed an overwhelming parliamentary majority in Ireland. Like many senior Sinn Féin representatives Collins was elected as an MP (for Cork South) with the right to sit in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom in London. Unlike their rivals in the Irish Parliamentary Party (IPP), Sinn Féin MPs had announced that they would not take their seats in Westminster but instead would set up an Irish Parliament in Dublin.[24]

Before the new body’s first meeting, Collins, tipped off by his network of spies, warned his colleagues of plans to arrest all its members in overnight raids. De Valera and others ignored the warnings on the argument that, if the arrests happened, they would constitute a propaganda coup. The intelligence proved accurate and de Valera, along with Sinn Féin MPs who followed his advice, were arrested; Collins and others evaded incarceration.

The new parliament, called Dáil Éireann (meaning “Assembly of Ireland”, see First Dáil) met in the Mansion House, Dublin in January 1919. In de Valera’s absence, Cathal Brugha was elected Príomh Aire (‘First’ or ‘Prime’ Minister but often translated as ‘President of Dáil Éireann’). The following April, Collins engineered de Valera’s escape from Lincoln Prison in England, after which Brugha was replaced by de Valera.

No state gave diplomatic recognition to the 1919 Republic, despite sustained lobbying in Washington by de Valera and prominent Irish-Americans and at the Paris peace conference. In January 1919 the Dáil ratified the Irish Republican Army‘s (IRA) claim to be the army of the Irish Republic. The IRA had begun a military campaign coincidentally on the same day as the Dáil’s first sitting with the Soloheadbeg Ambush, and the IRA’s respect for the Dáil’s authority was highly conditional. (The Irish Volunteers began to be referred to as the IRA since their internment at Frongach. Up until the Civil War, the two terms were used interchangeably.)

Minister for Finance

Michael Collins as Minister for Finance.

In 1919 the already busy Collins received yet another responsibility when de Valera appointed him to the Aireacht (ministry) as Minister for Finance.[25] Most of the ministries existed only on paper or as one or two people working in a room of a private house, given the circumstances of a brutal war in which ministers were liable to be arrested or killed by the Royal Irish Constabulary, British Army, Black and Tans or the Auxiliaries at a moment’s notice.

Despite that, Collins managed to produce a Finance Ministry that was able to organise a large bond issue in the form of a “National Loan” to fund the new Irish Republic.[26] According to Batt O’Connor, the Dáil Loan raised almost £400,000, of which £25,000 was in gold. The loan, which was declared illegal by the British, was lodged in the individual bank accounts of the trustees. The gold was kept under the floor of O’Connor’s house until 1922.[27] The Russian Republic, in the midst of its own civil war, ordered Ludwig Martens the head of the Soviet Bureau in New York City to acquire a “national loan” from the Irish Republic through Harry Boland, offering some jewels as collateral. The jewels remained in a Dublin safe, forgotten by all sides, until the 1930s, when they were found by chance.

War of Independence

The Irish War of Independence in effect began on the day that the First Dáil convened, 21 January 1919. On that date, an ambush party of IRA volunteers from the 3rd Tipperary Brigade including Séamus Robinson, Dan Breen, Seán Treacy and Seán Hogan, attacked a pair of Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) men who were escorting a consignment of gelignite to a quarry in Soloheadbeg, County Tipperary. The two policemen were shot dead during the engagement. This ambush is considered the first action in the Irish War of Independence.[28] The engagement had no advance authorisation from the nascent government. However, Collins in Dáil discussion of the incident implicitly accepted responsibility on behalf of the IRB. The legislature’s support for the armed struggle soon after became official.[21][29]

Harry Boland (left), Michael Collins (middle), and Éamon de Valera (right).

From that time Collins filled a number of roles in addition to his legislative duties. That summer he was elected president of the IRB (and therefore, in the doctrine of that organisation, de jure President of the Irish Republic). In September, he was made Director of Intelligence for the Irish Republican Army which now had a mandate to pursue an armed campaign, as the official military of the Irish nation. With Cathal Brugha as Minister of Defense, Collins became Director of Organisation and Adjutant General of the Volunteers.

Collins had spent much of this period helping to organise the volunteers as an effective military force, concentrating particularly on driving the RIC out of isolated barracks and seizing their weapons. In the early 20th century this permanently armed police force was, in effect, the principal representation of the British state in large parts of rural Munster and Connaught and with their withdrawal, republicans felt able to establish their own institutions. In turn, though, the retreat of the RIC drove the British towards more radical and violent responses: simultaneously alienating already weak support for British rule in the populace but also increasing the military pressure on the volunteers.

Collins was determined to avoid the massive destruction, military and civilian losses for merely symbolic victories that had characterised the 1916 Rising. Instead he directed a guerrilla war against the British, suddenly attacking then just as quickly withdrawing, minimising losses and maximising effectiveness.[30][31]

As the war began in earnest, de Valera travelled to the United States for an extended speaking tour to raise funds for the outlawed Republican government. It was in publicity for this tour that de Valera (who had been elected Príomh Aire by the Dáil) was first referred to as “President”. While financially successful, grave political conflicts followed in de Valera’s wake there which threatened the unity of Irish-American support for the rebels. Some members of the IRB also objected to the use of the presidential title because their organisation’s constitution had a different definition of that title.[21][23][32]

Back in Ireland, Collins arranged the “National Loan”, organised the IRA, effectively led the government, and managed arms-smuggling operations. Local guerrilla units received supplies, training and had largely a free hand to develop the war in their own region. These were the “flying columns” who comprised the bulk of the War of Independence rank and file in the south-west. Collins, Dick McKee and regional commanders such as Dan Breen and Tom Barry oversaw tactics and general strategy. There were also regional organisers, such as Ernie O’Malley and Liam Mellows, who reported directly to Collins at St Ita’s secret basement GHQ in central Dublin.[33] They were supported by a vast intelligence network of men and women in all walks of life that reached deep into the British administration in Ireland.[34][35]

Collins inspects a soldier.

It was at this time that Collins created a special assassination unit called The Squad expressly to kill British agents and informers. Collins was criticised for these tactics but cited the universal war-time practice of executing enemy spies who were, in his words, “hunting victims for execution.” Campaigning for Irish independence, even non-violently, was still targeted both by prosecutions under British law entailing the death penalty and also by extrajudicial killings such as that of Tomas MacCurtain, nationalist mayor of Cork City.

In 1920 the British offered a bounty of £10,000 (equivalent to GB£300,000 / €360,000 in 2010) for information leading to Collins’ capture or death. He and the national forces continued to evade capture and carried out strikes against British forces, frequently operating out of safe-houses in the vicinity of government buildings, such as Vaughan’s and An Stad.

The Crown responded with escalation of the war, with the importation of special forces such as the “Auxiliaries“, the “Black and Tans“, the “Cairo Gang“, and others. Officially or unofficially, many of these groups were given a free hand to institute a reign of terror, shooting Irish people indiscriminately, invading homes, looting and burning.[21][36]

In 1920, following Westminster’s prominent announcements that it had the Irish insurgents on the run, Collins and his Squad killed several British secret service agents in a series of coordinated raids. In retaliation, members of the Royal Irish Constabulary went to Croke Park, where a G.A.A. football match was taking place between Dublin and Tipperary. The police officers opened fire on the crowd and as a result, killed twelve and injured sixty. This event became known as Bloody Sunday. A stampede of panicking British operatives sought the shelter of Dublin Castle next day. About the same time, Tom Barry’s 3rd Cork Brigade took no prisoners in a bitter battle with British forces at Kilmichael. In many regions, the RIC and other crown forces became all but confined to the strongest barracks in the larger towns as rural areas came increasingly under rebel control.[37][38]

These republican victories would have been impossible without widespread support from the Irish population, which included every level of society and reached deep into the British administration in Ireland. This pattern of guerrilla success against sophisticated imperialist powers would be repeated around the world in the early 20th century.[39]

At the time of the ceasefire in July 1921 a major operation was allegedly in planning to execute every British secret service agent in Dublin, while a major ambush involving eighty officers and men was also planned for Templeglantine, County Limerick.[21][40]

Truce

In 1921 General Macready, commander of British forces in Ireland, reported to his government that the Empire’s only hope of holding Ireland was by martial law, including the suspension of “all normal life.”[41]

Political considerations regarding Westminster’s global foreign policy ruled out this option: Irish-American public opinion was important to US support for British agendas in Asia. Closer to home, Britain’s efforts at a military solution had already spawned a powerful peace movement, demanding an end to the slaughter in Ireland. Prominent voices calling for negotiations included the Labour Party, the London Times and other leading periodicals, members of the House of Lords, English Catholics, and famous authors such as George Bernard Shaw.[42][43]

Still it was not the British government which initiated negotiations. Individual English activists, including clergy, made private overtures which reached Arthur Griffith. Griffith expressed his welcome for dialogue. The British MP Brigadier General Cockerill sent an open letter to Prime Minister Lloyd George that was printed in the Times, outlining how a peace conference with the Irish should be organised. The Pope made an urgent public appeal for a negotiated end to the violence. Whether or not Lloyd George welcomed such advisors, he could no longer hold out against this tide.[21]

In July, Lloyd George’s government offered a truce. Arrangements were made for a conference between British government and the leaders of the yet-unrecognised Republic.

There remains considerable controversy as to the two sides’ capability to have carried on the conflict much longer. Collins told Hamar Greenwood after signing the Anglo-Irish Treaty: “You had us dead beat. We could not have lasted another three weeks. When we were told of the offer of a truce we were astonished. We thought you must have gone mad”.[44] However he stated on the record that “there will be no compromise and no negotiations with any British Government until Ireland is recognised as an independent republic. The same effort that would get us Dominion Home Rule will get us a republic.”[45] At no time had the Dáil or the IRA asked for a conference or a truce.[46]

However the Dáil as a whole was less uncompromising. It decided to proceed to a peace conference, although it was ascertained in the preliminary stages that a fully independent republic would not be on the table and that the loss of some northeastern counties was a foregone conclusion.[47]

Many of the rebel forces on the ground first heard of the Truce when it was announced in the newspapers and this gave rise to the first fissures in nationalist unity, which were to have serious consequences later on. They felt they had not been included in consultations regarding its terms.[48][49]

De Valera was widely acknowledged as the most skillful negotiator on the Dáil government side and he participated in the initial parlays, agreeing the basis on which talks could begin. The first meetings were held in strict secrecy soon after the Customs House battle, with Andrew Cope representing Dublin Castle’s British authorities. Later, de Valera travelled to London for the first official contact with Lloyd George. The two met one-on-one in a private meeting, the proceedings of which have never been revealed.[21][50]

During this Truce period, de Valera sued for official designation as President of the Irish Republic and obtained it from the Dáil in August 1921.[51] Not long after, the Cabinet was obliged to select the delegation that would travel to the London peace conference and negotiate a treaty. In an extraordinary departure from his usual role, de Valera adamantly declined to attend, insisting instead that Collins should take his place there, along with Arthur Griffith.[52][53]

Collins strenuously resisted this appointment, protesting that he was “a soldier, not a politician” and that his exposure to the London authorities would reduce his effectiveness as a guerrilla leader should hostilities resume. (He had kept his public visibility to a minimum during the conduct of the war; up to this time the British still had very few reliable photographs of him.)[54]

The Cabinet of seven split on the issue, with de Valera casting the deciding vote. Many of Collins’s associates warned him not to go, that he was being set up as a political scapegoat. Following intense soul-searching and all-night consultations with his most trusted advisors, he resolved to attend “in the spirit of a soldier obeying orders.” In private correspondence he foresaw the catastrophe ahead: “Let them make a scapegoat or whatever they like of me. Someone must go.”

Anglo-Irish Treaty

Collins in London as delegate to the Anglo-Irish Treaty negotiations.

The Irish delegates to London were, upon de Valera’s insistence, designated as “plenipotentiaries”, meaning that they had full authority to sign an agreement on behalf of the Dáil government. The Treaty would then be subject to approval by a vote of the full Dáil.

The majority of the Irish Treaty delegates, including Arthur Griffith (leader), Robert Barton and Eamonn Duggan (with Robert Erskine Childers as Secretary General to the delegation) set up headquarters at 22 Hans Place in Knightsbridge on 11 October 1921 and resided there until conclusion of the negotiations in December. Collins shared quarters at 15 Cadogan Gardens with the delegation’s publicity department, secretary Diarmuid O’Hegarty, Joseph McGrath as well as substantial intelligence and bodyguard personnel including Liam Tobin, Tom Cullen, Ned Broy, Emmet Dalton and Joseph Dolan of The Squad.[55]

The British side was represented by PM Lloyd George, Colonial Secretary Winston Churchill and F. E. Smith, among others. Two months of arduous wrangling ensued. The Irish delegation made frequent crossings back to Dublin to make progress reports and confer with their Dáil colleagues. However, Collins in his correspondence and subsequent Dáil debates expressed the delegates’ frustration at being unable to obtain clear instructions as to whether or not they should accept the terms on offer and sign the Treaty.[21][56]

In November, with the London peace talks still in progress, Collins attended a large meeting of regional IRA commanders at Parnell Place in Dublin. In a private conference he informed Liam Deasy, Florence O’Donoghue and Liam Lynch that “there would have to be some compromise in the current negotiations in London. There was no question of our getting all the demands we were making.” He was advised by Lynch not to bring this out in the full assembly. Reviewing subsequent events, Deasy later doubted the wisdom of that advice.[57]

The negotiations ultimately resulted in the Anglo-Irish Treaty which was signed on 6 December 1921. The agreement provided for a Dominion status “Irish Free State“, whose relationship to the British Commonwealth would be modelled after Canada’s. This was a compromise, half-way between an independent republic and a province of the Empire.

The settlement essentially vacated the Treaty of Limerick of 1688 and overturned the Act of Union by recognising the native Irish legislature’s independence. Under a bicameral parliament, executive authority would remain vested in the king but exercised by an Irish government elected by Dáil Éireann as a “lower house“. British forces would depart the Free State forthwith and be replaced by an Irish army. Along with an independent courts system, the Treaty granted a level of internal independence that far exceeded any Home Rule which had been sought by Charles Stewart Parnell or by his Irish Parliamentary Party successors John Redmond and John Dillon.

It was agreed that counties with a large unionist population, concentrated in a relatively small area in eastern Ulster, would have a chance to opt out of the Free State and remain under the Crown. An Irish Boundary Commission was to be established to draw a border (which ultimately came to encompass a six-county region.) Inclusion in the Free State was to be subject to a vote of the majority population in each county. Collins anticipated no more than four counties would join the northeastern statelet, making it economically un-viable, and that this would facilitate the reunification of all 32 counties in the foreseeable future.[58]

While it fell short of the republic that he’d fought to create, Collins concluded that the Treaty offered Ireland “the freedom to achieve freedom.” It essentially offered a chance to remove the gun from Irish politics and to seek further independence through a native government and legislature.[59] Nonetheless, he knew that elements of the Treaty would cause controversy in Ireland. Upon signing the treaty, Birkenhead remarked “I may have signed my political death warrant tonight”. Collins replied “I may have signed my actual death warrant”.[40]

Treaty debates

This remark encapsulated his acknowledgement that the Treaty was a compromise that would be vulnerable to charges of “sell-out” from purist Republicans. It did not establish the fully independent republic that Collins himself had shortly before demanded as a non-negotiable condition. The “physical force republicans” who made up the bulk of the army which had fought the British to a draw would be loath to accept dominion status within the British Empire or an Oath of Allegiance that mentioned the King. Also controversial was the British retention of Treaty Ports on the south coast of Ireland for the Royal Navy. These factors diminished Irish sovereignty and threatened to allow British interference in Ireland’s foreign policy.

Collins and Griffith were well aware of these issues and strove tenaciously, against British resistance, to achieve language which could be accepted by all constituents. They succeeded in obtaining an oath to the Irish Free State, with a subsidiary oath of fidelity to the King, rather than to the king unilaterally.

It is now generally believed that had the nationalist leadership united in support of the Treaty, there would have been no split in the army such as to precipitate civil war. However immediately on the delegation’s return from London, de Valera led a vocal charge against the delegates, whom he called “traitors”.

This was despite the fact that de Valera, the nationalists’ most able negotiator, who had refused strenuous pleas from Collins, Griffith and others to lead the London negotiations in person, had been fully informed of the process at each stage. He had also refused the delegates’ continual requests for instruction, and in fact had been at the centre of the original decision to enter negotiations without the possibility of an independent republic on the table.[21][60]

However, there remains a school of thought which considers de Valera’s protests to have been reasonable and motivated by deep moral objections, and which sees Collins in a negative light, as having irresponsibly signed away the nation’s interests due to incompetence or a self-serving agenda. The Treaty controversy split the entire nationalist movement. Sinn Féin, the Dáil, the IRB and the army each divided into pro- and anti-Treaty factions. The Supreme Council of the IRB had been informed in detail about every facet of the Treaty negotiations and had approved many of its provisions, and they voted unanimously to accept the Treaty with the single notable exception of Liam Lynch, later COS of the anti-Treaty IRA.[61]

The Dáil debated the Treaty bitterly for ten days until it was approved by a vote of 64 to 57.[62] Having lost this vote, de Valera announced his intent to withdraw his participation from the Dáil and called on all deputies who had voted against the Treaty to follow him. A substantial number did so, officially splitting the government. This set the stage for civil war.

A large part of the Irish Republican Army opposed the Treaty. Some followed the political lead of anti-Treaty TDs, others acted on their own convictions, with more or less equal suspicion of politicians in general. Anti-Treaty IRA units began to seize buildings and take other guerrilla actions against the Provisional Government. On 14 April 1922, a group of 200 anti-Treaty IRA men occupied the Four Courts in Dublin under Rory O’Connor, a hero of the War of Independence. The Four Courts was the centre of the Irish courts system, originally under the British and then the Free State. Collins was charged by his Free State colleagues with putting down these insurgents, however he resisted firing on former comrades and staved off a shooting war throughout this period.[63][64]

While the country teetered on the edge of civil war, continuous meetings were carried on among the various factions from January to June 1922. In these discussions the nationalists strove to resolve the issue without armed conflict. Collins and his close associate, TD Harry Boland were among those who worked desperately to heal the rift.[21][65]

To foster military unity, Collins and the IRB established an “army re-unification committee”, including delegates from pro- and anti-Treaty factions. The still-secret Irish Republican Brotherhood continued to meet, fostering dialogue between pro- and anti-Treaty IRA officers. In the IRB’s stormy debates on the subject, Collins held out the Constitution of the new Free State as a possible solution. Collins was then in the process of co-writing that document and was striving to make it a republican constitution that included provisions that would allow anti-Treaty TDs to take their seats in good conscience, without any oath concerning the Crown.[66]

Northern Ireland

After the Treaty was signed, loyalist conservatives combined to wage a violent campaign against Irish nationalist insurgency in the northeastern counties comprising Northern Ireland. The Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) was created at this time, along with the notorious “Specials”: a force of amateur and retired soldiers, who some have claimed were given a free hand to terrorise and kill Catholics.[67][68]

In Northern Ireland there were continual breaches of the Truce by “unauthorised loyalist paramilitary forces”. The predominantly Protestant, Unionists government of Northern Ireland supported policies which discriminated against Catholics in, which, along with violence against Catholics, led many to suggest the presence of an agenda by an Anglo-ascendancy to drive those of indigenous Irish descent out of the northeast counties.[21][69]

At the same time London was stepping up pressure on the Provisional Government to take aggressive military action against anti-Treaty units in the south.

In March, Collins met Sir James Craig, Prime Minister for Northern Ireland, in London. They signed an agreement declaring peace in the north which promised cooperation between Catholics and Protestants in policing and security, a generous budget for restoring Catholics to homes which had been destroyed, and many other measures.[70]

The day after the agreement was published, violence erupted again. A policeman was shot dead in Belfast and in reprisal, police entered Catholic homes nearby and shot residents in their beds, including children. There was no response to Collins’s demands for an inquiry. He and his Cabinet warned that they would deem the agreement broken unless Craig took action.[71]

In his continual correspondence with Churchill over violence in the north, Collins protested repeatedly that such breaches of the Truce threatened to invalidate the Treaty entirely.[72] The prospect of a renewal of the war with England was imminent. The prospect was real enough that on 3 June 1922 Churchill presented to the Committee of Imperial Defense his plans “to protect Ulster from invasion by the South.” [73]

Throughout the early months of 1922, Collins had been sending IRA units to the border and sending arms and money to the northern units of the IRA. Collins joined other IRB and IRA leadership in developing secret plans to launch a clandestine guerrilla war in the northeast. Some British arms that had been surrendered to the Provisional government in Dublin were turned over by Collins to IRA units in the north. In May–June 1922 Collins and IRA Chief of Staff Liam Lynch organised an offensive including both pro- and anti-Treaty IRA units along the border area. Because of this, most northern IRA units supported Collins and 524 individual volunteers came south to join the National Army in the Irish Civil War.

Collins, with the support of Griffith and the Cabinet, kept up a “three-tier strategy of public, political and military pressure” regarding northern outrages.[21] Negotiations with the London and Belfast governments continued, with numerous promises made and broken along the lines of the March 1922 Agreement. Within days of a public commitment by Dublin not to send troops into the northeast, Churchill sent 1000 British troops into a village called Pettigo that straddled the border between the Irish Free State and Northern Ireland. The troops shelled the village and fired on Free State troops, killing three. On 5 June a group of B-Specials sprayed the Mater Hospital in Belfast with machine gun fire. Collins’s demands for a full, joint inquiry were flatly refused by Churchill.[74]

In the midst of all this, Civil War in the south broke out and put Collins’s plans for the north on hold. He was killed before he could pursue them any further.

Provisional government

Michael Collins addresses a crowd in Cork on Saint Patrick’s Day, 1922.

De Valera resigned the presidency and sought re-election but Arthur Griffith replaced him after a close vote on 9 January 1922. Griffith chose as his title “President of Dáil Éireann” (rather than “President of the Republic” as de Valera had favoured.) [75]

The Dáil Éireann government still had no legal status in British constitutional law. The provisions of the Treaty required the formation of a new government, which would be recognised by Westminster as pertaining to the Free State dominion that had established by the Treaty.

Despite the abdication of a large part of the Dáil, the Provisional Government (Rialtas Sealadach na hÉireann) of the new Free State was formed with Arthur Griffith as President of the Dáil and Michael Collins as Chairman of the Provisional Government Cabinet (effectively Prime Minister). Collins also retained his position as Minister for Finance.[76]

In British legal theory Collins was now a Crown-appointed prime minister of a Commonwealth state, installed under the Royal Prerogative. To be so installed he had to formally meet the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland Viscount FitzAlan the head of the British administration in Ireland. The republican view of the same meeting is that Collins met FitzAlan to accept the surrender of Dublin Castle, the official seat of British government in Ireland. Having surrendered, FitzAlan still remained in place as viceroy until December 1922.

The Provisional Government’s first obligation was to create a Constitution for the Free State. This was undertaken by Collins and a team of solicitors. The outcome of their work became the Irish Constitution of 1922.[77] Although revised in the 1930s, the present Constitution of Ireland (Bunreacht na hÉireann [78]) remains largely Collins’s work.

Collins drew up a republican constitution which, without repudiating the Treaty, would include no mention of the British king. His object was that the Constitution would allow participation in the Dáil by dissenting TDs who opposed the Treaty and refused to take any oath mentioning the Crown.

Under the Treaty, the Free State was obliged to submit its new Constitution to Westminster for approval. Upon doing so, in June 1922, Collins and Griffith found Lloyd George determined to veto the provisions they had fashioned to prevent civil war.[79]

These meetings with Lloyd George and Churchill were bitterly contentious. Collins, although less diplomatic than Griffith or de Valera, had no less penetrating comprehension of political issues. He complained that he was being manipulated into “doing Churchill’s dirty work”, in a potential civil war with his own former troops.[80][81]

Pact elections

Negotiations to prevent civil war resulted in, among others, “The Army Document” published in May 1922 which was signed by an equal number of pro- and anti-Treaty IRA officers including Collins, Dan Breen, and Gearóid O’Sullivan. This manifesto declared that “a closing of ranks all round is necessary” to prevent “the greatest catastrophe in Irish history.” It called for new elections, to be followed by the re-unification of the government and army, whatever the result.

In this spirit and with the organising efforts of moderates on both sides the Collins-de Valera “Pact” was created. This pact agreed that new elections to the Dáil would be held with each candidate running as explicitly pro- or anti-Treaty and that, regardless of which side obtained a majority, the two factions would then join to form a coalition government of national unity.

A referendum on the Treaty was also planned but it never took place. The Pact elections on 16 June 1922 therefore comprise the best quantitative record of the Irish public’s direct response to the Treaty. The results were pro-Treaty 58 seats, anti-Treaty 35, Labour Party 17, Independents 7, Farmers party 7, plus 4 Unionists from Trinity College, Dublin.[82]

Assassination of Sir Henry Wilson

Six days after the Pact elections, Sir Henry Wilson was assassinated on 22 June 1922 in broad daylight on the steps of his London home by a pair of London IRA men. A British Army field marshal, Wilson had recently resigned his commission and been elected an MP for Northern Ireland. He had a long history as one of the chief British leaders opposing Collins in the Irish conflict. At that time Wilson had served as military advisor to the Northern Ireland government led by James Craig, in which role he was seen to be responsible for the B-Specials and for other sources of loyalist violence in the north.

The order to shoot Wilson has been attributed to Irish leaders including Collins and Rory O’Connor, but with dubious authority. Although unquestionably killed by the two IRA men—who were captured and confessed—no one has ever taken responsibility for ordering the shooting. While Wilson had certainly been a potential target for Collins’s “Squad” during the War of Independence, all outstanding orders had been summarily cancelled when those forces stood down at the Truce. O’Connor explicitly denied any involvement, as did the IRB on behalf of Collins and Arthur Griffith on behalf of the Provisional Government. No direct statement appears to have been made on the subject by Collins in the two months that he survived Wilson.

The debate concerning Collins’s involvement continued in the 1950s, when a number of statements and rebuttals on the subject were published in periodicals. These were re-printed with additions in Rex Taylor’s 1961 book Assassination: the death of Sir Henry Wilson and the tragedy of Ireland. Participants in that discussion were Joe Dolan, Florence O’Donoghue, Denis P. Kelleher, Patrick O’Sullivan and others.[83][84]

Civil War

Main article: Irish Civil War

Michael Collins gave the order to bombard the Four Courts with artillery shells in an attempt to remove Anti-treaty IRA. This was to be the start of the Irish Civil War.

The death of Sir Henry Wilson caused a furor in London. Powerful conservative voices who had opposed any settlement with the Irish rebels drowned out moderates, with calls for a violent response. Under this pressure, Churchill issued an ultimatum demanding that the Provisional Government end the anti-Treaty occupation of the Four Courts or face a full-scale military invasion.[85]

A few days later, anti-Treaty IRA men kidnapped J.J. “Ginger” O’Connell, a Free State general. These two developments led to the Provisional Government’s 27 June 1922 order serving notice on the Four Courts garrison to surrender the building that night or face military action “at once”.[86]

Collins’ position in this conflict was extraordinary indeed. “A majority perhaps” of the army he’d led in the War of Independence were now ranged against the Free State, which he represented. In addition the force which by the will of the electorate he was obliged to lead had been re-organised since the Truce. Formed from a nucleus of pro-Treaty IRA men, it had evolved into a more formal, structured, uniformed National Army that was armed and funded by Britain. Many of the new members were World War I veterans and others who had not fought on the nationalist side before. It was now ten times the size of the force which had won independence, yet heavily populated with former British Army personnel. Collins’s profoundly mixed feelings about this situation are recorded in his private and official correspondence.[87][88][88][89][90][91]

Michael Collins as Commander-in-Chief of the Irish National Forces.

Artillery was provided to Mulcahy and the Free State Army by the British in anticipation of a siege. Emmet Dalton, a former British officer of Irish origin who was now a leading Free State commander and close associate of Collins, was placed in charge of it.

There is no definite record as to who gave the order to begin shelling the Four Courts. Historians have only presumed that it was Collins. There is only anecdotal evidence as to how and when the ultimatum was served on the anti-Treaty garrison, whether adequate time was allowed the Four Courts men to surrender, or whether shelling began precipitately while the garrison was loading up their arms to leave the building. Further study remains to be done on this most critical event of 1922, which actually started the Civil War in earnest.[91][92]

Fierce fighting broke out in Dublin between the anti-Treaty IRA and the Free State troops. Much of O’Connell Street suffered heavy damage, the Gresham Hotel was burned and the Four Courts reduced to a ruin. Still, under Collins’ direction, the Free State rapidly took control of the capital. By July 1922 anti-Treaty forces held much of the southern province of Munster and several other areas of the country. At the height of their success they administered local government and policing in large regions.[93] Collins, Richard Mulcahy, and Eoin O’Duffy decided on a series of seaborne landings into republican held areas, which re-took Munster and the west in July–August.

Also in July, Collins set aside his title as Chairman of the Provisional Government to become Commander-in-Chief of the National Army.[94] There is controversy about this change, especially in view of subsequent events: what, if anything, it said about his relationship with the Cabinet; what role, if any, others in the government may have played in it; what connection it had, if any, with the tragedy which followed.[91][92]

Civil War peace moves

There is considerable evidence that Collins’s journey to Cork in August 1922 was made in order to meet republican leaders with a view to ending the war.[95][96][97] If so, it would explain a good deal that remains mysterious about the journey.

The question of his involvement in peace negotiations is hotly debated by historians. It has ramifications for opposing political viewpoints about him and especially about his death. If this was a peace mission, it was without any record of official involvement and sanction from the Provisional Government Cabinet. However this is not necessarily out of keeping with the general nature of peace negotiations in wartime. The first contacts with British negotiators had been “a dead secret,” even from many of his associates.[98] Nor was it unknown for Collins to make bold, controversial moves on his own initiative. Private and personal correspondence indicates that there was less than perfect trust and cordiality between Collins and some members of the Dáil. There was considerable friction between ministers on the conduct of the war and the treatment of anti-Treaty combatants.[99]

A remarkable number of meetings that included leading figures on both sides took place in Cork on 21–22 August 1922.[100] In Cork city, Collins met with neutral IRA men Seán O’Hegarty and Florence O’Donoghue with a view to contacting Anti-Treaty IRA leaders Tom Barry and Tom Hales to propose a truce. The anti-Treaty side had called a major convocation of officers to Béal na Bláth, a remote crossroads, with ending the war on the agenda.[101]

Michael Collins and Richard Mulcahy at Arthur Griffith‘s funeral, a few days before Collins’ own death.

De Valera was present there, and his assistant reported that a meeting between him and Collins was planned. The People’s Rights Association, a local initiative in Cork City, had been mediating a discussion of terms between the Provisional Government and the anti-Treaty side for some weeks.[21][102]

Peace terms were detailed in Collins’s correspondence and diary. Republicans would be obliged to “accept the people’s verdict” on the Treaty but could then “go home without their arms. We don’t ask for any surrender of their principles.” This indicates that Collins favoured a policy of amnesty, without sanctions. It is alleged that anti-Treaty veterans of the War of Independence might be offered a choice of taking their place either in Free State Army, in the civil service, or even in clandestine operations against para-militaries in the north.[103]

This is significant in view of the draconian policies, including execution without trial, that were pursued by the Free State government following on the deaths of Collins and Arthur Griffith within days of each other. The deaths of Collins and Griffith marked the end of Free State efforts to reunite the victorious War of Independence forces via a negotiated settlement.[104]

Death

Michael Collins body lying in hospital after he was shot dead at Béal na Bláth.

Collins’s death remains a mystery for a number of reasons. The only witnesses were Free State Army members of his convoy and the anti-Treaty ambushers. As all of these were participants, their accounts may not be objective. No two witnesses’ statements match and many are contradictory.[105] There is no complete record of the people involved and none of the witnesses were ever questioned by the authorities. Their accounts have been handed down through newspapers, biographers, private documents and personal contacts. One version suggests Collins was to meet with De Valera and discuss ways to end the conflicts.[citation needed]

The remainder of this section lists only those facts most generally agreed. Even some of these are disputed in some sources.

In August 1922, the Civil War seemed to be winding down. The Free State had regained control of most of the country and Collins was making frequent trips to inspect areas recently recovered from anti-Treaty forces.[106]

Collins’s grave, Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin

His plan to travel to his native Cork on 20 August was considered particularly dangerous and he was strenuously advised against it by several trusted associates. County Cork was an IRA stronghold, much of it still held by anti-Treaty forces. Yet he seemed determined to make the trip without delay. He had fended off a number of attempts on his life in the preceding weeks and had acknowledged more than once, in private conversation, that the Civil War might end his life at any moment. On several occasions Collins assured his advisors “they won’t shoot me in my own county,” or words to that effect.

On 22 August 1922 Collins set out from Cork City on a circuitous tour of West Cork. He passed first through Macroom then took the Bandon road via Crookstown. This led through Béal na Bláth, an isolated crossroads. There they stopped at a local pub, now known as the The Diamond Bar,[107] to ask a question of a man standing at the crossroad. The man turned out to be an anti-Treaty sentry. He and an associate recognised Collins in the back of the open-top car.[108]

As a result, an ambush was laid by an anti-Treaty column at that point, on the chance that the convoy might come through again on their return journey.[109]

Between 7:30 and 8PM, Collins’ convoy approached Béal na Bláth for the second time. By then most of the ambush party had dispersed and gone for the day, leaving just five or six men on the scene. Two were disarming a mine in the road, while three on a laneway overlooking them, provided cover. A dray cart, placed across the road, remained at the far end of the ambush site.

Shots were exchanged. Collins, who suffered a head wound, was the only fatality. Almost every other detail of what happened is uncertain, due to conflicting reports from participants and other flaws in the record.

A replica of the Crossley Tender in Collins’ convoy on the day of his death in a replica of the road where it happened on display at the Michael Collins Centre, Clonakilty[110]

Some of the details most disputed among the witnesses are: how the shooting started, what kind of fire the convoy came under, where the ambushers’ first shots struck, where Collins was and what he was doing when he was hit, whether anyone else was wounded, whether the armoured car‘s machine gun was fully functional throughout the engagement, who moved Collins’ body, and who was nearby when Collins fell.

Many questions have been raised concerning the handling of Collins’s remains immediately following his death. Among them are the inordinately long time the convoy took to cover the twenty miles back to Cork City, who searched his clothes, and what became of documents he was known to have been carrying on his person (such as his field diary, which did not turn up until decades afterward).

The medical evidence is also lacking. There are imperfect records as to which doctor examined the body; whether an autopsy was performed, and, if so, by whom; which hospital his body was taken to, and why; and, most importantly, what was the precise number and nature of his wounds.

Writers on the subject such as J. Feehan and S.M. Sigerson have called for a full forensic examination of Collins’s remains in order to attempt to settle at least some of these controversies concerning his end.[111][112]

Aftermath

Sean Collins behind the coffin of his brother Michael.

Collins’s body was transported by sea from Cork to Dublin. He lay in state for three days in Dublin City Hall where tens of thousands of mourners filed past his coffin to pay their respects, including many British soldiers departing Ireland who had fought against him. His funeral mass took place at Dublin’s Pro Cathedral where a number of foreign and Irish dignitaries were in attendance. Some 500,000 people attended his funeral, almost one fifth of the country’s population at that time.[21]

No official inquiry was ever undertaken into Collins’s death and consequently there is no official version of what happened, nor are there any authoritative, detailed contemporary records.[113]

Funeral of Michael Collins in the Pro-Cathedral, Dublin (contemporary newspaper depiction of the state funeral)

In this vacuum, independent investigations and conspiracy theorists have put forward a number of suspects as having executed or ordered his death, including an anti-Treaty sharpshooter, members of his own escort, the British secret service, or de Valera himself.

De Valera is alleged to have declared in 1966, “It is my considered opinion that in the fullness of time history will record the greatness of Michael Collins; and it will be recorded at my expense.”[114]

A number of books have been devoted entirely to the study of Collins’ death (in chronological order): The Day Michael Was Shot by Meda Ryan, The Shooting of Michael Collins: Murder or Accident? by John M Feehan, The Dark Secret of Béal na mBláth by Patrick Twohig, and The Assassination of Michael Collins: What Happened at Béal na mBláth? by S.M. Sigerson.

Personal life

Collins on his bicycle.

Collins’s elderly father inspired his fondness and respect for older people. His mother, who had spent her youth caring for her own invalid mother and raising her own brothers and sisters, was a powerful influence. The entire management of the Collins farm fell to her, as her husband succumbed to old age and died. In a society which honoured hospitality as a prime virtue, Mrs Collins was eulogised as “a hostess in ten thousand.” Her five daughters avowedly doted on their youngest brother.[9][21]

The Collins home’s spirit of self-sacrifice, welcome and inclusiveness later proved key in his capacity to unify people of all genders and walks of life and orchestrate them in an effective, enthusiastic, cooperative force for Irish self-determination.[115] Collins’s revolution was also a family affair. He continued to work closely with his brothers throughout the independence struggle and with cousins such as Nancy O’Brien, one of his most important moles in the British administration.[21]

He was very much a “man’s man”, fond of rough-housing and outdoor sports. Having won a local wrestling championship while still a boy, he is said to have made a pastime of challenging larger, older opponents, with frequent success. A very fit, active man throughout life, in the most stressful times he continued to enjoy wrestling as a form of relaxation and valued friendships which afforded opportunities to share athletic pursuits.[21]

Intensely hard-working, Collins could be abrasive, demanding, and sometimes inconsiderate of those around him. Yet he frequently apologised for his own temperament, with gestures such as confectionery and other small gifts, sometimes delivered at great personal risk in Dublin’s wartime environment.[116][117]

Unlike some of his political opponents, he was characterised by many close personal friendships within the movement. It has been justly said that while some were devoted to “the idea of Ireland”, Collins was a people person whose patriotism was rooted in affection and respect for the people of Ireland around him. Among his famous last words is the final entry in his pocket diary, written on the journey which ended his life, “The people are splendid.”[118][119][120]

His personal warmth and charm were combined with an uncanny ability to inspire confidence in a wide range of people. No other Irish leader of the time matched his remarkable ability to recruit people of every kind to the movement, win their trust and loyalty, pinpoint their capacities and unite them in coordinated action that was of maximum value to the cause.[121]

Collins was a complex man whose character abounded in contradictions. Although Minister of Finance and an accountant by pre-war profession, he seems never to have pursued personal profit; indeed was sometimes during the war all but homeless. While clearly fond of command and keen to take charge, he had an equal appetite for input and advice from people at every level of the organisation, prompting the comment that “he took advice from his chauffeur.” [122] Although acknowledged by friends and foes as “head centre” of the movement, he continually chose a title just short of actual head of state; becoming Chairman of the Provisional Government only after the abdication of half the Dáil forced him to do so. While his official and personal correspondence records his solicitous care for the wants of insurgents in need, during the war he showed no hesitation in ordering the death of opponents who threatened nationalist lives.[123]

Certainly a man of fierce pride, his pride was tempered by a sense of humour that included a keen sense of the absurd in his own situation.[124] While mastermind of a clandestine military, he remained a public figure. When official head of the Free State government, he continued to cooperate in the IRA’s secret operations. He was capable of bold, decisive actions on his own authority, which caused friction with his colleagues, his falling out with Cathal Brugha, for example; but at critical junctures he could also bow to majority decisions which were profoundly disadvantageous and dangerous to his own interests (such as his appointment to the Treaty negotiating team.)

These may constitute contradictions in his character. Yet they are also contradictions of the unique position he occupied, in a time of social upheaval, when the usual parameters and paradigms of society are in a state of flux.

Relationships with women

Kitty Kiernan

The formative role of the many strong, competent, loving women around him produced a man who deeply respected women and thrived on female company of all ages. It manifested also in sensitive, nurturing care toward those he was responsible for. His appointment as aide-de-camp to 1916 Rising organiser Joseph Plunkett, whose chronic health problems were a challenge to his presence at the GPO HQ, is indicative of these qualities. Both his official correspondence and countless personal memoires record empathy and sensitivity in his personal attention to the needs and hardships of Volunteers and their families.[21]

Collins’ lifetime exactly coincided with a period of aggressive, mass agitation for women’s rights. The female suffrage movement was in Ireland often closely linked with the campaign for Irish independence. Many proponents belonged to both camps. Full enfranchisement for women became enshrined in the 1916 Proclamation, the legal founding document of the Republic of Ireland. This was the political climate Collins grew up and prospered in. Yet he remained one of the few orators of the time who used gender-inclusive language in his speeches and explicitly acknowledged women’s contributions and concerns on a regular basis therein.[125][126]

Collins’s predecessor in the independence movement, Charles Stuart Parnell, was defeated by a sexual scandal. Collins’s detractors have occasionally attempted to raise similar issues. He was reported to have sown some wild oats during his teen career in London [127] (albeit while living under the roof of an older sister) but no scandal concerning his sexual life has ever been substantiated.

Collins’ intimate connections appear to have been no less healthy, vigorous, and well-conducted than other aspects of his life. His relations with women were affectionate and provided no evidence either of inexperience, excess or aberration.[128][129]

At the same time, he may be said to never have been without female companionship. He carried on relationships and written correspondence with a number of women such as Susan Killeen and “Dilly” Dicker, who also worked with him in positions of great trust during the struggle for independence. Their correspondence shows that they remained on friendly terms until the end of his life.

In 1921-22, he became engaged to Kitty Kiernan and made plans for a normal family life after the war. 241 letters of their voluminous correspondence survive. These provide an important record not only of their intimacy, but also of his daily life.[130]

Their letters detail his exhausting schedule during the concurrent national crisis and also document the challenges the couple faced in finding time together under the circumstances. In so doing they make it quite doubtful that he could have simultaneously devoted much attention to additional liaisons. Allegations of affair(s) with English society women at this same time are unsubstantiated, and fraught with suspicious political connotations. Those concerning Hazel Lavery originate chiefly with that lady herself, and are unsupported by evidence.[131]

Commemoration

Memorial cross at Béal na Bláth.

An annual commemoration ceremony takes place each year in August at the ambush site at Béal na Bláth, County Cork, organised by The Béal na mBláth Commemoration Committee. In 2009, former President of Ireland Mary Robinson gave the oration. In 2010 the Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan, Jnr became the first Fianna Fáil person to give the oration. In 2012 on the 90th anniversary of the death of Collins, the Taoiseach Enda Kenny gave the oration, the first serving head of government to do so.

There is also a remembrance ceremony in Glasnevin Cemetery at Collins’s grave on the anniversary of his death.

The Central Bank of Ireland released gold and silver commemorative coins on 15 August 2012 which feature a portrait of Michael Collins designed by Thomas Ryan based on a photograph taken not long before his death.[132]

Legacy

Love of Ireland by John Lavery.

Collins bequeathed to posterity a considerable body of writing: essays, speeches and tracts, articles and official documents in which he outlined plans for Ireland’s economic and cultural revival, as well as a voluminous correspondence, both official and personal. Selections have been published in The Path to Freedom (Mercier, 1968) and in Michael Collins in His Own Words (Gill & Macmillan, 1997). In the 1960s, Taoiseach Seán Lemass, himself a veteran of the 1916 Rising and War of Independence, credited Collins’s ideas as the basis for his successes in revitalizing Ireland’s economy.

Societies

The Collins 22 Society established in 2002 is an international organisation dedicated to keeping the name and legacy of Michael Collins in living memory. The patron of the society is Ireland’s former Minister for Justice and TD Nora Owen, grand-niece of Michael Collins.

In popular culture

Films

Bust of Michael Collins at Merrion Square Park, Dublin, Ireland.

The 1936 movie Beloved Enemy is a fictionalised account of Collins’s life. Unlike the real Michael Collins, the fictionalised “Dennis Riordan” (played by Brian Aherne) is shot, but recovers. Hang Up Your Brightest Colours, a British documentary by Kenneth Griffith, was made for ITV in 1973, but refused transmission. It was eventually screened by the BBC in Wales in 1993 and across the United Kingdom the following year.

In 1969, Dominic Behan wrote an episode of the UK television series Play for today entitled ‘Michael Collins’. The play dealt with Collins’ attempt to take the gun out of Irish politics and took the perspective of the Republican argument. At the time of writing the script, the troubles had just begun in Northern Ireland and the BBC were reluctant to broadcast the production. An appeal by the author to David Attenborough (Director of Programming for the BBC at that time) resulted in the play eventually being broadcast; Attenborough took the view that the imperatives of free speech could not be compromised in the cause of political expediency.

An Irish documentary made by Colm Connolly for RTÉ Television in 1989 called The Shadow of Béal na Bláth covered Collins’s death. A made-for-TV film, The Treaty, was produced in 1991 and starred Brendan Gleeson as Collins and Ian Bannen as David Lloyd George. In 2007, RTÉ produced a documentary entitled Get Collins, about the intelligence war which took place in Dublin.[133][134]

Collins was the subject of director Neil Jordan‘s 1996 film Michael Collins, with Liam Neeson in the title role. Collins’s great-grandnephew, Aengus O’Malley, played a student in a scene filmed in Marsh’s Library.

In 2005 Cork Opera House commissioned a musical drama about Collins.[135] “Michael Collins” by Brian Flynn had a successful run in 2009 at Cork opera house and later in the Olympia Theatre in Dublin.

Infamous Assassinations, a 2007 British documentary television series, devoted its third episode to the death of Collins.

Songs

Wax figure of Michael Collins at the National Wax Plus Museum, Dublin, Ireland.

Irish-American folk rock band Black 47 recorded a song entitled “The Big Fellah” which was the first track on their 1994 album Home of the Brave. It details Collins’s career, from the Easter Rising to his death at Béal na Bláth. Irish folk band the Wolfe Tones recorded a song titled “Michael Collins” about Collins’s life and death, although it begins when he was about 16 and took a job in London. Celtic metal band Cruachan recorded a song also titled “Michael Collins” on their 2004 album Pagan which dealt with his role in the Civil War, the treaty and his eventual death. Also a song by Johnny McEvoy, simply named “Michael”, depicts Collins’s death and the sadness surrounding his funeral.

The poem “The laughing boy” by Brendan Behan lamenting the death of Collins was translated into Greek in 1961 by Vasilis Rotas. In October of the same year, Mikis Theodorakis composed the song “Tο γελαστό παιδί” (“The laughing boy”) using Rotas’ translation. The song was recorded by Maria Farantouri in 1966 on the album “Ένας όμηρος” (“The hostage”) and became an instant success. It was the soundtrack of the movie Z (1969). “The laughing boy” became the song of protest against the dictatorship in Greece (1967–1974) and remains to date one of the most popular songs in Greek popular culture.

Play

Michael Collins (Irish: Mícheál Ó Coileáin;[2][3] 16 October 1890 – 22 August 1922) was a soldier and politician who was a leading figure in the struggle for Irish independence in the early 20th century. Collins was an Irish revolutionary leader, politician, Minister for Finance, Director of Information, and Teachta Dála (TD) for Cork South in the First Dáil of 1919, Adjutant General, Director of Intelligence, and Director of Organisation and Arms Procurement for the IRA, President of the Irish Republican Brotherhood from November 1920 until his death, and member of the Irish delegation during the Anglo-Irish Treaty negotiations. Subsequently, he was both Chairman of the Provisional Government and Commander-in-chief of the National Army.[1] Collins was shot and killed in an ambush in August 1922 during the Irish Civil War.

Early years

Born in Sam’s Cross, near Clonakilty, County Cork, Collins was the third son and youngest of eight children. Most biographies give his date of birth as 16 October 1890, but his tombstone cites 12 October 1890. Referred to in a British secret service report as “brainy”, the Collins family were part of an ancient clan, widely spread over County Cork. They had republican connections that can be traced back to the 1798 rebellion.[4]

Collins’ father, Michael John (1816–1896), was a farmer by profession. A mathematician in his spare time, he had been a member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) movement. The elder Collins was 60[5] years old when he married Mary Anne O’Brien, then 23,[6] in 1876.[7] The marriage was apparently happy. They brought up eight children on a 90-acre (36 ha) farm called Woodfield, which the Collins had held as tenants for several generations.

On his death bed, his father (who was the seventh son of a seventh son) predicted that his daughter Helena (one of Michael’s elder sisters) would become a nun. She later did, known as Sister Mary Celestine, based in Whitby.[8] He then turned to the family and told them to take care of Michael, because “One day he’ll be a great man. He’ll do great work for Ireland.” Michael was six years old when his father died.[9]

Michael Collins at the age of 8 with his family.

Collins was a bright and precocious child with a fiery temper and a passionate feeling of Irish nationalism. He named a local blacksmith, James Santry, and his headmaster at Lisavaird National School, Denis Lyons, as the first nationalists to personally inspire his “pride of Irishness.” Lyons was a member of the IRB, while Santry’s family had participated in, and forged arms for, the rebellions of 1798, 1848 and 1867.[4][10]

There are a number of anecdotal explanations for the origin of his nickname, “The Big Fellow”. The most authoritative comes from his family, stating that he was so called by them while still a child. It had been a term of endearment for their youngest brother, who was always keen to take on tasks beyond his years. It was certainly already established by his teens, long before he emerged as a political or military leader.[11]

At the age of thirteen he boarded at Clonakilty National School. During the week he stayed with his sister Margaret Collins-O’Driscoll and her husband Patrick O’Driscoll, while at weekends he returned to the family farm. Patrick O’Driscoll founded the newspaper The West Cork People and Collins helped out with general reporting jobs and preparing the issues of the newspaper.[12]

Collins as a young recruit.

After leaving school at fifteen, Collins took the British Civil Service examination in Cork in February 1906,[13] and was then employed by the Royal Mail.[14] In 1906, he moved to the home of his elder sister Hannie (Johanna) in London where he became a messenger at a London firm of stockbrokers, Horne and Company.[13] While living in London he studied law at King’s College London.[15] He joined the London GAA and, through this, the IRB. Sam Maguire, a republican from Dunmanway, County Cork, introduced the 19-year-old Collins to the IRB.[16] In 1915 he moved to the Guaranty Trust Company of New York where he remained until his return to Ireland the following year[17] joining part-time Craig Gardiner & Co, a firm of accountants in Dawson Street, Dublin.[18]

Easter Rising

The struggle for Home Rule, along with labour unrest, had led to the formation in 1913 of two major nationalist paramilitary groups who would launch the Easter Rising: the Irish Citizen Army was established by James Connolly and the Irish Transport and General Workers Union (ITGWU), to protect strikers from the Dublin Metropolitan Police during the 1913 Dublin Lockout. The Irish Volunteers were created in the same year by the IRB and other nationalists in response to the formation of the Ulster Volunteers (UVF), an Ulster loyalist body pledged to oppose Home Rule by force.

An organiser of considerable intelligence, Collins had become highly respected in the IRB. This led to his appointment as financial advisor to Count Plunkett, father of one of the Easter Rising‘s organisers, Joseph Mary Plunkett. Collins took part in preparing arms and drilling troops for the insurrection.

The Rising would be Collins’ first appearance in national events. When it commenced on Easter Monday 1916, Collins served as Plunkett’s aide-de-camp at the rebellion’s headquarters in the General Post Office (GPO) in Dublin. There he fought alongside Patrick Pearse, James Connolly, and other members of the Rising leadership. The Rising is generally acknowledged to have been a military disaster, yet the insurgents achieved their goal of holding their positions for the minimum time required to justify a claim to independence under international criteria.[19]

Captured Irish soldiers in Stafford Gaol after the failed Easter Rising. Collins is fifth from the right with an ‘x’ over his head.

Arrested along with thousands of other participants, Collins was subsequently imprisoned at Frongoch internment camp in Wales.

Collins first began to emerge as a major figure in the vacuum created by the executions of the 1916 leadership. He began hatching plans for “next time” even before the prison ships left Dublin.[20]

At Frongoch he was one of the organisers of a program of protest and non-cooperation with authorities, similar to that later carried on by IRA internees of the 1980s. The camp proved an excellent opportunity for networking with physical-force republicans from all over the country, of which he became a key organiser.[21][22]

While some celebrated the fact that a rising had happened at all, believing in Pearse’s theory of “blood sacrifice” (namely that the deaths of the Rising’s leaders would inspire others), Collins railed against the military blunders made, such as the seizure of indefensible and very vulnerable positions like St Stephen’s Green, which were impossible to escape from and difficult to supply. Public outcry placed pressure on the British government to end the internment. In December 1916, the Frongoch prisoners were sent home.

1917–1918

Before his death, Tom Clarke, first signatory of the 1916 Proclamation and widely considered the Rising’s foremost organiser, had designated his wife Kathleen (Daly) Clarke as the official caretaker of Rising official business, in the event that the leadership did not survive. By June 1916, Mrs. Clarke had sent out the first post-Rising communiqué to the IRB, declaring the Rising to be only the beginning and directing nationalists to prepare for “the next blow.” Soon after his release Mrs Clarke appointed Collins Secretary to the National Aid and Volunteers Dependents Fund (NAVDF) and subsequently passed on to him the secret organisational information and contacts which she had held in trust for the independence movement.

Michael Collins and Arthur Griffith

Collins became one of the leading figures in the post-Rising independence movement spearheaded by Arthur Griffith, editor/publisher of the main nationalist newspaper The United Irishman, (which Collins had read avidly as a boy.) [21] Griffith’s organisation Sinn Féin had been founded in 1905 as an umbrella group to unify all the various factions within the nationalist movement.

Under Griffith’s policy, Collins and other advocates of the “physical-force” approach to independence gained the cooperation of non-violent Sinn Féin, while agreeing to disagree with Griffith’s moderate ideas of a dual monarchy solution based on the Hungarian model.[23] The British government and mainstream Irish media had wrongly blamed Sinn Féin for the Rising. This attracted Rising participants to join the organisation in order to exploit the reputation with which such British propaganda had imbued the organisation. By October 1917 Collins had risen to become a member of the executive of Sinn Féin and director of organisation for the Irish Volunteers. Éamon de Valera, another veteran of 1916, stood for the presidency of Sinn Féin against Griffith, who stepped aside and supported de Valera’s presidency.[23]

First Dáil

Members of the First Dáil
First row, left to right: Laurence Ginnell, Michael Collins, Cathal Brugha, Arthur Griffith, Éamon de Valera, Count Plunkett, Eoin MacNeill, W. T. Cosgrave, Kevin O’Higgins (third row, right)

In the 1918 general election Sinn Féin swept the polls throughout much of Ireland, with many seats uncontested, and formed an overwhelming parliamentary majority in Ireland. Like many senior Sinn Féin representatives Collins was elected as an MP (for Cork South) with the right to sit in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom in London. Unlike their rivals in the Irish Parliamentary Party (IPP), Sinn Féin MPs had announced that they would not take their seats in Westminster but instead would set up an Irish Parliament in Dublin.[24]

Before the new body’s first meeting, Collins, tipped off by his network of spies, warned his colleagues of plans to arrest all its members in overnight raids. De Valera and others ignored the warnings on the argument that, if the arrests happened, they would constitute a propaganda coup. The intelligence proved accurate and de Valera, along with Sinn Féin MPs who followed his advice, were arrested; Collins and others evaded incarceration.

The new parliament, called Dáil Éireann (meaning “Assembly of Ireland”, see First Dáil) met in the Mansion House, Dublin in January 1919. In de Valera’s absence, Cathal Brugha was elected Príomh Aire (‘First’ or ‘Prime’ Minister but often translated as ‘President of Dáil Éireann’). The following April, Collins engineered de Valera’s escape from Lincoln Prison in England, after which Brugha was replaced by de Valera.

No state gave diplomatic recognition to the 1919 Republic, despite sustained lobbying in Washington by de Valera and prominent Irish-Americans and at the Paris peace conference. In January 1919 the Dáil ratified the Irish Republican Army‘s (IRA) claim to be the army of the Irish Republic. The IRA had begun a military campaign coincidentally on the same day as the Dáil’s first sitting with the Soloheadbeg Ambush, and the IRA’s respect for the Dáil’s authority was highly conditional. (The Irish Volunteers began to be referred to as the IRA since their internment at Frongach. Up until the Civil War, the two terms were used interchangeably.)

Minister for Finance

Michael Collins as Minister for Finance.

In 1919 the already busy Collins received yet another responsibility when de Valera appointed him to the Aireacht (ministry) as Minister for Finance.[25] Most of the ministries existed only on paper or as one or two people working in a room of a private house, given the circumstances of a brutal war in which ministers were liable to be arrested or killed by the Royal Irish Constabulary, British Army, Black and Tans or the Auxiliaries at a moment’s notice.

Despite that, Collins managed to produce a Finance Ministry that was able to organise a large bond issue in the form of a “National Loan” to fund the new Irish Republic.[26] According to Batt O’Connor, the Dáil Loan raised almost £400,000, of which £25,000 was in gold. The loan, which was declared illegal by the British, was lodged in the individual bank accounts of the trustees. The gold was kept under the floor of O’Connor’s house until 1922.[27] The Russian Republic, in the midst of its own civil war, ordered Ludwig Martens the head of the Soviet Bureau in New York City to acquire a “national loan” from the Irish Republic through Harry Boland, offering some jewels as collateral. The jewels remained in a Dublin safe, forgotten by all sides, until the 1930s, when they were found by chance.

War of Independence

The Irish War of Independence in effect began on the day that the First Dáil convened, 21 January 1919. On that date, an ambush party of IRA volunteers from the 3rd Tipperary Brigade including Séamus Robinson, Dan Breen, Seán Treacy and Seán Hogan, attacked a pair of Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) men who were escorting a consignment of gelignite to a quarry in Soloheadbeg, County Tipperary. The two policemen were shot dead during the engagement. This ambush is considered the first action in the Irish War of Independence.[28] The engagement had no advance authorisation from the nascent government. However, Collins in Dáil discussion of the incident implicitly accepted responsibility on behalf of the IRB. The legislature’s support for the armed struggle soon after became official.[21][29]

Harry Boland (left), Michael Collins (middle), and Éamon de Valera (right).

From that time Collins filled a number of roles in addition to his legislative duties. That summer he was elected president of the IRB (and therefore, in the doctrine of that organisation, de jure President of the Irish Republic). In September, he was made Director of Intelligence for the Irish Republican Army which now had a mandate to pursue an armed campaign, as the official military of the Irish nation. With Cathal Brugha as Minister of Defense, Collins became Director of Organisation and Adjutant General of the Volunteers.

Collins had spent much of this period helping to organise the volunteers as an effective military force, concentrating particularly on driving the RIC out of isolated barracks and seizing their weapons. In the early 20th century this permanently armed police force was, in effect, the principal representation of the British state in large parts of rural Munster and Connaught and with their withdrawal, republicans felt able to establish their own institutions. In turn, though, the retreat of the RIC drove the British towards more radical and violent responses: simultaneously alienating already weak support for British rule in the populace but also increasing the military pressure on the volunteers.

Collins was determined to avoid the massive destruction, military and civilian losses for merely symbolic victories that had characterised the 1916 Rising. Instead he directed a guerrilla war against the British, suddenly attacking then just as quickly withdrawing, minimising losses and maximising effectiveness.[30][31]

As the war began in earnest, de Valera travelled to the United States for an extended speaking tour to raise funds for the outlawed Republican government. It was in publicity for this tour that de Valera (who had been elected Príomh Aire by the Dáil) was first referred to as “President”. While financially successful, grave political conflicts followed in de Valera’s wake there which threatened the unity of Irish-American support for the rebels. Some members of the IRB also objected to the use of the presidential title because their organisation’s constitution had a different definition of that title.[21][23][32]

Back in Ireland, Collins arranged the “National Loan”, organised the IRA, effectively led the government, and managed arms-smuggling operations. Local guerrilla units received supplies, training and had largely a free hand to develop the war in their own region. These were the “flying columns” who comprised the bulk of the War of Independence rank and file in the south-west. Collins, Dick McKee and regional commanders such as Dan Breen and Tom Barry oversaw tactics and general strategy. There were also regional organisers, such as Ernie O’Malley and Liam Mellows, who reported directly to Collins at St Ita’s secret basement GHQ in central Dublin.[33] They were supported by a vast intelligence network of men and women in all walks of life that reached deep into the British administration in Ireland.[34][35]

Collins inspects a soldier.

It was at this time that Collins created a special assassination unit called The Squad expressly to kill British agents and informers. Collins was criticised for these tactics but cited the universal war-time practice of executing enemy spies who were, in his words, “hunting victims for execution.” Campaigning for Irish independence, even non-violently, was still targeted both by prosecutions under British law entailing the death penalty and also by extrajudicial killings such as that of Tomas MacCurtain, nationalist mayor of Cork City.

In 1920 the British offered a bounty of £10,000 (equivalent to GB£300,000 / €360,000 in 2010) for information leading to Collins’ capture or death. He and the national forces continued to evade capture and carried out strikes against British forces, frequently operating out of safe-houses in the vicinity of government buildings, such as Vaughan’s and An Stad.

The Crown responded with escalation of the war, with the importation of special forces such as the “Auxiliaries“, the “Black and Tans“, the “Cairo Gang“, and others. Officially or unofficially, many of these groups were given a free hand to institute a reign of terror, shooting Irish people indiscriminately, invading homes, looting and burning.[21][36]

In 1920, following Westminster’s prominent announcements that it had the Irish insurgents on the run, Collins and his Squad killed several British secret service agents in a series of coordinated raids. In retaliation, members of the Royal Irish Constabulary went to Croke Park, where a G.A.A. football match was taking place between Dublin and Tipperary. The police officers opened fire on the crowd and as a result, killed twelve and injured sixty. This event became known as Bloody Sunday. A stampede of panicking British operatives sought the shelter of Dublin Castle next day. About the same time, Tom Barry’s 3rd Cork Brigade took no prisoners in a bitter battle with British forces at Kilmichael. In many regions, the RIC and other crown forces became all but confined to the strongest barracks in the larger towns as rural areas came increasingly under rebel control.[37][38]

These republican victories would have been impossible without widespread support from the Irish population, which included every level of society and reached deep into the British administration in Ireland. This pattern of guerrilla success against sophisticated imperialist powers would be repeated around the world in the early 20th century.[39]

At the time of the ceasefire in July 1921 a major operation was allegedly in planning to execute every British secret service agent in Dublin, while a major ambush involving eighty officers and men was also planned for Templeglantine, County Limerick.[21][40]

Truce

In 1921 General Macready, commander of British forces in Ireland, reported to his government that the Empire’s only hope of holding Ireland was by martial law, including the suspension of “all normal life.”[41]

Political considerations regarding Westminster’s global foreign policy ruled out this option: Irish-American public opinion was important to US support for British agendas in Asia. Closer to home, Britain’s efforts at a military solution had already spawned a powerful peace movement, demanding an end to the slaughter in Ireland. Prominent voices calling for negotiations included the Labour Party, the London Times and other leading periodicals, members of the House of Lords, English Catholics, and famous authors such as George Bernard Shaw.[42][43]

Still it was not the British government which initiated negotiations. Individual English activists, including clergy, made private overtures which reached Arthur Griffith. Griffith expressed his welcome for dialogue. The British MP Brigadier General Cockerill sent an open letter to Prime Minister Lloyd George that was printed in the Times, outlining how a peace conference with the Irish should be organised. The Pope made an urgent public appeal for a negotiated end to the violence. Whether or not Lloyd George welcomed such advisors, he could no longer hold out against this tide.[21]

In July, Lloyd George’s government offered a truce. Arrangements were made for a conference between British government and the leaders of the yet-unrecognised Republic.

There remains considerable controversy as to the two sides’ capability to have carried on the conflict much longer. Collins told Hamar Greenwood after signing the Anglo-Irish Treaty: “You had us dead beat. We could not have lasted another three weeks. When we were told of the offer of a truce we were astonished. We thought you must have gone mad”.[44] However he stated on the record that “there will be no compromise and no negotiations with any British Government until Ireland is recognised as an independent republic. The same effort that would get us Dominion Home Rule will get us a republic.”[45] At no time had the Dáil or the IRA asked for a conference or a truce.[46]

However the Dáil as a whole was less uncompromising. It decided to proceed to a peace conference, although it was ascertained in the preliminary stages that a fully independent republic would not be on the table and that the loss of some northeastern counties was a foregone conclusion.[47]

Many of the rebel forces on the ground first heard of the Truce when it was announced in the newspapers and this gave rise to the first fissures in nationalist unity, which were to have serious consequences later on. They felt they had not been included in consultations regarding its terms.[48][49]

De Valera was widely acknowledged as the most skillful negotiator on the Dáil government side and he participated in the initial parlays, agreeing the basis on which talks could begin. The first meetings were held in strict secrecy soon after the Customs House battle, with Andrew Cope representing Dublin Castle’s British authorities. Later, de Valera travelled to London for the first official contact with Lloyd George. The two met one-on-one in a private meeting, the proceedings of which have never been revealed.[21][50]

During this Truce period, de Valera sued for official designation as President of the Irish Republic and obtained it from the Dáil in August 1921.[51] Not long after, the Cabinet was obliged to select the delegation that would travel to the London peace conference and negotiate a treaty. In an extraordinary departure from his usual role, de Valera adamantly declined to attend, insisting instead that Collins should take his place there, along with Arthur Griffith.[52][53]

Collins strenuously resisted this appointment, protesting that he was “a soldier, not a politician” and that his exposure to the London authorities would reduce his effectiveness as a guerrilla leader should hostilities resume. (He had kept his public visibility to a minimum during the conduct of the war; up to this time the British still had very few reliable photographs of him.)[54]

The Cabinet of seven split on the issue, with de Valera casting the deciding vote. Many of Collins’s associates warned him not to go, that he was being set up as a political scapegoat. Following intense soul-searching and all-night consultations with his most trusted advisors, he resolved to attend “in the spirit of a soldier obeying orders.” In private correspondence he foresaw the catastrophe ahead: “Let them make a scapegoat or whatever they like of me. Someone must go.”

Anglo-Irish Treaty

Collins in London as delegate to the Anglo-Irish Treaty negotiations.

The Irish delegates to London were, upon de Valera’s insistence, designated as “plenipotentiaries”, meaning that they had full authority to sign an agreement on behalf of the Dáil government. The Treaty would then be subject to approval by a vote of the full Dáil.

The majority of the Irish Treaty delegates, including Arthur Griffith (leader), Robert Barton and Eamonn Duggan (with Robert Erskine Childers as Secretary General to the delegation) set up headquarters at 22 Hans Place in Knightsbridge on 11 October 1921 and resided there until conclusion of the negotiations in December. Collins shared quarters at 15 Cadogan Gardens with the delegation’s publicity department, secretary Diarmuid O’Hegarty, Joseph McGrath as well as substantial intelligence and bodyguard personnel including Liam Tobin, Tom Cullen, Ned Broy, Emmet Dalton and Joseph Dolan of The Squad.[55]

The British side was represented by PM Lloyd George, Colonial Secretary Winston Churchill and F. E. Smith, among others. Two months of arduous wrangling ensued. The Irish delegation made frequent crossings back to Dublin to make progress reports and confer with their Dáil colleagues. However, Collins in his correspondence and subsequent Dáil debates expressed the delegates’ frustration at being unable to obtain clear instructions as to whether or not they should accept the terms on offer and sign the Treaty.[21][56]

In November, with the London peace talks still in progress, Collins attended a large meeting of regional IRA commanders at Parnell Place in Dublin. In a private conference he informed Liam Deasy, Florence O’Donoghue and Liam Lynch that “there would have to be some compromise in the current negotiations in London. There was no question of our getting all the demands we were making.” He was advised by Lynch not to bring this out in the full assembly. Reviewing subsequent events, Deasy later doubted the wisdom of that advice.[57]

The negotiations ultimately resulted in the Anglo-Irish Treaty which was signed on 6 December 1921. The agreement provided for a Dominion status “Irish Free State“, whose relationship to the British Commonwealth would be modelled after Canada’s. This was a compromise, half-way between an independent republic and a province of the Empire.

The settlement essentially vacated the Treaty of Limerick of 1688 and overturned the Act of Union by recognising the native Irish legislature’s independence. Under a bicameral parliament, executive authority would remain vested in the king but exercised by an Irish government elected by Dáil Éireann as a “lower house“. British forces would depart the Free State forthwith and be replaced by an Irish army. Along with an independent courts system, the Treaty granted a level of internal independence that far exceeded any Home Rule which had been sought by Charles Stewart Parnell or by his Irish Parliamentary Party successors John Redmond and John Dillon.

It was agreed that counties with a large unionist population, concentrated in a relatively small area in eastern Ulster, would have a chance to opt out of the Free State and remain under the Crown. An Irish Boundary Commission was to be established to draw a border (which ultimately came to encompass a six-county region.) Inclusion in the Free State was to be subject to a vote of the majority population in each county. Collins anticipated no more than four counties would join the northeastern statelet, making it economically un-viable, and that this would facilitate the reunification of all 32 counties in the foreseeable future.[58]

While it fell short of the republic that he’d fought to create, Collins concluded that the Treaty offered Ireland “the freedom to achieve freedom.” It essentially offered a chance to remove the gun from Irish politics and to seek further independence through a native government and legislature.[59] Nonetheless, he knew that elements of the Treaty would cause controversy in Ireland. Upon signing the treaty, Birkenhead remarked “I may have signed my political death warrant tonight”. Collins replied “I may have signed my actual death warrant”.[40]

Treaty debates

This remark encapsulated his acknowledgement that the Treaty was a compromise that would be vulnerable to charges of “sell-out” from purist Republicans. It did not establish the fully independent republic that Collins himself had shortly before demanded as a non-negotiable condition. The “physical force republicans” who made up the bulk of the army which had fought the British to a draw would be loath to accept dominion status within the British Empire or an Oath of Allegiance that mentioned the King. Also controversial was the British retention of Treaty Ports on the south coast of Ireland for the Royal Navy. These factors diminished Irish sovereignty and threatened to allow British interference in Ireland’s foreign policy.

Collins and Griffith were well aware of these issues and strove tenaciously, against British resistance, to achieve language which could be accepted by all constituents. They succeeded in obtaining an oath to the Irish Free State, with a subsidiary oath of fidelity to the King, rather than to the king unilaterally.

It is now generally believed that had the nationalist leadership united in support of the Treaty, there would have been no split in the army such as to precipitate civil war. However immediately on the delegation’s return from London, de Valera led a vocal charge against the delegates, whom he called “traitors”.

This was despite the fact that de Valera, the nationalists’ most able negotiator, who had refused strenuous pleas from Collins, Griffith and others to lead the London negotiations in person, had been fully informed of the process at each stage. He had also refused the delegates’ continual requests for instruction, and in fact had been at the centre of the original decision to enter negotiations without the possibility of an independent republic on the table.[21][60]

However, there remains a school of thought which considers de Valera’s protests to have been reasonable and motivated by deep moral objections, and which sees Collins in a negative light, as having irresponsibly signed away the nation’s interests due to incompetence or a self-serving agenda. The Treaty controversy split the entire nationalist movement. Sinn Féin, the Dáil, the IRB and the army each divided into pro- and anti-Treaty factions. The Supreme Council of the IRB had been informed in detail about every facet of the Treaty negotiations and had approved many of its provisions, and they voted unanimously to accept the Treaty with the single notable exception of Liam Lynch, later COS of the anti-Treaty IRA.[61]

The Dáil debated the Treaty bitterly for ten days until it was approved by a vote of 64 to 57.[62] Having lost this vote, de Valera announced his intent to withdraw his participation from the Dáil and called on all deputies who had voted against the Treaty to follow him. A substantial number did so, officially splitting the government. This set the stage for civil war.

A large part of the Irish Republican Army opposed the Treaty. Some followed the political lead of anti-Treaty TDs, others acted on their own convictions, with more or less equal suspicion of politicians in general. Anti-Treaty IRA units began to seize buildings and take other guerrilla actions against the Provisional Government. On 14 April 1922, a group of 200 anti-Treaty IRA men occupied the Four Courts in Dublin under Rory O’Connor, a hero of the War of Independence. The Four Courts was the centre of the Irish courts system, originally under the British and then the Free State. Collins was charged by his Free State colleagues with putting down these insurgents, however he resisted firing on former comrades and staved off a shooting war throughout this period.[63][64]

While the country teetered on the edge of civil war, continuous meetings were carried on among the various factions from January to June 1922. In these discussions the nationalists strove to resolve the issue without armed conflict. Collins and his close associate, TD Harry Boland were among those who worked desperately to heal the rift.[21][65]

To foster military unity, Collins and the IRB established an “army re-unification committee”, including delegates from pro- and anti-Treaty factions. The still-secret Irish Republican Brotherhood continued to meet, fostering dialogue between pro- and anti-Treaty IRA officers. In the IRB’s stormy debates on the subject, Collins held out the Constitution of the new Free State as a possible solution. Collins was then in the process of co-writing that document and was striving to make it a republican constitution that included provisions that would allow anti-Treaty TDs to take their seats in good conscience, without any oath concerning the Crown.[66]

Northern Ireland

After the Treaty was signed, loyalist conservatives combined to wage a violent campaign against Irish nationalist insurgency in the northeastern counties comprising Northern Ireland. The Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) was created at this time, along with the notorious “Specials”: a force of amateur and retired soldiers, who some have claimed were given a free hand to terrorise and kill Catholics.[67][68]

In Northern Ireland there were continual breaches of the Truce by “unauthorised loyalist paramilitary forces”. The predominantly Protestant, Unionists government of Northern Ireland supported policies which discriminated against Catholics in, which, along with violence against Catholics, led many to suggest the presence of an agenda by an Anglo-ascendancy to drive those of indigenous Irish descent out of the northeast counties.[21][69]

At the same time London was stepping up pressure on the Provisional Government to take aggressive military action against anti-Treaty units in the south.

In March, Collins met Sir James Craig, Prime Minister for Northern Ireland, in London. They signed an agreement declaring peace in the north which promised cooperation between Catholics and Protestants in policing and security, a generous budget for restoring Catholics to homes which had been destroyed, and many other measures.[70]

The day after the agreement was published, violence erupted again. A policeman was shot dead in Belfast and in reprisal, police entered Catholic homes nearby and shot residents in their beds, including children. There was no response to Collins’s demands for an inquiry. He and his Cabinet warned that they would deem the agreement broken unless Craig took action.[71]

In his continual correspondence with Churchill over violence in the north, Collins protested repeatedly that such breaches of the Truce threatened to invalidate the Treaty entirely.[72] The prospect of a renewal of the war with England was imminent. The prospect was real enough that on 3 June 1922 Churchill presented to the Committee of Imperial Defense his plans “to protect Ulster from invasion by the South.” [73]

Throughout the early months of 1922, Collins had been sending IRA units to the border and sending arms and money to the northern units of the IRA. Collins joined other IRB and IRA leadership in developing secret plans to launch a clandestine guerrilla war in the northeast. Some British arms that had been surrendered to the Provisional government in Dublin were turned over by Collins to IRA units in the north. In May–June 1922 Collins and IRA Chief of Staff Liam Lynch organised an offensive including both pro- and anti-Treaty IRA units along the border area. Because of this, most northern IRA units supported Collins and 524 individual volunteers came south to join the National Army in the Irish Civil War.

Collins, with the support of Griffith and the Cabinet, kept up a “three-tier strategy of public, political and military pressure” regarding northern outrages.[21] Negotiations with the London and Belfast governments continued, with numerous promises made and broken along the lines of the March 1922 Agreement. Within days of a public commitment by Dublin not to send troops into the northeast, Churchill sent 1000 British troops into a village called Pettigo that straddled the border between the Irish Free State and Northern Ireland. The troops shelled the village and fired on Free State troops, killing three. On 5 June a group of B-Specials sprayed the Mater Hospital in Belfast with machine gun fire. Collins’s demands for a full, joint inquiry were flatly refused by Churchill.[74]

In the midst of all this, Civil War in the south broke out and put Collins’s plans for the north on hold. He was killed before he could pursue them any further.

Provisional government

Michael Collins addresses a crowd in Cork on Saint Patrick’s Day, 1922.

De Valera resigned the presidency and sought re-election but Arthur Griffith replaced him after a close vote on 9 January 1922. Griffith chose as his title “President of Dáil Éireann” (rather than “President of the Republic” as de Valera had favoured.) [75]

The Dáil Éireann government still had no legal status in British constitutional law. The provisions of the Treaty required the formation of a new government, which would be recognised by Westminster as pertaining to the Free State dominion that had established by the Treaty.

Despite the abdication of a large part of the Dáil, the Provisional Government (Rialtas Sealadach na hÉireann) of the new Free State was formed with Arthur Griffith as President of the Dáil and Michael Collins as Chairman of the Provisional Government Cabinet (effectively Prime Minister). Collins also retained his position as Minister for Finance.[76]

In British legal theory Collins was now a Crown-appointed prime minister of a Commonwealth state, installed under the Royal Prerogative. To be so installed he had to formally meet the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland Viscount FitzAlan the head of the British administration in Ireland. The republican view of the same meeting is that Collins met FitzAlan to accept the surrender of Dublin Castle, the official seat of British government in Ireland. Having surrendered, FitzAlan still remained in place as viceroy until December 1922.

The Provisional Government’s first obligation was to create a Constitution for the Free State. This was undertaken by Collins and a team of solicitors. The outcome of their work became the Irish Constitution of 1922.[77] Although revised in the 1930s, the present Constitution of Ireland (Bunreacht na hÉireann [78]) remains largely Collins’s work.

Collins drew up a republican constitution which, without repudiating the Treaty, would include no mention of the British king. His object was that the Constitution would allow participation in the Dáil by dissenting TDs who opposed the Treaty and refused to take any oath mentioning the Crown.

Under the Treaty, the Free State was obliged to submit its new Constitution to Westminster for approval. Upon doing so, in June 1922, Collins and Griffith found Lloyd George determined to veto the provisions they had fashioned to prevent civil war.[79]

These meetings with Lloyd George and Churchill were bitterly contentious. Collins, although less diplomatic than Griffith or de Valera, had no less penetrating comprehension of political issues. He complained that he was being manipulated into “doing Churchill’s dirty work”, in a potential civil war with his own former troops.[80][81]

Pact elections

Negotiations to prevent civil war resulted in, among others, “The Army Document” published in May 1922 which was signed by an equal number of pro- and anti-Treaty IRA officers including Collins, Dan Breen, and Gearóid O’Sullivan. This manifesto declared that “a closing of ranks all round is necessary” to prevent “the greatest catastrophe in Irish history.” It called for new elections, to be followed by the re-unification of the government and army, whatever the result.

In this spirit and with the organising efforts of moderates on both sides the Collins-de Valera “Pact” was created. This pact agreed that new elections to the Dáil would be held with each candidate running as explicitly pro- or anti-Treaty and that, regardless of which side obtained a majority, the two factions would then join to form a coalition government of national unity.

A referendum on the Treaty was also planned but it never took place. The Pact elections on 16 June 1922 therefore comprise the best quantitative record of the Irish public’s direct response to the Treaty. The results were pro-Treaty 58 seats, anti-Treaty 35, Labour Party 17, Independents 7, Farmers party 7, plus 4 Unionists from Trinity College, Dublin.[82]

Assassination of Sir Henry Wilson

Six days after the Pact elections, Sir Henry Wilson was assassinated on 22 June 1922 in broad daylight on the steps of his London home by a pair of London IRA men. A British Army field marshal, Wilson had recently resigned his commission and been elected an MP for Northern Ireland. He had a long history as one of the chief British leaders opposing Collins in the Irish conflict. At that time Wilson had served as military advisor to the Northern Ireland government led by James Craig, in which role he was seen to be responsible for the B-Specials and for other sources of loyalist violence in the north.

The order to shoot Wilson has been attributed to Irish leaders including Collins and Rory O’Connor, but with dubious authority. Although unquestionably killed by the two IRA men—who were captured and confessed—no one has ever taken responsibility for ordering the shooting. While Wilson had certainly been a potential target for Collins’s “Squad” during the War of Independence, all outstanding orders had been summarily cancelled when those forces stood down at the Truce. O’Connor explicitly denied any involvement, as did the IRB on behalf of Collins and Arthur Griffith on behalf of the Provisional Government. No direct statement appears to have been made on the subject by Collins in the two months that he survived Wilson.

The debate concerning Collins’s involvement continued in the 1950s, when a number of statements and rebuttals on the subject were published in periodicals. These were re-printed with additions in Rex Taylor’s 1961 book Assassination: the death of Sir Henry Wilson and the tragedy of Ireland. Participants in that discussion were Joe Dolan, Florence O’Donoghue, Denis P. Kelleher, Patrick O’Sullivan and others.[83][84]

Civil War

Main article: Irish Civil War

Michael Collins gave the order to bombard the Four Courts with artillery shells in an attempt to remove Anti-treaty IRA. This was to be the start of the Irish Civil War.

The death of Sir Henry Wilson caused a furor in London. Powerful conservative voices who had opposed any settlement with the Irish rebels drowned out moderates, with calls for a violent response. Under this pressure, Churchill issued an ultimatum demanding that the Provisional Government end the anti-Treaty occupation of the Four Courts or face a full-scale military invasion.[85]

A few days later, anti-Treaty IRA men kidnapped J.J. “Ginger” O’Connell, a Free State general. These two developments led to the Provisional Government’s 27 June 1922 order serving notice on the Four Courts garrison to surrender the building that night or face military action “at once”.[86]

Collins’ position in this conflict was extraordinary indeed. “A majority perhaps” of the army he’d led in the War of Independence were now ranged against the Free State, which he represented. In addition the force which by the will of the electorate he was obliged to lead had been re-organised since the Truce. Formed from a nucleus of pro-Treaty IRA men, it had evolved into a more formal, structured, uniformed National Army that was armed and funded by Britain. Many of the new members were World War I veterans and others who had not fought on the nationalist side before. It was now ten times the size of the force which had won independence, yet heavily populated with former British Army personnel. Collins’s profoundly mixed feelings about this situation are recorded in his private and official correspondence.[87][88][88][89][90][91]

Michael Collins as Commander-in-Chief of the Irish National Forces.

Artillery was provided to Mulcahy and the Free State Army by the British in anticipation of a siege. Emmet Dalton, a former British officer of Irish origin who was now a leading Free State commander and close associate of Collins, was placed in charge of it.

There is no definite record as to who gave the order to begin shelling the Four Courts. Historians have only presumed that it was Collins. There is only anecdotal evidence as to how and when the ultimatum was served on the anti-Treaty garrison, whether adequate time was allowed the Four Courts men to surrender, or whether shelling began precipitately while the garrison was loading up their arms to leave the building. Further study remains to be done on this most critical event of 1922, which actually started the Civil War in earnest.[91][92]

Fierce fighting broke out in Dublin between the anti-Treaty IRA and the Free State troops. Much of O’Connell Street suffered heavy damage, the Gresham Hotel was burned and the Four Courts reduced to a ruin. Still, under Collins’ direction, the Free State rapidly took control of the capital. By July 1922 anti-Treaty forces held much of the southern province of Munster and several other areas of the country. At the height of their success they administered local government and policing in large regions.[93] Collins, Richard Mulcahy, and Eoin O’Duffy decided on a series of seaborne landings into republican held areas, which re-took Munster and the west in July–August.

Also in July, Collins set aside his title as Chairman of the Provisional Government to become Commander-in-Chief of the National Army.[94] There is controversy about this change, especially in view of subsequent events: what, if anything, it said about his relationship with the Cabinet; what role, if any, others in the government may have played in it; what connection it had, if any, with the tragedy which followed.[91][92]

Civil War peace move

There is considerable evidence that Collins’s journey to Cork in August 1922 was made in order to meet republican leaders with a view to ending the war.[95][96][97] If so, it would explain a good deal that remains mysterious about the journey.

The question of his involvement in peace negotiations is hotly debated by historians. It has ramifications for opposing political viewpoints about him and especially about his death. If this was a peace mission, it was without any record of official involvement and sanction from the Provisional Government Cabinet. However this is not necessarily out of keeping with the general nature of peace negotiations in wartime. The first contacts with British negotiators had been “a dead secret,” even from many of his associates.[98] Nor was it unknown for Collins to make bold, controversial moves on his own initiative. Private and personal correspondence indicates that there was less than perfect trust and cordiality between Collins and some members of the Dáil. There was considerable friction between ministers on the conduct of the war and the treatment of anti-Treaty combatants.[99]

A remarkable number of meetings that included leading figures on both sides took place in Cork on 21–22 August 1922.[100] In Cork city, Collins met with neutral IRA men Seán O’Hegarty and Florence O’Donoghue with a view to contacting Anti-Treaty IRA leaders Tom Barry and Tom Hales to propose a truce. The anti-Treaty side had called a major convocation of officers to Béal na Bláth, a remote crossroads, with ending the war on the agenda.[101]

Michael Collins and Richard Mulcahy at Arthur Griffith‘s funeral, a few days before Collins’ own death.

De Valera was present there, and his assistant reported that a meeting between him and Collins was planned. The People’s Rights Association, a local initiative in Cork City, had been mediating a discussion of terms between the Provisional Government and the anti-Treaty side for some weeks.[21][102]

Peace terms were detailed in Collins’s correspondence and diary. Republicans would be obliged to “accept the people’s verdict” on the Treaty but could then “go home without their arms. We don’t ask for any surrender of their principles.” This indicates that Collins favoured a policy of amnesty, without sanctions. It is alleged that anti-Treaty veterans of the War of Independence might be offered a choice of taking their place either in Free State Army, in the civil service, or even in clandestine operations against para-militaries in the north.[103]

This is significant in view of the draconian policies, including execution without trial, that were pursued by the Free State government following on the deaths of Collins and Arthur Griffith within days of each other. The deaths of Collins and Griffith marked the end of Free State efforts to reunite the victorious War of Independence forces via a negotiated settlement.[104]

Death

Michael Collins body lying in hospital after he was shot dead at Béal na Bláth.

Collins’s death remains a mystery for a number of reasons. The only witnesses were Free State Army members of his convoy and the anti-Treaty ambushers. As all of these were participants, their accounts may not be objective. No two witnesses’ statements match and many are contradictory.[105] There is no complete record of the people involved and none of the witnesses were ever questioned by the authorities. Their accounts have been handed down through newspapers, biographers, private documents and personal contacts. One version suggests Collins was to meet with De Valera and discuss ways to end the conflicts.[citation needed]

The remainder of this section lists only those facts most generally agreed. Even some of these are disputed in some sources.

In August 1922, the Civil War seemed to be winding down. The Free State had regained control of most of the country and Collins was making frequent trips to inspect areas recently recovered from anti-Treaty forces.[106]

Collins’s grave, Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin

His plan to travel to his native Cork on 20 August was considered particularly dangerous and he was strenuously advised against it by several trusted associates. County Cork was an IRA stronghold, much of it still held by anti-Treaty forces. Yet he seemed determined to make the trip without delay. He had fended off a number of attempts on his life in the preceding weeks and had acknowledged more than once, in private conversation, that the Civil War might end his life at any moment. On several occasions Collins assured his advisors “they won’t shoot me in my own county,” or words to that effect.

On 22 August 1922 Collins set out from Cork City on a circuitous tour of West Cork. He passed first through Macroom then took the Bandon road via Crookstown. This led through Béal na Bláth, an isolated crossroads. There they stopped at a local pub, now known as the The Diamond Bar,[107] to ask a question of a man standing at the crossroad. The man turned out to be an anti-Treaty sentry. He and an associate recognised Collins in the back of the open-top car.[108]

As a result, an ambush was laid by an anti-Treaty column at that point, on the chance that the convoy might come through again on their return journey.[109]

Between 7:30 and 8PM, Collins’ convoy approached Béal na Bláth for the second time. By then most of the ambush party had dispersed and gone for the day, leaving just five or six men on the scene. Two were disarming a mine in the road, while three on a laneway overlooking them, provided cover. A dray cart, placed across the road, remained at the far end of the ambush site.

Shots were exchanged. Collins, who suffered a head wound, was the only fatality. Almost every other detail of what happened is uncertain, due to conflicting reports from participants and other flaws in the record.

A replica of the Crossley Tender in Collins’ convoy on the day of his death in a replica of the road where it happened on display at the Michael Collins Centre, Clonakilty[110]

Some of the details most disputed among the witnesses are: how the shooting started, what kind of fire the convoy came under, where the ambushers’ first shots struck, where Collins was and what he was doing when he was hit, whether anyone else was wounded, whether the armoured car‘s machine gun was fully functional throughout the engagement, who moved Collins’ body, and who was nearby when Collins fell.

Many questions have been raised concerning the handling of Collins’s remains immediately following his death. Among them are the inordinately long time the convoy took to cover the twenty miles back to Cork City, who searched his clothes, and what became of documents he was known to have been carrying on his person (such as his field diary, which did not turn up until decades afterward).

The medical evidence is also lacking. There are imperfect records as to which doctor examined the body; whether an autopsy was performed, and, if so, by whom; which hospital his body was taken to, and why; and, most importantly, what was the precise number and nature of his wounds.

Writers on the subject such as J. Feehan and S.M. Sigerson have called for a full forensic examination of Collins’s remains in order to attempt to settle at least some of these controversies concerning his end.[111][112]

Aftermath

Sean Collins behind the coffin of his brother Michael.

Collins’s body was transported by sea from Cork to Dublin. He lay in state for three days in Dublin City Hall where tens of thousands of mourners filed past his coffin to pay their respects, including many British soldiers departing Ireland who had fought against him. His funeral mass took place at Dublin’s Pro Cathedral where a number of foreign and Irish dignitaries were in attendance. Some 500,000 people attended his funeral, almost one fifth of the country’s population at that time.[21]

No official inquiry was ever undertaken into Collins’s death and consequently there is no official version of what happened, nor are there any authoritative, detailed contemporary records.[113]

Funeral of Michael Collins in the Pro-Cathedral, Dublin (contemporary newspaper depiction of the state funeral)

In this vacuum, independent investigations and conspiracy theorists have put forward a number of suspects as having executed or ordered his death, including an anti-Treaty sharpshooter, members of his own escort, the British secret service, or de Valera himself.

De Valera is alleged to have declared in 1966, “It is my considered opinion that in the fullness of time history will record the greatness of Michael Collins; and it will be recorded at my expense.”[114]

A number of books have been devoted entirely to the study of Collins’ death (in chronological order): The Day Michael Was Shot by Meda Ryan, The Shooting of Michael Collins: Murder or Accident? by John M Feehan, The Dark Secret of Béal na mBláth by Patrick Twohig, and The Assassination of Michael Collins: What Happened at Béal na mBláth? by S.M. Sigerson.

Personal life

Collins on his bicycle.

Collins’s elderly father inspired his fondness and respect for older people. His mother, who had spent her youth caring for her own invalid mother and raising her own brothers and sisters, was a powerful influence. The entire management of the Collins farm fell to her, as her husband succumbed to old age and died. In a society which honoured hospitality as a prime virtue, Mrs Collins was eulogised as “a hostess in ten thousand.” Her five daughters avowedly doted on their youngest brother.[9][21]

The Collins home’s spirit of self-sacrifice, welcome and inclusiveness later proved key in his capacity to unify people of all genders and walks of life and orchestrate them in an effective, enthusiastic, cooperative force for Irish self-determination.[115] Collins’s revolution was also a family affair. He continued to work closely with his brothers throughout the independence struggle and with cousins such as Nancy O’Brien, one of his most important moles in the British administration.[21]

He was very much a “man’s man”, fond of rough-housing and outdoor sports. Having won a local wrestling championship while still a boy, he is said to have made a pastime of challenging larger, older opponents, with frequent success. A very fit, active man throughout life, in the most stressful times he continued to enjoy wrestling as a form of relaxation and valued friendships which afforded opportunities to share athletic pursuits.[21]

Intensely hard-working, Collins could be abrasive, demanding, and sometimes inconsiderate of those around him. Yet he frequently apologised for his own temperament, with gestures such as confectionery and other small gifts, sometimes delivered at great personal risk in Dublin’s wartime environment.[116][117]

Unlike some of his political opponents, he was characterised by many close personal friendships within the movement. It has been justly said that while some were devoted to “the idea of Ireland”, Collins was a people person whose patriotism was rooted in affection and respect for the people of Ireland around him. Among his famous last words is the final entry in his pocket diary, written on the journey which ended his life, “The people are splendid.”[118][119][120]

His personal warmth and charm were combined with an uncanny ability to inspire confidence in a wide range of people. No other Irish leader of the time matched his remarkable ability to recruit people of every kind to the movement, win their trust and loyalty, pinpoint their capacities and unite them in coordinated action that was of maximum value to the cause.[121]

Collins was a complex man whose character abounded in contradictions. Although Minister of Finance and an accountant by pre-war profession, he seems never to have pursued personal profit; indeed was sometimes during the war all but homeless. While clearly fond of command and keen to take charge, he had an equal appetite for input and advice from people at every level of the organisation, prompting the comment that “he took advice from his chauffeur.” [122] Although acknowledged by friends and foes as “head centre” of the movement, he continually chose a title just short of actual head of state; becoming Chairman of the Provisional Government only after the abdication of half the Dáil forced him to do so. While his official and personal correspondence records his solicitous care for the wants of insurgents in need, during the war he showed no hesitation in ordering the death of opponents who threatened nationalist lives.[123]

Certainly a man of fierce pride, his pride was tempered by a sense of humour that included a keen sense of the absurd in his own situation.[124] While mastermind of a clandestine military, he remained a public figure. When official head of the Free State government, he continued to cooperate in the IRA’s secret operations. He was capable of bold, decisive actions on his own authority, which caused friction with his colleagues, his falling out with Cathal Brugha, for example; but at critical junctures he could also bow to majority decisions which were profoundly disadvantageous and dangerous to his own interests (such as his appointment to the Treaty negotiating team.)

These may constitute contradictions in his character. Yet they are also contradictions of the unique position he occupied, in a time of social upheaval, when the usual parameters and paradigms of society are in a state of flux.

Relationships with women

Kitty Kiernan

The formative role of the many strong, competent, loving women around him produced a man who deeply respected women and thrived on female company of all ages. It manifested also in sensitive, nurturing care toward those he was responsible for. His appointment as aide-de-camp to 1916 Rising organiser Joseph Plunkett, whose chronic health problems were a challenge to his presence at the GPO HQ, is indicative of these qualities. Both his official correspondence and countless personal memoires record empathy and sensitivity in his personal attention to the needs and hardships of Volunteers and their families.[21]

Collins’ lifetime exactly coincided with a period of aggressive, mass agitation for women’s rights. The female suffrage movement was in Ireland often closely linked with the campaign for Irish independence. Many proponents belonged to both camps. Full enfranchisement for women became enshrined in the 1916 Proclamation, the legal founding document of the Republic of Ireland. This was the political climate Collins grew up and prospered in. Yet he remained one of the few orators of the time who used gender-inclusive language in his speeches and explicitly acknowledged women’s contributions and concerns on a regular basis therein.[125][126]

Collins’s predecessor in the independence movement, Charles Stuart Parnell, was defeated by a sexual scandal. Collins’s detractors have occasionally attempted to raise similar issues. He was reported to have sown some wild oats during his teen career in London [127] (albeit while living under the roof of an older sister) but no scandal concerning his sexual life has ever been substantiated.

Collins’ intimate connections appear to have been no less healthy, vigorous, and well-conducted than other aspects of his life. His relations with women were affectionate and provided no evidence either of inexperience, excess or aberration.[128][129]

At the same time, he may be said to never have been without female companionship. He carried on relationships and written correspondence with a number of women such as Susan Killeen and “Dilly” Dicker, who also worked with him in positions of great trust during the struggle for independence. Their correspondence shows that they remained on friendly terms until the end of his life.

In 1921-22, he became engaged to Kitty Kiernan and made plans for a normal family life after the war. 241 letters of their voluminous correspondence survive. These provide an important record not only of their intimacy, but also of his daily life.[130]

Their letters detail his exhausting schedule during the concurrent national crisis and also document the challenges the couple faced in finding time together under the circumstances. In so doing they make it quite doubtful that he could have simultaneously devoted much attention to additional liaisons. Allegations of affair(s) with English society women at this same time are unsubstantiated, and fraught with suspicious political connotations. Those concerning Hazel Lavery originate chiefly with that lady herself, and are unsupported by evidence.[131]

Commemoration

Memorial cross at Béal na Bláth.

An annual commemoration ceremony takes place each year in August at the ambush site at Béal na Bláth, County Cork, organised by The Béal na mBláth Commemoration Committee. In 2009, former President of Ireland Mary Robinson gave the oration. In 2010 the Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan, Jnr became the first Fianna Fáil person to give the oration. In 2012 on the 90th anniversary of the death of Collins, the Taoiseach Enda Kenny gave the oration, the first serving head of government to do so.

There is also a remembrance ceremony in Glasnevin Cemetery at Collins’s grave on the anniversary of his death.

The Central Bank of Ireland released gold and silver commemorative coins on 15 August 2012 which feature a portrait of Michael Collins designed by Thomas Ryan based on a photograph taken not long before his death.[132]

Legacy

Love of Ireland by John Lavery.

Collins bequeathed to posterity a considerable body of writing: essays, speeches and tracts, articles and official documents in which he outlined plans for Ireland’s economic and cultural revival, as well as a voluminous correspondence, both official and personal. Selections have been published in The Path to Freedom (Mercier, 1968) and in Michael Collins in His Own Words (Gill & Macmillan, 1997). In the 1960s, Taoiseach Seán Lemass, himself a veteran of the 1916 Rising and War of Independence, credited Collins’s ideas as the basis for his successes in revitalizing Ireland’s economy.

Societies

The Collins 22 Society established in 2002 is an international organisation dedicated to keeping the name and legacy of Michael Collins in living memory. The patron of the society is Ireland’s former Minister for Justice and TD Nora Owen, grand-niece of Michael Collins.

In popular culture

Films

Bust of Michael Collins at Merrion Square Park, Dublin, Ireland.

The 1936 movie Beloved Enemy is a fictionalised account of Collins’s life. Unlike the real Michael Collins, the fictionalised “Dennis Riordan” (played by Brian Aherne) is shot, but recovers. Hang Up Your Brightest Colours, a British documentary by Kenneth Griffith, was made for ITV in 1973, but refused transmission. It was eventually screened by the BBC in Wales in 1993 and across the United Kingdom the following year.

In 1969, Dominic Behan wrote an episode of the UK television series Play for today entitled ‘Michael Collins’. The play dealt with Collins’ attempt to take the gun out of Irish politics and took the perspective of the Republican argument. At the time of writing the script, the troubles had just begun in Northern Ireland and the BBC were reluctant to broadcast the production. An appeal by the author to David Attenborough (Director of Programming for the BBC at that time) resulted in the play eventually being broadcast; Attenborough took the view that the imperatives of free speech could not be compromised in the cause of political expediency.

An Irish documentary made by Colm Connolly for RTÉ Television in 1989 called The Shadow of Béal na Bláth covered Collins’s death. A made-for-TV film, The Treaty, was produced in 1991 and starred Brendan Gleeson as Collins and Ian Bannen as David Lloyd George. In 2007, RTÉ produced a documentary entitled Get Collins, about the intelligence war which took place in Dublin.[133][134]

Collins was the subject of director Neil Jordan‘s 1996 film Michael Collins, with Liam Neeson in the title role. Collins’s great-grandnephew, Aengus O’Malley, played a student in a scene filmed in Marsh’s Library.

In 2005 Cork Opera House commissioned a musical drama about Collins.[135] “Michael Collins” by Brian Flynn had a successful run in 2009 at Cork opera house and later in the Olympia Theatre in Dublin.

Infamous Assassinations, a 2007 British documentary television series, devoted its third episode to the death of Collins.

Songs

Wax figure of Michael Collins at the National Wax Plus Museum, Dublin, Ireland.

Irish-American folk rock band Black 47 recorded a song entitled “The Big Fellah” which was the first track on their 1994 album Home of the Brave. It details Collins’s career, from the Easter Rising to his death at Béal na Bláth. Irish folk band the Wolfe Tones recorded a song titled “Michael Collins” about Collins’s life and death, although it begins when he was about 16 and took a job in London. Celtic metal band Cruachan recorded a song also titled “Michael Collins” on their 2004 album Pagan which dealt with his role in the Civil War, the treaty and his eventual death. Also a song by Johnny McEvoy, simply named “Michael”, depicts Collins’s death and the sadness surrounding his funeral.

The poem “The laughing boy” by Brendan Behan lamenting the death of Collins was translated into Greek in 1961 by Vasilis Rotas. In October of the same year, Mikis Theodorakis composed the song “Tο γελαστό παιδί” (“The laughing boy”) using Rotas’ translation. The song was recorded by Maria Farantouri in 1966 on the album “Ένας όμηρος” (“The hostage”) and became an instant success. It was the soundtrack of the movie Z (1969). “The laughing boy” became the song of protest against the dictatorship in Greece (1967–1974) and remains to date one of the most popular songs in Greek popular culture.

 

Murrough of the Burnings and the massacre at Cashel

Posted by Jim on August 16, 2016

The Sack of Cashel (also known as the Massacre of Cashel) was a
notorious atrocity which occurred in County Tipperary in the year 1647.

The town of Cashel was held by the Irish Catholic Confederate’s Munster
army and was besieged and taken by an English Protestant Parliamentarian
army under the Baron of Inchiquin, Murrough O’Brien. The attack and
subsequent sack of Cashel was one of the more brutal incidents of the
wars of the 1640s in Ireland.

In 1642, most of the province of Munster was under the control of Irish
Catholic forces with the exception of Cork city and a few towns along
the south coast, which were in the hands of Protestant, largely English
settlers. Since then, the province had been fought over by the
Catholics, organised in the Catholic Confederation, and the Protestants,
led by the Earl of Inchiquin.

The political and military situation was further fragmented by the
English Civil War, in which the Catholics gave their support to King
Charles I, and the Protestants, since 1643, to the English Parliament.
What was more, the Confederate Catholics were themselves split over the
terms on which they should sign a peace deal with the King. A deep rift
developed within their ranks in 1647 between those who were prepared to
accept a mere toleration of Catholicism in return for an alliance with
the English Royalists and those who in effect wanted Ireland to be
Catholic kingdom, albeit under sovereignty of the Stuart monarchy. This
infighting was to fatally hamper the war effort of the Confederates in
Munster and make possible the Protestant sack of Cashel.

In the summer of 1647 the Baron of Inchiquin, the Irish Protestant
commander of the Protestant army of Cork, commenced a campaign against
the Irish Catholic strongholds in Munster. The counties of Limerick and
Clare were raided and he soon turned his attention to the bountiful
eastern counties of Munster. In early September, his forces quickly took
the Castle of Cahir in Tipperary. This strong castle was well positioned
to become a base for the Cork Protestant army, and it was used to raid
and devastate the surrounding countryside.

Inchiquin had already launched two minor raids against Cashel, but the
Irish defenders were unprepared for a major assault. The Parliamentarian
forces first stormed nearby Roche Castle, putting fifty warders to the
sword. This attack terrified the local inhabitants of the region, some
of whom fled to hiding places, while hundreds of others fled promptly to
the Rock of Cashel, a stronger place than the town itself.

Arriving with his army at the Rock, Inchiquin called for surrender
within an hour. The defenders of the churchyard offered to negotiate,
but that was refused, and on the afternoon of the 15th of September the
assault commenced. The attack was led by around 150 dismounted horse
officers (who wore more armour than the foot) with the remainder of the
infantry following; troops of horse rode along the flanks of the
advancing force to encourage the infantry. The Irish soldiers attempted
to drive off the attackers with pikes while the civilians inside hurled
rocks down from the walls: in turn the attackers hurled firebrands into
the compound, setting some of the buildings inside on fire. Although
many were wounded, the Parliamentarians gradually fought their way over
the walls, pushing the garrison into the church.

Initially, the Irish defenders managed to protect the Church, holding
off the attackers trying to get through the doors, but the
Parliamentarians then placed numerous ladders against the many windows
in the church and swarmed the building. For another half an hour
fighting raged inside the church, until the depleted defenders retreated
up the bell tower. Only sixty soldiers of the garrison remained at this
point, and they thus accepted a call to surrender. However, after they
had descended the tower and thrown their swords away, all were killed.

In the end all the soldiers and most of the civilians on the Rock were
killed by the attackers. The Bishop and Mayor of Cashel along with a few
others survived by taking shelter in a secret hiding place. Apart from
these a few women were spared, after being stripped of their clothes,
and a small number of wealthy civilians were taken prisoner, but these
were the exceptions. Overall, close to 1,000 were killed, amongst them
catholic scholar Theobald Stapleton. The bodies in the churchyard were
described by a witness as being five or six deep.

The slaughter was followed by extensive plunder. There was much of value
inside, for apart from pictures, chalices and vestments of the church,
many of the slain civilians had also brought their valuables with them.
The sword and mace of the mayor of Cashel, as well as the coach of the
bishop were captured. The plunder was accompanied by acts of iconoclasm,
with statues smashed and pictures defaced. The deserted town of Cashel
was also torched.

The atrocity at Cashel caused a deep impact in Ireland, as it was the
worst single atrocity committed in Ireland since the start of fighting
in 1641 and took place at one of the chief holy places of Ireland. The
slaughter of the garrison at Cashel and the subsequent devastation of
Catholic held Munster earned Inchiquin the Irish nickname, Murchadh na
Dóiteáin or “Murrough of the Burnings”.

Up Coming events for the AOH

Posted by Jim on August 14, 2016

 Saturday August 20th  –
 Annual Maryland 400 Commemoration.  (Beginnning of Battle of Brooklyn Week)
 Ceremony at 11 am, Michael Rawley American Legion post on 9th Street btw 3rd & 4th Ave.
 Followed by Memorial march to the Old Stone House (Battlesite) led by lone bagpiper, and followed by Ceremony and Wreath Laying.
Saturday August 20th –
Our Lady of Knock/Queen of Ireland Mass
At Holy Name Church, 245 Prospect Park West (9th Ave).  5:00 pm Rosary & Crowning of our Lady.  5:30 pm mass.  Followed by Rose Laying at the Unborn Memorial; Knock Video presentation; Refreshments in Shepherd’s Hall.
Tuesday August 23rd  –
Irish Night on Shore Road  7:00 pm
The park located at Shore Road and 79th Street.  Concert with The Canny Brothers and the Clann Erin Band.  The Kings County AOH and LAOH will have a recruitment tent.  Asking for available members to attend and man the tent if you can.  Bring a chair and refreshments.
Sunday – August 28th –
Closing Ceremonies of Battle of Brooklyn Week in Green-wood Cemetery
Meet at the Archway  (5th Ave & 25th St) Memorial March led by lone Bagpiper.  Ceremony at the Minerva Monument.  Tributes to several Irish/Irish-American figures of history.  This is a very interesting event.  I have attended several in the past years.
Saturday September 10th –
Irish Heritage Trail & Irish Patriots Day
Noon Mass at the Green-wood Cemetery Chapel.  Mass is for Irish Korean War Veterans.  Followed by tributes to Ed Cush, Organizer of the Kings County Memorial Day Parade.  Refreshments to follow at the Chapel.  Followed by the Irish Heritage Trail to Memorials & Gravesites of Irish History.  Transportation provided by the Green-Wood Trolley between the Irish Patriots sites.  Also, a very informative event.
Thursday September 15th –
Great Irish Fair Kick Off  7:00 pm
At St. Francis College.  $60.  Tickets in advance can be purchased, go to the IABS website. Information about the Fair will be announced a this event.  Keep in mind, three AOH Members will be honorees this year.  John Manning will receive the Celtic Cross award, Danny Prince will receive the Timothy Stackpole award and Linda Gallagher-Lomanto will receive the Round Tower award. The Colleen Queen is Katie Byrnes of the O’Malley Dance School.
Saturday September 17th –
AOH Div 21 Golf Tournament
Riis Park Pitch and Putt.  $95 for Golfers.  $40 After Party only.  Party at Point Breeze Clubhouse 2-6 pm.  8:30 am bagels and coffee, 9:00 am Shotgun Start.  Proceeds go to Special Athletes of St. Camillus.
Contact Mark Edwards for reservations and/or sponsorship.
Saturday September 17th –
Family BBQ
Knights of Columbus Columbus Council is having a Family BBQ.  From Noon to 6:00 pm.  Individuals is $15 and $30 for a family.  Tons of food and beverages.  DJ and a face painter/balloon art/caricaturist.
Saturday September 17th –
Fight Night
Knights of Columbus Columbus Council and MSGR. Cafiero Council is having a fundraiser right after the Family BBQ.  Showing the live PPV Fights that night.  Proceeds go to the family of SK Joseph P. Murphy, a proud Knight and proud Hibernian.  $35 pp, includes heros, beer, wine and some good fights to watch.  RSVP Kevin Smylie 347-236-0948, Al Velez 917-648-6511 or Jennifer Smylie 347-452-5672.
Saturday September 24th –
The Great Irish Fair
This is a one day event.  We will be having a recruitment tent.  Asking my Hibernian Brothers to assist and man the tent, even for a couple of hours.  Location is at the Ford Amphitheater in Coney Island.
Monday September 26th –
Kings County Board meeting
The meeting will start at 7:30 pm.  Location is at the Baile na nGael.
Saturday October 1st – AOH Queens County Dinner Dance
This will be at Russo’s on the Bay.  More to follow.  I would like to get a table from Brooklyn, if at all possible Brothers.
More to follow shortly
Friday October 14th –
AOH Div 35 Annual Dinner Dance
Dinner Dance will be at the Columbus Council.  $40, includes music by DJ Vinny, An open bar and Buffett.
This night we will honor Eddie Velinskie as “Hibernian of the Year”.  For reservations, please call PP John O’Farrell at 718-252-4214 or President Ed Murphy at 718-375-2282.  Asking all County Officers to attend, and all Div 35 members to attend and our Hibernian Brothers of all Divisions to attend.  If you know Eddie, you know how hard he works for our Order and the numerous other Organizations he volunteers his services for.  Truly a worthy recipient.

Tyrone AOH Press Release

Posted by Jim on August 11, 2016

 Silly Season Morrow

Maurice Morrow is lending a whole new dimension to the term “Silly Season”, a reference to media stories during the slow news days of the summer months.

Anyone who bothers to listen to the American radio show in which our President gave an interview will acknowledge that it bears no correlation whatsoever to Morrow’s accusations. He needs to get his facts right. His statement is not only off the wall, but we feel should also be investigated for its slanderous hate-filled content.

We suspect that Morrow’s real gripe is with the up-coming “Hibernian Day” parade in Kinturk, Co Tyrone on September 11th in which the Ancient Order of Hibernians will honour the 400th anniversary of the death in exile of the great Gaelic Irish leader Hugh O’Neill. Our pride in recalling the events of that time is leaving the likes of Morrow deeply uncomfortable.

Lawyers for Gerry McGeough Press Statement

Posted by Jim on

Lawyers for high-profile Republican Gerry McGeough have confirmed that an application to the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) has been accepted and is under active investigation.

Solicitor Aiden Carlin explained: “If successful this case will be referred back to the Court of Appeal in Belfast. To that end we are instructed to make a plea for responsible and accurate media reporting. In recent days there have been a number of misleading articles which contain significant inaccuracies about a United States radio interview our client gave last weekend.”

Aiden Carlin Solicitor continued: “Contrary to press standards, no journalist contacted Gerry McGeough requesting his comments on the interview before reporting on it. Instead, articles have been published in newspapers and online which are not based on the facts. By way of example, Maurice Morrow MLA stated in a press release ‘it should be noted at no time he had the courage to take the stand himself.’ The truth is Gerry McGeough and the late William Plum Smith both give evidence during his Crown Court trial in support of an abuse of process application by the defence. Questions remain unanswered as to why none of the six Judges here who heard evidence and made rulings on various aspects of our client’s case received the ‘On The Runs’ material made public through John Downey’s case. Instead calls for full disclosure by Gerry McGeough’s defence were met with silence from the NIO, PPS, PSNI and Sinn Fein.”

Solicitor Aiden Carlin concluded: “Our client stood for election in 2007 on a manifesto for freedom, justice and peace. He instructs that the interview he gave to a United States radio station should be listened to in its entirety. The interview covers a plurality of subjects including Irish and Scottish history, poetry and prison memories, the Ancient Order of Hibernians, 9/11and Brexit. Our client has always maintained his innocence and is working closely with his lawyers to assist the CCRC’s investigation.”

Carlin Solicitors
2 Church Lane
Belfast
BT1 4QN

Arlene Foster should repudiate Free P rant

Posted by Jim on August 9, 2016

News Letter (Belfast). Monday, August 8, 2016

I respect First Minister Arlene Foster. She is a smart and strong leader and, naturally, I am proud she is a Fermanagh woman.

Arlene recently chastised me in the media because our Internet Animated Video (IrishNationalCaucus.org) states that – despite the welcomed progress of the peace process – “there is still deep-rooted anti-Catholic bigotry in Northern Ireland” (‘Arlene Foster’s fury at US video’ Belfast Telegrap , January 29).

Well, as if to prove my point, Rev John Gray, minister, Enniskillen Free Presbyterian Church, Co Fermanagh, issues in the News Letter a 17th century-type of a letter full of contempt for the “blasphemous Mass”. (‘Free Presbyterians warned of Catholic canons in CoI’ August 3).

Nothing could be more offensive than such an attack on The Eucharist, which is “the source and summit of the Christian life,” and one Christ’s most sacred commands and commissions.

The Rev Gray cites Martin Luther (one of my heroes, apart from his awful anti-Semitism and theological errors) but fails to note that Luther deeply believed in the Eucharist and in the Real Presence (although he explained things differently).

The Rev Gray also seems to be unaware of the wonderful agreements that have been reached between the Catholic Church not only on the Eucharist but also on Justification by Faith – the two wedge issues of the Reformation.

However, the issue here is not just about theology. The Rev Gray has deeply offended the Catholics of Fermanagh in his sacrilegious contempt for the Mass.

It is now incumbent on First Minister Arlene Foster to show she is the leader of all the people in Fermanagh – Protestants and Catholics alike – by publicly repudiating the Rev Gray’s hateful rant.

This is particularly relevant because it was Paisley’s Church, the Free Presbyterian Church, that brought the DUP and Arlene into power (even though she is not a member of the Free Presbyterian Church).

But Arlene is not the only one who must repudiate the Rev Gray’s awful bigotry. Tom Elliot, MP, must do likewise. Interested folk in Washington and in the U.S. Congress will be carefully watching to see if the two top Unionist/Protestant leaders in Fermanagh condone the Rev Gray’s anti-Catholicism.

Fr Sean McManus, President, Irish National Caucus

Controversy surrounding new Bobby Sands documentary ‘Bobby Sands: 66 Days’

Posted by Jim on

Deaglán de Bréadún @irishcentral . August 06,2016

Political campaigner and hunger striker Bobby Sands.

An emotionally powerful new documentary on the life and death of Irish Republican Army hunger-striker Bobby Sands is receiving widespread praise, but also criticism from different ends of the political spectrum in Ireland. The movie, which is 105 minutes in length, went on general release last Friday, August 5th.
Titled “Bobby Sands: 66 Days” and directed by Brendan J. Byrne, the film centers on the Belfast IRA activist’s fast to the death at the H-Blocks in the Maze Prison-Long Kesh. Sands began refusing food on March 1st, 1981, shortly before his 27th birthday, and died 66 days later on May 5th.
A few weeks earlier, on April 9th, Sands made world headlines when he was elected on an abstentionist basis to the British House of Commons, filling a vacancy created in the Fermanagh- South Tyrone constituency by the sudden death of the independent nationalist Member of Parliament, Frank Maguire.
Some Unionists expressed outrage that public money was used in funding the documentary project. Financial backers of the film included Northern Ireland Screen, a state-supported agency for the promotion of the film, television and digital content industry, which contributed £76,000

(approximately $90,000) and the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) which also provided support but did not disclose the amount given.
Former Northern Ireland finance minister Sammy Wilson of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) objected to the funding and described Sands as a convicted criminal who took his own life in order to encourage others to commit similar crimes.

Another former DUP minister, Nelson McCausland, wrote in the Belfast Telegraph that the film was being used as part of a concerted effort to “try to turn a terrorist into a freedom-fighter, poet, author and philosopher”.
In a review for the Belfast-based News Letter, the Member of Parliament for East Londonderry, Gregory Campbell of the DUP, described the film as “in effect a video-diary” of the hunger- strikes in which Sands and nine other republicans died.

He added that the documentary “makes good dramatic viewing, if overly long, but it is a million miles away from an accurate depiction of what happened during those harrowing days in 1981”. However, film critic Donald Clarke gave the movie four out of a maximum five stars in the Irish Times and described it as “a comprehensive, balanced, gripping tale of terrible times”.

There was mixed reaction at a question-and-answer session after the film was shown at the Irish Film Institute in Dublin last Friday, August 5th.
The audience, which included a small number of Sinn Féin party workers, gave the movie modest applause after the viewing and, although there was strong praise for the production, a number of questions and objections were raised about the content.

The director, who is himself a native of Belfast, said the project, which also received support from the Irish Film Board, “took about three years from start to finish”. He said the BBC “were initially a bit nervous, naturally” but this was overcome.
Sinn Féin’s Dáil Deputy for Cavan-Monaghan, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said the film “struck a hugely-emotional chord with me” and was “a powerful work that should be seen by people of all views”.

However, he dissented from some of the opinions expressed by interviewees in the movie and there was applause from some members of the audience when he added that he “would take exception with some of what [Irish Times columnist and literary editor] Fintan O’Toole would have had to say”.

A question was raised from the floor as to why no members of the Sands family were interviewed and the director said they had not taken part in such interviews since 1985 and had “very politely declined” to participate in his documentary.
“They were the women’s voices, including his mother, who I would have wanted in the film, as well as Bernadette McAliskey, who I also approached, and she refused to be interviewed.”
He continued: “There was no other women’s voices that I managed to capture, through the course of making the film, that ended up earning their right to be in the film.” He added that he wasn’t seeking to underplay the role played by women in the story.
Regarding the prominence given to Fintan O’Toole, the director explained that this was done on the basis of the latter’s analysis that Sands had changed people’s perceptions of the republican movement, as well as the fact that O’Toole had regularly challenged “the core IRA mission” and his presence would make the film more balanced.
“I think what the film is trying to say is that, without the 1981 hunger-strikes, there wouldn’t have been a democratization of Sinn Féin, there wouldn’t have been the Good Friday Agreement and there wouldn’t have been the self-governing parliament at Stormont.”

Byrne added: “I think what Fintan is saying at the end is that you don’t win by inflicting violence, you win by enduring suffering and you win by capturing the public imagination.”

Thomas McElwee – Died August 8th, 1981

Posted by Jim on August 8, 2016

 

[Image]

 

Sincere, easy-going and full of fun.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

QUALITIES

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

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

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

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

CHILDREN

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NEIGHBOURS

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

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

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

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

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

REPUBLICAN

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

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

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

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

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

COLLEGE

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

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

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

forces.

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

RAIDS

There were also house raids

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

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

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

EXPLOSION

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

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

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

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

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

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

BRUTALITY

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

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

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

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

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

HUNGER STRIKE

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

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

 

Radio Free Eireann will air Saturday August 6th

Posted by Jim on August 5, 2016

 


Special 2 hour show.

Guests this week will include Tyrone Republican Gerry McGeough,speaking about a special DVD  for contributors ,” A CELEBRATION OF THE LIFE OF OGLACH LIAM RYAN”. Liam Ryan a Tyrone native emigrated to the Bronx , worked for Con Ed became an American citizen, and was murdered by pro-British loyalists. The DVD includes moving footage and interviews with family and friends from the Bronx and Tyrone and  the Independent Republican 25th anniversary Commemoration.
Belfast author and former PRO for the 1981 Hunger Strike Richard O’Rawe will discuss the Belfast premiere of the new film “66 DAYS” about Bobby Sands’ Hunger Strike, including some obvious omissions of coverage of the events in New York and across the United States.
Malachy McCourt will discuss and make available for donors original copies of the 20 year old first edition of his brother’s classic Angela’s Ashes.
 Free Eireann is heard Saturdays at 12 Noon New York time on WBAI 99,5 FM and wbai.org
It can be heard at wbai.org  in Ireland from 5pm to 6pm or anytime after the program concldes on WBAI.ORG/ARCHIVES

Annual Maryland 400 Commemoration Saturday August 20th (11:00am)- Battle of Brooklyn

Posted by Jim on August 4, 2016

Beginning of Battle Week (1st Battle after the signing of the Declaration of Independence).

Ceremony at the Michael A. Rawley American Legion Post on 9th Street between 3rd and 4th Ave.

Followed by Wreath laying at burial site.

Memorial march to the Old Stone House (battlesite) 3rd St. between 4th and 5th Aves. led by lone Piper

Maryland 400 Roll Call of Honor Ceremony

Wreath Laying followed by Reception.

Please contact: Mary Nolan (718)- 833-3405 for more information

 

LANDING OF THE ASGARD’ REMEMBERED BY REPUBLICANS IN HOWTH

Posted by Jim on August 2, 2016

LANDING  OF THE ASGARD’ REMEMBERED BY REPUBLICANS IN HOWTH

On Sunday 24th July, republicans gathered at Howth Pier in Dublin for a commemoration to remember the ‘Landing of the Asgard’ and launch the newly-formed Asgard Society Howth. Monaghan ex-POW and member of the James Connelly Society Monaghan. John Crawley (above) gave the main oration and has kindly forwarded the text of his speech.

The Howth gun running operation on 26th July 1914 was, along with the founding of the Irish Volunteers in November 1913, one of the crucial enabling factors which permitted the Rising to take place and the Irish Republic to be declared at Easter 1916.

On a sunny July Sunday 102 years ago, Erskine Childer’s yacht ‘The Asgard’ arrived here in Howth harbour carrying 900 German Mauser rifles and 29,000 rounds of ammunition. Waiting anxiously to receive them were 800 members of the Irish Volunteers and the lads of Na Fianna Éireann. Among the hundreds present on this pier that historic day was a founding member of the Volunteers, The O’Rahilly, Peadar Kearney, author of the Soldier’s Song, Thomas MacDonagh, a future signatory of The Proclamation, and Cathal Brugha, a future TD, who five years later would preside over the inaugural meeting of the the First Dáil and become its Minister of Defence. Although not present on the day, Roger Casement had been central to the organisation and finance of the operation.

Less than two years later The O’Rahilly would be killed in action leading a charge against a British army machine gun post on Moore Street, Roger Casement would be hanged in Pentonville Prison after organising a much larger and unsuccessful gun-running operation at Banna Strand, Thomas MacDonagh would be executed by the British army for signing the Proclamation of the Irish Republic and in 1922 Erskine Childers and Cathal Brugha would both be shot dead by the Free State army, for defending that Republic and resisting British attempts to impose a treaty which partitioned Ireland and re-defined Irish democracy in British Imperial interests.

But all that lay unknown and in the future as the jubilant Volunteers and Fianna unloaded the Asgard in less than 45 minutes. This was some feat considering it had taken five hours to load the guns onto her from a German tugboat in the North Sea. A Cumann na mBan activist recalled later that, at the sight of the arms being taken off the Asgard, ‘we cheered and cheered and cheered and waved anything that we had and cheered again’. A smaller part of the shipment, 600 rifles and 19,000 rounds of ammunition, were landed from the Chotah by Sir Thomas Myles, Tom Kettle and James Meredith at Kilcoole, Co. Wicklow, on the 1st of August.

As the Volunteers and Fianna made their way back to Dublin from Howth with their cargo, they were challenged at Clontarf by British soldiers and the Irishmen of the Dublin Metropolitan police. Scuffles broke out and the arms and ammunition were spirited across hedges, fields and lanes and dispersed to various hides. Only 19 rifles were lost. As a section of the King’s Own Scottish Borderers were returning to the Royal Barracks (now Collins Barracks and the National Museum), they were met by jeering crowds along Sackville Street (now O’Connell street). It was not lost on the citizens of Dublin that the Ulster Volunteers, with the active connivance and collaboration of elements of the English Tory party and senior British military officers, had been allowed the previous April to bring in 25,000 German rifles and up to 5 million rounds of ammunition without interference.

In March British officers in the Curragh, in what was effectively a mutiny, had without sanctions or consequences, threatened to resign en masse if called upon to move against the Ulster Volunteers. Yet, when Irish nationalists and republicans attempted to arm themselves, in the words of the Irish Volunteers’ manifesto ‘to secure and maintain the rights and liberties common to the whole people of Ireland,’ they were met with the active opposition of the British state.

As the soldiers turned right at O’Connell Bridge to march down the Quays to their barracks, they opened fire on protesters at Bachelor’s Walk. Shot dead were 50-year-old Mary Duffy (the mother of a British soldier serving in the Royal Dublin Fusiliers), 46-year-old Patrick Quinn, a married man with six children and 17-year-old James Brennan. Another man, Sylvester Pidgeon, married with five children and bayoneted during the British army assault on the crowd died, on the 24th of September.  Among the thirty-two wounded included a young boy called Luke Kelly who would recover from his injury and one day become the father of Luke Kelly of the Dubliner’s.

The Howth guns arrived just in time. Nine days later on August 4th Britain declared war on Germany. The Asgard would never had made it through the formidable cordon that the Royal Navy was to establish around Britain and Ireland as a result of the outbreak of the First World War.

The political and historical context for these events run deep and continues to this day. As a result of the 1910 UK elections, John Redmond’s Irish Parliamentary Party held the balance of power, permitting Prime Minister Herbert Asquith’s Liberal Party to govern in return for a promise to publish a Home Rule bill. The Tories, or, as the current UK Prime Minister Theresa May recently reminded us, the Conservative and Unionist party, were deeply opposed to Home Rule but also wished to cynically exploit the issue and deliberately stoked sectarian tensions in Ireland in order to undermine the Asquith government and seize power for themselves.

Unionist leaders Edward Carson and James Craig were aided and abetted by prominent Tories such as Andrew Bonar Law and FE Smith (later to become Lord Birkenhead). Speaking in Liverpool in January 1912, Smith told his audience that there was, ‘no length to which Ulster will not be entitled to go – however desperate and unconstitutional – in carrying the quarrel if the quarrel is wickedly fixed upon them’. He told a UVF rally in Antrim that they were ‘dealing with a Government which understands one argument – the argument of force’.

With the outbreak of the First World War, the Home Rule Bill was put on the statute book, but ‘no steps’ would be taken to put it into practical operation ‘till the end of the war’, when an Amending Bill would be passed to ‘alter, modify and qualify its provision’. Thousands of Irishmen would be lured to their deaths on the Western front by this scam. James Connolly wrote at that time, ‘our leaders are prepared to sacrifice all the sons of the poor, and all the soul and honour of their nation for the deferred promise of a shadow of liberty’.

Home Rule it must be remembered, was merely a form of local autonomy in which an Irish legislature, subordinate to the Westminster parliament, would be given responsibility for domestic affairs. Home Rule was designed principally to reconcile Irish nationalism with British sovereignty. Home Rule, it was hoped by its English supporters, would nurture a loyal nationalist opposition and remove Ireland as an issue from Britain’s political radar. Ireland would be pacified and remain a dependable provider of food and soldiers for the British empire. James Connolly wrote that the problem for the British ‘was not how to defeat a nation in arms battling for all that makes life worth living, but how to fool a nation without arms into becoming the accomplice of its oppressor’.

The degree to which Britain succeeded in fostering a loyal nationalist opposition can be seen in John Redmond’s description of the 1916 Rising as treason against the Irish people and the Irish Parliamentary Party’s call for Irishmen to fight and die, not for Ireland, but for the British Empire in the belief that unity between Nationalists and Unionists could be fostered by bayoneting German boys in Flanders.

Incredibly, to this day some Nationalists still believe that alliances with Unionism should be nurtured through attendance at British army war memorial services and sentimentalising joint-First World War service in the very army that executed the 1916 leadership and continues to occupy our country. In this scenario, Wolfe Tone’s belief that Protestant and Catholic unity should come about through the forging of a common national citizenship free from England is superseded by a twisted concept of unity through celebrating joint debasement as levies and mercenaries for the enemy.

The Howth gun-running was more a nationalist operation in response to the arming of the Ulster Volunteers than it was a republican operation with a specific intent to supply weapons for the 1916 Rising. Of course, some IRB members such as Thomas MacDonagh and Cathal Brugha were involved but only in their dual capacity as members of the Irish Volunteers.

Subsequent events would flag up the differences between nationalism and republicanism and illustrates what happens when an organisation made up of a broad spectrum of opinion, with no agreed consensus or bottom line on crucial constitutional issues, comes through a period of intense struggle and is then offered an opportunity by the enemy to acquire pay, pensions and power in return for conceding what were once core principals.

Few countries have had greater experience, or success, at countering an insurgency than the United Kingdom. According to one British historian, of 196 countries in the world today, the British have invaded or established a military presence in 171 of them. So it is not surprising that they have evolved a multi-layered and coordinated approach to achieving British strategic objectives through the focused use of applied violence and the manipulation and co-option of indigenous leaderships, groups and movements.

One of the first things the Brits do when gathering intelligence and psychologically profiling an insurgent leadership is to try to determine for whom the priority is to win the struggle and for whom the priority is to survive the struggle. For whom is the ideology espoused by the rebels sacrosanct and non-negotiable and who, despite articulate and virulent posturing may be open to persuasion. Who is determined to end British rule and who, in return for a slice of the pie, is willing to negotiate adjustments to it.

Once the Brits get a handle on this they attempt to nurture an insurgent leadership fit for purpose, based on Lenin’s dictum that ‘the best way to control the opposition is to lead it ourselves’. To do this they must kill the right people, jail the right people, buy the right people and enhance the credibility, status and prestige within the insurgent movement of the right people. The Brits are masters at sniffing out the divisions and cleavages in an organisation and know how to exploit them to their best advantage.

During the Tan War, all TDs in Dáil Éireann subscribed to the 1916 Proclamation, the Declaration of Independence and the Democratic Programme. They had all sworn an oath to ‘support and defend the Irish Republic and the Government of the Irish Republic, which is Dáil Eireann, against all enemies, foreign and domestic’. This oath was to the 32-County government declared in 1916 and ratified in the 1918 Election.

The Brits knew well that not all of them were committed to these ideals. Some were simply advanced Home Rulers, some Catholic Nationalists and, as the Treaty debates would reveal, many were simply 26-County Nationalists. It became clear during the Treaty debates who were the republicans committed to the ideals of the Proclamation and who could become counter-revolutionaries trusted with the loan of British artillery.

Pro-Treaty delegates such as Eoin MacNeill, who was the founder of the Irish Volunteers and took part in the Howth gun-running operation had stated years earlier, ‘in theory I suppose I am a separatist, in practice I would accept any settlement that would enable Irishmen to freely control their own affairs, and I would object to any theoretical upsetting of such a settlement’. Desmond Fitzgerald, father of the late Fine Gael leader and Taoiseach Garret Fitzgerald, glibly implied that what they said and what they meant were two different things stating, ‘I have always understood by a Free Irish Republic that we meant an independent Ireland’.

Arthur Griffith, who served as acting President of the Republic while De Valera was in America and Chairman of the Irish delegation during the Treaty negotiations, was certainly no republican. The Brits sidelined him during the negotiations as much as they could and worked on him knowing his weaknesses. He eventually promised Prime Minister Lloyd George he would sign the Treaty even if every other member of the delegation refused.

Robert Barton, an Irish Treaty delegate, a first cousin of Asgard skipper Erskine Childers who was Chief Secretary of the Delegation, did not want to sign the Treaty. Reflecting on Arthur Griffith Barton wrote, ‘a situation had now arisen which they had never visualised, Griffith had gone over to the English… He’d been outmaneuvered, outwitted and smashed. And he now proceeded to smash us’. When informed to his astonishment that Michael Collins and Eamonn Duggan would also sign Robert Barton commented, ‘my dilemma was that whilst I knew the cabinet and Ireland would face war on a united leadership I had no idea what they would do when three of the principal leaders had ratted.’

During the Treaty Debates in the Dáil, arguments arose which many former members of the Provisional Movement who attended briefings on the Good Friday Agreement would recognise. Those who would become Free Staters and accept British guns and artillery to destroy the Republic argued along the lines of, ‘if it’s good enough for Mick Collins it’s good enough for me’. ‘We have the freedom to achieve freedom.’ ‘What’s the alternative?’ ‘Sure, you knew we were never going to drive the Brits into the sea.’ ‘What does it matter about a republic as long as we have legislative independence?’ ‘What’s so special about republicanism, didn’t Cromwell want a republic?’ ‘We won the war lets win the peace’, and so on.

Republicans such as Liam Mellows, later executed by the Free State, argued that constitutional authority resided exclusively within the Irish people. That England has always sought democratic title in Ireland, Irish approval and an Irish mandate for their continued presence which this treaty with its oath to the King provided them. Padraig Pearse’s literary executor, Desmond Ryan, wrote, ‘the spirit of the Irish revolution was buried. It was the hour of reaction, of the place-hunter, the intriguer, the hopeless, the mediocre, the superstitious… Never had the pride and self-respect of a nation been so deeply wounded.’

Republicans today are faced with similar issues and arguments as many former comrades now assert the path to an Irish national democracy is signposted by British legislation. They have conceded the Unionist Veto, revived the Six-County Home Rule parliament at Stormont, endorsed Her Majesty’s constabulary as lawful authority and internalised British constitutional constraints such as the triple-locked border poll. Twenty years ago, we were assured by the Provisional leadership that by 2016 there would be no border in Ireland. Now there are two.

These debates are not ephemeral irrelevancies, significant only to a legalistic, pedantic or contentious mind. They cut right to the heart of the concept of Irish citizenship and which government – English or Irish – lawfully defines the parameters of Irish democracy. In the words of Bobby Sands, written in his own context, ‘what’s lost here is lost for the Republic’. By the Republic Bobby didn’t mean the 26-County Republic of Ireland declared in 1949, which announced to the the world Ireland is Ireland without the Six Counties, but the 32-County Irish Republic declared in 1916 and which proclaimed ‘a permanent National Government, representative of the whole people of Ireland and elected by the suffrages of all her men and women’.

One hundred years later, Ireland still does not have a national government and Britain still works assiduously to ensure that UK parliamentary sovereignty in the Six Counties is not superseded or eclipsed by 32-County popular sovereignty. Britain remains determined to defend the political and territorial integrity of the United Kingdom and to underwrite and subsidise its contrived vanguard the Unionist Veto.

We have recently witnessed the arrival of a new British Secretary of State for the North. No Irish citizen elected James Brokenshire to any office whatsoever. Yet the signatories to the Good Friday Agreement confer upon this English politician the statutory authority to decide whether a border poll may be called, the very wording of the poll and who among the Irish electorate qualifies to vote. And just on the off-chance England should leave a single stone unturned in ring fencing their Irish national gerrymander, the final result of that poll must be ratified by the parliament of the United Kingdom in London.

The 1916 Societies advocate an all-Ireland referendum on Irish Unity, testing the national will on a national as opposed to a partitionist basis – a ‘One Ireland One Vote’ referendum as opposed to the six-county border poll negotiated under the Good Friday Agreement promoting Two Irelands Two Votes.

There are those who try to tell you that Irish Republicanism is defeated. Republicanism is not defeated. Republican leaderships have been defeated, co-opted, corrupted but not Republicanism. Those claiming to be Republican may well advocate a compromised authority in which Irish constitutional prerogatives are relegated to notional aspirations subject to UK parliamentary endorsement, but no genuine republican would do so and to my knowledge none has.

On this spot 102 year ago arms were landed by Erskine Childers and his core group of Irish Protestant patriots. Despite the seeming unity of purpose on the day, those waiting on the rifles and ammunition had very different conceptions of Irish freedom. Some, like Thomas MacDonagh and Cathal Brugha, were uncompromising in their determination to forge a united sovereign Republic. Others, like Eoin MacNeill, were not concerned so much with the form of government but with acquiring managerial control of a state and could accept England determining the democratic parameters of that state.

Some there that day went along with Redmond’s advice and joined the British war effort on the Western Front. Some died there, some came back and joined the IRA and stayed the course. Others deserted the Republic and joined the Free State army. Some went Free State simply because a state can buy loyalty, some out of personal devotion to a pro-Treaty leader, and some welcoming the opportunity to get stuck into republicans to avenge the stab in the back they felt they received from the 1916 rebels while in the trenches. At least half the Free State army in the Civil War was comprised of ex-British soldiers of Irish provenance.

Partition and the Good Friday Agreement are essentially tribal settlements rooted in difference. Irish Republicanism is inspired by a proposition. That proposition was enunciated by Wolfe Tone and further refined and articulated in the Proclamation of 1916. The proposition that Britain can be dispensed with and Irishmen and women of whatever persuasion and none could forge a common national citizenship based upon democracy, equality and fraternity.  That’s the vision. That is Irish Republicanism.

On Easter Monday 1916, as British Lancers charged down O’Connell Street, the Howth guns fired the first shots that attempted to make that vision a reality…

Kieran Doherty – Died August 2nd, 1981

Posted by Jim on

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A dedicated republican and an outstanding soldier

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

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

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

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

BACKGROUND

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CHILDHOOD

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

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

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

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

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

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

JOINED

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Brits were ten days too early.

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

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

INTERNED

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ESCAPES

He had many narrow escapes.

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

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

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

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

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

ENJOYED

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

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

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

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

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

SEAN McDERMOTT

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

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

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

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

BOMBING

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BLANKET

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

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

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

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

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

CHESS

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

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

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

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

CAVAN/MONAGHAN

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

HUNGER STRIKE

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

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

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

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

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

 

Southern leaders taking sudden interest in united Ireland

Posted by Jim on August 1, 2016

 Deaglan de Breadun . Irish News (Belfast).Monday, August 1, 2016

LEAVE aside Amhrán na bhFiann and forget God Save the Queen, because the real anthem these days on the British-Irish scene should be Paul Brady’s Nobody Knows.

Meanwhile, keep a grain of salt handy in case anyone close to you or in the media starts predicting the future of our post-Brexit world.

Take the border, for example, where the transition between north and south is almost imperceptible at present. Will it now become a “hard” frontier and what exactly does that mean? Dissident republicans must be praying for the return of customs posts. What a handy target they would make: isolated, vulnerable and surrounded by the type of countryside where one can easily disappear.

Surely the powers-that-be in Brussels, London, Dublin and Belfast couldn’t let that happen? A vision arises of some distracted bureaucrat, who thinks Crossmaglen is a Scottish board-game, digging out an obscure regulation that requires the reinstatement of border posts. Maybe it would be called the “Sitting Duck Directive”.

Finding themselves barred from entry to mainland Britain, will eager job-seekers from eastern  Europe seek entry to the UK by what used to be called “unapproved roads” on the Irish border? It’s hard to imagine but nobody seems to know.

The prime minister wasn’t very forthcoming on any of these issues during her tightly-controlled visit to Belfast. Most people will be praying for a Canadian solution whereby, we are told, vehicle registrations are subject to electronic screening as they cross the border with the US.

Hopefully Donald Trump will have nothing to do with our border problem since he is already proposing a wall between the US and Mexico. Even under the current Irish regime, I have encountered plain clothes police inspecting ID documents on a bus between north and south in recent years. Presumably that kind of activity will be intensified.

The nightmare scenario is lengthy queues of cars and trucks, similar to the hellish traffic jam endured recently by British tourists as they waited to be screened by French security personnel based in England, before boarding the ferry at Dover. British trade minister Liam Fox has indicated the UK may leave the European customs union as part of Brexit. It doesn’t sound like a recipe for a “soft” border here.

The negotiations between London and Brussels could drag on for a long time. We are told that the British will be looking for the maximum level of access to the European market along with minimum access, if any, for EU migrants seeking entry to the UK. There is talk of a seven-year brake on EU migration as an “emergency” measure but the hardline Brexiteers won’t be satisfied with that.

Not only will Britain be seeking to maximise its trade access to the EU but various member states will be very keen to retain their current access to the British market. The slightly puzzling aspect of all this is why more serious consideration wasn’t given to these issues before the referendum.

It’s easy to be wise after the event but surely the Eurocrats could have given David Cameron a deal that would have allowed him a modest win on Brexit? The EU has always been praised for its ability to find a middle ground between competing demands. Sadly, that reputation has taken a tumble in the last six weeks.

We are being told that Dublin is going to rely on the peace process to alleviate the negative effects of Brexit. The word is that Brussels will take that much more seriously than the other arguments which might be put forward.

Nobody in their right mind would want to facilitate a return to the violence and misery of the Troubles but it is hard not to detect a slight element of cynicism in Dublin’s approach. By and large, the southern establishment and indeed its British counterpart has lost very little sleep over the north in recent years.

It is curious how the referendum result appears to have made it respectable once more to talk about a united Ireland. It’s no longer just a Sinn Féin tune: Enda Kenny, Micheál Martin and Leo Varadkar have all mentioned the prospect of a 32-county state coming about at some stage in the future.

The 56 per cent vote against Brexit in the north provides a rather thin basis for speculation about an all-Ireland republic, but it was still an interesting development. Maybe there is a soft underbelly of “small u’’ unionism that could be encouraged to think outside the six-county box at some stage.

But that’s all for another day. The priority must be to ensure that the border remains fluid and permeable to the greatest extent.

It’s quite a challenge for our politicians and civil servants to discern how events will unfold because, at this stage, nobody knows.

@ddebreadun

Kevin Lynch – Died August 1st, 1981

Posted by Jim on

 

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A loyal, determined republican with a great love of life

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SCHOOL

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

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

GAMES

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

He excelled at both.

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

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

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

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

QUALITIES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

INLA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LONG KESH

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

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

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

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

DETERMINATION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

The financial impact of partition

Posted by Jim on July 31, 2016

————————————————————————–
An examination of the economics of a divided Ireland by David
McWilliams (davidmcwilliams.ie)
————————————————————————–

Are you a real Trekkie? If so, you’ll know the answer to the following
question: which was the only episode of Star Trek ever banned in
Ireland and Britain – and why?

Star Trek is many things, but is it really so incendiary as to be
worthy of censorship?

The twelfth episode in the third series of Star Trek: The Next
Generation was banned in this part of the world and never shown on
terrestrial television in Britain or Ireland. That’s because in that
episode Commander Data, musing on terrorism in the year 2364, noted
that Ireland had been reunited in 2024.

This episode was due to be aired here and in Britain in 1990 but was
pulled by the censors in both jurisdictions.

The question is whether Commander Data’s time horizon is right? And if
it is even out by a decade or two, could the Irish economy support the
North?

I say “support” because the Northern economy is incapable of supporting
itself. If Northern Ireland were asked to pay for itself tomorrow, its
budget deficit would be close to 20 per cent of GDP simply to keep the
lights on. It has become a type of concubine economy, living off the
largesse of Westminster and the home counties.

The easiest way to assess the impact of the Union on the Northern
economy is to compare the economies of the North and the South. In
fact, the border gives us a lovely economic experiment. Take two
systems in one country and examine the results; a bit like West Germany
versus East Germany or, God forbid, North Korea versus South Korea.

A cursory glance at the performance of the Northern Irish economy since
1922 suggests that the Union has been an economic disaster for all the
people of Northern Ireland, Protestant and Catholic, Unionist and
Nationalist. They’ve all been impoverished by the Union and this shows
no sign of letting up.

If we go back to 1920, 80 per cent of the industrial output of the
entire island of Ireland came from the three counties around Belfast.
It was an industrial region with northern entrepreneurs and inventors
at the forefront of industrial innovation.

By 1911, Belfast was the biggest city in Ireland, with a population of
close to 400,000. In the 50 years up to the creation of Northern
Ireland, Belfast was the fastest growing city in all of these islands.
And in 1920 it was by far the richest part of the island.

In contrast, the rest of the Irish economy was agricultural and
backward and the only manufacturing we had could be termed a ‘beer and
biscuits economy’, dominated by the likes of Guinness and Jacobs.

Fast forward to now and we see the shocking collapse of the
once-dynamic Northern economy versus that of the Republic. Having been
a fraction of the North’s at independence, the Republic’s industrial
output is now ten times greater than that of Northern Ireland. Exports
from the Republic are 89 billion euro while from the North, exports are
a paltry 6 billion euro. This obviously reflects multinationals, but it
also underscores just how far ahead is the Republic’s industrial base.

Producing 15 times more exports underscores a vast difference in terms
of the globalisation of business.

The total size of the Republic’s economy is now four times that of the
North, even though the labour force is not even two-and-a-half times
bigger.

In terms of income per head, the Republic is now almost twice as rich
per person as the North. The average income per head in the Republic is
39,873 euro, while it languishes at 23,700 euro up north.

While we will have to come up with new figures to get a true picture of
national income, the end figure is likely to tell a similar story.

The differing fortunes of North and South can be easily seen in the
fact that, having been smaller than Belfast at the time of partition,
the population of the greater Dublin area is now almost three times
bigger than the greater Belfast metropolitan region.

Obviously there are significant differences in terms of prices, access
to public services and housing between the two parts of the island. But
the fact remains that the Union has been an economic calamity for
everyone in the North. Think about that figure of the North having to
borrow 20 per cent of GDP every year just to maintain today’s living
standards. If the North were asked to pay for itself tomorrow, living
standards would plummet. In contrast, the Republic should have a
balanced budget by 2018.

The comparison between both jurisdictions is made more significant by
the fact that economically the North was, at one stage, so far ahead of
the South. So where does that leave us?

Well, in the distant past, there was good reason to believe that the
Union preserved living standards in the North, but this is a myth and
has not been the case since 1990 – the year Star Trek was banned.
Indeed, the end of the Troubles, which should have marked the
resurgence of the relative performance of the North, has actually
delivered the opposite.

Relative to the South, the Northern economy has fallen backwards since
the guns were silenced. If there was an economic peace dividend, it
went south.

All the while, the demographic forces are on the side of nationalism.

As I write, I am looking at demographics in Northern Ireland from the
2011 census.

The most interesting statistic shows the proportion of Catholics and
Protestants in various age groups. Of the elderly, (those over 90) in
the North, 64 per cent are Protestant and 25 per cent are Catholic. A
total of 9 per cent had no declared religion.

But when you look at children born since 2008, the picture changes
dramatically. This corresponding figure is 31 per cent Protestant and
44 per cent Catholic.

In one (admittedly very long) lifetime, the Catholic population in the
youngest cohort has nearly doubled, while the Protestant cohort has
more than halved.

The numbers don’t lie. The question is whether Ireland wants the North.

Conor Cruse O’Brien noted that the Unionists’ last battle will not be
with Irish nationalists but will be with English nationalists.

Could it also be that the Northern nationalists’ last battle will not
be with the British, but with Southern public opinion?

Wouldn’t it be strange if Commander Data was partially right after all?
Then again, that was science fiction, wasn’t it?

An end to the Union

Posted by Jim on

By Gerry Adams (for Leargas)

On her first visit this week to the North as British Prime Minister
Theresa May met the First and Deputy First Ministers. Martin McGuinness
told her that the British have to respect the democratically expressed
wishes of the people of the North who see their future in Europe and
voted to remain in Europe.

One of Mrs May’s first jobs on becoming Prime Minister was to appoint a
new Secretary of State. Jude Collins likes to refer to them as our
‘pro-consul’ to give them their full imperial Roman title.

Believe it or not the new occupant of Hillsborough Castle – James
Brokenshire – is the nineteenth British politician to hold that
position. The first was William Whitelaw in 1972. He was appointed after
the Conservative government of Ted Heath had decided to consign the
unionist regime at Stormont to the dustbin of history. He was also the
first that I met as republicans attempted to negotiate with the British
government in the summer of that year. That’s a story for another time.

Apart from Theresa Villiers and Mo Mowlam the rest were men. All of
those I have known had different personalities. Some were friendlier
than others. Some of them were downright Machiavellian in their
machinations. But all of them were in the North to defend and promote
British national interests. These interests rarely co-incided with the
interests of the people of the North or of the island of Ireland.

They were a mixed bunch in terms of ability. Most were distant and aloof
– most were in the pockets of the generals and securocrats and the
intelligence services. I suspect some of them liked to play at being M
in James Bond.

Merlyn Rees came across as a bit of a bumbler. But it was he who
introduced the criminalisation policy and built the H-Blocks.

Roy Mason was an arrogant wee man with a Napoleonic complex who believed
that he would ‘squeeze the IRA like a tube of toothpaste.’ Under his
watch torture was routinely used in the interrogation centres in the
RUC’s Castlereagh centre, Gough Barracks in Armagh, Strand Road in Derry
and other places. It was Mason who presided over the ‘conveyor belt’
system of arrest – torture – Diplock non-jury courts and the H-Blocks
and Armagh Women’s prison. The law became another weapon in the British
arsenal to defeat republicans.

After Margaret Thatcher because British Prime Minister in May 1979 she
appointed Humphrey Atkins to the North. A local wit painted a long
graffiti question, ‘Humphrey WHO?’ on the wall at Beechmount Leisure
centre on the Falls Road. Atkins was the Secretary of State during one
of the most turbulent periods in the ‘troubles’. Under his watch the
hunger strikes of 1980 and 81 occurred. He was the face of Thatcher in
the media defending British inflexibility. Those who followed him during
the 1980’s were all Thatcher’s men. In my memory one merges into the
other.

The first British Secretary of State I met after 1972 was Patrick
Mayhew. As British Attorney General he agreed a deal with Brian Nelson,
a British agent within the UDA, which saw charges of murder against
Nelson dropped in order to avoid embarrassing revelations about the role
of the British state in collusion. Mayhew was in the North when the
media broke the story of secret contacts between republicans and the
British government. Mayhew initially denied this then he lodged a
record of the exchanges in the British Parliament in November 1993.
Embarrassingly for the British their effort to rewrite some of them was
quickly exposed.

A team of us worked overtime in the Sinn Fein office in Turg Lodge to
compile our record of these exchanges. When we published them our
version was generally accepted as the truthful account.

My first meeting with Mayhew took place in Washington in May 1995.
President Clinton had organised an economic conference to boost the
peace process. It proved impossible for the British, who had been trying
to prevent Mayhew meeting with the Sinn Fein leadership, not to agree a
meeting at the conference. It was a very surreal meeting. There was to
be no coffee, tea or anything stronger. Just a quick handshake — in
private, no cameras — and a fifteen-minute meeting. Mayhew, using a
written speaking note, told us why the British government would not
allow Sinn Fein into all-party negotiations. He was visibly shaking and
nervous as he spoke, and he stuck rigidly to the text of his note, which
the British issued afterwards, almost word for word, as a public
statement.

I met Mayhew several times after that. He loosened up a wee bit but
under his and John Major’s intransigent stewardship the IRA cessation
collapsed and the opportunity for progress was stalled.

Mayhew was followed by Mo Mowlam – an entirely different character. She
is generally fondly remembered by all of us who knew her. She was smart
and funny and willing to listen. Her battle against ill-health is well
known. Her famous wig – which she would throw on the table at the start
of a conversation – was a great device for disarming the most outraged
politician at the table.

But like all of her predecessors and successors Mo was in the North to
defend British interests. Though these changed slightly under Tony Blair
she did her job. On one occasion we discovered that the car Martin
McGuinness and I were using to attend secret meetings was bugged. It was
a stupid move by the British – a breach of good faith – and was
authorised by Mo Mowlam.

But she had a good heart. She authorised funding for Bunscoil Phobal
Feirste – despite huge resistance from within the Department of
Education. She gave former British military bases back to local
communities and supported the development of the Black and Divis
mountains as a public amenity alongside numerous other little things.

I spent my Sunday mornings or Saturday afternoons walking the garden at
Hillsborough Castle with her and her predecessors and successors trying
to get as much progress as possible while also impressing upon them the
need for an end to the union and partition.

Those that came after Mowlam brought their own personalities, competence
and bias with them. Whether Peter Mandelson or Peter Hain or Theresa
Villiers all were first and foremost in the North as Britain’s
pro-consuls – to defend British interests on the island of Ireland.

Before they arrived most were also relatively unknown – certainly in
Ireland. Few here had ever heard of Francis Pym or Roy Mason or Peter
Brooke. Many were never heard of again.

And now we have James Brokenshire. Who I hear you ask? And truth be told
I don’t know. Once again a British politician – who has no stake in this
island – is given influence over our lives by a British government whose
priority interests are not ours. And so it goes on. And so it should
end.

The Brexit referendum vote is just one more example of this. The
Conservative government in London is committed to leaving the European
Union. The people of the North rejected this. All of this is an argument
for an end to the union with Britain and for new relationships on the
island of Ireland in which our priorities, or interests are what will
dictate policy.

Testimony confirms British Army killer unit not disbanded

Posted by Jim on

A recently released document marked ‘restricted’ has provided a new
perspective on the British government’s collusion with loyalist
paramilitaries in the north of Ireland.

The document consists of testimony given by Ian Hurst, an operative of
the British Army’s covert military intelligence squad known as the Force
Research Unit (FRU), who went by the cover name Martin Ingram.

It has long been known that the FRU colluded with the loyalist
paramilitaries and infiltrated republican groups to murder nationalist
activists as part of a covert British military strategy.

Hurst’s testimony, which was given in closed session before the official
Bloody Sunday Inquiry, shows that the deadly covert infrastructure run
by the British through the FRU continued to exist long after it was
supposed to have ended, and may never have truly shut down.

Hurst explains that the British Army had pretended to disband the FRU
due to negative publicity and mounting questions about its role in the
conflict, only to continue running the same types of covert operations
under a new name.

He said: “The FRU was disbanded in name only – primarily because of the
bad press that was received via [loyalist double-agent] Brian Nelson but
the following day was reformed under a different name but exactly the
same structure and take it from me the unit that is in operation within
Ebrington Barracks with responsibility for agent handling still has
custody of those documents and they are absolutely priceless.”

In his secret testimony, Hurst also provided details on the extent of
British military intelligence’s penetration of the IRA and Irish police.
According to Hurst’s restricted testimony, over a quarter of Provisional
IRA members were British government agents, and MI5 also had a wide
network of agents within the 26 County Gardai police.

A month ago, families of 200 people murdered in the conflict accused the
British government of continuing to censor files that could throw light
on the circumstances of their deaths. Their efforts have so far been
refused under the new British Prime Minister Theresa May.

This week, her new governor in Ireland, James Brokenshire, met some
families of victims of British state killings. Among those he met was
Tony Brown, whose nephew, Paul Whitters, was 15 years old when he was
shot in the head with a plastic bullet.

Brokenshire said: “Do I want to see people brought to justice as a
consequence of information – I absolutely do” but added his his approach
was about “getting this right in ensuring national security”.

Sinn Fein Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness called for the new
Tory regime to permit long-sought legacy inquests to go ahead.

“James Brokenshire has said it is important to instil confidence in all
victims,” he said. “He can do that by changing the policy of his
predecessor and putting the needs of grieving families ahead of bogus
national security concerns by immediately approving the Lord Chief
Justice’s request for funding to enable him to fast-track some 56
inquests involving up to 100 deaths.”

The Great O’Neill — Dead 400 Years in 2016

Posted by Jim on

The Great O’Neill — Dead 400 Years in 2016

Posted by Brian O’Doherty on July 22, 2016 at 4:30pm

 Last week, in his sleep, in his small palace in Rome, 400 years ago, one of the greatest figures in Irish history passed away, Hugh O’Neill. . With him in his final moments may have been his teenage son, John, whom he had nominated to succeed him as Earl of Tyrone and as The O’Neil. Also there may have been his nephew, who was to become increasingly the de facto leader of the exiled Irish Gaelic Lords in Europe, Owen Roe O’Neill. Undoubtedly senior figures in the Spanish administration and in the Vatican would have attended him in his final days or paid their respects at his funeral, as well as senior Irish clergy living in Rome. The scene at his bedside on his last evening may have been similar to that captured in a painting by an unknown Italian or East European artist, painted a century later, “Farewell at the deathbed.” (left)

O’Neill, O’Donnell and other Gaelic nobility left ireland in the Irish history-transforming event known as the Flight of the Earls, from Rathmullan, Co. Donegal, September 1607. Following the Nine Years War against English rule in Ireland, the last battle of which was the Battle of Kinsale, O’Neill marched his army back to Ulster, in the middle of winter, to continue the fight, before his eventual surrender two years later, in 1603. He had lost 1500-2000 men at Kinsale, but the English had lost over 7000 men, half their exhausted army, which had been the largest army ever assembled by Elizabeth !. O’Donnell had gone to Spain to collect more Spanish support and O’Neill must have felt confident that he could fight on successfully. But, after their Kinsale disaster, the English changed their tactics. They resolved “never to meet this man on the battlefield again”. Instead, they deployed the tactic which Lord Chichester said was “being used with success in the New World”, that is, an attack on the civilian population.

The genocide which ensued in Ulster for about a year, led by Lords Mountjoy and Chichester, which I do not remember ever reading in Irish school history books, is described by English historians as the darkest, most atrocious event in English history. Soldiers would raid small villages, when O’Neills army was elsewhere, and slaughter every man, woman, child. By sword, and later by starvations, by destruction of crops. The landscape was littered with human bones, or starving children, their mouths green from eating grass. Some were even taught by fathers and mothers to cannibalise their parents bodies when they died. A very high percentage of the population of Ulster died, especially East Ulster, and most others fled, to Donegal, to the south, even some lucky ones making it as emigrants to London, France, Netherlands and further, in what became the first years of seemingly unending Irish emigration.

These events are probably what (good !) Queen Elizabeth II was referring to when, on her visit to Ireland a few years ago, she “apologised”, saying (I paraphrase) that “there were certain things we did during our rule in Ireland that we would do differently now or even not at all” (Actually it was not only Ulster…There was a similar attack on the civilian population of Munster about twenty years earlier, followed by an attempt to populate the vacated land with English planters.)

This of course brought down O’Neill. He was unable to defend his people or support the junior clan leaders of Ulster. He surrendered, and was later intimidated out of his Earldom by legal, economic and political means, salted with a continuing threat of arrest and execution, so that he decided to move to Catholic Europe and try to rebuild support from there in 1607. But English diplomatic tactics preceded him and he found himself somewhat unwelcomed by the Spanish and their administration in Brussels He was basically shunted on to Rome, where the Pope felt obliged to show him some honours, give him an elevated position in the community in Rome, and awarded him and his family a small (but frugally furnished) palace in which to live out his life. Rome (right) was a place of elegant architecture in those days, though “stinking hot” in summer.

I don’t know if the men of 1916 and their successors in “Free Ireland” of the last 100 years are bothered to read and show respect for the heroics of the Gaelic Order in early modern history of our land. We honour the other side, in Mountjoy Square, and elsewhere. Where is Great O’Neill Avenue? Is there a large monument to him in the Phoenix Park? I think there’s an O’Donnell Avenue in Buenos Aires, or is it Madrid..and a famous O’Reilly Calle in Havana, and O’Higgins pops up in many South American countries. And others. What wrong with us, that we are afraid to give due honour and proper commemoration to real heroes of the past? I suppose history only began in 1916.

Great Hugh O’Neill, we remember you on your 400th anniversary, July 20, 1616, and we Salute You!

For more of my perspective on the Irish experience, visit www.BrianODoherty.ie

1916 Societies NY Chapter

Posted by Jim on July 29, 2016

1916 Societies NY Chapter

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

1916 Societies

 

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

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

Posted by Jim on July 28, 2016

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

 

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

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

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

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

Cultural heritage

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

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

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

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

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

Oireachtas representation

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

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

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

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

PSF willing to look at alternatives to united Ireland

Posted by Jim on

Sean Bres

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

AOH leaders look to the future

Posted by Jim on July 24, 2016

By JC Sullivan

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

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

Hence the change of venue.

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

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

Only the top four officers would read their reports.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The AOH maintains an obelisk there.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Jim on

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New row over Cameron’s Bloody Sunday apology

Posted by Jim on July 23, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He made controversial claims that some nationalists had facilitated the
manoeuvre.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CHANGED UTTERLY? PARTY LEADERS ACCEPT REUNIFICATION DRIVE

Posted by Jim on

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ireland’s Future In Ireland’s Hands

Posted by Jim on July 22, 2016

Sean Bresnahan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Celebrate Ancient Celtic Feast of Lughnasa

Posted by Jim on

LUGHNASA FLYER

Protestant New Yorker who saved hundreds of Irish famine victims

Posted by Jim on July 20, 2016

 

Originally published in 2013.

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Jim on

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

Sectarian Orange Order bonfires

Posted by Jim on July 17, 2016

by Tom Cooper

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Irish outside 26 Counties to get vote in Presidential elections

Posted by Jim on

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Jim on July 16, 2016

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

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

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

1916 Societies-NYC
244 Fifth Avenue
Suite K-205
New York, New York 10001
212-726-2112

Action against hate bonfires would ‘increase disorder’ – PSNI

Posted by Jim on

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Martin Hurson – Died July13th, 1981

Posted by Jim on July 13, 2016

 

[Image]

 

A hard-working and extremely likeable republican

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

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

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

INJURIES

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

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

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

CAPPAGH

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JOKE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BERNADETTE

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

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

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

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

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

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

RUC

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

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

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

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

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

TORTURE

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

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

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

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

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

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

STATEMENTS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HUNGER STRIKE

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

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

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

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

 

Houses gutted by bonfires as Orangemen march

Posted by Jim on July 12, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Theresa May to become British PM on Wednesday

Posted by Jim on July 11, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Jim on

Loyalist 1

I Wish Both King Billy and King James II Had Lost

Posted by Jim on July 10, 2016

“A plague on both your houses”

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

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

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

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

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

Fr. Sean Mc Manus

UNIONISTS ‘VETO’ IRISH BREXIT FORUM

Posted by Jim on July 9, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

VILLIERS SAYS NO

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

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

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

He said that Villiers should “butt out”.

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

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

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

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

UNIONISTS ‘ON A VOYAGE’

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

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

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

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

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

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

Joe McDonnell – Died July 8th, 1981

Posted by Jim on July 8, 2016

 

[Image]

 

A deep-thinking republican with a great sense of humour

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

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

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

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

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

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

RESOLVE

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

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

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

FAMILY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DATING

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

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

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

INTERNMENT

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

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

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

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

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

RAIDS

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

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

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

BOMBS

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

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

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

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

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

CAPTURE

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

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

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

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

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

Three IRA Volunteers managed to escape safely from the area.

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

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

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

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

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

IMPACT

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

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

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

MARTYR

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

 

EU leavers had no plan beyond simply leaving

Posted by Jim on July 7, 2016

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

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

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

That cartoon is already out of date.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Jim on

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

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

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

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

His widow Geraldine was also injured during the attack.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“They sent me a bum steer,” he said.

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

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

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

He also concluded that there was no overarching state conspiracy.

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

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

The family has since appealed this ruling.

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

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

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

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

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

Brooklyn Shamrocks GFC schedule for July at Gaelic Park

Posted by Jim on July 6, 2016

Friday July 8 vs. Rangers at 6:45pm

Sunday July 17 vs. Kerry at 1:00pm

Saturday July 23 vs. Mayo at 6:30pm

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

 

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

Posted by Jim on July 5, 2016


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

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

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

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

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

Increase in harassment of republicans

Posted by Jim on July 2, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

STOP AND SEARCH PROTEST

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

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

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

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

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

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

Orange parade plan for Ardoyne abandoned

Posted by Jim on

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

UNIONISTS FEAR UNITY, DEMAND BORDER CLOSURE

Posted by Jim on

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘OPEN BORDER’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Jim on July 1, 2016

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FDNY Bravest Boxing Teams first outdoor event.

Posted by Jim on June 30, 2016

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

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

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

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

Race violence as politicians discuss Brexit chaos

Posted by Jim on June 29, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

EMERGENCY TALKS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From Rockaway to the Rising – June 29, 2016

Posted by Jim on

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

 

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

 

Sponsored by the 1916 Societies NY One Ireland One Vote Campaign.
For more info call (212) 726-2112 or go to www.facebook.com/newyork1916societies/ or 1916societies.com.

 

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

Posted by Jim on June 28, 2016

Sunday, July 24, 2016 Noon to 6 PM

Rain or Shine

Greis Park on Horton Avenue, Lynbrook

Between Sunrise Highway and Merrick Road at the Valley Stream border

 

Food and beverages included

plus Games, Live Music, & Raffles

Adults – $12.50 (15.00 at the door),

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

Invite your Friends & Family along, too.

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

 

Picnic Chairman:

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

(631) 682-8711

bytshore1@aol.com

 

 

 

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

Posted by Jim on June 27, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

British Exit From Ireland

Posted by Jim on

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For further information on this campaign contact:

1916 Societies-New York

244 Fifth Avenue

Suite K-205

New York, New York 10001

212-726-2112

US tapes illegally accessed by PSNI to pursue IRA pensioner

Posted by Jim on June 25, 2016

US tapes illegally accessed by PSNI to pursue IRA pensioner

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

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

Mr Bell, a former chief of staff in the IRA, faces charges of in
connection with the death of Jean McConville, who was killed in 1972
after being accused of being an IRA informer.

The case against Mr Bell centres on an interview he allegedly gave to US
researchers from Boston College as part of a project with IRA members
and loyalists about their roles in the conflict.

Although transcripts were not to be published until after the deaths of
those who took part, a US court ordered that the tapes should be handed
over to British state forces. It is alleged that Mr Bell is one of the
Boston interviewees based on a voice analysis.

Belfast Magistrates’ Court heard that a US Federal Court judge had
ordered disclosure of interviews in the case was to be limited to only
material relating to the death of Jean McConville. Defence lawyer Peter
Corrigan argued that the tapes handed over to the PSNI police went
beyond those restrictions. He is attempting to have the case thrown out.

“That evidence has been unlawfully obtained and should be excluded,” he
said. He told the court that material put to Br Bell during PSNI
interrogations was “way beyond” the Jean McConville case. “It was
unfairly obtained and in clear contravention of an international
treaty.”

Meanwhile, republican Anthony McIntyre, who was a lead researcher in the
project, is also battling an attempt to imprison him using a similar
“fishing” process of gathering possible evidence from the interviews.

Lawyers for Mr McIntyre have pointed to a series of errors in the PSNI’s
efforts to gain access to the tapes made by him at Boston College.

Senior judges in Belfast have now ordered the PSNI and Crown prosecutors
to clarify how an International Letter of Request (ILOR) for the
material wrongly included an erroneous conviction for armed robbery and
even blamed him for a bomb attack in which he was actually a victim.

With the case adjourned until September, the PSNI members due to travel
to Boston this week as part of a separate inquiry will not yet be able
to take possession of his recordings.

Uncertainty over how border will be policed

Posted by Jim on

Uncertainty over how border will be policed

Allison Morris.Irish News (Belfast). Saturday, June 25, 2016

There is continued uncertainly about how the border between Northern Ireland  and the Republic will be policed when the UK exits from the European Union in two years’ time.

Negotiations about the timeframe for withdrawal from the EU will not begin until a new Conservative leader is appointed following the resignation of David Cameron yesterday.

With a new British prime minister expected to be in place by October, plans on how the 300 miles of border is policed may not be put in place until the end of 2018.

In the run up to the referendum there were warnings of the return to a hard border and vehicle checkpoints at main crossing points, however, Secretary of State Theresa Villiers, has maintained this would not be necessary.

However, the EU could demand that as a member state authorities in the Republic put in place permanent border checkpoints. A decision on this will form a major part of the UK exit negotiations.

Security experts have said that policing the entire length of the border is unlikely given it proved impossible during the Troubles, but customs checks on heavy goods vehicles crossing from north to south would be necessary.

However, with immigration one of the major factors in the decision to leave the EU it seems almost certain that some form of passport check will be put in place to stop citizens of other EU member states entering the UK via the land border with Northern Ireland.

Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt said there was still “no certainty about what will happen”.

“We know from bitter experience that it is practically impossible to secure the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and as it is likely that freedom of movement will continue to apply on the island of Ireland, the challenge will be to stop illegal immigrants moving into Northern Ireland from the Republic,” he said.

“The next question that raises is how will the UK government stop people illegally entering Great Britain from Northern Ireland?

“The hard border could be at the ports and airports at Cairnryan, Heathrow, Gatwick and all the rest. Equally, there is no certainty there will be free trade and will customs posts return?”

Fr Sean McManus of the Irish National Caucus, who is a native of Co Fermanagh, said that the return of a checkpoint while an “ugly” eyesore strengthened the case for Northern Ireland to move away from a union “that has never really cared”.

“Not only is my country divided but my historic parish of Kinawley is also arbitrarily and arrogantly divided by that damn border. Part is in the six counties and part in the Irish Republic.

“While the UK was in the EU, and with the coming of the peace process I had the joy of driving seamlessly home each summer from Dublin to the parish of Kinawley and not seeing one British custom post or one British army manned border fortress.

“However, without trying to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear, one can gain some comfort with the thought that since Northern Ireland itself voted to remain in the EU, this now means that the vast majority of the people in Ireland, north and south, side with the EU rather than with England.

“Maybe, therefore, it can be said that the unionist cause is getting weaker and weaker”, he said.

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson said any attempt to introduce Irish border controls would be “a major setback for the political process in the North”.

Adrian Cummins of the Restaurants Association of Ireland said: “Restaurateurs in border areas are deeply concerned with potential new border arrangements post Brexit”.

However, loyalist blogger Jamie Bryson called for a return of the British army to patrol the border “as a matter of urgency.”

“There will undoubtedly be an increased terror threat from Irish republican terrorists as well as an rapidly increasing threat of international terrorism emanating from within the open borders of the European Union,” he said.

“Given these increased threats, especially during the period of the UK’s negotiation as we move towards an eventual exit, there is a clear need for increased border security.

“The British army are clearly best equipped to provide the required security for the UK’s border areas under an increased terrorist threat.”

Political upheaval as Britain votes to quit EU

Posted by Jim on June 24, 2016

British Prime Minister David Cameron is predicted to resign after
results from his referendum on EU membership show it pulling Britain and
the north of Ireland out of the European Union by a total vote of an
estimated 51.7% to 48.3%.

Opinion polls published ahead of the vote once again proved wildly
incorrect as the ‘Leave’ vote gained a majority of almost a million
votes by 5am this Friday morning.

The “Leave” camp did much better than expected in the post-industrial
northern English towns and the Labour-voting former mining valleys in
Wales. Significantly, the north of Ireland and Scotland showed clear
majorities for remaining in the EU, with 56% and 62% in favour of
‘Remain’ respectively, while England and Wales voted for ‘Leave’
by some 54% and 52% respectively.

Amid profound financial and political upheaval, Labour leader Jeremy
Corbyn is set to call on David Cameron to resign if he does not depart
of his own accord, according to reports. Hilary Benn, the shadow foreign
secretary, said he believed David Cameron would quit.

“If you are the prime minister, you’ve called this referendum, you’ve
laid your reputation on the line and your arguments, I think it’s going
to be very hard,” he said.

The results of the referendum painted a picture of Britain as a deeply
divided state, fractured along lines of region, class, age, and, in the
Six Counties, along sectarian lines. The poll released a wave of
hostility in England against immigrants and foreigners in general,
culminating in a fatal gun and knife attack on Labour MP Jo Cox, who had
campaigned on behalf of Syrian refugees.

In the north of Ireland, there was a strong trend towards remaining in
the EU in nationalist constituencies, and for leaving in unionist
constituencies. The strongest ‘Remain’ votes were in Derry, where 78%
backed EU membership, followed by west Belfast at 74%, while the
strongest ‘Leave’ votes were in north Antrim, where 62% backed ‘Leave’,
followed by Strangford at 56%.

The biggest surpirse of the night was in Wales, where only 5 of the 22
Welsh authorities voted to remain, the rest for ‘Leave’. ‘Remain’
campaigners saw the result as a protest against the establishment and
Tory austerity as well as immigration. There was a similar story across
swathes of England, where industrial and working class areas voted
strongly for ‘Leave’, while the wealthier and more cosmopolitan
constituencies of London and other southern urban centres voted strongly
for ‘Remain’.

There was a very clear divide between Scotland and England, with voters
north of the border showing much stronger support for ‘Remain’. In
Glasgow, Scotland’s largest city, voters backed ‘Remain’ by a margin of
two to one, with 67% in favour of staying in Europe, compared to 33% who
backed a Brexit.

Former SNP leader Alex Salmond said the result of the referendum warned
that Scots could hold a second independence referendum if the country is
“dragged” out of the European Union.

He said: “Scotland looks like it is gong to vote solidly Remain. If
there was a Leave vote in England, dragging us out the EU, I’m quite
certain Nicola Sturgeon would implement the SNP manifesto.”

The party’s manifesto ahead of May’s Scottish Parliament election said
Scotland should have the right to hold a second independence vote if
there is a “significant and material” change in circumstances from 2014,
such as Scotland being taken out of the EU against its will.

In the north of Ireland, Sinn Fein looks set to to press ahead with its
demands for a border poll, but has not yet made a definitive statement.
Speaking as the results came in early this morning, Sinn Fein’s
national chairman Declan Kearney said Brexit will have “massive
ramifications for the British State as we know it”.

Cameron quits but will ‘steady the ship’ after Brexit vote

Posted by Jim on

Conservative Party leader David Cameron has resigned as British Prime
Minister, and said he will step down in October. He made his
resignation speech this morning outside Downing Street after Britain
voted to leave the European Union. Mr Cameron said he accepted the
decision of the electorate, which voted for a ‘Brexit’ yesterday by 52%
to 48%.

Flanked by his wife Samantha, Cameron said he had informed the English
royals of his decision to remain in place for the short term as
negotiations take place.

“The British people have voted to leave the European Union and their
will must be respected,” he said. “The will of the British people is an
instruction that must be delivered.”

He said he would leave it to his successor to invoke Article 50 of the
Lisbon Treaty, which kicks off the two-year process of negotiating a new
relationship with the EU. Cameron said this will need to involve the
“full engagement of the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland governments
to ensure that the interests of all parts of our United Kingdom are
protected and advanced”.

“The country requires fresh leadership to take it in this direction,” he
added. “I will do everything I can as Prime Minister to steady the ship
over the coming weeks and months, but I don’t think it would be right
for me to try to be the captain that steers our country to its next
destination.”

Elsewhere, there were ugly scenes in London as a panicked and angry
crowd labelled Boris Johnson a “twat” and “scum” as he emerged from his
home following his campaign’s victory in the EU referendum. Mr Johnson’s
car was trapped by a crowd of around 40 cyclists and onlookers blocking
a junction who taunted him with profanities as his car was trapped. One
man yelled: “The pound is down, what do you say about that? Is it going
to be all right, Boris? Is the UK going to be all right, Boris? Are we
going to be all right, mate? Come on, man up.”

While England and Scotland voted to quit the EU, both the north of
Ireland and Scotland voted to remain. In the Six Counties, only seven
constituencies voted to leave, mostly along the eastern seaboard:
Belfast East, Lagan Valley, Strangford, Upper Bann and the three Antrim
constituences.

Sinn Fein MEP Matt Carthy said that Britain’s decision to leave the
European Union means that a referendum on a United Ireland is now
vital.

“The British Government has no mandate to drag the north of Ireland out
of the EU. It has no mandate to re-erect border controls between north
and south,” he said.

“Irish interests are being actively and gravely damaged by the
decisions taken in England.

“The north of Ireland has voted to remain in the EU. The British
Government cannot now negotiate on behalf of people there to exit the
European Union.

“A referendum on a United Ireland is now a democratic imperative and it
is incumbent that the Irish Government and all Irish nationalist parties
support this demand. To do anything less would be to betray the best
interests of the Irish people.”

In Belfast, Martin McGuinness said the decision to “drag us out” of the
European Union had “nothing to do with issues around the European
institutions and everything to do with the civil war within the British
Tory party”.

“The people of the north of Ireland, nationalists, republicans,
unionists and others have made it clear at the polls that they wish to
remain in the EU.

“The British government now need to take account of that and recognise
that reality and allow the people of the north to have their say on
their own future.

“Dragging us out of Europe will be to the detriment of all our citizens
and will be bad for business, trade, investment, and wider society

“I, and all Sinn Fein ministers will work to ensure the political
institutions remain on a stable footing but it is very difficult to put
detailed contingencies in place until we know the extent of the impact
of Brexit on our finances, our infrastructure and health services.

“All of that is still subject to a negotiation but the fact is that we
are in unchartered waters.

“Sinn Fein will be seeking an urgent meeting with the Irish government,
the European institutions and also with our counterparts in Scotland to
discuss how we move forward in the best interests of all of our people.”

The Great Irish/American Independence Parade July 2

Posted by Jim on

Irish Independence Parade

Loughinisland investigation a sorry tale of incompetence, indifference and collusion

Posted by Jim on June 23, 2016

Loughinisland investigation a sorry tale of incompetence, indifference and collusion

The RUC vowed no stone would be left unturned in the hunt for the UVF men who murdered six Catholics at The Heights Bar in 1994. But the subsequent probe became a running sore that’s remembered with anger to this day, says Alban Maginness[ former SDLP elected official]

Belfast Telegraph. Thursday, June 23, 2016.

I remember well the evening of June 18, 1994. It had been a gloriously warm day and the evening sun stretched itself with a rare generosity. We were having a small SDLP fundraiser in my home and people were in great spirits, the Irish World Cup football team were doing exceptionally well and there were definite signs that an IRA ceasefire was on its way.

However, the happy political and social atmosphere was shattered by the emerging news that six people had been killed and five others seriously wounded in a pub shooting in the quiet little village of Loughinisland in Co Down.

Instinctively, we knew that it was a Loyalist paramilitary attack on a small Catholic community, probably intended to destabilize our snail’s pace progress to peace. It was, on the face of it, a senseless outrage, but in reality it was a ruthless and calculated provocation designed to disrupt the political attempts on all sides to bring about peace.

The Irish World Cup team fans in the Heights Bar were the innocent victims of a ruthless decision by the UVF to cause an unspeakable outrage that hurt and hurts deeply – even today. No one was caught and charged with the murders. Justice was denied to the victims and their families, and that rankles deeply in the community’s memory.

The recent report by Dr Michael Maguire, the Police Ombudsman, on this outrage is a damning indictment of the RUC’s investigation.

Disturbingly, the report says that, within a relatively short period of time, the police had reliable intelligence on who committed the murders. In addition, the police recovered the getaway car, the murder weapons and the clothing believed to have been used by the killers. Yet, surprisingly, nobody was caught.

The Police Ombudsman’s report is distressing, as he comes to a number of clear and worrying conclusions. Not least, he concluded that this investigation was “constrained by a refusal of a number of key people [police] to speak to his investigators”.

Given the passage of 22 years, one would have expected, at this point in time, that former officers would have been man enough – or contrite enough – to cooperate with the Police Ombudsman.

Sadly, they did not, and this was inexcusable and is a huge disappointment to all, especially the relatives of the victims, who deserve better from ex-policemen.

It is outrageous that former officers in the RUC failed to assist in this high-profile murder investigation by the Police Ombudsman. The suspicion that they are still hiding crucial information will remain – given their uncooperative attitude to the investigation.

But perhaps the most chilling aspect of the report deals with the separate, but intimately related, smuggling of weapons by loyalist paramilitaries in 1988.

The fact is that the VZ58 rifle used in the Loughinisland incident was part of a shipment brought into Northern Ireland in 1988. Thus, there was a clear connection between the arms importation and the killings.

What is outrageous is that there were police informants engaged in the arms smuggling, but, despite this, the police failed to stop, or retrieve, all the weapons.

The Police Ombudsman says that this was a “significant intelligence failure”. I think that this conclusion is an understatement.

Surely, if the RUC knew a dangerous consignment of guns was being procured by loyalists, why did they not act decisively to prevent this happening? The police were there to uphold the law and not allow the law to be flouted, or undermined. But, as a result of their failure regarding the arms shipment, the RUC opened the way for this dreadful attack and other terrorist activity to take place.

Unbelievably, in this sorry tale, the police investigation into the murders was characterised, in too many instances, by incompetence, indifference and neglect. The failure to conduct early intelligence-led arrests was particularly significant and seriously undermined the investigation. All of this after the RUC promised that no stone would be left unturned in the hunt to find the killers. Clearly, some stones were left unturned and the killers were never found.

The Police Ombudsman also concluded, quite correctly in my opinion, that there was collusion. This was long-suspected, but is now finally confirmed.

He based this on Judge Smithwick’s broad, but not unreasonable, definition, to include omission, or failure to act, as well as the commission of an act.

Dr Maguire, therefore, not unreasonably, concluded that the protection of informants by Special Branch, through wilful acts as well as also turning a blind eye, catastrophic failures in the police investigation and the destruction of exhibits and documents, collectively amounted to collusion.

Quite frankly, a thoroughly depressing report for the victims and their families, who sought justice for those innocent people who were wilfully and cruelly put to death watching a World Cup match on TV that sunny evening of June 18, 1994.

Fr. Sean Mc Manus

Concept of live and let live is beyond the grasp of many Unionists

Posted by Jim on June 22, 2016

What will be achieved by demolishing a republican monument in Carnlough, a town with an 87 per cent Catholic population?
Brian Feeney. Irish News (Belfast). Wednesday, June 22, 2016
THERE’S a city called Cluj in western Romania.
It’s the unofficial capital of Transylvania. Cluj is the Romanian name for it.
Hungarians, who make up about 20 per cent of the 400,000 population, call it Kolozvar. Germans call it Klausenburg.
Why would Germans call it anything? Well, there was a substantial Saxon population in the Middle Ages who were imported to defend the mountain passes against the Mongols.
Cluj was part of the kingdom of Hungary from the tenth century until 1920 when the Treaty of Trianon partitioned Hungary and Transylvania was given to Romania.
Hungarians didn’t think that was a great idea. Since then relations between Romanians and Hungarians in the city and surrounding countryside have been pretty rocky.
Around twenty years ago council workers were in the city’s main square busily digging under a statue of the fifteenth century Hungarian King Matthias Corvinus, a Hungarian folk hero.
Why? Wait for it: to prove that Romanian civilisation predated Hungarian civilisation. The city council wasn’t being ironic about the word civilisation.
This piece of nonsense was part and parcel of an anti-Hungarian campaign by the city mayor, the dreadful Gheorghe Funar, currently Secretary of the Greater Romania Party.
Funar was mayor from 1992-2004. Among his wheezes he had the city’s pavements painted in the colours of the Romanian flag, red, yellow and blue. but not only the pavements, the park benches, bins, anything that didn’t move.
Anything to annoy the local Hungarians. Initially he was a populist hero for the Romanian population of the city until tourists and businesses began to avoid the place and it went into decline.
Nevertheless it took twelve years to boot him out. The voters have learnt their lesson. When he stood in 2008 he got 4 per cent of the vote.
You can see where this is going, can’t you? As a result of the reorganisation of councils here we’re going to have a number of Cluj/Kolozvar/ Klausenburgs.
As you see, it’s not just Derry that has two names. It’s not just councils in parts of Transylvania that are dominated by the shortsighted.
What will be achieved by demolishing a republican monument in Carnlough, a town with an 87 per cent Catholic population?
Very simple: an increase in support for Sinn Féin, a hardening of attitudes, a sharpening of division, retaliation by defacing a war memorial in Larne with its 68 per cent Protestant population, the rebuilding of the original republican monument and so on.
Furthermore the dunderheads in Mid & East Antrim council who are content with unauthorised loyalist memorials never think about the fate of their fellow Unionists in republican dominated councils.
Do they imagine their narrow view makes it easy for Unionists in Magherafelt to argue that the council shouldn’t ban Union Jacks from the town centre?
What argument can they make against a memorial to 1916 being erected beside one to the World Wars? “ I’ll see your monument and raise you two.”
How does the tunnel vision in Mid & East Antrim make it easy for any republican to be magnanimous in Tyrone or Fermanagh?
Unfortunately there is no leadership from either Sinn Féin or the DUP instructing their local worthies to behave themselves.
Even if they can’t convince them to behave for honourable motives, at least they might be able to show it only makes things worse for people with their own views where they’re in a minority.
Instead of criticizing the behaviour of their local worthies, there is silence, broken only by Arlene Foster in a display of pettiness entering the dispute about ‘the north’ versus Norn Irn [Northern Ireland].
Is there any danger of her telling Unionists also to use the correct name instead of ‘Ulster’ or the ‘pravince’[ province]?
The notion of diversity enshrined in the Good Friday Agreement obviously passes clear over her head.
The bad news is it took more than a decade for the counter-productive behaviour of the ultra-Romanian mayor of Cluj to register with its Romanian voters.
Having got rid of him the city is prospering again. However, it’s improbable that any Hungarian speaker calls the place anything other than Kolozvar even though it’s been officially Cluj for ninety-six years apart from 1941-5.
For some unionists the concept of live and let live remains eternally beyond their grasp.

Wake services for Joseph Murphy Marine Park Funeral Home Wednesday June 22 Thursday June 23 Both days 2-5 and 7-9 Funeral Mass Friday June 24, at 10:00 AM Good Shepard Church

Posted by Jim on June 20, 2016

Please keep Joe & his family in your Prayers.

It is with great sadness that I am posting about the passing of my Big Brother Joseph P. Murphy, once known as “The strongest kid in Brooklyn”. The below article is from when he was “Hibernian of the Year, 2004” It’s an outline of his military accomplishments and his career as a fireman. Although these are impressive events, Joe touched many lives on an individual basis. He was a humble man that loves his Family, his God, his Country, his church and had great faith in his Savior. RIP Joey, I can’t believe your gone. Prayers for his Wife Trisha and his two young daughters.

2004 Hibernian of the Year:
Joseph P. Murphy is a quiet gentleman. Joe is a former United States Marine who defended our country while serving the Marine’s Special Forces Unit. He then went to help preserve life and property in serving our city as a member of the New York City Fire Department. Joe may be best known for the music he creates with his bagpipes, a member of the FDNY Emerald Society and The Leathernecks Pipes and Drums Band. Jos also is involved since the 1980’s with “Project Children” and still keeps close ties with families and friends he has made in Northern Ireland.
Born and raised in Marine park section of Brooklyn, Joe attended Resurrection School, Gerritsen Beach and James Madison High School. He enlisted in the United Stated Marine Corps March, 1976, and was sent to Paris Island, South Carolina, for recruiting training. After boot camp and infantry training school, he was assigned a military occupational specialty of 0331/machine gunner.
He volunteered for duty with the 2nd Force Reconnaissance Company, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Upon receiving orders to the 2nd Marine Division, he went through a stringent interview and physically demanding selection process, before being accepted onto recon training program. Upon graduation of the recon training platoon, he was assigned to the 6th platoon, Force Recon
His military schooling also includes: U.S. Marine Amphibious Recon School, U.S. Army Airborne School, U.S. Army Rangers School, U.S. Navy Scuba School, U.S. Special Forces H.A.L.O (high altitude low opening) school, the anti-terrorist and SWAT Course run by the F.B.I., in Quantico Virginia. He was detached to the 7th Special Forces group out of Fort Bragg, North Carolina, for counterinsurgency and guerrilla warfare training operations. He was also detached the 82nd Airborne Division for an extended period of time. He was deployed with the 3nd Force Recon Company, to the Panama Canal Zone, for jungle operations and military observation. His military decorations include Navy/Marine Corp achievement medal, U.S. Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, and a citation from the U.S. Army 7h Special Forces group.
Upon completion of his enlistment in the Marine Corps, he returned to Brooklyn. In February 1982 he was appointed to the New York City Fire Department. He is assigned to Ladder156 Brooklyn, but due to an injury he is currently working with the Fire Department Health Team.
Joe is a member of the Fire Department Emerald Society, Holy Name Society, Anchor Club, American Legion and Bandmaster for the F.D.N.Y. Emerald Society Pipes and Drums. He is also a member of Division 35 A.O.H., Columbus Council K of C, the Marine Corps League, the Marine Corps Association and the Force Recon Associations. He is the pope major of the Leather Neck Pipes and Drums, Paramus N.J. In April 1997 he was honored by the F.D.N.Y. Brooklyn/Queens Holy Name Society and in November 1997 he was the FD.N.Y Emerald Sociality Irishman of the Year. He was an Aide to the Grans Marshall Representing Irish Culture at the Brooklyn Park Slope St. Patrick’s day parade in 2002.
Joe has been to Ireland numerous occasions and has traveled extensively thought the north of Ireland. In the late 1980’s Joe was active with Project Children’s program. He continues to visit with friends on the Nationalist and Republican areas of Derry City, Joe’s family roots are in the counties of Cork and Waterford.
After the attack on the World Trade Center, The Fire Department Pipe and Drums was now called on to assist at all the line of duty funerals. On September 11, 343 of our brothers were called home. From September 15, to December 16, the Pipe and Drums performed anywhere from 10 to over 20 Funerals a per day. Due to the large number of funeral’s the FDNY Pipes and drum band needed to split up so each firefighter would have the proper funeral they deserved. The last 9/11 Fire Fighter Funeral was held in Brooklyn on September 28, 2003,up to that point the Fire Department Pipe Band had performed at over 420 9/11 line of duties funerals .As of today we are still honoring our deceased fire fighter at street naming, plaque dedications, and other memorials throughout the city.
During this trying time, Joe was engaged to be married to Patricia Stackpole. Patricia lost her brother Captain Timothy Stackpole at the Trade Center. Due to the attacks and loss of her brother they put their wedding plans on hold. On December 8, 2002 Joe and Tricia were married. They recently purchased a house and are residing in Marnie Park

Past Kings County Division 35 member and current County Tyrone AOH President, unrepentant Fenian Gerry McGeough

Posted by Jim on

Gerry McGeough

Come out and support one of the hardest working Hibernians in the Nation

Posted by Jim on

13501576_313566042307720_4205142480885917989_n

Council hacks away 1916 memorial

Posted by Jim on June 19, 2016

Nationalist politicians have hit out after a 1916 Easter Rising monument
was removed by a unionist-controlled council in a midnight raid.

It is understood Mid and East Antrim Borough Council employed a
contractor to remove the controversial memorial close to Carnlough
Harbour.

Unionists had criticised the memorial, branding it “provocative” after
it was erected in the County Antrim village in March.

Sinn Féin and SDLP representatives last night criticised the removal of
the structure, describing the actions of the council as a “shameful and
disrespectful act”.

Sinn Féin MLA, Oliver McMullan said the “forcible removable” of the
memorial had caused “considerable hurt and anger” in the village. “This
monument in Carnlough was erected earlier this year, like hundreds of
others across Ireland, to mark the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising,”
he said.

“Mid and East Antrim Council confirmed today they have removed the
memorial, claiming it had not received council approval. This is a
shameful and disrespectful and one-sided act.

“There are loyalist memorials dotted throughout the council area. We are
simply asking that all memorials should be respected and treated
equally. This action has caused considerable hurt and anger in the
Carnlough area.

SDLP councillor Declan O’Loan said the council’s actions were
“hypocritical”, highlighting the “plethora of huge paramilitary murals”
throughout the district.

He said he did “not support the erection of any memorial on public
property without authorisation” but breaches of planning rules required
“sensitivity and patience”

“The council action was hasty. The public sees a plethora of huge
paramilitary murals in very prominent locations across Mid and East
Antrim.

“All sorts of loyalist flags hang in their hundreds with impunity. The
hypocrisy of the situation is obvious, and it makes the nationalist
community very angry.”

He added: “Acting in the dead of the night shows that the council knew
very well the resentment there would be towards its action, even from
those who had nothing to do with the memorial”.

Question is now about extent of loyalist collusion

Posted by Jim on June 18, 2016

 

By Brian Feeney (for Irish News)

Let’s hope the Police Ombudsman’s report on the Loughinisland killings
becomes a model for future investigations by his office.

Dr Michael Maguire’s welcome report is unique for a number of reasons.

First, he was not content with simply looking at the events of the night
of the murders in the Heights Bar on June 18, 1994 and the RUC’s failure
to investigate properly what happened.

The Ombudsman set his investigation against a backdrop of endemic
collusion going back to the late 1980s beginning with how loyalists
acquired the weapon used in the killings, a VZ58 assault rifle, a Czech
version of the AK-47 with terrific firepower of 800 rounds a minute.

Much of the account he provides about the loyalist importation of
weaponry in 1988 is already well known but Dr Maguire’s report gives
unprecedented detail.

He also gives details of a number of the 70 murders and attempted
murders in Belfast and Co Down by similar assault rifles after March
1988 and their links to east Belfast UVF individuals.

RUC Special Branch and the secret British military intelligence unit FRU
knew which members of the UVF, UDA and Ulster Resistance were involved
in importing the weapons and how they managed it because most were their
agents.

None of them was ever arrested or investigated. The same lack of
investigation applied to the UVF gang involved in the killings at the
Heights Bar. So nothing new there.

Brigadier Gordon Kerr, the man who ran the FRU, knew all about the
acquisition of weapons from South Africa by his agent Brian Nelson.

Many nationalists find it incredible that the weapons nevertheless made
their way without being intercepted, not only to the north but to the
farm of convicted former RUC reservist James Mitchell who on his own
admission held the biggest UVF arms dump in mid-Ulster.

Many wonder if elements in British intelligence decided it was necessary
to upgrade the firepower of their loyalist agents to compete with the
newly acquired arsenal Colonel Gadaffi had supplied to the IRA in
1985-6.

Why was Nelson sent on his shopping expedition in 1987 but not before?
Did he dream it up himself or did someone in intelligence suggest it to
him?

Although the Ombudsman’s report casts its net wider than previously it
raises many more questions by doing so. The fundamental question is
this. To what extent were loyalist terrorists directed by British
military intelligence and RUC Special Branch?

The response of some unionists to the revelations in Dr Maguire’s report
has been to dissemble, swap definitions of collusion, avoid the issue.

They point to the fact that informers saved lives. Many did. That’s not
in dispute. That’s not the issue.

The issue is not whether, but to what extent British intelligence and
RUC Special Branch either allowed loyalists to act as proxy killers or
in some instances actually directed them towards certain individuals?

To what extent did senior members of the security forces, particularly
British intelligence, encourage agents provocateurs?

We know that the UDA, a criminal conspiracy from the outset, was
maintained as a legal organisation until almost the end of the Troubles
despite being responsible for hundreds of killings.

If they were carrying out operations the security forces couldn’t do
legally the reason for not banning them is obvious.

And don’t say it was the UFF, a fictional organisation devised to help
the NIO explain why they didn’t ban the UDA. Does anyone know where the
UFF wing was in Long Kesh or Maghaberry?

At bottom evidence suggests the British state decided early on to use
any means they could to destroy the IRA. If that meant making loyalist
murder gangs into state agents so be it.

If they continued to kill innocent Catholics that was unfortunate.

The alternative explanation for collusion, failure to investigate
loyalist killings or intercept loyalist arms trafficking is that
important elements in British intelligence and RUC Special Branch were
out of control. Which do you think?

Please take a moment of silence at 3:00pm today

Posted by Jim on

Brooklyn’s AOH Freedom for All Ireland Chair Jim Sullivan has asked that all please take a moment of silence at 3:00pm (15:00 ) in memory of the 6 murdered victims and their families in the Heights Bar, LoughlinIsland County Down while watching a soccer match between Italy and Ireland June 18, 1994.
The six men cut down by the UVF as they watched the football were Daniel McCreanor (59), Adrian Rogan (34), Malcolm Jenkinson (52), Eamon Byrne (39), Patrick O’Hare (35) and Barney Greene (87).

Villiers under pressure to quit over Loughinisland stance

Posted by Jim on

British Direct Ruler Theresa Villiers has refused to withdraw comments
she made about the Loughinisland massacre, following a report last week
which found that British state forces had indeed colluded in the
murders.

In February, Villiers said claims that the state colluded with loyalist
death squads were “pernicious” and a “deliberate distortion of the
truth”. She referred to the gun attack on a County Down village pub in
1994, claiming that it wasn’t the RUC of British Army that “pulled the
trigger” at Loughinisland.

Six innocent Catholics were killed and five others injured as they
watching an international soccer game on TV in the Heights Bar when a
massacre was carried out by members of the loyalist Ulster Volunteer
Force (UVF).

Last week’s report of the Police Ombudsman Michael Maguire concluded
that one suspect in the UVF attack was a police informer. His report
also said that the death squad that carried out the mass shooting had
been involved in a number of other murders in the period beforehand, but
had avoided arrest because the RUC Special Branch police had withheld
evidence, and had also tipped off the murder gang in advance.

While the RUC may not have known the exact details of the Loughinisland
attack, they did have the names of the suspects within hours and didn’t
arrest them until a month later.

Mr Maguire found that a gun used in the Loughinisland attack was part of
a shipment of arms brought in by loyalists with the help of state agents
in late 1987/early 1988. He said he had no hesitation in determining
collusion between the forces of the state and loyalist paramilitaries.

Villiers is now under pressure to resign. An online petition has also
been launched to urge her to apologise to relatives of those killed. The
petition was set up by campaign group Relatives for Justice on Monday.

Director Mark Thompson called on Ms Villiers to now withdraw her
remarks. “It was RUC paid agents who pulled the triggers and it was the
RUC who failed to investigate the atrocity, with houses not searched and
no arrests made for a month, despite having names within a day,” he
said.

“Alibis weren’t checked out and evidence was persistently destroyed by
the police. It was the RUC who destroyed the getaway car after 10 months
denying future police investigations the opportunity to test for DNA.”

“Following the publication of the Police Ombudsman Report on
Loughinisland Ms Villiers cannot say she accepts the findings of the
report and allow her hurtful and damaging remarks to stand.

“She must retract the remarks and make apology to the Loughinisland
families and all families affected by the British military policy of
collusion,” he said.

SDLP MP for South Down Margaret Ritchie said Villiers must resign if she
does not accept the findings of the Police Ombudsman’s report into the
Loughinisland massacre in its entirety.

Ritchie added: “Her continued equivocation over state collusion in the
face of the damning report is outrageous. It is an insult to the
families who have campaigned with dignity and resilience for so long and
offensive to all the people of the North who are opposed to paramilitary
and state violence.”

The tragedy is being remembered by many soccer fans this week as Ireland
plays in another major international competition. A social media
campaign has been launched urging football fans to remember the
Loughinisland gun attack victims during the European Championship soccer
match later today [Saturday].

‘Stand Up For the Loughinisland Six’ is urging supporters to stand in
the sixth minute of the match against Belgium, which takes place on the
anniversary of the attack on Saturday.

A survivor of the Loughinisland attack last week said those affected by
the tragedy will come together in the Heights Bar to watch the Ireland
games during the European Championships.

Aidan O’Toole, who survived the attack on his family bar, said relatives
of those who died and were injured still meet to watch Ireland play in
big tournaments as a way of supporting each other.

* The Villiers apology petition can be signed online at
http://chn.ge/1YyBhkX

Come Out and Support Dan Dennehy

Posted by Jim on June 17, 2016

Dennehy

Greater Ardoyne Residents’ Collective

Posted by Jim on June 16, 2016

Greater Ardoyne Residents' Collective's photo.
Greater Ardoyne Residents’ Collective with Thomas Harte and 46 others.

On Wednesday 8th June, Ballymurphy activist Seán Cahill was made aware that a female Sinn Féin member had told people that he had carried out electrical work for that they should not employ him as he was a “dissident”. This was the latest example of Sinn Féin members in Belfast attempting to impact on the ability of Republicans to provide for their families, with people actively being discouraged from employing them or availing of their skills, business and/or services.

Seán put a facebook post on his personal account, detailing this experience and naming the Sinn Féin member responsible. On Wednesday night he was visited at his home by two Sinn Féin members, including a brother in law of Sinn Féin Policing Board member Gerry Kelly. This man told Seán, in front of his wife, daughters and grandchildren, that he would “get one in the head.” Other threats were issued.

Seán, for the purposes of community awareness, informed friends of this threat via facebook. A female SF member returned to his home and made more threats. Sean’s distressed wife subsequently accessed his account and deleted any statuses connected to the incidents.

As a Republican, Seán refused to contact the PSNI regarding this incident, but on Thursday 9th June, he travelled to Holy Cross Monastery and asked to speak to Fr Gary Donegan. He did so as Fr Donegan has publicly stated that he will work with anyone allegedly under threat, will publicly support them and condemn those “in the shadows” that issue such threats. Fr Donegan was not available and Seán left his name and number at the reception.

Seán stressed to the Monastery staff member that he had received two intimidatory visits to his home in 24 hours, a death threat to his face (not from “the shadows”) issued by someone purporting to be a Republican. He added that it was issued in front of his distressed family and that he was apprehensive about returning home and putting his family in danger. He stated that he wanted Fr Gary Donegan to assist in ascertaining the validity or legitimacy of this threat, given his public claims in the media that he can assist members of the public in this regard, regardless of where any alleged threat emanates from.

It is now six days later and Seán Cahill has still had no contact from Fr Gary Donegan. Sinn Féin, despite being aware of the incident, have made no effort to contact the Cahill family. Seán remains unclear as to the nature of the threat against him as he works and spends time with his family. This raises serious questions, including:

– Do Sinn Féin support and endorse the threat against Sean Cahill, as they see him as a political opponent? If not, will SF take any disciplinary action against those responsible?

– Will Sinn Féin issue any public statement supporting Sean Cahill and his family?

– Why has Fr Donegan not got in contact with Sean Cahill when his contact details were left at Holy Cross Monastery along with information of a direct threat to his life. A threat that was issued personally and in front of witnesses?

– Does Fr Donegan only work to support those supposedly under threat from “dissidents” but ignore those under threat from Sinn Féin members?

– How does Fr Donegan ascertain the legitimacy of any alleged threats?

– Does Fr Gary Donegan have any knowledge of an armed group aligned to Sinn Féin?

– Did he ask Sinn Féin or the PSNI who Sean Cahill was, then decide he wasn’t worthy of support?

– Will Fr Donegan now belatedly contact Sean Cahill, offer support and publicly call on Sinn Féin to cease their covert campaign of intimidation against activists and their families in communities across Ireland?

The death threat against Seán Cahill should be lifted immediately, and his family should be free to live in peace. The demonisation, intimidation and harassment of activists by Sinn Féin, assisted by the PSNI, is unjust, immoral, anti-republican and demonstrates just how much they have become assimilated into corrupt State institutions.

Loughinisland inquiry sets a high standard

Posted by Jim on June 15, 2016

Brian Feeney. Irish News (Belfast). Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Let’s hope the Police Ombudsman’s report on the Loughinisland killings becomes a model for future investigations by his office.

Dr Michael Maguire’s welcome report is unique for a number of reasons. First, he was not content with simply looking at the events of the night of the murders in the Heights Bar on June 18, 1994 and the RUC’s failure to investigate properly what happened.

The Ombudsman set his investigation against a backdrop of endemic collusion going back to the late 1980s beginning with how Loyalists acquired the weapon used in the killings, a VZ58 assault rifle, a Czech version of the AK-47 with terrific firepower of 800 rounds a minute.

Much of the account he provides about the loyalist importation of weaponry in 1988 is already well known but Dr Maguire’s report gives unprecedented detail. He also gives details of a number of the 70 murders and attempted murders in Belfast and County Down with similar assault rifles after March 1988 and their links to east Belfast UVF individuals.

RUC Special Branch and the secret British military intelligence unit FRU[Force Research Unit] knew which members of the UVF, UDA and Ulster Resistance were involved in importing the weapons,  and how they managed it,  because most were their agents. None of them was ever arrested or investigated. The same lack of investigation applied to the UVF gang involved in the killings at the Heights Bar. So nothing new there.

Brigadier Gordon Kerr, the man who ran the FRU, knew all about the acquisition of weapons from South Africa by his agent Brian Nelson. Many nationalists find it incredible that the weapons nevertheless made their way without being intercepted, not only to The North but to the farm of convicted former RUC reservist James Mitchell who on his own admission held the biggest UVF arms dump in mid-Ulster.

Many wonder if elements in British intelligence decided it was necessary to upgrade the firepower of their loyalist agents to compete with the newly acquired arsenal Colonel Gadaffi had supplied to the IRA in 1985-6. Why was Nelson sent on his shopping expedition in 1987 but not before? Did he dream it up himself or did someone in intelligence suggest it to him?

Although the Ombudsman’s report casts its net wider than previously,  it raises many more questions by doing so. The fundamental question is this. To what extent were Loyalist terrorists directed by British military intelligence and RUC Special Branch?

The response of some Unionists to the revelations in Dr Maguire’s report has been to dissemble, swap definitions of collusion, avoid the issue. They point to the fact that informers saved lives. Many did. That’s not in dispute. That’s not the issue. The issue is not whether, but to what extent British intelligence and RUC Special Branch either allowed loyalists to act as proxy killers or in some instances actually directed them towards certain individuals? To what extent did senior members of the security forces, particularly British intelligence, encourage agents provocateurs?

We know that the UDA, a criminal conspiracy from the outset, was maintained as a legal organisation until almost the end of the Troubles despite being responsible for hundreds of killings. If they were carrying out operations the security forces couldn’t do legally,  the reason for not banning them is obvious. And don’t say it was the UFF, a fictional organisation devised to help the NIO [Northern Ireland Office] explain why they didn’t ban the UDA. Does anyone know where the UFF wing was in Long Kesh or Maghaberry?

At bottom evidence suggests the British state decided early on to use any means they could to destroy the IRA. If that meant making loyalist murder gangs into state agents so be it. If they continued to kill innocent Catholics that was unfortunate.

The alternative explanation for collusion, failure to investigate loyalist killings or intercept loyalist arms trafficking, is that important elements in British intelligence and RUC Special Branch were out of control. Which do you think?

Collusion was on a grand scale

Posted by Jim on June 14, 2016

Allison Morris. Irish News (Belfast). Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Loughinisland families have welcomed the findings of a police ombudsman’s report into the atrocity
IN the aftermath of the damning Loughinisland Police Ombudsman report, further questions must be asked about a massive arms shipment linked to dozens of loyalist murders.

Since last Thursday, when Dr Michael Maguire delivered his findings into the killing of six people by the UVF while watching a football match, there has been much debate about the definition of collusion.

Dr Maguire applied the definition favoured by Judge Peter Smithwick who found that there was Garda  collusion with the IRA in the murders of two senior policemen in 1989.

Chief Supt Harry Breen and Supt Bob Buchanan were shot dead in an IRA ambush in south Armagh as they crossed the border after a meeting in Dundalk Garda station,

Judge Smithwick said while there was no ‘smoking gun’, information received may have prevented the attack and there was inadequate investigations into the murders and “inappropriate” relationships between officers and IRA members.

Dr Maguire’s findings were much more damning than a failure to properly investigate and what he called a “hear no evil, speak no evil, see no evil” attitude among some members of Special Branch in their control of loyalist informers.

He found that security services had prior knowledge of the South African arms shipment but did not prevent the weapons being smuggled and then failed to intercept some of the shipment, despite intelligence on its whereabouts.

In my view this is collusion in its most basic form and there is no room for ambivalence towards Dr Maguire’s findings, if the report is viewed – as it was intended – in its entirety.

All of those families who lost loved ones through the use of these guns should now have recourse against the state.

A senior loyalist informer, Tommy ‘Tucker’ Lyttle, was one of those who organised the arms deal, as did British army agent Brian Nelson.

The weapons that fell into the hands of the shadowy Ulster Resistance group have never been recovered, while some made their way to other paramilitary organisations and many remain in what one senior loyalist described to me last week as “cold storage”.

It has been said that informers helped save many lives over the course of the conflict, but as seen in the case of UVF man Mark Haddock and IRA agent Stakeknife, they were also permitted to kill on occasions.

Who decided who lived and who died in such cases?

While the RUC may not have known the exact details of the Loughinisland attack – few people would have, given it was in retaliation for the murder of two UVF men just days before – they did have the names of the suspects within hours and didn’t arrest them until a month later.

By any definition there was collusion on a grand scale in this case.

Lawyer murdered ‘by army-run death squad’

Posted by Jim on

Irish News (Belfast). Tuesday, June 14, 2016
MURDERED Belfast lawyer Pat Finucane was the victim of an army-run death squad normally associated with Latin American dictatorships, the Court of Appeal heard yesterday.

Counsel for the solicitor’s widow claimed his assassination was due to covert, state-sponsored terrorism and represents a “horror story” for the British government.

The allegations were made as Geraldine Finucane began her bid to overturn a ruling that Prime Minister David Cameron acted lawfully in refusing to hold a public inquiry into the killing.

But the challenge was dramatically adjourned after it emerged that one of the three appeal judges had been involved in a separate civil action she issued more than 20 years ago.

Mr Finucane was gunned down by loyalist at his home in north Belfast in February 1989.

His family have campaigned for a full examination of alleged security force collusion with the killers. Mrs Finucane took the prime minister to court after he ruled out a public inquiry in 2011. Instead, Mr Cameron commissioned QC Sir Desmond de Silva to review all documents relating to the case and produce a narrative of what happened.

That report confirmed agents of the state were involved in the murder and it should have been prevented. But it concluded there had been no overarching state conspiracy.

The Finucane family rejected the findings and accused the government of unlawfully reneging on previous commitments.

Pledges to set up a tribunal, based on the recommendation of retired Canadian judge Peter Cory, were made by a former Labour government in 2004 and reaffirmed in the following years, it was contended.

Last year a High Court judge ruled that Mr Cameron acted lawfully in refusing to hold a public inquiry.

He found that Mrs Finucane had received a clear and unambiguous promise of an inquiry, but backed the Government’s case that other public interest issues, including political developments in Northern Ireland and the potential financial pressures of a costly inquiry, were enough to frustrate her expectation.

Despite throwing out Mrs Finucane’s legal bid the judge also said the State has not fully met its human rights obligation to investigate.

Opening an appeal against that verdict, Barry Macdonald QC claimed the case was about an abuse of power.

He said the 500 page de Silva report, which highlighted the connection of law enforcement elements to the murder conspiracy, contained only five pages on the role of the Government.

Of Ken Barrett, the loyalist gunman convicted of the killing, Mr Macdonald said: “The only person held accountable was one of the UDA puppets used to pull the trigger.”

He quoted correspondence from one of Mr Cameron’s closest advisers which described the killing as far worse than anything alleged in Iraq or Afghanistan while another described the Finuncane case as “something of a horror story for the security forces”.

Questioning why the authorities appeared to regard the murder as the most difficult from the Troubles, the barrister continued: “The answer is because in this liberal democracy where the rule of law is supposed to be paramount, the army is running death squads of a kind normally associated with Latin American dictatorships of the era.”

Investigations into the assassination carried out by former Scotland Yard chief Sir John Stevens was obstructed at the highest levels of the army and RUC, it was claimed.

He claimed that commissioning the de Silva review instead of a full public inquiry insulated government ministers from any further scrutiny.

However, the planned three-day hearing had to be adjourned after counsel for the Governmen applied for Lord Justice Weir to recuse himself after it emerged that while a barrister in the early 1990s he had endorsed a writ issued by Mrs Finucane in a civil action over her husband’s killing.

Loughinisland World Cup massacre DID involve collusion between British agents, RUC and loyalist death squads, says Police Ombudsman

Posted by Jim on June 11, 2016

● Loughinisland fatalities: (Clockwise) Daniel McCreanor (59), Adrian Rogan (34), Malcolm Jenkinson (52), Eamon Byrne (39), Patrick O’Hare (35) and Barney Greene (87)

AN INVESTIGATION by the Police Ombudsman into the murder of six men by the unionist Ulster Volunteer Force in Loughinisland in 1994 has confirmed there was collusion between British agents, the Royal Ulster Constabulary and loyalist death squads in the massacre.

Six men were killed and five more wounded in the UVF gun attack on The Heights Bar in Loughinisland, County Down, on 18 June 1994 while watching an Ireland World Cup soccer match.

The six men cut down by the UVF as they watched the football were Daniel McCreanor (59), Adrian Rogan (34), Malcolm Jenkinson (52), Eamon Byrne (39), Patrick O’Hare (35) and Barney Greene (87).

Loughinisland massacre scene

Scene of the UVF massacre that was organised, carried out or aided by British Government agents

The report published today by Police Ombudsman Dr Michael Maguire states:

“When viewed collectively, I have no hesitation in unambiguously determining that collusion is a significant feature of the Loughinisland murders.”

The catalogue of collusion contained in the report includes:-

  • The involvement of agents in the importation of weapons used in the murders;
  • The role of agents directly involved in the attack;
  • The active participation of British state agents in the killings;
  • Collusion between the RUC and UVF resulting in suspects being tipped off that they were to be arrested;
  • Failure to follow up information;
  • “Catastrophic failures” in the investigation of suspects.

The Police Ombudsman also found that there had been “fundamental failings” in the investigation into the Loughinisland murders.

“I can only conclude that the desire to protect informants may have influenced policing activity and undermined the police investigation into those who ordered and carried out the attack,” the Ombudsman said.

“When combined with a flawed investigation of the Loughinisland murders this had undermined the investigation into those responsible for the crimes and ultimately justice for the victims and survivors.”

The Ombudsman’s report states that the RUC Special Branch had information that the assault rifles imported from South Africa by British agents which were used in the attack on the Heights Bar had been stored at a farm in Glenanne used by the notorious ‘Glenanne Gang’, which was made up of loyalists, state agents and serving soldiers and police officers in the British Army’s Ulster Defence Regiment and the Royal Ulster Constabulary.

The farm at Glenanne was also used as a base for the Dublin and Monaghan bomb attacks in 1974.

Dublin Monaghan banner

The families of those killed in the UVF attack have welcomed today’s report.

◼︎ South Down Sinn Féin MLA Chris Hazzard, who has worked closely with the families, said:

“This report from the Police Ombudsman into the Loughinisland massacre reveals the undeniable and shocking scale of collusion between British agents, the RUC and the UVF gang who carried out the attack.

“No one can now deny that the British Government and its forces actively colluded with loyalist death squads to murder Irish citizens and then went to great lengths to protect those responsible.”

Dismay over flag intimidation and provocative march plans

Posted by Jim on

Dismay over flag intimidation and provocative march plans

Sinn Fein has blamed the PSNI for “reneging on promises” after loyalist
flags were erected in a mixed area of south Belfast.

Unionist and loyalist flags were placed on lampposts this week along the
Upper Ormeau Road ahead of the Protestant marching season.

Almost 57 per cent of people in the area are Catholic while 27 per cent
are Protestant, according to the recent census.

Two years ago, the PSNI said that in future the flying of loyalist flags
in the mixed community would be treated as a “breach of the peace”, but
backed down last year in the face of loyalist threats.

On Tuesday, Sinn Fein’s new finance minister Mairtin O Muilleoir
criticised the PSNI over the flags once again being erected in the area
and said it “represents reneging by the PSNI on promises to the
community”.

Claire Hanna, SDLP assembly member for South Belfast, also expressed
concern over the new flags.

“It is frustrating that once again shared areas like the Ormeau Road and
Lisburn Road have been covered in flags six weeks before the Twelfth of
July,” she said.

“This continues to be a source of frustration for residents who are
forced to live under the shadow of these unwelcome flags on main
thoroughfares for so long.”

Responding to the controversy, the PSN said removing flags isn’t their
responsibility.

PSNI Chief Superintendent Chris Noble said police will only remove flags
where there are “substantial risks to public safety”.

Meanwhile, the Orange Order is planning to hold contentious parades in
nationalist areas in another action likely to provoke. The nationalist
town of Ballycastle in County Antrim has been selected as a venue for
one of 18 main parades to mark the Twelfth of July celebrations.

Located in the heart of the Glens of Antrim, the picturesque seaside
town has been the centre of a parades dispute in the past.

The order has also revealed plans to host a massive parade through
Portadown in County Armagh. Both it and a similar march in Kilkeel in
County Down have been given `flagship’ status and are expected to be
among the biggest Orange parades held across the north.

Tensions in Portadown have been high in the past after nationalists
opposed Orange Order parades passing along the nationalist Garvaghy
Road. Nationalist residents on the Garvaghy Road have described Orange
Order proposals to complete a banned parade through the area as
“absurd”.

In a statement the Garvaghy Road Residents Coalition said insistence on
finishing the 1998 parade “demonstrates complete disregard for the views
of those who would be most directly affected – residents of the area and
their families”.

The spokesman said a generation of young nationalists know nothing of
the dispute.

“Since 1998, and particularly from the start of this millennium, the
rerouting of contentious marches away from the Garvaghy Road by the
Parades Commission has meant that our community – and the wider
community – has enjoyed successive peaceful summers,” the statement
said.

“An entire generation of young people has grown up and reached adulthood
without having to experience the humiliation and fear, tension and
violence, or the physical sieges that accompanied those unwanted
sectarian marches of the mid- and late 1990’s through this community.

“Residents in our neighbourhoods now enjoy family and community life in
relative peace and tranquillity. Our community has moved on, Portadown
District needs to do likewise.”

The statement said demands to complete the 1998 parade lack sensitivity.

“Demanding to complete the 1998 parade is not only completely absurd, it
is also highly insensitive and demonstrates a continued refusal by the
Orange Order to assume any responsibility for the violent events
associated with Drumcree in the 1990’s,” it said.

“The Orange Order’s parade of July 1998 is in the past. It is over. That
parade along Garvaghy Road was found to be totally unjustifiable
eighteen years ago. Such a parade has not been justifiable in any of the
intervening years since.”

Truth alone is not enough

Posted by Jim on

Truth alone is not enough

By Suzanne Breen (for Belfast Telegraph)

It is poignantly fitting that the truth about Loughinisland has emerged
at this precise time. Tonight, in towns and villages across Northern
Ireland, people will gather in their local pubs for the start of Euro
2016.

The television screens are bigger and brighter than they were for the
1994 World Cup, but the atmosphere will be the same. The sense of
excitement, anticipation and pride will be just as strong as it was on
that fateful night in the Heights Bar in the Co Down village.

We can see the men so clearly, their eyes glued to the tiny television,
praying that Ireland would hold its 1-0 lead over Italy.

They never stood a chance when the two gunmen in balaclavas and boiler
suits burst into the bar. The UVF assassins fled laughing as the bodies
of their victims lay piled on top of each other on the bloodstained
floor.

We know that the men who pulled the trigger were evil personified and
filled with sectarian hatred.

One shouted “Fenian b******s!” as he opened up indiscriminately.

The perpetrators were liars too, claiming that a republican meeting had
been taking place in the pub. But we expect no more from paramilitaries
whose hands are stained with the blood of innocents.

It is the State, in this case, that stands shamed and condemned. The
words of the Police Ombudsman, Dr Michael Maguire, were unequivocal. “I
have no hesitation in saying collusion was a significant feature of the
Loughinisland murders,” he said.

In Dr Maguire, we have an Ombudsman as forthright and fearless as Nuala
O’Loan.

He detailed the “catastrophic failings” of the police investigation.

How the names of suspects were known within 24 hours, but arrests were
delayed.

How one of the suspects was an informer. How the murder inquiry was
riddled with errors and omissions.

At the time, those who alleged police collusion in paramilitary attacks
were criticised and isolated. Their claims were dismissed as propaganda.

We now sadly know that the “conspiracy theorists” too often were right.

An appalling vista of State collusion – in loyalist and republican
murders – is unfolding before our eyes.

This is not a matter on which we should divide along sectarian lines. As
many Protestant as Catholic lives were lost as a result of collusion. As
many IRA, as UDA and UVF, godfathers were protected species.

Pictures of the Loughinisland families’ huge Press conference yesterday,
where they sat holding photos of their loved ones, were heartbreaking.
They may have recognition now, but for so long these families’ struggle
for the truth was a lonely one.

The legacy of the conflict is not just a matter confined to the older
generation. The powerful words of Emma Rogan, who was just eight when
her father, Adrian, was shot dead in the Heights, is testimony to that.

John Major, who was Prime Minister at the time of the massacre, was in
town yesterday campaigning against Brexit.

Rather than lecturing us on the rights or wrongs of leaving the EU, he
would have been far better apologising to the families for the State’s
failures, as their solicitor Niall Murphy suggested.

When I think of Loughinisland, first and foremost I see Barney Green
with his pipe and hat. Aged 87, he was the oldest victim of the
Troubles.

To mark the sense of occasion, he had put on his best suit to watch the
match that night. Little did he think he would die in it.

We owe Barney and Adrian Rogan, Daniel McCreanor, Eamon Byrne, Patrick
O’Hare and Malcolm Jenkinson justice.

It is not enough that the truth is finally told.

Surely, someone must be held accountable?

Pressure for Britain to face war crimes tribunal over collusion

Posted by Jim on

Pressure for Britain to face war crimes tribunal over collusion

There are fresh calls in the north of Ireland for a much stronger
approach to the issue of state collusion following confirmation that it
played a significant role in the 1994 Loughinisland massacre.

After decades of cover-up, one complete whitewash and years of deep
hostility from public officials in Belfast and London, a Police
Ombudsman’s report on Thursday found that state agents were indeed
involved in the random killing of six Catholic civilians, which was then
covered up.

The murders took place in the Heights Bar in the County Down village
when a death-squad opened fire on people watching the Ireland soccer
team play Italy during the 1994 World Cup in America. Gunmen in
balaclavas burst into the bar and shouted about “Fenians” before firing
indiscriminate.

The attack took place amid negotiations between the Provisional IRA and
the British government to being about a ceasefire, which was announced
ten weeks later.

The new Ombudsman’s report, the second by that office on Loughinisland,
was described the Guardian newspaper as “a devastating report that is
likely to challenge previous official narratives of the nature of the
conflict”.

It detailed a catalogue of collusion before and after the massacre,
which included the importation of the weapons used in the murders and
scores of others by British agents; the direct involvement of police
agents in the planning of the killings; and ‘catastrophic failures’ in
the investigation of suspects and the destruction of evidence.

In an unusually strong statement, Ombudsman Michael Maguire said he had
“no hesitation in unambiguously determining that collusion is a
significant feature of the Loughinisland murders”.

He found that there was a “hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil” by
the security forces to the use of informers.

The report comes more than four years after Mr Maguire dramatically
scrapped his predecessor Al Hutchinson’s investigation into the murders
and ordered a new inquiry into the killings. The original investigation
had been branded a whitewash by the victims’ families when it was
published in 2011.

Former Republican MP Bernadette McAliskey, a survivor of another such
attack, said the findings support a potential action at the
International Criminal Court in The Hague.

“When we look at Bloody Sunday, Balllymurphy, Stakeknife and what is
beginning to emerge in the loyalist community as well, there is case for
war crimes,” she said.

“The British Government used its military to perpetuate a 40 year war
here. It used its undercover secrecy to keep it going and lied with
impunity about its own actions.

“When you go back and look at what was happening during the peace
process, it was ambiguity. It was fudge and they hoped they’d get away
with it. We have never had truth, never mind justice.”

Sinn Fein’s Gerry Adams called on the 26 County government to put
pressure on Downing Street to “open its books” on collusion following
the report.

He also urged Dublin to demand the British government hold the long
promised inquiry into the murder of human rights lawyer Pat Finucane.

“A step change in the Irish government’s response to collusion is
urgently needed. As a co-equal guarantor of the Good Friday Agreement,
the Irish government must use all of the resources… including the
United Nations, to exert pressure on the British government.”

Communities in fear as UVF ‘invites’ Catholics and ethnic minorities to fly its flag

Posted by Jim on

 By Suzanne Breen

Published 10/06/2016

The UVF has been accused of intimidation after it visited the homes of Catholics and ethnic minorities in east Belfast before loyalist flags were erected outside houses
The UVF has been accused of intimidation after it visited the homes of Catholics and ethnic minorities in east Belfast before loyalist flags were erected outside houses
 Councillor Graham Craig

The UVF has been accused of intimidation after it visited the homes of Catholics and ethnic minorities in east Belfast before loyalist flags were erected outside houses.

Residents said they were told that the flags would be the new Somme flag created by the Loyalist Communities Council (LCC).

The LCC created the banner to commemorate the centenary of the World War One battle.

Its launch last month was supported by the UDA, UVF and Red Hand Commando.

But in the end, the flags put up along the street alternated between Union flags and others bearing a UVF logo.

It has the UVF motto “For God and Ulster” and has the words “East Belfast Regiment” printed on a crest with the date 1914.

The Somme was not until two years later, and the date appears to commemorate the Larne gun-running — the historic gun smuggling operation by the UVF to oppose Home Rule.

While it had been hoped that the new LCC flag would be adopted widely by loyalists, there was dissent from within the ranks when the plan was announced.

Some hardline loyalists said that they would defy their bosses by flying paramilitary flags from lamp posts during the summer instead.

Sources in the east Belfast UVF were reported as saying it would be “business as usual”. One said in May: “We are not paying a blind bit of attention to the LCC. UVF flags will be going up for the Twelfth as normal.”

A source told the Belfast Telegraph last night: “On Monday night, the UVF knocked doors in the area and invited people to have the flag erected outside their homes.

“It was put as a request — but one that wasn’t to be refused. People didn’t feel that there was anything voluntary about what was being asked.

“They were told that there would be no charge for the flag and, if they didn’t have flag-poles, brackets could be put up for them.”

The source said that loyalists also called at the homes of Catholics and ethnic minorities who did not want the flag to be displayed.

The area was once solidly unionist but demographic changes in recent years mean that there are now ethnic minorities — mainly eastern Europeans — living in rented accommodation.

An increasing number of Catholic first-time buyers have also purchased properties in the lower Ravenhill Road area because they are relatively cheap and the location is so convenient to the city centre.

The source said: “These people don’t want loyalist flags outside their homes, but they have basically been left with no choice.

“Some residents have no problem with the flag, but those who do now feel very uncomfortable. The UVF seems to have ordered thousands of these flags and is determined to put them up.

“It wants roads in the Ravenhill area lined with the flag for the parade to mark the Somme’s 100th anniversary on July 1.”

Local Ulster Unionist councillor Graham Craig said: “Were I a Catholic or member of an ethnic minority community, I would be very frightened if the UVF came to the door and asked if I wanted a flag displayed that is so closely associated with paramilitaries.

“This is people’s private property and that must be respected.”

Radio Free Eireann will return tomorrow Saturday June 11th

Posted by Jim on June 10, 2016

Radio Free Eireann will return tomorrow Saturday June 11th

Belfast human rights lawyer Niall Murphy will report on a damning government report finding significant collusion between  members of British Royal Ulster Constabulary and loyalists in the  murder of 6 people watching a soccer match at Loughinisland.
Anthony McIntyre will talk about why the British have subpoenaed his Boston College interviews in an American court but refuse to say why.

Hosts John McDonagh and Martin Galvin  will report on their recent trips to Ireland and  including important  commemorations in Fermanagh and Derry.

Radio Free Eireann is heard Saturdays at 12 Noon New York time on WBAI 99,5 FM and wbai.org

It can be heard at wbai.org  in Ireland from 5pm to 6pm or anytime on WBAI.ORG/ARCHIVES

Orange Order to hold Twelfth in nationalist Co Antrim town

Posted by Jim on June 9, 2016

THE Orange Order is planning to hold one of its main Twelfth parades through a majority nationalist town in Co Antrim.

Ballycastle has been selected as a venue for one of 18 main parades to mark the Twelfth of July celebrations.

Located in the heart of the Glens of Antrim, the picturesque seaside town has been the centre of a parades dispute in the past.

The order has also revealed plans to host a massive parade through Portadown in Co Armagh.

Both it and a similar march in Kilkeel in Co Down have been given `flagship’ status and are expected to be among the best attended parades held across the north.

Tensions in the Co Armagh town have been high in the past after nationalists opposed Orange Order parades passing along the nationalist Garvaghy Road.

Portadown District Master Darryl Hewitt said the Portadown parade will be largest in the world on the Twelfth.

“The Twelfth in Portadown will be the largest gathering anywhere in the world and we look forward to welcoming the thousands of Orangemen, Orangewomen, juniors, bandsmen and spectators to what we believe will be a truly memorable occasion,” he said.

DUP economy minister Simon Hamilton has backed the Orange Order’s plans.

“I welcome the announcement by the Orange Institution that Portadown and Kilkeel have been named as this year’s Twelfth tourist flagships,” he said.

“With a programme of events alongside the traditional demonstration the flagship programme offers visitors the opportunity to enjoy the culture, music and pageantry of the day.”

::

The 18 demonstrations on Tuesday July 12 will take place in:

 

Portadown

Kilkeel

Belfast

Maguiresbridge

Limavady

Castledawson

Coagh

Newtownstewart

Aughnacloy

Randalstown

Glenarm

Ballymena

Ahoghill

Lisburn

Ballycastle

Donaghadee

Comber

Dromore

A Twelfth demonstration will also be held in Rossnowlagh, Co Donegal, on Saturday July 9.

Families vindicated as report points to massacre cover-up

Posted by Jim on

Families vindicated as report points to massacre cover-up

Families of six men murdered in the Loughinisland massacre have welcomed
an Ombudsman’s investigation that has finally exposed significant state
collusion with the killers.

On 18 June 1994, a death squad entered a pub in the small County Down
village and fired on customers with assault rifles, killing six
civilians and wounding five. The pub was targeted because it was
frequented mainly by Catholics, and was crowded with people watching the
Ireland soccer team playing in the 1994 World Cup.

Dr Maguire Michael found that at least one man suspected of carrying out
the mass killing in the Heights Bar was a paid state agent.

The ombudsman also said the murder squad had been involved in a number
of other killings in the years beforehand, but had avoided arrest
because the RUC police’s Special Branch intelligence unit had withheld
evidence from those tasked with investigating the murder campaign.

He said some Special Branch officers adopted a “hear no evil, speak no
evil, see no evil” mindset into the massacre, for which no one was ever
brought to justice.

Emma Rogan, whose father Adrian was killed, said: “Today we finally have
a report by the Police Ombudsman that at last vindicates our long-held
suspicions and belief that the truth about these murders was being
covered up by the very people – the police – who were supposed to be
protecting us, be on our side and investigate and bring to justice those
responsible.”

Paddy McCreanor, nephew of victim Daniel McCreanor, said: “Collusion is
no illusion and collusion happened. The truth has come out and that’s
all we ever wanted.”

The families’ lawyer Niall Murphy said the scale of the collusion was
“terrifying”. He called on former British Prime Minister John Major to
apologise for the collusion that took place when he was in office.

“This report is one of the most damning expositions of state collusion
in mass murder that has ever been published,” he said.

The families also called on current British Direct Ruler Theresa
Villiers to say sorry for referencing Loughinisland in a speech earlier
this year about what she claimed was a “pernicious counter-narrative” of
the conflict that was trying to place undue blame on the forces of the
British state.

“We call on her to retract and apologise to us today,” said Ms Rogan.

In his report’s conclusion, Dr Maguire said he had “no hesitation in
saying collusion was a significant feature of the Loughinisland
murders”. He described failures in the overall investigation as
“catastrophic” and said in too many instances the probe was
characterised by “incompetence, indifference and neglect”.

The ombudsma examined the role of state agents in efforts to provide
weapons to loyalist death squads from abroad during the mid to late
1980s.

He found that the Crown forces were monitoring the importation bids and
information provided by state agents in high positions within the
loyalist murder gangs could have helped the the recovery of weapons.

He said unrecovered weapons from the shipments were used in 70 murders
and attempted murders, including those at Loughinisland. He said that
after the murders, Special Branch did not use their sources in any real
effort to catch the killers.

A report by previous police ombudsman Al Hutchinson in 2011 found that
the RUC failed to properly investigate what happened in Loughinisland
but claimed there was insufficient evidence of collusion.

Those findings were quashed after a legal challenge by relatives of
those killed and Dr Maguire undertook a fresh investigation.

Sinn Fein’s Caitriona Ruane has paid tribute to the determination of the
Loughinisland families for their long campaign to uncover the truth
behind the massacre.

“For 22 years the families of those killed in the Loughinisland massacre
have been courageously campaigning for the truth about the murder of
their loved ones,” she said.

“They have had to endure the horror of the massacre, then the insult of
collusion, cover ups, failed investigations and continued attempts to
hide the truth.

“This obstruction by the British government and the police have only
added to the hurt, pain and trauma of the families.

“They faced all of these obstacles with dignity and determination and
today’s report from the Police Ombudsman have vindicated the view of the
families that there was collusion at the heart of this case.

“What has been revealed is collusion on a huge scale.

“I and my party colleagues have worked with the Loughinisland families
for many years, highlighting their case both here and in the European
Parliament, and standing alongside human rights groups to get at the
truth of what happened in 1994 and since.

“We will continue to stand with the Loughinisland families as they
continue to campaign for truth and justice.”

Those murdered were Barney Green, 87, Adrian Rogan, 34, Malcolm
Jenkinson, 53, Daniel McCreanor, 59, Patrick O’Hare, 35, and Eamon
Byrne, 39.

Good Shepherd Catholic Club Golf Outing

Posted by Jim on June 6, 2016

Golf_000004

SAS killing: Martin Galvin praises ‘true patriot’ McBrearty

Posted by Jim on June 3, 2016

Former head of NORAID Martin Galvin addressing a crowd at the republican monument in Creggan on Saturday at a commemoration for Vol George McBrearty who was killed by the SAS 35 years ago during the hunger strike on May 28, 1981. On his left is Hugh Brady who chaired the event.
Former head of NORAID Martin Galvin addressing a crowd at the republican monument in Creggan on Saturday at a commemoration for Vol George McBrearty who was killed by the SAS 35 years ago during the hunger strike on May 28, 1981. On his left is Hugh Brady who chaired the event.
A crowd of up to 300 gathered at the republican monument in Creggan on Saturday for a commemoration for IRA volunteer George McBrearty who was shot dead by the SAS on May 28, 1981.
The main speaker at the event was the former head of NORAID, American Martin Galvin, who in the 1980s defied a British ban on entering Northern Ireland.
Mr Galvin told the crowd: “It is good to be an authentic commemoration, and I use the term authentic deliberately because we have seen too many commemorations lately where people are supposed to be honouring the legacy of patriots. They are supposed to be honouring the ideals for which those patriots stood. We have seen the Irish Government in Dublin where they have used the names of the men and women who in 1916 fought for the freedom of every Irish man and woman according to the Proclamation who were unafraid to take on the British Government to achieve it. But, today the Irish Government does not even mention your freedom in Derry or anywhere else in the Six Counties.”
Mr Galvin also said that what George McBrearty fought for was no different to the ideals of the men and women of 1916.
He continued: “That’s why I am so proud to be here today at an authentic, a true comemmoration of a true Irish patriot-to stand with the McBrearty family and be unafraid of what he stood for, be unafraid to speak of what he stood for and to demand that what he stood for and fought for will one day be true – your freedom in Derry and for all the North of Ireland.
“All of us are here to honour a patriot with pride. It is important to remember why George McBrearty took the steps that he did. He was born in a city that was three-quarters nationalist but entirely unionist controlled. Because of where his parents sent him to church and to school he would be viewed forever as an enemy of the state, a second class citizen in his own city. If he didn’t get the message that he was unwanted in this state , that he should emigrate or go south, the British Crown Forces were happy to remind him of it anytime they met him on the road.

That’s why I am so proud to be here today at an authentic, a true comemmoration of a true Irish patriot

“When he was 17 he took the fateful decision to join the Derry Brigade and he fought to get the British out of his city, out of the Six Counties and out of everywhere else in Ireland. Over the next seven years George would become the greatest soldier that Derry city ever had, and it would be said that he was to this city what Francis Hughes was to South Derry. I read these words because they are not mine. I didn’t write them for a speech here today. These were the words that IRA leaders at the time had published in An Phoblacht.
“I was sent a copy as editor of the ‘Irish People’ newspaper in New York and asked to cover it after his death in 1981. That was the way that other volunteers felt about him and it was the highest possible praise at that time. He was a true leader. He was somebody that everybody around him would have confidence in. No matter that the British had better equipment and bigger numbers. No matter the advantages they had.
“The people around him felt that they would succeed just because they were standing alongside George.”

McALLISTER AND DEPORTEES MUST GET JUSTICE

Posted by Jim on June 2, 2016

MARTIN GALVIN

BRONX, NEW YORK,

 

 MAY 12, 2016

 

EDITOR

IRISH ECHO

165 MADISON AVENUE

NEW YORK, NY 10016

 

McALLISTER AND DEPORTEES MUST GET JUSTICE

 

A chara

 

 Signs proclaiming “Please don’t deport my daddy!”were once a common sight at Irish rallies. The words meant that the real victims of Irish political deportations would be American  children and wives, forced to choose between fathers and husbands or their country. The IRISH ECHO editorial(Groundhog Year),about the close call for Malachy McAllister, and the petty hardships still visited on Irish deportees after a quarter century, remind us of what is at stake.

 

 

Malachy McAllister and all of the Irish political deportees are living examples of Britain’s willingness to make political points with Irish victims. Each of these men have multiple grounds which should entitle them or anyone else to fully legal permanent residence under American law. They are hardworking and respected members of the Irish-American community who should be allowed to work, raise their families and on occasion travel to Ireland to visit friends and relatives. They were political prisoners decades ago in a war that is long over.

 

Instead Malachy McAllister, who has lived in America for decades, is a father and successful businessman, remains under yearly threat of deportation. He narrowly escaped deportation on April 25th.He will have to fight all over next year and in years to come. To paraphrase an old IRA saying, Malachy only has to get unlucky once.

 

 Malachy and all the Irish political deportees are pawns in an old British game of criminalization. Since the British think their right to rule is always legitimate, they think anyone who dares oppose them must be criminals. That was true of the patriots they shot in 1916. That was true of George Washington who himself said to the “Patriots of Ireland” in 1788 “had I failed the scaffold would have been my doom.”

 

As America celebrated its bicentennial in 1976,Britain renewed its policy of criminalization in the infamous H-Blocks of Long Kesh. Political prisoners, among them Bobby Sands, would be told they must dress up in criminal uniforms so that the crown could display them as criminals. They resisted despite Britain’s attempts to break them. British policy backfired. In America huge crowds rallied to back the Blanketmen, who would become the Hunger Strikers.

 

The British decided the American government must be brought on board. Dessie Mackin, a Belfast born Republican in New York to help Irish Northern Aid organize tours by released Blanketmen, was arrested. The British served an Extradition warrant demanding the American federal court hand him over as a criminal. Instead the great civil rights lawyer Frank Durkan put Britain on trial. He won a ruling that Irish Republicans were engaged in a legitimate fight against British rule. The British tried again and failed to extradite Joe Doherty.

 

They turned to federal deportation courts. A series of Deportation proceedings commenced against former Irish Republican prisoners settled in the United States with American wives and children. It led to years of campaigning, emotional legal fights in packed Immigration Courtrooms, a formal Congressional hearing and even a CBS television documentary.

 

There were unforgettable moments. Gerry Conlon of the ‘Guildford Four’ testified about being beaten in vivid terms that went beyond anything in the movie “In the Name of the Father,” revealing that if he had ever met Gabriel Megahey, the British would have framed him and made the case the ‘Guildford Five.’

Bernadette Devlin McAliskey testified calmly about being shot and severely wounded, but then broke down as she testified about the brutal murder of Kathleen O’Hagan.

 

Members of Congress and judges testified as well as experts from Ireland.

 

Almost a quarter-century ago, the Irish political deportee cases were settled by the Clinton administration, upon formal request by Secretary of State Albright to Attorney General Reno.

 

As the attorney for four of these men, I remember the understandings we were given. The nightmare restrictions and threats would be over. Deportations were halted. They were promised full work authorization, advanced parole for travel to Ireland. It was also thought to be the start of a process, where others including Malachy, would have the door opened for them.

 

 Instead, as you reported, Matt Morrison is confined to two states, his work authorization is withheld and deportation  threatened. He is not alone. Others have lost work authorization for months. Deportees have requested to go to Ireland to see gravely ill parents and not gotten travel permission until weeks after their burial. They get detained for hours after returning despite travel permission. Why?

 

Malachy McAllister, Matt Morrison and all the Irish political deportees were involved in a legitimate armed conflict which is long over. America must not continue to victimize them and their families at Britain’s behest!

 

Slan,  MARTIN GALVIN

 

The writer is former National Publicity Director of Irish Northern Aid and President of AOH Division 5, Bronx and an attorney who represented four of the Irish political deportees.

On This Day [In history]

Posted by Jim on June 1, 2016

Eamon Phoenix. Irish News,  Tuesday, May 31, 1916

Irish News (Belfast).Tuesday, May 31, 2016

US Press on Executions

The New York Evening Mail commented: ‘From a legal point of view the penalty of death inflicted on the leaders of the Dublin revolt is justified. The successful rebel is a hero to succeeding generations. The unsuccessful rebel is a traitor and, according to the laws of all countries, his life is forfeit. Yet the feeling will be general that the British government has blundered once again in its handling of a phase of the Irish Question. Prevailing Irish opinion has apparently condemned the mad outbreak and its leaders. Now, the end that has come to them after the rising failed is likely to elevate them in Irish thought.’

The New York Times comments: ‘Sir Edward Carson, recently a member of the British Cabinet, is he who two years ago armed the people[the Protestans] of Ulster to declare war on England if she persisted in the attempt to thrust Home Rule upon Ireland. His position was that he and his followers were obliged to commit treason against England in order to remain loyal to her!’

From Canada the Ottawa Evening Journal comments: ‘If the mass of the Irish people were in any real doubt as to whether John Redmond and his colleagues were the wisest or safest leaders, the immediate ludicrous collapse of the attempt Rebellion would afford conclusive guidance. For crazy folly, nothing could surpass the Sinn Fein outbreak. Launched with an armament which seems to have consisted almost entirely of a pompous proclamation, the riot proved just powerful enough to capture a park and the Post Office and hold them for three or four days…’

The New York Evening Globe remarks: ‘Sir Edward Carson drilled a force in the North of Ireland whose declared purpose it was to resist the mandate of the British Parliament, yet Carson subsequently became a member of the Cabinet. If his offences could be overlooked, it should be possible to overlook in large degree the offences of the foolish Sinn Feiners who thought they were privileged to imitate an example so distinguished. The good men of Ireland and England have never had greater reason for forbearance than now…’

(What is surprising about the reaction of the US  press to the Rising is the widespread criticism of the British government’s decision to execute the leaders, thus creating martyrs. Redmond retained his iconic status for now but within months the US Ambassador could inform London that anti-British feeling was growing rapidly. Support for the Irish Republican cause was, he wrote to the Prime Minister, Asquith, ‘like fizz in a soda bottle’.)

A struggle to understand as Ambassador grapples with protestor

Posted by Jim on May 28, 2016

A bizarre intervention by the Canadian Ambassador to Ireland has drawn
international attention to a revisionist state event in Dublin which
honoured the British soldiers who died in 1916 fighting to maintain
British rule in Ireland.

As republican Brian Murphy mounted a lone peaceful protest at
Grangegorman Military Cemetery, ambassador Kevin Vickers suddenly set
upon him, grabbing and dragging Mr Murphy as he attempted to speak out
against the event.

Despite the provocation, Mr Murphy, who held a valid personal
invitation, remained peaceful. He was subsequently arrested by the
Gardai police for a general public order offense, while no action was
taken against Vickers.

The ambassador, a former Canadian policeman, was lauded as a “hero” in
Ireland’s pro-British establishment media, but questions have been
raised in his home country. Canada has strong protections for the right
to free speech, which is protected as a fundamental freedom under the
Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Speaking in Japan, Canadian prime minster Justin Trudeau was pressed to
respond to the incident of whether Mr Vickers, who can claim diplomatic
immunity against any charge of assault, should face disciplinary action.
“If it lands on my table, I’ll take a look at it”, he said.

Vickers, the former sergeant-at-arms at Canada’s Parliament, shot and
killed an an armed attacker inside the parliament buildings in 2014, and
was appointed Canada’s ambassador to Ireland by way of reward.

But David Mulroney, a former Canadian ambassador to China, said Vickers
was “not there as an honorary member of the Gardai”. And the Canadian
Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) suggested Vickers may have violated the
government’s code of conduct for diplomatic staff serving abroad.

Under the heading “Canada’s Reputation: Personal behaviour”, it notes:
“Regardless of any legal immunity conferred upon representatives abroad,
their conduct and actions will be subject to a greater degree of
scrutiny and public interest than they would be at home.”

In a comment piece, the CBC’s national affairs editor Chris Hall said Mr
Vickers was regarded as a man of “enormous personal integrity” and “of
even greater personal courage”.

“But Vickers is no longer a security officer,” he continued. “He is
Canada’s representative in Ireland. That role depends not on bravery but
discretion. Ambassadors are supposed to stay out of domestic issues in
their host country.”

“If he thought he was helping out by removing a protester, that’s not
his job and that injects him and Canada into a political discussion that
the Irish can and should manage for themselves.”

Mr Murphy, a father of three from Rathcoole, County Dublin, said he was
pleased with the media attention. “I stood up to make my protest,” he
said, and had described the event as a “shame” and an “insult”.

“I could see him (Vickers) standing up and heading straight for me and I
put my hands up to stop him getting too close. The publicity it’s got is
because of his actions, not mine,” he said.

Mr Murphy, who previously demonstrated at Glasnevin cemetery when the
names of British soldiers killed in the Rising were inscribed on a
commemorative wall, said there was a very large Garda presence.

He was wearing a shirt in support of the Irish Republican Prisoners
Welfare Association and also wanted to highlight the case of the
Craigavon Two, Brendan McConville and John Paul Wootton, jailed in 2012,
as a miscarriage of justice.

But his protest mainly drew international attention to the controversial
idea of a people commemorating their oppressors.

The Toronto Star described it as a “sensitive event given the deaths of
hundreds of Irish nationalists in 1916, the execution of leaders of the
uprising, and the subsequent declaration of martial law by the British
and the arrest of thousands of citizens.”

Mr Murphy said he also feared a trend which could see hundreds of
British war criminals being commemorated in future centenary events:
“Does it mean in two or three years’ time they’ll be commemorating the
Black and Tans, the Auxiliaries?”

Interesting article on uniting behind the Eire Nua Policy

Posted by Jim on May 27, 2016

Sean Bresnahan
If all republicans were to unite behind the Éire Nua policy it would give clear direction to both the broad republican family and the wider Irish people – which are badly needed at this time to escape the grip of censorship imposed on alternatives to the status quo.
If we’re honest we’ll admit that no-one else – at least not yet – has produced a template for Irish reunification other than vague talk of a ‘socialist republic’ or the idea the Six Counties would simply be bolted onto the existing Free State.
Éire Nua envisages a community of communities under a broader constitution that exists to uphold democratic standards and protections for the citizen. It represents a serious alternative to the centralised state, which upholds state power over the rights of the individual towards an authoritarian end – however light be that end.
Éire Nua then is not just about uniting Ireland but about breaking down the power of the state and subjecting it to far greater democratic pressure and accountability from below.
Unionists and the British though are shaping up for the argument that will come 10-15-20 years down the line, should the mechanisms set in place by the Good Friday Agreement run into difficulties (i.e. a Nationalist majority in the North which they can’t control).
If we look closely, they are lining up the position that there should be a Federal Ireland (more likely on a two-state model than the Provincial one set out in Eire Nua) within a wider Federal ‘British Isles’ entity. I engage with Unionists on other platforms and can see clearly that this is where their strategic thinking is at.
Many republicans believe that Irish Unity will follow a vote in the North once the numbers stack up in their favour but what they don’t realise is that Britain, through their tool the Unionists as always, are readying the ground for another settlement which allows them to remain in control on critical matters – those that count – while the Irish once again are given the illusion that they hold power in their own country – an illusion ongoing since the days of partition itself.
We need to be building our own argument and Eire Nua is the best that’s out there to fight this particular ideological battle, which is looming on the horizon even though we might not see it at this point
Sean Bresnahan's photo.

Justice for the Craigavon Two protester tells how Canadian parliament hero tackled him at 1916 ceremony

Posted by Jim on

 

Justice for the Craigavon Two protester tells how Canadian parliament hero tackled him at 1916 ceremony
Brian Murphy is confronted by Canadian ambassador Kevin Vickers at Grangegorman cemetery

Connla Young

A REPUBLICAN protester has described how he was tackled by the diplomat who shot dead a Canadian parliament gunman during a ceremony remembering British soldiers killed in the Easter Rising.

Dubliner Brian Murphy was wrestled by Canadian ambassador Kevin Vickers on Thursday as he disrupted the commemoration at Grangegorman Military Cemetery in the city.

The event was also attended by British ambassador Dominick Chilcott and Irish foreign affairs minister Charlie Flanagan as well as members of the British and Irish armed forces.

Mr Vickers made worldwide headlines when he killed Michael Zehaf-Bibeau during a shoot-out in the Canadian parliament, where he was sergeant at arms, in 2014.

The dead man had earlier stormed the building with a rifle.

Mr Vickers, who has family connections with Ireland, was later appointed as Canadian ambassador to Ireland.

Mr Murphy, who is a member of the Irish Republican Prisoners Welfare Association, said he rose to his feet during the commemoration and described it as an “insult”, making reference to the case of the ‘Craigavon Two’.

Brendan McConville and John Paul Wootton are both serving lengthy sentences after being convicted of the Continuity IRA sniper attack that claimed the life of PSNI man Stephen Carroll in Craigavon in March 2009.

Both men have denied any part in the attack.

Mr Murphy’s grandfather Charles Murphy took part in the Easter Rising and served as a Sinn Féin TD in the second Dail before becoming party president in the 1930s.

His great-grandfather, a British soldier who served during the Boer War, is buried in Grangegorman graveyard.

Speaking to the Irish News, the 46-year-old community worker said he staged the one-man protest to highlight the Justice for the Craigavon Two campaign and concerns over the Irish government’s handling of Easter Rising commemorations.

He described Thursday’s event and the recent inclusion of British soldiers’ names on a 1916 memorial in Glasnevin cemetery in Dublin as “reprehensible”.

Mr Murphy said he was invited to the event after submitting an application to the Department of Foreign Affairs.

He said that while he expected to be challenged by officials, the reaction of Mr Vickers came out of the blue.

“I took my seat and then I stood up and started to say a few words and yer man came thundering at me,” he said.

The Crumlin man said “it is important people are aware and at least read the facts” about the Craigavon case.

“It is thanks to the Canadian ambassador I got coverage.”

The Justice for the Craigavon Two campaign described his actions as “an act of solidarity”.

Mr Murphy said he was charged with a public order offence before being released from custody.

St. Saviour High School CHSAA City Champs with win over Aquinas

Posted by Jim on May 25, 2016

Brooklyn’s own St. Saviour’s High School has just won the CHSAA City Championship by beating Bronx/Westchester Champs Aquinas 17-0. Grace Sullivan pitched a 2 hitter and had 4 hits and 4 RBIs. The pitching and hitting star will be attending the University of Alabama at Birmingham where she will be studying Bio-Med Engineering. She was also the Colleen Queen last September at the Great Irish Fair of New York. Congrats Grace and all of your team mates on winning the Championship. Next year her sister Mary will be leading St. Saviour to a repeat of this years Championship.
Kings County Board of the Ancient Order of Hibernians

Eastwood will be second fiddle in a one-man band

Posted by Jim on

Brian Feeney.Irish News (Belfast). Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Suppose, as Arlene Foster and Martin McGuinness confidently predict, everything goes to plan today and ministers are chosen and an executive meets tomorrow, how will the new format with an opposition work?

You’ve heard supporters of the plan lining up to rejoice that, ‘it normalises politics’ here. At first that was only unionists who yearn for something like Westminster. That’s why Nesbitt was out of the traps immediately asking for the seating arrangements to be changed to look like a mini-Westminster.

For unionists, ‘normal politics’ is Westminster with its famous adversarial, confrontational House of Commons. Is that a good model for here?

For some reason, despite the structures for the north pointedly arranged to suit its unique politico-ethnic problem, confirmed again by the election results, it seems impossible to convince the protagonists for opposition that the British political system is not the only ‘normal’. Secondly, what’s normal in Britain can’t apply here.

There’s no opposition in Switzerland but Switzerland seems to work quite well. There’s opposition in Belgium but it’s carefully arranged within the two compulsory language groups in parliament which have equal powers. Unlike Britain virtually every other assembly sits in a hemicycle.

It might be worth contemplating that in Belgium the opposition for all practical purposes is a permanent opposition. That will be the case here. In Britain, which our ‘normalisers’ aspire to imitate, the opposition hopes one day to be the government. Here there’s no hope.

Can anyone identify which 17 Sinn Féin seats the SDLP expects to win? Can anyone identify which 22 DUP seats the UUP expects to win? Of course not. Sinn Féin has more seats than the UUP and SDLP together. The DUP has a third more again.

Churchill, who knew a thing or two about opposition, said being shot would be ‘a kindness’ compared to being in opposition and he had hopes of being in government. Neil Kinnock said opposition was ‘purgatory’ and he hoped to be prime minister one day. It’s generally accepted that in the British system the leader of the opposition is the worst job in politics.

At least here you can see some reasons why Nesbitt might go for it. It gives him the opportunity for grandstanding. He can also take the chair of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) if he wants. He can try to fence off the DUP into the same box as Sinn Féin so the UUP isn’t tainted with sharing power with republicans. Don’t assume for a minute Nesbitt opted for opposition to join with the SDLP in a cross-community arrangement.

Now can you see any reason for the SDLP to forgo a ministerial position? While Nesbitt is leader of the opposition and probably chair of the PAC, Eastwood is…ahm…what? If he turned down a role as minister because the DUP and Sinn Féin were bad to the SDLP – aw diddums – how much time do you think Nesbitt will make available to the SDLP? Maybe Eastwood will chair a committee? Otherwise there he is in a powerless assembly which meets maybe three days a week.

Churchill also advised that an opposition should be a lighthouse rather than a shop window. What he meant was you should try to point a direction or warn of hazards if anyone was listening but if you thought up good plans or policies and displayed them, the government would steal all your best stuff. Sinn Féin and the DUP would be delighted to help themselves to anything attractive in the opposition’s shop window because they’re in a position to implement good ideas unlike people who opted out of power, however minimal it might be.

Acting like a lighthouse on the other hand is difficult. You have to devise ways to attract attention. Create stunts. Beat your chest. Does Eastwood have the personality and brains to outshine Jim Allister or Eamonn McCann? Not on the existing evidence.

So far he hasn’t been able to present coherent plans for what he’ll do in opposition. Will he agree a common policy? Of course not. What will he do when matters like flags, emblems, parades, the past come up? Oppose the leader of the opposition?

He’s opted to be second fiddle in a one man band.

The Volunteer’s Beret by AOH County Tyrone President Gerry McGeough

Posted by Jim on

The Volunteer’s Beret
By Gerry McGeough
 –
That piece of cloth is sacred
Hold it gently in your hand
It’s a symbol of our struggle
Of a gallant, noble stand
It was worn on the hillsides
And the rocky glens below
In every street and alley
And bushy green hedge row
It was placed on many a coffin
Of some poor old mother’s son
Or a father’s only daughter
Who fell at home or on the run
It is frayed and it is singed
And it smells of sour cordite
It is shredded at the sides
For it saw action in the fight
Let no coward’s eye behold it
Let no traitor know it’s there
Keep it hidden in the shadows
Where none can stand and stare
Show it only in the twilight
At the setting of the sun
And only to those brave young hearts
Who know what must be done
It is proud and still defiant
Unreconstructed
Full of rage
Just biding time in peace…for now
At the edges of the stage
Clutch it never to your bosom
Let no tear upon it fall
It is not a cloth of sorrow
Nor defeat
No, not at all
It will rise again in freedom
Then we’ll put it on display
That old symbol of our struggle
The Volunteer’s Beret.

High Court order on Moore Street Effective

Posted by Jim on May 24, 2016

 

Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD, chairperson of Sinn Féin National 1916 Commemoration Committee has welcomed news that at long last the order giving effect to March’s High Court’s judgement in relation to Moore Street is effective from yesterday.

Speaking today Deputy Ó Snodaigh said;

“The onus is now on the State, aided by campaigners and hopefully Dublin City Council, to work towards the full preservation of the1916 battlefield site.

“The State now needs to look at how the full potential of this most important site, described by An Taoiseach as the ‘lanes of history’, is achieved for the Irish Nation.

“While mindful that the Minister for Arts Heather Humphries could still appeal the order up to June 16th, I am asking that common sense and an appreciation of our heritage prevails and that she embraces the preservation of Moore Street and its lanes and does not appeal the judgement.

“Instead she should work towards protecting this National Monument and a restoration project as a lasting legacy in which future generations can appreciate the events of 1916.

“The continuing uncertainty concerning its future is deeply insulting to the memory of the men and women of 1916 and their descendants on this the centenary of The Rising.”

\

Posted by Jim on May 22, 2016

 

Sinn Féin should call DUP’s bluff

Posted by Jim on

 
“The enormous problem is that, in a clear error of judgment, the DUP leader Arlene Foster is on record as ruling out any possibility that the justice ministry could go to Sinn Féin .
It is difficult to see how she could maintain such a stance while sharing power with the same party and facilitating Sinn Féin control of any combination of the health, education and economic departments.”

 

Irish News (Belfast)  Editorial. May21, 2016 01:00

Now that an overdue official opposition, initially involving the Ulster Unionists and the SDLP, is finally in place at Stormont, the spotlight has firmly shifted to the appointment of our new ministers in  general and the justice portfolio in particular.It needs to be stressed from the start of the debate that the DUP and Sinn Féin were handed the two strongest mandates in this month’s elections by a considerable distance, and therefore to the winners go the spoils.

They are fully entitled to divide up most of the executive seats under the prevailing D’Hondt system and may even end up in what is effectively a two-party coalition for the next five years.

However, what should have been a relatively straightforward negotiation over the allocation of the briefs has been thrown into confusion over the justice post, which has been held by the Alliance leader David Ford since its creation six years ago.

Mr Ford’s confirmation that he did not want another term was followed two days ago by an announcement from Alliance that it was disappointed with the attitude of the two largest parties and had decided against making a further nomination for the vacancy.

The enormous problem is that, in a clear error of judgment, the DUP leader Arlene Foster is on record as ruling out any possibility that the justice ministry could go to Sinn Féin .

It is difficult to see how she could maintain such a stance while sharing power with the same party and facilitating Sinn Féin control of any combination of the health, education and economic departments.

Alliance may have to be tempted back with a generous and possibly destablising wider deal, as the Ulster Unionists and the SDLP are out of the equation and offering the justice role to either the Green Party or the independent unionist Claire Sugden, who has been an MLA for barely two years, would smack of desperation.

Alternatively, Sinn Féin representatives could call Mrs Foster’s bluff, agree to a DUP justice minister and in return demand a compelling package of their own which might well include a long-awaited Irish language act among other measures.

Our devolved administration has often veered between dullness and intransigence over recent years, in a way which has contributed to a sense of either apathy or cynicism in many sections of the electorate.

Politics has suddenly become interesting again for ordinary people and the intense manoeuvring which will have to take place before Wednesday’s deadline should provide an intriguing spectacle.

Time for a genuine Fresh Start at Stormont

Fr. Sean Mc Manus

Loyalists may attempt to block anti-internment march

Posted by Jim on May 21, 2016

Loyalists have said they will not seek permission to oppose the annual
anti-internment march, which will take place on Sunday, August 7. The
move could spark a confrontation as up to 5,000 people and at least four
bands are expected to take part in the march.

The parade has been organised to mark the 45th anniversary of the
introduction of internment in 1971, which saw hundreds of nationalists
jailed without charge.

The parade is also intended to highlight the ongoing process by which
republicans are being interned ‘by remand’, held on trumped-up charges
without trial.

In 2013 there was serious violence on Royal Avenue – Belfast’s busiest
shopping street – after loyalists opposed to the parade clashed with the
PSNI. Last August’s anti-internment march was stopped by the PSNI near
Ardoyne in north Belfast as hundreds of loyalists gathered in the city
centre for a major protest.

However, parade organisers say this year’s march will leave
Andersonstown in west Belfast before moving down Castle Street and onto
Donegall Place at its junction with Royal Avenue. The procession will
then make its way to Belfast City Hall where a stage will be erected for
a rally which is expected to be finished by 1.30pm.

Anti-Internment League spokesman Gerard Fitzpatrick said some city
centre traders and loyalists had raised objections about the location
and timing of last year’s march. “This year’s route means no such
objections from this quarter.”

He said that as well as remembering the introduction of internment, the
parade has been organised to raise awareness of the continued use of
internment by the British and Free State governments by remand and
revocation of early release licences and through miscarriage of justice.

He added that the parade is open to people from all political
background, and had been organised with the support of community
representatives, individual trade union members and human rights
activists.

“This is an opportunity for people to peacefully demonstrate against
these actions,” he said.

A campaign to free one internee, Derry republican Tony
Taylor, is being officially launched at a public meeting in the city
next Tuesday. Mr Taylor, a spokesperson for Republican Network for
Unity, was jailed in Derry on March 10.

The SDLP and Sinn Fein both supported a motion calling for Mr Taylor’s
immediate release from prison at a council meeting last month.

A spokesperson for the campaign called on anyone with a regard for civil
liberties or human rights to attend Tuesday’s meeting and back the drive
to have Mr Taylor released from prison.

The ‘Free Tony Taylor’ campaign will be launched at a public meeting in
the Maldron Hotel on Tuesday at 7.30pm.

Loughgall remembered

Posted by Jim on

———————————————————————
On Sunday 8th May, republicans from Tyrone and its Monaghan/Armagh
hinterland gathered at the Drumfurrer Monument to IRA Volunteers Jim
Lynagh and Padraig McKearney for a family-led Independent Commemoration.
Monaghan ex-POW and member of the James Connolly Society Monaghan John
Crawley gave the main oration. The following is the text of his speech.
———————————————————————

Twenty-nine years ago today, eight IRA Volunteers were Killed in Action
against British Crown Forces at Loughgall, Co. Armagh. The Monument
where we are assembled at today was built in honour of two of them, who
spent a lot of time in this particular area – Jim Lynagh and Padraig
McKearney. We remember with pride their comrades who died beside them:
Patrick Kelly, Declan Arthurs, Seamus Donnelly, Tony Gormley, Eugene
Kelly and Gerard O’Callaghan.

I never had the privilege of meeting Padraig or the other lads but knew
Jim quite well and had many conversations with him. Padraig from the
Moy, County Tyrone, was a staunch republican socialist. He came from a
family immersed in Irish republican activism. Both his grandfathers were
on IRA Active Service during the Tan War. Padraig was one of 38
republican prisoners who escaped from the H-Blocks in September 1983. He
immediately returned to IRA Active Service.

His family have paid a high price for their patriotism. His brother Sean
was killed on Active Service in May 1974. His brother Tommy was on
Hungerstrike for 53 days in Long Kesh in 1980. His brother Kevin and his
uncle Jack were murdered by Loyalists. Padraig McKearney had an
unrivalled reputation as a daring and courageous Volunteer.

Jim Lynagh from Monaghan Town was an outstanding Volunteer. His family
also paid a heavy price for bearing courageous sons. His brother Colm
served many years in Portlaoise Prison and his brother Michael, a member
of the INLA, died tragically while in prison. Perceptive and astute,
one of the many things that stood out about Jim was that he didn’t have
the awe most Volunteers seem to have held for the IRA leadership at that
time. Jim put nobody on a pedestal. While organisationally loyal and
respecting some of them as individuals he clearly didn’t trust others
and considered most to be militarily illiterate, lacking even the most
basic technical and tactical competence and proficiency.

From his experience, successful IRA areas and operations were due far
more to talented, capable and courageous local leaders and Volunteers –
and their support base on the ground – rather than the result of any
grand plan from on high. The Brits knew that too and their ‘Tasking and
Coordination Groups’ studied carefully who their SAS ambush teams and
Loyalist deathsquads should attempt to take out of the equation – and
who to leave undisturbed to rise through the ranks.

An English historian gave a description of the Irish who fought against
Britain during the American revolution in a manner that describes Jim
and Padraig to a tee. They were, he said, ‘the foremost, the most
irreconcilable, and the most determined to push the quarrel to the last
extremity’. The Brits considered Padraig McKearney and Jim Lynagh
dangerous adversaries. Brave and intelligent, they couldn’t be
frightened and they couldn’t be bought. A bad combination.

Mourners were told by the Provisional leadership at Jim’s funeral that
Loughgall would be the tombstone for British rule in Ireland.
Twenty-nine years later the Brits are going nowhere and the same
leadership now boast that they have buried the IRA. Nor do they miss an
opportunity to declare that since the Good Friday Agreement Ireland
unfree shall be at peace.

There is a contextual thread running through every British attempt at a
settlement since at least the mid-19th century. In the summer of 1921,
at the height of the Tan War, British Prime Minister Sir Lloyd George
sent a telegram to the then Sinn Fein leadership seeking negotiations.
This message was sent:

‘With a view to ascertaining how the association of Ireland with the
community of nations known as the British Empire may be reconciled with
Irish national aspirations.’

Reconciling Irish nationalism with the British state has dominated
British strategic thinking since British Prime Minister William
Gladstone first jettisoned the Liberal party’s hostility toward Irish
Home Rule and embraced it as a buffer between Irish independence and
British sovereignty.

The Fenian Rising in 1867 and their bombing campaign in London in the
late 1860s had a profound effect on Gladstone. In his view the three
grievances which flamed Fenianism were the established Protestant
Church, the land system and direct English rule. When informed by a
messenger in December 1868 that he had been charged with forming his
first Cabinet he remarked, ‘my mission is to pacify Ireland’.

A major concern was that, largely as a result of the Famine, an Irish
nation over a million strong now lived in America, hostile to England
yet beyond the reach of British jurisdiction and reprisals. Worse yet,
these Irish were experiencing life in a democracy within a republic and
were prospering. Many now had money and resources denied to them at home
and as a result of service in the American Civil War many thousands had
first class military training and combat experience.

The British government came to the conclusion that the Irish people in
Ireland itself had to be protected and insulated from what the London
Times called, ‘the despicable ideas inspired by American democracy’. In
addition, events within the UK, such as the 1867 Reform Act, doubled the
electorate and the rising tide of democracy had to be manipulated and
managed so as not to threaten the status quo.

Gladstone advised Queen Victoria that he intended to grant a series of
limited concessions to Ireland in order to buy off any serious attempt
at separation. He began by disestablishing the Church of Ireland as the
official state church in 1869 and bringing in an essentially useless
Land Act in 1870. During the 1880s he would, despite stiff opposition
from English and Irish Unionists, come to support the idea of Irish Home
Rule. All this not to satisfy Ireland but to pacify Ireland.

And so began British peace processing in Ireland, instigated to divert
and deflect the Irish people away from the path to independence and onto
ground Britain could manipulate and control. By the time of the Home
Rule debates, Protestant privilege and influence in Ireland, which was
based on land ownership, had diminished in most of Ireland, and a new
Catholic middle class had grown in strength and influence. Some had done
well out of the Famine.

Britain was intent on forming an alliance with the leadership of this
emerging Catholic elite and were preparing to grant them a degree of
local autonomy, making them their new partners and accomplices in
managing and administering the occupation. Imperial Britain came to the
conclusion long before Lenin that, ‘the best way to control the
opposition is to lead it ourselves’.

The degree to which Britain succeeded in fostering a loyal nationalist
opposition can be seen in John Redmond’s description of the 1916 Rising
as treason against the Irish people and the Irish Parliamentary Party’s
call for Irishmen to fight and die, not for Ireland, but for the British
Empire in the belief that unity between Nationalists and Unionists could
be fostered by bayonetting German boys in Flanders.

Incredibly, to this day some Nationalists still believe that alliances
with Unionism should be nurtured through attendance at British army war
memorial services and sentimentalising joint First World War service in
the very army that executed the 1916 Leadership and continues to occupy
our country. Apparently Wolfe Tone’s belief that Protestant and Catholic
unity should come about through the forging of a common national
citizenship free from England plays second fiddle to the idea of unity
through celebrating joint debasement as levies and mercenaries for the
enemy.

Depending on who was in power and other factors, British government
policy in Ireland between 1868 and 1916 oscillated between periods of
conciliation and coercion. What never changed was Britain’s
determination that UK parliamentary sovereignty would never be trumped
by Irish popular sovereignty. Every treaty and agreement up to and
including the Good Friday Agreement would uphold the fundamental
principal of UK parliamentary sovereignty and the primacy of British
law.

The rule of law is central to British strategy. As such the issue of
policing has been the cornerstone of their counter-insurgency
architecture – a strategy designed to legitimise the British state in
Ireland by conferring on Britain Irish assent to its presumption of
democratic entitlement and its monopoly on the legitimate use of force.
As Roger Casement said at his trial, ‘conquest gives no title’.

The 1916 rising threw a spanner into the Home Rule works and scuttled
the loyal nationalist opposition Britain had been counting on to keep
Ireland off the political radar. Subsequent events led to a British
alliance with Ulster Unionism to retain what control they could in
Ireland.

Britain, however, had no natural affinity with the Orange state beyond
one of utility. The Brits have never demurred from negotiating over the
heads of their allies in Ireland when it suited their interests. Tony
Blair was quite happy to help dismantle the Orange state if by doing so
the British state in Ireland could at last became politically viable. Of
course the Unionists didn’t like it. But to equate Unionist discomfiture
with impending victory is base sectarian reductionism.

The Proclamation of 1916, the 1918 election, the Declaration of
Independence and the Democratic Programme of the First Dail were
answered by the British in 1920 with the Government of Ireland Act. That
Act was the British government’s formal legislative declaration that it
rejected the concept of majority all-Ireland opinion and would refuse to
recognise Ireland as one democratic unit. The Act, authored by an
English Tory committee without the input of a single Irishman,
partitioned Ireland into a 26-county Southern Ireland and a six-county
Northern Ireland.

During the Civil War, former Republicans who accepted a settlement based
on this Act were given British guns and artillery to destroy Republicans
who didn’t. A small clique of IRA deserters, reinforced by a massive
influx of demobilised British soldiers of Irish provenance, manned Free
State firing squads as those Patriots who remained true to a republican
definition of democracy were tied to landmines and placed against
barracks walls.

As a result of the Good Friday Agreement, the British have annulled the
1920 Government of Ireland Act. There has been a deliberate and
self-serving attempt at misdirection over the ending of this Act, the
implication being that Britain has diluted its claim to sovereignty as
part of some transitional progression toward disengagement. This is
certainly not the case.

The UK government felt confident in doing so as a quid pro quo for the
downgrading of Articles 2 and 3 of the 26-County Constitution from a
constitutional imperative to a notional aspiration, because the Dublin
Government and all Nationalist parties that support the Agreement have
been co-opted to, and have formally endorsed and internalised, the
British narrative and its interpretation of Ireland’s democratic
limitations.

They have joined Britain as partners in declining to acknowledge Ireland
as one democratic unit and have conceded that fact in an international
agreement. They have legitimised the Unionist Veto to the point that
some former comrades have now discovered that Irish Unionists are
British. They have conferred the mantle of lawful authority upon Her
Majesty’s Constabulary, the PSNI, who, like the RUC at 90 percent
Protestant and the RIC at 80 percent Catholic, continue to stand in
British armed opposition to the republican and democratic principles of
the 1916 Proclamation.

Britain’s claim to sovereignty in Ireland resides in the 1801 Act of
Union, which remains firmly on her statute books. The Union flag
inspired by that Act, incorporating the Cross of St. Patrick, still
flies on Irish soil. The Harp, as a national symbol of Ireland, still
adorns the British Royal Standard and the United Kingdom’s Coat of Arms.

The Cross of St Patrick and the Harp are Irish national symbols and not
six-county symbols. When Prince William married Kate Middleton he wore
the uniform of the Irish Guards, not the Northern Irish Guards. It’s
ironic that Irish republicans and the British establishment are more
likely to take the long national view of Irish politics than Northern
Unionists or Southern Partitionists.

Britain continues to hijack Irish national symbols in its political and
military iconography and continues to work to deny Ireland a National
Parliament. The Brits never take their eye off the ball and have
formally and informally protested to the Dublin Government any proposal
to provide elected Northern representatives speaking rights in Leinster
House as outside the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.

The UK government, with the enthusiastic support of many Free State TDs,
will not countenance the Dail regaining any semblance of the genuinely
national assembly it was between 1919 and 1922. One hundred years after
the 1916 Proclamation Ireland still has no ‘National Government,
representative of the whole people of Ireland and elected by the
suffrages of all her men and women’.

With Unionists a clear majority in only two of Ireland’s thirty-two
counties, Britain is looking at the demographics and planning for the
future. A ‘new republicanism’ is being encouraged and nurtured in which
the vision of a United Ireland, a 32-County national democracy, is
replaced by an ‘Agreed Ireland’, where the British stay and the Irish
agree to it. Under this ‘new republicanism’ we must no longer speak of
breaking the British connection but of respecting the British connection
as a gesture toward Unionism. It’s the ‘republican’ thing to do.

Republicans must dine with the British Queen and shake hands with the
Colonel-in-Chief of the Parachute Regiment and honour British war dead
in the name of reconciliation because reconciliation no longer means
reconciling Catholic, Protestant and Dissenter to the idea of a united
national citizenship but reconciling nationalists to the idea of the
permanence of the British connection in some guise or other.

We must find a place for Britishness in an agreed Ireland. Perhaps an
all-Ireland return to the British Commonwealth in return for some new
all-Ireland institutions buttressed by some ad hoc all-Ireland police
force? Of course, all-Ireland institutions are not always what they are
cracked up to be. The famine workhouses were an all-Ireland institution
and the Black and Tans were an all-Ireland police force. There is a
crucial distinction between the concepts of United Ireland and
All-Ireland. One is Irish Freedom, the other isn’t.

Under this scenario Irish Unionists are British because they choose to
be so. Let us ignore the fact that Irish Unionists don’t live in Britain
and rarely referred to themselves as British until after the first Home
Rule crisis and especially after partition. They took pride in the Royal
Irish Constabulary, the Royal Irish Regiments. In an Irishness that was
subservient to British interests – the Royal Irish, the Loyal Irish.

Yet, clearly, their sense of Britishness was always conditional upon
Britain maintaining Unionist supremacy. They were quite prepared to
rebel against the British government if Britain enacted the Home Rule
Act. It was the Unionist importation of German rifles and ammunition in
the Larne gun running incident in 1914 that introduced the gun into 20th
Century Irish politics. As late at the 1970s, Ian Paisley was advocating
a Rhodesian-style ‘Unilateral Declaration of Independence’ if Irish
Unity appeared a possibility.

What this political culture would not countenance was the 1916
Proclamation’s ideas of equality within the national democracy of a
United Ireland. Although they had lived quite happily in a United
Ireland under the British Crown for hundreds of years, they would never
willingly do so under a democratic Irish Republic and Britain would
ensure they wouldn’t have to.

Examine their symbolism. You won’t see a depiction of the British
parliament at Westminster on an Orange banner, only the crown of the
British monarchy – which is the feudal sponsor of the Protestant
Ascendancy and sectarian supremacy. Why would we respect that crown? Now
you can either buy into this nonsense and bluff the world that you are
doing so from some higher humanitarian, intellectual and moral plane or
you can wise up and have the courage to face the fact that decolonising
mind sets is going to be one of the most difficult phases in building a
national democracy.

There was no painless way to conquer Ireland and no painless way to
reconquer it. When the Union is over the plantation is over. The fact is
Unionists will be deeply hurt and demoralised by this. They won’t like
it and they may not like it for generations to come, as was the case for
Unionists in the Free State after the Treaty. That will be a major
challenge for our republic to work through. But don’t blame Republicans
for that. Britain engineered this mess. The process of genuine national
reconciliation can only begin when Britain leaves Ireland and can no
longer meddle in our internal affairs.

The American Loyalists who supported the British during the American
revolution didn’t want an American republic. The Boers didn’t want a
democratic South Africa. Israeli settlers don’t want a Palestinian
state. The French Pied Noir settlers didn’t want an independent Algeria.
The Confederacy didn’t want to let go of slavery. Ideologies and
political cultures based on imperial conquest and colonial expropriation
are, in the words of James Connolly, ‘crimes against human progress’.
Sometimes for humanity to progress certain belief systems must be
jettisoned and leave the historical stage. There is no gainsaying it.

Making Ireland British is an English project – keeping Ireland British
can never be a republican one. The republican project is to end the
British connection, not to respect it. Our concept of reconciliation
lies in reconciling all Irishmen to the democratic ideal of equality and
the republican concept of majority rule, tempered by a protection of
minority rights. Rights as Irish citizens, not as wards of a foreign
power. Republicans take a national view of the national question. Why do
our enemies seem consistently surprised about that? What part of
‘national’ do they not understand?

Partition and the Good Friday Agreement are basically tribal settlements
rooted in difference. Irish republicanism is inspired by a proposition.
That proposition was enunciated by Wolfe Tone and further refined and
articulated in the Proclamation of 1916 – the proposition that Britain
can be dispensed with and Irishmen and women, of whatever persuasion and
none, could forge a common national citizenship based upon democracy,
equality and fraternity. That’s the vision. That is Irish
republicanism.

Don’t allow the people who told you the path to Irish Freedom lay
through conceding the Unionist Veto, reviving Stormont, endorsing Her
Majesty’s constabulary as lawful authority and internalising British
constitutional constraints such as the triple-locked border poll lure
you into believing a so-called Agreed Ireland can attain some degree of
moral ascendancy over the democratic and republican principles inherent
in a United Ireland. Britain has no place in Ireland. Republicans must
ensure that the fantasy of a permanent British redoubt imprinted with
Irish democratic assent to its political or cultural legitimacy becomes
British imperialism’s last dream before death.

When you cut to the chase a lot of this is coming from the Provisional
‘think-tank’, who are trying to redefine Irish republicanism and modify
the concept of Irish Unity to conform to the limitations of its
leadership and their inability to devise a strategy that would bring the
republican project to a timely and successful conclusion. The think-tank
should think again.

Leadership is not about demonstrating how many Jesuitical contortions a
movement can be forced to make before it becomes permanently twisted.
Leadership is based on trust. Trust that the ideology is correct and the
vision based on that ideology is the right one and is believed by the
leadership and not just spouted as a mobilising aspiration around which
to build a political base that may one day service a political career.
Trust that the vision will never be tempered or tailored or turned by
fear of the consequences in pursing it or modified by personal ambition.
Trust that the strategy driven by that vision will be pursued
professionally and responsibly with due diligence and care to the people
tasked with carrying it out. Trust that the commitment to Irish Freedom
is not a perishable commodity.

Keep your passion for freedom alive. Don’t be demoralised by beaten
dockets or the self-serving sophistry of careerists and carpetbaggers.
Stay on a republican trajectory and do not be lured into a British
orbit. Don’t worry if you don’t have the strategy worked out or all the
answers just yet. Republicans have been through years of false trails
and false prophets and are only lately picking up the pieces. It takes
time to gain traction and to build an unstoppable momentum.

James Connolly wasn’t captured with a fully-costed programme for
government in his back pocket. Sometimes you just have to do the right
thing, regardless of whether you have accounted for the minutiae of
every conceivable event and scenario. Keep it republican, keep it
democratic and keep it socially just. Republicans are still working this
through. In the meantime be certain that Britain’s busy bees are
infiltrating every republican group in order steer them in the wrong
direction – as they did so successfully with others.

Like James Connolly, Jim, Padraig, Patrick, Declan, Seamus, Tony, Eugene
and Gerard went out to break the connection between this country and
Britain and to establish an Irish Republic. They died at their posts.
No-one is using this platform to ask you to kill or or be killed for
Irish Freedom. Remain at your posts though. Don’t be seduced into
servicing the lie. Don’t abandon the truth. The truth that, as James
Connolly put it at his court martial one hundred years ago when he said:

‘The British Government has no right in Ireland, never had any right in
Ireland, and never can have any right in Ireland.’

Do not join in the crime against human progress. Do not reconcile
yourself to the British presence. Do not concede the political and moral
legitimacy of the ‘differences carefully fostered by an alien
government’. That is not the republican thing to do.

At this exact moment twenty nine years ago today Jim Lynagh, Padraig
McKearney, Patrick Kelly, Declan Arthurs, Seamus Donnelly, Tony Gormley,
Eugene Kelly, and Gerard O’Callaghan had only hours left to live. Lads,
if you can hear us, thank you for your sacrifice. You never abandoned
your post – and neither will we.

Writing about the hunger strike

Posted by Jim on

By Gerry Adams (for Leargas)

35 years ago, on May 5th 1981, Bobby Sands died on hunger strike after
66 days without food. He was the first of 10 men to die in the H Blocks
of Long Kesh that terrible summer of 1981. For those republican
political prisoners in the H-Blocks, in Armagh Women’s prison and in
other prisons in Ireland and England there was a shared sense of grief
and anger.

For the families of those who died and for the rest of us and the tens
of thousands of ordinary citizens in Ireland and around the world who
campaigned on their behalf, this was our Easter 1916. It was a
transformative, watershed moment in our lives but also in the struggle
for Irish freedom.

To their families and comrades and supporters the hunger strikers are
heroes. They were courageous comrades who selflessly gave their lives
that others might not experience the brutality and savagery of a vicious
prison regime. And in their painful deaths, watched daily by families
and friends, and reported by a generally hostile media, they defied the
Thatcher government’s efforts to criminalise them and the struggle that
they were part of.

When it ended in October 1981 it appeared that the prisoners had lost.
But in reality that long and difficult summer resulted in a few short
years with the demands of the prisoners being met. The hunger strike
also internationalised the struggle in a way that nothing else had. It
facilitated connections with other political and liberation movements
and it saw a huge growth in the number of republican activists. It
helped accelerate the acceptance by republicans of electoralism as part
of strategy.

All of this opened up significant new opportunities, including within a
decade secret contacts with the British government and efforts by Sinn
Fein to explore the potential for a peace process.

Several years later David Beresford, the Guardian’s correspondent to the
north, published the definitive account of the hunger strike – Ten Men
Dead. David died last week and his funeral service took place on
Tuesday. He was remarkable man and an exceptional writer, author and
journalist. He arrived into the north in 1978 at a dangerous and
difficult time.

The prison protests in the H-Blocks and in Armagh women’s prison had
been going on for three years. There were some 500 protesting prisoners
and hundreds more in other prisons in Ireland and England.

The use by the British state of widespread torture in the interrogation
centres; of shoot-to-kill actions: and of collusion between state forces
and unionist paramilitaries in the killing of political opponents and
civilians was widespread. The IRA war against the British state showed
no sign of abating.

There was also a major propaganda battle taking place. Many in the
establishment media played the game. Their first port of call when
anything happened were the numerous press officers working for Britain’s
Northern Ireland Office or for the RUC or British Army. Frequently they
went no further. The British line was their line. And their editorial
bosses, whether in Belfast or London, were happy to sustain this
relationship. Censorship, official and unofficial, was deep rooted and
corrosive.

This was the north and the state of conflict into which David arrived.
From the beginning he looked beyond the official spin. he travelled
widely in the north; made a point of speaking to republicans, loyalists
and community activists, and to those directly affected by the war.

He had a healthy scepticism; was a good listener; and his writing was
insightful, informative and discerning. Occasionally I met him also to
discuss the current politics of the moment.

All of us who knew him were struck by his commitment to truthful
journalism. Consequently, when he broached the possibility of writing a
book on the hunger strike there were no objections. He was trusted to
tell an honest account of that very difficult time in our history and in
our lives. To aid him in this we gave him access to the ‘comms’ – the
messages that were smuggled out from the prison.

In the main these were written on thin tiny cigarette papers, or torn
scraps of paper from the Gideon bible that each cell had, using the
refill of biros hidden inside the bodies of the prisoners. They were
then wrapped in cling film and smuggled out.

Ten Men Dead is probably the best book written about any aspect of the
conflict in Ireland. It remains as potent a piece of journalism today as
it was when first published. It is a compelling book; impossible to put
down once you begin to read it. It is a passionate book that tugs at the
emotions. It provides a harrowing and moving account of one of the most
extraordinary events during the decades of war in the north of Ireland.

Its longevity; its’ honesty and David’s ability through his words to
empathise with those he was writing about have combined to ensure that
Ten Men Dead has never been out of print.

A few years after the hunger strike David moved back to South Africa to
record the historic changes that were taking place in that country. In
1995 I had the good fortune to meet him again in South Africa when a
Sinn Fein delegation travelled there to meet with Madiba – Nelson
Mandela – and others in the ANC leadership.

The IRA had the previous year called a cessation and we want to discuss
with the ANC their strategies, tactics and general approaches to their
peace process and the lessons for ours.

By this stage David was suffering from Parkinsons. It is an awful
disease but he faced it with courage and great dignity and wrote about
his experience. I also watched the television documentary he made
detailing the operation in 2002 to ease the symptoms.

David Beresford believed in the rights of people; in human rights. He
wanted to tell their stories in a way that would help others understand
what was happening.

As we in Ireland remember our friend Bobby Sands and his nine comrades
it is appropriate that we also remember David Beresford who shone a
light on the horrors of the H-Blocks.

Bobby was a fine writer also. A poet. From within the confines of his
prison cell, naked and brutalised he smuggled out words that resonate
today. Among them is his poem The Rhythm of Time. It applies equally to
David Beresford:

There’s an inner thing in every man,
Do you know this thing my friend?
It has withstood the blows of a million years,
And will do so to the end.
It is found in every light of hope,
It knows no bounds nor space
It has risen in red and black and white,
It is there in every race.
It lights the dark of this prison cell,
It thunders forth its might,
It is ‘the undauntable thought’, my friend,
That thought that says ‘I’m right!’

On behalf of Sinn Fein I want to extend my deepest condolences to
David’s family. To Marianna, Belinda and Norman; and Ellen and their son
Joris, and to David’s elder brother Garth. Ar dheis de go raibh a anam
dilis.

Raymond McCreesh – Died May 21st, 1981

Posted by Jim on

 

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A quiet, good-natured and discreet republican

THE THIRD of the resolutely determined IRA Volunteers to join the H-Block hunger strike for political status was twenty-four-year-old Raymond McCreesh, from Camlough in South Armagh: a quiet, shy and good-humoured republican, who although captured at the early age of nineteen, along with two other Volunteers in a British army ambush, had already almost three years active republican involvement behind him.

During those years he had established himself as one of the most dedicated and invaluable republican activists in that part of the six counties to which the Brits themselves have – half-fearfully, half-respectfully – given the name ‘bandit country’ and which has become a living legend in republican circles, during the present war, for the courage and resourcefulness of its Volunteers: the border land of South Armagh.

Raymond’s resolve to hunger strike to the death, to secure the prisoners’ five demands was indicated in a smuggled-out letter written by Paddy Quinn, an H-Block blanket man – who was later to embark on hunger strike himself – who was captured along with Raymond and who received the same fourteen year sentence: “I wrote Raymie a couple of letters before he went to the prison hospital. He wrote back and according to the letter he was in great spirits and very determined. A sign of that determination was the way he finished off by saying: Ta seans ann go mbeidh me abhaile rombat a chara’ which means: There is a chance that I’ll be home before you, my friend!”

Captured in June 1976, and sentenced in March 1977, when he refused to recognise the court, Raymond would have been due for release in about two years’ time had he not embarked on his principled protest for political status, which led him, ultimately, to hunger strike.

FAMILY

Raymond Peter McCreesh, the seventh in a family of eight children, was born in a small semi-detached house at St. Malachy’s Park, Camlough – where the family still live – on February 25th, 1957.

The McCreeshes, a nationalist family in a staunchly nationalist area, have been rooted in South Armagh for seven generations, and both Raymond’s parents – James aged 65, a retired local council worker, and Susan (whose maiden name is Quigley), aged 60 – come from the nearby townland of Dorsey.

Raymond was a quiet but very lively person, very good-natured and – like other members of his family – extremely witty. Not the sort of person who would push himself forward if he was in a crowd, and indeed often rather a shy person in his personal relationships until he got to know a person well. Nevertheless, in his republican capacity he was known as a capable, dedicated and totally committed Volunteer who could show leadership and aggression where necessary.

Among both his family and his republican associates, Raymond was renowned for his laughter and for “always having a wee smile on him”. His sense of humour remained even during his four-year incarceration in the H-Blocks, as well as during his hunger strike where he continued to insist that he was “just fine.”

SCHOOL

Raymond went first to Camlough primary school, and then to St. Coleman’s college in Newry. It was at St. Coleman’s that Raymond met Danny McGuinness, also from Camlough, and the two became steadfast friends. They later became republican comrades, and Danny too then a nineteen-year-old student who had just completed his ‘A’ levels was captured along with Raymond and Paddy Quinn, and is now in the H-Blocks.

At school, Raymond’s strongest interest was in Irish language and Irish history, and he read widely in those subjects. His understanding of Irish history led him to a fervently nationalist outlook, and he was regarded as a ‘hothead’ in his history classes, and as being generally “very conscious of his Irishness”.

He was also a sportsman, and played under-sixteen and Minor football for Carrickcruppin Gaelic football club as well as taking a keen interest in the local youth club where he played basketball and pool, and was regarded a good snooker player.

When he was fourteen years old, Raymond got a weekend job working on a milk round through the South Armagh border area, around Mullaghbawn and Dromintee. Later on, after leaving his job in Lisburn, he worked full-time on the milk round, where he would always stop and chat to customers. He became a great favourite amongst them and many enquired about him long after he left the round.

RESISTANCE

During the early ‘seventies, the South Armagh border area was the stamping ground of the British army’s Parachute regiment, operating out of Bessbrook camp less than two miles from Raymond’s home. Stories of their widespread brutality and harassment of local people abound, and built-up then a degree of resentment and resistance amongst most of the nationalist population that is seen to this day.

The SAS terror regiment began operating in this area in large numbers too, in a vain attempt to counter republican successes, and the high level of assassinations of local people on both sides of the South Armagh border, notably three members of the Reavey family in 1975, was believed locally to have been the work both of the SAS, and of UDR and RUC members holding dual membership with ‘illegal’ loyalist paramilitary organisations.

Given this scenario and Raymond’s understanding of Irish history, it is small wonder that he became involved in the republican struggle.

JOINED

He first of all joined na Fianna Eireann early in 1973 and towards the end of that year joined the Irish Republican Army’s 1st Battalion, South Armagh.

Even before joining the IRA, and despite his very young age, Raymond – with remarkable awareness and maturity – became one of the first Volunteers in the South Armagh area to adopt a very low, security conscious, republican profile.

He rarely drank, but if occasionally in a pub he would not discuss either politics or his own activities, and he rarely attended demonstrations or indeed anything which would have brought him to the attention of the enemy.

It was because of this remarkable self-discipline and discretion that during his years of intense republican involvement Raymond was never once arrested or even held for screening in the North, and only twice held briefly in the South.

Consequently, Raymond was never obliged to go ‘on the run’, continuing to live at home until the evening of his capture, and always careful not to cause his family any concern or alarm.

Fitted in with his republican activities Raymond would relax by going to dances or by going to watch football matches at weekends.

WORK

After leaving school he spent a year at Newry technical college studying fabrication engineering, and afterwards got a job at Gambler Simms (Steel) Ltd. in Lisburn. He had a conscientious approach to his craft but was obliged to leave after a year because of a fear of assassination.

Each day he travelled to work from Newry, in a bus along with four or five mates who had got jobs there too from the technical college, but the prevailing high level of sectarian assassinations, and the suspicion justifiably felt of the predominantly loyalist work-force at Gambler Simms, made Raymond, and many other nationalist workers, decide that travelling such a regular route through loyalist country side was simply too risky.

So, after leaving the Lisburn factory, Raymond began to work full-time as a milk roundsman, an occupation which would greatly have increased his knowledge of the surrounding countryside, as well as enabling him to observe the movements of British army patrols and any other untoward activity in the area.

ACTIVITY

Republican activity in that area during those years consisted largely of landmine attacks and ambushes on enemy patrols.

Raymond had the reputation of a republican who was very keen to suggest and take part in operations, almost invariably working in his own, extremely tight, active service unit, though occasionally, when requested – as he frequently was – assisting other units in neighbouring areas with specific operations. He would always carefully consider the pros and cons of any operation, and would never panic or lose his nerve.

In undertaking the hunger strike, Raymond gave the matter the same careful consideration he would have expended on a military operation, he undertook nothing either a rush, or for bluff.

CAPTURE

The operation which led to the capture of Raymond, his boyhood friend, Danny McGuiness, and Patrick Quinn, took place on June 25th, 1976.

An active service unit comprising these three and a fourth Volunteer arrived in a commandeered car at a farmyard in the town land of Sturgan a mile from Camlough – at about 9.25 p.m.

Their objective was to ambush a covert Brit observation post which they had located opposite the Mountain House Inn, on the main Newry – Newtonhamilton Road, half-a-mile away. They were not aware, however, that another covert British observation post, on a steep hillside half-a-mile away, had already spotted the four masked, uniformed and armed Volunteers, clearly visible below them, and that radioed helicopter reinforcements were already closing in.

As the fourth Volunteer drove the commandeered car down the road to the agreed ambush point, to act as a lure for the Brits, the other three moved down the hedgeline of the fields, into position. The fourth Volunteer, however, as he returned, as arranged, to rejoin his comrades, spotted the British Paratroopers on the hillside closing in on his unsuspecting friends and, although armed only with a short range Stengun, opened fire to warn the others.

Immediately, the Brits opened fire with SLRs and light machine-guns, churning up the ground around the Volunteers with hundreds of rounds, firing indiscriminately into the nearby farmhouse and two vehicles parked outside, and killing a grazing cow!

The fourth Volunteer was struck by three bullets, in the leg, arm and chest, but managed to crawl away and to elude the massive follow up search, escaping safely – though seriously injured – the following day.

Raymond and Paddy Quinn ran zig-zag across open fields to a nearby house, under fire all this time, intending to commandeer a car. Unfortunately, the car belonging to the occupants of the house was parked at a neighbour’s house several hundred yards away. Even then the pair might have escaped but that they delayed several minutes waiting for their comrade, Danny McGuinness, who however had got separated from them and had taken cover in a disused quarry outhouse (where he was captured in a follow-up operation the next day).

The house in which Raymond and Paddy took cover was immediately besieged by berserk Paratroopers who riddled the house with bullets. Even when the two Volunteers surrendered, after the arrival of a local priest, and came out through the front door with their hands up, the Paras opened fire again and the Pair were forced to retreat back into the house.

On the arrival of the RUC, the two Volunteers again surrendered and were taken to Bessbrook barracks where they were questioned and beaten for three days before being charged.

REMARKABLE

One remarkable aspect of the British ambush concerns the role of Lance-Corporal David Jones, a member of the 3rd Battalion, the Parachute regiment. According to Brit statements at the trial it was he who first opened up on the IRA active service unit from the hillside.

Nine months later, on March 16th, 1977 two IRA Volunteers encountered two Paratroopers (at the time seconded to the SAS) in a field outside Maghera in South Derry. In the ensuing gun battle, one SAS man was shot dead, and one IRA Volunteer was captured. The Volunteer’s name was Francis Hughes, the dead Brit was Lance-Corporal David Jones of the Parachute regiment.

In the eighteen months before going on hunger strike together neither Raymond McCreesh or Francis Hughes were aware of what would seem to have been an ironic but supremely fitting example of republican solidarity!

After nine months remand in Crumlin Road jail, Raymond was tried and convicted in March 1977, of attempting to kill Brits, possession of a Garand rifle and ammunition, and IRA membership. He received a fourteen-year sentence, and lesser concurrent sentences, after refusing to recognise the court.

In the H-Blocks he immediately joined the blanket protest, and so determined was his resistance to criminalisation that he refused to take his monthly visits for four years, right up until he informed his family of his decision to go on hunger strike on February 15th, this year. He also refused to send out monthly letters, writing only smuggled ‘communications’ to his family and friends.

The only member of his family to see him at all during those four years in Long Kesh two or three times – was his brother, Fr. Brian McCreesh, who occasionally says Mass in the H-Blocks.

HUNGER STRIKE

Like Francis Hughes, Raymond volunteered for the earlier hunger strike, and, when he was not chosen among the first seven, took part in the four-day hunger strike by thirty republicans until the hunger strike ended on December 18th, last year.

Speaking to his brother, Malachy, shortly after Bobby Sands death, Raymond said what a great loss had been felt by the other hunger strikers, but it had made them more determined than ever.

And still managing to keep his spirits up, when told of his brother, Fr. Brian, campaigning for him on rally platforms, Raymond joked: “He’ll probably get excommunicated for it.”

To Britain’s eternal shame, the sombre half-prediction made by Raymond to his friend Paddy Quinn – Ta seans ann go mbeid me abhaile rombat – became a grim reality. Bhi se. Raymond died at 2.11 a.m. on Thursday May 21st, 1981, after 61 days on hunger strike.

 

Patsy O’Hara – Died May 21st, 1981

Posted by Jim on

 

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A determined and courageous Derryman

Twenty-three-year-old Patsy O’Hara from Derry city, was the former leader of the Irish National Liberation Army prisoners in the H-Blocks, and joined IRA Volunteer Raymond McCreesh on hunger strike on March 22nd, three weeks after Bobby Sands and one week after Francis Hughes.

Patsy O’Hara was born on July 11th, 1957 at Bishop Street in Derry city.

His parents owned a small public house and grocery shop above which the family lived. His eldest brother, Sean Seamus, was interned in Long Kesh for almost four years. The second eldest in the family, Tony, was imprisoned in the H-Blocks – throughout Patsy’s hunger strike – for five years before being released in August of this year, having served his full five-year sentence with no remission.

The youngest in the O’Hara family is twenty-one-year-old Elizabeth.

Before ‘the troubles’ destroyed the family life of the O’Haras, and the overwhelming influence of being an oppressed youth concerned about his country drove Patsy to militant republicanism, there is the interesting history of his near antecedents which must have produced delight in Patsy’s young heart.

GRANDFATHER

Patsy’s maternal grandfather, James McCluskey, joined the British army as a young man and went off to fight in the First World War. He received nine shrapnel wounds at Ypres and was retired on a full pension.

However, on returning to Ireland his patriotism was set alight by Irish resistance and the terror of British rule. He duly threw out his pension book, did not draw any more money and joined the Republican Movement. He transported men and weapons along the Foyle into Derry in the ‘twenties.

He inherited a public house and bookmakers, in Foyle Street, and was a great friend of Derry republican Sean Keenan’s father, also named Sean.

Mrs. Peggy O’Hara can recall ‘old’ Sean Keenan being arrested just before the out break of the Second World War. Her father’s serious illness resulted in him escaping internment and he died shortly afterwards in 1939.

Mrs. O’Hara’s aunt was married to John Mulhern, a Roscommon man, who was in the RIC up until its disbandment in 1921.

“When my father died in 1939 – says Mrs O’Hara, – “John Mulhern, who was living in Bishop Street, and owned a bar and a grocery shop, took us in to look after us. I remember him telling us that he didn’t just go and join the RIC, but it was because there were so many in the family and times were hard.

“My father was a known IRA man and my uncle reared me, and I was often slagged about this. Patsy used to hear this as a child, but Patsy was a very, very straight young fellow and he was a wee bit bigoted about my uncle being a policeman.

“But a number of years ago Patsy came in to me after speaking to an old republican from Corrigans in Donegal, and Patsy says to me, ‘You’ve nothing to be ashamed of, your uncle being a policeman, because that man was telling me that even though he was an RIC man, he was very, very helpful to the IRA!”

FAMILY

The trait of courage which Patsy was to show in later years was in him from the start, says Mr. O’Hara. “No matter who got into trouble in the street outside, Patsy was the boy to go out and do all the fighting for him. He was the fighting man about the area and didn’t care how big they were. He would tackle them. I even saw him fighting men, and in no way could they stop him. He would keep at them. He was like a wee bull terrier!”

Apparently, up until he was about twelve years of age, Patsy was fat and small, “a wee barrel” says his mother. Then suddenly he shot up to grow to over six foot two inches.

Elizabeth, his sister, recalls Patsy: “He was a mad hatter. When we were young he used to always play tricks on me, mother and father. We used to play a game of cards and whoever lost had to do all the things that everybody told them.

“We all won a card game once and made Patsy crawl up the stairs and ‘miaow’ like a cat at my mother’s bedroom door. She woke up the next day and said, ‘am I going mad? I think I heard a cat last night’ and we all started to laugh.”

The O’Haras’ house was open to all their children’s friends, and again to scores of the volunteers who descended on Derry from all corners of Ireland when the RUC invaded in 1969. But before that transformation in people’s politics came, Mrs. O’Hara still lived for her family alone.

She was especially proud of her eldest son, Sean Seamus who had passed his eleven plus and went to college.

PROTESTS

When Sean was in his early teens he joined the housing action group, around 1967, Mrs. O’Hara’s conception of which was Sean helping to get people homes.

“But one day, someone came into me when I was working in the bar, and said, ‘Your son is down in the Guildhall marching up and down with a placard!

“I went down and stood and looked and Finbarr O’Doherty was standing at the side and wee fellows were going up and down. I went over to Sean and said, ‘Who gave you that? He said, Finbarr!’ I took the placard off Sean and went over to Finbarr, put it in his hand, and hit him with my umbrella.’

Mrs. O’Hara laughs when she recalls this incident, as shortly afterwards she was to have her eyes opened.

“After that, I went to protests wherever Sean was, thinking that I could protect him! I remember the October 1968 march because my husband’s brother, Sean, had just been buried.

“We went to the peaceful march over at the Waterside station and saw the people being beaten into the ground. That was the first time that I ever saw water cannons, they were like something from outer space.

“We thought we had to watch Sean, but to my astonishment Patsy and Tony had slipped away, and Patsy was astonished and startled by what he saw.”

INCIDENT

Later, Patsy was to write about this incident: “The mood of the crowd was one of solidarity. People believed they were right and that a great injustice had been done to them. The crowds came in their thousands from every part of the city and as they moved down Duke Street chanting slogans, ‘One man, one vote’ and singing ‘We shall overcome’ I had the feeling that a people united and on the move, were unstoppable.”

IRSP

Shortly after his release in April 1975, Patsy joined the ranks of the fledgling Irish Republican Socialist Party, which the ‘Sticks’, using murder, had attempted to strangle at birth. He was free only about two months when he was stopped at the permanent check-point on the Letterkenny Road whilst driving his father’s car from Buncrana in County Donegal.

The Brits planted a stick of gelignite in the car (such practice was commonplace) and he was charged with possession of explosives. He was remanded in custody for six months, the first trial being stopped due to unusual RUC ineptitude at framing him. At the end of the second trial he was acquitted and released after spending six months in jail.

In 1976, Patsy had to stay out of the house for fear of constant arrest. That year, also, his brother, Tony, was charged with an armed raid, and on the sole evidence of an alleged verbal statement was sentenced to five years in the H-Blocks.

Despite being ‘on the run’ Patsy was still fond of his creature comforts!

His father recalls: “Sean Seamus came in late one night and though the whole place was in darkness he didn’t put the lights on. He went to sit down and fell on the floor. He ran up the stairs and said: ‘I went to sit down and there was nothing there’

“Patsy had taken the sofa on top of a red Rover down to his billet in the Brandywell. Then before we would get up in the morning he would have it back up again. When we saw it sitting there in the morning we said to Sean: ‘Are you going off your head or what? and he was really puzzled.”

IMPRISONED

In September 1976, he was again arrested in the North and along with four others charged with possession of a weapon. During the remand hearings he protested against the withdrawal of political status.

The charge was withdrawn after four months, indicating how the law is twisted to intern people by remanding them in custody and dropping the charges before the case comes to trial.

In June 1977, he was imprisoned for the fourth time. On this occasion, after a seven-day detention in Dublin’s Bridewell, he was charged with holding a garda at gunpoint. He was released on bail six weeks later and was eventually acquitted In January 1978.

Whilst living in the Free State, Patsy was elected to the ard chomhairle of the IRSP, was active in the Bray area, and campaigned against the special courts.

In January 1979, he moved back to Derry but was arrested on May 14th, 1979 and was charged with possessing a hand-grenade.

In January 1980, he was sentenced to eight years in jail and went on the blanket.

HUNGER STRIKE

What were Mrs. O’Hara’s feelings when Patsy told her he was going on hunger strike?

“My feelings at the start, when he went on hunger strike, were that I thought that they would get their just demands, because it is not very much that they are asking for. There is no use in saying that I was very vexed and all the rest of it. There is no use me sitting back in the wings and letting someone else’s son go. Someone’s sons have to go on it and I just happen to be the mother of that son.”

PRINCIPLES

Writing shortly before the hunger strike began, Patsy O’Hara grimly declared: “We stand for the freedom of the Irish nation so that future generations will enjoy the prosperity they rightly deserve, free from foreign interference, oppression and exploitation. The real criminals are the British imperialists who have thrived on the blood and sweat of generations of Irish men.

“They have maintained control of Ireland through force of arms and there is only one way to end it. I would rather die than rot in this concrete tomb for years to come.

Patsy witnessed the baton charges and said: “The people were sandwiched in another street and with the Specials coming from both sides, swinging their truncheons at anything that moved. It was a terrifying experience and one which I shall always remember.”

Mr. and Mrs. O’Hara believe that it was this incident when Patsy was aged eleven, followed by the riots in January 1969 and the ‘Battle of the Bogside’ in August 1969 that aroused passionate feelings of nationalism, and then republicanism, in their son. “Every day he saw something different happening,” says his father. “People getting beaten up, raids and coffins coming out. This was his environment.”

JOINED

In 1970, Patsy joined na Fianna Eireann, drilled and trained in Celtic Park.

Early in 1971, and though he was very young, he joined the Patrick Pearse Sinn Fein cumann in the Bogside, selling Easter lilies and newspapers. Internment, introduced in August 1971, hit the O’Hara family particularly severely with the arrest of Sean Seamus in October. “We never had a proper Christmas since then” says Elizabeth. “When Sean Seamus was interned we never put up decorations and our family has been split-up ever since then.”

Shortly after Sean’s arrest Patsy, one night, went over to a friend’s house in Southway where there were barricades. But coming out of the house, British soldiers opened fire, for no apparent reason, and shot Patsy in the leg. He was only fourteen years of age and spent several weeks in hospital and then several more weeks on crutches.

BLOODY SUNDAY

On January 30th, 1972, his father took him to watch the big anti-internment march as it wound its way down from the Creggan. “I struggled across a banking but was unable to go any further. I watched the march go up into the Brandywell. I could see that it was massive. The rest of my friends went to meet it but I could only go back to my mother’s house and listen to it on the radio,” said Patsy.

Asked about her feelings over Patsy be coming involved in the struggle, Mrs. O’Hara said: “After October 1968, I thought that that was the right thing to do. I am proud of him, proud of them all”.

Mr O’Hara said: “Personally speaking, I knew he would get involved. It was in his nature. He hated bullies al his life, and he saw big bullies in uniform and he would tackle them as well.

Shortly after Bloody Sunday, Patsy joined the ‘Republican Clubs’ and was active until 1973, “when it became apparent that they were firmly on the path to reformism and had abandoned the national question”.

INTERNED

From this time onwards he was continually harassed, taken in for interrogation and assaulted.

One day, he and a friend were arrested on the Briemoor Road. Two saracens screeched to a halt beside them. Patsy later described this arrest: “We were thrown onto the floor and as they were bringing us to the arrest centre, we were given a beating with their batons and rifles. When we arrived and were getting out of the vehicles we were tripped and fell on our faces”.

Three months later, after his seventeenth birthday, he was taken to the notorious interrogation centre at Ballykelly. He was interrogated for three days and then interned with three others who had been held for nine days.

“Long Kesh had been burned the week previously” said Patsy, “and as we flew above the camp in a British army helicopter we could see the complete devastation. When we arrived, we were given two blankets and mattresses and put into one of the cages.

“For the next two months we were on a starvation diet, no facilities of any” kind, and most men lying out open to the elements…

“That December a ceasefire was announced, then internment was phased out.” Merlyn Rees also announced at the same time that special category status would be withdrawn on March 1st, 1976. I did not know then how much that change of policy would effect me in less than three years”.

Patsy O’Hara died at 11.29 p.m. on Thursday, May 21st – on the same day as Raymond McCreesh with whom he had embarked on the hunger-strike sixty-one days earlier.

Even in death his torturers would not let him rest. When the O’Hara family been broken and his corpse bore several burn marks inflicted after his death.

 

FDNY FIRE FAMILY TRANSPORT FOUNDATION BBQ

Posted by Jim on May 17, 2016

 

Where: TAMAQUA MARINA
84 EBONY COURT
GERRITSEN BEACH, BROOKLYN, NY
When: Jun 17th, 2016 4:00 PM – 9:00 PM
Description:
PROCEEDS TO BENEFIT HOPE FOR THE WARRIORS FOUNDATION
$40.00 DONATION INCLUDES FOOD & DRINK, MUSIC BY DJ MOUSE
CONTACT: Richie Whalen L-156 (718) 640-5081
or Bob Fraumeni L-147 (347) 992-3739

Horseshoe Tournament ~ Saturday May 21, 2016 ~ AOH Division 21

Posted by Jim on

Horseshoe Tournament ~ Saturday May 21, 2016 ~ AOH Division 21

The Kings County President & Officers will be attending & ask that all Kings County AOH members attend this fun filled event as well.
 
Please let us know “ASAP” if you are attending so we can give John Manning a count for the food.
 
In Our Motto,
Eddie Velinskie
Recording Secretary 
347-210-1249

‘We shall rise again’

Posted by Jim on May 16, 2016

———————————————————————-
Nora Connolly O’Brien was born in 1893 in Edinburgh, Scotland, the
second daughter of James Connolly and his wife Lillie. From an early age
Nora was involved in labour and Irish republican activism, and in 1916
she acted as a messenger between the leadership of the Rising and the
volunteers in the North.

Nora died in 1981, having spent her life committed to the promotion of
socialist republican politics. In the excerpt below from her memoirs,
Nora talks about her father’s final days and the courage and inspiration
that James Connolly gave to her and continues to give to republicans
today.
———————————————————————-

“During the rising, my father had not been content to sit in an office
and give orders. He used to go and see that the orders were being
carried out. That was how he got wounded. His ankles were shattered, and
he had been shot in the arm. After the surrender, he had been brought to
Dublin Castle. There he was placed in the officers’ ward, with a room to
himself. He was given the full credit of his rank, and the British
soldiers never forgot to call him the General, or the
Commandant-General. The ordinary soldiers called him the General, and
made it plain that the hope of the ordinary police and soldiers was that
he would not be executed. Many of the soldiers knew something about my
father. This was because Redmond has got a lot of Irishmen into the army
during the war.

By the time he was placed in this hospital ward, he had already lost so
much health. There had been no doctors in the GPO building. There was
one student who was in his last year at medical school, and he did the
best he could after my father had been wounded. There was also an
officer of the British Army Medical Corps in the GPO, whom we had
arrested. The medical student, whose name was Ryan, went to this
prisoner and asked him for help. At first the Medical Officer said he
could not do anything, but Ryan said, ‘Even if you can’t do anything,
just tell me what to do and I’ll do it all while you give me the
orders,’ and he reminded him of the oath of Hippocrates that doctors
take when they become doctors. So the officer went down and gave
instructions, but nothing he said did any good.

By the time my father reached Dublin Castle, he was a dying man.
Gangrene had set in, and he had little chance of living. He could not
even sit up, and was unable to lift more than his head from the pillow,
and his shoulders a little bit. The gangrene began affecting his whole
body.

The surgeon who was attending my father sent over to London for some
medicine he had heard of which he hoped would stop the spreading of the
gangrene. The surgeon took a strong liking to my father. It was the same
with everyone who met him – they all loved him. The surgeon and my
father discussed poetry, and different writers – one would say a poem,
and the other would quote a poem in opposition to it, and one would make
a joke and they would laugh. And they would discuss different writers,
and books they had read, and what their opinion of this writer was, and
their opinion of that. And all this time my father was dying every
minute, dying every minute.

There was a very young Royal Army Medical Corps officer whose job it was
to sit all day long in my father’s room. I often wondered what this
young RAMC officer must have been thinking. I can imagine that he must
have been saying to himself, ‘But this man is dying! And look how he is
going on – saying poems, making jokes, and laughing!’ It was mind over
body, and I have a feeling that the poor young soldier must have been in
a terrific tension – that he had never seen anything like it.

My mother and I and all our family had moved out of Belfast a few days
before the rising. We were planning to move to Dublin. We did not want
to attract attention, so we packed all our things in cases to pretend we
were just going on holiday. During the fighting, my mother and the
younger children stayed in a cottage belonging to Madame Markievicz just
outside Dublin. When it was all over she received a note from Dublin
Castle saying that she should come to visit James Connolly in the
hospital there. She went down and visited him on her own, taking only
Fiona, the youngest in our family.

When she reached Dublin Castle, my mother was searched to see that she
was not bringing a knife or any drug or anything else for my father to
commit suicide with.

‘That’s proof you don’t know James Connolly,’ said my mother. ‘Otherwise
you wouldn’t dream of suggesting that in order to avoid a little pain -‘

‘A lot of pain, Mrs Connolly,’ said the nurse who was searching her.

‘Well, it doesn’t matter how bad the pain is,’ said my mother. ‘He’d
never commit suicide. He bears all he has to bear. As long as there is
life in him, he’ll be fighting all the time’.

When the nurse had finished searching her, she said, ‘I’ll not do this
again next time you come’.

‘Oh, I can come again?’ asked my mother.

The nurse thought she would probably be allowed to.

On her way out from this visit, a photographer took a picture of her and
Fiona outside Dublin Castle, which was later printed in, I think, the
‘Daily Sketch’. They were both angry when they saw it, as they were
looking very unkempt, and the photographer had just called them out and
taken the photo without their permission.

Next my father was court-martialled. I later had the story of what
happened from the nurse. My father could not go and attend the court, so
the members of the court all went to his hospital room. The whole lot
just marched in.

The officer in charge of the court martial told my father, ‘Sit up! You
know what this is’.

My father did not say a word.

‘I told you to sit up!’ the man said.

The young RAMC said to them, ‘But the man is dying!’ The young man must
never before have dared to dream of standing up in front of all those
high officers. When they kept yelling at my father to sit up, the young
man had to tell them twice that he was dying.

‘Well, prop him up, then!’ the officer said.

In fact they knew of the gangrene and that my father had not many days
to live, but they were going to court-martial him anyway, as he was the
leader.

So then they called out for the nurse, who was standing outside the
room. And they ordered the soldiers to bring pillows and mattresses so
that my father could be propped up to hear his court martial there and
then. When they had finished, they asked him if he had any requests to
make, and he asked to see my mother and me.

By this time, I had come back to Dublin from the North. I was given two
visits, both times together with my mother. Our last visit was only an
hour or so before he was taken across from Dublin Castle to Kilmainham
to be shot.

Dublin Castle has a double staircase in the main entrance hall, with a
long landing between the two. On every step of the stairs when we went
in there was a soldier with a rifle and a bayonet. There were soldiers
on the landing also. Those on the landing had the little square cushions
that used to be used in the army as mattresses – they were called
‘biscuits’. They had had their night’s rest on these ‘biscuits’ on the
landing. My mother and I were taken to the top officer there – the
Intelligence Officer, who wanted to make sure we were not part of a plot
to steal James Connolly from them. All the soldiers were on duty as we
went in, to prevent an abduction attempt, with their bayonets fixed all
the time. The officer told us not to give my father any news. Apart from
Surgeon Tobin, the surgeon who was looking after my father, and Father
Aloysius, we were the only ones who were allowed to see him. In this way
they hoped to keep him in ignorance of what was happening, so that he
would not be able to have any influence outside.

The officers’ ward, where my father had been placed, consisted of a
corridor with little rooms along it for when an officer fell ill. They
would not let an officer go among the ‘common people’ at all! Each
officer who was ill used to have a separate room to himself.

My mother and I sat in this room, one each side of the bed. The only
other person in the room was the young RAMC officer, and he sat with his
back to us during our visits, just reading a book or looking out of the
window.

My father was lying in bed with a cage over his feet to keep the
bedclothes off his shattered ankles. He told us about the court martial,
and asked me for news from the North. I had to tell him that the men had
gone home, and that there had been no fighting, and I began to cry. But
he told me he was very proud of me.

‘But I’ve done nothing, nothing,’ I said. ‘I’ve just carried messages’.

‘Never mind, Nora,’ he said. He told me that if I had not come down with
the message from the North that the Northerners were ready to fight, it
would not have been possible to persuade the Dublin leaders to go ahead
with the rising. ‘Only for you, Nora, we couldn’t have done anything,’
he told me.

Although we were not supposed to be giving him any news, I gave the news
of the executions to him anyway. He gave me the opening that gave me the
opportunity, by asking me to give a message to Skeffington.

I said, ‘Skeffington has been murdered by a drunken soldier’. And then I
went on, ‘There’s only you and MacDermott left. They’re all gone’.

And that was the greatest shock he ever got in his life. He had not
heard from anybody about the executions. He had heard the shooting, but
had not realised what it was.

I said that surely they would never shoot a wounded man.

He said he had never believed that. ‘I remember what they did to
Scheepers in South Africa,’ he said. He seemed to assume that I knew who
Scheepers was, but I did not, and I never found out, though I asked many
people. It was only this year that I was told that Scheepers was a hero
of the Boers in their fight against the British. His commando unit blew
up British railways and bridges, and his fearlessness made him the hero
of his men. Falling ill, he was left behind at his own request at a
farmhouse, where he was captured by the British. He was court-martialled
before he had recovered, and shot while he sat in a chair.

My mother was crying, and my father begged her to stop. He said she
would unman him if she continued to cry.

‘But your beautiful life, James,’ she said, ‘not your beautiful life!’

At one point my father patted my hand and drew it under the blanket. I
felt him put a stiff bit of paper into my hand.

‘Take this out of here,’ he whispered. ‘It’s what I said to the court
martial. I was asked what I had to say for myself, but I did not say it
for myself, I said it for Ireland. Get it out, Nora, get it out!’

I had no trouble getting it out, because I cupped it in my hands when
they searched us going out.

In the end we were told that our time was up to go, and we had to leave
him for the last time. Mama was on the side of the bed nearest the door.
She could not move. She was like a statue, and seemed rooted to the
floor. The nurse and the officer came and helped her out of the door. I
was on the other side from the door. I walked slowly round the bed,
looking at the face I would never see again.

As I reached the door, my father called me back and I went back to the
bed. He put his arm round me and pulled me down to him and hugged me,
and whispered in my ear, ‘Don’t be too disappointed, Nora. We shall rise
again’.

He did not want me to drop out of the fight. He knew it would go on
after he had gone.

And then I had to go out. Those were the very last word that he said to
me before I was taken away – ‘We shall rise again!”

The executed leaders of 1916

Posted by Jim on

—————————————————————–
The following are short biographies of all of the executed leaders in
the aftermath of the 1916 Rising, including nine who were not
signatories of the Proclamation of the Republic.
—————————————————————–

Con Colbert: Born in 1888, Colbert was a native of Limerick. Prior to
the Easter Rising he had been an active member of the republican
movement, joining both Fianna Eireann and the Irish Volunteers. A
dedicated pioneer, Colbert was known not to drink or smoke. As the
captain of F Company of the Fourth Battalion, Colbert was in command at
the Marrowbone Lane distillery when it was surrendered on Sunday, 30
April 1916. His execution took place on 8 May 1916.

Edward Daly: Born in Limerick in 1891, Daly’s family had a history of
republican activity; his uncle John Daly had taken part in the rebellion
of 1867. Edward Daly led the First Battalion during the Rising, which
raided the Bridewell and Linenhall Barracks, eventually seizing control
of the Four Courts. A close friend of Tom Clarke, their ties were made
even stronger by the marriage of Clarke to Daly’s sister. Daly was
executed on 4 May 1916.

Sean Heuston: Born in 1891, he was responsible for the organisation of
Fianna Eireann in Limerick. Along with Con Colbert, Heuston was involved
in the education of the schoolboys at Scoil Eanna, organising drill and
musketry exercises. A section of the First Battalion of the Volunteers,
under the leadership of Heuston, occupied the Mendicity Institute on
south of the Liffey, holding out there for two days. He was executed on
8 May 1916. Heuston Railway station in Dublin is named after him.

Thomas Kent: Born in 1865, Kent was arrested at his home in Castlelyons,
Co. Cork following a raid by the Royal Irish Constabulary on 22 April
1916, during which his brother Richard was fatally wounded. It had been
his intention to travel to Dublin to participate in the Rising, but when
the mobilisation order for the Irish Volunteers was cancelled on Easter
Sunday