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Saturday, May 28, 2016

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 he assumed that the Rising had been postponed, leading him to
stay at home. He was executed at Cork Detention Barracks on 9 May 1916
following a court martial. In 1966 the railway station in Cork was
renamed Kent Station in his honour.

John MacBride: Born in Mayo in 1865. Although he initially trained as a
doctor, MacBride abandoned that profession in favour of work with a
chemist. He travelled to America in 1896 to further the aims of the I.
R. B., thereafter travelling to South Africa where he raised the Irish
Transvaal Brigade during the Second Boer War. MacBride married the Irish
nationalist Maude Gonne in 1903. He was not a member of the Irish
Volunteers, but upon the beginning of the Rising he offered his services
to Thomas MacDonagh, and was at Jacob’s biscuit factory when that post
was surrendered on Sunday, 30 April 1916. He was executed on 5 May 1916.

Michael Mallin: A silk weaver by trade, Mallin was born in Dublin in
1874. Along with Countess Markievicz, he commanded a small contingent of
the Irish Citizen Army, of which he was Chief of Staff, taking
possession of St. Stephen’s Green and the Royal College of Surgeons. He
was executed on 8 May 1916.

Michael O’Hanrahan: Born in Wexford in 1877. As a young man, O’Hanrahan
showed great promise as a writer, becoming heavily involved in the
promotion of the Irish language. He founded the first Carlow branch of
the Gaelic League, and published two novels, A Swordsman of the Brigade
and When the Norman Came. Like many of the other executed leaders, he
joined the Irish Volunteers from their inception, and was second in
command to Thomas MacDonagh at Jacob’s biscuit factory during the
Rising, although this position was largely usurped by the arrival of
John MacBride. His execution took place on 4 May 1916.

William Pearse: Born in 1881 in Dublin. The younger brother of Patrick,
William shared his brother’s passion for an independent Ireland. He
assisted Patrick in running St. Enda’s. The two brothers were extremely
close, and fought alongside each other in the G. P. O. William was
executed on 4 May 1916. Pearse railway station on Westland Row in Dublin
was re-named in honour of the two brothers in 1966.

Roger Casement: Born in 1864 in Dublin, Casement was knighted for his
services to the British consulate. He campaigned tirelessly to expose
the cruelty inflicted on native workers in the Belgian Congo in 1904,
and again in Brazil from 1911-1912, causing an international sensation
with his reportage. Casement had become a member of the Gaelic League in
1904, beginning at that time to write nationalist articles under the
pseudonym ‘Sean Bhean Bhocht’. He retired from the British consular
service in 1913, after which he joined the Irish Volunteers. Casement
was despatched to Germany on account of his experience to raise an Irish
Brigade from Irish prisoners of war. He was captured in Kerry in 1916 on
Good Friday having returned to Ireland in a German U-Boat. Casement was
imprisoned in Pentonville Gaol in London, where he was tried on charges
of High Treason. He was hanged on 3 August 1916, the only leader of the
Rising to be executed outside of Ireland.

The Seven Signatories:

Eamonn Ceannt: Born in Galway in 1881, prior to the Rising Ceannt was an
employee of the Dublin Corporation. He was a co-founder of the Irish
Volunteers, partaking in the successful Howth gun-running operation of
1914. His involvement in republican activities was complemented by his
interest in Irish culture, specifically Irish language and history,
although he was also an accomplished uileann piper. As the commander of
the Fourth Battalion of Irish Volunteers during the Rising, he took
possession of the South Dublin Union, precursor to the modern-day St.
James’s Hospital. He was executed on 8 May 1916.

Thomas James Clarke: Born on the Isle of Wight in 1857, Clarke’s father
was a soldier in the British army. During his time in America as a young
man, he joined Clann na nGael, later enduring fifteen years of penal
servitude for his role in a bombing campaign in London, 1883-1898. In
1907, having returned from a second sojourn in America, his links with
Clan na nGael in America copper-fastened his importance to the
revolutionary movement in Ireland. He held the post of Treasurer to the
Irish Republican Brotherhood, and was a member of the Supreme Council
from 1915. The first signatory of the Proclamation of Independence
through deference to his seniority, Clarke was with the group that
occupied the GPO. He was executed on 3 May 1916.

James Connolly (1868-1916): Born in Edinburgh in 1868, Connolly was
first introduced to Ireland as a member of the British Army. Despite
returning to Scotland, the strong Irish presence in Edinburgh stimulated
Connolly’s growing interest in Irish politics in the mid 1890s, leading
to his emigration to Dublin in 1896 where he founded the Irish Socialist
Republican Party. He spent much of the first decade of the twentieth
century in America, he returned to Ireland to campaign for worker’s
rights with James Larkin. A firm believer in the perils of sectarian
division, Connolly campaigned tirelessly against religious bigotry. In
1913, Connolly was one of the founders of the Irish Citizen Army. During
the Easter Rising he was appointed Commandant-General of the Dublin
forces, leading the group that occupied the General Post Office. Unable
to stand to during his execution due to wounds received during the
Rising, Connolly was executed while sitting down on 12 May 1916. He was
the last of the leaders to be executed.

Sean MacDiarmada: Born in 1884 in Leitrim, MacDiarmada emigrated to
Glasgow in 1900, and from there to Belfast in 1902. A member of the
Gaelic League, he was acquainted with Bulmer Hobson. He joined the Irish
Republican Brotherhood in 1906 while still in Belfast, later
transferring to Dublin in 1908 where he assumed managerial
responsibility for the I. R. B. newspaper Irish Freedom in 1910.
Although MacDiarmada was afflicted with polio in 1912, he was appointed
as a member of the provisional committee of Irish Volunteers from 1913,
and was subsequently drafted onto the military committee of the I. R. B.
in 1915. During the Rising MacDiarmada served in the G. P. O. He was
executed on 12 May 1916.

Thomas MacDonagh: A native of Tipperary, born in 1878, MacDonagh spent
the early part of his career as a teacher. He moved to Dublin to study,
and was the first teacher on the staff at St. Enda’s, the school he
helped to found with Patrick Pearse. MacDonagh was well versed in
literature, his enthusiasm and erudition earning him a position in the
English department at University College Dublin. His play When the Dawn
is Come was produced at the Abbey theatre. He was appointed director of
training for the Irish Volunteers in 1914, later joining the I. R. B.
MacDonagh was appointed to the I. R. B. military committee in 1916. He
was commander of the Second Battalion of Volunteers that occupied
Jacob’s biscuit factory and surrounding houses during the Rising. He was
executed on 3 May 1916.

Patrick Pearse: Pearse was born in Dublin in 1879, becoming interested
in Irish cultural matters in his teenage years. In 1898 Pearse became a
member of the Executive Commmittee of the Gaelic League. He graduated
from the Royal University in 1901 with a degree in Arts and Law.
Pearse’s literary output was constant, and he published extensively in
both Irish and English, becoming the editor of An Claidheamh Soluis, the
newspaper of the Gaelic League. He was a keen believer in the value of
education, and established two schools, Colaiste Eanna and Colaiste Ide,
devoted to the education of Irish children through the Irish language.
One of the founder members of the Irish Volunteers, and the author of
the Proclamation of Independence, Pearse was present in the G. P. O.
during the Rising, and was Commander in Chief of the Irish forces. He
was executed on 3 May 1916.

Joseph Mary Plunkett: Born 1887 in Dublin, son of a papal count,
Plunkett was initially educated in England, though he returned to
Ireland and graduated from U. C. D. in 1909. After his graduation
Plunkett spent two years travelling due to ill health, returning to
Dublin in 1911. Plunkett shared MacDonagh’s enthusiasm for literature
and was an editor of the Irish Review. Along with MacDonagh and Edward
Martyn, he helped to establish an Irish national theatre. He joined the
Irish Volunteers in 1913, subsequently gaining membership of the I. R.
B. in 1914. Plunkett travelled to Germany to meet Roger Casement in
1915. During the planning of the Rising, Plunkett was appointed Director
of Military Operations, with overall responsibility for military
strategy. Plunkett was one of those who were stationed in the G. P. O.
during the Rising. He married Grace Gifford while in Kilmainham Gaol
following the surrender and was executed on 4 May 1916.

Partition and its institutions exist to usurp Irish national self-determination

Posted by Jim on

Below is an interview given by Dr. Anne McCloseky, from Shantallow, to Radio Free Eireann about her candidacy as an Independent followed by Sean Bresnahan’s response to her interview.  Sean is a member of the Thomas Ashe Society in Omagh.


Sean Bresnahan responds to an interview with Dr Anne McCloskey hosted on TPQ. The author is a member of the Thomas Ashe Society in Omagh.


‘A United Ireland will only come by consent.’

That short extract from a recent interview with Anne McCloskey on The Pensive Quill – as her election campaign to Stormont of itself – is instructive for republicanism going forward. The ‘departure’ of running Independents to take their seats in Stormont was originally sold by those behind Anne’s campaign as some sort of anti-establishment, republican initiative that would reap a return for groups as our own, should we row in behind it. We would not even need to declare our hand – a clever ‘get out of gaol free card’ for all concerned.

Despite what were to prove mislaid assurances, doled out in an effort to procure support, reality soon interjected. The pressure the establishment brings to bear on the position of those seeking election to its institutions quickly becoming apparent. Those pressures made mince-meat out of any republican sentiment attaching to Anne’s campaign as it rowed away from the republican position in an effort to become electable.
Within the short space of an election campaign, her team’s position shifted from supposed support for an all-Ireland referendum to an endorsement on live radio of a border poll – and as witnessed above of the notion of consent as set out by the Good Friday Agreement. She also came to argue for Britain to remain in the imperialist EU, stated her willingness to work with the PSNI and spoke about ‘Northern Ireland’.

All of that would seem a clear embrace of normalisation in the hope of boosting electoral appeal – the notion of an ‘anti-establishment, republican alternative’ consigned to the dustbin in pursuit of electoral gain. Where have we seen that in the past and where did it lead? In all of this we see the historic conundrum republicanism is confronted by when it seeks to move from abstention. In all of this are clear lessons – lessons that need to be heeded.

None of that is a reflection on Anne McCloskey or a criticism of a woman I’ve heard great reports on, who I’m sure is a very personable and an honest worker – attributes likely reflected in the strength of her vote. If she supports a border poll, the authority of PSNI or taking her seat in Stormont then that is her business and she’s fully entitled to do all that. No-one has ever suggested different.

But for the republicans who fronted her from behind, wooing others towards what would have been unmitigated disaster, no such entitlement should proceed. There are questions to be answered. This should not be allowed to go forward as a precedent – with talk already of ‘the next time’ – and thus their actions cannot be quietly brushed under the carpet. There is a duty that this be challenged.

All of this requires frank and open discussion, a learning process that sets out to guard against another shift towards reformism. For we have already seen where it ends: the abandoning of the republican position. Partition and its institutions exist to usurp Irish national self-determination. Thus the need for One Ireland One Vote in the first instance – to supplant that which the occupier sets forth as the route to change, empowering instead the national rights of our people.

Republicans should be under no illusion that a long term process, with no quick fix, lies ahead. We will face many challenges along the way – not least efforts to steer what remains of republicanism away from its core beliefs and principles to a position that can reconcile with Britain’s strategic aims as opposed to ours. One Ireland One Vote must be the bulwark against that agenda and be clear in its opposition to every strata of the occupation regime.

With the rise of nationalist sentiment in the UK, long-dormant forces are again becoming relevant and the state must adapt or die. The British state is thus changing to suit its needs in the modern era. We would be remiss to expect that Ireland doesn’t figure in its thinking. Thus we hear Sinn Féin talk now of an ‘Agreed Ireland’ as opposed to a United Ireland – a United Ireland, as hinted at by Adams, that ‘will not be as traditionally imagined by republicans’.

It’s important One Ireland One Vote not be shifted towards this notion, as Britain moves towards a constitutional reconfiguration of the UK state. Stormont is the thin end of the wedge. A United Ireland must be a sovereign Ireland and our campaign must hold to that core principle. Rejecting the authority of Stormont, its Border Poll, the Crown Forces and partitionist agreements born of the Crown must be our steadfast position and that is the lesson of Sinn Féin’s failure. We don’t need another.

One Ireland One Vote, if it hopes to succeed, must stand full square behind the Irish Republic, insisting this same Republic, the Republic of 1916, go forward from our right to national self-determination. There is no other way. There is no path to the Republic through conceding that which stands to usurp national self-determination. We must stand behind the right to self-determination; we must stand behind the Irish Republic. If not we’d be as well to rejoin Sinn Fein.

Francis Hughes – Died May 12th, 1981

Posted by Jim on May 12, 2016

 

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A determined and totally fearless soldier

THE SECOND republican to join the H-Block hunger-strike for political status – a fortnight after Bobby Sands – was twenty-five-year-old Francis Hughes, from Bellaghy in South Derry: a determined, committed and totally fearless IRA Volunteer who organised a spectacularly successful series of military operations before his capture, and was once described by the RUC as their ‘most wanted man’ in the North.

Eluding for several years the relentless efforts of the British army, UDR and RUC to track him down, Francis operated boldly throughout parts of Tyrone and north and south Antrim, but particularly in his native South Derry, with a combination of brilliant organisation and extreme daring – until his capture after a shoot-out with the SAS – which earned him widespread popular renown, and won general support for the republican cause, as well as giving him an undisputed reputation as a natural-born soldier and leader.

ROOTED

Francis Hughes was born on February 28th, 1956, the youngest son amongst ten children, into a staunchly republican family which has been solidly rooted, for most of this century, in the townland of Tamlaghtduff, or Scribe Road, as it is otherwise called.

His parents who married in 1939, are Patrick Joseph Hughes, aged 72, a retired small cattle farmer born in the neighbouring town land of Ballymacpeake, and Margaret, aged 68, whose maiden name is McElwee, and who was born in Tamlaghtduff.

A quarter-of-a-mile away from the Hughes’ bungalow, on the other side of the Scribe Road is the home of Thomas and Benedict McElwee – first cousins of Francis. Benedict is currently serving a sentence in the H-Blocks. Thomas – the eldest – embarked on hunger strike on June 8th, and died sixty-two days later on August 8th.

In Tamlaghtduff, as throughout the rest of Bellaghy, sympathy as well as active support for the republican cause runs at a very high level, a fact testified to by the approximately twenty prisoners-of-war from around Bellaghy alone.

Francis was an extremely popular person, both to his family and to his republican colleagues and supporters.

His father recalls that as a boy he was always whistling, joking and singing: a trait which he carried over into his arduous and perilous days as a republican, when he was able to transmit his enthusiasm and optimism both to Volunteers under his command and to Sympathisers who offered them – at great personal risk, food and shelter

It was qualities like these, of uncomplaining tirelessness, of consideration for the morale of those around him, and his ruling wish to lead by example, that have made Francis Hughes one of the most outstanding Irish revolutionary soldiers this war has produced and a man who was enormously respected in his native countryside.

BOY

As a boy, Francis went first to St. Mary’s primary school in Bellaghy, and from there to Clady intermediate school three miles away.

He enjoyed school and was a fairly good student whose favourite subjects were history and woodwork. He was not particularly interested in sport, but was very much a lively, outdoor person, who enjoyed messing around on bikes, and later on, in cars.

He enjoyed dancing and regularly went to ceilidh as a young man, even while ‘on the run’, although after ‘wanted’ posters of him appeared his opportunities became less frequent.

His parents recall that Francis was always extremely helpful around the house, and that he was a “good tractor man”.

DECORATOR

Leaving school at sixteen, Francis got a job with his sister Vera’s husband, as an apprentice painter and decorator, completing his apprenticeship shortly before ‘going on the run’.

In later days, Francis would often do a spot of decorating for the people whose house he was staying in

On one occasion, shortly after the ‘wanted’ posters of him had been posted up all over South Derry, Francis was painting window frames at the front of the house he was staying in when two jeep-loads of British soldiers drove past. While the other occupants of the house froze in apprehension, Francis waved and smiled at the curious Brits as they passed by, and continued painting.

It was such utter fearlessness, and the ability to brazen his way through, that saved him time and time again during his relatively long career as an active service Volunteer.

On one such occasion, when stopped along with two other Volunteers as they crossed a field, Francis told a Brit patrol that they didn’t feel safe walking the roads, as the IRA were so active in the area. The Brits allowed the trio to walk on, but after a few yards Francis ran back to the enemy patrol to scrounge a cigarette and a match from one of the British soldiers.

A turning point for Francis, in terms of his personal involvement in the struggle, occurred at the age of seventeen, when he and a friend were stopped by British soldiers at Ardboe, in County Tyrone, as they returned from a dance one night.

The pair were taken out of their car and so badly kicked that Francis was bed-ridden for several days. Rejecting advice to make a complaint to the RUC, Francis said it would be a waste of time, but pledged instead to get even with those who had done it, “or with their friends.”

Notwithstanding such a bitter personal experience of British thuggery, and the mental and physical scars it left, Francis’ subsequent involvement in the Irish Republican Army was not based on a motive of revenge but on a clear and abiding belief in his country’s right to national freedom.

INVOLVEMENT

During the early part of ‘the troubles’, the ‘Officials’ were relatively strong in the South Derry area and Francis’ first involvement was with them.

However, disillusioned, as were many others, with the ‘Sticks’ unilateral ceasefire in 1972, he left to set up and command an ‘independent’ military unit in the Bellaghy area. About the end of 1973 the entire unit – including Francis – was formally recruited into the IRA.

Francis’ involvement brought him increasingly to the attention of the British army and RUC and he was regularly held for a few hours in Magherafelt barracks and stopped on the road by British patrols; and on one occasion he was held for two days at Ballykelly camp.

As the 1975 IRA/British army truce came to an end Francis, fearing his imminent arrest, went ‘on the run’. From that time on, he led a life perpetually on the move, often moving on foot up to twenty miles during one night then sleeping during the day – either in fields and ditches or in safe houses; a soldierly sight in his black beret and combat uniform, and openly carrying his rifle, a handgun and several grenades as well as food rations.

The enemy reacted with up to fifty early morning raids on Francis’ home, and raids on the homes of those suspected of harbouring him. Often, houses would be staked out for days on end in the hope of capturing Francis. Often, it was only his sheer nerve and courage which saved him. One night, Francis was followed to a ‘safe house’ and looked out to see the Brits surrounding the place and closing in. Without hesitating, the uniformed Francis stepped outside the door, clutching his rifle, and in the darkness crept gradually through their lines, occasionally mumbling a few short words to British soldiers he passed, who, on seeing the shadowy uniformed figure, mistook him for one of themselves.

On numerous occasions, Francis and his comrades were stopped at checkpoints along the country roads while moving weapons from one locality to another but always calmly talked their way through. Once, a UDR soldier actually recognised Francis and his fellow Volunteers in a car but, fully aware that Francis would not be taken without a shoot-out, he waved their car on.

ACTIVE

The years before Francis’ capture were extremely active ones in the South Derry and surrounding areas with the commercial centres of towns and villages like Bellaghy, Maghera, Toome, Magherafelt and Castledawson being blitzed by car bombs on several occasions, and numerous shooting attacks being carried out as well.

Among the Volunteers under his command Francis had a reputation of being a strict disciplinarian and perfectionist who could not tolerate people taking their republican duties less seriously, and selflessly, than was necessary. He also, however, inspired fellow Volunteers by his example and by always being in the thick of things, and he thrived on pressure.

During one night-time operation, a weapon was missing and Francis gave away his own weapon to another Volunteer, taking only a torch himself which he used to its maximum effect by shining it at an oncoming enemy vehicle, which had its headlights off, to enable the other Volunteers to direct their fire.

Francis’ good-humoured audacity also showed itself in his republican activity. At the height of his ‘notoriety’ he would set up road-blocks, hoping to lure the Brits into an ambush (which by hard experience they learned to avoid), or he would ring up the Brits and give them his whereabouts!

Such joking, however, did not extend only to the enemy. One day, lying out in the fields, he spied one of his uncles cycling down a country road. Taking careful aim with his rifle he shot away the bike’s rear wheel. His uncle ran alarmed, into a nearby house shouting that loyalists had just tried to assassinate him!

BATTLE

The determination of the British army and RUC to capture Francis Hughes came to a head in April 1977. In that month, on Good Friday, a car containing three IRA Volunteers was overtaken and flagged down on the Moneymore Road at Dunronan, in County Derry, by a carload of RUC men.

The Volunteers attempted to make a U-turn but their car got stuck in a ditch as the armed RUC men approached. Jumping from the car, the Volunteers opened fire, killing two RUC men and injuring another before driving off. A hundred yards further up the road a second gun battle ensued but the Volunteers escaped safely.

Subsequently, the RUC issued a ‘wanted’ poster of Francis Hughes and two fellow republicans, Dominic McGlinchey and Ian Milne, in which Francis was named as the ‘most wanted man’ in the North.

When his eventual capture came, it was just as he had always said it would be: “I’ll get a few of them before they get me.”

STAKE-OUT

At 8.00 p.m. on March 16th, 1978, two SAS soldiers took up a stake-out position opposite a farm, on the south side of the Ronaghan road, about two miles west of Maghera, in the townland of Ballyknock.

At 9.15 p.m. they saw two men in military uniform and carrying rifles, walking in single file along the hedgeline of the field towards them. Using their ‘night sights’ in the darkness, the SAS men observed the military behaviour of the two on-comers and having challenged them, heard the men mumble a few words to each other in Irish accents and assumed that the pair were UDR soldiers.

One of the pair, in fact, was Francis Hughes, the other a fellow Volunteer, and with only a second’s hesitation both Volunteers cocked their rifles and opened fire. One SAS man fell fatally wounded but the other – though shot in the stomach – managed to fire a long burst from his sterling sub-machine gun at the retreating figures, and to make radio contact with his base.

Within three minutes, nearby Brit patrols were on the scene and the area was entirely sealed off. The following morning hundreds of Brits took part in a massive search operation.

Fifteen hours after the shooting, at around 12.15 p.m. the next day, they found Francis Hughes sitting in the middle of a gorse bush in a field three hundred yards away, bleeding profusely from a bullet wound which had shattered his left thigh. As he was taken away on a stretcher he yelled defiantly, through his considerable pain: “Up the Provies”.

His comrade, though also wounded, slightly, managed to evade the dragnet and to escape.

SURVIVED

How he survived the night of the shooting, possibly the coldest night of that year, bears eloquent testimony to Francis’ grim determination to evade capture. After being shot, he dragged himself – unable to walk – across the Ronaghan road and across two fields without a sound, before burying himself in a thick clump of gorse bushes.

At one point, en-route, Francis fell down a sharp drop between fields, and his left leg – the muscle and bone completely disintegrated – came up over his shoulder; but Francis worked it carefully down before continuing to crawl on his way. In his hiding place, he lay through the night, motionless and soundless, till his capture.

When he was found, unable to move through the cold, pain and stiffness, Francis, knowing that both Brits and RUC were on instructions to shoot him on sight, gave his name as Eamonn Laverty and his address as Letterkenny, County Donegal.

Francis was taken to Magherafelt hospital and from there to Musgrave Park military hospital in Belfast, and it was only then that his true identity was revealed. He spent ten months in Musgrave Park where his leg was operated on, reducing his thigh bone by an inch-and-a-half and leaving him dependent on a crutch to walk.

CASTLEREAGH

On Wednesday, January 24th, 1979, Francis was taken from Musgrave Park hospital to Castlereagh interrogation centre where he spent six days before being charged on January 29th. For more than four days Francis refused food and drink, fearing that it might have been drugged to make him talk.

His behaviour in Castlereagh was typical of the fiercely determined and courageous republican Volunteer that he was. His frustrated interrogators later described him as “totally uncooperative”.

Nevertheless, at his trial in Belfast in February 1980, after a year on remand in Crumlin Road jail, Francis was found ‘guilty’ on all charges.

He received a life sentence for killing the SAS soldier, and fourteen years for attempting to kill the other SAS man. He also received fifty-five years on three other charges.

H-BLOCK

In the H-Blocks, Francis immediately went on the protest for political status and, despite the severe disability of his wounded leg, displayed the same courage and determination that had been his hallmark before his capture.

And, just as always wanting to be in the thick of things and wanting to shoulder responsibility for other political prisoners as he had earlier looked after the morale of fellow Volunteers, Francis was one of those to volunteer for the hunger strike which began on October 27th, 1980. He was not one of the first seven hunger strikers selected but was among the thirty men who joined the hunger strike in its closing stages as Sean McKenna’s condition became critical.

That utter selflessness and courage came to its tragic conclusion on Tuesday, May 12th, when Francis died at 5.43 p.m. after fifty-nine days on hunger strike.

 

Come out and support the Brothers.

Posted by Jim on May 11, 2016

Family van

Ireland does not stop at the Border, Mary Lou McDonald reminds Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil

Posted by Jim on May 9, 2016

● Mary Lou McDonald TD at the centenary commemoration for 1916 leader and Proclamation signatory Seán Mac Diarmada

FINE GAEL AND FIANNA FÁIL need to recognise that Ireland does not stop at the Border, Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald TD said on Sunday at the 100th anniversary commemoration for 1916 leader and Proclamation signatory Seán Mac Diarmada in the patriot’s home village of Kiltyclogher, County Leitrim.

The Sinn Féin deputy leader also said that the new Fine Gael-led Government had better realise that Sinn Féin aimed at tearing down the Ireland that had failed so many citizens and to building a real Republic in its place.

Seán Mac Diarmada Commemoration 2016

Mary Lou McDonald said:

“The ideals of the Proclamation will remain unfulfilled while our country is still partitioned.

“Partition has created false divisions. The artificial border – just over 100 metres from where we are standing – for decades cut the village of Kiltyclogher off from its natural hinterland.

“This border was not created by the democratic will of the Irish people, but under a threat from the British of ‘immediate and terrible war’.

“This border has separated families, farmlands and communities.

“How would Seán Mac Diarmada feel about the country he died for, still being partitioned 100 years after the Easter Rising?

“In many of the state commemorations of 1916, it seemed that for many in ‘Official Ireland’ our country ends 150 yards from the statue of Seán Mac Diarmada here in Kiltyclogher.

“Well, if we send one message from here today today to Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil, it is that Ireland does not end at Newry or at Kiltyclogher. Ireland is all of our 32 counties and the Proclamation of 1916 is for all of our people.”

Seán Mac Diarmada

● Seán Mac Diarmada

The Sinn Féin deputy leader told the huge crowd in Leitrim Border town that the men and women of 1916 would have readily understood the republican struggle in the North of recent decades, and would have identified with the brave men who sacrificed their all on the 1981 Hunger Strike, the 35th anniversary of which coincides with the 1916 Centenary.

Pointing to the harsh conditions in Leitrim during Seán Mac Diarmada’s youth, she said that Leitrim and other counties had continued to suffer from emigration and neglect:

“Leitrim, like much of rural Ireland, has been hard-hit in recent years by a decline in public and commercial services. Rural communities have lost local hospitals, Garda stations, post offices and vital transport links.”

This, Mary Lou said, was not the type of Ireland that those who went out in 1916 had fought for. Sinn Féin she said wished to create a new, equal Ireland and that the Government and Fianna Fáil need to realise that:

“Sinn Féin is absolutely serious about tearing down Ireland as it has been and replacing it with a real Republic of fairness, decency and equality.”

Victims’ anger as inquest plan is spiked by Stormont

Posted by Jim on

Amnesty International has accused the Stormont Executive of denying
justice by blocking funds for a series of inquests into conflict-related
killings.

DUP leader and First Minister Arlene Foster confirmed she had vetoed
funds for a backlog of inquests connected to the conflict, while Sinn
Fein’s Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness declined to say if he had
been aware of Foster’s action.

Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty’s director in the Six Counties, said: “Justice
delayed is justice denied.”

The inquests are connected to direct state killings such as the
Ballymurphy massacre of 1971, when British soldiers shot dead 11
civilians, the ambush of eight IRA men at Loughgall, but also many acts
of state collusion, such as the loyalist murder of GAA official Sean
Brown in County Derry

The North’s Chief Justice, Declan Morgan, signed off a request for
funding for the inquests, which cover about 80 deaths, but this request
was blocked due to DUP opposition on the Stormont executive.

Mr Corrigan criticised that decision. “Here we have scores of families
who have been denied even inquests for decades now into the deaths of
their loved ones,” he said.

“They deserve those inquests, have a right to them, and such rights
shouldn’t become bargaining chips in some kind of political game and
that seems to be what’s going on,” he added.

The issue arose in a television debate before Thursday’s assembly
elections after it became public earlier in the week.

Foster said she was surprised that the business of the Stormont
executive was being discussed in the news, but defended the decision to
block the cash for the inquests.

“There has been an imbalance in relation to state killings as opposed to
paramilitary killings,” the first minister said.

DUP Deputy leader Nigel Dodds later said the inquests would cost too
much.

“This proposal would have cost more than anticipated and would have
seriously impacted on the ability of the Executive to address the needs
of innocent victims,” he said.

FAMILIES HIT OUT

Briege Voyle, whose mother was shot by British soldiers in Ballymurphy
in August 1971, said it was “another slap in the face to victims’
families”.

“This is a disgrace. Arlene Foster is effectively preventing the truth
about 95 deaths,” she said.

“Is she now saying she doesn’t want the truth coming out about what
happened to two police officers and innocent civilians from both
unionist and nationalist communities murdered by paramilitaries?”

Sinn Fein’s Gerry Kelly said the British government has a responsibility
to fund legacy inquests.

“It needs to face up to its responsibilities and provide adequate
funding for legacy inquests and investigations so families can have
access to truth,” he said.

Among those who welcomed the announcement of the inquests at the time
was the daughter of Joseph Corr, who died in the Ballymurphy Massacre.

“The Lord Chief Justice really gave the families in the room that day
hope, and there wasn’t just the Ballymurphy families, there were loads
of victims,” said Eileen McKeown. “We really felt on a high that this
man, the Lord Chief Justice, was on our side.”

She said the news was very disappointing for the families of victims.

“People have to put themselves in our situation,” she said. “We get one
step forward and then ten steps back.

“When we saw the Hillsborough families last week on the news, as before
when we saw the Bloody Sunday families, every time we see that happening
we think our inquest is going to be next. Then the British government
steps in, and the executive, and knock it all for six.”

Joseph Corr’s son was with him on the day he was killed. He is now
seriously ill in hospital and the family fears this delay means he will
not see the outcome of the inquest.

“We don’t think he has much longer to live,” said Michael Corr. “I
always promised him that before he died, the Ballymurphy case would be
closed. Now I feel as if I am letting him down.”

PSNI move against republican funeral

Posted by Jim on

Levels of Crown force harassment have jumped in the Derry City and
Strabane area following the arrest of fifteen people at the funeral of
former republican prisoner Mickey Barr in Strabane on Thursday.

The 35-year-old, a former member of the vigilante group Republican
Action Against Drugs, was shot dead by a criminal gang in a Dublin pub
last week. The ‘new IRA’ has claimed Mr Barr was a member but have
denied he was involved in the ongoing gangland feud in Dublin, which has
so far cost six lives.

At his funeral, around a dozen men took part in a uniformed colour party
and accompanied the cortege as it travelled towards the church. Black
flags were also placed on lampposts along part of the route while a
black beret and gloves were placed on top of the coffin which had been
draped in an Irish tricolour.

The PSNI said the men had been detained under the ‘Terrorism Act’ and
described the funeral as a “paramilitary display”. Three cars also
seized as part of the operation, which has now also seen a number of
homes in the area raided.

Colour parties have featured at several other recent Easter Rising
commemorations, all of which were allowed to proceed without PSNI
interference. Similar funerals, both republican and loyalist, have also
taken place in the past year without direct police action.

At this week’s funeral, however, the PSNI adopted tactics more like
those witnessed during republican funerals of the late 1980s, when riot
police moved in and arrested men at the scene, provoking serious
disorder.

Jonathan Craig, a DUP representative on the Policing Board, welcomed the
PSNI’s new ‘hardline’ approach to republican funerals.

“I think is this likely to change the public’s perception. The
perception was that police were treating illegal republican parades
differently to other parades.”

HARASSMENT

There has been aggressive Crown force activity elsewhere in Derry this
week, including a failed MI5 recruitment bid that has been recorded on
video and now uploaded to the internet.

And in a separate development, a taxi driver in the city has said he has
been forced to quit his job following intense PSNI harassment.

Ciaran Hassan said that the PSNI stopped him last Monday morning as he
made his way to the Derry courthouse where he was due to take part in
jury service. It was just the latest in an ongoing campaign of
harassment which he said began six years ago, after he was arrested and
held for two days without being charged.

The 42-year-old said that over that period, he was stopped and searched
so many times by PSNI that he gave up his job as a taxi driver, as the
frequency of their detentions meant he could not do his job.

“It’s gotten to the stage where it’s just ridiculous,” he said. “On
Monday morning I was walking up Fahan Street on my way to the courthouse
and two police officers stopped under the Prevention of Terrorism Act,
and I actually started laughing, because I was on my way to be part of a
jury.”

The father-of-five added: “When I was taxiing, they would stop me all
the time when I had passengers in the car, and it was so embarrassing,
because these people would be sitting in the car watching this all going
on, and there was nothing I could do.”

A letter of complaint has now been sent to the Police Ombudsman for by
Mr Hassan’s lawyers.

‘The Great Escape’

Posted by Jim on

———————————————————–
A reprint of an article from The Starry Plough, detailing a historic
escape by Republican Socialists from Long Kesh prison 40 years ago this
week.
———————————————————–

“ONE OF THE MOST CAREFULLY PLANNED AND CAREFULLY EXECUTED ESCAPES IN
PRISON HISTORY ‘ is how one newspaper described the recent escape
from Long Kesh by nine IRSP members and supporters. Seven are still
free. Meanwhile massive searches and harrasment by British troops is
reported from Belfast and South Derry.

The nine men dug their tunnel from one of the four huts in Cage 5, known
as ‘mole hill’ because so many tunnels have been dug from
there. Despite vigilant warders the escapees dug a 40 foot tunnel
measuring only 18′ inches in diameter. The entrance of the tunnel
was concealed by tile glued to a block of wood.

“YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO BE IN LONG KESH”!

The escapers’ first problem occurred when they emerged from the tunnel
to find that they were still inside the prison. But they were prepared
for such an eventuality. They cut through a perimeter barbed fence and
scaled a 20 foot high wall with improvised grappling hooks and ropes
made from sheets in full view of British Army observation towers. Then,
as one British soldier put it, ‘they disappeared into thin
air!’

The following morning their fellow prisoners refused to leave their huts
to delay the discovery of the escape. It was only when CHARLES O’DOHERTY
from Old Park, Belfast was caught by the RUC in a field eight miles away
and checked out as routine, that the RUC discovered that they were
supposed to be in Long Kesh! They immediately contacted Long Kesh
Concentration Camp. It was only then that the escape was discovered.

The following day GERARD STEENSON of West Belfast was recaptured on the
M1 Motorway. The Northern Ireland Office then began to issue statements
in an attempt to discredit the escape and save face. They claimed that
if the escape had been better planned there could have been a mass break
out, which is, of course, rubbish. Then they warned the public to be on
the lookout for the escapers “some of whom are dangerous”. They may be
dangerous to British imperialism and its allies in Ireland but they are
the friends of the people. They are not criminals but political
prisoners. Of the escapers three were serving sentences, three were on
remand and three were awaiting trial, all for either political
‘offences’ or because of frame ups.

In the past there have been other escapes from Long Kesh. November 1974
saw 30 Provos tunnel their way to the perimeter wire, only a few got
away. One, HUGH CONEY was murdered by British troops, who could have
easily captured him. There is some fear that the same could happen to
the IRSP escapers, particularly if they should be discovered by the
sectarian UDR which is made up of ex-B Specials.In 1972 FRANCIS MCGUIGAN
walked out of Long Kesh dressed as a priest. JOHN FRANCIS GREEN did the
exact same in September 1973.

Since Long Kesh was opened in 1971, 48 prisoners have escaped. Since
they are political prisoners they usually continue to be active in
opposition to British imperialism in Ireland whereas if they were mere
criminals they would presumably leave the country altogether. This fact
accounts for the recapture of 35 of the 48 escapers. There are over 1200
political prisoners in Long Kesh.

HENRY DOGHERTY, BRENDAN MCMANUS, HAROLD FLYNN, (all from Belfast),
GERALD CLANCY (Tyrone), JOHN KELLY, JOHN EDDIE MCNICHOL and SEAMUS
O’KANE (all from South Derry) are still at liberty as we go to press. We
salute their ingenuity, courage and skill and hope that their freedom
will be long and fruitful to the struggle against British imperialism in
Ireland.

TWO ESCAPED BEFORE

Two of the men who are still free, ‘Hen’ DOGHERTY of Dock Row, Belfast
and Harry Flynn of Springhill Avenue, Belfast, have escaped before and
were only a few months in Long Kesh. Last May, while appearing in the
Crown Court in Crumlin Road they stood on each others shoulders to reach
the ceiling of their cell. They broke a hole in the skylight with a
bench from the cell and went onto the roof. From there they entered the
nearby firestation and nonchalantly four of them walked out the front
door. Unfortunately, the last man out didn’t knowit was intended to walk
out as the escape was an impromptu affair, and ran full speed up the
Crumlin Road. The RUC saw him and shouted “halt”, so that the other four
scuppered up the road after their comrade with bullets whistling around
their ears. They all got away. Dogherty and Flynn were recaptured about
three months ago in Belfast.”

Legacy matters must be solved

Posted by Jim on May 6, 2016

These inquests into some of the most controversial killing of the Troubles were recently the subject of a major review by Lord Justice Weir who was scathing about the way in which the PSNI and military authorities have dealt with these cases.

Irish News Editorial. Friday, May 6, 2016

Once the votes are counted and the successful candidates declared, the new assembly will have a long list of pressing matters to consider and hopefully expedite in a timely fashion.

In particular, relatives who have lost loved ones in the conflict will be urging the fresh batch of ministers to reach urgent agreement on how we move forward on dealing with the past, an issue that continues to cause deep hurt and division.

Certainly, it is a matter that is exercising the highest levels of the judiciary in Northern Ireland with Lord Chief Justice Declan Morgan making a surprise intervention this week on the matter of funding for legacy inquests.

These inquests into some of the most controversial killing of the Troubles were recently the subject of a major review by Lord Justice Weir who was scathing about the way in which the PSNI and military authorities have dealt with these cases.

Sir Declan outlined a plan in February that included setting up a special Legacy Inquest Unit that would deal with all outstanding cases within five years.

He said he had been ‘given to understand’ that if the executive asks for resources for legacy inquests the request would be given very serious consideration by the secretary of state.

However, this week the Lord Chief Justice expressed disappointment that the executive has not yet submitted a bid for funding to Theresa Villiers and said this would affect the timeframe for the establishment of the new legacy unit.

This is all deeply concerning and will add to the sense of frustration and dismay felt by families who have waited far too long for hearings into their cases.

It is also unusual for the most senior judge to make his views known in such a direct way so we can assume he shares this sense of frustration.

A new assembly means a fresh beginning and we must hope the post-election executive shows a determination to resolve these difficult issues once and for all.

Enda Kenny re-elected Taoiseach after ‘tawdry deals’

Posted by Jim on

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny has received the seal of office of
Taoiseach from the President after being re-elected this afternoon with
the help of nine independents and the tacit support of Fianna Fail, who
abstained as part of an historic agreement with their traditional foes.

After 70 days of convoluted negotiations, Kenny won by a margin of 59
votes to 49. In the end, he had the support his own party as well as
five of the six members of the Independent Alliance, two of the five
rural Independent TDs, as well as unaligned Independents Michael Lowry
and Katherine Zappone.

Speaking in the Dail, Mr Kenny claimed that at the heart of a programme
for government agreed with Fianna Fail was a realisation of the
potential of all the people of Ireland. He said it was a “great honour”
to accept his nomination as Taoiseach for a second term.

The new ministers will take over their departments on Monday. It is
expected Michael Noonan will return as Minister for Finance, Leo
Varadkar as Minister for Health and Frances Fitzgerald will return to
the Department of Justice.

Tension had been building in the Dail chamber throughout the early
afternoon as last-minute crisis background talks continued with the
Independent Alliance. The situation required some filibustering to
delay the vote before the deal was done.

As part of the deal, it is understood the Independent Alliance has been
offered one senior ministry, a super junior ministry, a junior ministry
and a rotating junior minister, with Shane Ross as the senior minister.

Details of the local pork-barrel projects offered to the independents
for their support have not yet been revealed.

Roscommon TD Michael Fitzmaurice, aligned to Euro MP Luke ‘Ming’
Flanagan, failed to support the new coalition over the issue of turf
cutting, but talks are said to be continuing on that issue.

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin, Sinn Fein’s Gerry Adams and Labour’s
Joan Burton all noted the Independents luke-warm support.

During his speech Micheal Martin took credit for the postponement of
water charges but added: “Water policy is not the most important policy
facing the country and has taken too much time.”

He hit out at the Labour Party for continuing to argue that charges
should remain, saying: “Alan Kelly suffering from the withdrawal of the
drug of his choice.”

He also took a swipe at Sinn Fein saying: “The very people who have
condemned us for allowing Fine Gael back into government spent two
months trying to force us into government with them.”

Labour’s Joan Burton, who is expected to step down as Labour leader
shortly, described the Fine Gael-Fianna Fail deal as “tawdry” and
allowed Fianna Fail to put its boot on Fine Gael’s neck and pull down
the government whenever it chooses.

Ruth Coppinger of the left-wing AAA-PBP said that she has never seen an
incoming Taoiseach looking “so unhappy”. She added that 75% of people
did not want Kenny returned as Taoiseach.

“The traditional rules [on opposition] apply, because the two
traditional parties had to come to an agreement. This isn’t a grand
coalition, but it’s certainly a first cousin of a grand coalition,” she
added.

Ms Coppinger said there will be “collective groan” from people around
the country who did not want Mr Kenny to return as Taoiseach. She said
the suspension of water charges was not due to pressure from Fianna
Fail but rather down to the anti-water charge movement.

While criticising the “Enda Dependents” for supporting Mr Kenny, Sinn
Fein’s Gerry Adams noted that many of them “were among the most vocal
opponents of Fine Gael and Labour’s policy agenda”.

He described joint Fine Gael-Fianna Fail programme as a “masterclass in
waffle and bluster. No real ambition. No big ideas. No costings. Little
real detail.

“Never was so much negotiated for so long, for so little. Their joint
paper contains a few miserly lines – not even a section – on health.”

He also noted there was no commitment on the construction of social
homes “whatsoever”.

“All we have is a reiteration of the haphazard approach to a social,
State-endorsed housing and homelessness emergency that Fine Gael and
Fianna Fail caused in the first instance.

“On the issue of water, which was the main point of contention between
Fianna Fail and Fine Gael, we are told that Irish Water remains and
water charges are merely suspended, completely contrary to the Fianna
Fail manifesto.”

He also noted that the Taoiseach had vowed not to form a government
beholden to Independents.

“Another election promise out the window,” he said. “However long it
lasts, Sinn Fein will fulfil our obligations as the leaders of the
opposition. And in the interest of citizens, we will hold this
Government – comprising Fine Gael, Fianna Fail and the Independents
propping them up – to proper and robust account.”

Radio Free Eireann Saturday May 7-12 Noon-2PM-

Posted by Jim on

RADIO FREE EIREANN  this week will expand from 12noon until 2 pm New York time, as the program will combine up to the minute election results and analysis from the Stormont elections across the six counties  with its pledge drive.

From Tyrone, Gerry McGeough will give the latest results and analysis of what they mean.

First time candidate  Dr. Anne McCloskey will discuss what campaigning in Derry where her opposition included Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness and SDLP Party leader Colum Eastwood

Author ,retired FDNY member,Vietnam Vet Billy O’Connor will give his ironic view of the Bronx Irish community as revealed in his book “CONFESSIONS OF A BRONX BOOKIE”

RFE is heard on listener supported radio , and in order to keep its vital perspective on the air,requests contributions from listeners on a quarterly basis.Our program is  quoted in newspapers and influential political blogs in Ireland.

Premiums of appreciation for contributors will include an iconic  CD “EASTER 1916” made in 1966 which combines songs and interviews to tell the story of the Easter 1916 Rising in a way that is unmatched a half -century later, and Billy O’Connor’s “CONFESSIONS OF A BRONX BOOKIE”

John McDonagh and Martin Galvin will host.Radio Free Eireann can be heard this week from 12noon to 2pm on 99.5 FM radio in New York or live streaming  at WBAI.ORG or at any time at WBAI.ORG/ARCHIVES

Your contributions will help keep RADIO FREE EIREANN on the air !

Boston College subpoenaed for Anthony McIntyre interviews

Posted by Jim on

British government seeks access to taped interview by former IRA prisoner

 Carrie Twomey and her husband Anthony McIntyre. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish TimesCarrie Twomey and her husband Anthony McIntyre. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times

The British government has lodged a subpoena with Boston College seeking access to taped interviews given by former IRA prisoner Dr Anthony McIntyre, it was stated on Monday.

Ed Moloney and Wilson McArthur, who were centrally involved with the Belfast Project – an oral history of the Troubles – said that the British government, acting on behalf of the PSNI and the office of the North’s Director of Public Prosecution, had served a subpoena on Boston College seeking access to Dr McIntyre’s personal interviews.

Former director of the project Mr Moloney and Mr McArthur, who interviewed former UVF members for the oral history, accused the authorities of engaging in an illegal “fishing expedition” in seeking access to Dr McIntyre’s tapes.

Boston College’s spokesman Jack Dunn said that the “subpoena was issued in proceedings that the United States District Court ordered sealed, and Boston College was requested to treat the proceedings and the subpoena as confidential”.

“Nevertheless, the university notified Mr McIntyre of the subpoena because it concluded that he should know that his materials had been requested. Given that the pending proceedings remain under seal, Boston College is not able to comment further on the matter,” added Mr Dunn.

Historian Dr McIntyre, who served time in prison on an IRA murder conviction, and Mr McArthur respectively interviewed 26 republican and 20 loyalist former paramilitaries for the project.

Dr McIntyre also gave an interview about his IRA involvement during the Troubles to another interviewer as part of the project.

Interviewees were given commitments that there would be no disclosure of their interviews until after their deaths. Two of those who gave interviews were former senior IRA figure Brendan Hughes and former UVF member and Progressive Unionist Party leader David Ervine.

After their deaths their testimonies were included in a book by Mr Moloney called “Voices From the Grave” which contained information from Mr Hughes about the IRA’s abduction, murder and disappearance of Jean McConville in 1972.

Subsequently, as part of its investigation of Ms McConville’s murder the PSNI sought access to the Boston tapes. Ultimately under legal pressure Boston College handed over a number of tapes that are believed to contain reference to Ms McConville.

The release of the tapes also resulted in the arrest of veteran republican Ivor Bell (79) who also engaged with the project. He is charged with aiding and abetting in Ms McConville’s murder as well as membership of the IRA. His trial has yet to take place.

“This action by the DPP and PSNI is simply a fishing expedition, which is prohibited by international law,” said Mr Moloney and Mr McArthur.

“We do know, in particular, that this request does not have anything to do with the disappearance and murder of Jean McConville, which was the event that motivated this PSNI trawl five years ago,” they added.

“The subpoena request provides no details of specific charge, investigation or offence of which Dr McIntyre is accused, no names of alleged victims, no dates, no places. Instead the originators of this shoddy document mention matters which are so over-broad, that literally anyone alive during the Troubles in Northern Ireland could be accused of some association with them,” said Mr Moloney and Mr McArthur.

They added that Dr McIntyre has engaged Belfast human rights solicitor Kevin Winters “to resist these efforts to raid his personal memoirs”.

Mr Moloney and Mr McArthur said the arrest and charging of Mr Bell was an “abuse of process” as was the action against Dr McIntyre. They called on the Irish Government “not to co-operate with the British authorities should any effort be made to extradite Dr McIntyre from his home in Drogheda to Belfast for the purposes of yet another futile and inordinately expensive show trial”.

They added that the DPP and PSNI had requested, and the US Department of Justice had agreed, to a “demand that Boston College keep these legal proceedings secret, away from the prying eyes of the international press”.

The PSNI said it was not “commenting on the matter” while the DPP’s office was not in a position to comment at this stage. At the time of writing there was no response to queries from the Northern Ireland Office.

A REFLECTION ON THE 1916 RISING – PLUNKETT NUGENT

Posted by Jim on May 5, 2016

A REFLECTION ON THE 1916 RISING – PLUNKETT NUGENT

‘Oh wise men riddle me this, what if the dream come true? – PH Pearse

The recent tsunami of revisionism has sought to draw a direct parallel between the noble self-sacrifice of those who those who struck for Irish Freedom on Easter Monday 1916 and those who were senselessly and cynically ordered ‘over the top’ at the Somme bloodbath a few months later. The former have in recent times been depicted as mere dreamers, poets and artists. They were of course all those things and so much more, the only Irish soldiers to die in the period of the ‘War of the Cousins’, during which the ruling elites ensured the mass slaughter of so many. The latter were mere cannon fodder enticed to their deaths by a sectarian desire to trump democracy in Ireland or even worse, by false promises to allow Irish people limited control over Irish affairs.

The Proclamation of the Republic always had pride of place in my late grandfather’s house. As a very young boy I struggled to read some of what were to me then very strange words that I had not yet encountered in any of my early school books. Today, when I read it or hear it read aloud, I marvel again at its construction and content, a tri-partite treatise summing up our historic campaigns for freedom, a charter for fundamental human rights well ahead of its time and an Augustinian reminder of all that was sacred in a just war.

Typeset by Christopher Brady from equipment commandeered by Michael Molloy and later distributed throughout Dublin by Helena Molony, The Proclamation was read first by Padraig Pearse on the plinth of the GPO and later by Thomas J Clarke at the foot of Nelson’s Pillar. Few if any listening could have envisaged its importance or the bravery of those acting on its legitimacy. The following days and weeks fully illuminated their courage and their steadfastness. Sixteen of them paid the ultimate sacrifice in Kilmainham, Cork and Pentonville prisons.

Each political party who claim some sort of lineage from 1916 has in their turn betrayed the high idealism of the Rising for narrow political shortterm gain. And yet 100 years on those Republicans who still cherish the dream have hope. The law of unintended consequences ensured that the deaths of the leaders of breathed new life into the War of (partial) Independence. Time and again democracy rears its head. Scotland almost tore the ‘United Kingdom’ apart and will no doubt be more successful on the next occasion. A ‘Brexit’ would remove at a stroke any cover for the lie that ‘the conflict is over’ with new ‘watchtowers overlooking Aughnacloy’.

Others may again accuse those who refuse to accept British rule in any part of our country of being dreamers. That is hardly an original criticism. Somehow, someday, the matter of ensuring that Republic ‘takes her place among the nations of the world’ will be determined democratically by ‘the suffrages of all her men and women’ through a One Ireland, One Vote referendum.

Plunkett Nugent (above right) is a lifelong Irish republican from the Galbally area in East Tyrone and a founding member of the PH Pearse Society Galbally – Cappagh. As a keen advocate of human rights he works as a Barrister At Law and is highly valued in his local community, with his many and varied contributions to local politics, history and culture widely respected in Galbally, its hinterland and beyond.

Bobby Sands – Died May 5th, 1981

Posted by Jim on

Bobby Sands

[Image]

Died May 5th, 1981

 
The revolutionary spirit of freedom

Portions of this article were first published anonymously in ‘Republican News’, December 16th, 1978. The smuggled out article recalls how the spirit of republican defiance grew within him, and is a semi-autobiographical account.

BOBBY SANDS was born in 1954 in Rathcoole, a predominantly loyalist district of north Belfast. His twenty-seventh birthday fell on the ninth day of his sixty-six-day hunger strike. His sisters Marcella, one year younger, and Bernadette, were born in April 1955 and November 1958, respectively. All three lived their early years at Abbots Cross in the Newtownabbey area of north Belfast. A second son, John, now nineteen, was born to their parents John and Rosaleen, now both aged 57, in June 1962.

The sectarian realities of ghetto life materialised early in Bobby’s life when at the age of ten his family were forced to move home owing to loyalist intimidation even as early as 1962. Bobby recalled his mother speaking of the troubled times which occurred during her childhood; ‘Although I never really under stood what internment was or who the ‘Specials’ were, I grew to regard them as symbols of evil ‘.

Of this time Bobby himself later wrote: ”I was only a working-class boy from a Nationalist ghetto, but it is repression that creates the revolutionary spirit of freedom. I shall not settle until I achieve liberation of my country, until Ireland becomes a sovereign, independent socialist republic. ”

When Bobby was sixteen years old he started work as an apprentice coach builder and joined the National Union of Vehicle Builders and the ATGWU. In an article printed in ‘An Phoblacht/Republican News’ on April 4th, 1981, Bobby recalled: ”Starting work, although frightening at first became alright, especially with the reward at the end of the week. Dances and clothes, girls and a few shillings to spend, opened up a whole new world to me.”

Bobby’s background, experiences and ambitions did not differ greatly from that of the average ghetto youth. Then came 1968 and the events which were to change his life. Bobby had served two years of his apprenticeship when he was intimidated out of his job. His sister Bernadette recalls: “Bobby went to work one morning and these fellows were standing there cleaning guns. One fellow said to him, ‘Do you see these here, well if you don’t go you’ll get this’ then Bobby also found a note in his lunch-box telling him to get out.”

In June 1972, the family were intimidated out of their home in Doonbeg Drive, Rathcoole and moved into the newly built Twinbrook estate on the fringe of nationalist West Belfast. Bernadette again recalled: We had suffered intimidation for about eighteen months before we were actually put out. We had always been used to having Protestant friends. Bobby had gone around with Catholics and Protestants, but it ended up when everything erupted, that the friends he went about with for years were the same ones who helped to put his family out of their home.

As well as being intimidated out of his job and his home being under threat Bobby also suffered personal attacks from the loyalists.

At eighteen Bobby joined the Republican Movement. Bernadette says: .. ‘he was just at the age when he was beginning to become aware of things happening around him. He more or less just said right, this is where I’m going to take up. A couple of his cousins had been arrested and interned. Booby felt that he should get involved and start doing something. ‘

Bobby himself wrote. “My life now centered around sleepless nights and stand-bys dodging the Brits and calming nerves to go out on operations. But the people stood by us. The people not only opened the doors of their homes to lend us a hand but they opened their hearts to us. I learned that without the people we could not survive and I knew that I owed them everything.

In October 1972, he was arrested. Four handguns were found in a house he was staying in and he was charged with possession. He spent the next three years in the cages of Long Kesh where he had political prisoner status. During this time Bobby read widely and taught himself Irish which he was later to teach the other blanket men in the H-Blocks.

Released in 1976 Bobby returned to his family in Twinbrook. He reported back to his local unit and straight back into the continuing struggle: ‘Quite a lot of things had changed some parts of the ghettos had completely disappeared and others were in the process of being removed. The war was still forging ahead although tactics and strategy had changed. The British government was now seeking to ‘Ulsterise’ the war which included the attempted criminalisation of the IRA and attempted normalisation of the war situation.’

Bobby set himself to work tackling the social issues which affected the Twinbrook area. Here he became a community activist. According to Bernadette, ‘When he got out of jail that first time our estate had no Green Cross, no Sinn Fein, nor anything like that. He was involved in the Tenants’ Association… He got the black taxis to run to Twinbrook because the bus service at that time was inadequate. It got to the stage where people were coming to the door looking for Bobby to put up ramps on the roads in case cars were going too fast and would knock the children down.’

Within six months Bobby was arrested again. There had been a bomb attack on the Balmoral Furniture Company at Dunmurry, followed by a gun-battle in which two men were wounded. Bobby was in a car near the scene with three other young men. The RUC captured them and found a revolver in the car.

The six men were taken to Castlereagh and were subjected to brutal interrogations for six days. Bobby refused to answer any questions during his interrogation, except his name, age and address.

In a ninety-six verse poem written in 1980, entitled ‘The Crime of Castlereagh’, Bobby tells of his experiences in Castlereagh and his fears and thoughts at the time.

They came and came their job the same

In relays N’er they stopped.

‘Just sign the line!’ They shrieked each time

And beat me ’till I dropped.

They tortured me quite viciously

They threw me through the air.

It got so bad it seemed I had

Been beat beyond repair.

The days expired and no one tired,

Except of course the prey,

And knew they well that time would tell

Each dirty trick they laid on thick

For no one heard or saw,

Who dares to say in Castlereagh

The ‘police’ would break the law!

He was held on remand for eleven months until his trial in September 1977. As at his previous trial he refused to recognise the court.

The judge admitted there was no evidence to link Bobby, or the other three young men with him, to the bombing. So the four of them were sentenced to fourteen years each for possession of the one revolver.

Bobby spent the first twenty-two days of his sentence in solitary confinement, ‘on the boards’ in Crumlin Road jail. For fifteen of those days he was completely naked. He was moved to the H-Blocks and joined the blanket protest. He began to write for Republican News and then after February 1979 for the newly-merged An Phobhacht/Republican News under the pen-name, ‘Marcella’, his sister’s name. His articles and letters, in minute handwriting, like all communications from the H-Blocks, were smuggled out on tiny pieces of toilet paper.

He wrote: ‘The days were long and lonely. The sudden and total deprivation of such basic human necessities as exercise and fresh air, association with other people, my own clothes and things like newspapers, radio, cigarettes books and a host of other things, made my life very hard.’

Bobby became PRO for the blanket men and was in constant confrontation with the prison authorities which resulted in several spells of solitary confinement. In the H-Blocks, beatings, long periods in the punishment cells, starvation diets and torture were commonplace as the prison authorities, with the full knowledge and consent of the British administration, imposed a harsh and brutal regime on the prisoners in their attempts to break the prisoners’ resistance to criminalisation.

The H-Blocks became the battlefield in which the republican spirit of resistance met head-on all the inhumanities that the British could perpetrate. The republican spirit prevailed and in April 1978 in protest against systematic ill-treatment when they went to the toilets or got showered, the H-Block prisoners refused to wash or slop-out. They were joined in this no-wash protest by the women in Armagh jail in February 1980 when they were subjected to similar harassment.

On October 27th, 1980, following the breakdown of talks between British direct ruler in the North, Humphrey Atkins, and Cardinal O Fiaich, the Irish Catholic primate, seven prisoners in the H-Blocks began a hunger strike. Bobby volunteered for the fast but instead he succeeded, as O/C, Brendan Hughes, who went on hunger-strike.

During the hunger-strike he was given political recognition by the prison authorities. The day after a senior British official visited the hunger-strikers, Bobby was brought half a mile in a prison van from H3 to the prison hospital to visit them. Subsequently he was allowed several meetings with Brendan Hughes. He was not involved in the decision to end the hunger-strike which was taken by the seven men alone. But later that night he was taken to meet them and was allowed to visit republican prison leaders in H-Blocks 4, 5 and 6.

On December 19th, 1980, Bobby issued a statement that the prisoners would not wear prison-issue clothing nor do prison work. He then began negotiations with the prison governor, Stanley Hilditch, for a step-by-step de-escalation of the protest.

But the prisoners’ efforts were rebuffed by the authorities: ‘We discovered that our good will and flexibility were in vain,’ wrote Bobby. It was made abundantly clear during one of my co-operation’ meetings with prison officials that strict conformity was required. which in essence meant acceptance of criminal status.

In the H-Blocks the British saw the opportunity to defeat the IRA by criminalising Irish freedom fighters but the blanketmen, perhaps more than those on the outside, appreciated before anyone else the grave repercussions, and so they fought.

Bobby volunteered to lead the new hunger strike. He saw it as a microcosm of the way the Brits were treating Ireland historically and presently, Bobby realised that someone would have to die to win political status.

He insisted on starting two weeks in front of the others so that perhaps his death could secure the five demands and save their lives. For the first seventeen days of the hunger strike Bobby kept a secret diary in which he wrote his thoughts and views, mostly in English but occasionally breaking into Gaelic. He had no fear of death and saw the hunger-strike as something much larger than the five demands and as having major repercussions for British rule in Ireland. The diary was written on toilet paper in biro pen and had to be hidden, mostly carried inside Bobby’s own body. During those first seventeen days Bobby lost a total of sixteen pounds weight and on Monday, March 23rd, he was moved to the prison hospital.

On March 30th, he was nominated as candidate for the Fermanagh and South Tyrone by-election caused by the sudden death of Frank Maguire, an independent MP who supported the prisoners’ cause.

The next morning, day thirty-one, of his hunger-strike, he was visited by Owen Carron who acted as his election agent. Owen told of that first visit ‘Instead of meeting that young man of the poster with long hair and a fresh face, even at that time when Bobby wasn’t too bad he was radically changed. He was very thin and bony and his hair was cut short.’

Bobby had no illusions with regard to his election victory. His reaction was not one of over-optimism. After the result was announced Owen visited Bobby. “He had already heard the result on the radio. He was in good form alright but he always used to keep saying, ‘In my position you can’t afford to be optimistic.’ In other words, he didn’t take it that because he’d won an election that his life would be saved. He thought that the Brits would need their pound of flesh. I think he was always working on the premise that he would have to die.”

At 1.17 a.m. on Tuesday, May 5th, having completed sixty-five days on hunger-strike, Bobby Sands MP, died in the H-Block prison hospital at Long Kesh. Bobby was a truly unique person whose loss is great and immeasurable. He never gave himself a moment to spare. He lived his life energetically, dedicated to his people and to the republican cause, eventually offering up his life in a conscious effort to further that cause and the cause of those with whom he had shared almost eight years of his adult life. In his own words: “of course can be murdered but I remain what I am, a political POW and no-one, not even the British, can change that.”

 

Death of hunger-strike author David Beresford

Posted by Jim on May 4, 2016

An award-winning journalist credited with writing the definitive account
of the 1981 Hunger Strike has died in South Africa.

David Beresford passed away in his Johannesburg home this week. He
worked for the Guardian newspaper and was their Ireland correspondent
during the late 1970s and early eighties, covering many stories from the
conflict

It was during this time he reported on the prison campaign by republican
PoWs and Margaret Thatcher’s government attempts to criminalise the IRA.
He later penned the book Ten Men Dead, one of the most detailed accounts
of the period which saw 10 republicans fast until death in the H-Blocks.

Given unique access to source material, Mr Beresford pieced together the
story of the protest through interviews and secret communications
carried in and out of the prison.

The respected journalist later moved to South Africa where he covered
the period leading up to the end of apartheid including the release of
Nelson Mandela from prison in 1990.

In 1991 he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Despite his illness
he continued to work as a foreign correspondent and underwent radical
treatments to try to beat the disease.

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams paid tribute to the journalist last night
and described Ten Men Dead as “probably the best book written about that
period”.

“David was an exceptional journalist,” he said.

“He was also the Guardian’s reporter in South Africa during tumultuous
changes in that country. He also faced huge challenges in his own life
battling Parkinson’s disease. I want to extend my deepest condolences to
David’s family.”

YOUNGEST BLANKETMAN

Meanwhile, a west Belfast man who was the youngest to take part in the
H-Block blanket protests during the conflict has also passed away.

Father-of-three Peter Kavanagh died on Saturday at a Belfast hospice
surrounded by his family following a long battle with cancer. Known as
Dee, he was aged 16 when he spent nearly three years from 1978 on the
republican blanket protest while in the H-blocks of Long Kesh. The
protest was against Thatcher’s attempts to force IRA PoWs to wear prison
uniforms.

His family told on Monday how he held onto life long enough to cradle
his second grandchild, Daniel Peter, who was born just hours before he
passed away.

“The little baby was brought over from the Royal hospital before he
died. I think he held on to see him,” Ms Connors said.

Mr Kavanagh wore only a blanket, refusing to wear prison clothes, after
being jailed for throwing a petrol bomb, a charge his family say he
always denied.

His older brother John Kavanagh said: “He was 16 and he was caught up in
trouble during the queen’s visit. He was sentenced for throwing a petrol
bomb – he was never in court in his life.”

New York And The Easter Rising

Posted by Jim on

John McDonagh (John) interview historian Brendan Matthews (Brendan) via telephone from Drogheda, Co. Louth about the importance of New York City in the 1916 Rising. Thanks as ever to TPQ transcriber.
Radio Free Éireann WBAI 99.5FM Pacifica Radio New York City 23 April 2016

 

John: Listen, Sir Roger Casement did not get the phone call on the submarine to the lonely Banna Strand but Brendan Matthews, who’s an Irish historian out of Drogheda – as I said, Brendan, a lot of the Americans – and you hear it every once in a while – they call it Draheda – but it’s Drogheda – and you have written about the importance of New York City to the 1916 Uprising that without New York there probably was no Uprising.

Brendan: Yeah, Good Afternoon, John, from Ireland here and from Drogheda. Yeah, I have done a lot of research over the past year and particularly I followed one man because what fascinates me is how you view the events of 1916 and from what perspective you view them. I mean, we’re obviously, from our point of view, going to have a different view of what happened in 1916 say than probably the descendant of maybe an Irish Orangeman or an Irish Unionist at the time would have completely different views – that they look upon it as almost an act of terrorism against King and country is the way that those people would view it. But really to see what the 1916 Rising was and is all about is to perhaps look at it through the eyes of a rebel and how I’ve done that is to actually follow the tale of one of the seven signatories, literally from the cradle to the grave, and that man was Tom Clarke. And there is no doubt from my research, which will be published tomorrow, in just a week – next Saturday, I believe that with Tom Clarke, who lived some time in New York along with John Devoy from Clann na nGael and a couple of others – Seán Mac Diarmada as well when Tom Clarke returned from New York and met up with Seán Mac Dairmada – that without those three being significant players in the lead-up and to the events of The Rising. It would certainly would not have happened without Clann na nGael, John Devoy and Tom Clarke on this side of the Atlantic.

John: You know what Brendan? What’s amazing – I’ve been reading a lot of books – was the travel between Ireland and New York. It was constant. I mean Connolly was going back and forth and a lot of the Irish revolutionaries were going back and forth and even the ones that were sent out to Australia were making it back to New York. So New York was the epicentre of literally organising it. But one of the components, and I told you about this before, because of World War I – you know – England’s difficulty is Ireland’s opportunity – maybe tell our audience – because I was just talking about The Lonely Banna Strand, we were going to play that song about Sir Roger Casement, about the connection between Germany and this country, World War I and what was going on with Irish Republicans.

Brendan: Okay, well as you did say, correctly, John, about the connections between New York, Liverpool and England, where the ships would arrive and then back to ports in Ireland such as Corcaigh and Dublin. And just to take it back a wee bit: As you did say about these people were traveling over and back across the sea, across to Europe from Ireland over to New York – from New York to Berlin such as Roger Casement was dealing with the Germans in trying to get some arms landed at Banna Strand on Good Friday. But you take it back, in the lead-up to that again – when you go back to look at say for instance the Fenian Movement, and where Clann na nGael stems from, that Fenian Movement of the late 1850’s in America and over here in Ireland then you had the Irish Republican Brotherhood. Now when you see what was going on in the 1860’s during the American Civil War when one hundred and fifty thousand Irishmen had fought on the Union side in that civil war and some twenty-five thousand had fought on the Confederate side in the southern states of America – so you’re talking here nearly two hundred thousand Irish men who had been in the Union Army who were hoping to, what they termed, ‘free the Motherland’ when the American Civil War ended in 1865.

Now, when you go back to that period and you see the amount of traveling that was done – they were jumping on ships and going to and from Ireland to England to New York and back and forward as if it was a train line. It was amazing what these people had committed themselves to, that they didn’t have to do it so the question is: Why did they do it? When you look at, for instance, in the aftermath of the famine in Ireland, as we look back one hundred years now, so we look back to 1916 – so too was those seven signatories at the very least were looking back a hundred years. And they weren’t just taking inspiration from the likes of Wolfe Tone and the 1798 Rebellion or the 1848 Rebellion with Thomas Francis Meagher and the raising of the Irish tricolour for the first time but they were also looking upon the hardships that their ancestors had to put up with. So take, for instance, from 1800 to 1841 – the population of Ireland rises from around about four million to almost nine million in forty years. These are people, most of them, who were living on the hedgerows. We always have to look upon what was the lead-up to The Rising. So you’ve now have nine million people in the country. Most of them had no access to the land. Most of them had no resources from the land. Most of them had no access to local government or national government and had no representation in local government and they couldn’t even take a wild rabbit from the land otherwise they would face either three months in prison and in a lot of cases they were sent for transportation – seven years to Australia which meant they weren’t coming back.

So pretty much they were living like animals within the context of the 1840’s – the Irish were living no better than the animals – in fact, were probably living worse than the animals around them; having said that the population continued to rise. So in my research, again, I look closely at one of the things, which I looked at the Church and how the Church continued to tell them that they would be rewarded in Heaven and how they would frown upon any kind of rebellion because the Catholic Church in Ireland during this period was totally against secret societies, particularly The Fenians. And if they took The Fenian out they would threaten them with ex-communication. So they continued, the priests would, throughout the Penal Days of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, continue to tell people to procreate yet they were on the verge of starvation.

So by the time the famine came about in the 1840’s you had at least a million people dead and more than a million people emigrating, leaving Ireland, but here in Drogheda, for instance, the second largest port of emigration after Dublin during the famine and during the period of say Black 47, the worst year of the famine in 1847, harbour records in Drogheda today and local newspapers from that period, 1847, clearly show, for instance, six steamships heading to Liverpool on a daily basis in England from Drogheda and on board those ships was placed the likes of, in one ship alone: two hundred cattle, three hundred sheep, two hundred pigs, two hundred boxes of eggs, 200 hundred boxes of flour, one tonne of corn, one tonne of wheat, one tonne of barley and whey. Once that food was placed on the boat then the people were put on the boat and had to go as what was called ‘steerage passengers’ standing among the live animals which were being brought to England and cadaverous looking people literally starving – they couldn’t get off the boat – they literally could not walk and in Liverpool so much that the Liverpool authorities became alarmed and began to send these cadaverous looking people back to some ports in Ireland. Now in any estimation if you look up the definition of the word ‘famine’ that cannot then ever be called a famine – that is, if not ethnic cleansing it’s certainly a starvation of the people when they could not gain access to their own land to abide by that food. Even the wild rabbit or the fish or the bird in the sky – they could not take that because everything was owned by the gentry.

So many people then did make it across the Atlantic to The States – made themselves a new home in America but they never forgot where they had come from and they swore vengeance against the enemy and the great British Empire which had brought them to look and dream of exile three and five and seven thousand miles away from their home. So when the chance arose in the 1860’s to join the American Civil War in the hope that when it was over they would literally come back and free the Motherland. But because of distance and communication between New York, Liverpool and indeed the ports of Ireland – because of the Catholic Church and because of specially placed agents and informers within the Fenian Movement and for the British Crown, particularly and strategically placed within New York and the ports of Liverpool – everything that moved – the likes of the greatest British agent within that Fenian Rising of the 1860’s was John Joseph Croydon from Liverpool who happened to be the head of the Liverpool contingent of Fenians but everything that moved from New York into Britain was noted by John Joseph Croydon and hence the collapse of the Fenian Movement albeit there was over one hundred thousand men involved in that Fenian Movement.

So moving on from the 1860’s, so here’s where I come from: Studying Thomas Clarke. Thomas Clarke was the son of a British soldier. Had been moved around Europe and including British Army barracks in Ireland – he was born in 1857 and as a kid was brought to South Africa. His father had fought in the Crimean War in the mid-1850’s and then returned to Dungannon in County Tyrone. And while Tom Clarke was in County Tyrone in the 1870’s he again had seen the Fenian Brotherhood who were traveling round the country of Ireland giving demonstrations and denouncing the British system in Ireland where the landlord had the land and the Land War came about in the 1870’s with the landlord and his tenant in Ireland where mass evictions took place. And Tom Clarke couldn’t understand why this colonialism was still happening and why he said people such as the gentry and the clergy and commercial business people turned a blind eye to this and didn’t want anything to do – could never dream of rebellion. But his father wanted Tom to join the army. Tom was having none of it. Tom wanted to stand up for people and for their rights because he would see them on the side of the road being evicted, houses being boarded so they couldn’t get back into them and seeing them with no access to the land, no resources from it and all the rest of it. So at one of these demonstrations Tom had a bit of a skirmish. He’d a run-in with Royal Irish Constabulary policemen and he was a wanted man so Tom had to disappear.

So Tom Clarke ended up in America. He ended up in America around about 1880 – early ’81. And of course the first thing Tom sees when he lands in New York, he gets a job in a hotel in the kitchen, and the first thing he sees and starts listening to is the hardened older Fenians who had been there – people who had to go from Ireland in the famine and bring their kids. People who had fought hard as American soldiers, trained American soldiers who had also fought in the Civil War and had attempted in the Fenian Rising in the 1860’s and this fascinated Tom. And because at the time when he lands in the early 1880’s, as you’re probably aware, John, there was a major split in Clann na nGael at the time, with O’Donovan Rossa running one faction of it. They were organising Fenian trips to England and what was known as the ‘Dynamite Campaign’ and Tom Clarke put his name forward and said that he would go on one of these dynamite campaigns…Sorry, John…

John: …No, no – I just saying – we’re going to be stuck for time – We’ve got about another ten or fifteen minutes. And as you unfortunately bring up – I mean, Brendan Behan coined the phrase – whenever Irish people get together and have a meeting the first thing on the agenda is the split. But you sort of set up where the bitterness comes from and the hardening of attitudes – not that they left the country and just forgot about it – like you can see recent emigrants there say: Well unemployment’s up. I’m going to come to New York – you’re not coming over with that bitterness. But you’ve described the bitterness of these Irish – I don’t even want to say they’re emigrants – they were forced exiles – that came over to New York.

And because history plays an important part – World War I breaks out when they’re organising this revolution and I would like just to bring it up to that era and the connection – because there was a huge amount of German immigrants at one stage here in the United States. German immigrants were the biggest part of the population and in some of the schools, particularly in Pennsylvania, they were teaching German in the schools and a lot of people were organising against that saying that they should be speaking English and not German. But maybe you could just bring us up to, historically, why did the Fenian Movement get involved with the Germans here in this country?

Brendan: Oh, okay. Well in the lead-up to The Rising and during the First World War for instance there was one I did come across again in research in American newspapers, particularly there was an interesting article I came across in an Oklahoma newspaper which was dating to February of 1916 and in that article from Oklahoma it had taken an article from a statement made in the House of Commons by a man called Joseph Austin Chamberlain who was the Secretary of State for India at the time in 1916 and he would denounce the disloyalty of the native troops, so the British native troops as he’d seen it, in Northern India who, it was due to their activities of anti-British associations, and they had their headquarters, according to Chamberlain, the Secretary of State for India, according to him he said the headquarters was in the United States and they were known as The Hindu Organisation in the US had been at work secretly since 1907 for an uprising in India and he stated that it comprised of natives from India who were highly educated in and around New York and other states in America along with members of Clann na nGael who were with them and of late, he said, Germans and American pro-Germans and one of the aims of this organisation was to start a mutiny in India in 1917. That’s a very interesting article because it comes from February the fifteenth, so a couple of months even before The Irish Rising, and here you have Clann na nGael who were sitting in secret with the Hindu Organisation and Germans, Americans who were pro-German, during the First World War.

The German connection was that Ireland would strike – England’s loss would be Ireland’s opportunity – so again when Tom Clarke had spent sixteen years almost in an English prison and when he got out he went to New York, 1901, got married there in Saint Augustine’s Church in New York in July of 1901. Clarke stays in New York ’til 1907. Comes back home to Dublin with his young wife and his kid who was born in the Bronx. And when Clarke comes back to Ireland he finds an old movement – the older Fenian Movement – they’re too old – they don’t want rebellion anymore – they’ve done it all back in the 1860’s and 70’s – they had been in English prisons – now he finds the younger blood though. And so when Tom opens a shop in Dublin the younger blood, like John Bulmer Hobson, Denis McCullough, Pat McCartan, Seán Mac Diarmada, they start arriving into Tom Clarke’s shop in Dublin – Clarke, after leaving New York and telling the boys that as soon as the opportunity comes – as soon as the British downfall – he said: ‘We will strike!’

Tom waited and hoped and waited on the day that they would get into war with another superpower such as Germany. When that happened and the other younger members, the young blood like Mac Diarmada and Pat McCartan and Eamonn Ceannt gathered round Clarke by 1908, revered him because he had spent fifteen and a half years in an English prison, all most in solitary confinement, they loved Tom Clarke because of this and Tom Clarke seems to be the only one from the old movement, along with John Devoy, who is pushing and wishes to push that as soon as the opportunity arises – so he begins to plot and plan for a such rebellion from around 1910 – there’s no question about that. He moves out the older people within the Chair – the likes of Fred Allan who was sitting in the Chair of the old IRB Council in Dublin – they’re moved out of the way – Tom Clarke moves in as the older man and he starts to guide and dictate and slowly groom the younger blood who forms around him, including Padraig Pearse who he first meets in February of 1911.

John: Alright Brendan – you know what? We have five minutes left and I wanted to talk about the influence of the president at the time, Woodrow Wilson, and about the raid on the German Embassy that strategically came just before The Rising. If you can give us that and I’ll have you back to continue from there at another stage.

Brendan: Oh, okay, okay. Just a couple of weeks before The Rising actually, it was in early April of 1916, again, Clann na nGael were frequent visitors to the German Embassy in Washington and they were hoping because of the superpowers at war with each other that Clann na nGael would meet German officers and German officials in the German Embassy, which they did, and this was getting hot and heavy and there was more meetings taking place from April of 1916 and they were sending messages to and from – communicating with German officers in Berlin where Roger Casement also was addressing German officers – he was looking for men, of course, but the Germans said that they couldn’t really spare any men during the Great War but that they would send the likes of ten machine guns, twenty thousand rifles, one million rounds of ammunition, etc – and these are the actual guns and ammunition that was promised – the cargo of arms that was promised which did land in County Kerry a couple of days and disaster happened in that the actually arms had to be sank.

Clann na nGael also had forewarned – so this was the link between Clann na nGael and getting the German help – so they got the Germans to help the Irish in The Rising; the Germans were quite willing to do it. So Clann na nGael had forewarned the German Embassy in April about there was going to be an eminent raid on their offices by the American Secret Service and of course the German’s response: No, that would be a serious violation of international law. And John Devoy, in a telegram, responded to them and, in his words, he said: ‘They don’t give a damn about the law. They want your papers for the information for the English and they will get them if they can – law or no damned law.’ John Devoy also, in his Recollections of an Irish Rebel, which was published in 1929 I think or ’26, John Devoy went on to say that Woodrow Wilson was the meanest and most malignant man who ever filled the office of President of the United States and that he was waiting on any opportunity to join the Great War on behalf of Britain which, eventually, that’s exactly what happened. But Devoy had also stated under no certain terms that had there even been a different President of The States at the time that maybe things could have been a lot better as in favour of Ireland but that Woodrow Wilson certainly was no friend of any rebellion or of any Irish Republican Brotherhood at that time.

John: Now do you know – did they get any information about The Uprising from the raid on the German Embassy? Because that’s an international event – an incident!

Brendan: Oh, absolutely! Sorry John, yeah, they did. They actually did because they sent word to England. They intercepted the communications between America and Berlin to the extent that they knew that there was arms on the way. And they also sent word that there was there was possibly a rebellion but they didn’t know the date and they weren’t too sure because on the English side and in the English House of Commons documented papers from the period shows that they treated it with a bit of scepticism. They took note that there was arms maybe going to be delivered from Germany to the coast of Ireland but they dismissed almost the extent that there wasn’t going to be a rising. They really didn’t think there was going to be a rising at the time that it actually happened. But nonetheless anyway, the boat was captured on Good Friday and then subsequently it was scuttled and the arms sank and Casement arrested.

John: Well Brendan, we’re going to end it right there and we’re going to bring you back and then maybe take it from there and find out how they communicated to Dublin about The Uprising and what was the response here in New York City and throughout this country. Brendan Matthews is out of Drogheda. They’re having a big event this week about commemorating 1916 at the museum there – anybody that’s heading over should get up there. And Brendan, we’re going to have you on again. Thank you for coming on.

Brendan: Brilliant, John, thank you. And can I just say, John, as well: That stuff I and the story I am telling today – it is going to be published next Saturday by the Drogheda Museum at droghedamuseum.ie and it’s Reflections on the 1916 Rising but I have my tale in there based on what happened and particularly the connections between Ireland, America and England which appear at this time, when I see all the things that are happening in The Centenary, just I think in my belief it seems to be overlooked at the minute.

100 years ago today, the executions of the 1916 leaders began

Posted by Jim on May 3, 2016

Padraig Pearse surrendering to British Major-General William Henry Lowe.

Perhaps the most famous photograph of the 1916 Easter Rising shows Padraig Pearse surrendering to British Major-General William Henry Lowe near the corner of Moore and Parnell Streets on Saturday, April 29. It is a photo that encompasses many things: the receding power of the British Empire and the new indefatigable Ireland. It shows, in several ways, the theatricality of the Rising, and also the role that women would come to play in the coming War of Independence and their struggle for equality for the rest of the 20th century.

 

On the left is General Lowe and to his is right is his son John Muir Lowe, who, under the stage name of John Loder, went on to act in films (“How Green Was My Valley”) and, most famously, to marry Hollywood sex siren Hedy Lamarr. On the right is Pearse, “President” of the Provisional Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Irish Volunteers. Hidden behind Pearse (except for her shoes) is GPO nurse Elizabeth O’Farrell, who brokered the surrender (in some photos, in a sign of the times, her feet were actually airbrushed out of the photo).

GPO nurse Elizabeth O’Farrell.

GPO nurse Elizabeth O’Farrell.

General Maxwell Shows No Mercy

The man sent to Ireland to put down the Rising was General Sir John Grenfell Maxwell, K.C.B., K.C.M.G., C.V.O., D.S.O. He was appointed military governor and Commander-in-Chief of His Majesty’s Forces in Ireland on Friday, April 28. Apparently his main qualifications for the job was that he was available and was a friend of Lord Kitchener.

He was not enamored with the Irish: “The majority,” he stated, “seem to be on the verge of madness which finds its outlet in poetry and emotional traits.” He would soon have his chance to pronounce the ultimate chastisement on the leaders of the Rising, several of whom were published poets. He knew how to handle these people: “I am going to ensure that there will be no treason whispered for 100 years.”

General Sir John Grenfell Maxwell.

General Sir John Grenfell Maxwell.

Apparently, Maxwell thought things out methodically: from court-martial, to execution, to burial. He knew the funeral parade Tom Clarke had put on for Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa the previous summer and he was going to have none of it: “Irish sentimentality will turn these graves into martyrs’ shrines to which annual processions will be made.” Thus the bodies would be disposed of without coffin or shroud.

Brigadier J. Young wrote about how it was all to go down at Arbour Hill: “After each prisoner has been shot, a Medical Officer will certify that he is dead, and his body will be immediately removed to an ambulance, with a label pinned on his breast giving his name. When the ambulance is full, it will be sent to Arbour Hill Detention Barracks, entering by the gate at the Garrison Chapel. The party will then put the bodies close alongside one another at the grave (now being dug), cover them quickly with quicklime (ordered) and commence filling in the grave. One of the officers with his party is to keep a note of the position of each body in the grave, taking the name from the label. A priest will attend for the funeral service.”

The British knew exactly what they were going to do with the bodies of the dead rebels, but didn’t have the decency to tell the families. Kathleen Clarke, Tom Clarke’s wife, in her “Revolutionary Woman,” recalls the run-around she and her sister Madge received when they tried to claim the bodies of Tom Clarke and their brother, Ned Daly: “When we got back to the hall, Madge approached the officer at the desk and made the request for Ned’s dead body for burial.

He made no comment, but wrote down her request. Then I approached him to say I had not yet received my husband’s body, though I had made a request for it the previous night. He told me he had no information on the matter; he had forwarded my request. Some weeks later, Madge received a letter which said as the body of her brother was already buried, they could not accede to her request. I got no answer to my request.”

Now all that was needed were bodies to put in the grave/trench over at Arbour Hill. General Maxwell would supply those too.

The Court-martials of Padraig Pearse (Prisoner #1), Thomas MacDonagh (Prisoner #30) and Thomas Clarke (Prisoner #31) at Richmond Barracks, May 2, 1916. All three face the same charge:

CHARGE: Did an act to wit did take part in an armed rebellion and in the waging of war against His Majesty the King, such act being of such a nature as to be calculated to be prejudicial to the Defence to the Realm and being done with the intention and for the purpose of assisting the enemy

PLEA (of all three): Not Guilty

(The members of the court and witnesses were duly sworn in)

VERDICT: Guilty. Death by being shot

As May 4 dawned, many thought the bloodshed was over, but they were to be disappointed. General Maxwell had just gotten started.

Joseph Mary Plunkett, Ned Daly, Micheál O’Hanrahan and Willie Pearse would all face their deaths.

The Court-martials of Joseph Mary Plunkett (Prisoner #33), Edward (Ned) Daly (Prisoner #21), Michael O’Hanrahan (Prisoner #36), and William (Willie) Pearse (Prisoner #27) at Richmond Barracks, May 2, 1916. All four face the same charge:

CHARGE: Did an act to wit did take part in an armed rebellion and in the waging of war against His Majesty the King, such act being of such a nature as to be calculated to be prejudicial to the Defence to the Realm and being done with the intention and for the purpose of assisting the enemy

PLEA: William Pearse was the only one of the four here accused to plead guilty. The others pleaded not guilty.

(The members of the court and witnesses were duly sworn in)

VERDICT: All were found guilty. Death.

Follow the links below to read the full profiles of the 1916 leaders here:

Padraig Pearse

Padraig Pearse.

Padraig Pearse.

Thomas MacDonagh

Thomas MacDonagh.

Thomas MacDonagh.

Thomas Clarke

Thomas Clarke.

Thomas Clarke.

Joseph Mary Plunkett

Joseph Mary Plunkett.

Joseph Mary Plunkett.

Ned Daly

Ned Daly.

Ned Daly.

Micheál O’Hanrahan

Micheal O'Hanrahan.

Micheal O’Hanrahan.

Willie Pearse

Willie Pearse (left) and his brother Padraig.

Willie Pearse (left) and his brother Padraig.

‘A Girl of Genius’ by Susannah Mc Kenna a play about Alice Milligan from Tyrone at Queens Irish Center

Posted by Jim on

‘A Girl of Genius’ by Susannah Mc Kenna a play about Alice Milligan from Tyrone at Queens Irish Center
________________________________________

Share ‘A Girl of Genius’ by Susannah Mc Kenna

Event Details

‘A GIRL OF GENIUS’

BY SUSANNAH MC KENNA & DIRECTED BY BRÍD GALLAGHER

MONDAY MAY 23RD 2016 2PM

MONDAY MAY 23RD 2016 8PM

A Girl of Genius portrays the life of Alice Milligan: Methodist,
journalist, poet, Irish speaker and ardent Nationalist. Born in 1865 in
County Tyrone, she brought together Protestant and Catholic in cultural
clubs she founded in Belfast. A vital figure in the Irish cultural revival,
she knew personally most of the well-known figures of her time
– Yeats, Casement, Connolly, Hyde, Maud Gonne and Eoin McNeill.

‘A Girl of Genius’ is presented by Cuala 2016 New York City’s Irish Cultural Festival and Aisling Ghéar Theatre Company, Belfast.

For more information on the Festival visit

www.Cuala2016.com

For more information Aisling Ghéar Theatre Company, Belfast visit

www.aislingghear.com

‘A Girl of Genius’ is part of the New York Irish Center’s

‘Matinee on a Monday’ Series’

TICKETS

$25 – ADULTS

$15 – CHILDREN, STUDENTS, UNEMPLOYED, SENIORS

For more information on New York Irish Center visit www.newyorkirishcenter.org

Have questions about ‘A Girl of Genius’ by Susannah Mc Kenna? Contact The New York Irish Center

‘A Girl of Genius’ by Susannah Mc Kenna

The New York Irish Center

MON MAY 23RD 2PM ADULT $25

May 23, 2016

$25.00

$2.37

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MON MAY 23RD 2PM CHILD/STUDENT/UNEMPLOYED/SENIOR $15

May 23, 2016

$15.00

$1.82

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Come out and support our 2015 GAA Champions

Posted by Jim on May 2, 2016

The Rhythm Of Time by Bobby Sands

Posted by Jim on April 30, 2016

[Image]

Bobby in Long Kesh prison camp.

 

**************

The Rhythm Of Time

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 was born when time did not exist,
And it grew up out of life,
It cut down evil’s strangling vines,
Like a slashing searing knife.

It lit fires when fires were not,
And burnt the mind of man,
Tempering leandened hearts to steel,
From the time that time began.

It wept by the waters of Babylon,
And when all men were a loss,
It screeched in writhing agony,
And it hung bleeding from the Cross.

It died in Rome by lion and sword,
And in defiant cruel array,
When the deathly word was ‘Spartacus’
Along the Appian Way.

It marched with Wat the Tyler’s poor,
And frightened lord and king,
And it was emblazoned in their deathly stare,
As e’er a living thing.

It smiled in holy innocence,
Before conquistadors of old,
So meek and tame and unaware,
Of the deathly power of gold.

It burst forth through pitiful Paris streets,
And stormed the old Bastille,
And marched upon the serpent’s head,
And crushed it ‘neath its heel.

It died in blood on Buffalo Plains,
And starved by moons of rain,
Its heart was buried at Wounded Knee,
But it will come to rise again.

It screamed aloud by Kerry lakes,
As it was knelt upon the ground,
And it died in great defiance,
As they coldly shot it down.

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 lies in the hearts of heroes dead,
It screams in tyrants’ eyes,
It has reached the peak of mountains high,
It comes searing ‘cross the skies.

It lights the dark of this prison cell,
It thunders forth its might,
It is ‘the undauntable thought’, my friend,
The thought that says ‘I’m right!’

**************

 

Weeping Winds by Bobby Sands

Posted by Jim on

Weeping Winds

[Image]

Bobby, Gerald Rooney and Tom-Boy Loudon in Long Kesh prison camp.

***************

Weeping Winds

Oh! Cold March winds your cruel laments

Are hard on prisoners’ hearts,

For you bring my mother’s pleading cries

From whom I have to part.

I hear her weeping lonely sobs

Her sorrows sweep me by,

And in the dark of prison cell

A tear has warmed my eye.

Oh! Whistling winds why do you weep

When roaming free you are,

Oh! Lonely winds that walk the night

To haunt the sinner’s soul

Pray pity me a wretched lad

Who never will grow old.

Pray pity those who lie in pain

The bondsman and the slave,

And whisper sweet the breath of God

Upon my humble grave.

Oh! Cold March winds that pierce the dark

You cry in aged tones

For souls of folk you’ve brought to God

But still you bear the moans.

Oh! Weeping wind this lonely night

My mother’s heart is sore,

Oh! Lord of all breathe freedom’s breath

That she may weep no more.

 

Stormont elections – a mandate for British rule

Posted by Jim on

Sean Bresnahan looks at the upcoming elections in the North. Sean
Bresnahan is a member of the Thomas Ashe Society in Omagh and National
PRO of the 1916 Societies.

With yet another election in the Six Counties around the corner it’s
worth stepping back and looking at its purpose in context. The reality
is that all of the goings on around this election are nothing more than
the meaningless outworkings of a game within a game, with ringmaster
Britain pulling the strings from above, as ever in control of us all.
The only game that matters is the one she plays and she plays alone with
the rest of us mere pawns. That is the real context to this election.

It is a simple fact proven over and over, borne out by a record eighteen
years in the making, that none of those standing – whether parties,
Independents or whoever – should they get to Stormont will make the
slightest difference to the lives of people in West Tyrone, Derry City,
Belfast, Mid-Ulster or anywhere else. The system, with Stormont merely
its regional hub, ensures otherwise as the real power lies elsewhere,
with Stormont no more than a well-paid, glorified Council.

The place and its record of delivery are a farce. Yet bizarrely,
everyone still dances to the same tune come election time – which in
reality is the British tune. People would be far better served if they
refused to vote in this election and brought the turnout below 50
percent. That, and the ‘crisis of legitimacy’ it would herald, would
represent a much bigger statement and a far greater challenge to the
status quo than anything that might come from the foolish notion we can
somehow change the system from within.

The truth is that what we need in Ireland at this moment are not more
pantomime elections – that do no more than uphold that same status quo –
but a fresh start, where the people of this country are finally granted
control of their own destiny in a reconstituted All-Ireland Republic.
Stormont and its elections serve to frustrate that end and there is no
root to the Republic through Stormont or its Border Poll. Indeed the
reality is that Stormont is a bulwark to prevent the Republic being
realised.

Its reputation could not be lower and with savage austerity and cuts to
every budget conceivable ahead the likelihood is that this will only
worsen – and considerably. Were the incoming Assembly to have a mandate
from less than half of those on the six-county register that would have
serious repercussions on its ability to push through its attacks on
ordinary people. There would be a clear lack of support from the people
it purports to govern for policies to be implemented on behalf of their
masters in London.

The mind then boggles as to why some republicans believe it worthwhile
to run candidates to Stormont through the backdoor. Worse though is the
pretence it’s not happening or that they’re somehow not involved. Their
dodging aside, can they not see they will help no cause here only the
British cause – which is to entrench British rule in Ireland and bolster
its perceived legitimacy? Whether they know it or not they are already
on the road to doom. We should be careful they don’t take us with them.

Rather than encourage people to ‘play the game’ and participate in this
farce we should embrace instead a revolutionary analysis. Rather than
give legitimacy to this useless and utterly servile institution we
should instead be doing all in our power to undermine and expose it, in
the process empowering our own institutions which proceed from the
people themselves. These alone are what will serve us, as will no doubt
be required, in the looming battle against corporate finance and its
impending assault on us all.

Where republicanism should be, coming into this election, is not with
those set on propping up the failing Stormont Assembly, its crumbling,
undemocratic ‘mandate’ with it, but set on empowering a grassroots
alternative capable of impacting on power and realising meaningful
change in our country. We will never expose the facade of Stormont rule,
which is British rule from behind, by helping prop up its collapsing
mandate. That is what all intent on the Irish Republic should understand
– now and not tomorrow or after this election. By then it will be too
late.

Ending Impasse, Irish Leaders Agree on a Government

Posted by Jim on

 
 By STEPHEN CASTLE  APRIL 29, 2016
LONDON — The two biggest parties in Ireland on Friday overcame decades of enmity to cooperate on the creation of a minority government, ending weeks of deadlock after an inconclusive election in February.
The agreement is the start of a unique experiment in Irish politics under which the governing party, Fine Gael, is expected to lead a minority administration, with the tacit support of its main rival, Fianna Fail.
“Both Fine Gael and Fianna Fail have reached a political agreement to facilitate a Fine Gael-led minority government,” both parties said in a statement, the Irish broadcaster RTE reported.
“Both party leaders are now being briefed, extensive drafting has to be done, and then both Fianna Fail and Fine Gael will hold separate parliamentary party meetings to outline the details of the confidence and supply arrangement,” the statement added.
Although both parties are ideologically from the center-right, they have been fierce opponents, tracing their rivalry to the aftermath of Ireland’s struggle for independence.
Together they have dominated Irish politics, but they have never shared power, and the deal struck on Friday does not call for a formal coalition.
The agreement resulted from fraught negotiations after the February election, from which Prime Minister Enda Kenny of Fine Gael emerged without a majority.
In the aftermath of Ireland’s financial crisis, Mr. Kenny’s government appeared to pay an electoral price for pursuing austerity policies, although the economy has rebounded recently.
The elections on Feb. 26 left Fine Gael with 50 seats in Parliament, Fianna Fail with 44, Sinn Fein with 23 and the Labour Party with 7, plunging Ireland into its longest period of political limbo since independence in the 1920s.
The agreement reached on Friday means that Mr. Kenny is likely to return as prime minister, but this time at the head of a minority government. Without a formal coalition, he is likely to face a constant battle to secure support for parliamentary votes, though he is expected to have the support of some independent members of Parliament.
Fianna Fail’s negotiator, Michael McGrath, said in remarks reported by The Associated Press that the days of majority rule were over, adding that the country was “entering into a new era in Irish politics, where the views of everyone need to be taken on board.”
“It is going to be a very challenging scenario for everybody involved, but we have to make it work,” Mr. McGrath said.
The agreement still needs to be ratified by lawmakers, and there will be a parliamentary vote to elect a prime minister.
But if Fianna Fail’s lawmakers abstain as expected, Mr. Kenny is likely to receive the most votes, giving him the authority to form a new cabinet

Second weekend of commemorations to mark Rising anniversary

Posted by Jim on

Second weekend of commemorations to mark Rising anniversary

A large 1916 Rising commemoration parade took place through Belfast city
centre without major incident on Sunday despite efforts by loyalists to
disrupt the event.

The ‘People’s Parade’, organised by the Easter Rising Centenary
Committee, was an attempt to unify all shades of republicanism in a
single parade to mark 100 years to the day since the Rising began.

Loyalists who had gathered at the junction of Royal Avenue and North
Street hurled abuse as the parade made its way past. Due to a Parades
Commission ruling, the bands played a single drum beat only as they
passed the loyalists.

A massive PSNI operation was in force from early morning, with several
streets around the bottom of Royal Avenue blocked off with screens. Land
Rovers lined Royal Avenue and surrounding streets, while riot police
took positions along Belfast’s main thoroughfare.

Thousands had set off from the New Lodge area of north Belfast en route
to Barrack Street off the Falls Road to join the main Belfast Easter
Rising commemoration. Young people carried images of the seven
signatories of the Proclamation, followed by bands and supporters.

Headed by a colour party dressed in traditional Irish Volunteers
uniform, flute bands and marchers carrying photos of the Rising leaders
followed close behind, mingling with supporters of all ages.

The republicans then made their way along Castle Street to nearby
Barrack Street, where they joined several hundred more who had gathered
to parade to Milltown Cemetery. The parade came to a halt at the garden
of remembrance on the Falls, as the colour party stopped to salute the
republican dead.

A spokesman for the Easter Rising Centenary Committee told the younger
members of the crowd that he “hoped they would be here to organise the
150th anniversary.”

He said: “It is our hope that this day be marked in the same way as July
4th in the US and Bastille Day in France.

“They (the Rising participants) held on for six days…they inspired
people of other countries to throw off the shackles of their British
masters. The republic proclaimed in 1916 has still not been realised.
Six counties are still under British occupation.”

The names of some of the republicans from Ulster who gathered in
Coalisland 100 years ago to participate in the Rising were read out,
along with a poem and the last words of the seven signatories of the
Proclamation.

The commemoration ended with a minute’s silence and a rendition of
Amhran na bhFiann by the Carrick Hill Independent Flute Band.

SINN FEIN

The Sinn Fein commemoration on Sunday, mounted on a stage in the centre
of O’Connell Street was an upbeat event attended by several thousand.
Instead of IRA-style uniforms, there were people in 1916-era Volunteer,
Citizen Army and Cumann na mBan uniforms.

Re-enactors from the Cabra Historical Society fired simulated volleys,
and the emphasis was on the political legacy of 1916 and the need
peacefully to complete the dream of a 32-county republic.

A banner fixed to the GPO’s front wall bore the Liberty Hall slogan “We
serve neither King nor Kaiser, but Ireland”, while Stormont Deputy Fist
Minister Martin McGuinness delivered the speech. He told the crown that
“the days of second-class citizenship in the North are over” due to “the
sacrifice, the determination and the courage of this generation of Irish
republicans”.

He said Sinn Fein was the only party committed to achieving Irish unity
and delivering on the proclamation. He denounced the “self-serving
political parties” of the “establishment” for standing by during times
of crisis for republicanism.

“Sinn Fein is the only political party on this island working to end
that fracture in their nation and to achieving the Republic set out in
the proclamation,” he said. “The spirt of 1916 is as relevant and
inspiring today as it was a century ago.”

The event concluded with a rendition of “A Nation Once Again”.

RSF

Thousands turned out on Saturday for the main Republican Sinn Fein
centenary commemoration as it marched down O’Connell Street.

The parade from the Garden of Remembrance to the GPO involved marching
bands and military colour parties. Republican Sinn Fein said the
organisations in attendance included Na Fianna Eireann and Cumann na
mBan, led by a Piper and the Coatsbridge United Irishmen RFB.

Senior Republican Sinn Fein figures John Joe McCusker and Des Dalton
spoke outside the GPO, where marchers halted during proceedings. Wreaths
were laid by John Hunt, a Veteran of the republican cause of Limerick
and Chicago.

STATE EVENTS

The largest state event of the weekend took place at Croke Park, the
headquarters of the Gaelic Athletic Associaton, who marked the centenary
with a theatrical production. ‘Laochra’ featured dance, song and poetry
that ended with a rendition of Amhran na bhFiann.

Children read the Proclamation while the names of GAA clubs named after
the leaders of the Easter Rising were also read aloud. GAA President
Aogan O Fearghail said it was a “very special day for Cumann Luthchleas
Gael”.

Separately, President Michael D Higgins led the annual commemorations at
Arbour Hill in Dublin. A wreath in honour of the rebel leaders was laid
in the cemetery where 14 of them are buried.

Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin spoke at the religious service in
the Church of the Sacred Heart. He urged people to seize the ideals of
the Proclamation.

“As Irish men and Irish women we are called still today never to betray
the ideals which inspired these who took part in the 1916 Rising or to
let those ideals be betrayed or watered down through our cynicism or
mediocrity,” the senior cleric said.

He also relaid notes taken by Father Columbus Murphy, a Capuchin priest,
who met rebel leader Padraig Pearse before his execution.

He read: “(Pearse) was seated with his head bowed down, sunk deep into
his arms resting on a little table… Disturbed by the noise of my entry
he slowly raised his head… Then recognizing the (religious) habit in
which I was garbed he got up, stretching out his hand and said ‘Oh
Father, the loss of life, the destruction, but please God it will not be
in vain”‘.

1916 Societies meeting reminder

Posted by Jim on April 29, 2016

Now that all the 1916 commemorations are behind us it’s time to meet again to plan out further strategies to continue promoting the 1916 Societies campaign for a reunited Ireland.

Meeting Tuesday, May 3rd @ O’Lunneys @ 6 pm upstairs.

ACTION ALERT – PSNI THREAT TO AMERICAN ACADEMIC FREEDOM ONCE AGAIN

Posted by Jim on April 28, 2016

FOR IMMEDIATE ACTION
PSNI THREAT TO AMERICAN ACADEMIC FREEDOM.  ONCE IS ENOUGH.  NOW LET’S PUT A COMPLETE STOP TO THIS ONCE AND FOR ALL

PLEASE SEND AN EMAIL TO PRESIDENT WILLIAM LEAHY, S.J. & TO THE ATTENTION OF ALL TRUSTEES AT BOSTON COLLEGE .
URGE THEM TO USE THEIR INFLUENCE TO SEE THAT BOSTON COLLEGE RESIST LEGALLY THE ATTEMPT BY UK AUTHORITIES TO CONFISCATE THE INTERVIEWS OF DR. ANTHONY MCINTYRE”.

President William Leahy, S.J. email is:   william.leahy@bc.edu

MAKE SURE YOUR EMAIL IS ADDRESSED TO BOTH PRES. LEAHY & ATTENTION OF ALL TRUSTEES
Please mention that our American academic freedom is at stake and that this is a blatant fishing expedition by the British authorities which offends every principle of US and International Law as the British can not show any evidence of any investigation or specific act of criminality committed by Dr. McIntyre.

Let them know you feel that Boston College’s failure to legally resist this latest move by the PSNI opens their college not only to the charge that they failed to do all they could to protect research subjects and now a researcher, but that they will be seen as aiding an act of sectarian bias being committed by the PSNIif they don’t resist.

PLEASE SEND THAT EMAIL TODAY.  WE HAVE BEEN INFORMED THE COURT DATE IS SCHEDULED FOR  MAY 6TH IN BOSTON.

We need to keep the pressure on Boston College and not allow them to turn over any materials/interviews given or taken by Dr. Anthony McIntyre.

LET’S WIN THIS ONE AGAINST THE PSNI & BRITISH GOVERNMENT!

Please share this Action Alert with your contact lists and organizations.

Protests as politicians ignore Maghaberry abuses

Posted by Jim on

Republican prisoners on Roe 4 wing of Maghaberry high-security prison
have been subjected to repeated raids by a riot squad in which
educational resources have been removed, according to reports this week.

On Thursday morning, the prison’s notorious heavy gang moved in and
removed all prisoners from their cells before searching individuals
cells, and then searching and removing all items from the prisoners’
classroom. Other raids saw educational resources removed from the
republican Roe 4 landing of Roe House and never returned. When the
prisoners asked what was going on, they were told by a laughing riot
squad member that it was only a “routine search”, according to the Irish
Republican Prisoners Welfare Association (IRPWA).

“It is very clear to IRPWA and the Republican Prisoners that these raids
and the continued ill treatment of Roe 4 Prisoners are deliberate
attempts by the administration to increase tensions in the jail and they
have once again demonstrated that they have no desire for a conflict
free environment,” they said.

Last week, a republican prisoner was physically assaulted when he
refused to stop listening to traditional Irish music, they added. He was
pinned down and then taken from Roe House, with other prisoners placed
on lock-down for two hours.

“This petty request to turn Irish music down is becoming more and more
common and comes on the back of Irish signs being ripped down and the
recent refusal to allow any item relating to 1916 into the jail stating
that the 1916 rising was a terrorist event and therefore will not be
tolerated in the jail,” the IRPWA said.

“It is very clear that the sectarian staff in Maghaberry have no desire
for a conflict free environment on Roe when they resort to such petty
behavior.”

In another development, two men attending outside hospital appointments
were forcibly strip searched upon leaving and returning to the jail
despite being handcuffed to a jailer throughout. Both were forced to
undergo private consultations in the company of three jailers with the
handcuffs on. Sleep disruption and new measures to control movement on
the landings are among other negative developments which have been
reported by the IRPWA recently.

The prisoners have condemned the failure of the nationalist political
parties to take issue with their treatment and have accused Sinn Fein
and the SDLP of refusing “to be seen to side with republican prisoners”
ahead of the Stormont Assembly election next month.

In a statement, the prisoners said: “On the 5th of May 1981, IRA
Volunteer Bobby Sands died on hunger strike, as he defied Britain’s
criminalisation agenda that was supported by political unionism and
constitutional nationalists in a futile attempt to break Republican
Political Prisoners and our Freedom Struggle.

“35 years later on the 5th May 2016 constitutional nationalists and
unionists will be standing for election to an anti-republican British
Assembly that is the antithesis of everything Bobby Sands represented,
as evidenced by his political activism, his commitment to armed struggle
and his own writings. An Assembly that acts as a proxy and enables
Britain to continue their criminalisation and brutalisation of
Republican Political Prisoners.”

They said that they would be organising protests against the abuses at
Maghaberry, including a white-line protest at 7pm on 5th May at
the bottom of the Whiterock Road.

“Through all this, there has not been a single utterance from the SDLP
or Sinn Fein. It is abundantly clear that both parties are no less than
pro-brit quislings and Redmondites undeserving of the support of
Republicans and the Nationalist community.”

IBO Golf Classic 2016 Supporting Rory Staunton Foundation

Posted by Jim on

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Malachy speaks to America

Posted by Jim on

Its Monday 25th April and I am so happy to be still here in the United States of America.
 
I have won a battle but not the war. Another year of deferred action is blessing for now.
 
A lot of tears have been shed since I received  the deportation order over four weeks ago especially in the last several days. 
I am emotionally and somewhat physically drained but elated at the outcome and I hope this will lead to an eventual long term resolution of my case. 
It has been a remarkable few days in for me in New York celebrating our nations independence and marking the 100th Anniversary of the Easter Rising even more so that it won’t be marked by my deportation or by me becoming a casualty or a symbol of the British persecution in 2016.
I am delighted at the outcome and overwhelmed by the support I have received from all over the United States, Ireland and from my friends and family in Belfast. I want to thank all the organizations, groups and individuals whom rallied behind me..
The timing may have been right given our history but I think we have ignited the passion and desire of the Irish American community in a way that has not been seen in such a long time.
More importantly the coming together of our elected representatives on both sides of the isle to support me highlights there concern for the peace progress and a need for the administration to renew there resolve and commitment to the Good Friday Agreement.
Thanks to all of you I can now get back to work and look forward to a summer of fun playing with my son Cadan and my five grandchildren.
It’s a beautiful day in America.!!
Malachy.
Please Join me in Wolfe Tone’s Irish Pub & Kitchen on Sunday 1st May 4pm to 8pm to celebrate our hard earned victory.
More information to follow.

Bernie spins Papal visit

Posted by Jim on April 17, 2016

Bernie Sanders Meets With Pope Francis

Photo

Senator Bernie Sanders leaving the Vatican on Saturday. He was at the Vatican for a conference on social and economic issues. Credit Alessandra Tarantino/Associated Press

VATICAN CITY — For a while, Senator Bernie Sanders’s Roman holiday seemed less than it was cracked up to be.

Immediately after his campaign announced that he would leave the United States for a “high-level meeting” at the Vatican, questions arose about the wisdom of the trip. The critical New York primary was just days away. One official of the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, which hosted the conference Mr. Sanders would attend, even suggested he had fished for the invitation.

Most critically, there seemed to be little chance that Mr. Sanders would meet the Vatican resident whose name he frequently invokes. Pope Francis, it turned out, would not be visiting the conference of the academy, an in-house think tank of the Vatican.

Politically, a trip to Rome without a meeting with Francis would have been a blunder, Costas Panagopoulos, a political science professor at Fordham University who is teaching at Yale, had said on Friday. “The point is to make sure you are going to get an audience with the pope,” he said. “Anything short of an actual visit will probably be a mistake.”

Mr. Sanders continued to hold out hope. “I certainly would be delighted and proud if I had the opportunity to meet with him,” he said before leaving New York.

He also had two things going for him: his host, Bishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, an Argentine who is the chancellor of the academy and happens to be close to Francis, and his hotel room, also close to the pope. Mr. Sanders was to stay in a second-floor room at Casa Santa Marta, the Vatican guesthouse where Francis keeps his residence.

“So it won’t be difficult to find the pope,” the bishop said last week, seeming to hint at something.

On Thursday, the day before the conference, a Vatican spokesman appeared to end all speculation, saying, “There won’t be a meeting with the Holy Father.”

Bishop Sánchez Sorondo dismissed the statement as “Roman gossip.”

But final word, it seemed, came Friday afternoon in the form of a handwritten letter from the pope apologizing to conference attendees for his absence.

“I will keep them all in my prayers and good wishes, and send them my heartfelt thanks for their participation,” he wrote. “May the Lord bless you. Fraternally, Franciscus.”

Around 5:30 p.m. Friday, the conference’s business ended and Mr. Sanders made an appointment for dinner at the Casa Santa Marta with his foreign policy adviser, Jeffrey D. Sachs, the economist and a fellow conference participant.

Mr. Sanders and his wife, Jane, sat with Mr. Sachs and his wife, Sonia, for a soup and buffet dinner, where they were joined by Bishop Sánchez Sorondo and Cardinal Óscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga of Honduras, the pope’s right-hand man and one of the Vatican’s top power players.

If Mr. Sanders were in the foyer of the Casa Santa Marta at 6 a.m. the next day, he would be able to speak briefly with Francis as the pope headed to the airport for his Saturday trip to Greece, where the pope would be addressing the migrant crisis.

So early Saturday morning, Mr. Sanders stood in the marble foyer, which looks out onto a large cobblestone drive just inside the Vatican walls. Joining him were his wife, Mr. Sachs and his wife and Bishop Sánchez Sorondo, the senator’s de facto Vatican fixer.

The pope, speaking to reporters on his plane later in the day, described the meeting. “This morning when I was leaving, Senator Sanders was there,” he said, adding, “He knew I was leaving at that time, and he had the courtesy to greet me.”

No photos of the encounter were permitted, but Mr. Sachs said the senator was delighted all the same. He was beaming as he left the guesthouse, and celebrated the informal audience with a victory lap of sorts in St. Peter’s Basilica along with Mr. Sachs and the bishop, passing Bernini’s Baldacchino, a monumental bronze canopy over the papal altar, and Michelangelo’s Pietà.

Aware that his every statement is parsed for deeper meaning, Francis said he was simply being polite, not political.

“I shook his hand and nothing more,” he said. “If someone thinks that greeting someone means getting involved in politics,” he added, laughing, “I recommend that he find a psychiatrist!”

But the candidate was excited to talk about his coveted souvenir.

“I conveyed to him my great admiration for the extraordinary work that he is doing all over the world in demanding that morality be part of our economy,” Mr. Sanders told reporters aboard the plane as it rushed him back to the campaign in New York.

Sean Kelly says he is victim of ‘political policing’

Posted by Jim on April 14, 2016

 

Shankill bomber Sean Kelly says he is victim of ‘political policing'
Sean Kelly has accused the PSNI of ‘political policing’. Picture by Hugh Russell

 

 

SEAN Kelly, the only person convicted over the Shankill bombing, has claimed he a victim of “political policing” in the wake of his recent arrest over the murder of Conor McKee in north Belfast.

The 42-year-old, who was convicted for his part in the 1993 IRA bomb atrocity, last night revealed he had met with the dead man’s family to tell them he played no part in his death.

Kelly was arrested at his home in north Belfast last week and questioned about Mr McKee’s murder. He was later released without charge.

In his only interview since his arrest the Ardoyne republican claimed he had was a the victim of “political policing” and reaffirmed his support for the peace process.

He claimed he is being singled out for attention by elements within the PSNI opposed to the peace process and believes his arrest is connected to attempts to have his early release licence revoked.

“They are trying to create a pattern, create a hype around it, that if they do go for it in their view they have justification,” he said.

His solicitor Seamus Delaney confirmed on Tuesday night he is considering legal action and has written to PSNI chief constable George Hamilton.

The solicitor said no evidence was put to his client during five interviews at Musgrave Street PSNI station last week.

Mr McKee (31) was blasted with a shotgun in the bedroom of his parents home in Glenpark Street in Oldpark in January in a suspected paramilitary attack.

He suffered from a heroin addiction and was on bail for drug offences the time of his death.

Kelly was released from prison in 2000 under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement after being jailed for life for his part in the Shankill Road bomb in October 1993 which claimed the lives of nine civilians.

The dead included: John Frizzel (63), George Williamson (63), Gillian Williamson (49), Sharon McBride (29), Michael Morrison (27), Evelyn Baird (27), Michelle Baird (7), Leanne Murray (13) and Wilma McKee (38).

Thomas Begley, an IRA man who was with Kelly when the bomb went off prematurely. also died in the blast.

In 2005 Kelly had his early release licence revoked and was returned to prison after claims he was involved in rioting. Sinn Féin insisted he was trying to stop trouble.

He has also been arrested several times in recent years.

He was questioned in 2013 after a teenager was shot in Ardoyne and last year was arrested about the murder of former IRA man Kevin McGuigan in east Belfast.

On each occasion he was released without charge.

Speaking on Tuesday, Kelly revealed his has met with Conor McKee’s family who he said told him they were “disgusted” at his arrest.

“I have also spoken to the McKee family and they fully accept that I had no involvement whatsoever in their son’s killing,” he said.

The republican believes he is being deliberately singled out and claimed “there is a clear anti-peace process element operating within the PSNI”.

“This is also being used by elements within the PSNI in order to create a crisis in the peace process and tensions in the local community,” he said.

“Questions remain, who really is pulling the strings?

“As recently experienced not a shred of evidence was produced during questioning.”

He said his treatment raises questions.

“It’s political policing at its worst and there are more questions than answers,” he said.

“This is a complete and utter onslaught on me personally and the process.

“It’s bigger than me, I am just a pawn in this and that’s my full view on it.”

The north Belfast man said he is a strong supporter of the peace process.

“I have been a defender of the peace process since I was released from jail and this is well known in republican communities and everybody knows my position.”

“My position on the peace process has seen me rearrested and returned to jail in 2005. That was also used as a tool and mechanism against the republican movement.”

During a 2013 commemoration for Thomas Begley Kelly said he was “truly sorry for the loss of life and the injuries suffered that day and the sufferings the families have endured”.

After his recent arrest unionists called for his early release licence to be revoked.

Kelly believes any focus on the bomb is being “used as a political football to create difficulties in the peace process”.

“The PSNI approach is not about investigating killings or getting the truth for the families affected,” he said.

“They don’t care about the families, they are trying to create a focus on me.”

Kelly said he will continue to work for republican ex prisoners and the “wider republican family” and said he remains “very strong and will not be deterred” by recent events.

The father-of-five said the continued attention and regular arrests have a negative impact on his family “whose lives are turned upside down each time I am targeted”.

His solicitor Seamus Delaney revealed he has three other clients that the PSNI have asked to present themselves for questioning about the killing of Mr McKee.

They have declined on the solicitor’s advice.

“Sean Kelly was not given that opportunity,” he said.

“There is no more evidence against him than there was against the other three which is why they were not arrested.

“He was arrested simply because of his profile.”

Mr Delaney said the PSNI had proof that his client was not involved in the McKee murder prior to his arrest.

“The police had in their possession for weeks solid concrete proof that Sean Kelly was not involved in this because they seized the CCTV from his place of work which shows Sean at work,” he said.

He also believes attempts may be made to revoke his clients licence.

“I am in no doubt there is a pattern and that pattern is designed to revoke Sean’s licence.”

In a statement on Tuesday night, Chief Inspector Justyn Galloway, said: “In the immediate aftermath of Conor’s murder we said we believed it was a drugs-related attack and that republican paramilitaries featured among our main lines of enquiry.

“That remains the position and we will go where the evidence takes us.

“I would again appeal to anyone with information about Conor’s murder to come forward to police.”

Effort to prevent McAllister deportation is ramped up

Posted by Jim on

Holy Land Principles Confront Coke’s Social Conscience

Posted by Jim on April 13, 2016

CAPITOL HILL. Wednesday, April 13, 2016—Coca Cola, the massive soft-drinks company headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, is facing an upcoming fair employment Resolution regarding its operations in Israel-Palestine. Coca Cola’s annual shareholders’ meeting is in Atlanta on April 27, where the company will be faced with a Resolution on the Holy Land Principles: a corporate code of conduct for American companies doing business in Palestine-Israel— based on the highly effective Mac Bride Principles for Northern Ireland. The Holy Land Principles are pro-Jewish, pro-Palestinian and pro-company. The Principles do not call for quotas, reverse discrimination, divestment, disinvestment or boycotts. The Principles do not take any position on solutions to the Israeli-Palestinian issue. The Principles do not try to tell the Palestinians or the Israelis what to do. The Holy Land Principles only try to get Coca Cola and the other companies to sign the Holy Land Principles.  Last year, three American companies — Corning, GE and Intel— tried to get the SEC (Securities Exchange Commission) to exclude the Holy Land Principles resolution from their 2015 Proxy Materials. However, the SEC ruled in favor of the Holy Land Principles. The SEC is a federal agency of the United States Government. One of the SEC’s main responsibilities is to protect investors. And the fact that the SEC has ruled in favor of the Holy Land Principles is proof positive that the Holy Land Principles are intrinsically valid, eminently reasonable and inherently fair. Fr. Sean Mc Manus—President of the Washington-based Holy Land Principles  and Irish National Caucus — said : “ Coca Cola in its ‘Statement Against Shareowner Proposal Regarding Holy Land Principles, ’ rather lamely argues  that ‘Endorsing these principles for one geographic area could risk undermining the universality of our own Human Rights Policy. We believe our policies work best when they can be applied throughout our entire enterprise.’ Well with all due respect, I think that’s a bit like responding to the urgent call ‘Black Lives Matter’ by saying all lives matter. People see through that dodge, that evasion, that dissembling.” Fr. Mc Manus explained: “American companies doing business in Northern Ireland initially tried such evasive tactics, including Coca Cola. But eventually they saw the light. Eventually 116 companies signed the Mac Bride Principles— including, to its credit, Coca Cola. So why would Coca Cola, or any American company now balk at signing the Holy Land Principles? Fr. Mc Manus continued: “Isn’t it truly remarkable that until we launched the Holy Land Principles, on International Human Rights Day, December 10, 2012, this issue had never been raised before in the corporate boardrooms. Surely, something was very odd about that? How can it be explained, given the fact that SRI groups and faith-based organizations were filing Resolutions by the boat-load on every conceivable issue? This surely was the elephant in the (board) room! One cannot ask American companies doing business in the Holy Land a more important or existential question than one about their fair employment practices. Therefore, the Holy Land Principles are filling a vacuum that was crying out to be filled—indeed, playing a prophetic role. That is why our campaign — like our Mac Bride Principles campaign — will prevail in the end because there is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come. We respectfully ask all Coca Cola investors to vote for the Holy Land Principles resolution.”   Fr. Sean Mc Manus President Holy Land Principles,Inc.

Saturday, May 21st, The Second Annual AOH Division 21 Horseshoe Tournament

Posted by Jim on April 12, 2016

The Second Annual AOH Division 21 Horseshoe Tournament
Location:
Breezy Point Fire House/Main Ball Field
Each team will be a 2 Person team – come with a friend or be
teamed up.
$30 per person
Includes Tournament, Unlimited
BBQ and Beverages.
Sponsor a Box! Only $75 for a Box Sponsorship.

Stop the Deportation of Malachy McAllister

Posted by Jim on April 8, 2016

 

Below is an urgent message from Brother Dan Dennehy (AOH National Immigration Committee) on behalf of AOH Brother Malachy McAllister.  Brother Malachy is a fine upstanding family man of impeccable integrity.  I had the great honor of having his daughter as a student when I was teaching in Rutherford, New Jersey.  These consistent attempts to deport him back to Northern Ireland and separate him from his children in the United States needs to stop.  Please take a few minutes to read this message and to call your Congressman or Congresswoman to support this initiative to stop this injustice from taking place.

 

In Friendship, Unity, & Christian Charity,

Greg Sean Canning

Florida State Secretary

National Director

FFAI Co-Chairman

 

 

Brother & Sister Hibernians and All Friends of the Irish Peace Process and Unity,   Malachy McAllister, a Brother from New Jersey Mercer County AOH Division 1, having fled his birthplace with his young family, based on proven death threats from Loyalist Death Squads, now faces imminent deportation on April 25, as we remember the 100th Anniversary of Ireland’s Republic. Malachy McAllister, here for the past 19 years, is raising his young family, is a productive businessman and employer and is acknowledged by many as a key promoter of the Irish Peace Process. US Congressman Joe Crowley has composed the attached Letter to Jeh Johnson, US Secretary of Homeland Security and Sarah Saldaña, Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director and is asking for our members to contact their US House Representative to sign onto his letter.   1) PLEASE call your member of the House of Representatives TODAY.     The number for the House Congressional Switchboard is (202) 225-3121.   2) Give your zip code when requested and ask to speak to your Congressman’s Office.   3) When directed to that Office, ask to speak to the Legislation Officer or Immigration Liaison your Representative.   4) If they aren’t available, ask to leave a message stating: “I would like to hear from the Congressman, the Chief of Staff or the Representative’s Immigration person as soon as possible. Ask then for an email address in order to forward Congressman Crowley’s letter.

  • If they are available, tell them that (a) You support Congressman Joe Crowley’s request that  ICE exercise its discretion (as it has done previously) by taking quick action to suspend the deportation order against Mr. McAllister as he is no threat to this country. (b) Ask your Congressman to contact Congressman Crowley and sign onto this letter!” 

 

  • If your Representative indicates to you their support for Comprehensive Immigration Reform, THANK THEM!If your Representative indicates opposition, ask them to reconsider that position and thank them for their time.

 

  • Please call or email me immediately after you have made contact, so that we may follow up on your efforts

Brothers, this issue is now crucial and requires immediate action on the part of every Hibernian.      I will be happy to provide you with any supporting information that you require. Thanks in advance for all your efforts. Yours In Our Motto, Dan Dennehy

 

McAllister Talking Points

(1) Imminent deportation – Order issued on 3/25/2016 to report for deportation on 4/25/2016, so urgent action is required(2) Has been granted Deferred Action Status by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) since 2006, indicating that there are no national security or public safety concerns that would warrant Mr. McAllister’s deportation and that DHS has found compelling factors in his case for exercising its discretion to allow him to remain in the United States.Case history:(3) Mr McAllister wife and three children granted asylum by Immigration Judge Henry Dogin in 2000 based on severe persecution suffered in Northern Ireland, including an attack on the family home in Belfast in which Loyalist gunmen fired 26 shots into the house while the McAllister children were inside. The grant of political asylum was appealed by the Board of Immigration Appeals twenty nine days later and taken from his wife and children.Mr. McAllister was denied asylum due to conviction in Northern Ireland in 1983 for participating in armed resistance to British rule. His participation was in the context of the severe persecution he suffered at the hands of the British military and the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), the militarized police force of Northern Ireland, and of a political struggle against British rule in Ireland.(4) Mr. McAllister appealed his denial to the Board of Immigration Appeals, which upheld the decision in 2003.The case was appealed to the Third Circuit, which upheld the denial of asylum in 2006. Nicola and Sean McAllister were also placed in deportation proceedings but now have temporary status under the ‘Dream Act’An Adjustment of Status application has been filed for Mr. McAllister based on an approved I-130 petition for immigrant status on behalf of Mr. McAllister filed by his U.S. citizen son, Gary McAllister. In order for this application to be considered, DHS must join a motion requesting the Board of Immigration Appeals to reopen the removal proceedings and remand the case to the Immigration Judge for consideration of the Adjustment of Status.(5) Substantial new evidence has come to light since the Third Circuit decision, confirming British government involvement in the attack on Mr. McAllister’s home.The Sir Desmond De Silva report on the investigation into the murder of lawyer Pat Finucane, issued in 2012, contains evidence on a number of other individuals who were targeted by loyalists in collusion with government forces, including Mr. McAllister (identified as “T/12” in the report).(6) Investigations in Northern Ireland into the attack on the McAllister house are ongoing.Mr. McAllister was just informed that his case is the subject of a active criminal investigation by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI).He also has a pending complaint before the Historical Investigations Unit (HIU, formerly the Historical Enquires Team). These investigations could create a dangerous situation for Mr. McAllister if he was returned to Northern Ireland, and the continual reminders of the attack would create added psychological trauma.(7) Since the Third Circuit decision, Congress has passed legislation, the Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA) of 2008, allowing for a waiver of the “terrorist activity” grounds of inadmissibility that render Mr. McAllister removable from the United States.Under the law, the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA), with which Mr. McAllister was involved, is not considered a “terrorist” group.It is notable that the group that targeted him, the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), is on the State Department’s Terrorist Watch List (a Tier II group under the CAA), indicating that they are still considered a danger.(8) Third Circuit Judge Maryanne Trump-Barry, in a concurring opinion, expressed regret that the law did not provide them with an avenue for Mr. McAllister to remain in the United States. This discretionary waiver could provide such an avenue for relief. At the very least, it expresses a policy change recognizing that the “terrorism” exclusion laws should not be absolute.(9) There are numerous positive factors that weigh in favor of allowing Mr. McAllister to remain in the United States.Essentially, he is a model resident of this country:Mr. McAllister has a four-year-old U.S. citizen son, as well as a 39 years old U.S. citizen son, and 5 U.S. citizen. grandchildren.He has not been arrested or convicted of any crime since arriving in the U.S., and his conviction in Northern Ireland was over 30 years ago.He owns two businesses and employs at least 14 U.S. workers.He has numerous community ties and strong support from Irish American organizations.He has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder caused by the persecution he suffered in Belfast.Humanitarian considerations and U.S. immigration policy warrant strong consideration of psychological trauma.

Sinn Féin Nominates Ciaran Staunton for Seanad

Posted by Jim on March 22, 2016

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD has announced that the party has nominated Ciaran Staunton as an independent candidate in the Seanad elections “as a voice for the diaspora”.

The Sinn Féin leader said:

“Ciaran Staunton is a Mayo man who has lived in the United States since the 1980’s.  He has been a long-time leader on immigration issues. In 1990, he was involved in the campaign which saw the introduction of the Morrison Visa programme that opened the door to thousands of Irish citizens being able to legally enter the USA.

“In 2005, Ciaran co-founded the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform. The ILIR is the leading Irish American organisation campaigning for immigration reform and the resolution of the status of the 50,000 undocumented Irish immigrants living in the USA.

“Ciaran has met the most senior political leaders in the USA as part of this work. He has lobbied the White House, the Congress and Senate. He has also been a frequent visitor to the Dáil where he has briefed the Irish government and Oireachtas members.”

Gerry Adams added:

“Ciaran Staunton has been a vocal and effective champion for Irish immigrants for almost 30 years. There are approximately 70million citizens across the globe who claim Irish roots.  In the last ten years, almost half a million more have left these shores for all parts of the globe. Every townland and parish the length and breadth of Ireland has a son or daughter in the diaspora.

“Sinn Féin believes that much more must be done to develop and strengthen our relationship with the diaspora. This objective can be enhanced with a strong dedicated voice in the Oireachtas; someone who will fight for the rights of the undocumented in the USA; for votes for Irish citizens living abroad; for improved connectedness between the island of Ireland and our diaspora; and for a united Ireland. I believe that Ciaran Staunton has the experience and commitment to be that voice.”

Gerry Adams concluded:

“In April 2012, Ciaran and Orlaith’s 12-year-old son Rory tragically died as a result of Sepsis. The family established the Rory Staunton Foundation to raise awareness and improve diagnosis around this issue.

“In 2013, ‘Rory’s Regulations’ were adopted in New York State. These regulations require all hospitals to adopt best practices for the early identification and treatment of sepsis.  This month, the Staunton’s secured an important victory when the House and Senate Appropriations Committees supported the allocation of funding in the US budget of awareness programmes.”

Increased harassment in nationalist areas

Posted by Jim on March 20, 2016

Several homes in Belfast were violently raided last weekend amid an
increased PSNI presence, with heavily armed units deployed in the west
and north of the city.

In the New Lodge and Ardoyne areas, a number of raids were carried out
on the homes of republicans by members of the PSNI’s balaclava-wearing
TSG (Tactical Support Group).

Two local men were taken from a car in Ardoyne by armed police and
forced to the ground at gunpoint while their vehicle was searched. The
PSNI’s helicopter hovered over the area for much of the weekend.

Another man said the PSNI “went nuts” went they found his car boot
contained prisoner campaign leaflets and commemorative Easter lilies for
the republican parade in Coalisland, County Tyrone on Easter Sunday.

“The PSNI guys totally lost it they went pure nuts, full of hatred,
pushed me against the car,” he said. “Refused to allow any call to
solicitor and refused to provide any details of the search but the
locals saw it and recorded it.”

In what was described as a direct attack on the nationalist community of
the Lower Falls, the PSNI raided the offices of the Divis Residents’
Support Team and three homes in the area on Saturday night. They
arrested one community activist and were said to have traumatised
infants and the elderly. Residents and activists held a protest on
Sunday evening.

Eirigi activists who created a new Easter Rising mural at Lenadoon
Avenue in west Belfast last week also reported that they were subjected
to repeated harassment from heavily armed members of the PSNI.

DERRY RAID

Meanwhile, in Derry, a widow said she was left traumatised by a PSNI
raid on her Bogside home Up to eight armed PSNI men turned her Cable
Street home upside down. Mrs Gallagher, who has a number of health
issues, is the widow of well-known Derry republican, Jim Gallagher, who
died six years ago.

She said she was ‘at a loss’ as to why the search was carried out at her
home where she has lived for the past 30 years. She said: “The last time
we were raided was well over ten years ago. There was no reason for this
to happen. It was very intimidating and I felt very uncomfortable given
the fact I was alone with eight armed male police officers.

“Neighbours who tried to get into the house were denied entry. My phone
was taken off me so I could not phone anyone. My daughter, who arrived
about an hour after the raid began, was eventually allowed it.

“They searched everywhere – drawers, cupboards, gardens – it was
terrifying. I don’t understand why this has happened. I want to know
why.”

Gary Donnelly, independent councillor on Derry City and Strabane
District Council, condemned the raid.

“For her to be alone with heavily armed police officers was vindictive
and nasty. She has been through a terrible ordeal.”

“This type of policing is not unusual in this community. Local
politicians, who are quick to condemn actions of republicans, should
stand up and speak up for vulnerable people, such as Mrs Gallagher, who
continue to suffer from political policing.”

Increased harassment in nationalist areas

Posted by Jim on March 19, 2016

Several homes in Belfast were violently raided last weekend amid an
increased PSNI presence, with heavily armed units deployed in the west
and north of the city.

In the New Lodge and Ardoyne areas, a number of raids were carried out
on the homes of republicans by members of the PSNI’s balaclava-wearing
TSG (Tactical Support Group).

Two local men were taken from a car in Ardoyne by armed police and
forced to the ground at gunpoint while their vehicle was searched. The
PSNI’s helicopter hovered over the area for much of the weekend.

Another man said the PSNI “went nuts” went they found his car boot
contained prisoner campaign leaflets and commemorative Easter lilies for
the republican parade in Coalisland, County Tyrone on Easter Sunday.

“The PSNI guys totally lost it they went pure nuts, full of hatred,
pushed me against the car,” he said. “Refused to allow any call to
solicitor and refused to provide any details of the search but the
locals saw it and recorded it.”

In what was described as a direct attack on the nationalist community of
the Lower Falls, the PSNI raided the offices of the Divis Residents’
Support Team and three homes in the area on Saturday night. They
arrested one community activist and were said to have traumatised
infants and the elderly. Residents and activists held a protest on
Sunday evening.

Eirigi activists who created a new Easter Rising mural at Lenadoon
Avenue in west Belfast last week also reported that they were subjected
to repeated harassment from heavily armed members of the PSNI.

DERRY RAID

Meanwhile, in Derry, a widow said she was left traumatised by a PSNI
raid on her Bogside home Up to eight armed PSNI men turned her Cable
Street home upside down. Mrs Gallagher, who has a number of health
issues, is the widow of well-known Derry republican, Jim Gallagher, who
died six years ago.

She said she was ‘at a loss’ as to why the search was carried out at her
home where she has lived for the past 30 years. She said: “The last time
we were raided was well over ten years ago. There was no reason for this
to happen. It was very intimidating and I felt very uncomfortable given
the fact I was alone with eight armed male police officers.

“Neighbours who tried to get into the house were denied entry. My phone
was taken off me so I could not phone anyone. My daughter, who arrived
about an hour after the raid began, was eventually allowed it.

“They searched everywhere – drawers, cupboards, gardens – it was
terrifying. I don’t understand why this has happened. I want to know
why.”

Gary Donnelly, independent councillor on Derry City and Strabane
District Council, condemned the raid.

“For her to be alone with heavily armed police officers was vindictive
and nasty. She has been through a terrible ordeal.”

“This type of policing is not unusual in this community. Local
politicians, who are quick to condemn actions of republicans, should
stand up and speak up for vulnerable people, such as Mrs Gallagher, who
continue to suffer from political policing.”

OK TO BURN CATHOLICS AND TO GET FUNDING FOR IT.

Posted by Jim on

Adams in effigy

 

 

OK TO BURN CATHOLICS— AND TO GET FUNDING FOR IT.
IMAGINE IF WHITE RACISTS WERE LYNCHING PRESIDENT OBAMA IN EFFIGY… IMAGINE THE
LEGITIMATE OUTCRY.
NOW IMAGINE IF A LOCAL TOWN WERE ACTUALLY FUNDING THE EFFIGY LYNCHING.
WELL, THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT IS HAPPENING TODAY IN NORTHERN IRLEAND.
OVER THERE, “ BURNING CATHOLICS IN EFFIGY” IS THE ORANGE EQUIVALENT TO LYNCHING BLACKMEN IN EFFIGY IN THE UNITED STATES—EXACTLY THE SAME.
EXTREME ORANGEMEN EVERY YEAR BURN GERRY ADAMS IN EFFIGY AT THEIR BONFIRES— AND LOCAL TOWN GOVERNMENTS FUND THE OBSCENITY— AS THIS ARTICLE FROM THE IRISH NEWS IN BELFAST REPORTS.

 

Nationalist bid to overturn vote on bonfire and Rising funding rejected
Brendan Hughes, Irish News (Belfast). Saturday, March 19, 2016

CONTORVERSY: An effigy of Sinn Fein’s Gerry Adams hangs from a bonfire at Ballycraigy in Antrim

A NATIONALIST bid to overturn controversial funding decisions on bonfires and the Easter Rising has been

rejected by a Co Antrim council following legal advice.

Councillors had requested a ‘call-in’ of Antrim and Newtownabbey council’s decision to continue to provide funding when loyalist bonfires use racist or sectarian displays.

They also challenged £50,000 of funding being set aside for the Somme centenary this year but none for the Easter Rising.

The ‘call-in’ procedure allows a contentious decision to be reconsidered if 15 per cent of councillors believe it was not properly reached or would adversely affect a section of the community.

Legal opinion was sought by the council as part of the procedure, but yesterday it said the legal advice has determined that the call-ins “do not have merit”.

“The legal opinion provided to the council is legally privileged and confidential and therefore will not be disclosed,” a spokeswoman said.

Sinn Féin councillor Anne Marie Logue urged the council to publish the legal advice received.

“The call-in decision will not stop us highlighting and challenging the blatant inequality for nationalist ratepayers in Antrim and Newtownabbey council,” she said.

“Legal advice which is in the interest of the public and paid for by the ratepayers should be made public.”

The dispute comes after the council had voted on a new policy to give funding to groups organising Eleventh Night bonfires to hold related family events.

The unionist-majority council backed funding sanctions over environmental issues such as the burning of tyres.

But a proposal to withhold money for offensive displays such as burning flags and effigies failed to gain enough support.

Separately, the council also failed to reach an agreement on allocating any funds for Easter Rising commemorations.

The council has earmarked £50,000 for events to mark the Battle of the Somme centenary.

A nationalist proposal to give £40,000 towards Rising events was defeated, while the DUP’s suggestion of zero funding was also dismissed.

A councillor working group’s proposal for £10,000 was also knocked back after being rejected by DUP and Sinn Féín councillors.

100th anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising on Sunday April 24, 2016

Posted by Jim on March 18, 2016

The National Irish Freedom Committee (NIFC) will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising on Sunday April 24, 2016, commencing at the grave of Irish War of Independence veteran Joe Stynes in Woodlawn Cemetery, Bronx, NY at 10.00 am.

The commemoration will continue at Rory Dolan’s restaurant McClean Ave., Yonkers, New York at 12.00 noon.

The focus of the commemoration will be on a solemn ceremony of each individual in attendance “reading of the names”  of the fallen heroes of 1916 Rising depicted on the recently completed 1916–Easter Rising Centennial Banner -2016 .

The “reading of the names” ceremony will be recorded and simultaneously projected onto an in-house projection screen and posted on social media outlets for viewing by a world wide audience, especially by the Irish Diaspora.

Tickets are $40.00 per person that includes an Irish lunch and early Irish tea /coffee— no charge for children under 14.

For tickets, call 732 771 6897. Tickets  may also be purchased online at;www.irishfreedom.net ;

For additional information email: 1916easterbanner@gmail.com

For updated information visit:facebook: www.facebook.com/banner1916

US Secret Service apologizes to Gerry Adams over White House ban

Posted by Jim on March 17, 2016

by Frances Mulraney

 

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams was held from the White House St. Patrick's Day event on Tuesday by US Secret Service because of an administrative error.

The US Secret Service apologized to Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams yesterday for denying him entry to the annual official St. Patrick’s Day celebration at the White House. The story was first reported by Irish Central.

 
 A spokesman for the Secret Service, Robert K.Hobak,  apologized during an interview with The New York Times saying it was an unfortunate administrative error.

Sinn Fein personnel however suspected there were other forces involved in blocking Adams entering the White House which he  has visited 22 times. Leaders in Congress penned an angry letter to White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough over the incident.

Adams had earlier declared the delays in allowing him into Tuesday’s St. Patrick’s Day celebrations as an “unacceptable development.”

 

The Irish political leader commented on the events of Tuesday evening which saw him left waiting for 90 minutes, awaiting entry into the annual event hosted by President Obama. In an official statement on Sinn Féin’s website Adams voiced his disappointment in the manner in which he was treated by White House staff.

“I had received my usual invitation to attend the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in the White House and was pleased to accept,” Adams said.

“When I arrived the staff at the White House informed me that there was an issue of ‘security.’

“After two decades of travelling back and forth to the USA and countless meetings in the White House with successive US Presidents, this is an unacceptable development.”

The US Security Service has since apologized for the delays, stating that an administrative error caused the issue.

“The Secret Service would like to express our regret that the issue involving Mr Gerry Adams’ entry into the St. Patrick’s Day reception could not be resolved in a more timely manner,” a spokesperson said.

“Unfortunately, an administrative input error received by the Secret Service was not able to be rectified promptly.”

Adams’ exclusion from the event left many Irish American leaders baffled. Members of the Friends of Ireland caucus in the House of Representatives addressed a letter to Chief of Staff Denis McDonough expressing their outrage that Adams was denied entry to the reception.

Signed by members of congress including Richard E. Neal, Peter King, Brendan Boyle, Joe Crowley, and James P. McGovern, the letter stated: “For more than three decades, the United States government has continuously encouraged the political parties in Northern Ireland to take risks for peace. But instead of being rewarded for their efforts, many members of Sinn Fein are now being punished. This unfortunate behavior seems to be happening with increasing regularity.”

Credit: Friends of Ireland Caucus

Credit: Friends of Ireland Caucus

Irish-American Democratic congressman Brendan Boyle, who also signed the letter, told The Irish Times that the incident was greatly discussed when the Friends of Ireland caucus met with Adams on Wednesday morning.

“A group of us were anywhere from annoyed about it to pretty angry about it, and we intend to raise it with the White House,” he said.

Boyle believed that the delay was either “a very embarrassing bureaucratic snafu or is there something more sinister going on.”

The official letter from the Friends of Ireland reinforced this belief that Sinn Féin politicians, in particular, are being isolated because of their political affiliations.

“After years of conflict, Northern Ireland is now seen as a society in transformation, and the negotiations that led to the power sharing institutions in Belfast are now seen as a model of successful conflict resolution across the globe,” the letter continued.

“Despite this progress, representatives of Sinn Féin continue to experience extraordinary difficulties when travelling to the United States, and we believe that many of these individuals are being victimized because of their party affiliation. While raised with administration officials repeatedly, the situation is going from bad to worse.”

“He [Adams] was invited to his [Obama’s] home and all of a sudden was excluded and frankly I can’t understand it,” commented celebrated Irish American lawyer and lobbyist for immigration rights, Brian O’Dwyer.

“I’m outraged in a sense that Gerry Adams has for years and years worked diligently for peace in Northern Ireland and the intentionality of reversing the hard work a number of Irish Americans have put into the peace process in terms of ensuring that all parties were welcomed and play a part in the process so that a process that’s always fragile could be sustained, can only be described as an intense act of incompetence.”

Adams, a newly re-elected TD for County Louth, planned to attend the annual presentation of the shamrock to the US President in Washington D.C., held two days early this year on March 15 as caretaker Taoiseach Enda Kenny must attend a meeting in Brussels on March 17, along with North Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness and Sinn Féin Vice-President Mary-Lou McDonald, both of whom were allowed into the event.

 

Adams, however, was halted as he tried to gain entry and forced to wait for almost an hour and a half because of apparent security concerns. Whereas McGuinness and McDonald continued into the party, Adams was asked to step aside by security personnel as they inspected his documents.

On hearing that Obama had begun to speak at the event, Adams made the decision to wait no longer and left.

The Sinn Féin President stated yesterday he believes the refusal to allow him entry to one of the most important events in the Irish calendar in the US was an attempt to set Sinn Féin aside from other Irish political parties.

“It is obvious that there remain some within the US administration who seek to treat Sinn Féin differently,” he said.

“Some of our political representatives have been denied access to the USA while others, including myself, have to regularly go through additional searches and scrutiny when we travel to and from the USA.”

Irish American lawyer Brian O’Dwyer also believes that the slight showed a lack of respect for Adams. “It makes no sense. I can’t understand. He’s the leader of an Irish political party and it’s insulting,” he said.

“Obviously somebody needs to apologize. If someone was invited into my home and was treated that way I would pick up the phone and apologize to them.

“He’s a politician and the leader of the second largest party in Northern Ireland and the third largest party in the South and deserves to be treated with great respect.”

Adams yesterday tweeted images of his White House invitation and the letter confirming his attendance before releasing his official statement.

 

He also stated that the refusal tactic had been previously used in the US in an attempt to influence Sinn Féin, in particular, during the Stormont crisis last year when the State Department initially refused to meet with him.

“Last year the State Department initially refused to meet me as part of a transparent effort to pressurise Sinn Féin during negotiations at Stormont,” Adams continued.

“That meeting did take place after protests from US political leaders. Efforts to pressurise us in the negotiations failed.”

Congressman Boyle also agrees that the State Department has become harsher in recent years in their dealings with the Sinn Féin leader.

“It is odd that here is this wonderful event – very inclusive, everyone’s welcome, a chance to celebrate everything that’s been achieved over the last two decades,” he told The Irish Times, “and now you are going to have Gerry Adams who is invited as a guest, to stand outside for an hour and a half because security won’t let him in. It’s embarrassing.”

Adams has not met with any further delays in the US following Tuesday evening. On Tuesday morning he attended a lunch with Speaker Paul Ryan, following an appearance at the Brehon Law Society Dinner in New York on Monday evening.

 

Adams said: “This morning [Wednesday, March 16] Martin McGuinness, Mary Lou McDonald and I met with the Congressional Friends of Ireland. They too shared our grave disappointment at the White House situation and expressed their determination to have this issue resolved.

“Sinn Fein will not sit at the back of the bus for anyone,” he concluded. “We are elected to represent citizens and we will do this. I am hopeful that the controversy around my White House invitation will help lead to a resolution of all these matters.”

Enjoying his last St. Patrick’s Day in office, Obama once again referenced his own Irish heritage in his St. Patrick’s Day address.

“This, of course, is one of my favorite events,” Obama said. “I get to welcome my people and the Obamas of Leinster are nothing if not welcoming.”

“Of course, for the Irish, home is everywhere and nowhere in the world is more everywhere than the United States. We are braided together in so many ways, America and Ireland.

“We have been for centuries, through history, through bloodline. We’ve waged war side by side, we’ve waged peace side by side.

“We are family and we are friends.”

Former St. Patrick’s Day Parade official accused of improperly spending company money cleared of wrongdoing

Posted by Jim on

The New York Attorney General's office has stopped investigating John Dunleavy, the former St. Patrick's Day Parade board chairman.

The New York Attorney General’s office has stopped investigating John Dunleavy, the former St. Patrick’s Day Parade board chairman.

Allegations of financial shenanigans by the ousted head of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade committee were dismissed Wednesday as a bunch of blarney.

The Attorney General’s office halted its probe of accusations against former board chairman John Dunleavy, who was charged last summer with spending company money for personal items, including a “male enhancement drug,” during a bitter struggle for control of the venerable parade.

In a November letter to the AG’s office, a parade official said an internal audit turned up roughly $24,000 in credit card charges over three years for trips that didn’t seem connected to the non-profit’s core mission.

NYC ST. PADDY’S DAY PARADE CHAIRMAN OUSTED FROM POST AMID DISPUTE OVER GAY MARCHERS

The trips involved Dunleavy, another former board member Mike Cassels and Carla Chadwick, a special assistant to Dunleavy.

Another $2,000 was spent by Dunleavy on “GRC Triverex, a male enhancement drug,” the letter said.

In three instances, there were duplicate reimbursements worth $1,700 — and a deeper review going back to 2010 revealed another $10,000 in “questionable charges” by Dunleavy, the letter said.

The missive was sent to the AG last summer when Dunleavy was being ousted from his decades-long perch within the St. Patrick’s Day Parade organization, a non-profit that coordinates the famous Fifth Ave. celebration every March 17.

Dunleavy, 77, had long opposed the inclusion of gay groups in New York’s world-famous St. Paddy’s parade.

Dunleavy was accused of spending company money for personal items, but the attorney general dismissed the allegations.

In June, the non-profit’s board voted to have Quinnipiac University president John Lahey take over as chairman of the nonprofit.

Lahey quickly moved to announce that LGBT members would be welcome in the historic parade.

Dunleavy remains a board member and is also a chairman emeritus.

But the internal battles haven’t ended — with Dunleavy charging that the allegations against him were an attempt to smear his name.

“From the beginning, we knew that these accusations were patently false,” Dunleavy’s attorney, Frank Young, said Wednesday, after receiving notice from the AG’s office that the probe was over.

Dunleavy’s supporters maintained that the mentions of the “male-enhancement drug” were only meant to embarrass him and that the travel expenses were legitimate trips to Washington, D.C. to visit with military officials on behalf of the parade.
Young said Dunleavy and the others were thrilled to have the good news in time to enjoy Thursday’s parade.

“They can proudly hold their heads up high as they celebrate and honor the glorious St. Patrick,” he added.

A number of marchers in the annual celebration of Irish culture plan on wearing buttons emblazoned with the slogan “Honor St. Patrick” in protest of Lahey’s position as chairman.

A spokesman for Lahey declined to comment.

Obama silent as Adams blasts White House insult

Posted by Jim on March 16, 2016

There has been no comment so far by the White House after an
extraordinary and hamfisted insult to Gerry Adams drew stinging
criticism from the Sinn Fein party leader and stunned Irish-American
political leaders.

Mr Adams hit out after being stopped from entering the White House for a
St Patrick’s Day celebrations event with President Obama last night.
Despite being invited, as he has for several years, Mr Adams was told
there was a “security issue” when he attempted to attend the annual
event at which the traditional bowl of shamrock is presented.

Mr Adams’s party colleagues, the Six County Deputy First Minister (and
former IRA commander) Martin McGuinness, and the party’s deputy leader
Mary Lou McDonald, were allowed to enter the celebrations. Mr Adams
waited for about 90 minutes before deciding to leave. He has described
the incident was “an unacceptable development”.

Invitations to White House events are only issued following the most
stringent security checks. This afternoon, Mr Adams tweeted a picture of
his invitation. The Sinn Fein President said that he had been invited to
the event and was pleased to accept.

“When I arrived the staff at the White House informed me there was an
issue of ‘security’,” he said.

“After two decades of travelling back and forth to the USA and countless
meetings in the White House with successive US Presidents, this is an
unacceptable development.

“It is obvious that there remain some within the US administration who
seek to treat Sinn Fein differently.”

Mr Adams added that Sinn Fein representatives had been denied entry or
had to go through extra searches when travelling to the USA, while the
State Department had also initially refused to meet him last year until
protests from Irish America.

“Last year the State Department initially refused to meet me as part of
a transparent effort to pressurise Sinn Fein during negotiations at
Stormont.

“That meeting did take place after protests from US political leaders.
Efforts to pressurise us in the negotiations failed.

“This morning Martin McGuinness, Mary Lou McDonald and I met with the
Congressional Friends of Ireland. They too shared our grave
disappointment at the White House situation and expressed their
determination to have this issue resolved.

“Sinn Fein will not sit at the back of the bus for anyone. We are
elected to represent citizens and we will do this. I am hopeful that the
controversy around my White House invitation will help lead to a
resolution of all these matters,” he added.

Leading US Congressional figures promised an immediate inquiry. Richie
Tranghese, key Irish staffer for Congressman Ritchie Neal, said the
refusal would be immediately challenged.

The GAA Champion Brooklyn Shamrocks Dinner Dance May 6, 2016, all welcome

Posted by Jim on March 11, 2016

Brooklyn Shamrocks Gfc's photo.
Brooklyn Shamrocks Gfc with Martin Rooney and 7 others.

ATTENTION! THE 2015 NEW YORK JUNIOR A CHAMPION BROOKLYN SHAMROCKS HAVE THEIR 2016 DINNER DANCE AT THE Bay Ridge Manor Brm ON FRIDAY MAY 6TH, 2015!

Kings County AOH/LAOH Night at the Races Fundraiser

Posted by Jim on

 

Saturday April 2, 2016

Location St Patrick’s Auditorium

401 97th Street, Brooklyn NY 11209 (Entrance is on 4th Avenue)

Doors open at 6:30 pm -First Race 7:30pm

 

Admission $20.00

Includes Food, Beer, Soda, Snacks

 

There will be Horse Bets- 50/50 Drawing- Raffles

Auctioning Horses $10.00-Name your horse________________

Sponsor a Race $100.00 ( send names for all horses in race)

You do not have to purchase a horse to attend

 

Please make check payable to AOH/LAOH( Contact Rose at 347-866-1848 or Steve Kiernan 917-886-8677)

All proceeds will go to support Catholic Education at

St Patrick Academy, St Anselm Academy,

Holy Angels Academy and St Ephrem School

41st Annual Brooklyn St. Patrick’s Parade-Park Slope:

Posted by Jim on March 9, 2016

41st Annual Brooklyn St. Patrick’s Parade-Park Slope:

Sunday March 20, 2016

PARADE THEME: 100th Anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising in Ireland

Parade Grand Marshal:

Mary Hogan,

National President, Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians

Retired Verizon/ CWA Local 1101/ LAOH Div 6, Greenpoint, Brooklyn

Aides to the Grand Marshal:

Margaret McEneaney (Ladies AOH-Kings County Board)

Daniel Chiarantano (AOH-Kings County Board)

             Agnes Newlinger (United Irish Counties of New York)

Frank Jordan (Grand Council/Emerald Societies-Telecommunications/Verizon/CWA)

Brian Dilberian (Uniformed Services-FDNY (Ret.Military Sgt.-Wounded Warrior)

Thomas Callahan (Education/St. Joseph the Worker Catholic Academy)

Michael Coyne (Aide-at-Large/Holy Name Parish)

Lisa Murphy (Irish Culture/O’Malley Irish Dance Academy)

J.J. Devaney (Gaelic Sports/Brooklyn Shamrock’s Football Club)

Dedicated to the memories of Founding Member:

Peter Heaney & 3 Former Grand Marshals :

1997 Fr. Colm Campbell; 2007 Fr. Dennis Farrell; 2010 Vincent O’Connor

Parade will always be “In Remembrance Of” the Heroes & Victims of 9/11-WTC

Parade Day Mass at Holy Name Church-245 Prospect Park West- 9:00 AM

Celebrant: Most. Reverend James Massa, Aux: Bishop of Brooklyn

Parade Assembly: 12noon- on P.P West Between 15th and 9th Street

“Re-Dedication Ceremony” to the Heroes& Victims of 9/11-WTC: 12:45pm

Parade Step off: 1:00 pm — Reviewing Stand: Bartell Pritchard Circle-14th street-PPW

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

After Parade Party: Holy Name Hall-

Corned beef and cabbage Dinner & music-3pm – 6pm

$30.00 call 718 499-9482 in advance to reserve ticket

For additional info visit our website: www.brooklynstpatricksparade.com

Email us at: brooklynstpatricksparade@gmail.com

An American journalist reports from Ireland during the Famine

Posted by Jim on March 8, 2016

 

 

William Balch paints an unforgettable picture of famine times.

William Balch, American minister, historian and journalist visited Ireland during the Famine year 1850. We pick up his journey as he approaches Millstreet in Cork in dreadful weather.

 
 “Our road now lay, after a few miles, through a rough, wild, mountainous country much of the way. We passed along narrow defiles, through boggy meadows, and under lofty mountains, following a small stream to its very source in a large bog, from which we descended into a small valley running between two ranges of jagged, barren mountains, in which is situated the little dirty town of Millstreet. We passed several ruined castles on our way; among them Carrig-a-Phouca, somewhat in the style of Blarney, though more dilapidated, having been built by the McCarthy’s, in the early style of castle architecture.

In the course of the afternoon it came on to rain in torrents. We were wholly unprotected from the ”pelting of the pitiless storm.” An English naval officer, on the seat before us, was sheltered by a good mackintosh cape, a corner of which I borrowed without his knowledge, to shield my knees. He also had a large blanket under him, which he preferred to keep there, rather than offer it to us. An-other gentleman of the same nation, on the right, had an umbrella, which he contrived to hold just so as to pour an additional torrent upon one of our company, never offering to share it with us.

 

The poor fellows behind, and one for-ward, were as bad off as ourselves, except Mr. Red-coat, who bundled himself up with several cloaks and took it patiently. There was not a passenger inside, and had not been all day. Six might have been shielded from the storm, perhaps, from sickness and untimely death. But to enter was not permitted, inasmuch as we had taken outside seats, and neither the driver nor the guard had any option in the case — we suppose they had not. Humanity is the boast of John Bull. This is an illustration of it.

At Millstreet we stopped a few minutes, and most of the passengers took a lunch. A loaf of bread, the shell of half a cheese and a huge piece of cold baked beef were set upon the table in the dirty bar-room. Each went and cut for himself, filling mouth, hands and pockets as he chose. Those who took meat paid a shilling; for the bread and cheese, a sixpence. The Englishmen had their beer, the Irishmen their whiskey, the Americans cold water.

Our party came out with hands full, but the host of wretches about the coach, who seemed to need it more than we, soon begged it all away from us, and then besought us, ” Please, sir, a ha’-penny, oond may God reward ye in heaven.” A woman lifted up her sick child, in which was barely the breath of life, muttering, ” Pray, yer honor, give me a mite for my poor childer, a single penny, oond may God save yer shoul.”

Several deformed creatures stationed themselves along the street, and shouted after us in the most pitiful tones. Others ran beside the coach for half a mile, yelling in the most doleful manner for a” ha’penny,” promising us eternal life if we would but give them one.

We observed that the Englishmen gave nothing, but looked at them and spoke in the most contemptuous manner. We could not give to all, but our hearts bled for them. We may become more callous by a longer acquaintance with these scenes of destitution and misery; but at present the beauty of the Green Isle is greatly maiTed, and our journey, at every advance, made painful by the sight of such an amount of degradation and suffering [sic].

At one place, we saw a company of twenty or thirty men, women and children, hovering about the mouth of an old lime-kiln, to shelter themselves from the cold wind and rain. The driver pointed them out as a sample of what was common in these parts a year ago. As we approached, ascending a hill at a slow pace, about half of them came from the kiln, which stood in a pasture some rods from the road. Such lean specimens of humanity I never before thought the world could present. They were mere skeletons, wrapped up in the coarsest rags. Not one of them had on a decent garment.

The legs and arms of some were entirely naked. Others had tattered rags dangling down to their knees and elbows. And patches of all sorts and colors made up what garments they had about their bodies. They stretched out their lean hands, fastened upon arms of skin and bone, turned their wan, ghastly faces, and sunken, lifeless eyes imploringly up to us, with feeble words of entreaty, which went to our deepest heart. The Englishmen made some cold remarks about their indolence and worthlessness, and gave them, and gave them nothing.

I never regretted more sincerely my own poverty than in that hour. Such objects of complete destitution and misery; such countenances of dejection and woe, I had not believed could be found on earth. Not a gleam of hope springing from their crushed spirits; the pangs of poverty gnawing at the very fountains of their life. All darkness, deep, settled gloom! Not a ray of light for them from any point of heaven or earth! Starvation, the most horrid of deaths, staring them full in the face, let them turn whither they will. The cold grave offering their only relief, and that, perhaps, to be denied them, till picked up from the way-side, many days after death, by some stranger passing that way, who will feel compassion enough to cover up their moldering bones with a few shovels-full of earth!

And this a Christian country! a part of the great empire of Great Britain, on whose domain the ” sun never sets,” boastful of its enlightenment, its liberty, its humanity, its compassion for the poor slaves of our land, its lively interest in whatever civilizes, refines, and elevates mankind! Yet here in this beautiful Island, formed bv nature with such superior advantages, more than a score of human beings, shivering under the walls of a lirriekiln, and actually starving to death!

Arlene Foster: It’s me or Martin McGuinness

Posted by Jim on March 5, 2016

Belfast Telegraph. Saturday, March 5, 2016

The First Minister warned voters they faced a stark choicDemocratic Unionist leader Arlene Foster has told voters May’s Assembly election boils down to whether she or Martin McGuinness will be Northern Ireland’s first minister.
Addressing the party faithful at the DUP’s spring conference in Limavady, the current First Minister insisted she and the Sinn Fein veteran had “very different visions” for the future of the region.
“At the heart of this election is an important choice for the community,” she said.

“108 MLAs will be elected but in reality the next first minister will either be me or Martin McGuinness. Your vote will decide. It’s that simple.”

The Fermanagh and South Tyrone MLA, who took over from the retiring Peter Robinson last year, outlined her party’s main priorities for the coming Assembly term.

She said the DUP would focus on job creation, protection of family budgets, prioritising spending on the health service, raising standards in education and investing in infrastructure.

But the battle with Sinn Fein for the first minister’s job was the major theme of her speech.

“I may not be on the ballot across the Province but a vote for our DUP candidates all across the country will  return a unionist first minister,” she said.

“A swing of only two votes in every hundred from the DUP to Sinn Fein would see Martin McGuinness become the next first minister.

“Their (Sinn Fein’s) real agenda in the May election is to shred and split unionist votes.

“They didn’t make the breakthrough they wanted in the South and will do all they can to take Northern Ireland.

“They will seek to capitalise on a new and untested leader of the SDLP and on the complacency of some unionists.

“That would be bad for unionism and bad for Northern Ireland.

“It would take Northern Ireland in the wrong direction and send out the wrong message at this crucial time.

“For many, including myself, power sharing with Sinn Fein is difficult but it is a price worth paying to keep  Northern Ireland moving forward.

“But if you think it is difficult now just imagine what it would be like with a Sinn Fein first minister and the  Executive dominated by republicans.

“That’s why we must stand our ground and fight for every vote.

“And it’s not just to stop a Sinn Fein first minister, I want the mandate to promote my positive agenda for the future.

“But we can only deliver it if we get the support of the people at the ballot box.

“The next two months will determine the fate and fortunes of this party and of this country for decades to come.”

e

IRISH UNITY IS BETTER FOR ALL – PATRICK DONOHOE

Posted by Jim on

‘If they don’t like it, let them go back to Britain.’ Those were the words of the first member of the audience to speak in a recent joint RTÉ/BBC debate on the virtues of a United Ireland titled ‘Ireland’s Call’. Having looked forward to the debate and to the respective polls from each side of the border, with confidence it would illuminate that our one Ireland, one vote strategy presents the only credible means to achieve Irish Unity (because the British rushing to the ports of their own volition is unlikely anytime soon), no sooner had those words left her mouth than I cringed.

Having said that, most other contributors from the audience were excellent and put forward a host of worthy arguments in favour, including that in a United Ireland unionists would hold 20 percent of the vote in an all-Ireland election, thus being well-positioned to share power in a prospective coalition government in a 32-County Republic. Given their centre-right politics it’s not something necessarily to be encouraged but nonetheless, it shows they might not have as much to fear from unity as they imagine. As expected though, given it was RTÉ hosting the debate, they laboured on the first woman’s point at the expense of the other contributions. To be honest though, the lady who made those unfortunate comments reflects a section of republicanism who frequent social media sites shouting slogans, which in itself is grand but needs something substantive behind it. You have an ideal; you want people to endorse and pro-actively subscribe to it; so you need to effectively sell it to people.

One only has to look to Scotland, where for years various misconceptions were regurgitated that it couldn’t possibly ‘go it alone’. They had nothing going for them and were welfare junkies to England. The Barnett formula, the mechanism whereby the UK Treasury allocates the level of public spending for Scotland, Wales and the North of Ireland, was constantly evoked as the epitome of why Scotland was a welfare-whore, unable to stand on its own two feet. Polls showed support between 25-30 percent at the start of the campaign for Scottish independence, but a small matter of facts almost scuppered the pro-Union argument.

Debates on the streets, in town halls and on television dispelled urban myths that had been perpetuated for decades, as Scots learned that an independent Scotland would be per capita one of the richest in the world. Far from a welfare-junkie of England, Scotland spends £1200 more per head than the rest of the UK, affording citizens cheaper university education and free prescription drugs for all. At the same time it contributes £1700 more per head to the UK Exchequer than its other contributors, effectively losing out on £500 per person which could be spent on its own people. While it wasn’t enough to take them over the line they made a remarkable comeback all the same, especially given the near-entire disdain of the mainstream media for the independence movement.

And so to Ireland. At the time of partition the newly formed 26-county state was an economic basket case with an economy rooted in agriculture – partition having cut off the industrialised north-east, where standards of living had been comparative to anywhere in the United Kingdom, from the rest of the country. At the time it was an industrial powerhouse and yet today, almost a century on from partition, they’re 20 percent below the UK average. Over the same period standards of living on the other side of the border have increased twenty-fold (as compared to the North’s five). So when you couple what is an evident economic retraction in the North with how polarised society there has become, it is surely an irredeemable fact that partition has failed the people of the Six Counties on every level.

In his paper ‘Making the Economic Case for a United Ireland’ economist Michael Burke breaks it down into simple arithmetic. In 2013, the 26-county state produced $210 billion, with the six-county economy producing $50 billion over the same period. So in a unified all-Ireland economy the scope for a home market increases for the 26-counties by 25 percent and for the North by 400 percent. In the company I work for we don’t do any business in the Six Counties. It’s paying into two tax-codes’ for businesses and some, including the one I work for, don’t feel it’s worth the hassle. Burke also argues that since the 26-counties removed itself from the domineering control of Britain it has integrated itself more into the world economy. The same cannot be said of the six-county economy and this is glaringly evident in its ‘external sales’ (exports) which amounted to a paltry €14.3 billion per annum as compared terms to €89 billion in the 26-six counties.

An important misconception tackled by Burke is the myth of the £10 billion sterling annual subvention from Britain, supposedly to keep the Six Counties afloat. Just as Scotland’s Block Grant under Barnett didn’t stack up under scrutiny, neither does the alleged subvention of £10 billion to the North. Burke, citing recent data from the ONS, showed that each household in the Six Counties (from a total number of 739,000) receives an extra £982 in state awards, including NHS contributions, than what they pay in taxes and rates, making the subvention approximately £700 million and not the £10 billion stated. If the latter were true it would make the Six Counties one of the richest states in the world on a per capita basis, whereas the economic data relating to its economy shows this is certainly not the case.

The economic arguments for Irish Unity stack up then and can run concurrent with those relating to the undemocratic nature of partition of itself, imposed as it was under duress and against the wishes of the people. That said, we should not be waiting for the ghost of James Connolly to return and can’t be living in the graveyards. While we have a great past littered with Martyrs that we rightly commemorate, we have to remember the past and not live in it. We need to live republicanism on our streets and in our communities, utilising modern forms of communication (such as social media) more intelligently, making our project and our ideas relevant to ordinary people on the street.

In terms of polls, time and again they have proven favourable to our argument and yet some maintain the South doesn’t want the North. All polls, even those designed to inhibit arguments for unity, indicate this to be false. I can say conclusively there has never been a poll in the 26-counties where a clear majority have not expressed their desire for reunification. In the Ireland’s Call programme, only 14 percent in the 26-counties said they didn’t want to see a United Ireland in their lifetime – a remarkable figure in line with other similarly run polls. With ‘don’t knows’ excluded, only 40 percent in the North wanted to see a United Ireland in their lifetime, which although a disappointment is nevertheless encouraging given there has been no real debate on the matter. Just as in Scotland, once misconceptions are tackled in a meaningful debate we could see a swing in our favour.

RTÉ, being RTÉ, tried to swing things in a negative direction, asking if people were to pay more taxes would they still want to see Irish Unity. They may as well have asked would they like a kick to the genitals. It’s a negative question begging a negative answer, which they seemed to revel in. Interestingly, this was the only question were ‘don’t knows’ weren’t shown. Why not? The show also included polls on social issues, presenting near-identical numbers on either side of the border. Though it wasn’t touched on, unsurprisingly, this indicates that despite partition and regardless of what side of the border people are on, no matter how the likes of RTÉ might try and implant partitionist mindsets, we remain a homogeneous people despite divisions carefully fostered by an alien government, as first made mention of in the 1916 Proclamation.

Given the inherent media attitude to reunification and republicanism in general, it is important we make the argument for unity about more than the simple liberation of the North. Our effort must be to liberate the country as a whole. To realise the goals and ideals of Irish republicanism we must address the perception they relate only to freeing the Six Counties, projecting the reunification of this country as an island-wide project to transform the country as a whole. Without the strangling effect of the border, with an estimated boost of €36 billion accruing to an all-Ireland economy over 8 years following harmonisation of tax and the breaking down of trade barriers on the island (study by Dr Kury Hubner, University of British Colombia, November 2015), we would be well positioned to bring about a new and vibrant self-sustaining Ireland – not an extension of the 26-county entity I live in today.

We are promoting something that deep down the vast majority on this island aspires to. But with that in mind, we might ask ourselves why is it republicanism can be seen in such a negative light. Is it because its proponents are not presenting the message correctly? We’ve allowed ourselves to be pigeon-holed as angry, irrational, apolitical, anti-British reactionaries, with no argument to offer that would benefit wider society and the country as a whole. The antidote is to forward a coherent and transparent argument in favour of unity that can resonate with ordinary people. The information is there to be used and show how we could all live in a more prosperous country if we worked together within an all-Ireland framework, to the betterment of all of our people. The partition of what is a small island on the periphery of Europe has failed. It could never work to begin with, we’re too small an entity, and Ireland will never reach its full potential, economically, culturally and socially, until we end it.

Nelson Mandela once said, ‘let your choices be defined by your hopes and not your fears’. As republicans we must give that hope to our people and we have the tools to do it. We know a majority on the island aspire to unity but we won’t progress until we articulate the message better than we have thus far. This year of all years presents an opportunity to challenge the misconceptions, to present the argument for a new Ireland where the Proclamation exists as reality, not an afterthought from the past. That’s the best way to commemorate 1916 and the immortal words of Pearse at the GPO, which carry our hopes and aspirations for a free and better Ireland, for all of our people and for which we still strive to this day.

The demolition of Nelson’s Pillar

Posted by Jim on

A monument to a British imperialist in the centre of Dublin, Nelson’s
Pillar on O’Connell Street, was blown up by republicans fifty years ago
this week.

For many, the biggest surprise about the blowing up of Nelson’s Pillar
in Dublin in 1966 is why it took 157 years.

When the pillar was constructed circa 1808 the Protestant Ascendency
class who had erected it celebrated. To them Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson
was a once in a lifetime hero, the man who at the Battle of Trafalgar in
1805 had turned the tide against Napoleon.

But after Irish independence was won his presence and preeminence atop
the 120 foot high pillar became increasingly controversial. He had been
famously cold hearted and an adulterer, some said. Why not have an Irish
patriot replace him, they asked?

In the early hours of the morning of March 8, 1966 a huge explosion
rocked central Dublin and the top half of the pillar was blown sky high.

Later the Irish Army was sent in to finish the job with a controlled
explosion. Some men were later arrested but never charged. Dublin
quickly adjusted to the missing monument.

“Gaiety and joie-de-vivre prevailed throughout O’Connell Street,” The
Irish Times reported the following day.

“There were happy, smiling faces everywhere and witticisms like ‘poor
old Nelson’ were greeted with roars of laughter.”

The newspaper’s editorial writer was less amused, criticising the
“tepid” response of minister for justice Brian Lenihan to this “coup in
the heart of the capital city”.

‘Up Went Nelson’, a folk song set to the tune of The Battle Hymn of the
Republic and recorded days after the explosion, went to the top of the
Irish charts and stayed there for four weeks.

The man who says he blew up the pillar in 1966, Liam Sutcliffe, was
questioned by gardai in September 2000. He was released and the matter
was taken no further.

He said the idea to blow up the statue came during a discussion in the
Cosy Bar on the Crumlin Road, Belfast.

“I was having a drink with an old friend at the time. The 1916 Rising
was being marked with functions and dinners and the [IRA’s border
campaign] was fizzled out,” he said.

“We thought the Rising should be marked with something a bit more
dramatic and my friend’s sister-in-law said it was shocking to see a
British admiral in O’Connell Street. So I said we should remove it.”

He suggested it to a senior member of the republican movement, who
initially thought it would be too dangerous but then agreed it would be
a good idea.

“The first attempt was on the last day of February but the bomb didn’t
go off. So I had to go up on March 1st and remove it. I went into
Clery’s, bought a nail clippers and stripped it. I had a week then to
drop it back. I went back on March 7th, had electrics in a briefcase. I
connected everything up and placed it in an aperture – one of the widows
at the top – that looked up Henry Street.

“I shook the hand of the man up guarding the platform and said
‘Cheerio’. He went off after his shift that night and the bomb went off
at 1.32 in the morning. I had it timed for 2 am but I had it on fast and
it gained 28 minutes.”

Asked whether he saw the bomb go off, he said: “I did not. I was at home
tucked up in bed. I didn’t know it had gone off at all until I saw it on
the front page of the paper that morning.”

He was “delighted” and thought the pillar would be replaced with a
statue of the seven signatories of the Proclamation facing the GPO.

“I thought they would have done that. In Ireland there’s not even a
statue of Pearse. In all other former colonies they honour the men who
got up and said ‘No further shalt thou go’.”

Mayor Di Blah Blah Blah announces he’s marching in the NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade but tells Irish/Catholics they have to attend school and holds Parent/Teacher meetings so even the Irish/American teachers can’t celebrate our patron Saint’s Day. He is anti-Catholic and anti-Irish. He is still trying to get rid of the Carriage industry so his real estate donors can usurp the stables to build a new Convention center. Beware of this snake oil salesman.

Posted by Jim on March 4, 2016

UDR members questioned over bar murders

Posted by Jim on

Connla Young. Irish News (Belfast). Friday, March 4, 2016

Members of the UDR were arrested after the murder of four men in Co Tyrone 25 years ago, a report has claimed.

The victims, who included three members of the IRA, were shot dead when a loyalist gang attacked a country bar in Cappagh, near Dungannon.

IRA men Malcolm Nugent (20), Dwayne O’Donnell (17) and John Quinn (23) were shot dead along with Thomas Armstrong (52) at Boyle’s Bar on March 3 1991.

The three IRA members and a fourth man who survived were shot as they pulled up in a car outside the pub as the gunmen prepared to mount an attack.

It is not known if they recognised the occupants of the car.

Seconds later, Mr Armstrong was killed as he stood in the bar after one of the gunmen opened fire through a toilet window.

The attack was later claimed by the UVF.

A new report on the murders published by Relatives for Justice claims that four members of the UDR were questioned by the RUC in connection with the gun attack.

It also stated that members of the UDR and RUC questioned customers in the bar several times in the weeks before the attack and on one occasion made sketches of the pub’s layout.

The ‘Collusion in Cappagh Killings’ document also suggests that undercover British soldiers may have looked on as the loyalist hit squad carried out the attack, which is believed to have involved Portadown-based loyalist Billy Wright, who was shot dead in 1997.

Some of the weapons used were said to be Czech-made VZ58 assault rifles, believed to have been smuggled into the north by a British agent.

The Cappagh attack has been linked through the weapons and ballistics to 14 other  incidents involving the deaths of 21 people across Mid Ulster between 1988 and 1994.

Cappagh is located in a hardline republican area that at times was considered a no-go area for security forces during the Troubles.

The Irish News understands the main target of the attack may have been the IRA’s leader in east Tyrone who was in the bar at the time and who was under intense British army surveillance.

Sources said intercepted security force radio communications confirmed his movements were being monitored in the area on the night of the attack.

It is understood one of the dead men, John Quinn, also claimed he was told by RUC Special Branch officers that the senior republican was going to be killed just days before the bar attack.

The families of those killed have always maintained there was security force collusion.

Dwayne O’Donnell’s mother Briege said people in her community want the truth told.

“It’s sad that so many fathers and mothers are dead and will never get the truth,” she said.

“It’s a very tight-knit community and everybody looks out for each other.”

Malcolm Nugent’s sister, Siobhan Nugent, said relatives remain confident they can establish what happened.

“It had a big effect on the community, it could have been anybody,” she said.

Mike Ritchie from Relatives for Justice said the report raised issues that must be addressed.

“We believe there is a real nexus of collusion that underlies this case that needs to be unpicked if the families are going to have confidence in the justice system going forward.”

The Police Ombudsman’s Office has said it is investigating the case.

A weekend of events to mark the anniversary of the men’s deaths has been organised by the PH Pearse 1916 Society.

The report will be launched during a ‘night of reflection’ to be held in Galbally Community Centre this evening, while an independent republican commemoration will take place in Galbally on Sunday.

Unionists criticized over bonfire displays

Posted by Jim on March 3, 2016

Brendan Hughes. Irish News (Belfast). Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Offensive materials: Effigies of Gerry Adams, Martin McGuinness and Bobby Sands on the Ballycraigy bonfire in 2015
UNIONISTS are facing criticism for blocking council proposals to withdraw funding over loyalist bonfires that use racist and sectarian displays.
The move follows months of controversy over ratepayers’ cash awarded to groups organising Eleventh Night bonfires.
The Irish News last year that revealed thousands of pounds were given to an Antrim group whose bonfire was at the centre of a hate crime investigation.
The notorious Ballycraigy estate bonfire made global headlines in 2014 for its sectarian displays including an effigy of a hanged Gerry Adams.
In January a 19-year-old man was convicted over a racist display at the pyre in a landmark prosecution.
In the past four years more than £110,000 has been given to Antrim-area groups organising Eleventh Night bonfires to fund related family events.
For months Antrim and Newtownabbey councillors have been holding discussions to devise a new funding scheme for 2016.
Councillors voted on two options at a meeting of the unionist-majority council on Monday night.
One option proposed that funding could be withheld for the “burning of any flag, emblem, posters, effigies or any other symbol that may cause offence”.
However, the alternative proposal only imposes funding sanctions for environmental issues such as the burning of tyres.
The second proposal was passed following support from DUP and UUP councillors.
Alliance councillor Billy Webb yesterday hit out at the decision, saying there was “absolutely no logic to it”.
Expressing his disappointment, he said that if councillors believed offensive materials should not be on bonfires “then we should put it in a protocol”.
Ahead of the meeting unionists had raised concerns that it would be difficult for the council to enforce penalties for offensive bonfire displays.
Mark Cosgrove, the UUP’s group leader, had said he believes “any issues of sectarianism or racism involved in any public event is the responsibility of the police”.

How Irish America alone understood the true impact of the 1916 Rising

Posted by Jim on March 2, 2016

O'Connell Street's remain following the bombing and violence of the 1916 Easter Rising.

O’Connell Street’s remain following the bombing and violence of the 1916 Easter Rising.

On August 20, 1916 Joyce Kilmer, the poet and journalist, interviewed Moira Regan, whom he described as a “slight gray-eyed girl with a charming flavor of County Wexford in her manner and in her voice,” for The New York Times magazine.

 

Moira Regan was a member of Cumann na mBan and had fought alongside her male comrades in the GPO as well as carrying urgent messages from one Republican outpost to another.

When the fight was over she stood outside the GPO and took one look back at the tricolor still flying over the building.

Her words capture eloquently what it means to see the birth of a nation.

“You cannot understand the joy of this feeling unless you have lived in a nation whose spirit has been crushed and then suddenly revived. I felt that evening when I saw the Irish flag floating over the Post Office in O’Connell Street that this was a thing worth living and dying for. I was absolutely intoxicated and carried away with joy and pride in knowing I had a nation.”

 
The GPO in the wake of the Rising

The GPO in the wake of the Rising

We still exult in that reality of nationhood every time we stand at Croke Park or the Aviva Stadium for the national anthem or travel abroad to international soccer tournaments, as the boys and girls in green will do this summer at Euro 2016.

Expression of identity is critical. In the North the Troubles only ended with the vital step of parity of esteem for both sides’ revered symbols. When The New York Times slammed the Irish rebels as subjects taking on their king they missed the point completely. What vote was ever held to sanction that?

The revisionists who argue that economic and political relations with Britain were improving before the Rising forget that in 1916 an alien flag flew and a foreign army reigned. “History proves that people will always resist occupation,” wrote current UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon in The New York Times recently.

Given Ireland’s history of refusing to bend the knee and the many broken promises on Home Rule, a new uprising was inevitable.

Unlike John Redmond, the leaders of 1916 grasped the essential fact that Home Rule had failed. Even James Joyce, Ireland’s most famous exile, had lots to say about foolishly depending on Home Rule.

James Joyce

James Joyce

Writing in 1907, Joyce was deeply suspicious of what he satirically called the “Home Rule Comet,” a celestial body he said was sent over the Irish cosmos by the British Parliament every few years when Home Rule fever began to swirl. The comet Joyce wrote was “vague, distant but as punctual as ever,” tantalizing but never delivering.

There were many others, most notably the Rising’s leaders who felt exactly the way that Joyce did on Home Rule, if not even stronger. They saw the Curragh Mutiny by British Army elite in 1914, when 61 officers offered their resignation rather than fight against the Loyalist UVF if Home Rule was imposed.

They knew of the sedition of Bonar Law, the Tory leader and future Prime Minister, when he stated in 1912 at an Anti-Home Rule rally at Blenheim Palace, Churchill’s ancestral home, that he could “imagine no length of resistance to which Ulster can go in which I should not be prepared to support them.”

Despite this, John Redmond continued with his delusion, even stating in Parliament at one point that he had convinced Edward Carson, the Unionist politician, of Home Rule for all of Ireland. Carson, with his secret assurances no such home rule would be granted, must have been smirking up his sleeve.

When would Home Rule have come? We might still be waiting for it given the Versailles Treaty, the Great Depression, the Weimar Republic, the Second Word War, the Cold War – so many crises, so many reasons to abstain from acting. Britain was busy drawing arbitrary borders on maps all over the Middle East which haunt us to this day.

John Redmond

John Redmond

Yet Redmond took the terrible gamble of recommending tens of thousands of young Irishmen fight in World War I, where 30,000 or more Irish lost their lives in order to prove his thesis of the Home Rule paradox that fighting for Britain was the best way to achieve freedom from it.

In the days following Easter 1916, he utterly misread the impact of the Rising, praising the British: “It has been dealt with with firmness, which was not only right, but it was the duty of the Government to so deal with it.”

Even Edward Carson had warned the British government to be careful who they punished.

In contrast to Redmond, most of Irish America quickly saw the Home Rule Bill as the latest illusionary comet sent by British leadership. Most of the Irish in America traced their roots back to the Famine, so it’s hardly surprising that theirs was a rebel tradition much more in tune with the men and women of 1916 than with John Redmond’s paradoxical call to fight for the British in order to free the Irish.

The historical inflexion point for the Irish Americans was not Home Rule but the American Revolution, which began in 1775 when farmers and peasants took up arms against a far superior army and somehow defeated them.

As is often noted, most Americans started off the war as Loyalists but ended as Republicans or Patriots. Ironically it was an Englishman, Thomas Paine, and his hugely influential “Common Sense” with its rallying cry to fight that convinced many of them.

Empires and monarchies were never to be trusted, Paine hammered home, and the Great War proved him right. A pity Redmond never took note.

For Irish America, once news of the Easter Rising broke, the great mission was first to get President Woodrow Wilson to speak out, but while the patrician president agreed with them heartily in public, he mercilessly mocked them in private as Professor Robert Schmuhl’s excellent new book on the Easter Rising – “Ireland’s Exiled Children” – makes clear.

Short of gaining Wilson’s support, the Irish American leaders wanted to turn back the global tidal wave of condemnation surrounding The Rising.

Significantly, their media sensed the importance of the moment long before far more august publications who dismissed it as mere rabble-rousing mayhem.

Clan Na Gael leader John Devoy, in many ways the forgotten architect of the Easter Rising, along with Philadelphia-based Irish native John Joe McGarrity, wrote in his Gaelic American newspaper that “the serial and ill informed men who write the editorials have been airing their ignorance this week over ‘riots started by a Sinn Fein mob in Dublin.’”

Calling such comments absurd and childish, Devoy instead proclaimed the Rising “the most formidable insurrection that had taken place in Ireland since 1798.”

History would bear that judgement out to be totally correct, as Devoy, the flinty old fenian, understood better than most the power of the dream of nationhood and the larger meaning of 1916.

Roger Casement and John Devoy

Roger Casement and John Devoy

The New York Times, on the other hand, approved of the executions, stating, “War is a stern business and the subject who sets himself against his King ….can hardly expect mercy.” Except he wasn’t their king.

All the major Irish papers backed the executions, so it fell to Devoy and a very few others to put forward the defense of the Rising.

For Irish America, Easter 1916 fell into a coherent timeline of defence and physical force, a continuum that began with the Dissenter Irish who fought with Washington for independence and establishing the first democracy.

Then there was the gallant Irish role in the American Civil War: 250,000 or so Irish fought on the Union side to end slavery and partition and were so effective that the Confederate leader Jefferson Davis personally sent an Irish priest and Rebel hero Father John Bannon, to Ireland to try and convince the clergy to stop emigration.

The American Civil War neatly dovetailed with the Fenian movement, with Fenian membership a badge of honor in the Union ranks. The Fenian bonds that were sold at the time to be redeemed when Ireland was a nation show an Irish Union army soldier rising from his knees, victorious, as an Irish speirbhean or female goddess beckons him to fight one more time for Ireland, which shimmers in the distance.

The Irish Americans always believed a fight for Ireland would come again soon – and it did.

To Devoy and millions of Irish Americans, the men and women of 1916 were freedom’s sons and daughters as surely as the Americans at Lexington and Concord and the Irish Union soldiers at Gettysburg were. They remain the same today. “Gentlemen you have a country” Thomas Davis said to an earlier generation of insurgents.

Not until 1916 did that come true.

PAT FINUCANE MEMORIAL EVENT – 27 Years and Still No Justice (Monday, March 7th, 7:00 p.m.)

Posted by Jim on

You are invited to attend the

PAT FINUCANE MEMORIAL EVENT

27 YEARS AND STILL NO JUSTICE

SPEAKERS:

Yasmine Ahmed, Director

RIGHTS WATCH UK

Will give an update on Pat’s case and recent changes in UK law that will affect cases in the North

NEW YORK CITY BAR ASSOCIATION/ INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS COMMITTEE MEMBERS

Matthew Putorti

Associate, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP

– and –

Lauren Melkus

Head of Funding Analysis and Long-Term Strategic Planning, Private Family Foundation Will speak about the NYC Bar Association’s report “In Northern Ireland, the Past Is Still Present,” published on January 29, 2016.

 

to be held:

Monday, March 7th, 7:00 p.m.

O’Lunney’s Times Square Pub

145 W 45th Street

New York, NY  10036

Tel.:  (212) 840-6688

*        *        *

SPONSORED BY:

The Ancient Order of Hibernians, the Irish American Unity Committee and the Rosemary Nelson Campaign for Justice US

CONTACT:

Leslie Cassidy

leslie_cassidy@hotmail.com

Cell:  (508) 292-5274

Last Omagh case collapses

Posted by Jim on March 1, 2016

After two years behind bars, prosecutors in Belfast today dropped all
charges against Seamus Daly, the only man still charged in connection
with the 1998 Omagh bomb,

The case against the South Armagh man, who has been in custody since
April 2014, all but ended last month when the prosecution’s star
witness, who has changed his story several times, again contradicted
himself during a pre-trial hearing.

The 45-year-old has always denied any involvement in the bombing. He was
arrested in 2014 while taking his pregnant wife to hospital to give
birth. Days later he was charged and remanded to jail where he has
remained since. Only a small group of friends and family worked for
justice for a man who they said had become a convenient scapegoat.

Since 1999, Mr Daly has been publicly named in the media in connection
with the Omagh bomb. All evidence was put before him back then and he
was found to have no case to answer. In subsequent years he has faced
two civil suits, and was found not responsible, and on appeal he was
found responsible after contradictory evidence from just one witness.

Prosecutors claimed he had been in hiding, although he had in fact been
living openly in Jonesborough, County Armagh. He was re-arrested and
jailed on remand without any new evidence beng presented.

Twenty-nine people died in the RIRA bomb attack, which is suspected to
have been allowed to proceed for Britain’s own military or propaganda
purposes. It was subsequently revealed that the RUC police “could have
prevented” the attack. Britain still refuses to reveal key details of
the case for reasons of “national security”.

An Irish republican from a well-known republican household, campaigners
believe Mr Daly was jailed to quell growing pressure for a public
inquiry. Mr Daly’s lawyer, Peter Corrigan, said the prosecution’s case
was built on a “house of straw” and said he would be taking legal action
over the two years’ incarceration.

A victims’ campaigner has said he agreed with the decision to drop the
trial. Michael Gallagher’s son, Aiden, was one of 29 people who died in
the tragedy. He said: “This was a difficult case and hinged on the
testimony of one individual and that one individual did not seem to be
up to meeting the test needed to put someone behind bars.

“For that reason I agree with the decision, regrettably, that happened
today. There was no other option for the Public Prosecution Service or
the judge but to deliver the verdict that we have just heard.”

Mr Gallagher has been the most prominent of those campaigning for
justice for Omagh. He said it was obvious listening to the prosecution
‘star witness’ Denis O’Connor, a builder from Kilkenny who claimed he
received a call from Seamus Daly around 20 minutes after the bomb
detonated on August 15 1998, that the case was going nowhere.

“I think it should have been obvious a lot earlier than that.”

He said he was trying to contain his anger and channel it positively
into seeking the truth.

“We need some answers, we need to know what went so drastically wrong 18
years on — conviction after conviction has failed in Omagh and yet there
is so much knowledge about Omagh.”

He added: “If there is any decency in society, in the people that manage
our state, they need to work together to get the truth to the families
of what happened.” He said most families had given up on achieving
justice.

“It will be difficult for all of them but also very difficult for all
those other victims out there who are expecting answers.”

Amnesty International called for a public inquiry to “investigate
comprehensively the circumstances surrounding” the Omagh bomb.

They said an investigation was needed “to ensure lessons are learnt,
included from the failure to carry out adequate investigations into the
bombing”.

In September 2013, British Direct Ruler Theresa Villiers ruled out the
possibility of holding a public inquiry. Last month she condemned what
she said was a “pernicious narrative” by those who questioned the role
of state agents in the conflict.

Director of Amnesty International in the Six Countiees, Patrick
Corrigan, said: “The collapse of this case means that the families
bereaved and those injured by the bomb are left without answers about
what happened that day and whether it could have been prevented.

“The failure of the State to deliver justice through the criminal courts
only reinforces the case for an inquiry to help deliver truth.

“The Secretary of State must now revisit her indefensible decision to
refuse an inquiry into the Omagh bombing.

“The families have been drip-fed information over the years, with new
wounds opened each time and with none of the alleged bombers ever being
held criminally responsible.

“What the bereaved, and Northern Ireland more broadly, deserve is the
fullest account possible of what happened in Omagh, delivered by an
independent inquiry, with cooperation from all sides.

“All that families want is the truth. Surely that is not too much to
ask?”

Amnesty is also calling on the Irish and United States governments to
offer full cooperation with the work of such an inquiry.

Irish Central: NYC Dept of Ed won’t change St. Patrick’s Day parent’s conferences

Posted by Jim on February 29, 2016

Christopher Warnke

New York City, NY

Feb 29, 2016 — The New York City Department of Education will not reschedule St. Patrick’s Day parent teacher meetings, even though an Irish American middle school teacher working in the public school system has filed a complaint with the city’s Human Rights Commission charging that his civil and religious rights have been violated because he won’t be able to attend the St. Patrick’s Day parade and other celebrations on the day.

Frank J. Schorn, a teacher at the Eugenio Maria de Hostos Intermediate School in Brooklyn, filed the complaint last Friday via his attorney Brian O’Dwyer, senior partner at O’Dwyer and Bernstien in New York.

“This year the mayor instituted three new school holidays,” said O’Dwyer, who is also the chairman of the Emerald Isle Immigration Center. “One observing the Lunar New Year and the others recognizing Muslim religious holidays.

“We are not asking that the mayor accommodate New York’s oldest immigrant community by declaring a school holiday. We are instead asking that the Department of Education make a minor change to its schedule so that the religious observance of thousands of teachers and parents who celebrate the feast day of St. Patrick be recognized and honored. In a city which celebrates its diversity and its accommodation for people of all religious and ethnic identities, it is particularly upsetting that the Department of Education has so blithely ignored the legitimate religious and ethnic expressions of Irish- American New Yorkers.”

However, the press secretary for the Department of Education, Devora Kaye, told the New York Daily News on Monday that the March 17 conference date will stand.

“We value and respect the cultures and traditions of all our students. While schools are responsible for holding one of four parent-teacher conferences on St. Patrick’s Day, schools should work with families to provide other opportunities to have parent conferences for those unable to attend,” she said.

The complaint says Schorn, an Irish American, became aware within the past 12 months that parent teacher meetings would be scheduled starting at 4:30 p.m. on March 17. Teachers are subject to disciplinary action for non-attendance.

Schorn’s complaint charges that the respondents – the City of New York, the Department of Education and Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina – have committed an “unlawful discriminatory practice…on the basis of [Schorn’s] national origin by scheduling parent teacher conferences on St. Patrick’s Day.”

The complaint seeks a temporary and permanent injunction against the scheduling of parent teacher conferences this March 17 and those in future years.

Members of the New York City Council’s Irish Caucus wrote to Farina on January 13 asking her to reschedule the March 17 conferences, and to refrain from having them on St. Patrick’s Days in future years. Farina, according to the complaint, did not respond to the letter.

An online petition has also been started calling on the public to support Schorn’s complaint and asking the Department of Education to re-schedule parent teacher meetings.

“Schorn and other Irish-American teachers in the New York City school system are obligated by contract to participate in parent teacher conferences,” the petition reads.

“As a result of this scheduling, Irish-American teachers have been denied the opportunity to participate in the New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade in particular. The parade has been found by the United States Courts to be not only a celebration of Irish heritage but a religious activity celebrating the feast day of the patron saint of the Archdiocese of New York, St. Patrick.”

Thirty-four people have signed the petition as of time of writing, with signatories agreeing that, as a religious holiday, Irish Americans should be afforded the right to celebrate their heritage.

“This is an absolute travesty to Irish American people and heritage,” wrote Gavin Enright from Albany, New York, on the petition site.

“There is never a legally binding law enacted forcing civil employees to attend an event on dates such as; The Puerto Rican day parade, Dominican Parade, various civil rights marches, or gay pride parades. It is another classless act of the Mayor towards the Irish American community.”

McSorely’s Old Ale House

Posted by Jim on

 

McSorley‘s legendary Irish bar first opened its doors in 1854 and women were not allowed in until 1970 when the National Organization for Women attorneys took their case to District Court and won. A new age was born, albeit kicking and screaming.

Famous people have drunk at McSorley’s, including Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Boos Tweed and literary figures like Brendan Behan and Leroi Jones. Go to soak up the atmosphere, the sawdust floors, the homemade beer and centuries of Irish history.

No betrayal of our voters – Adams

Posted by Jim on

With the final result in the 26 County general election not expected
until Monday at the earliest, Sinn Fein leader has Gerry Adams dismissed
any idea that his party would support one of the traditionally dominant
right-wing parties in Irish politics, Fine Gael or Fianna Fail.

“We aren’t going to go in there (to government) and betray our
electorate and betray the other people who need a progressive
government,” Mr Adams said.

“We are not going to go in and prop up a regressive and negative old
conservative government, whatever the particular party political
complexion.”

The fracturing of traditional centre-right politics in the general
election has a parallel in the widespread disaffection with the once
dominant regimes in Spain, Portugal and Greece.

A total of 148 TDs have been returned to the Dublin parliament, with 10
seats remaining to be filled. Fine Gael have 47 seats, with 43 for
Fianna Fail and 22 for Sinn Fein. Labour has six seats, the
Anti-Austerity Alliance/People Before Profit group have five while the
Independent Alliance have four. Sixteen Independent deputies have been
elected, the Social Democrats have three seats, and the Green Party have
two.

Rechecks and recounts will resume tomorrow morning in Dublin South
Central and Dublin South West. Full recounts are to take place in Dublin
Bay North and in Wexford. Counting will also resume in
Longford-Westmeath.

There were further advances for for Sinn Fein in Dublin Fingal, where
trade union activist Louise O’Reilly was elected as a TD for the first
time, and in Cork South-Central, where the youthful Donnchadh O
Laoghaire took a breakthrough seat. There were also victories in
electing a second seat in Mr Adams’s constituency of Louth/East Meath,
as well as the retention of an embattled seat in Kerry for veteran
republican Martin Ferris.

However, there was disappointment for Padraig MacLochlainn in l who lost
out in the new five-seat constituency of Donegal, although party
colleague Pearse Doherty and republican independent Thomas Pringle were both
re-elected.

With support for establishment parties at a record low, prospects for a
new coalition government are in deep disarray, and weeks of protracted
negotiations are on the cards.

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny has so far ruled out resigning or re-running
the poll. His party suffered devastating losses of about 30 seats, while
its Labour Party partner was humiliated by the prospect of retaining no
more than 6 seats.

Labour deputy leader Alan Kelly bluntly told Fianna Fail and Fine Gael
to “cop themselves on now” and form a government.

The outgoing environment minister appeared visibly high after rescuing
his deeply troubled political career by holding onto his seat in
Tipperary, one of only six sitting Labour TDs to survive out of an
original coterie of 37.

Kelly, who is chiefly identified with the housing and homelessness
crisis in the 26 County state, said it was rubbish for the country’s two
biggest parties to suggest there are massive issues between them.

“It’s 2016 lads, it is 100 years since the Rising. Civil war politics
are over,” he said. “Fianna Fail and Fine Gael need to ‘cop themselves
on’ now and form a new government for the next five years.

“All of this pretending that there are massive issues between them is
rubbish. They need to come together, work together and put a government
in place for the good of the people.”

He was at odds with his party leader, Joan Burton who insisted the
Labour Party would vote for Enda Kenny as Taoiseach. This means he is
assured of the votes of at least 59 TDs when parliament meets for the
first time, still at least 20 seats short of a majority.

Outgoing Fine Gael health minister Leo Varadkar ruled out the ‘grand
coalition’. He said: “It is up to the Opposition to see if they can form a
government. We’ve been rebuffed.”

His cabinet colleague Richard Bruton signalled less reluctance, and
referred to the importance of the “national interest”, which often
indicates a willingness to make a compromise. “We need a stable
government,” he said. “One that can implement a coherent economic plan.”

Significantly, Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin also promised to “work in the national
interest”. He said Fianna Fail had in the past taken “electorally and
politically costly” decisions in the interests of the country. “That has
happened in the past and that is what is going to happen again,” he
added. “The country comes first in all our deliberations in this
regard.”

But Fianna Fail veteran and former defence minister Willie O’Dea was
defiantly opposed to a grand coalition, as was deputy leader Eamon O
Cuiv. The Fianna Fail frontbencher said they fought the election on the
basis they would not do a deal, adding: “I believe your word is your
bond.”

Sinn Fein fought the election alongside those standing on the
Right2Change platform, which saw candidates elected right across the
state, although well short of the numbers needed to form a government.

Gerry Adams said Sinn Fein met its own expectations in the election. His
party will return to the Dail with 22 or 23 seats, more than 50% greater
than it had after the last general election. Mr Adams said the poll had
demonstrated a sea change in politics in the 26 Counties.

He said: “You can always do better, I would love that we were going into
government with a majority – that takes time. These other parties have
more depth, have more structures, have more organisation, have more
resources…

“The message out there – and this is an ongoing process, this is very
much a work in progress – is that people want change. The big
conservative parties that ran this place for a very long time can’t
summon between them any more than 50 per cent of the vote. The left
parties, the progressive parties, the independents, the Sinn Fein party,
all have garnered the rest of all of that.”

Parties will have until March 10 – when the Dail is scheduled to resume
– to forge a power-sharing deal or ask the President to hold a new
election.

Register Your Support For Irish Unity

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Five good reasons why Brooklyn should win Best Picture at tonight’s Oscars

Posted by Jim on February 28, 2016

Irish actor Saoirse Ronan who stars in the new movie Brooklyn, pictured arriving at the Savoy Cinema for the Irish premiere.

I have five good reasons for wanting Brooklyn to win the Best Picture Oscar at tonight’s Academy Awards.

First, like everyone else, I love it. Brooklyn is remarkable for being the kind of film that rarely gets made these days, never mind seen and deeply appreciated by an international audience – and then nominated for three Oscars (Best Film, Best Actress and Best Adapted Screenplay). That’s a miraculous ascent for a modestly budgeted independent film.

Second, the fact that this simple on the surface tale about the hard choices made by an Irish emigrant has become such an international hit is a thing worth cheering in itself. Academy voters can’t fail to have noticed how strongly the film has resonated with the public, which makes it competitive tonight against bookies favorite The Revenant.

 

Third, our movie theaters have been completely colonized by idiotic big budget superhero capers, by increasingly gory but increasingly predictable horror flicks, and by exhaustingly cliched action films featuring practically immortal heroes.

There’s not much room for subtlety or nuance left to us nowadays, in other words – and there’s almost no room at all left for the heart. Brooklyn is composed of all of these missing elements and so part of the pleasure of watching the film is its refreshing determination to take ordinary life seriously.

Fourth, it usually takes Academy voters a year to see what the public sees already, that Brooklyn features unforgettably expressive character work by Saoirse Ronan, 21, in a film that boasts what is unarguably her best performance to date.

Domhnall Gleeson and Saoirse Ronan in ‘Brooklyn.’ Credit: Kerry Brown/Twentieth Century Fox

Domhnall Gleeson and Saoirse Ronan in ‘Brooklyn.’ Credit: Kerry Brown/Twentieth Century Fox

Ronan plays Eilis, a bullied shop Irish girl who is clearly no one’s priority, but as she finds her feet and slowly forges her own destiny you’ll want to stand up and cheer as the doormat discovers the confidence that she once lacked and steps into her future and herself by the film’s end.

Fifth, Brooklyn is the work of a celebrated Irish novelist, a gifted Irish director and features a distinguished company of Irish actors that all give pitch perfect performances from start to finish. Screenplay writer Nick Hornby’s adaptation is literary but immediate, and Toibin’s original story shows us both sides of the emigrants dilemma: what is lost versus what is found. The heart breaking, hard to fathom business of deciding which path to take has rarely been so well portrayed.

Alright there’s a sixth reason, too. Domhnall Gleeson and Emory Cohen, the two parts of Eilis’ love triangle deliver such convincing performances they make you feel the romantic dilemma that Ronan’s character is facing. You won’t know till the final frame who Eilis will make her future with, thanks to their affecting and deeply sensitive work.

Famously, the Oscars have a habit of getting the Best Picture award howlingly wrong. In 2006, the now forgotten film Crash won over Brokeback Mountain (which has become a classic) a travesty for the ages that even Crash‘s director has lamented himself.

Still from ‘Brooklyn,’ showing Mrs Keogh’s boarding house dinner table. Credit:Twentieth Century Fox

Still from ‘Brooklyn,’ showing Mrs Keogh’s boarding house dinner table. Credit:Twentieth Century Fox

This year The Revenant is tipped to pick up the golden statue, thanks to impenetrable tinsel town politics that few understand and less respect. Having received the nod at the Directors Guild of America and the BAFTA’S, Leonardo DiCaprio’s vehicle has buzz and momentum, two conditions that Hollywood can rarely resist.

But what The Revenant manifestly does not have is longevity. In six months, I predict, it will not enjoy the same affection or stature as Brooklyn already does now.

In five years, The Revenant may be largely forgotten (critics have been less than enthused by it, after all). Meanwhile I predict that in the same time period Brooklyn will only cements its classic status.

What a Best Picture nod means nowadays is DVD sales, rentals, TV spots,and a global storefront opportunity for the director and actors. But Brooklyn won’t need any of that to carve its place in the pantheon of classic pictures. That award has already been presented by the public.

Kenny out of options, but refuses to quit

Posted by Jim on

With all of the first count results in the general election concluded,
Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s government has suffered a resounding deafeat in
the 26 County general election but he has ruled out resigning as leader
of Fine Gael.

“I have a duty and responsibility to work with the decision that the
people have made and provide the country with a stable government and
that I intend to do fully and completely,” he said. “Clearly the option
of a majority government is gone. Clearly, the option of a Fine
Gael-Labour government is gone.”

He was easily re-elected in Mayo, despite the late campaign controversy
in that county when he lashed out at Mayo’s “all-Ireland whingers”. The
Fine Gael leader also refused to be drawn on the prospect of a pact with
traditional adversaries Fianna Fail, which polled almost as highly, both
parties receiving almost 25%. He said that his “job and duty” is to
attempt to provide a government “for the people”.

“Ireland needs a government,” he said. “Whatever parties are in position
after the election are going to have to consider whatever options are
available.”

Asked if he could govern with some Fianna Fail support, Kenny replied:
“You mean some kind of Tallaght strategy?” (referring to the 1987
minority government when Fine Gael leader Alan Dukes supported Fianna
Fail Taoiseach Charlie Haughey). “We would like to wait and see (what
happens) in other constituencies.”

But some of his own party appear to have also already turned against
him. Outgoing Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald, interviewed on
radio, repeatedly refused to deny that there would be a challenge
against his leadership. Asked if she would be interested in running for
leader herself, she answered: “I’m not saying anything else now, we will
leave it at that.”

Outgoing Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney conceded that it had
been a poor election for Fine Gael and that the party was likely to lose
over 20 seats, but he said he did not believe there was an appetite for
a challenge to Enda Kenny’s leadership. He also insisted Fine Gael
would win more seats than Fianna Fail and remain the largest party,
which is still an open question.

“I don’t get the sense that there is going to be any leadership
challenge in Fine Gael. We will win in or around 50 seats and we will be
the largest party and Enda Kenny will be the leader of the largest
party.”

“He will obviously take on his responsibilities of bringing the party
forward. I don’t get the sense that there is any panic or anything like
that. People are disappointed. They are frustrated. A lot of very good
people are going to lose their seats.”

However, Labour Party leader Joan Burton is certain to face a leadership
challenge after the party’s support collapsed, from 19.4% percent to
around 6.6%. However, there are no clear candidates so far to take her
place. Under Labour’s constitution, a leadership contest must be held
within six months of failing to get into government.

Prominent left-wing independent Mick Wallace, who is expected to retain
his seat in Wexford, welcomed the prospective Fianna Fail-Fine Gael
coalition. saying it would “clean up Irish politics”.

“They are two right wing parties. The only difference between them is
the civil war. Next time we will have a proper left-right wing divide,”
he said.

Fine Gael’s Minister for Health Leo Varadkar said he did not favour such
a coalition, claiming it would not be good for either party and would
not last long. “I do not trust them [Fianna Fail] and it would open the
door to Sinn Fein as lead of opposition,” he said.

Sinn Fein deputy leader Mary-Lou McDonald said that she expects her
party will be putting leader Gerry Adams forward to be the next
Taoiseach.

“It’s early in the day but I think if this election demonstrates
anything, it is that there is now, or should be, no sense from Fine Gael
and Fianna Fail that they have some divine right to govern – they
don’t,” she said.

Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness says the left-wing parties must now
consider their options about forming a government, and that the people
of Ireland do not want a second election.

Mr McGuinness said the story of the election would be the rise of the
left-wing parties. He said that the election had been a good one for
Sinn Fein, especially having to face competition from the established
parties.

Mr McGuinness was asked about parties working with each other after the
results are counted and pointed to how he had worked with Ian Paisley in
the North. He also said that lessons needed to be learned that the
crisis in the North could not be used as “political weapon” against
parties.

RESULTS

In early confirmed results from the count centres, there were early
breakthroughs for Sinn Fein in Dublin Midwest, where party intellectual
Eoin O Broin was elected on the first count, and in Wicklow, where
councillor and tenants-rights activist John Brady was elected on the
second count. He became the constituency’s first republican TD since
Robert Barton in 1923 after polling in second place with 11,151 votes.

In Laois, Brian Stanley, easily passed the quota on the fourth count
with 10,092 votes, and he was hoisted aloft holding a starry plough flag
by his jubilant supporters. Also comfortably re-elected were the party’s
enterprise spokesman Peadar Toibin in Meath West was returned on the
second count and the party’s deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald, who topped
the poll in Dublin Central and was elected on the 6th count.

The party missed out in Dublin West, however, where Sinn Fein’s Paul
Donnelly was edged out by Joan Burton and sitting socialist TD Ruth
Coppinger of People Before Profit/Anti-Austerity Alliance.

Outside of Dublin, the party made significant gains in Waterford where
David Cullinane was finally elected after several close calls in
previous elections, and in Carlow-Kilkenny, where Kathleen Funchion took
the seat she had staked out in last year’s by-election.

Speaking at the RDS count centre Ms McDonald said the outcome from the
electorate is that “the government has been sacked by the electorate”.

“They’ve sacked Fine Gael and Labour”, she said. “That was the first
conclusion. The second conclusion is that politics here has changed. The
old tweedledum and tweedledee between Fianna Fail and Fine Gael is now
over. Politics is much more diverse. I think that’s a really healthy
thing.”

In an indication of the general political tide, two of Kenny’s most
controversial Ministerial appointments lost their seats, Alan Shatter
and James Reilly.

Shatter was one of the first big-name casualties, losing his seat in
Dublin Rathdown after a series scandals over police corruption and his
handling of his department generally. Paying the full price for his
indiscretions, his seat went to the previously unknown Catherine Martin
of the Green Party. Her election marks a return to the Dail for the
Greens after a period of purdah since their disgraced coalition with
Fianna Fail collapsed following the ignominious IMF/EU bailout in late
2010.

Labour Ministers of State Alex White and Kathleen Lynch have also lost
their seats, as well as former Fianna Fail Minister Mary Hanafin and,
almost certainly, Lucinda Creighton. Creighton is leader of the new
right-wing Renua party which is unlikely to any seats in this election.

In contrast to Renua, the new left-of-centre Social Democrats party has
already won three seats and is likely to increase that total, winning 3%
on their first time out, while People Before Profit and the
Anti-Ausrterity Alliance won 4%.

However, the big winner of the election was Fianna Fail leader Micheal
Martin, who arrived at the Cork city election count centre to rapturous
applause after his party polled an unexpected 25% in first preferences,
its best election result since the 2008 economic collapse.

“We had faith, going way back to 2012, and we were consistent and the
local elections gave us a great platform,” he said. “I think our message
resonated with people. We kept our feet on the ground, we kept connected
to communities. And that will be the strongest challenge – to stay
connected to the realities on the ground. I think the government lost
touch too quickly. And we, from way out, could see a two-tier economic
recovery evolving. We could see that many people didn’t get the rhetoric
of the recovery in their own daily lives – and the regions didn’t
either.”

He added: “And I think we, in terms of our core message of quality jobs,
cutting costs for families, resourcing and strengthening communities,
reasserting the principle of home ownership and ending the scandal of
homelessness – they were key pillars of our platform that really struck
a chord with people on the ground and on the doorsteps.”

OVERALL RESULT – First Preferences (compared to 2011 general election)

Fine Gael 25.5% (-10.6%)
Fianna Fail 24.3% (+6.9%)
Sinn Fein 13.8% (+3.9%)
Labour 6.6% (-12.8%)
People Before Profit/Anti-Austerity Alliance 3.9% (+1.7%)
Social Democrats 3.0% (+3.0%)
Green Party 2.7% (+0.9%)
Renua 2.2% (+2.2%)
Independents and Others 17.9% (+4.7%)

The media campaign against Sinn Fein

Posted by Jim on February 27, 2016

By Oliver Callan (for the Irish Sun)

The TV and radio blackout on election coverage began with the start of
the loftily-worded “moratorium” period. It sounds like a room where the
news goes to die.

It’s a fitting image of an election where sheep-minded media put
fairness and objectivity through a meat grinder.

Coverage has whinged about how ‘boring’ the election has been, as if it
isn’t the media’s job to make it interesting.

Despite a dull campaign, the results promise to be the most dramatic for
decades. A hung Dail beckons, star names will fall and previously
peripheral entities like Sinn Fein and Independents will win big.

While everyone in the media failed to predict the FG-FF alliance now
expected, it has been a dreadful election for journalism in worse ways.

The most alarming feature has been the ferocious campaign against Sinn
Fein. The State has never witnessed such a biased agenda across all
media organisations against a political party.

Broadsheet newspapers were the worst offenders, with constant attacks on
Adams, Mary Lou McDonald and the party’s policy on crime and the Special
Criminal Court. Editorialising adjectives including “embarrassing”,
“under pressure” and “biggest loser” were used in headlines.

In one article, a headline suggested Sinn Fein was in trouble in its
stronghold of Donegal, with Fianna Fail set to beat them. When you got
into the piece, it turned out both parties were on identical poll
figures. Similarly, a newspaper reported Leo Varadkar was on course to
top the poll in Dublin West, ignoring that Sinn Fein candidate Paul
Donnelly had the same opinion poll rating.

At best, subjective opinions on Adams’ performance in debates and
interviews were passed off as hard news.

At worst, the outburst of gangland crime in Dublin was directly linked
to the party. Some commentary suggested a vote for Sinn Fein was a vote
for drug dealers. Another Sunday newspaper report on Mary Lou was filled
with such scathing anti-Sinn Fein sentiment, it bordered on sexism.

Reports on the final leaders’ debate on Tuesday night focussed again on
Adams having an “uncomfortable night”. Enda Kenny’s bombshell that he
made the Minister for Arts appoint the man at the centre of a cronyism
row two years ago wasn’t highlighted comparatively.

Gerry’s poor grasp of economic policies was again underlined by
journalists who appear to consider the Taoiseach’s shaky knowledge of
economics less important.

A detailed analysis of the anti-Sinn Fein editorialising over the past
three weeks would make a very interesting thesis for any media students.
It had a significant negative effect on opinion polls.

The party was slow to take issue with bias until its poll numbers were
hit. Even then it only focussed its ire on RTE.

Claims that the Taoiseach got softer treatment are untrue. That Enda
looked unruffled by interrogations gave the appearance of an easy ride.

It’s just impossible to grill someone who prepares for interviews like
it’s a Junior Cert Irish Oral. No matter what Dobbo or Sean O’Rourke or
Miriam asked him, Enda had his “bhi me ar mo laethanta saoire” stock
answer ready. There is no doubt anyone who even suggests Sinn Fein have
been badly treated leaves themselves open to accusations of being a
closet Shinner.

Let me be clear, there is no whiff of diesel from my clothes and I have
no agenda for or against any political party. As a former student of
journalism and its ethics, I have merely watched this campaign with
dismay.

In Northern Ireland, the most conservative unionists with deep personal
reasons to loathe Sinn Fein have shared power with ex-Provos. Do we so
revere the offices in the Republic held by flawed men such as Haughey
that a Shinner is not worthy?

The media class has a sneering attitude that those who vote for Adams’
party are more ill-informed than the average centre-right FF/FG voter.
There is also a seldom-challenged view that Adams is a liability for the
party on the canvass, which has zero basis in fact.

Despite these sheep-like views, support for Sinn Fein has grown in every
election since the 1990s. Electoral success came even though there is no
other party leader subjected so intensely to the same repeated
questioning quite like Adams.

If most believe that Sinn Fein and the IRA were one and the same, then
why obsess over which organisation Gerry says he was a member of?
Everyone knows he cannot say he was an IRA commander as it would leave
him open to prosecution.

There is an argument that Sinn Fein might do better if Adams retired but
it is doubtful Pearse Doherty or Mary Lou would get better treatment.

Adams’ major achievement in bringing radical elements of Republicanism
into the peace process will never be acknowledged by the present media,
even in death. However, history will remember him long after the scant
achievements of Enda, Joan or Micheal are long gone.

For now, one of the big stories from Election 2016 will be the
incredible rise of Adams’ party from one TD in 1997 to more than 20
after tomorrow.

The future of the print journalism that so despises the party is in
serious peril, but Sinn Fein isn’t going away you know.

Two brother fighting two very different Wars

Posted by Jim on

by Ciaran Mc

Exactly a year to the day after the commencement of the Easter Rising,
24th April 1917, Sergeant-Major William (Bill) Leeman Ceannt was killed
in action during the First World War, Battle of Arras. A year
previously, Commandant Eamonn Ceannt, Bill’s younger brother, had
occupied and instructed the 4th Battalion of the Irish Volunteers in the
rebel garrison, South Dublin Union, in their fight against the same
British army his brother committed too. The grievous news of the death
of Bill on the Western Front reached the Ceannt family on 8th May 1917,
the date of the first Anniversary of Eamonn’s execution by the British
for his part in the Easter Rising. The fascinating story of the two
Ceannt brothers, Eamonn the Easter Irish Revolutionary, and, Bill the
Great War British soldier, illustrates the diverse allegiances amongst
families and the political complexity of Ireland in the early part of
the 20th Century.

Eamonn Ceannt, in many ways, is the “unknown” man among the leaders of
the 1916 Easter Rising. As one of the seven signatories to the
proclamation of the Irish Republic, Eamonn was a pivotal figure in the
planning of the Rising and as Commandant of the South Dublin Union,
where some of the fiercest fighting took place during Easter week. Some
believe, Eamonn was the “physical force” advocate amongst the Easter
leaders. The Rising for Eamonn was the culmination of a life dedicated
to political activism and the advancement and achievement of Irish
freedom.

As with many young people of the late 19th century, the centenary of the
United Irishman’s 1798 Rebellion coupled with the Gaelic cultural
revival was to contribute significantly to the national resurgence,
impelling many to join a variety of organisations, some that were
heavily infiltrated by the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB). Eamonn’s
passion for the Irish language (aged 15, changed surname from Kent to
Ceannt) propelled him into the ranks of the Gaelic League, a movement to
promote Irish as a spoken and literary language, persevere Ireland’s
national identity and “de-anglicise” the Irish people. He was an
accomplished piper and conducive to the Irish music revival of the time.
In 1908, he travelled with a group of Irish athletes to Rome where he
played the pipes before Pope Pius X.

The Gaelic League, as it did to so many, politicised and radicalised
Eamonn’s already advancing beliefs. He joined Arthur Griffith’s Sinn
Fein Organisation in 1907, compelled by its “commitment to Irish
Independence” and was to rise through its ranks. Four years later, in
1911, he was sworn into the IRB by Sean MacDermott, a fellow signatory
to the Irish Proclamation. With the militant threat posed by the
initiation of the Ulster Volunteers, Eamonn stated in 1913, “it is the
duty of all Irishmen to be skilled in the use of arms. Preparation for
War is the best guarantee of peace.” Soon after, he was involved in the
establishment of the Irish Volunteers. Quickly, Eamonn became a member
of the Provisional Committee and a leading figure within the movement.
He was to play a key active role in financing and arming the Volunteers
and was involved in the Howth gunrunning of July 1914. Following the
split in the Volunteers, Eamonn was elected financial secretary and was
appointed commandant of the 4th Battalion in March 1915.

On 9th September 1914, Eamonn convened a crucial meeting involving
leaders of the IRB Supreme Council at 25 Parnell Square which agreed to
use the War as an opportunity to strike a blow for Irish freedom. In May
1915, Eamonn was co opted onto the Military Council of the IRB along
with Patrick Pearse and Joseph Plunkett with the sole objective of
putting plans in place for an armed rebellion. Many of the meetings of
the Military Council were held at Eamonn’s residence in Dolphin’s Barn.

On Easter Monday, 24th April 1916, Eamonn took command of 120 Volunteers
at the South Dublin Union. During Easter week, the 4th Battalion held
off a number of sustained attacks by the vastly superior British
military. The fighting became an intense hand to hand struggle, but
Eamonn’s military expertise and bravery ensured his men held their
position as the British failed to take the garrison. His calm leadership
under pressure and that of Cathal Brugha during the intense fighting and
bombardment was praised and recognised by the men of the South Dublin
Union. On Sunday 30th April 1916, Thomas MacDonagh broke the news of
the surrender to Eamonn. Under direct orders from the Provisional
Government, Eamonn reluctantly surrendered. Major Rotherham who oversaw
the surrender of the South Dublin Union was astonished such a tiny band
of men held off two major assaults by the British. Eamonn led his men
from the South Dublin Union, “a brave band who fought a clean fight for
Ireland” (Father Augustine) where he ordered his battalion to lay down
their arms and equipment.

In the gymnasium of Richmond Barracks, in the aftermath of the Rising,
Eamonn Ceannt was picked out by the Dublin Metropolitan Police
detectives, known as “G men.” At his court martial on Wednesday 3rd May
1916, presided over by General Blackader, Eamonn pleaded, “not guilty.”
After hearing evidence, Eamonn’s closing address to the court was
“remarkable in its clarity.” On the back of his charge sheet, it read,
“shall not deny anything proven or admit what is not proven.” The next
day, Eamonn was found guilty as charged. He was sentenced to death by
being shot. On the early morning of 8th May 1916, Eamonn, after taking
Holy Communion from Father Augustine, in a letter to his wife wrote, “I
die a noble death for Ireland’s freedom.” He walked to the
Stonebreakers Yard of Kilmainham Gaol, hands tied behind his back, a
cloth around his eyes, a small square piece of paper acting as a target
for the 12 man firing squad. At dawn, 4.05am, with Father Augustine’s
crucifix in his hand, Eamonn Ceannt echoed his last words, “My Jesus
Mercy” before the executor shots rang out.

Eamonn’s brother, Bill, was a soldier with the Royal Dubliner Fusiliers.
Having spent the opening phase of World War One stationed in Fermoy,
County Cork, Bill was charged at a court martial for giving stolen food
to Thomas Kent. The same Thomas Kent who was executed in Cork Jail for a
gunfight with the RIC in the immediate aftermath of the Easter Rising.
Bill was posted to the Western Front on 11th September 1916. During the
Battle of the Somme, in November that year, he was seriously wounded and
eventually promoted to Company Sergeant-Major. During the Battle of
Arras, in early 1917, Bill was struck down by machine gun fire during an
advance of enemy lines and subsequently died from his wounds. The Ceannt
family received a scroll admonishing him amongst those who answered the
call of King and Country, “let those who come after see to it that his
name not be forgotten.”

The legacy of the Easter Rising and the wave of sympathy that swept the
country in its aftermath ensured Eamonn’s War was more accepted than
Bill’s War. Eamonn Ceannt in his last letter was perhaps right, “In the
years to come, Ireland will honour those who risked all for her honour
at Easter 1916.” Bill’s name and many thousands of other Irishmen who
were killed and maimed in the First World War, were the names that for
decades would be forgotten and ignores. Brothers by blood, yet their
blood spilled in a commitment to very different allegiances, one to
Ireland and the other to Britain. Perhaps, the words of Eamonn as true
to himself as that of his brother, Bill, “This generation can claim to
have raised sons as brave as any that went before.”

Eirí Amach na Cásca (Part 11)

Posted by Jim on

from The Road to Rebellion by Mike McCormack
   In the yard behind O’Hanlon’s shop at 20 Moore Street, MacDiarmada informed the men of the decision to surrender.  They were stunned and insisted on fighting to the end, but Connolly was adamant: his boys would not be killed. The act of carrying the surrender decision to the British was entrusted to the courageous nurse, Elizabeth O’Farrell.
With part of a sheet tied to a stick, she left 15 Moore Street (some claim it was 21) and walked the street of the slain to the barricade.  She told an officer, The commandant of the Irish Republican Army wishes to treat with the British forces in Ireland.  The officer replied, The Irish Republican Army? The Sinn Feiners, you mean!  She replied, The Irish Republican Army they call themselves and I think that’s a very good name too!  The officer tore the Red Cross emblems from her arm and apron saying, Search her, she’s a spy!  She was taken to Tom Clarke’s tobacco shop at 75a Parnell Street (of all places) until General Lowe arrived.  Lowe sent her back to tell Pearse that he must surrender unconditionally!  She gave Lowe’s message to Pearse who sent her back seeking terms for his men.  Lowe sent her back with a note penned by his son, Major John Lowe, demanding that within half an hour she must return with Pearse and the only terms acceptable were unconditional surrender.  Pearse agreed to the terms and in view of the civilian atrocities most of the leaders agreed.
At 3:30 PM, Pearse marched to the barricade with nurse O’Farrell where they were met by General Lowe and his son.  Pearse handed General Lowe his sword, pistol, ammunition and tin canteen.  At that time, a photo was taken and later doctored to remove O’Farrell’s feet making it appear that Pearse was standing alone.  He was not!  In front of Byrne’s shop at Moore Street corner, a bench was brought out and Pearse bent down to sign the surrender document thereon.
NOTE
General Lowe’s son, Major John Lowe, later became a Hollywood actor under the name John Loder.  He married Hedy Lamarr and appeared in How Green Was My Valley with former GPO Volunteer Arthur Shields and his brother Barry Fitzgerald!

Nurse O’Farrell agreed to their joint request to bring the surrender document to the other outposts. The one taken to the men in Moore Street read: Carrying a white flag, proceed down Moore Street, turn into Moore Lane and Henry Place, out into Henry Street and around the pillar to the right side of O’Connell Street, march up to 100 yards of the military drawn up at the Parnell Statue, halt, advance five paces and lay down arms.  With sloped arms, the first group marched off under Captain O’Reilly picking up any stragglers on the way.  Next, Willie Pearse led the main body waving a white flag.  Close behind him walked Tom Clarke and towards the rear walked Seán MacDiamada and Joseph Plunkett, supported by Julia Grennan and Winifred Carney.
For the next two days, accompanied by a priest, Nurse O’Farrell was sent to secure the surrender of the various outposts.  Dodging sniper fire and trying to convince the leaders it was not a hoax were among her biggest tasks. At Arbor Hill Detention Barracks, Pearse was visited by two IRA leaders from Wexford, who refused to believe the surrender order until they heard it from Pearse himself.  British General French brought them to see Pearse and one recalled, Pearse looked, physically exhausted but spiritually exulted.  He told us that the Dublin Brigade had done splendidly.  Why surrender, one asked and Pearse answered, because they were shooting women and children in the streets. I saw them myself.
The remaining garrisons surrendered one by one.  The men from the Moore Street garrison were marched up to the Rotunda Gardens where for two cold and damp days they were kept wet and uncovered on the grassy lawn as troops and loyalist citizens jeered and taunted them.  In my interview with Volunteer, Sam O’Reilly, he said, We were lying on top of one another. I was quite near Collins and Joe Plunkett. I remember the British officer threatening to shoot the whole lot of us, and Collins saying to this officer, ‘this is a very sick man; leave him alone’ or words to that effect.  He was, of course, referring to Joe Plunkett.  Men and women were piled together and when they had to relieve themselves, they had to do it in front of their comrades adding to their shameful treatment. Sam also recalled a British officer, Captain Percival Lea-Wilson, taking Tom Clarke out of the group and publicly disrobing him in front of everyone and mocking the quality of these Irish rebels.  It infuriated everyone who witnessed the spectacle and who had the utmost respect for Clarke.  Sam happily added that in 1920, Michael Collins, who witnessed the insulting behavior, sought out Lea-Wilson and had him shot dead!
Sadly, more civilians were killed and wounded than all the military on both sides combined.  Casualties in Dublin were 64 IRA killed and 120 Wounded; 132 British Army were killed and 397 wounded; and 254 civilians were killed and 2,217 wounded. At Ashbourne, Co Meath, 116 military were killed, 368 wounded and 9 went missing.  The Police lost 16 killed and 29 wounded. The British press told the world that as the prisoners were marched away, they were vilified by the citizens of Dublin, but never mentioned that they had been deliberately marched by unionists and Anglo sympathizers.  Many Dubliners were in no way hostile.  At Boland’s Bakery and the South Dublin Union, the patriots were cheered during the Rising and sympathy had grown during the week.  Rising participant, Florence O’Donohue later said, the military failure of the rising proved to be less significant than its impact on the nation’s mind; the historic Irish nation was reborn.

New Gaelic League Branch to launch in Brooklyn at Rocky Sullivan’s.

Posted by Jim on

 

https://www.facebook.com/events/174420502934617/

 

Osclóidh Uachtarán Chonradh na Gaeilge, Cóilín Ó Cearbhaill craobh úr den Chonradh ag Rocky Sullivan’s, oíche Aoine, 4ú Márta. Bígí linn agus glacaigí páirt in obair an Chonartha!

8:30 i.n., Oíche hAoine, 4ú Márta, 2016,
Gaelic League President Cóilín Ó Cearbhaill will open a new branch of the League at Rocky Sullivan’s on Friday night, March 4th. Join us and take part in the work of the League!

8:30 p.m., Friday night, March 4th, 2016

 

https://www.facebook.com/CumannUiCheirigh

 

http://www.rockysullivansredhook.com

 

https://cnag.ie

NYC St. Patrick’s Day Board Continues to Remove St. Patrick and Faith from Parade

Posted by Jim on February 25, 2016

Concerned Members of the Affiliated Organizations of the NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade

Feb 24, 2016 — The Concerned Members of the Affiliated Organizations began this past fall with a petition protesting bylaw changes to the New York St. Patrick’s Day parade. The proposed changes would have replaced the elected voice of the Affiliated Organizations with an “executive committee” accountable to an unelected board, and removed from the mission statement of the parade that it is to honor St. Patrick as Patron Saint of the Archdiocese of New York. Members of the Affiliated Organizations were, and still are, concerned that this signaled the intention of Dr. Lahey and the board to transform this venerable celebration of faith and heritage into a green-tinged politically correct Mardi Gras in order to placate government officials and sponsors.

Chairman Dr. Lahey has been adamant since our petition garnered over 5,000 signatures, and has repeated numerous times, that it is not the board’s intention to deprecate St. Patrick and the Archdiocese in the parade. He characterized this claim as “misinformation”, despite the fact that removing the name of St. Patrick is documented on a written agenda. The CMAO believes that actions carry more weight than words.

We sadly note that at the recent Grand Marshal Reception, an event second only to the Parade itself in importance, and despite the fact that there were numerous Chaplains in attendance, there was no invocation nor other formal recognition of the Patron Saint who is the reason for the parade. Despite many empty seats at the reception, there seemed to be no room for the Apostle of Ireland.

As exiled children of Ireland, born of famine and anti-Catholic sentiment, we are concerned. If there is no room for a Catholic recognition of God’s blessings or a faithful recognition of St. Patrick at the Grand Marshal’s reception, then we believe our concerns regarding St. Patrick’s future presence in the parade that bears his name seem warranted. We are gravely distressed that the statements and assurances of Dr. Lahey and the Board are continually contradicted by their actions.

Martin McGuinness calls on electorate to seize the moment

Posted by Jim on February 23, 2016

 
Speaking at a press conference in Dublin this morning Sinn Féin MLA Martin McGuinness has said;

“The last week has seen Fine Gael resort to the politics of fear, Sinn Féin are for the politics of hope.  Next Friday, the people will have the opportunity to change things for the better, and Sinn Féin want to be part of that change.”

Martin McGuinness said:

“For the first time, in all our lifetimes, we have the opportunity to have Sinn Féin in government north and south.  Governments that will stand up for equality. Governments that will deliver a fair recovery. Governments with a plan for unity and reconciliation. Governments with a plan to sustain the peace process.  Governments that will act in the national interest.

“The events of last year showed just how important it is to have a government acting in the national interest.  During critical talks, the leader of Fine Gael reduced his role to that of a by-stander and  the Fianna Fáil leader intervened to call for the suspension of the institutions.  This was highly reckless and clearly done for short term political opportunism.  The peace process is far too important for that to happen ever again.

“We are now delivering on the Fresh Start agreement and making progress.  We need to do more.

“The electorate now has the choice. Do they stick with the parties of boom, bust and broken promises or seize this moment in time, to elect a progressive republican government.

“Sinn Féin has a plan to deliver a fair recovery, we have demonstrated in the north that Sinn Féin in government secures public services and delivers jobs.

“Fine Gael might be into the politics of fear, we are for the politics of hope.

“On Friday, the people of this state have the opportunity to change it for the better, and Sinn Féin will be part of that change.”

Bigotry towards the Irish Language Continues

Posted by Jim on

In a statement issued on the 22 of February 2016, Sinn Féin Poblachtach National PRO, Seán Ó Dubhláin commented on the harassment RSF members had to face as they left a republican ballad night in Dublin;

“Republican Sinn Féin wish to bring to attention the harassment of our members after their successful ballad night held on Saturday 20, 2016 in Dublin.

Whilst leaving the premises of the function four members of RSF were subject to the usual special branch harassment, names and addresses were taken by two heavily armed members of An Garda Síochana who had nothing better to be doing with tax payers money than to sit outside a bar all night trying to intimidate people for their political believes.

All members gave names and addresses in Irish, one member refused to speak any English as is his right, the Gardaí who could barely speak any Irish became quite aggressive and threatened arrest before the scenario was eventually defused. This hostility towards the Irish language from the Gardaí and Political Police of the Special Branch is typical of the rotten neo-colonial imperialist state we live in. These Special Branch officers later quickly drove off when supporters and members of RSF came on the scene and challenged them as to why they were harassing peaceful republicans.

Back in April 2015, a member of Republican Sinn Féin in the midlands gave his name and address in Irish, it was demanded in English, when this was refused the Garda became aggressive and our member was arrested, he was later released once the Free State police confirmed his identity.

Republican Sinn Féin will not be intimidated by this harassment, we will continue to promote the traditional republican message in defiance of imperialism, one hundred years since the Rising of ’16 it is a disgrace that such bigotry exists in a so-called Irish state against the Irish language, the very core and soul of our nation.”

1916 Societies meeting this Monday 2/22 at 6:30pm upstairs at O’Lunney’s Times Square. All are welcome, so stop by, listen and join.

Posted by Jim on February 22, 2016

Pope Francis right to name and shame Trump on immigration racism

Posted by Jim on February 19, 2016

by

Matthew 25: 35 I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.

Donald Trump, 06-16-15 “Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending the best..they’re sending people that have lots of problems and they’re bringing those problems. They’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime. They’re rapists…”
Pope Francis, 02-18-16 “A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian. This is not in the gospel.”

Trump, 02 -18-16 “Disgraceful. No leader, especially a religious leader, should have the right to question another man’s religion or faith. [Mexico has] made many disparaging remarks about me to the Pope.”

We have been through so many outrageous moments during the Trump campaign that we almost forget the most egregious of all. The attempt to sully emigrants as rapists and drug dealers. Now the pope has joined the British, French and Irish leaders in rejecting such comments.

Undocumented workers contribute $12 billion to social security. If they were legalized that figure would be over $20 billion. You will never hear any comments on that from Trump.

Can you imagine if such terminology as he employs was was used against Americans in a Mexican election? The outrage and splutter would fill many a Rush Limbaugh show.

Finally someone with absolute stature has called out Trump. Not the Republican Party, which, however much it wants to drag its feet, has to march to his drum. Not the media, who love the ratings palooza; not the Democratic Party, mired in it’s own internal battle to the death.

The Pope.

Here is what he told the press on his plane home after a trip to Mexico.

“As far as what you said about whether I would advise to vote or not to vote, I am not going to get involved in that. I say only that this man is not Christian if he said things like that….”

That is an extraordinary statement from the pope, an emotional one after spending days with the poorest of the poor in Mexico.

 

Welcoming the stranger has been a fundamental core belief for this pope. Demonizing immigrants has been a strong undercurrent of Trump’s rise to the top of the pack in the GOP. The clash was inevitable.

Cardinal Dolan in New York also previously took Trump to task on his immigration policy, with a scathing op-ed.

Trump may have the luck of the devil in one way. Anti-Catholicism was once rampant in South Carolina, where the notorious Bob Jones University specialized for generations in anti-Catholic anti-Pope fulminations. The viral strain of anti-Catholicism still exists.

 

In fact, so anti-Catholic are some in South Carolina that the Reverend Ian Paisley, at the height of his anti-Catholic career, traveled frequently to Bob Jones University, which gave him an honorary doctorate and praised him for calling the pope the “whore of Babylon.”

As for Bob Jones himself, the following comment is all you need to read: “Pope Paul VI, archpriest of Satan, a deceiver and an anti-Christ, has, like Judas, gone to his own place … A pope must be an opportunist, a tyrant, a hypocrite, and a deceiver or he cannot be a pope.”

So Trump could paradoxically benefit from the old “Whore of Babylon” trick by blaming the pope.

 

Sometimes it takes an outsider to see clearly what Americans cannot – Donald Trump would be a disaster for America and the world.

Pope Francis has done the world a favor by pointing it out.

The question is, are GOP voters listening?

Plastic paddies insult doesn’t fit this homesick Irish American

Posted by Jim on February 18, 2016

"When I am away, it is not any American holiday, but St. Patrick’s Day, when I miss New York the most. "

About six years ago, sitting in a lecture for my Irish-American history class, my professor,Patrick Griffin who, like me, is a first generation Irish-American, highlighted the significance of the question “How long are you home for?” which he had been asked on trips back to Ireland. This question resonates with me, as I also endured a childhood where family members on both sides of the Atlantic refer to Ireland as my “home,” which evokes mixed reactions in both my heart and head.

 

On the surface level, I, now 25 years old, consider myself extremely fortunate to have such strong ties to Ireland that I have a place that I can call “home,” which just happens to be a majestic little village in Kerry with blue seas and green mountains. When a relative says the simple phrase “welcome home,” it is incredibly reassuring, as if my visit in a way reverses the harsh and enduring realities of emigration and restores the natural order of things, albeit temporarily.

Yet, upon further reflection, this usage of the word “home” has raised problems when I seek to look introspectively at my own identity. When I use the word itself, I constantly use a qualifier – I am either going “home” to New York or “home” to Kerry, never “home” full stop. I am left confronting bigger questions for myself, and caught up between the Old and New Worlds. Am I more Irish or more American?

 
Annascaul, County Kerry: "I am either going “home” to New York or “home” to Kerry, never “home” full stop."

Annascaul, County Kerry: “I am either going “home” to New York or “home” to Kerry, never “home” full stop.”

The tensions and contradictions of having a dual identity have plagued me for years and years. (For me, despite all of the attention afforded to the processes of migration both in Ireland and the United, both historically and in the present, one of the most neglected issues is the ways in which migration affects future generations.)

I, like many other children of immigrants in New York, consider myself to be as Irish as anyone else in the world. Our connections to Ireland are not just sentimental; the globalized world and internet age mean these connections are ubiquitous features of our everyday lives in ways which previous generations simply did not have access to. In this age of smartphones and broadband, our family and friends in Ireland are as easily contactable as our next door neighbors.

Read more: Time for Irish to stop calling Irish Americans Plastic Paddies

Words like “craic” and “cop on” creep into our everyday use, both intentionally and subconsciously. We can talk for hours with each other and Irish born immigrants about the latest Shane Long transfer rumor or our country’s Euro 2016 prospects the same as lads our age would do on the other side of the ocean. For as long as I can remember, a fresh loaf of Pat the Baker’s bread and a sleeve of Digestives have been regular fixtures in our cupboard.

Suggestions that I might be a “Plastic Paddy” are laughable in my eyes. After all, I have a firmer grasp on Irish history than most in Ireland, travel back “home” regularly, and have watched nearly every Irish international soccer game since the advent of internet streaming, even in the dark days of Staunton as the gaffer. My own sense of Irishness was organically instilled in me from the early stages of my childhood and is something which is substantial rather than romanticized.

Plastic Paddy makes no sense to the Irish American living in England.

Plastic Paddy makes no sense to the Irish American living in England.

Nonetheless, I don’t feel entirely Irish in Ireland or entirely American in the States – it is only within my immediate family and the greater Irish-American community in New York that these tensions seem to subside and it actually feels okay to have one foot on the Dingle Peninsula and the other in the suburbs of the Bronx. These strong, confused sentiments have left me agonizing on a daily basis for practically all of my adult life about where my heart and my future lie and about what exactly constitutes “home.”

Life works in strange ways, and I ended up moving to Wiltshire in rural England this past June to pursue my dreams in historical research, as I found an opportunity which is unavailable not only in Kerry but also in New York. My job is everything I dreamed it would be, as I examine historical content and significant documents on a daily basis, often on subjects related to both Irish and American history.

From an occupational perspective, I couldn’t be any happier as I derive a large amount of fulfillment from what I do without any sources of major stress. Yet this period since I’ve moved has also given me levels of homesickness and loneliness which were hitherto unprecedented. It is within these emotions in which I can most decisively untangle my dual identity as an Irish-American. Ironically, as an immigrant myself over here, I miss being part of an immigrant community on the other side of the ocean. I am, in essence, an exile from the exiles.

While I have moved away from family for extended periods of time before without similar levels of melancholy, my current situation has one glaring difference from all my other moves: I am currently lacking a significant Irish dimension in my life, for the first time. When I went to school at Notre Dame, I wouldn’t have survived without the encouragement, academic inspiration and friendship of the faculty of the university’s world-renowned Irish Studies department. . Similarly, while studying for a Masters in Oxford, it was always comforting to hear my dissertation supervisor’s Antrim accent and to have a strong network of Irish family and friends a short train ride away in London.

Unfortunately, this network is much more inaccessible this go-around in England for a multitude of reasons, not least due to my rigid work schedule and less-than-ideal location in terms of public transport. (However, to be fair, a nice perk of living on this side of the Atlantic is that trips to Ireland become quarterly, rather than annual occurrences. Even still, this does not overshadow the harsh reality that on many days out here the only Irish presence within my life is the Kerrygold butter I cook with!)

Tellingly, these feelings leave me not only longing for Kerry, but perhaps more so for New York. Sure, I pine for my friends, gangster rap on the radio, and Hispanic food regularly, but above all else I realize that this homesickness is inextricably related to the green-tinted lens in which I view New York. The majority of things I miss most about New York are uniquely Irish-American, especially in terms of family and the subtleties of everyday life.

New York St. Patrick's Day parade.

New York St. Patrick’s Day parade.

When I am away, it is not any American holiday, but St. Patrick’s Day, when I miss New York the most. I long for the Sundays when my father drove us to Gaelic Park to watch football, with his insistence on listening to Saw Doctors tapes, or more recently streaming Radio Kerry over his phone in the car. My mind dreams of once again waking up to the snowed-in mornings in which my mom bakes a soda bread. I miss having the banter with my brothers in a twisted amalgamation of New York and Hiberno-English and playing soccer with the Lansdowne Bhoys, a club which represents the Irish community in the Bronx. It is this hybrid world, where Ireland meets America, that I feel most comfortable in. I guess I could say that I feel “at home” in a place that might not be “home,” if that makes sense.

Growing up in between two countries is both a blessing and a curse, particularly when one finds himself in a place that is not either one of his “homes.” It means that my heart grows twice as heavy when I am away, holding nostalgia not only for the stone walls and green hills in Kerry, but also for the paved streets of New York—both of which are, from my point of view, Irish in their own ways.

NYC disses St. Patrick’s Day – again

Posted by Jim on

 

www.irisheye.us & Mike Morley

Posted by Jim on

See George McLaughlin’s write up below on Mike Morley

www.irisheye.us

Mike Morley, a resident of metropolitan Chicago and originally from the Irish community in Brooklyn–in a neighborhood that adjoined my own–is a tireless advocate for Irish freedom and reunification and for restoring the dignity of Irish culture.  He has been working on worthwhile projects centered on these goals for decades, including my own  effort to place markers on the graves in America of Fenians and other fighters for and supporters of Irish freedom.  His latest collaboration with me was centered on erecting a tombstone on the grave of Martin Hogan in Chicago.  Hogan was one of the Catalpa Six who had escaped from the infamous British prison in Fremantle in Western Australia in the late 19th century.  Through the efforts of people like Mike Hogan had a grave marker placed at his place of final rest.  We have similar projects coming, beginning with Katherine Hughes who is buried in the Bronx.

Mike’s TV show is available online for viewers anywhere in the world and it is well worth watching on a regular basis, especially for Irish-American activists. I wanted to pass along this link to his show and ask that you send it out to your list serve, if possible.  The current offering is a retrospective on Bloody Sunday, supplemented with photos of the rising at Easter time, 1916.

http://irishtv.us/

Go raibh maith agat, a chara!

Seoirse McLaughlin

Show your support for a united Ireland.

Posted by Jim on

Show your support for a united Ireland by marching behind the ‘One Ireland One Vote Campaign’ banner
with the 1916 Societies-New York in the following St. Patrick’s Day Parades: 

Saturday, March 5th.
Rockaway Beach Parade

 
Assemble at 11:30 am. At beach 132 street and Newport avenue. Marching behind AOH Division 21.

Sunday, March 6th.
Sunnyside Queens Parade

1:00pm Assembly.  2:00pm Parade Steps-off.  Meet at 43rd & Skillman Ave at Registration center.
Parade Route: Starts at 43rd Street and Skillman Ave north to 61st Street and Woodside Ave.

Sunday, March 20th
Brooklyn,  Parade

 
Assemble at 12:00 Noon on Prospect Park Ave West between 9th Street & 15th Street.  Marching behind the Kings County AOH.
Parade Route:   From 15th Street & Prospect Park West > Down 15th Street to 7th Avenue > Along 7th Avenue > To Garfield Place > Up Garfield Place To Prospect Park West And Along Prospect Park West To 15th Street .

Proconsul’s keynote speech rang hollow

Posted by Jim on

 
Brian Feeney. Irish News (Belfast).Wednesday, February 17, 2016

The stalled inquest into the death of teenager Arlene Arkinson is a classic example which amply illustrates why people do not give any credence to the speech our proconsul[Theresa Villiers, NI Secretary of State] made on February 11.

The NIO billed it as ‘a keynote speech’. That’s defined as a speech to set the underlying tone or present the core message, as she said, ‘of the sovereign government’ here.

In fact there was nothing new in it at all. If you read it, and probably not one person in ten thousand did, you’ll see it’s simply a restatement of the NIO’s position on the past.

Luckily you didn’t have to sit through it for it’s arrogant, patronising, full of internal contradictions, intellectually feeble and in places seems to assume people here came up the Lagan in a bubble.

In case you’re forgotten or never knew, it was about why the British government intends to use the national security ploy to withhold information about how people were killed during the Troubles. Ironically for our proconsul,  one of her minions you’ve never heard of had just signed off on the grounds of national security the withholding of information about the death of the school girl Arlene Arkinson whose death had nothing to do with the Troubles. Why?

It rang hollow when our proconsul said in her speech: “National security is not an open-ended concept which can be used to suppress information about whatever actions the State does not want to see the light of day.” Huh.

Does she think no-one here remembers her predecessor Sir Patrick, now Lord Mayhew, in 1988 shutting down prosecutions in the hayshed shootings in Lurgan in 1982 on, guess what, national security grounds? Recently released documents show the Irish government was furious.

We now know what ‘national security’ in that context really meant. An MI5 tape had been purloined and then destroyed. It would have revealed no warnings were shouted and as a result one of the survivors has been awarded substantial compensation. Not only were the shutters pulled down but John Stalker was deliberately discredited and his report never published. Why should anyone believe anything’s different?

In her speech the proconsul used the tired technique of setting up Aunt Sallys[ straw men] to knock down. She went on about a disproportionate emphasis on security force killings claiming they’re blamed for every atrocity. Not true. Security forces were responsible for fewer than 10 per cent of killings and only a few of them are controversial.

Whoever advised her on her speech allowed her to make a list of killings which included some where— although security forces were not directly involved—those in their pay were, which is particularly true in the case of Greysteel. These are exactly the kind of murky incidents she proposes to withhold information about, just like Mayhew.

Her pretext for keeping information under wraps is especially laughable. Information about security force techniques would be useful to dissidents, and wait for it, Islamist terrorists. Yet in another part of her speech she contradicted herself when she said, ‘policing practice and methodology has (sic) changed radically over the intervening years’.

Nobody’s talking about recent killings. Is she really trying to say that since the ceasefires in 1994 when the internet was in its infancy, when email was a rarity and those who had modems ran them at 14.4kb/sec, that security forces still use the same techniques? What could anyone possibly learn from techniques used in say, 1988-9 that have long since been superseded?

We know that homers and miniature microphones are attached to suspects’ clothing, whereas 20 years ago the listening device in Sinn Féin’s Connolly House was five feet long and weighed 10 pounds.

What’s never said in British ministers’ speeches is that some of the most horrifying incidents were sanctioned by politicians like Lady Hacksaw[Maggie Thatcher]… that responsibility for lethal ambushes and agents provocateurs lies at the feet of some of our proconsuls’ party colleagues now retired… that blame cannot be confined to soldiers and police carrying out politicians’ instructions.

And by the way, why would it take five years and £35 million to inquire into Scappaticci’s activities when all the PSNI have to do is call in his handlers and ask them what he did?

Wish he was still here.

Posted by Jim on February 17, 2016

Mark Twain

Sheer Scale And Absurdity Of IRA’s Failure

Posted by Jim on

The opinion polls during the Irish election seem to be all over the place at the moment: some very good for Sinn Fein, some very bad.

But to be honest it doesn’t matter if Sinn Fein ends up in coalition with Enda Kenny or Micheál Martin (and, believe me, neither man will allow their personal view of Gerry Adams to stand in the way of leading the next government), because it isn’t going to move Sinn Fein one inch closer to delivering Irish unity.

So what if Martin McGuinness and Gerry Adams are at the centre of coalitions in Dublin and Belfast? Ireland will remain divided and they’ll be in two separate governments. And there isn’t one convincing scrap of evidence to suggest that a border poll in Northern Ireland would produce a majority for leaving the United Kingdom anytime soon.

The IRA accepted a very long time ago – within two years of the Provisionals forming – that they weren’t going to unite Ireland by violence. That’s why they opened ‘formal’ channels of communication in 1972.

A decade later, in 1981, they opted for the ‘armalite/ballot box’ strategy. By the early 1990s they knew the game was up in terms of the ‘armed struggle’ and cooperated with the British, Irish and American governments to extract themselves from the hole they had first dug 30 years earlier.

But that meant redefining their purpose and perception. Let’s face it the Provisionals (in their IRA and SF manifestations) didn’t lift the torch just to end up in Stormont, with the DUP, jointly governing a Northern Ireland which remained firmly rooted within the United Kingdom. So they had to find a narrative to explain not only how they ended up in that position, but also why it actually makes sense for them to be there.

In this narrative Sinn Fein has been trying to reinvent itself as the civil rights campaign and an early version of the SDLP. They pretend that they were the champions of the electoral/institutional/social/political changes that took place throughout the 1970s. They pretend that the IRA were ‘defenders’ rather than protagonists: almost as if there never was a terror campaign involving them. They peddle the line that while they may have made ‘mistakes’ (“for which we are sorry, don’t you know, blah blah blah”) it was actually the British and their ‘police and army machines’ who were the real, cold-blooded killing machines. And while Gerry Adams was never in the IRA, it was British agents in the IRA who were doing bad things and blaming the IRA!

Running alongside this absurd mythology Sinn Fein is also pushing another story; one that argues that being in government in Northern Ireland is something they’ve never had any problem with (“sure, we’ve always wanted peace and cooperation with our unionist fellow citizens”) and that it’s part of a long-term, thought-through strategy leading to eventual unification.

As works of fiction go it’s not bad and all that’s missing is Dan Brown’s Professor Robert Langdon to make sense of the obscure language and convoluted logic. For good measure they blame the SDLP, unionism, dissident republicans, the Brits and the Irish establishment for standing in the way of reconciliation and reunification.

The reality, of course, is that the IRA got nothing. Sinn Fein got nothing. They were rolled over and sucked in by a state which is a past master at that sort of thing. Since the mid-1990s they thought they were playing hardball with successive governments, whereas all they were doing was everything demanded of them. And for what? The fantasy – and that’s all it is – that unity is around the corner and that they are worthy of standing shoulder to shoulder with Michael Collins, Parnell et al.

None of this mythology, reinvention and rewriting is intended for a Northern audience. That vote is close to maxing out because most people here have seen through the guff and know the real story.

No, this is to do with their Southern strategy and is a cynical, clinical attempt to bamboozle people who, not having seen the IRA at their worst or followed events closely since the mid-1960s, might be willing to believe Sinn Fein’s version of events. People, in other words, who think that Gerry Adams is a statesman rather than a flim-flamming opportunist.

Which is why media attacks seem to make so little difference to Sinn Fein’s poll appeal down there. Everything that can be thrown at Adams has been thrown at him and he’s still standing, still smiling, still pumping out his deodorising tweets and still preparing for a victory speech at the end of the month.

Yet, as I said earlier, it doesn’t really matter in terms of the overall Sinn Fein project. Adams won’t be uniting Ireland and he won’t be carried through the streets of Dublin as the man who did what no-one else in the past 800 years has been able to do.

Adams will be added to a list: that list of people – some democrats, some terrorists – who have tried to reunite Ireland as a sovereign state. Like all the others, he has failed. The IRA has failed. Sinn Fein has failed. All they have left is the pretence that they are on the road to success.

Ironically, a foothold in two governments in a still partitioned Ireland would demonstrate the sheer scale and absurdity of their failure – probably stuck between Arlene Foster and Enda Kenny.

Michael Collins’ Dublin – in the footsteps of Ireland’s greatest revolutionary

Posted by Jim on

Dermot McEvoy @irishcentral

Even ninety-four years after his death Michael Collins remains a pivotal part of Dublin City life. You’ll see photographs and paintings of him in shops and pubs around the city and there are two busts of him, at the Hugh Lane Gallery and in Merrion Square Park.

But who exactly was this national icon, Michael Collins?

He was the most wanted man in Ireland – the British put a £5,000 bounty (sometimes embellished to £10,000) on his head – yet Collins walked and cycled around Dublin with a devil-may-care attitude that inspired his small army. (His fiancée, Kitty Kiernan, referred to him in letters as her “elusive Pimpernel.”)

He fought in the General Post Office at Easter 1916, spent eight months in prison, then returned to Dublin at New Year’s 1917. For the next five years he ran a revolution that has become textbook for nationalist insurgents around the globe.

He was Ireland’s first Minister for Finance (floating the National Loan that helped birth the inchoate Irish nation) and gained notoriety as the Director of Intelligence of the Irish Republican Army. As DOI he formed his infamous assassination team – “The Squad” or “The Twelve Apostles” – who systematically executed the British Secret Service in Dublin on “Bloody Sunday,” November 21, 1920. Just over a year later, he negotiated the Treaty which freed most of Ireland from seven hundred years of British rule.

He was killed in an ambush at Béal na mBláth, in his native County Cork, on August 22, 1922. He was only thirty-one-years-of-age. Fittingly, his body was returned to his beloved Dublin and he is buried in Glasnevin Cemetery.

Although Michael Collins has been dead for nine decades, many of his Dublin haunts – amazingly–remain intact. And luckily for the exhausted tourist, a walking tour of Collins’ Dublin will take only an hour because many of his buildings and pubs are located smack in the City Center.

Trinity Street and #3 St. Andrew Street: Let’s begin the tour at the front gate of Trinity College. Cross Grafton Street and walk up College Green to Trinity Street. Turn left and advance to St. Andrew Street. Your first impression of this fist of tiny intersecting streets is that “this would be the perfect spot for an ambush” – and you would be right. This area is the location of one of Collins’ main finance offices at #3 Andrew Street – right next to the Trocadero Restaurant – but, as your instincts may have warned you, it is also the location of one the great ambushes gone awry. It was here that Collins and the Squad waited in 1919 for the arrival of Lord French, the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, as he made his way from Trinity College, heading home to the Viceregal Lodge in the Phoenix Park. Their mission was assassination. French did not show and Collins dispersed the Squad, wary that his hot tip may have been a British set up.

Old Stand Pub, corner of St. Andrew & Wicklow Streets: After going over the books for the National Loan across the street Collins would often meet up with his men here. According to the Old Stand’s website, “From time to time, Collins held informal meetings of the outlawed I.R.B. (Irish Republican Brotherhood) in the premises as true to Collins’ tradition, he was less conspicuous while in the midst of the public.”

Wicklow Hotel & Weir’s Jewelers: If you turn left and continue down Wicklow Street you will come to the former location of the Wicklow Hotel at #4 Wicklow Street (now a bank). This was a regular hangout for Collins and his Squad. However, the porter, one Willie Dolan, was a British informer and Collins had the Squad take him out. Mrs. Dolan, not knowing that Collins was behind her husband’s death, asked Collins for a pension. Collins granted her request. On the corner of Grafton Street is Weir & Sons, jewelers, where Collins brought the engagement gift, a watch, for his fiancée, Kitty Kiernan, in 1921.

#10 Exchequer Street & The Central Hotel: If you backtrack on Wicklow Street it becomes Exchequer Street. #10, to the left of Dunnes Stores, was Collins’ first office in Dublin in 1917. It was here that he ran the National Aid and Volunteers Dependents Fund, a charity but also a front for his rebel activities. His office was on the top floor. Across the street is the Central Hotel – now home to one of the great Dublin drinking venues, the fabulous Library Bar – which Collins often used to accommodate visiting I.R.A. men.

The Stag’s Head: Do an about face at #10 and you’ll be staring down Dame Court. At the end of it, on the right hand side, is the Stag’s Head, one of the most beautiful Victorian pubs in Dublin. By day it is quiet and a great place to have lunch. By night it is a mad house. Any time of day or night it is a great pub and was a favorite of the Big Fellow.

After a hard day at #10 he would come here and enjoy a whiskey from “Mick’s Barrel,” which they kept especially for him. The Stag’s Head is within one block of Dublin Castle, the then center of British power in Ireland, and Collins’ used it to meet his agents, keenly aware that British touts might also be on the premises. Many movies have been filmed here, including “Educating Rita,” “The Treaty” and one of James Cagney’s last films – and maybe the best film ever made about the Irish revolution – “Shake Hands With the Devil.”

Collins’ Alley & #3 Crow Street: Right outside the Stag’s Head is a short, yet sinister, tunnel that leads to Dame Street, which I have nicknamed “Collins’ Alley.” If you look directly across the thoroughfare you’ll see Crow Street. At #3 Collins kept his intelligence office, disguised as John F. Fowler, printer and binder. If was through this office – which he seldom visited because of security issues – that Collins’ agents plotted the downfall of the British Secret Service.

#32 Bachelors Walk, the Oval Bar & “The Dump”: Llet’s make our way to the River Liffey and cross the Ha’penny Bridge. Walk towards O’Connell Street and you’ll come to #32 Bachelors Walk. Collins kept an office here throughout the revolution and, like the Crow Street office, it was never discovered by the British. It is on the corner of Bachelors Way, an alley that leads to Middle Abbey Street. If you look down this alley you’ll see the Oval Bar. The Oval was used by Collins and his Squad perhaps because of its proximity to “The Dump,” a “waiting” room for the Squad on the top floor of the adjacent Eason bookshop building on the corner of Abbey and O’Connell Streets.

General Post Office (GPO) and #16 Moore Street: At O’Connell Street turn left and you’ll see the portico of the General Post Office. The Easter Rising started here on Monday, April 24, 1916. Collins, then a staff captain, fought in the building alongside the leaders, who included Pádraig Pearse and James Connolly. By the end of the week Collins and the other rebels were forced to evacuate the burning GPO and take refuge at #16 Moore Street, off Henry Street. A plaque between the second floor windows marks the spot. Currently, #16 is being turned into a museum.

Vaughan’s Hotel, #29 Parnell Square: Proceed along colorful Moore Street – its food and fish mongers are straight out of Joyce and O’Casey – to Parnell Street and turn right.

A short walk will take you to the Rotunda Hospital, the oldest maternity hospital in Europe, and Parnell Square, a hotbed of Fenian revolutionary fervor during the War of Independence. Proceed along Parnell Square West until you come to #29. In Collins’ time this was Vaughan’s Hotel – he called it “Joint Number One” – probably the most important address associated with Collins during this period. He was in and out of the place several times a day even though British “touts” were sniffing about looking for him.

Mountjoy Street: Continue up Parnell Square and continue past the appropriately named Black Church (the Dublin legend swears that if you run around this foreboding structure three times at midnight the devil himself will appear!). At the corner to the left is the cul-de-sac of Mountjoy Street, almost untouched since the early twentieth century. Collins lived at #44, the Munster Hotel in 1917. (Seán MacDiarmada, a signer of the Proclamation, also spent his last night here prior to the Rising.) As times got hotter Collins was forced to abandon the Munster Hotel as a place of lodging, but he continued to have his laundry done there. Right across the street from #44, one of his girlfriend/agents, Dilly Dicker, lived at #30 and he would park his bike in the lane to the side of the building. Another girlfriend, Susan Killeen, lived at #19.

Hugh Lane Gallery & the Garden of Remembrance: As we end our tour, we retrace out steps back to Parnell Square and on the north side you’ll find the Hugh Lane Municipal Gallery of Modern Art. Lane, a nephew of Lady Gregory, drowned when the Lusitania was torpedoed. He bequeathed many works of art to the city of Dublin in his will. Inside the front door is a marble bust of Michael Collins by Cork sculptor Seamus Murphy. Also at the Hugh Lane are many paintings by Sir John Lavery, a friend of Collins. It is rumored that Sir John’s wife, Lady Hazel Lavery, was Collins’ secret lover.

The Dublin Writers Museum is also on this block. Across the street is the Garden of Remembrance, directly behind the Rotunda Hospital. In 1916 all the rebels from the GPO, including Collins, were bivouacked here for the night after their surrender. Indignities against two of the leaders, Tom Clarke and Seán MacDiarmada, by a Captain Lea Percival Wilson of the British Army, would bring retribution years later when Wilson was gunned down in Gorey, County Wexford by the Squad on Collins’ orders.

It was here that Queen Elizabeth II, on her state visit to Ireland in 2011, laid a wreath in memory of those who died in the fight for Irish freedom. As the Queen stood at attention as the Irish national anthem was played, many Dubliners observed that they wouldn’t be surprised if the ghost of Michael Collins, just across the way at Vaughan’s Hotel, was keeping a close eye on the proceedings – and that he would, finally, approve.

* Dermot McEvoy is the author of the “The 13th Apostle: A Novel of a Dublin Family, Michael Collins, and the Irish Uprising and Irish Miscellany” (Skyhorse Publishing). He may be reached at dermotmcevoy50@gmail.com. Follow him at www.dermotmcevoy.com.

When national security undermines human rights

Posted by Jim on February 15, 2016

By Jarlath Kearney (for Irish News)

In December, Britain’s Ministry of Defence published a strategic
analysis entitled ‘Future Operating Environment 2035′.

The document identifies the “survival of the state” and “pursuit of
national security” as foundations of Britain’s security doctrine.

It’s a reminder that Britain’s security elite systematically invests
time and energy in long-term planning and forecasting.

That factor, as much as anything, underwrites the British government’s
current handling of national security in relation to dealing with our
past conflict.

Britain sees national security in terms of twenty years ahead, weighing
the implications of today’s decisions for tomorrow’s outcomes; never
ham-stringing itself for future unknown conflicts.

In tragic contrast, victims of state actions here – those seeking truth
and justice – see national security through the harsh realities of its
devastating effects, stretching over maybe twenty years ago or more (and
continuing).

It’s like looking into the same telescope from opposite ends, but
distanced by a lifetime’s experience.

Britain’s victims don’t understand how a democratic state defends
indefensible practices during the conflict using so-called national
security grounds.

Their perspective magnifies every consequence of Britain’s human rights
breaches, with hundreds of ghosts staring back at still-suffering
relatives.

But Britain’s modern bureaucrats care little about victims’ feelings or
views, or indeed, the implications for the present and future from
failure to properly address the past.

Their primary objective is the future protection of state interests (and
their own careers). They look down the telescope from the wrong end, and
– to them – the victims appear as tiny, insignificant and far away.

The state’s approach is a fundamental mistake, even at the level of
sustaining its own contested notions of ‘democratic Britain’ and
‘national security’.

Remember, it was Westminster’s studied indifference towards 50 years of
sectarian one-party rule which permissively nurtured multi-generational
grievances here among nationalists and republicans.

The irony is that Britain’s national security would be strategically
strengthened by more honesty and openness about the conflict.

Unfortunately the tactical interests of protecting influential officials
and preserving the legends of false reputation are obscuring common
sense approaches on the past. (Maybe similar considerations even affect
all sides, to some degree or other.)

Writing in The Irish News on Friday, Denis Bradley recalled how, six or
seven years ago, a MI5 chief told him that a ‘tsunami’ would rise up on
the past.

So does anyone seriously think MI5 have been twiddling their thumbs for
the past decade or more, sitting around and sweating on that tsunami’s
arrival?

No. They’ve been moving back their deckchairs and buying up the safe
inland real estate – working twenty years ahead.

All of which puts an interesting slant on the recent swelling tide of
public crisis around truth recovery, now rebranded as ‘legacy’.

New revelations leaked to various media? Confusion generated amongst
victims and survivors?

Commentators conditioning people towards limited outcomes? Resource
restrictions continually strangling independent accountability, like the
Police Ombudsman?

Democratic policing weighed down by some unjustifiable decisions on the
past?

When you stand back quietly and look carefully, this supposed chaos
actually reveals patterns. Like a recipe.

Frankly, it feels like our society is now being systematically ‘nudged’
towards a particularly unsatisfactory endpoint on dealing with the past.

(Such a strategy comes from the psychology of behavioural insights.
States use it to shape public attitudes towards preferred policy
outcomes.)

Of course, a positive alternative option still exists.

Any side to the conflict could still take unilateral steps to
voluntarily deliver maximum contributions on truth, thereby reshaping
the public square and recalibrating the whole debate. That could be a
mighty intervention.

Significantly, the most important official counter-narrative to the
steady seepage of British national security ‘nudging’ is currently
coming from the impressive independence and effectiveness of the High
Court.

Two weeks ago, Lord Justice Weir (acting to Lord Chief Justice Morgan)
compellingly demolished every shocking excuse for the state’s ongoing
obstructions and delays of conflict-related inquests.

Likewise, last May, Mr Justice Stephens found the British government
once again in procedural breach of Article 2 of the ECHR – the right to
life – in relation to the murder of lawyer Pat Finucane.

Mr Finucane’s anniversary occurs this Friday – his twenty-seventh.

Perhaps if Britain’s political, military and security elite had not
authorised and caused his murder, Mr Finucane might even be sitting
today on the High Court bench calling the past to account (with
characteristic brilliance) and upholding the rule of law for the safety
and security of all.

And it’s the colossal sadness of such stolen potential which, above all,
reveals how counter-productive and bankrupt Britain’s position can
become when national security undermines human rights.

Villiers makes brazen defence of Crown Forces’ murder campaign

Posted by Jim on February 13, 2016

British Direct Ruler Theresa Villiers has been condemned by the
families of victims of the conflict after she accused them of a
“pernicious narrative” in alleging Crown force collusion and state
killings.

In an attempt to address widespread concern over Britain’s continuing
cover-ups over its ‘Dirty War’ in the North, and most recently the
Shankill Road bomb in 1993, Ms Villiers went on the offensive.

“It wasn’t the RUC [police] or the [British] Army who planted the bombs
at La Mon, Enniskillen, or the Shankill, or pulled the triggers at
Loughinisland or Greysteel,” she declared in a keynote speech on legacy
issues at the Ulster University.

While her government continues to refuse to release documents that
would prove or disprove collusion, citing ‘national security’, she
claimed there had been a disproportionate focus placed on the actions
of the RUC and British Army.

Villiers claimed that the British State was involved in only ten per
cent of the deaths in the conflict, and that the Crown forces had
“saved hundreds of lives”. She rejected claims of “endemic” Crown force
“misconduct”.

Her remark on the Loughinisland massacre particularly dismayed the
families of those victims, as a report by the Police Ombudsman is to be
released shortly.

Emma Rogan, whose father Adrian was one of the six men killed in the
pub shooting while watching a soccer match, said there were questions
to be answered about the weapons used in the attack, the role of state
agents, as well as the police investigation.

Her lawyer, Niall Murphy of KRW Law, said that to make such an
intervention prior to the publication of the ombudsman’s report “calls
into question the judgement of Ms Villiers”.

Sinn Fein Assembly member Chris Hazzard called on Villiers to apologise
to the Loughinisland families.

He pointed out that the assault rifles used in the attack were from a
consignment of weapons brought in by British Military Intelligence and
its agent Brian Nelson, and there was strong evidence that the
involvement of two state agents had been covered up.

“This is a total insult by the British government to the victims and
their families,” he said.

“Maybe Ms Villiers should read some of the files the British government
refuse to disclose to learn what happened at Loughinisland or indeed
actually meet with the families who have lost their loved ones.”

East Derry Assembly member John Dallat of the SDLP accused Villiers of
“rewriting history” by failing to acknowledge the role of the Crown
Forces in the various atrocities. His colleague Mark Durkan MP said
Villiers was attempting to ‘airbrush’ the responsibility and liability
of the British state and forces acting in its name.

Sinn Fein’s Declan Kearney said Villiers’ latest speech had “deepened,
not lessened” the impasse on dealing with the past.

“The fact is that the British state has tried to absolve and distance
the actions of its forces and agents from having any responsibility for
the conflict, and the suffering experienced by all sides.

“Lifting a block on information about the actions of state forces and
agents over 40, 30 or 20 years ago poses no threat to British national
security by any definition.

“There is no actual or arguable way in which disclosure about the
involvement of British soldiers in the Ballymurphy Massacre; the role
of unionist paramilitary state agents in the Dublin/Monaghan bombings;
or the assassination of Pat Finucane by unionist state agents could
undermine British national security in the present-day geopolitical
context.

“Margaret Thatcher personally approved and presided over numerous
state-sanctioned assassinations. The national security pretext is about
trying to keep the focus of information disclosure away from Downing
Street, and the most senior levels of British state decision making.”

Liam Neeson narrated series on Easter Rising a huge hit with Irish critics

Posted by Jim on February 11, 2016

James O’Shea @irishcentral

The Notre Dame-made documentary entitled “1916,” a three-part series on the Easter Rising narrated by Liam Neeson, has gotten off to a splendid start on Irish television. Critics are raving about the Irish American production.

Irish Times critic Bernice Harrison called it a “landmark” series and stated, “its landmark TV status is further burnished by Liam Neeson as voiceover and a full-blooded, atmospheric soundtrack from Patrick Cassidy.”

She continued, “’1916′ is clearly a big budget project: locations mentioned in the credits range from Berlin to India, France to the US. While no documentary about an historical event can be viewed as definitive – not least because as an academic discipline, history studies is built on historians contradicting each other – ‘1916’ succeeds superbly on two fronts: it is lucid, accessible storytelling that creates a vivid and vibrant image of the time; and its editorial viewpoint, that the Rising must be seen in an international context, is a convincing and appealing one.”

The series has already been snapped up by a record 155 public television stations across the US and in countries around the world where the Irish diaspora is spread. It will be shown around St. Patrick’s Day or Easter, the 100th anniversary, across the United States and Canada. The BBC has also picked it up.

The series was funded to the tune of $3 million by the Keough-Naughton Institute, named after the late American Irish philanthropist and Coca-Cola president Don Keough and Irish businessman Martin Naughton of Glen Dimplex. It was overseen by Briona Nic Dhiarmada, an Irish filmmaker who is a visiting professor at Notre Dame.

Harrison notes, “’1916′ is directed by Ruán Magan and is a well-constructed, thoroughly researched project with many historians on camera. Its key strength is the way it skilfully condenses historical events without leaving the viewer feeling short-changed or confused.

“The contention is that a rebellion was not inevitable on that particular day in Easter week, but it was bound to come, because of the history of oppression but also because of the mood internationally at the start of the 20th century. The fight for Irish independence, it effectively suggests, was a reaction to the spread of the British Empire, a wartime enhanced understanding of nationhood and a rising class consciousness. The film also sees echoes of the American War of Independence and the French Revolution in the Rising. Comparisons are made with the language in the Proclamation and the US constitution noting the emphasis on equal rights, opportunities, and happiness.”

She quotes Liam Neeson, “In time the Rising would inspire freedom movements around the world.” There’s not much room in ‘1916’ for those revisionist ideas that the Easter week rebels were a small bunch of blood-sacrifice terrorists with no popular mandate, who wreaked havoc on O’Connell Street and wasted lives.”

As a result of the global perspective Irish America, especially the role of John Devoy, is much more widely covered as is Roger Casement, who during his colonial career witnessed horrific abuse of natives in the Congo.

The Notre Dame production “is that rare thing: a thoroughly engaging history lesson,” concludes Harrison

Concerned Members of the Affiliated Organizations of the NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade

Posted by Jim on February 9, 2016

Questions to the Board of the NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade

Concerned Members of the Affiliated Organizations of the NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade

Feb 9, 2016 — In the spirit of St. Patrick, the Concerned Members of the Affiliated Organizations (“CMAO”) thanks Dr. Lahey for visiting with the various Affiliated Organizations regarding the current controversies surrounding the Parade. We had hoped that Dr. Lahey would use these visits to listen and reflect on the questions and concerns about the Parade from the people whom he himself described as “the heart and soul of the parade.” It is with great sadness and regret that we must report that rather than embracing this opportunity; he has chosen to engage in self-justification and not dialogue.

We reluctantly feel obliged to inform the Affiliated Organizations of what has been seen and experienced by the members of the various organizations over the past several weeks as we have attended a number of meetings at which Dr. Lahey has made numerous contradictory statements which have unfortunately raised more questions than answers. We wish to share with you some unresolved questions:

WHY does Dr. Lahey say, on the one hand, that he recognizes John Tully as “the elected Chairman of the Parade Committee,” but at a different meeting say that he does not recognize the duly elected Parade Committee, nor the right of Affiliated Organizations to vote for anyone other than candidates preapproved by the Board?

WHY does Dr. Lahey say that “the Board will not recognize the Parade Committee” since the Board has not met since September of 2015, well before the election of the Grand Marshall? Does Dr. Lahey’s position reflect a formal position of the entire Board, or does it reflect his personal opinion?

WHY has Dr. Lahey APPOINTED a Special Executive Committee led by Hilary Beirne and Frank McGreal to run the 2016 Parade when the duly elected Parade Committee has consistently offered their services?

WHY does Dr. Lahey not seem to know who is in charge of the Formation Committee, since he declared at one meeting that Hillary Beirne was in charge, but on the same day a letter was issued, signed by Dr. Leahey and “Mr. Reilly Dondon, Formation Chairman”, announcing a Delegates meeting?

WHY has there been no money for Parade Committee scholarships for the past two years, when the Board has seen fit to pay more than $17,000 for a reception at the NY Athletic Club?

WHY is a Quinnipiac University public relations person listed as the contact person in the press package issued at the formal announcement of the Grand Marshall?

WHY is the duly elected Parade Committee not listed on the Parade Corporation letterhead or website?

WHY did the Board list members of the Parade Committee and several other individuals on a fundraising appeal letter as members of the Journal Committee without their approval or any prior notice?

WHY are there THREE members on the Board who are not eligible to serve, according to the requirements for membership put forth in the Parade Corporation By-Laws?

WHY is the Parade Corporation spending money on a very public lawsuit, rather than trying to preserve money and resolve disputes quietly and personally?

WHY is the Parade Corporation locked into a 3-year contract with NBC, costing $525,000 in broadcasting fees to NBC and $600,000 in production costs, without having opened the television contract up to a public bidding process?

WHY is the Parade paying NBC, rather than being paid for the privilege of letting NBC broadcast the parade and deriving their own revenues?

WHY has there only been one meeting of the Affiliated Organizations this year, when by this time in past years there would have been several?

WHY did Hilary Beirne submit a letter to the Attorney General of New York, apparently without Dr. Lahey’s prior knowledge or approval (according to Dr. Lahey), while at the same time he was saying publicly that he wanted to avoid government interference?

It should be clear that the concerns being raised are less about the personalities of any one individual, than they are about preserving and strengthening the voice of the Affiliated Organizations. We reject the idea of a limited Board of self-perpetuating individuals who have no obligation to listen to the democratically-elected representatives of the people who make up the Parade.

We have great respect and admiration for Senator Mitchell, and none of our questions should be in any way interpreted as aimed at the Grand Marshal. In fact, that some groups are participating in the Parade at all is largely due to his presence. But many groups who would normally sponsor tables and ads in the journal have declined to do so this year, in silent protest of the actions of the Board. If the Board refuses to acknowledge the elected representatives of the Affiliated Organizations, then the Affiliated Organizations quite reasonably are asking why they should support the Board.

We have a concern that the Board is no longer working for the good of the parade.

These are only some of the many questions raised by many people who are concerned about the Parade. The Affiliated Organizations have been unable to get satisfactory answers. We encourage all who are involved in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade to continue to ask questions – in public meetings, by writing to newspapers and individuals concerned, including the Parade leaders, the Cardinal, and anyone whose voice should be heard. Make your own voices and feelings known in your local and county and state groups, and in any conversation between now and March 17.

God bless your efforts, and may St. Patrick continue to bless and protect his parade and his people.

Freedom for All Ireland Christmas Appeal – tonight at Wolfe Tone’s Irish Pub

Posted by Jim on

The New York State Board of the Ancient Order of Hibernians

Invite You To

Wolfe Tone’s Irish Pub & Kitchen

37 East 29th Street (between Park and Madison Avenues)

to attend the

Freedom for All Ireland Christmas Appeal Fundraiser

Wednesday, February 10th 2016 from 6-9 p.m.

Guest Speakers, Raffles and Entertainment

$25 Donation Per Person

For Information Contact:

Ciaran Geraghty, NYS FFAI Chairman (cgeraght@nycap.rr.com)

‘Stakeknife’ repercussions become public

Posted by Jim on February 6, 2016

A row has broken out among republicans in Belfast over the impact of
infiltration by informers in the aftermath of the apparent exposure of
another highly-placed double agent within the Provisional IRA.

The row began when former Sinn Fein director of publicity Danny Morrison
unexpectedly claimed that double agent Freddie Scappaticci was stood
down from the organisation in 1990 under suspicion that he was an
informer, long before many of the killings which he has been accused of
being involved in.

In a blog post, he sought to play down the damage done to the IRA by the
agent known as ‘Stakeknife’. He said that while the directing of
informers at a high level by the British government had been “immoral”
and had caused “ordinary suffering and long-lasting grief”, it had
“never deflected the course of Irish history”

He said he did not believe allegations about Scappaticci’s activities in
the 1990s and his alleged involvement in the arrest and interrogations
of suspected informers, or telling relatives about the killings of their
loved ones.

“I do not believe this to be true,” he wrote. “The IRA told me that
Scappaticci was redundant after 7th January 1990.”

The new claims by the former Sinn Fein spokesman contrast sharply with
the previous statements of party figures, including Morrison himself,
who expressed doubt about the allegations against Scappaticci when they
surfaced in 2003. They came just days after the PSNI said they plans to
bring an outside police force in to investigate the activities of
‘Stakeknife’.

But a former IRA prisoner, once jailed alongside Morrison, has disputed
the claims.

Gerard Hodgins said the first he knew Scappaticci was a British agent
was when he was outed in the media in 2003.

Mr Hodgins said; “There was never any word sent in to the prison that
Scap had been stood down and never any suggestion he’d been the informer
in our case.

“When the news about Scap did eventually break I read it in the paper
like everyone else, it was a bit of a relief to finally know because I’d
always been sure that there was at least one informer involved.

“I’ve no idea why these claims are only surfacing now, but you can be
sure someone, somewhere has decided it would be politically advantageous
to claim Scap was out of the loop by 1990,” he added.

Amid claims that up to twenty IRA figures were exposed as agents by the
papers taken from Castlereagh, Sinn Fein has come under pressure to
reveal what the party knows about the level of penetration of the
republican movement by informers.

Scappaticci is reported to be living in England under a false identity.
Although the PSNI have said he is to be investigated for his alleged
role in more than two dozen killings, he has never been arrested. Last
Friday a court heard claims by the authorities that there was no money
to fund the investigation.

Kevin Winters who represents a number of families, including that of
Caroline Moreland, allegedly killed by Scappaticci in 1994 amid
accusations she was an informer, said the families are frustrated by the
delays and excuses.

“We will be back in the High Court in February as part of the challenge
taken by the family of Caroline Moreland at which time we expect details
of what steps have been taken to resource a fully independent
investigation”, Mr Winters said.

Irish words litter New York City slang

Posted by Jim on

by Brendan Patrick Keane

Just before he died, Daniel Cassidy released a pioneering book that begins to prove how American slang has a root in the Irish American urban experience.

As usual, snoots would rather fall on the side of error than to end the kibosh on ascribing Irish origins to any aspect of Anglo-American society.

Ireland has a native civilization older than England or France, and it has out-proportioned contributions to modernist culture, but it is more usually described as derivative rather than an originator of trends. Despite stubborn refusal, “jazz” and “poker”, “moolah” and “spunk” all derive from Irish Gaelic, which was used in New York by the Irish like Yiddish and Spanglish was used later-on in the city.

Some dismiss these theories without any real understanding of the Irish Gaelic language. They existentially must disallow the language had mixed with English – jerks without the knack to dig it. Others dismiss the theories in loyalty to academia’s wine and cheese status quo, and don’t wish to seem too maverick, or too “street,” like Cassidy who had an unabashed Brooklyn accent. There’s an element of snobbery involved in the outright refusal many swells have for this working stiff’s tome.

Cassidy was among those who have begun to case the hidden history, anyway, and show how gambling slang, underworld lingo, street gang terms, street-wise cant, merchant code and political jargon in New York City is teeming with Irish Gaelic that melted into American English.

Fellow politically-minded academics present English history and culture as being spic and span of Irish influence, and so ignore impulsively, both Irish American slang-smiths in the modern period and Irish Gaelic teachers who taught the early Medieval English how to read and write. They prefer to label Irish words in English as unknown, or originated in more swank cultures like Latin or French. It’s basic prejudice on the side of the common hegemony, rooted in ignorance.

This is a small taste compiled from Daniel Cassidy’s boss book, “How the Irish Invented Slang”, and from Niall Ó Donaill’s “Foclóir Gaeilge-Béarla”.

We don’t normally exclaim “Gee whiz” or “Gee whilikers” anymore. We associate such talk with a classic time in New York, when Irish Gaelic was the secret language of the slums, an Irish Gaelic word which means ‘s slom é, or “it’s bleak.” In the slums it was common to hear Irish people say Dia Thoilleachas, Gee Hillukus, which became Gee Whilikers, and means the “will of God.” “Gee” is the approximate pronunciation of Dia, or the Irish word for God. “Holy cow” means Holy Cathú or Holy Cahoo or Holy Grief. “Darn” is another Gaelic exclamation. In Irish you say daithairne ort, which means, “darn on you” or “misfortune on you.” Gee whiz comes from Dia Uas or Geeuh Woous which means “noble god.”

Irish love words were once all over pop songs pumped out from Tin Pan Alley. “Mother Macree”, or mother of my heart, was a huge hit from those early days of pop. A big name in early popular theater, was Irishman Dion Boucicault who wrote ‘The Streets of New York”, and included lots of Gaelic in the titles and dialogue of his blockbusters.

Irish pet names like peata, or pet, are still current, as is báb or bawb, which is babe today.

Love songs were published as sheet music for people to sing to at the piano, and it was commonplace to hear Irish pet names like Avourneen, Mavourneen, Acushla, Agrah and other lovely words like that

The Irish were pioneers in pop culture, and they littered American popular entertainment from Mother Macree to Huckleberrry Finn with snippets of their language.

If you want to cully support, you’re calling on your cuallaí, or friends to help you. In modern Irish, collaí has the sense of being carnal or sexual.

If you want to gather people together you make a ballyhoo about the gathering, which in Irish is bailliú, and pronounced like ballyhoo. You might use a slogan in your ballyhoo to promote the gathering, as slogan comes from slua ghairm, the yell of a crowd or a battle-cry. Ballyhoo entered the language at the circus, where Irish people would use slogans to make ballyhoo about a new show everyone should come out and see. Buddy is another Irish Gaelic word, which comes from the Irish expression, a vuddy, or a bhodaigh, which means something like “pal.” The root of the word bhodaigh is strangely, bod, which is the Irish word for penis, and pronounced like bud.

Speaking of body parts, the Irish put their Gaelic mark all over the stiff, or corpse, which comes from the word staf or “big guy.” If someone has their snoot in the air, they’re acting like snoots, which comes from the Irish expression snua aird or when someone appears to be on high, and is acting like a swank swell with his nose in the air.

Swank is the Irish word somhaoineach or “valuable” in disguise. Swell is the word sóúil or “luxurious” dolled up to suit the English speaker. If you kick a rich guy in the can, you’re kicking him in his ceann which is the “extremity” of a thing, and also “head,” which is at the other end from the tail end.

Dogs comes from do chos your feet. The vulgar word for the vagina, pussy, isn’t so bad, it just means pus or pouty lips in Irish Gaelic. It’s a descriptive term, and not insulting. Mug, however, is insulting, and the common phrase “ugly mug” comes from the word muic, which means pig.

Irish Gaelic was a secret language in Éire, which was once an Ireland riddled with foreign spies, and so it was a language to keep the copper (the catcher, the thinker) from catching on. Cop comes from ceapaim, and means “I catch, think etc.” You try to keep the cop from figuring out your racket, or your reacaireacht, your “dealing, selling or gossiping.”

Just like the word bailiff came from the Gaelic word baille for bally or homevillage, the word in New York for the cop on the beat, was the ceap on the béad, the protector on ill-deeds.

Another kind of Big Shot is the racketeer, who can be a cop or a goon – glommers collecting grift – official or underworld. There’s little difference when you boil it down between official thieves and illegal ones, and the Irish knew this, observing the most organized acts of criminality enacted by a dolled up British state, exploiting and criminalizing their own civilization. Big Shot is the Irish word for chief in disguise: seoid, meaning “jewel” or figuratively, “chief.”

Racketeer is also related to the Irish word reachtaire which was the title for the money-taking administrator at a colonial big house or at a church office back in Ireland. On the streets of New York, the racketeer has translated the duties and strategies of the colonizer into street crime rackets for himself–the oppressed learn the methods of oppression better than anyone.

A word that should be brought back is “joint” for place or establishment or room. It’s a word that instantly conjures an entire world of old New York. It comes from the Irish word for protection or shelter, a place with a roof, such as in the root of the Irish word for penthouse, díonteach or jeent-ock.

If you want to ditch a joint, and skedaddle in a jiffy, because some dick has copped on to your whereabouts, you want to de áit a díonteach or de-place a joint, and sciord ar dólámh or make an all out slip in a deifir in a “hurry,” because some dearc or “eye” or PI, has ceaptha or thought or caught on to your whereabouts.

Eugene O’Neill was another huge name in early American pop culture. His plays were also high art, but riddled with Irish themes and language. His favorite word for money was jack, which is a straight-up glom from the Irish tiach, or money or purse. A guy with a jack-roll, was a guy with a wad of cash, spoondoolies or dollars, rolled up. Spoondoolie is one of those old slang words that got resurrected recently in video games, along with Simolions, the currency of Sim City, an urban planning computer fantasy. They’re weird English takes on Irish Gaelic expression for a big pile of money or suim oll amháin.

Not everyone is hip to the process where words in one language get misheard and pronounced differently in the new language. In Irish if you want make sure someone understands your meaning, you say, Diggin tú? It’s a normal phrase you hear at the end of sentences all the time. In America, An duigeann tú? Became Diggin you? or You dig? It takes a certain knack to understand how closely related the concepts and sounds of tuig and dig are to each other.

Most scholars go by their goofy hunch, that tells them that Irish Gaelic is some dead language no one ever spoke. In fact, it was the first language of most Irish Americans that came here in the big flood of Irish after the famine, when that famine adversely targeted Irish-speaking areas first and foremost, sending Irish speakers to America before anyone.

In the anti-Gaelic mind, Irish language is a queer idea, and way too vast a thing to even engage – easier to kill it than to incorporate it into an academic’s repertoire of reference. The academic makes this decision usually because he or she is already burdened with three centuries of censorious English state propaganda about the meaning and origin of Anglo-American civilization, which did not come about like their poets’ tell us it did.

Another reason Irish Gaelic is neglected as an original source for American slang, is because a lot of the street slang that the Irish made up, relates to a world of vice and crime, some Irish would prefer did not exist.

There is shame associated with the destruction of native Irish Gaelic civilization, because the Irish lost their literature and institutions with the victory of the British Empire over their native government. They were impoverished, and took up crime in some instances. The Irish share with Black people and Jews, an urban legacy in America that is not squeaky clean, but rather dirty, like life is dirty when you have no money.

Having street smarts is one way to look at the world realistically, and not be duped by those who would double cross you to take your jag on the personal level or your natural resources on the imperial one. Those who first come to the city as hicks or boobs, come with the law of hospitality firmly entrenched in their hearts, only to awaken from such kindness by the cruelty of urban America. It’s dangerous to be a dork or ninny in the dog eat dog world. That’s why there are so many words for the person-preconditioning, the person before he develops the cop-on that accompanies an ambitious life post-nincumpoop to make it in New York.

One way to wake up is to get slugged in the face and have your jag jacked. The Fighting Irish is a common aptronym that describes the occupation of many a brawler that had to whale on an opponent to survive or climb the ladder leading out of the rat race.

As an organized people, they were sparring with the much better organized establishment. The Irish bickered with the WASP elite until the established order in New York broke down, reformed the sweatshop system of labor in Victorian Anglo-American society, and conceded to the unions and political machines the rights and benefits that created the middle class from the working class that the establishment would have been happy to see slaving away in sweatshops to this day. Instead, the Irish organized and fought for a conception of America that yielded working people an American Dream, a chance to climb out of the slum and into a middle class job and lifestyle.

Lace curtain Irish is a term that describes the middle class Irish who climbed out of the slum into the spic and span homes of the American dream. They left behind a time in American cities when the Irish were smack dab in the middle of street life, theater, pop entertainment and politics. The swells from the WASP tradition who owned the banks and institutions of American society tried everything to defame and prevent the Irish from joining their swank ranks, but that ended, or so the story goes, when JFK broke the barrier that separated the WASP from the Irish, and went from Harvard to the White House, key bastions of the establishment’s institutional power.

One of the ways the Irish got there was by giving up their jazzy speech for the snazzy touch that remade them into crackers and honkies. Although it’s commonplace to describe the Irish today as white establishment members, par excellence, they come from Irish Gaelic roots that put them in the middle of New York street life. We’re comfortable enough now where we can re-engage that original condition, and reclaim for ourselves a key position in the history of American pop entertainment, language and culture.
Taken from the article originally published in 2010.

AMERICANS & IRELAND’S CONFLICT

Posted by Jim on February 3, 2016

by Michael J. Cummings

American activists have worked hard to educate their fellow citizens about Britain’s murderous role in Northern Ireland. Success of a sort for their efforts was achieved when President Clinton acknowledged England’s deceit and demanded an a end to violence and more dialogue. As the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising approaches, it is worth remembering the issues that gave rise to the Easter Rebellion in 1916 were also at the center of the modern struggle: democracy, rule of law, justice and a cruel inequality. So why did it take three decades of war in six of the 9 counties of Ulster for the U. S. to realize that?

Advocates here …the Hibernians, the Brehon Law Society, NORAID, the Irish American Unity Conference and human and civil rights activists…were variously labeled as Communists, gun runners, terrorists, dupes, dreamers and dissidents. Many Americans would claim to be well read on the subject or knowledgeable solely because they were Irish-American or born in Ireland. Most, including public officials and graduates from prestigious institutions of higher learning, were surprisingly ill informed or comfortably ignorant.

Most of those opposed to the pleas for U. S. involvement were one of three types: The Optimist; The Know-It-All; and The Delusional. The Optimists seemed satisfied with every report of progress invariably promoted by British media. For example, a ‘reform’ involved the forced retirement of 1000 Royal Ulster Constabulary. It was, in fact, a two part scheme to provide hush money to “…the worst of the lot…” and to mask many being re-hired months later for the unstated purpose of covering up their dirty work. Yet another scenario is the well received announcement that the Britain was to conduct independent inquiries into the murder of Patrick Finucane (1989) and the bombings of Dublin and Monaghan (1974). For over two decades the British Army and MI-5 have used every bureaucratic and legal obstacle to prevent the truth being told. A ‘reform’ announcement that Executive authority was being returned to the N. I. Director of Prosecution Services was later followed by disclosure that the ability to actually indict remains firmly with the UK Attorney General.

The Know-It-All, on the other hand, reckons the conflict is a ‘chicken or egg story’. The IRA are the antagonists while loyalists and the British are innocent bystanders responding in self-defense. Many believed that the gun was introduced into Irish politics by the IRA but in the late 60’s it was Ian Paisley’s Ulster Protestant Action group and the Ulster Constitution Defense Committee that detonated bombs at the Ballyshannon power plant, at the Silent Valley Reservoir and during a 1970 trial where jurors were deliberating the fate of loyalist bombers. All were blamed on the IRA initially. Paisley was following the 1914 example of loyalist leader Sir Edward Carson who was buying arms in 1914 to insure the Irish Home Rule statute would never come into effect. Then there is Britain’s 40 years of lying about soldiers being attacked on Bloody Sunday by IRA gunmen to justify their slaughter of 14 innocent and unarmed Catholic protesters. The Saville Report proved there was no threat to the soldiers. One later testified they were instructed “…to get a few kills.” The Royal Ulster Constabulary and B Specials killed 8 of the first 9 people of the conflict including a 9 year old child.

Then we have the Delusional. With no more fact than your average British Army press release, these people cling to the proposition that Britain is the font of all democracy and the rule of law. However, British voting chicanery and violence in the North would shock a Chicago Alderman. Five elected Sinn Fein Councilors and 11 campaign workers were assassinated while performing such threatening activities as vote canvassing and the carrying of petitions. Not for them an arrest or trial by jury. Britain’s MI-5 authorized Brian Nelson to purchase a cache of modern weaponry in 1985 from South Africa, despite a U. S. ban on arms sales and sanctions at the time. Then, in violation of British law the arms were given to N. I. loyalist death squads. The effect? From 1988-1994 229 killings, mostly innocent Catholics, were linked to those weapons. This not only was in aid of the apartheid regime but against every tenet of international and human rights law. The British cultivate these delusions with propaganda stunts like periodic royal visits. But how’s this for “Keeping up appearances.” Britain murders two Subjects of Her Majesty, lawyers Patrick Finucane and Rosemary Nelson, but duped the American Bar Association into hosting a nationwide tour of the Magna Carta, touting it as the foundation of democracy and the rule of law!! Talk about being used, insulted and stroked all at once! The public pays homage to the 1000 year old sheepskin clueless as to just how lawlessly Britain has governed in N. I. No less a person that the late Speaker of the House Tom Foley testified before a House Foreign Affairs sub-Committee on the International Fund for Ireland that “..there was no such thing as British oppression.” Gives a whole new meaning to delusional, no?

The 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising should not be an occasion to arouse old hatreds but to recognize the common injustices and cruelty that forced a resort to arms in 1916 and again in the 1970’s. Britain still buries the bitter and violent legacy of the North and blocks every effort to disclose the truth of their treachery. Now is the time for America and Americans to shed their delusions and optimism about the so-called ‘special relationship’ and demand the type of full disclosure that can bring true peace.

Brooklyn – THE FIRST COFFIN SHIPS IN AMERICA

Posted by Jim on

February 1, 2016 by Mike McCormack

Wallabout Bay is small body of water along the northwest shore of Brooklyn, NY. In 1801, a settlement called Vinegar Hill was built on that bay to attract Irish immigrants to settle there and provide the labor to build the Brooklyn Navy Yard which opened in 1806. However, Vinegar Hill was built on an area which, 20 years earlier, had seen incredible horror!

During the American Revolution, the British had captured thousands of soldiers, sailors, and even private citizens who would not swear allegiance to the Crown. When they ran out of jail space to house their prisoners they used ship hulls, no longer seaworthy, anchored in Wallabout Bay as floating prisons. Conditions were so terrible that more Americans died on these prison ships than in all the battles of the Revolution! According to the U.S. Dept of Defense, there were 4,435 battle deaths during the War yet more than 11,500 died from neglect, cruelty and disease on these rotting hulls. William Burke, a prisoner aboard the prison ship Jersey, wrote, At night, when the prisoners were assembled at the hatchway, for the purpose of obtaining fresh air, one of the sentinels would thrust his bayonet down among them, and one morning twenty-five of them were found wounded, and stuck in the head, and dead of the wounds they had thus received. I further recollect that this was the case several mornings, when sometimes eight or ten, were found dead by the same means. The dead would be carried ashore and buried in the sand in shallow graves, or simply thrown overboard.

Among the patriots imprisoned were a great many Irish. In 1888, the Society of Old Brooklynites published a pamphlet which gave the names of those confined on the ship Jersey. From that source, John D Crimmins in Irish American Miscellany (1905) lists at least 363 Irish names and reports that many more could be added, but these were sufficient to make his point that a large number of the sons of Erin were among those who suffered on the prison ships. Capt. Thomas Dring, who was imprisoned aboard the Jersey, added, There were continual noises during the night. The groans of the sick and dying; the curses poured out by the exhausted upon our inhuman keepers; the restlessness caused by the suffocating heat and the confined and poisonous air, mingled with the wild and incoherent ravings of delirium, were the sounds which, every night, were raised around us in all directions. Another writer stated, Dysentery, smallpox, and yellow fever broke out, and while so many were sick with raging fever, there was a loud cry for water; but none could be had, except on the upper deck. One incident is recorded regarding a prisoner, who died on the Jersey: Two young men, brothers, were prisoners on board the ship. The elder took the fever, and, in a few days became delirious. One night (his end was fast approaching) he became calm and sensible, and lamenting his hard fate, and the absence of his mother, begged for a little water. His brother, with tears, entreated the guard to give him some, but in vain. The sick youth was soon in his last struggles, when his brother offered the guard a guinea for an inch of candle, only that he might see his brother die. Even this was denied. ‘ Now,’ said he, drying up his tears, ‘ if it please God that I ever regain my liberty, I’ll be a most bitter enemy!’ He regained his liberty, rejoined the army, and when the war ended, he had eight large, and one hundred and twenty-seven small notches on his rifle stock. After the surrender at Yorktown in 1781, the fighting ended, but the cruelty on the prison ships continued until the Treaty of Paris was signed and the Brits left New York, two whole years later, in 1783!

In the History of the City of Brooklyn, author Henry Stiles narrates a scene that took place on July 4, 1782, after the war was over, as prisoners attempted to celebrate the anniversary of Independence Day. He wrote: A very serious conflict with the guard occurred in consequence of the prisoners attempting to celebrate the day with such observances as their condition permitted. Upon going on deck in the morning, they displayed thirteen little national flags in a row upon the booms which were immediately torn down and trampled under the feet of the guard. Deigning no notice of this, the prisoners proceeded to amuse themselves with patriotic songs, speeches, and cheers, all the while avoiding whatever could be construed as an intentional insult of the guards who, at an unusually early hour in the afternoon, drove them below at the point of the bayonet, and closed the hatches. Between decks, the prisoners now continued their singing, until about nine o’clock in the evening. An order to desist not having been promptly complied with, the hatches were suddenly removed, and the guards descended among them with cutlasses in their hands. Then ensued a scene of terror. The helpless prisoners, retreating from the hatchways as far as crowded condition would permit, were followed by the guards, who mercilessly hacked, cut, and wounded everyone within their reach; and then ascending again to the upper deck, fastened down the hatches upon the poor victims of their cruel rage, leaving them to languish through the long, sultry, summer night, without water to cool their parched throats, and without lights by which they might have dressed their wounds. And to add to their torment, it was not until the middle of the next forenoon, that the prisoners were allowed to go on deck and slake their thirst, or to receive their rations of food, which, that day, they were obliged to eat uncooked. Ten corpses were found below on the morning following that memorable 4th of July and many others were badly wounded. And the war had been over for 10 months!

In a letter to Naval Magazine, General Jeremiah Johnson wrote, It was no uncommon thing to see five or six dead bodies brought on shore in a single morning, when a small excavation would be dug at the foot of the hill, the bodies be thrown in, and a man with a shovel would cover them. The whole shore was a place of graves; as were also the slope of the hill, the shore and the sandy island. The atmosphere seemed to be charged with foul air from the prison-ships, and with the effluvia of the dead bodies washed out of their graves by the tides. We believe that more than half of the dead buried on the outer side were washed out by the waves at high tide. The bones of the dead lay exposed along the beach, drying and bleaching in the sun, till reached by the power of a succeeding storm; as the agitated waters receded, the bones receded with them into the deep. For years after, the bones of these martyrs to American freedom were visible along the shore.

Stiles noted, There was however, one condition upon which these hapless sufferers might have escaped the torture of this slow but certain death, and that was enlistment in the British service. This chance was daily offered them by the recruiting officers who visited the ship, but their offers were almost invariably treated with contempt by men who fully expected to die. In spite of untold physical sufferings, which might well have shaken the resolution of the strongest; in spite of the insinuations of the British that they were neglected by their government; in defiance of threats of even harsher treatment, and regardless of promises of food and clothing, but few sought relief from their woes by the betrayal of their honor. And these few went forth into liberty followed by the undisguised contempt of the suffering heroes whom they left behind. It was this calm, unfaltering, unconquerable spirit of patriotism, defying torture, starvation, loathsome disease, and the prospect of a neglected and forgotten grave, which sanctifies to every American heart the scene of their suffering in the Wallabout, and which will render the sad story of the ‘prison-ships ‘ one of ever increasing interest to all future generations. As a footnote to the tragedy, the Brit Commander of the prison ships was charged with war crimes and subsequently hanged.

Eighteen years later, when the community of Vinegar Hill was established, residents were shocked by the skeletal remains of the prison ship victims exposed along the shoreline. During the summer of 1805, local Irish women began collecting the remains when they became exposed or washed ashore. The bones were saved and finally interred in a vault patriotically erected by the Tammany Society. The corner stone of the vault for the bones of the martyred dead, was laid in April, 1808 and marked with a great demonstration, a military and civic parade in the city and artillery salutes. When completed, the bones were re- interred in 13 thirteen coffins, with veterans of the Revolution acting as pall bearers. Stiles records that, The procession, after passing through various streets, reached the East River, where, at different places, boats had been provided for crossing to Brooklyn. Thirteen large open boats transported the thirteen tribes of the Tammany Society, each containing one tribe, one coffin, and the pall-bearers. The scene was most inspiring. At Brooklyn, the procession formed again and arrived at the tomb of the martyrs amidst a vast and mighty assemblage. There was an invocation by Rev. Ralph Williston. The coffins were huge in size and each bore the name of one of the thirteen original states. The first grand sachem of Tammany was William Mooney, a man of Irish extraction and leader of the Sons of Liberty – a patriot society formed before the Revolution. By the 1840s, the monument was in a state of disrepair. In 1873 a large stone crypt was constructed in the heart of what is now Fort Greene Park, and the bones were re-interred therein. A small monument was erected on the hill above the crypt. By the close of the 19th century, funds were raised for a more fitting memorial – a 148 ft. tower which stands today in Fort Greene Park (www.fortgreenepark.org) and was unveiled in 1908 by President Taft. Today, the Prison Ship Martyrs Memorial marks the site of a crypt containing the bones of more than 11,500 of America’s prison ship martyrs.

Election called for February 26th, parliament dissolved

Posted by Jim on

The 26 County President, Michael D Higgins, has dissolved parliament at
the request of Taoiseach Enda Kenny, who has called a general election.

Mr Kenny arrived at around 10.30 and quickly signed the proclamation
formally dissolving parliament. Speaking in Leinster House, the
Taoiseach and Fine Gael leader said that the next parliament would meet
on Thursday March 10th and confirmed that the election would take place
on February 26th.

The Taoiseach and Tanaiste and Labour leader, Joan Burton, posed for
photographs on the steps of Government Buildings as their coalition
government was dissolved. Kenny declared “this is not goodbye” as he
headed for the Aras an Uachtaran, the President’s official residence in
Dublin.

Burton told reporters she’s also confident of being back: “This is
Seachtain Naoimh Bride [St Brigid’s Week] which is also the week of my
own birthday. She was a very powerful woman and role model in early
Irish history and I have to say I am absolutely delighted to be the
first woman leader of the Labour party.”

The most recent opinion poll saw Fine Gael at 30 per cent and Labour at
7 per cent, Fianna Fail at 19 per cent, Sinn Fein at 21 per cent and
Independents/Others at 23 per cent. Political commentators see little
chance of any party holding an overall majority folowing the election,
and speculation over future potential coalitions has dominated news
coverage so far.

It is set to be a short election campaign officially, but the election
announcement had been repeatedly delayed. When it came this morning, it
finally brought an end to a faltering parliament as fewer and fewer TDs
bothered to appear, having already begun canvassing in their
constituencies. Dail proceedings were delayed on occasion because a
quorum of TDs were not present for the normal 9.30am start.

In another controversy, some TDs had erected election posters in
favoured locations ahead of the announcement, in contravention of
littering laws.

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin complained that there was no
opportunity to pay tribute to retiring members and Sinn Fein’s
Caoimhghin O Caolain described it as “a pathetic end to a pathetic
Dail”.

In a statement, Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams outlined the steep cuts to
education, welfare and health brought in by what he said were “some of
the most reprehensible policy decisions ever made by a Government in
this State”.

They have brought chaos to the lives of ordinary citizens, he said, and
another generation had been forced into emigration.

“But now, for the first time since the foundation of this State, there
is an opportunity for real change. I hope they choose for fairness and
for genuine Republican politics. I hope they vote for Sinn Fein.”

Top informer linked to Shankill Road bomb

Posted by Jim on February 1, 2016

Decrypted classified documents obtained by the Provisional IRA have
shown that a state agent was behind one of the most notorious tragedies
of the conflict, the Shankill Road bomb attack in 1993.

According to a report this morning, a former IRA ‘commander’ in Ardoyne
has been exposed as an informer and double agent working for RUC Special
Branch for more than a decade. Known to Special Branch as ‘AA’, he
cannot be named for legal reasons.

According to the documents, the informer’s handlers were fully informed
of the plan to target the offices used by loyalist death squad leader
Johnny Adair and other UDA leadership figures.

For reasons still unknown the bomb exploded prematurely, killing eight
civilians as well as IRA Volunteer Thomas Begley and injuring his
comrade Sean Kelly. The outcry over the loss of life increased pressure
on the Provisional IRA to call a ceasefire, which they did ten months
later. It also brought about a wave of ‘reprisal’ attacks by loyalists
such as the Greysteel massacre a week later.

The informer in question was identified after the IRA decoded
information from documents taken from inside the Special Branch’s
headquarters at Castlereagh on St Patrick’s Day in 2001. Calls made to
his special branch handlers are logged throughout the documents,
including the information that he carried out the scouting operations
for the attack himself.

He was also involved in numerous other IRA actions at the time he was
working for the RUC. He was quietly replaced by the Provisional Army
Council in 2002, although no explanation was given to the Volunteers
under his control, and continues to live in the Ardoyne area.

The British Crown forces have previously been accused of allowing other
attacks to proceed for their own sinister agenda, such as the devasting
‘Real IRA’ attack in Omagh in 1998. Twenty-nine people died in that
attack after telephoned bomb warnings failed to clear the area around
the bomb. The public outcry led to the organisation calling a ceasefire
three weeks later.

The Police Ombudsman has now been asked to investigate the evidence that
the RUC “could have prevented” the Shankill bomb. The complaint has been
made by a family member of one of the victims, and was lodged on Friday.

Feast of Brigid

Posted by Jim on

Imbolc, known as the Feast of Brigid, celebrates the arrival of longer, warmer days and the early signs of spring.

It is one of the four major “fire” festivals (quarter days, referred to in Irish mythology from medieval Irish texts. The other three festivals on the old Irish calendar are Beltane, Lughnasadh, and Samhain (Halloween).

The word Imbolc means literally “in the belly” in the old Irish Neolithic language, referring to the pregnancy of ewes.

In ancient Irish mythology, Brigid was a fire goddess. Nowadays, her canonization is celebrated with a perpetual flame at her shrine in Kildare.

St. Brigid represents the Irish aspect of divine femininity in her role as patron of babies, blacksmiths, boatmen, cattle farmers, children whose parents are not married, children whose mothers are mistreated by the children’s fathers, Clan Douglas, dairymaids, dairy workers, fugitives, Ireland, Leinster, mariners, midwives, milkmaids, nuns, poets, the poor, poultry farmers, poultry raisers, printing presses, sailors, scholars, travelers, and watermen. Here’s a busy saint!

One folk tradition that continues in some homes on St. Brigid’s Day (or Imbolc) is that of the Brigid’s Bed.

The girls and young, unmarried, women of the household or village create a corn dolly to represent Brigid, called the Brideog (“little Brigid” or “young Brigid”), adorning it with ribbons and baubles like shells or stones. They make a bed for the Brideog to lie in.

On St. Brigid’s Eve (Jan 31), the girls and young women gather together in one house to stay up all night with the Brideog, and are later visited by all the young men of the community who must ask permission to enter the home, and then treat them and the corn dolly with respect.

Brigid is said to walk the earth on Imbolc eve. Before going to bed, each member of the household may leave a piece of clothing or strip of cloth outside for Brigid to bless. The head of the household will smother (or “smoor”) the fire and rake the ashes smooth.

In the morning, they look for some kind of mark on the ashes, a sign that Brigid has passed that way in the night or morning. The clothes or strips of cloth are brought inside, and believed to now have powers of healing and protection.

On the following day, the girls carry the Brideog through the village or neighborhood, from house to house, where this representation of the saint/goddess is welcomed with great honor.

Adult women — those who are married or who run a household — stay home to welcome the Brigid procession, perhaps with an offering of coins or a snack. Since Brigid represents the light half of the year, and the power that will bring people from the dark season of winter into spring, her presence is very important at this time of year.

Neopagans of diverse traditions observe this holiday in a variety of ways. As forms of neopaganism can be quite different and have very different origins, these representations can vary considerably despite the shared name.

Some celebrate in a manner as close as possible to how the ancient Celts are believed to have observed the festival, as well as how these customs have been maintained in the living Celtic cultures. Other types of neopagans observe the holiday with rituals taken from numerous other unrelated sources, Celtic cultures being only one of the sources used.

Imbolc is usually celebrated by modern Pagans on February 1 or 2 in the Northern Hemisphere, and August 1 or 2 in the Southern Hemisphere, or at the solar midpoint between the winter solstice and spring equinox, which now falls later in the first week or two of February.

The first commemoration

Posted by Jim on

This article was published in Republican News in the 1973 Easter
Commemoration issue (21st April). This may be a reprint from an earlier
publication (possibly Wolfe Tone Monthly). The language, such as ‘Irish
Ireland’ suggests a date in the 1930s or 1940s. Some of the detail may
also be inaccurate. Enough of those who mobilized in Belfast in 1916
were Protestant, like Sam Heron himself and Herbert Pim, that the idea
of a march to an anniversary mass in 1917 reads more like a vision of
1917 seen through the prism of the conservatism of the 1930s.

According to Roger McCorley, in a memoir, in the aftermath of the 1916
Rising and the releases from Frongoch that autumn, the Sinn Féin
movement was re-organised in Belfast in early 1917 and the Sean McDermot
branch of the Irish Volunteers was re-established in February/March
1917. This was followed in May by the formal re-structuring of the units
in the city (including, for a time, a political commissar). As Easter
was on 8th April, the 1917 Easter Rising commemoration took place
between these two events.
————————————————————————

Belfast Easter Commemoration, 1917

Easter Sunday 1917 dawned bright and clear over the Falls Road, Belfast.
In the Irish Ireland Club which stood on the site of what is now Barrack
Street School, the Irish Volunteers made last minute plans for the first
Easter Commemoration Parade to honour those comrades who had given their
lives in the Rising of the previous Easter.

The Irish Volunteers had been formed at an inaugural meeting on 25th
November, 1913 in Dublin at a meeting chaired by Eoin McNeill. They were
re-organised in the North after the Rising.

The enrollment form of the Irish Volunteers put forth the objectives
clearly:-

“I the undersigned, desire to be enrolled in the Irish Volunteers
founded to secure and maintain the rights and liberties common to all
the people of Ireland without distinction of creed, class or politics.”

Easter Sunday 1917 evoked bitter-sweet memories of the Glorious stand in
Dublin. The Volunteers from Belfast had assembled at Coalisland on
Easter Monday 1916 and had formed a junction with Volunteers from Tyrone
and other areas. Now, the leaders Pearse, Connolly, Clarke, McDonagh,
Plunkett, Ceannt and MacDiarmada were all dead, and other leading
Republicans had also been summarily executed. Two of these leaders had
associations with Belfast. James Connolly organiser of the Irish
Transport and General Workers Union had lived at 420 Falls Road from
1910 to 1913. Sean MacDiarmada, a native of Leitrim, lived in Butler
Street, Ardoyne, prior to 1916. He was employed as a tram driver with
Belfast Corporation.

Republicanism in the North was at a low ebb, and whilst the citizens of
Dublin made a show of strength in their new found aspirations to Liberty
by hoisting the Tricolour over the G.P.O. the ripples on the pool barely
reached Belfast. Belfast was a long way from Dublin in 1917.

It was in these circumstances that Sam Herron mustered his party of
about 150 men in Divis Street. At 11 o’clock the order rang out and the
gallant band of Irish Volunteers which included Mick Carlin, Cathal
Bradley, Senior, Pat Nash and Sean Malone, started out on the march to
Clonard Monastery for an Anniversary Mass, which was to be celebrated at
Noon.

The March proceeded peacefully enough along the Falls Road. It is
recorded that the people came to gaze with something akin to
astonishment at this small party of men who dares to challenge the might
of the British Empire, by proclaiming openly their allegiance to their
beloved Irish Republic. No women took part in this match, no bands
played, no emblems were worn, no banners were carried, save at the head
of this gallant company, a lightening breeze rippled the folds of the
National Flag.

The march is over, the Mass is said, and the men dispersed. All appears
to be the same on the Falls Road, yet it is not – unseen the men on the
1917 Easter Commemoration March had sown the seeds of Freedom as they
went along, soon the Tree of Liberty would put forth a profusion of
blossoms.

The British Occupation Forces recognized the danger – and a few days
later nearly all those who had taken part were arrested. The people of
Belfast made no protests at the arrests and the following year the Falls
Road was bedecked with Union Jacks to welcome home the troops from the
1914/18 War. Belfast was not yet ready…

Who will measure the passionate bravery which impelled the men on the
1917 march to seek to attain what seemed to many the unattainable
Freedom. Who will measure the passionate bravery of those who gave their
lives in the Rising, and whose blood sweetened the arid ground where it
fell. Liberty might well hide her head and blush at the gifts her Irish
Patriot Sons have showered on Her.

By Sarah Murphy

Paddy Joe Rice

Posted by Jim on

Former H Block blanketman Gerard Hodgins spoke this week at the
Foresters Club in West Belfast in honour of the late IRA volunteer,
Paddy Joe Rice. The event was hosted by the Anne Devlin Society,
Belfast.
—————————————————————-

It is an honour and a privilege to be here tonight to remember our
friend and comrade, Paddy Joe Rice.

As we advance into 2016 and commemorations blossom all over Ireland in
remembrance of the heroes of those far off revolutionary times, we will
be regaled with tales of the visionary insights of the traitors who sold
out the republic of Easter Week for the servitude of a Free State in a
partitioned Ireland.

The politically sanitised will be exulted while most of the heroes of
Easter and subsequent campaigns by the Irish Republican Army will be
forgotten or ignored.

The foot-soldiers of the Republic will be air-brushed out off history to
reduce our historical narrative to a gombeen version of the Kings and
Queens of England history we endured at school. But we who lived through
history know who the genuine heroes and heroines of the struggle for
Irish freedom truly are, they are people like Paddy Joe Rice who as a
young man made a conscious decision that he was going to join the IRA
and contribute to the defence of his people and advance the cause of the
Irish Republic.

Throughout his life Paddy Joe remained faithful to his republican
principles which were forged in the smoke and fire of a Belfast which
saw his Falls Road placed under military curfew and people being shot
dead by rampaging British soldiers and their Unionist allies.

The intensity of the onslaught launched by the British to strangle
rebellion at its birth didn’t frighten or intimidate Paddy Joe Rice or
others of his generation; rather they stepped forward with courage and
indignation to give birth to “The Dogs”, one of the most successful and
tenacious of IRA units of the Belfast Brigade, who continued the
honourable tradition of resistance and ingenuity as the volunteers of
the Raglan Street Ambush who caught the murder gang out in 1921.

Despite politics and despite the chasm that has erupted between men and
women who participated in struggle in those not so distant days, our
arguments of faith and betrayal in the republican legacy should have no
negative reflection on the integrity of volunteers who fought in those
days.

Paddy Joe Rice is one such volunteer. His commitment and leadership
abilities transformed ordinary Belfast boys and girls into one of the
most formidable fighting machines in the history of the IRA. And he
sought neither glory nor recognition for his contribution to The Cause,
he sought neither riches nor patronage of any sort; Paddy Joe was just
Paddy Joe, going through life committed to his wife, his family and the
welfare and well-being of his ageing Dogs from the old D-Company in the
political quagmire of a failed revolution and revisionism of the most
opportunistic and devious type.

Paddy Joe Rice was animated by a love of freedom for Ireland and the
betterment of his people in the impoverished working class community of
the Lower Falls. Paddy Joe Rice was an unashamedly and unrepentant
Fenian of the old school who fought for freedom – not a love-in between
Paisleyism and Provisionalism for salaries and pensions while the people
are left to austerity, poverty and increasing mental health and suicide
incidences.

When Paddy Joe died I wrote a piece in memory of him which ended with
the words Glory-oh, glory-oh Bold Fenian Man. Sadie, his wife, asked me
why I used those words and I told her Paddy Joe was a Fenian like the
rest of us and then she told me The Bold Fenian Men was Paddy Joe’s
favourite song which he would listen to often and she thanked me for
those words. A few days later Sadie followed her beloved Paddy Joe. They
were inseparable in life and death would not separate them.

Paddy Joe Rice was our friend, our comrade, our fellow member of that
noble association of bold Fenians all of whom fought the British and
struck out for Irish freedom. We gather tonight to pay homage to a good
man and recall his selfless life of commitment and devotion to his
family, friends and comrades.

We may have some great men but we’ll certainly never have better:
Glory-oh Bold Fenian Man: Paddy Joe Rice

BRITISH WAR CRIME ON THE SHANKILL

Posted by Jim on

There has been a shocked reaction to evidence that the 1993 Shankill
Road bomb, in which nine civilians and one IRA Volunteer died in a
premature explosion, was planned by a double-agent working in concert
with the British Crown forces.

It is believed that an informer working for the RUC Special Branch
police may have deliberately tampered with the device to cause an
outrage which would weaken the Provisional IRA ahead of negotiations
with the British.

With the announcement of a complaint to the Ombudsman, the Shankill
bombing has now joined a list of atrocities that are being investigated
over covert Crown force involvement, including the Omagh bombing in
1998, the Dublin-Monaghan bombings in 1974, Bloody Sunday, Bloody
Friday, and the killings carried out another IRA double-agent, codenamed
“Stakenife”.

Although the informer — known by his security force code of “AA” — was
involved in a number of successful IRA operations as a leading figure in
the Ardoyne IRA, questions have been asked about to what extent IRA
Volunteers were set up for capture or death.

In October 1993, Volunteers Thomas Begley and Sean Kelly walked into a
fish-shop on the loyalist Shankill Road with orders to clear it of
customers and then detonate an explosive device, aimed at a meeting of
paramilitary leaders believed to be taking place upstairs.

The device is understood to have been a “directional” device, intended
to explode upwards, towards the meeting of the UDA death squad
‘brigadiers’. But it exploded virtually as soon as Begley carried it to
the counter, killing him and eight others and injuring Kelly, as well as
dozens of passersby.

Anger over the ‘botched’ mission heralded a series of loyalist reprisals
in which 14 people were murdered and scores more injured.

It is now reported that ‘AA’ was identified by the IRA as early as 2002
or 2003, shortly after the IRA deciphered Special Branch files on agents
recovered from the RUC base at Castlereagh. Leaks from the stolen papers
suggest ‘AA’ had extensively briefed his MI5 and Special Branch handlers
on the aim and likely timing of the attack on the UDA, who may have been
warned in advance.

The alleged double-agent is reported to have admitted recently that he
had possession of the bomb used in the Shankill Road in October 1993
before it was handed over to Begley and Kelly.

Former republican prisoners say they strongly believe “AA” was given the
go-ahead by his handlers to manipulate the device so that it exploded
without any possibility of clearing the area around the device.

One ex-Belfast prisoner said: “It raises massive questions for the
state, as to what extent it allowed its own citizens to die, who made
those decisions and can they ever be made amenable.

“But for the IRA the questions will now start to re-emerge as to what
extent volunteers and supporters were sacrificed by agents in the ranks,
and what has the IRA done to rectify this, if anything?”

Still living in Ardoyne, the alleged double-agent refused to attend a
commemoration in memory of Thomas Beagley on the 20th anniversary of the
blast in 2013.

Relatives of the victims called for a full investigation. Charlie
Butler, who lost three members of his family, said he and other families
were devastated by the development.

He said: “Collusion is not a nice word for anyone but when it is
collusion with innocent people losing their lives to protect someone
else there has to be a line drawn to say that is wrong.

“[The security forces] were there to do a job, to protect people. If
they knew about [the bombing] then they should pay.”

Sinn Fein, the DUP and both governments have declined to comment on the
development, while PSNI chief George Hamilton has denied any knowledge
of the plot. He said he did not want to “prejudge the outcome” of the
ombudsman’s investigation.

“We don’t want to do anything that is going to traumatise families
further and add to their grief and pain which will still be very real
after all of these years,” he said.

The journalist who reported the revelations, Allison Morris, said that
any confirmation by the Police Ombudsman that the Shankill bomb was
“preventable” would change the understanding of that period of the
conflict.

“This development raises allegations of collusion that overshadows all
that has gone before it,” she said. “Was a botched attack allowed to go
ahead and did the State allow civilians to die to shame republicans into
a ceasefire?

“That’s now a question for the police ombudsman to answer.”

Fr. Mc Manus Responds to Hatchet Job by Belfast Telegraph

Posted by Jim on

Newspaper whipped up “ Unionist fury” by blatant misrepresentation of excellent animated internet video by Irish National Caucus.

The E-video is available at IrishNationalCaucus.org

Letters to the Editor

writeback@belfasttelegraph.co.uk
Belfast Telegraph.
Belfast
Northern Ireland
Friday, January 29, 2016

Dear Editor,

I write regarding your coverage of the Irish National Caucus’ animated Internet Video ( E-video).

When the Belfast Telegraph contacted me to get permission to publish the E-Video, I consented, adding that “I hope the Belfast Telegraph will write about our E-Video in a fair and balanced way. If people over there saw Northern Ireland as The Beloved Community, it would be hard for them to disrespect each other.”

I said that with firm hope as I have been impressed by the way the Belfast Telegraph over the years has tried to soften its image of being “the Protestant/Unionist newspaper”— which indisputably was how it was seen in the Catholic/Nationalist/Republican community until fairly recently.

Imagine, therefore, my utter amazement when I saw your headlines: “Arlene Foster’s fury at US video describing Orange Order as supremacists and claiming anti-Catholic discrimination is rife in Northern Ireland.” ( Rebecca Black. January 29).

“Fury” about an E- video that is replete with words and concepts such as “working for justice and praying for peace” ( the perfect Biblical formulation); “The Beloved Community”; “liberty and justice ”;” The answer clearly lies in equality, unity, nonviolence, and forgiveness, with liberty and justice for all”.

How is such fury warranted ? How often in the past forty years have your readers seen anyone urging Northern Ireland to be seen as the Beloved Community— the beautiful concept that Blessed Martin Luther King, Jr. took up and made more famous.

Apart from the extreme reaction of Unionists spokespersons, Ms. Black’s own words are factually wrong and misleading:

1.The E-video never says “ anti-Catholic discrimination is rife in Northern Ireland.”

2.The E-video never says, “It claims Protestants have never accepted Catholics as equals…”

Rather it very carefully and judiciously says : “A significant section of the Unionist/Protestant community resents sharing power with Catholics (Nationalists and Republicans) because they have never accepted Catholics as equals.”

That is not only a legitimate opinion but one that is consistently supported by a myriad of facts, figures and documentation. And it’s a point that objective and respected commentators often make. For example, Brian Feeney former SDLP elected official.

I am really surprised that First Minister Arlene Foster— whom I admire and respect, and not just because she, too, is from Fermanagh— reacts in such an over-the-top and extreme way. The

E-video makes a reasoned and passionate appeal for equality, justice, unity, nonviolence and forgiveness , and yet the First Minister oddly deems it to be sectarian. A bit like the crazy talk of her former leader (while she was still an “Official” Unionist), James Molyneaux, who declared the IRA ceasefire as “the most destabilizing event since partition.”
How can one make rhyme or reason out of that ? Black is white, down is up. Crazy, crazy talk.
Furthermore, it is rather flimsy and weak for Unionist leaders to seize upon the unfortunate but obviously technical glitch whereby the animated E-video seems in some versions to include Donegal, Cavan and Monaghan in Northern Ireland. As if l — a man from Kinawley parish, which is divided by The Border, in South Fermanagh— would not know there are not nine counties in “the Wee Six.”

I would also think that current Unionist leaders would not want to open that can of worms: reminding their followers that it was Unionist leaders, back in the day, who excluded their Orange brethren from Donegal, Cavan and Monaghan— abandoning good and true men and women in the 26 Counties who had signed the Ulster Covenant allegedly “ in their own blood.” The sell-out to end all sell-outs. The Ulster Unionist spokesperson — without the slightest sense of historical irony — says , “By and large, I expect the people of Donegal, Monaghan and Cavan will have a canary when they realize they have been relocated into Northern Ireland without so much as a by your leave.”

The Orange Order questions why “why the IRA were whitewashed out of it.” Very simply: there is no mention of any army, police force or any paramilitary group.

Even though the E-video exposes the undeniable bigotry in some Orange quarters, the E- video — with the accompanying Press Release— puts the fundamental blame not on Protestants/Unionists/Orangemen but on the constitutionally enshrined anti-Catholic sectarianism of the (unwritten) British constitution. Why does the Belfast Telegraph totally ignore this? How is that fair and balanced reporting.

Finally, while the E-video rightly raises the issue of the Orange Order forcibly marching in all- Catholic areas where it is not wanted, the E-video also declares : “And let’s be clear about this: If Catholic Republicans and Nationalists wanted to parade provocatively through all-Protestant areas of Belfast, the Irish National Caucus would be the first to oppose it.”

Why would the Belfast Telegraph see fit to exclude such an integral and strictly appositional point?

Fr. Sean Mc Manus

President
Irish National Caucus

“Liberty is meaningless where the right to utter one’s thoughts and opinions has ceased to exist.” Frederick Douglass

Posted by Jim on January 27, 2016

State forces illegality still being shielded

Posted by Jim on

“In the face of public knowledge about the illegal activity of the security forces in allowing killings to take place the British government’s refusal of adequate investigative procedures holds the concept of the rule of law during The Troubles up to ridicule.”

State forces illegality still being shielded

Brian Feeney. Irish News (Belfast). Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Allison Morris’s startling revelations in this paper on Monday concentrated on the role of informers in the IRA leading to the officially authorised killing of loyalists, civilians and other IRA members.

That concentration was because the information came from documents concerning IRA informers stolen from Castlereagh. It is clear that the handlers of those informers often didn’t act to prevent killing in case their sources were revealed.

The most egregious example given was the multiple killing in Frizzell’s fish shop on the Shankill which caused loyalist retaliation resulting in over a dozen sectarian killings in the next week but also produced a huge political reaction which almost derailed the Downing Street Declaration of December 1993.

Unfortunately there was nothing new in 1993 about the RUC, MI5 and military intelligence playing fast and loose with people’s lives here and it wasn’t just civilians or members of paramilitary groups. In November 1981 Constable William Coulter, a 23-year-old married man was killed in an IRA bomb attack at Unity Flats as Land Rover patrols changed shift. A booby-trap bomb hidden behind a fence exploded killing him and injuring others in the Land Rovers.

It quickly emerged that Special Branch knew about the bomb. Indeed the man who allegedly detonated it by line of sight was arrested next day and charged. The Police Federation complained vociferously that the patrol had not been warned about the bomb. They weren’t told in case it exposed the informant whom the RUC fervently believed would turn supergrass, the prevailing fashion in those days.

The informant did not turn supergrass, withdrew his evidence and all charges were dropped. One policeman was killed, others injured and a family wrecked by someone in Special Branch playing God. After an internal RUC investigation the constable’s widow who had given birth to a son three weeks after his killing was awarded a substantial five figure sum in compensation by the High Court. It wasn’t the first time this sequence of events occurred and of course we know of umpteen other examples over the next 20 years.

Thanks to Baroness O’Loan’s time as Police Ombudsman we know this sort of intelligence chicanery leading to the death of civilians, paramilitaries and security force members was just as prevalent with handlers of loyalist killers as with the IRA.

It’s the real reason our proconsul[Northern Ireland Secretary of State] won’t countenance a proper Historical Investigation Unit and for her insistence on ‘national security’ reasons for refusal to disclose any awkward evidence. Astonishingly the DUP is content with that even though it could mean denying relatives of members of the RUC and UDR receiving compensation from the courts. Anything is acceptable rather than admit the security forces were up to all kinds of nefarious activities throughout The Troubles.

We know from recently released State Papers how furious the Irish government was when in 1988 Sir Patrick Mayhew announced no prosecutions of any police or military personnel involved in the hayshed shootings in 1982. “An inquest will be held in due course’’, he told the Commons. That was 28 years ago. Five attempts to get the inquest started have failed. The conclusions of the highly classified Stalker-Sampson reports are now well known but no inquiry into security force illegality will ever take place.

The recent revelations of intelligence chicanery about the Shankill bomb and other murky dealings with double agents leading to killing cry out for a public inquiry. The Pat Finucane Centre has pointed out that initially the British government refused an inquiry into the killing of Alexander Litvinenko but the High Court ruled that decision wrong and a public inquiry ensued which, with no cooperation from the perpetrators, published important findings about the culprits.

That process demonstrates that even with opposition from the British government successful inquiries could be held despite non-cooperation from paramilitary groups, the Ministry of Defence and PSNI who have become experts at prevarication and obfuscation as evidence in the current investigation by Lord Justice Weir amply demonstrates.

In the face of public knowledge about the illegal activity of the security forces in allowing killings to take place the British government’s refusal of adequate investigative procedures holds the concept of the rule of law during the Troubles up to ridicule.

“But what if all that we once thought we knew about that time and the events that followed was wrong?

Posted by Jim on January 25, 2016

“But what if all that we once thought we knew about that time and the events that followed was wrong?
What if the dark hand of British intelligence was playing both sides of the chess board at one time and the innocents standing in Frizzell’s fish shop on the Shankill Road on October 23 1993 were considered collateral damage?”

Results of investigation could forever change our understanding of the past

Allison Morris. Irish News(Belfast). Monday, January 25, 2016

For those old enough to remember those bloody and at times savage days of the early 1990s, when the north’s conflict spiralled downwards into a series of tit-for-tat sectarian killings, there are numerous tragic events ingrained in the memory.

But even among the almost daily carnage, the Shankill bombing stands out as an event that shocked a population seemingly desensitised from years of conflict. Most people can tell you where they were when they heard the news, my terraced house on the other side of the peace wall in the Clonard area of west Belfast shook violently from the force of the blast.

Retaliation for the IRA bombing was swift and brutal and it was just a week later when news reports showing broken bodies being pulled from the rubble on the Shankill Road were replaced with the scenes of bloody carnage at Greysteel.

Much has been written about that period and the aftermath and with the north on the brink of all out civil war there was a push towards a political settlement. Both sides were as a result forced back to the negotiating table with a war weary public ready to embrace a deal that may have otherwise been unthinkable.

Victims were forced to accept the early release of all paramilitary prisoners, for republicans a settlement that fell far short of the once demanded United Ireland. Unionists agreed to share power and sit in government with former IRA members.

But what if all that we once thought we knew about that time and the events that followed was wrong?

What if the dark hand of British intelligence was playing both sides of the chess board at one time and the innocents standing in Frizzell’s fish shop on the Shankill Road on October 23 1993 were considered collateral damage?

The Irish News has seen evidence that shows the man who was the Ardoyne ‘commander’ of the IRA from 1991 until 2001 was in fact a top level informant.

Also, that prior information was passed to his handlers about the plan to kill UDA leader Jonny Adair in his office situated above Frizzell’s shop. How previous plans to kill the high-profile loyalist were abandoned as unworkable before the idea of walking a bomb into the building was floated by the compromised IRA leader. That Adair, who met with UDA members every Saturday at the office, wasn’t there on the day of the attack. Was he warned while innocents were allowed to perish?

All this has been known to republicans since the break in at Special Branch offices at Castlereagh in 2001 when classified documents detailing the information being passed by the Ardoyne commander to his handlers was stolen by the IRA.

And while people close to the Sinn Féin leadership, such as Denis Donaldson and Roy McShane, were outed for political reasons, efforts have been made to conceal the extent to which the ‘military’ side of the organisation was infiltrated.

Should a Police Ombudsman’s investigation reveal that the Shankill bombing and other events carried out by the Ardoyne IRA during that period were preventable, our understanding of that time will have changed forever.

For the victims, those injured and those who lost loved ones, this development raises allegations of collusion that overshadows all that has gone before it.

Was a botched attack allowed to go ahead and did the state allow civilians to die to shame republicans into a ceasefire?

That’s now a question for the police ombudsman to answer.

Top informer linked to Shankill Road bomb

Posted by Jim on

Decrypted classified documents obtained by the Provisional IRA have
shown that a state agent was behind one of the most notorious tragedies
of the conflict, the Shankill Road bomb attack in 1993.

According to a report this morning, a former IRA ‘commander’ in Ardoyne
has been exposed as an informer and double agent working for RUC Special
Branch for more than a decade. Known to Special Branch as ‘AA’, he
cannot be named for legal reasons.

According to the documents, the informer’s handlers were fully informed
of the plan to target the offices used by loyalist death squad leader
Johnny Adair and other UDA leadership figures.

For reasons still unknown the bomb exploded prematurely, killing eight
civilians as well as IRA Volunteer Thomas Begley and injuring his
comrade Sean Kelly. The outcry over the loss of life increased pressure
on the Provisional IRA to call a ceasefire, which they did ten months
later. It also brought about a wave of ‘reprisal’ attacks by loyalists
such as the Greysteel massacre a week later.

The informer in question was identified after the IRA decoded
information from documents taken from inside the Special Branch’s
headquarters at Castlereagh on St Patrick’s Day in 2001. Calls made to
his special branch handlers are logged throughout the documents,
including the information that he carried out the scouting operations
for the attack himself.

He was also involved in numerous other IRA actions at the time he was
working for the RUC. He was quietly replaced by the Provisional Army
Council in 2002, although no explanation was given to the Volunteers
under his control, and continues to live in the Ardoyne area.

The British Crown forces have previously been accused of allowing other
attacks to proceed for their own sinister agenda, such as the devasting
‘Real IRA’ attack in Omagh in 1998. Twenty-nine people died in that
attack after telephoned bomb warnings failed to clear the area around
the bomb. The public outcry led to the organisation calling a ceasefire
three weeks later.

The Police Ombudsman has now been asked to investigate the evidence that
the RUC “could have prevented” the Shankill bomb. The complaint has been
made by a family member of one of the victims, and was lodged on Friday.

Bloody Sunday programme of events

Posted by Jim on January 23, 2016

Bloody Sunday is unfinished business.

The Inquiry Report published in 2010 met some but by no means all the
demands of the campaign for truth and justice.

The Inquiry found that all of the dead and wounded had been unlawfully
shot. But the key demand for prosecution of the perpetrators continues
to be thwarted at every turn.

The Report left a shadow over Gerald Donaghey, murdered at Abbey Park –
while exonerating the senior politicians and military top brass who had
sent his killers into the Bogside. This is a disgrace and an insult to
Gerald’s relatives.

The commemorative programme for 2016 reflects the diversity of those
whose experiences we share: we march for the families of the Ballymurphy
massacre and for the victims of the paratroopers’ killing on the
Shankhill – as well as for the families of the hundreds across the North
killed directly by the State or through collusion.

Bloody Sunday is emblematic, too, of much of the horror happening around
the world. The Derry massacre has this in common with atrocities
everywhere: that it was perpetrated with malice aforethought by men
uniformed to represent a State which declares itself democratic and
claims commitment to human rights. There are Bloody Sundays somewhere
every day of the week. We remember all those victims also on the annual
march.

This year’s programme also reflects the diversity of those whose
experiences we share. We will hear from victims of police racism in
Britain; from the environmentalists infiltrated and abused by undercover
London police; from Dublin TD Clare Daly on political policing of
Shannon airport and anti-water charges campaigners and from many other
victims of State oppression.

Cultural events will include a new play at the Playhouse, “Hairy Jesus”,
by award-winning writer and actor Donal O’Kelly, the Irish premier of
the “Hard Stop”, a new documentary on the killing of Mark Duggan in
London in 2011 and the launch of new book at the Culturelann, “The Media
and Bloody Sunday”, by two Ulster University academics.

Bloody Sunday was a murderous assault on the people of the Bogside. But
it didn’t arise from antagonism between “the two communities.” It was a
crime planned in advance and condoned in the aftermath by
representatives of the British ruling class.

The campaign for the full truth has lasted for 44 years. We will
continue along the path, sustained by the knowledge that we are
accompanied every step of the way by many who, even in far distant
places of which we know little, add their voices to ours, as we echo
theirs, in calling for justice for all.

Full Programme of Events, 25th-31st January

Mon 25th Jan 2016

7.30pm: Ardoyne – Exhibition Launch

Exhibition by photographer Joe Gilmartin exploring life in Ardoyne and
North Belfast over recent years and the experiences of its residents in
their daily struggle against state control, sectarianism and
marginalisation.

Ardoyne residents will be in attendance to launch the exhibition. It
runs until the 31st Jan.

Venue: Eden Place Arts Centre

Tues 26th Jan 2016

7.30pm: This Changes Everything – Film & Discussion

This documentary’s message: the earth will survive, but this may be the
last century in which it is habitable for human kind.

Based on Naomi Klein’s book of the same name, it argues that we can
seize the crisis as an opportunity to transform our failed economic
system!

James Orr, of Friends of The Earth NI, will be part of the Q&A drawing
out the significance for us and some of the key sites of struggle for
climate justice here.

Venue: Nerve Centre Admission 3 pounds

Wed 27th Jan 2016

4.30pm: The British Media And Bloody Sunday – Book Launch

This book by Greg McLaughlin & Stephen Baker is a cross media analysis
of Bloody Sunday and its legacy identifying two impulses in its media
coverage: an urge to rescue the reputation of the British Army vs
Britain’s troubled conscience.

To be launched by Prof. Martin McLoone, and Eamonn McCann. Venue:
Culturlann Panel

7.30pm: Refugee – Film and Discussion

Screening of short film, Reunited Lives’, on refugees from the north
going south in the early 70’s followed by discussion on the current
crisis where, with the exception of Germany, Europe is turning its back
on the plight of refugees fleeing war it is complicit in.

Speakers:

Briege Voyle (featured in the film), Agim Kryeziu a refugee from Kosova
living here some twenty years, Aza Ali Ahmad from Mosul northern Iraq
recently arrived, Eamonn McCann activist and journalist. Chair:
Bernadette McAliskey. Venue: Nerve Centre

Thur 28 Jan 2016

7.30pm: The State We’re In – Panel Discussion

2016 marks the centenary year of the Easter rising in Dublin, this event
will explore where Irish society now finds itself when set against the
aspirations and avowed ideals of that time. Speakers:

Patrick Murphy, Irish News columnist, will offer his own inimitable take
on the subject while journalist

Chris Moore will approach the subject through the lens of the Kincora
scandal contrasting it with the ideal of “cherishing all of the children
of the nation equally”

Geraldine Dunne, Dublin Southside Travellers Action Group, will speak
from a traveller perspective on her community’s place in modern Ireland.

Chair: Paul McFadden Venue: Nerve Centre

Fri 29 Jan 2016

1.00pm: Shannon Airport & 21st Century War – Book Launch

John Lannon will launch this important publication he co-edited with
Roger Cole. It chronicles the Irish government’s shameful misuse of the
civil airport at Shannon, allowing it to be treated as a forward
operating base for the US Military and CIA!

Venue: Central Library

8pm: Hairy Jaysus – Drama

Award-winning playwright & actor Donal O’Kelly’s solo play about
pacifist, feminist and socialist Frank Sheehy- Skeffington, shot dead in
Portobello Barracks, 26th April, 1916. Told through the eyes of a Dublin
street beggar today.

Dubbed “Hairy Jaysus” by his friend James Joyce, Sean O’Casey said that
Sheehy-Skeffington was, “the soul of revolt against man’s inhumanity to
man, the ripest ear of corn that fell in Easter Week”.

Venue: Playhouse, Admission 8 pounds (6 concession)

Sat 30 Jan 2016

12.00pm: The Whole Truth – Panel Discussion

Where to now for truth and justice for murders legitimised by the state?

The experiences of three women seeking redress for the murder of their
loved ones:

Kate Nash sister of William murdered by the British Army on Bloody
Sunday, Janet Donnelly daughter of Joseph Murphy murdered by the British
Army in the Ballymurphy massacre and Shauna Moreland daughter of
Caroline Moreland murdered by the IRA, under the direction of British
agent, ‘Stakeknife’.

Chair:Eamonn McCann. Venue: Pilots Row

2.30pm: Out of the Shadows – Panel Discussion

A discussion exploring the state’s coercive methods of control through
its police, army and secret organisations: Is Britain using strategies
developed in the north against Black and Asian communities in English
inner cites? Looking south, ‘political policing’ by the Garda is overtly
used to suppress anti-water charges protests. Is this to be the new
norm?

Speakers are:

Prof. Mark McGovern, (Sociology) of Edge Hill University Liverpool his
research is in human rights, state violence and transitional justice;

Suresh Grover, Director and cofounder of London based ‘Monitoring
Group’, who works supporting those experiencing racial prejudice and
violence;

Aidan Ferguson, Greater Ardoyne Residents Collective (GARC) work to
oppose: sectarian marches, militarised curfews and advocate on behalf of
the community;

Helen Steel, one of seven women who sued English police after being
deceived into relationships with undercover policemen infiltrating
environmental and social justice movements and

Clare Daly, TD for North Dublin, founding member of the United Left
Alliance who has been recently instrumental in exposing malpractice
within the south’s Garda Siochana

Venue: Pilots Row

7.30pm: The Hard Stop – Film and Discussion

The Irish Premier of George Amponsah’s new film exploring the life and
death of Mark Duggan. Shot by armed police in London, on 4th Aug 2011,
his death sparked riots in London and other English cities. George
Amponsah and the film’s two main protagonists Marcus Knox-Hooke and
Curtis Henville will attend the post screening Q & A.

Venue: Nerve Centre Admission 3 pounds

More details of events are available online at: BloodySundayMarch.org

Lunch will be available In Pilot’s Row on the Saturday

Sun 31 Jan 2016

2.30pm: The March and Rally

Writer, journalist and political activist Eamonn McCann will be the main
speaker addressing the rally at this year’s Bloody Sunday March For
Justice.

Venue: Creggan Shops to Guildhall Square

The fantasy history of the 1916 Easter Rising

Posted by Jim on

By An Sionnach Fionn

Liam Kennedy is a professor of economic and social history at Queen’s
University Belfast, which is somewhat shocking given that he seems to
have, at best, a passing familiarity with the latter half of his chosen
speciality. Here he is in the Irish Independent, salami-slicing Irish
history to suit his particular tastes. A little bit of this, a little
bit of that, and you end up with a dog’s dinner of a historical
analysis:

“A small, unrepresentative bunch of fanatical nationalists, none of whom
had been elected, presumed to speak on behalf of the Irish people and
plunge them, without so much as a by-your-leave, into the most terrible
of all states, that of war and its associated terrors.”

Nope, he’s not referring to John Redmond, the head of the Irish
Parliamentary Party and the self-proclaimed “leader of nationalist
Ireland” in 1916, who cajoled, heckled and bullied tens of thousands of
Irish men into the service of the fanatically nationalistic British
Empire, knowing that many of them would be doomed to lie torn and
dismembered beneath the battlefields of Europe, Asia and Africa.

“It was the plain people of inner-city Dublin who died in their hundreds
to satisfy the blood-drenched fantasies of less-than-impressive poets
and marginal figures on the Irish political scene.”

Those “marginal figures” of Irish politics were responsible for the
deaths of less than 500 “plain people” in 1916. In contrast, the
mainstream figures of Irish politics were responsible for the deaths of
at least 15,000 “plain people” in 1916. The supposed nationalist,
Redmond, and his ideological rival, the unionist demagogue Edward
Carson, contrived between them to bring about the deaths – the
industrial-scale murder – of some 35,000 khaki-clad men and boys from
Ireland. Both did so while proclaiming their loyalty to a
“blood-drenched” imperium ruled from London, Redmond condemning those
who declined to fight as, “…running away in the hour of their Empire’s
need.”

“Easter 1916 was a pivotal moment in Irish history. It copper-fastened
Partition and deformed Irish politics. How could fellow Irish people of
a unionist persuasion, who made up a quarter of the population, even
think of an all-Ireland state after an insurrection that proudly
proclaimed its alliance with the armies of the German Kaiser?”

The partition of Ireland was copper-fastened when the British separatist
minority in the country, the unionists in the north-east under the
malign tutelage of Carson, took up arms in 1912 against UK legislation
to enact limited “home rule”. When they adopted terrorism and the threat
of terrorism in pursuit of their rebellion, Ireland’s deformation was
complete. And who armed the would-be insurrectionists? The German
Kaiser. And who declared that the rule of “…Germany and the German
Emperor would be preferred to the rule of John Redmond, Patrick Ford and
the Molly Maguires”? None other than Edward Carson, leader and founder
of the Ulster Unionist Party and the Ulster Volunteer Force.

Kennedy’s counter-factual fantasies are echoed in those of conservative
politician-turned-presenter, Ivan Yates, also writing for the British
apologist rag that is the Irish Independent:

“Constitutional nationalism is discommoded by self-appointed violent
Republicans, who sought no electoral mandate from voters. Redmondites
and pacifist traditions still maintain we’d have won freedom from
British imperialism without taking up arms.”

From at least 1902 the Irish Parliamentary Party (IPP), the
“Redmondites”, had an acknowledged army of street and parish thugs,
which it used to beat its opponents into the ground. This was the
Ancient Order of Hibernians, or AOH, an extremist force grown so
ferocious that the two general elections held in 1910 were widely
regarded as the bloodiest in living memory. AOH men openly displayed
firearms at hustings and rallies, appeared with cudgels and batons
during parades and demonstrations, raided or broke up rival meetings,
including those of the All-for-Ireland League and the politically
incipient Sinn Fein. By 1914 John Redmond had added an actual army, the
Irish National Volunteers (INV), to his “baton men”. The IPP now had a
military wing, the INV, with Redmond as the supreme leader of both,
while his cohorts worked as gun-smugglers to arm the new Redmondite
legion.

So who is more reprehensible on the scales of historical judgement?
Patrick Pearse, a progressive militant who sought a modern democratic
republic, a sovereign and independent Ireland where all of the children
of the nation would be cherished equally, or John Redmond, a
conservative militant who was ready to accept a devolved, partitioned
Ireland within the United Kingdom, a province committed to the onward
march of the UK’s imperial hegemony over the peoples of the Earth?

Come out and fight for a free and united Ireland

Posted by Jim on January 21, 2016

Update on the NYC St. Patrick’s day Parade 2016

Posted by Jim on January 20, 2016

The Concerned Members of the Affiliated Organizations (“CMAO”) find it ironic that in a year when the eminent peace maker Sen. George Mitchell has been selected to be the 2016 Parade Grand Marshal that Dr. Lahey unilaterally continues down the road of confrontation with the Affiliated Organizations rather than dialogue and reconciliation. Senator Mitchell famously brought to the bargaining table two communities with a long and storied history of violent and bitter differences, yet Dr. Lahey refuses to come to the table to recognize and work with the duly elected Parade Committee.
Dr. Lahey has steadfastly refused to work for the common good of the parade because of his distorted belief that the Parade is the exclusive property of the Board of Directors. Dr. Lahey appears to be more concerned with protecting television contracts with NBC, courting favor with Mayor De Blasio,
the City Council and the Irish Government and the interests of Quinnipiac University above the people of the New York Irish American community who are the heart of the parade. In contradiction to glittering generalities served up for the benefit of his dignitaries and the press, Dr Lahey maintains an indifference to their voice and concerns as expressed through the Affiliated Organizations who have worked and supported the Parade for generations.
As we celebrate the centenary of the proclamation of the Irish Republic, one of whose key principles was universal suffrage, it is ironic that Dr. Lahey remains steadfast in his determination to disenfranchise the Affiliated Organizations and eliminate the Parade Committee. His blatant attempt to disenfranchise the Irish-American community from their own Parade dishonors the legacy of Pearse, Connolly and Markievicz. He has gone back on his word on numerous occasions, and thus we remain skeptical when
he claims that “the Parade Affiliated groups would have a role in future parades.”
In spite of the best efforts of the Quinnipiac University spin machine to herald a new era of inclusivity, Dr. Lahey has exclude the duly elected Parade Committee and Affiliated Organizations who are the heart and soul of the Parade in favor of an exclusive club of network executives and Quinnipiac University employees.
Dr. Lahey had the temerity to announce at the Grand Marshal installation that the Elected Parade Committee “is working extremely well with me and the board of directors in representing not only the committee but the affiliated organizations, 180 strong, that are such an important part of the parade.”
However, Dr. Lahey’s actions do not match his rhetoric, since Dr. Lahey (i) has publicly refused to recognize the Parade Committee on numerous occasions; (ii) has refused to let the Parade organize and operate the Parade as they are duly authorized to do so pursuant to the By-Laws; (iii) has appointed an unelected Special Executive Committee to run the Parade in lieu of the Parade Committee; (iv) continues to manufacture news reasons out of whole cloth to justify his ignoring the By-Laws with regards to Board appointments and the operation of the Parade Corporation; and (v) refused to invite the Parade Committee Chairman on the dais during the announcement of the Grand Marshal; (vi) Dr. Lahey denied the honor the traditional honor accorded the Parade Committee Chairman of presenting the Grand Marshal. Dr. Lahey’s deliberate avoidance of working with the Parade Committee or meeting with the Affiliated Organizations is both a testament to his arrogance and contempt for the countless Irish-Americans who have dedicated their hearts and souls to this Parade. It should be noted that in a bit of burlesque that despite Dr Lahey’s claims of “working closely with Mr. Tully” he could not identify him when he attempted to do so from the lofty perch of the podium. Despite the comedic aspects, we are angered that our elected chairman was used as no more than a prop. It is further interesting to note that while MR. Tully and the Board members were absent from the invitation to the GM installation, the Board managed to remember their names on the fundraising letter; a Freudian slip which shows how the Board views the affiliates: a disenfranchised cash cow.
The CMAO can understand the decision of Chairman Tully and his committee being silent since their election by the affiliated was an attempt to create an open space for dialogue, however, it appears that this sincere overture has unintentionally created is a vacuum which Dr. Lahey and the Board choose to
fill with misinformation. We remind the committee that they were elected by the affiliates to represent the affiliates. In that spirit we call for Chairman Tully to convene a meeting of the affiliates to explain their planned course of action in light of the recent disrespect and continuing marginalization of the
Affiliated organizations.

Statement from Republican Prisoners Roe 4 Maghaberry 18/01/16

Posted by Jim on January 19, 2016

Statement from Republican Prisoners Roe 4 Maghaberry 18/01/16

It was interesting to note that Alastair Ross, of the DUP, in a recent media interview (Belfast Telegraph 11/01/16) referred to the abuse of the complaints process within Maghaberry Jail. In that he specifically focused on Republican Prisoners and alleged that complaints from them were vexatious. Given that the DUP is essentially the political extension of the Prison Officers Association (POA); to Republican Prisoners such comments are unsurprising. It is also clear that the objective in this instance is to deflect the current and predictable criticism emanating from independent bodies, politicians and groups such as HMIP and CJINI whom fully appraised the evidence after having first studied factual and detailed statistics readily available, including that supplied by Roe 4 Republican Prisoners, and taking cognizance of both the recent and current inspections.

Alastair, quite conveniently, overlooked a number of fundamental facts. Primarily, the persistent failure of the Maghaberry Administration to respond to requests and complaints; neither “within timescales” nor “specifically and substantively” as repeatedly recommended by the former and current Prisoner Ombudsman. Indeed the Jail Administration has condensed the Internal Complaints Process (ICP) to an mechanical denial and nugatory response mechanism. This was noted in the recent damning report by the HMIP/CJINI who described the jail’s trite responses as both perfunctory and poor.

In his efforts, as Chair of the Justice Committee, to shield the POA from criticism, Alastair has also disregarded and indeed contradicted the Prisoner Ombudsman’s 2015 Annual report. Prior to and following that report the Ombudsman’s Office unambiguously stated to Republican Prisoners that the majority of Roe 4 complaints are “upheld” and that the reason for that number not being greater is because of the jail not retaining CCTV evidential footage regardless of it being immediately requested., which is in direct defiance of the multiple Ombudsman recommendations, therefore negating any opportunity to properly investigate.

The Jail Administration has consistently refused to accept many recommendations by the Prisoner Ombudsman. Of those recommendations which have been accepted by the jail, they have habitually failed to implement them, thus requiring more time and effort simply to repeat recommendations. This has resulted in large volumes of complaints over issues previously and extensively investigated, of which recommendations were already made and also previously accepted by the jail.

It has also been the case that numerous outside bodies, including the Ombudsman’s Office, the Independent Assessment Team (IAT), politicians and others have encouraged Republican Prisoners to pursue complaints and Requests not only as a remedy but as a means of documenting abuse and repression. Republican Prisoners consistently reference such complaints and logs thereof to all those aforementioned so as to demonstrate the reactionary and discriminatory actions pertaining to our treatment by the Maghaberry Administration.

Because of such obstinacy, and the circumventing of the Ombudsman’s Office, Republican Prisoners have been forced to initiate legal action in the form of Judicial Review (JR) in order to enforce Prisoner Ombudsman recommendations and ensure basic human rights. The Maghaberry Administration has repeatedly challenged such JRs, at public expense, with minimal if any chance of success. This includes four successful legal actions by Republican Prisoners in 2015, with all costs awarded against the jail, running into hundreds of thousands of pounds. Republican Prisoners are not the problem, Alastair; we are a target for bigotry and vindictiveness, which we will always resist.

Republican Prisoners

Roe 4

Maghaberry.

18/01/16

Put Scappaticci before a court

Posted by Jim on

Irish News Editorial (Belfast). Monday, January 18, 2016
The case of the notorious west Belfast IRA figure Freddie Scappaticci – widely believed to be the top-level British army agent known as Stakeknife – is deeply disturbing in every respect.

Scappaticci has been linked to at least 20 murders carried out by the IRA internal security unit called ‘the Nutting Squad’, although there have been strong hints that the actual total is much higher.

However, despite a comprehensive list of statements from the families of victims which specifically implicate him in the killings over a prolonged period, he remains a free man and has yet to be charged with even a single offence.

Scappaticci led a charmed life throughout the worst years of the Troubles, when he was allegedly allowed by his handlers to participate in killings in order to cover up his role as an informer.

He always denied the claims but eventually fled Northern Ireland more than decade ago after overwhelming evidence confirmed that he was the most high-ranking mole within the ranks of the IRA.

Scappaticci is thought to have been living in England under an assumed identity ever since, where police officers are aware of his location and believed to have been in contact with him.

After a probe by the Police Ombudsman, Director of Public Prosecutions Barra McGrory called for a full independent investigation into the Stakeknife saga last October.

The PSNI announced the following month that the task would be undertaken by officers from outside forces with a budget of up to £50 million but there is still no sign of any form of a breakthrough.

What is particularly concerning is that Scappaticci was brazen enough to meet grieving relatives in the past and provide them with face to face information about the murder of their loved ones.

Although witnesses insist that he was in possession of details which proved he had been directly involved in the killings, and have made formal statements to this effect, Scappaticci has yet to appear in a dock.

There will be obvious fears that the official protection which was extended to him down the decades remains in force and is frustrating the pursuit of justice. A prosecution must be properly structured, and will take time to finalise, but there can be little doubt that the authorities have been well aware of Scappaticci’s full history for more than 20 years.

It is essential that the courts are given the opportunity to carefully assess the grave claims which have surrounded Scappaticci for so long and finally establish the truth behind the Stakeknife scandal.

Right to reject nonsense of a ‘shared history’

Posted by Jim on January 18, 2016


By Brian Feeney (for Irish News)

William Faulkner wrote: ‘The past is never dead. It’s not even past.’
How right he was and nowhere is that remark better exemplified than in
Ireland. James Joyce said: ‘History is a nightmare from which I am
trying to awake.’ He meant Irish history of course and like some
nightmares it recurs again and again always with the same ending.

The two governments, but particularly the Irish government, hoped that
by developing a load of claptrap about a ‘shared history’ they could
somehow exorcise the nightmare of Irish history 1912-22. In the flawed
concept of a shared history first enunciated by Brian Cowen in 2010 both
sides in the northern conflict would be encouraged to participate in
each others’ commemorations joined by the Irish government. They had to
be ‘inclusive’ and ‘shared’ as in that awful Americanism, ‘I share your
pain.’ It’s a desperate unhistorical attempt to read the political
correctness of 2016 back into the history of that decade a century ago
and it’s nonsense.

‘Rogues and renegades’ Foster is absolutely correct to have nothing to
do with it. Yes of course there’s an election on May 5 and she would
look daft standing with a stony face at some commemoration of 1916 just
after Stormont shut down at Easter to prepare for the election campaign.
She’s not doing it, not even contemplating it, not because of the
election but because it would be an exercise in hypocrisy. She shares
nothing about the 1916 Rising its aims, its motives, its beliefs.

Her remarks show she knows nothing about history a century ago either
but she knows what she doesn’t agree with and that’s republicanism in
any shape or form. She said the Rising was ‘an attack on democracy’ and
added, ‘I believe in the democratic will.’ Well yes, up to a point Lord
Copper. First, democracy in our terms didn’t exist in 1916. Only 700,000
men in Ireland had the vote but no women. It wasn’t for want of trying.
In 1912 a suffragette, Mary Leigh, got five years for throwing a hatchet
at Asquith as he crossed O’Connell Bridge in Dublin in a carriage. She
missed and it hit Redmond harmlessly on the arm. Was that ‘an attack on
democracy’?

Secondly as many people have pointed out to Foster, the first attack on
‘democracy’ as it existed in those days was the unionist rebellion
against the third Home Rule Act of 1912 including importing 25,000
rifles and three million rounds of ammunition from Germany in 1914.
Curiously no interviewer has asked Foster if she endorses that rebellion
involving tens of thousands of UVF paramilitaries threatening the
British government. A rebellion incidentally which inspired Home Rulers
to establish the Irish Volunteers as a counter force.

None of it matters. It’s all stupid stuff. You can’t transport the
standards of 2016 back a hundred years. Suffice to say the Rising stands
for everything ‘Rogues and renegades’ opposes, including the concept of
an Irish Ireland. Her objection is political. At least she’s
straightforward about it unlike republicans trying to ‘share’ the
commemoration of the Somme when republicans a decade before 1916 were
already making speeches objecting to people joining the ‘Crown forces’
which included the RIC. In 1915 Sean MacDiarmada, the main organiser of
the Rising, got himself arrested in Tuam and jailed for making a speech
opposing recruitment for the British army.

For unionists joining the British army en masse was their way of
demonstrating loyalty to Britain and they got a separate division, the
36th as a reward. They didn’t anticipate it would turn into their blood
sacrifice. It has nothing to do with republicans. Claiming they share
ownership is just daft and embarrassing and politically correct and that
goes for the Irish government muscling in on it too.

Incidentally talking about attacks on democracy such as it was in 1916
you hear a great deal about the fact that the organisers of the Rising
had ‘no mandate’, a modern expression and a modern concept. Here’s a
question. What mandate did the British government have for ruling
Ireland in 1916 considering that for nine successive elections since
1885 the Irish had voted for Home Rule. Was it the Act of Union? Very
democratic.

Rising and Somme not same

Posted by Jim on

“So while the 1916 Rising was a fight for freedom, the Somme was a battle to deny freedom to the one quarter of the world’s population in the empire, including 13 million new subjects won in the war.”


Yep Arlene, Rising and Somme not same

Patrick Murphy. Irish News.Saturday, January 16,2016
Congratulations to Arlene Foster on becoming First Minister and, more unexpectedly, on displaying a more comprehensive understanding of Irish history than all the nationalist parties.

Mrs Foster stated bluntly (and correctly)that the Easter Rising was an armed attack on the United Kingdom (and thus on the British Empire). The taoiseach was disappointed  at the first minister’s inevitable conclusion that she would not attend any 1916 commemorations. He argued that since nationalists are willing to commemorate the Battle of the Somme, unionists should be prepared to commemorate the Rising.

In an interview with this newspaper (a welcome change for a DUP leader) Mrs Foster became the first modern politician on the island to suggest that there is no equivalence between the two. Is she right? If so, why are nationalists, including the Irish government, associating the two events?

The Great War was essentially a conflict between two empires, Britain and Germany. (It was also a family squabble: the Kaiser was Queen Victoria’s grandson and therefore a cousin of England’s George V. Poor George had to change the family name from Saxe-Coburg-Gotha to Windsor, when his cousins ignored the rules of cricket and bombed London from a Gotha aircraft.)

In Germany, 93 intellectuals, including 11 future Nobel winners, argued that the war was a sacred mission in support of Christianity. In Ireland the Catholic Church supported the war in defence of “Catholic Belgium”. (Being God must be difficult in times of war.)

So the Battle of the Somme in 1916 was just another fight (claiming God’s backing) for the ownership of foreign territories. From July to November, the allies advanced six miles and suffered 419,654 casualties – 40 men killed or wounded for every yard of ground gained. (In 1918, the Germans re-captured it all.)

Whether they knew it or not, the Irish at the Somme were fighting for the injustice, tyranny and genocide inherent in the British Empire. They may not have known, for example, that the British deliberately adopted policies which killed 29 million Indians  through famine and disease in the late 19th century. But they were hardly ignorant of the causes and consequences of the Irish Famine.

Nationalists believed they were fighting for Home Rule. Unionists believed they were  fighting against it. Both sides could not have been right.

The 74,000 Indian troops who died in the war for dominion status for India (a form of home rule) were betrayed by Britain, which rewarded their sacrifices with the post-war Rowlatt Act (a predecessor to our Special Powers Act).

At one protest meeting against the new law, British soldiers fired on 15,000 unarmed civilians at Amritsar, killing 1,500 of them. One side or the other would likely have suffered the same fate in Ireland.

So while the 1916 Rising was a fight for freedom, the Somme was a battle to deny freedom to the one quarter of the world’s population in the empire, including 13 million new subjects won in the war.

Irish nationalists closely followed news of the Second Boer War (1899-1902) in which Britain first used concentration camps. It was begun by Cecil Rhodes, who introduced enforced racial segregation in South Africa, in the belief that the British were a master race.

Lord Patten (effectively founder of the PSNI) suggested this week that Oxford students who do not like the statue of Rhodes on the university campus might go and study in China. Imperial culture is not dead in England.

Concentration camps were used again in Kenya in the 1950s when an estimated 100,000 Kikuyu people were beaten to death or died from disease in the full knowledge of British cabinet ministers. British control of Kenya was established in World War I.

Some nationalists argue that the Somme should be commemorated because so many Irish fought there. However, an estimated 170,000 Irish-born men fought in the American civil war, almost as many as served in the Great War. Last year was the 150th anniversary of the war’s closure. There was no Irish state commemoration.

Most of them fought on the Union side in opposition to slavery. The Somme soldiers fought for an empire founded on slavery. If those commemorating the Somme wish to illustrate that the Irishmen who fought for Britain were victims, duped into fighting for fascism, repression and tyranny, that is understandable.

However, if their commemorations suggest that fighting for Britain was somehow noble or moral, then they understand neither the Rising nor the Somme.

Mrs Foster is right to suggest that there is no equivalence between the two. It will be interesting to hear the Taoiseach’s counter-argument – if he has one.

St. Brigid’s to mark 3rd anniversary

Posted by Jim on January 15, 2016

 

Response to Irish Times Op-Ed

Posted by Jim on January 14, 2016

Letters Editor

IRISH CENTRAL

 

Dear Editor:

 

Fr. Murphy’s “Rite and Reason…” (1/12) commentary is thoughtful and thought provoking.    However, several points about the 100th commemoration of the Easter Rising need context.

 

  1. He claims the Easter Rising  was not justified and that the commemorative events planned imply that it was.  No doubt he would feel the American Revolution was unjustified because of a dispute over a Stamp tax on tea.  Nor would the Declaration of Independence’s long list of grievances satisfy his criteria for a  “…model of political action.”  Ireland’s grievances were far greater than were America’s and  the price paid for their subservience  and more destructive of Ireland’s people and culture.

 

  1. He states: “A real Republic is created by voters, is established in structures of representative democracy, and the rule of law and lives in the people’s democratic practices and culture.”  In the last General Election in all of Ireland in 1918, which was run by the British government, Sinn Fein and Nationalists  won three quarters of the seats and the Dail created by those representatives was declared a criminal conspiracy.  The British followed with assassinations and the Black and Tans.  Is this the “legitimate authority” Fr. Murphy cites?

 

  1. The author declares:  “ the Rising’s leaders were men of violence”  and to celebrate their actions is “…to celebrate  anti-democratic elitism and a bloodlust.” This is straight from the British propaganda playbook.  But if it were so,  how do you describe centuries of lawless persecution by a hereditary monarchy?  What’s the buzzword for   the single most monstrous act of a British ‘democracy’  against the Republic;  the no warning bombing of  Dublin and Monaghan shopping centers?  Bloodlust?   Isn’t it right to label the perpetrators of that crime aristocratic men of violence and an anti-democratic elite?   I’ve  never heard or seen those labels from religious, Fine Gael or the Independent newspaper.  It seems “bloodlust” and “anti-democratic elite” are reserved for those striking a blow for Irish freedom.

 

In 40 years of activism I never expected sympathetic religious in Ireland or  in America   to support the IRA or violence of any sort.  But the manifest failure of those  religious to speak out against injustices and to speak  truth to power of the violence done to Irish society  100 years ago and today  is indicative of a church filled with careerists NOT a church filled with men and women with vocations.  It’s clear Fr. Murphy represents the best and brightest of the careerists.

 

Sincerely,

Michael J. Cummings

A CARNIVAL OF SELF-DECEPTION

Posted by Jim on January 11, 2016

New Year’s Day brought the first official efforts of the year to revise
and sanitise the centenary of the 1916 Rising, with the rebels’ goal of
an Ireland free from British rule getting airbrushed from the official
narrative.

The Easter rebellion of a hundred years ago led to the independence of
the 26 County state, a state which remains accused of turning its back
on the Six Counties of Ireland still under British control. So the
first major official events in Dublin to mark the Rising’s centenary
were always going to be tight-lipped affairs with no reminder of the
state’s failures.

Dignatories incliding President Michael D Higgins, Taoiseach Enda Kenny
and Tanaiste Joan Burton attended the opening ceremony, at which the
three flags which were flown on O’Connell Street during the rebellion
were raised over the castle. The names of all 78 volunteers who died,
including the 16 executed men, were read out.

Kenny told the crowd that the focus of the event was about how Irish
people should “reimagine our Republic” in terms of new international
relations and modernity.

Omitted from the picture was the unfinished business of 1916. Kenny
even suggested the Proclamation of the Republic by the rebels on April
24, 1916 was not an actual declaration of independence, merely “the
moment we have chosen to commemorate”.

Events deteriorated further that evening with a ‘Peace Proms’ event, a
political spectacle which sought to put a positive spin on the
partition of Ireland.

The event at the Convention Centre in Dublin featured traditional Irish
music mixed with the drums and pipes of loyalist marching bands, an
improbable blend of Irish and Scottish highland dancing, a ‘cross
border orchestra’, and, inevitably, U2. Most controversially, it ended
not with the Irish national anthem, but a cringe-inducing rendition of
the rugby theme, Ireland’s Call.

The darker side of the government’s intentions for the centenary was
also made apparent early in the New Year with the announcement that
over a hundred new riot police have been trained, specifically to
suppress any public protests during the main Easter Rising events later
this year.

But after a national and international outcry, the coalition has
officially backed down from a plan to involve members of the British
Royal family to the Easter Rising commemorative events, replacing it
with a campaign of “inclusivity”.

Minister for Culture Heather Humphreys, who is heading up the state’s
commemoration plans, said that she believed the anniversary of the
Battle of the Somme in July, where many Irish soldiers died in World
War One, was as important as the Easter Rising. “It is important to
remember that 2016 will mean different things to different people,” she
said.

Sinn Fein is organising its own events independent of the government’s
official programme. The party is behind an exhibition about the Easter
Rising in a former cinema north of O’Connell Street, and held a party
rally on Thursday to mark the centenary year.

Other independent events have also been organised by a number of
republican organisations, including commemorations in Dublin and
Coalisland, County Tyrone.

In the US, the battle for the legacy of the Rising has also been
intensifying, and the coalition government has been encouraging Irish
Americans to reinvent their Irish identity.

Speaking in New York, the 26 County Minister for Foreign Affairs
Charlie Flanagan said he was aware the Rising and the subsequent War of
Independence were financed by Irish-Americans in the early part of the
last century.

But he suggested Irish-Americans should not concern themselves with
British rule in the north of Ireland, and instead reflect on the
“positive, ever-growing relationship” with Britain.

Launching a programme of commemorations, he expressed satisfaction that
there was no sign of sections of Irish America “seeking to lay claim”
to the legacy of the Rising. He indicated that the struggle for Irish
freedom was at an end, praising instead what he said was the “journey
of one hundred years for a lasting, just and peaceful settlement”.

Back at home, the state’s centrepiece television drama ‘Rebellion’ was
broadcast to a sizable audience, but, tellingly, the drama was
sanitised of rebel sentiment and blocked from being viewed online north
of the border.

In Belfast, unionists were largely dismissive of efforts by the Dublin
government and Sinn Fein to involve them in “respectful and inclusive”
commemorations on the Rising and the Somme.

DUP leader and First Minister in waiting Arlene Foster vowed she would
not be associated with anything to do with marking the centenary of the
Rising, which she described as a “violent attack on the United
Kingdom”.

CENTENARY ‘AN INCONVENIENCE’

At his party’s rally on Thursday in the Mansion House, Sinn Fein leader
Gerry Adams spoke of the need to reclaim the spirit and vision of 1916.

“2016 is a time to celebrate our identity, to commemorate our past and
to deliver on the promise of the Proclamation,” he said. “It is a time
for big ideas. It is a time to stand up and be counted.”

But he noted the Irish revolutionary period was followed by a
counter-revolution and civil war.

“The reality is that when partition was imposed by London there were
activists who rejected it. There were others who reluctantly accepted
it as temporary and hoped that the new southern state would act as a
stepping stone to full national freedom.

“But there were also those who saw it as an end in itself. And there
are many in the establishment today who share that view. They, like the
Taoiseach, believe that our sovereign nation stops at the border. They
just don’t get 1916. It is an inconvenient issue that they want to get
out of the way.”

He argued that one of the big achievements of recent Irish history was
that “there is now a peaceful way to end partition”, but the Irish
establishment had no strategy to achieve this.

“Why would they? They want to maintain the status quo,” he said. “Of
course Ireland and the world is a different place today from when the
leaders of the Rising assembled on Easter Monday. But Irish republican
values and objectives – the core values of the Proclamation – remain as
relevant as ever.

“The Irish Republic proclaimed in 1916 was ‘committed to pursue the
happiness and prosperity of the whole nation and all of its parts,
cherishing all the children of the nation equally.’

“At its core is a belief that all people are sovereign and equal. That
historic document is a clear statement of intent for an all-Ireland
Republic built on the foundations of civil and religious liberty,
social justice and equality for all citizens.

“It remains the mission statement of modern Irish republicanism.”

1916 Societies – One Ireland One Vote

Posted by Jim on January 9, 2016

One Ireland One Vote Historical Background

 

If you asked the people of Ireland what plan they would accept, by an emphatic majority, they would say ‘We want independence and an Irish Republic.’  There is absolutely no doubt about that.  The elected representatives of Ireland, now by a clear majority, have  declared in favor of independence.

 

British Prime Minister Lloyd George, March 1920.

 

 

On January 21, 1919 Dail Eireann, the National Parliament of Ireland, had approved the Declaration of Irish Independence. The Dail had been established after the General Election of December 1918, the first held under the post World War expanded franchise, gave supporters of Irish Independence an overwhelming victory at the polls.  The British Government responded to this exercise in Irish democracy and self determination by “banning” the democratic government of the Irish Republic.  This  was followed by the unleashing of British state violence against the Irish people.  The Black and Tans and the Auxillaries wrecked havoc, destroying lives and property, Irish elected officials were jailed or murdered, citizens were threatened, Marshal Law was declared, censorship was imposed and the basic civil liberties were curtailed by a British Government without legal or moral authority to rule Ireland.  The British also responded to the exercise by the Irish people of national self determination by passing the Government of Ireland Act in Parliament in December 1920.  This Act passed without any votes of Irish members, nationalist or unionists.

 

The British of course, had no compunction about using force and violence as a way of imposing its will on the Irish people. As  historian, Donnacha O Beachain, summarized what occurred:. “[o]n 23 December 1920 an international boundary was constructed in Ireland by the arbitrary movement of the British imperial pen.  “To satisfy the demands of a small regional majority, and to preserve British hegemony, a new state was established , obstensibly to protect a 20 per cent minority while simultaneously creating a new minority that made up 34 per cent of the population.  In not one of the six counties was the unionist majority greater than the nationalist majority in Ireland as a whole.”  As historian Professor Joseph Lee has pointed out , Unionist saw no incongruity in denying nationalist the right to govern “Unionist Ulster” on the basis of a 3:1 nationalist majority in Ireland as a whole, while simultaneously insisting on a Unionist right to rule Ulster based on a much smaller unionist majority in four out of the nine counties of Ulster. When the County Council of Fermanagh, one of the counties in Northern Ireland with a nationalist majority, tried to opt out of British rule by affiliating with Dublin rather than Belfast, the British responded by dissolving the Council.  The “principle of consent” so often spoken of now, did not apply to the nationalist counties within Northern Ireland.

 

If the partition of Ireland can not be explained under any understood democratic principles, what can explain it?  Revisionist historians posit the “two nations” theory of Irish history.  Principled Republicans, of course, have historically rejected this two nations theory or any other attempt to divide the Irish people on ethnic or religious grounds. Many of the leading lights of Irish Republicanism, Wolfe Tone, Robert Emmett, Thomas Davis, Bulmer Hobson, et al. were in fact Protestants and non sectarianism has always been a guiding principle of the movement.  In any event the “two nations” theory fails to explain why the spectre of partition only came about once the possibility of Irish self government came into view.  Partition, moreover, did not prevent unionist/nationalist conflict, it exacerbated it by putting a political minority, Unionist, in control of nationalist population, a population for whom the British and Unionist ruling class had shown only antipathy.  The two nations theory can not explain why nationalist in the six counties had to live under British backed unionist rule.  For that you have to look at the underlying attitudes of the British and Unionist towards the Irish.  :

 

“Can a people still in the nursery, mentally and morally be allowed to govern itself, either in much or in little? “

 

The Irish Times March 20, 1920

 

It was this attitude, that the Irish were intrinsically inferior and could not govern themselves, let alone British indentified unionist, that made it seem “natural” that Irish self rule would not be allowed to extend to the six counties. Certainly it hasn’t been based on any track record of non sectarianism or good government on the part of Unionist governments over the decades.  On the contrary, the worst fears of those who opposed partition from the beginning were fully realized.  As Joseph Lee has written, the British do bear a responsibility for imposing a border justifiable only on the basis of racial supremacy and a “solution” that contained within it the seeds of fresh struggle. For some time the British have been quite effective in pushing a discussion of the undemocratic foundations of Northern Ireland out of mainstream discourse.  This history, however, must be brought to the forefront because the legacy of that history remains.

 

Contrary to popular understanding, the 1998 Good Friday Agreement did not address the fundamental problems related to British involvement in Ireland.  British control over full Irish self-determination remains in place.  Any proposed ‘Border Poll’ as contemplated by the Agreement would be confined to the Six Counties that Britain divided from the rest of Ireland, thereby excluding the majority of Ireland’s people from a vote on Ireland’s future. Britain, moreover, would control the timing of any Border Pole as well as its wording.  The British, therefore, have a “Triple –Lock” in place  to prevent Irish national self determination.

 

As a consequence, we remain with a situation where a political minority backed by a powerful foreign power, has control over Ireland’s destiny.  Nationalists throughout the Six Counties, therefore, must pay taxes to support the very British Military, Police , and Intelligence forces that are working against their interests.  Irish citizens in the Six Counties remain subject to harsh and repressive “security” laws and practices, young nationalists are constantly subjected to searches and harassment from the British security forces.

 

The One Ireland, One Vote campaign is premised on the idea that the current status quo does not have to remain.   One Ireland One Vote looks for a democratic, non sectarian Ireland based on the principles of the United Irishman, with guarantees, as the Proclamation of 1916 declared, of equal rights and liberties for all its men and women, regardless of background.    We must also remind the Irish people that they, not the British government and its allies, get the last word on the future of the Irish nation.  One Ireland, One Vote is a practical way to make sure this finally happens.

Remember 1916, when we had guts and self-esteem?

Posted by Jim on

By Niamh Horan (for the Independent)

You’d have to wonder what the executed leaders of the Rising would make
of it all.

Thomas J Clarke, Sean Mac Diarmada, Thomas MacDonagh, Padraig Pearse,
Eamonn Ceannt, James Connolly and Joseph Plunkett.

Men willing to die for their country; for liberty, sovereignty and
economic freedom.

They wrote the Proclamation swiftly, under life-threatening conditions
in Liberty Hall on the night before the Rising.

“We declare the right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of
Ireland and to the unfettered control of Irish destinies, to be
sovereign and indefeasible,” they proclaimed, before taking up arms.

Mac Diarmada was in poor health. His hip was bad. He walked in pain and
with the aid of a stick, travelling the country, as the Irish Republican
Brotherhood’s principal organiser.

On the day of the Rising, Clarke went into the GPO to fight alongside
his comrades, even though he was almost 60 and suffering from a bullet
wound to his elbow.

Across the city, on Mount Street Bridge, where a handful held off the
Crown forces, a 28-year-old carpenter turned lieutenant, Michael Malone,
sent his youthful troops home in order to save their lives.

The lack of weaponry juxtaposed with the sheer bravery displayed on the
day has oft been commended by historians.

Fast forward 100 years and Ireland has “changed utterly”, as W B Yeats
predicted.

But in ways they could never envisage.

Our risk from foreign adversaries has changed from the very real threat
of the enemy at the gates to intimidations of a different kind in the
financial sector.

Today’s leaders never had to take up arms to protect their people. And
yet the stark language of warfare has been conjured up at every turn.

Unlike the rebels who fanned out across the city on Easter Monday in
April 1916 facing artillery from all sides, today’s governments have
only had to deal with the metaphorical “loaded gun” while Trichet and
the ECB threatened financial Armageddon to let a “bomb go off” in the
Irish economy unless Finance Minster Michael Noonan met their demands.

And yet the sheer lack of courage to go toe-to-toe against these foreign
threats would leave you wondering where Kenny and his comrades would
cower if they found themselves in a plume of smoke 100 years ago as the
British closed in.

Over the past two governments, leaders have kowtowed again and again to
foreign interests.

The bank guarantee, a willingness to honour bondholders debts and the
submissiveness shown when the US government blocked an attempt by the
previous Irish government to burn [euro]20bn worth of bondholders has been
staggering.

The last person to oversee the country in such a crisis was Charlie
Haughey. For all his flaws, it is hard to imagine him ever allowing the
Irish taxpayer to be screwed by Europe like that. He may have been
crooked but he was smart. And he would never have rolled over like a
pair of schoolteachers.

Our politicians skinned the country for the interest of global financial
institutions, saddling the nation with [euro]9,000 debt for every man, woman
and child.

And when there was “blood on the streets”, as Steve Schwarzman, chief
executive of Blackstone said when offering his views on buying up
Europe’s distressed assets to an audience at Goldman Sachs in New York
in 2010, they let foreign vultures swoop in.

Afterwards, Schwarzman’s company bought [euro]2bn of Irish loans and
property, including the Burlington hotel, a 25pc stake in Eircom,
offices and a [euro]1.8bn par value of loans linked to developer Michael
O’Flynn, bought from Nama at a discount for around [euro]1.1bn.

The state agency – which was given unprecedented powers in a bid to get
credit going – sold loans secured by prized assets to foreigners, like
Claridges and Battersea Power Station, while the Irish could only stand
and watch.

What a turnaround when our forefathers had always fought to protect our
land from foreign interests and keep the welfare of the Irish people at
it’s heart.

But hey, this year the Government has been busy handing out free flags
and copies of the Proclamation and the nation is expected to get in the
spirit.

No doubt Kenny will give a tall speech too at Dublin’s GPO this Easter,
waxing lyrical about the true meaning of patriotism. The same man who
sat in front of the Irish flag to deliver his State of the Nation
address four years ago upon taking up office.

He told the country: “I want to be the Taoiseach who retrieves Ireland’s
economic sovereignty” and even evoked the spirit of the “founding
fathers of our nation”.

So you’d have to wonder what they would make of our leaders 100 years
on.

My guess is, come Easter, you can forget resurrections, the only
movement up on Arbour Hill will be some real patriots turning in their
graves.

Battle of Benburb 1646

Posted by Jim on January 7, 2016

The last great victory of a native Irish Army

The Scots landed an army at Carrickfergus in 1642 following the Irish rebellion of 1641. Their objectives were to protect the Scottish settlers, conquer the country, and destroy Catholicism in Ireland and impose Presbyterianism as the state religion and in doing so protect Scotland from a Catholic Irish invasion. After landing, they linked up with an army of settlers around Derry commanded by Robert Stewart(the Lagan army). They were also in contact with English garrisons at Lisnagarvey(Lisburn), Belfast and Newry.

Owen Roe O’Neill, son of Cormac Mac Barron O’Neill and nephew of the great Hugh, had an illustrious military career in the service of Spain in the Spanish Netherlands.

Following his superb defence of Arras whilst besieged by the full military might of France he had become one of the best known and admired professional soldiers in Europe. He landed at Doe castle in Donegal in 1642 and became General of the Irish Confederate Army of Ulster based at Charlemont fort on the border of Armagh and Tyrone and at Castle Oughter in County Cavan, the stronghold of his kinsmen the O’Reillys. The Scots and English had control of the area up to Charlemont, and the Irish prevented them from pushing south. Both sides constantly raided into the other’s territory in search of food and conducted a vicious scorched earth policy. O’Neill commented that Ulster looked “not only like a desert, but like hell.” A sort of status quo existed with one side or the other gaining very temporary marginal advantage until 1646.

In 1645, O’Neill at last obtained funding and a large consignment of weapons through the Vatican Papal Nuncio to Ireland, Giovanni Battista Rinuccini. This enabled Owen Roe to properly train,arm,and pay his men as professional soldiers and prepare for a full pitched battle which he had previously tried to avoid.

In the summer of 1646, the Scots commander Major General Robert Monroe, like O’Neill an experienced veteran of the continental wars under Gustavus Adolfus of Sweden decided to penetrate southwards with a force of some 6000 men well supplied and armed, including six pieces of light artillery. He had arranged to rendezvous with the Stewart’s Lagan army at Clones, the place of a previous victory over O’Neill and his army of Ulster. He had also arranged to meet his permanent Cavalry Commander, George Monroe with a settler army from Coleraine at Glaslough on the Tyrone/ Monaghan border. Monroe was supremely confident but he wanted to keep the Irish army in front of him. At the time of his departure they were in Co Cavan. He feared leaving his own bases unprotected and at the mercy of O’Neill whilst he conducted a campaign in the South. When he obtained intelligence that the Irish had mobilised and were advancing towards Charlemont, which had been previously impregnable, he began a series of forced marches to try and head off O’Neill before he crossed the Blackwater river. This strategy which failed, as O’Neill had camped at Benburb on the Tyrone side of the river at least a day before Monroe expected and he was then behind Monroe with Charlemont at his back. Furthermore, the period of forced marches had disrupted the planed rendezvous times and Monroe’s main army was now well ahead of the other supporting forces. The other critical factor was that Monroe’s men were fatigued from the forced marches which they were not prepared for. Monroe was surprised that the Irish army were standing their ground for a fight, as he had expected them to run and so he decided to delay his advance Southwards, to cross the Blackwater river and deal with the Irish immediately before he moved South.

Owen Roe had picked and prepared his battle site well. He was also a master of innovative military strategy and had set up on a hill with the impenetrable Blackwater to his right. Monroe fired on the Irish positions until he ran out of ammunition, doing little damage due to the topography of the ground. He then sent in the previously invincible Scottish cavalry but not under their regular commander, George Monroe, but under his adopted son-in-law Lord Ards, a young inexperienced hot head. They failed to break the now well trained musket and pike formation of the Irish and were hampered by well chosen unsuitable ground. On their retreat, because of the necessarily restricted area of the chosen battle site, they ran through their infantry causing confusion and chaos. With the arrival of the Irish cavalry the artillery was overrun and captured. The Irish then advanced and with “push of pike” and musket volleys turned the covenanters’ army with their backs to the river and proceeded to slaughter them. Monroe and his protective troop of cavalry fled followed by the English officers. The combined British force lost between 2000 and 3000 men killed or captured many drowned and many in the pursuit. They also lost a huge amount of stores and weapons including artillery. The Irish casualties were low, approximately 300. This was the first time that the Irish had won a major head-to-head battle against the British in the field and it was celebrated throughout Catholic Europe. The Scottish Covenanter army were no longer a threat but due to the political decisions made in Kilkenny, Owen Roe did not follow up his victory but was ordered to move South by Rinuccini and the Confederation and the greatest victory of the war was subsequently wasted.

Time for a new approach in the north of Ireland

Posted by Jim on January 5, 2016

by Sean Bresnahan, PRO 1916 Societies

Following the conclusion of yet another pseudo negotiation at Stormont,
its purpose as ever to prop up British rule in the North, it is clear
the status quo in Ireland is incapable of securing forward political
progress. New thinking is required. Partition has failed both the
long-suffering people of the Six Counties and their compatriots to the
South, who likewise endure a reactionary policy spectrum imposed by
external actors. The private deal concocted by the Sinn Fein-DUP
coalition, overseen by London and Dublin, will do nothing to change
that.

As is already the case in the 26-Counties, ordinary men and women in the
North are faced with tightening austerity measures, the lynchpin of the
agreement brokered. The rich are to profit at the expense of working
people, with the slashing of corporation tax to be funded by massive
cuts to welfare, impacting on thousands of already struggling families.
The British government, backed by Dublin, Sinn Fein and the DUP, has
successfully stamped its long-running austerity agenda all over the
deal.

On top of that, once again Britain refuses to admit its ‘Dirty War’,
with ‘national security’ the instrument to avoid full disclosure. That
some agreed to move forward on this basis – effectively losing out on
both sides of the negotiation – is a clear demonstration of who holds
sway in Ireland. It should likewise be noted the Sinn Fein project of
drawing power away from Westminster, supposedly towards regional
decision-making processes, stands in ruin, the handing back of key
powers to London exposing the same as facade.

All of this makes clear the deal in question has been framed to uphold
partitionist government, fulfilling the needs of the British state and
its occupation system, with the people barely an afterthought. Ireland
can achieve so much more and needs a new beginning. As such, the 1916
Societies, through our flagship One Ireland One Vote initiative, seek a
credible alternative to endless negotiation and agreements which ignore
the people.

We call instead for a truly democratic engagement, for an inclusive,
all-Ireland referendum on Irish Unity, where the people determine their
own future, without external impediment. The failed British-run process
must go, to be replaced with a project the people control themselves.

Undercover ceremony to commemorate IRA Volunteers

Posted by Jim on January 4, 2016

In the early hours of Saturday 19th of December, members of the 1916
Societies entered the Curragh military camp under the cover of darkness
to commemorate seven Irish Republican Army Volunteers who were executed
92 years ago on that day.

The Curragh Camp in County Kildare was for decades the chief
British military base in Ireland. It was handed over to the Free State
army in May 1922 and was used to imprison republicans who remained loyal
to the Sovereign Republic, declared on Easter Week 1916.

Those present made their way to a fence surrounding the Glasshouse
military prison, where the Volunteers were executed by firing squad by
Free State counter-revolutionaries. At the closest possible position to
the Glasshouse, a wreath, a copy of the Proclamation and an Irish
Republic Flag were placed on the fence. The Proclamation and the names
of the executed Volunteers were read out followed by a minute’s silence.

The executed Volunteers had been captured by Free State troops in a
hidden dugout on December 13th 1922 with Commandant Thomas Behan. The
Volunteers surrendered but a Free State soldier struck one of them,
Thomas Behan of Rathangan, with a rifle butt and broke his arm. The
republicans were ordered to board a truck but when Behan was unable to
do so, because of his broken arm, he was attacked viciously, his skull
smashed in with rifle butts – a war crime subsequently covered up with
the tried and tested excuse, ‘shot while trying to escape’.

The seven surviving republicans were taken to the Glasshouse, the
military prison in the Curragh. Under powers given to them by the Free
State government, military tribunals could impose the death sentence for
possession of arms. The Volunteers executed on that day were:

Officer Commanding Bryan Moore, Rathbride, Kildare – age 37
Volunteer Patrick Bagnall, Kildare – age 19
Volunteer Patrick Mangan, Kildare – age 22
Volunteer Joseph Johnston, Kildare – age 18
Volunteer Patrick Nolan, Kildare – age 34
Volunteer Stephen White, Kildare – age 18
Volunteer James O’Connor, Tipperary – age 24

Thatcher’s plan to bomb Dundalk

Posted by Jim on

Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher asked what the reaction
would be if the British bombed the border town of Dundalk in county
Louth when she met then Irish Taoiseach in 1985.

Notes of the conversation between the leaders at a meeting in Luxembourg
during an EU summit a little over two weeks after the Anglo-Irish
Agreement are contained in government files released this week under the
30-year rule.

In the conversation, the details of which are contained in a note by the
then cabinet secretary, Dermot Nally, Mrs Thatcher demanded that
Taoiseach Garret Fitzgerald increase the rate at which IRA Volunteers
were convicted or extradited.

“Can you give me evidence on which to charge more of them?” asked Mr
FitzGerald. “If there is evidence against anybody, there are channels
through which it can be communicated and action will be taken.”

“If we have evidence, we will get it to you,” responded Mrs Thatcher.
Menacingly, she added: “People in the South come to the North to commit
criminal acts and then dash back. What would you say if Dundalk were
bombed to stop this?”

The Taoiseach responded only: “We have no evidence against people in
Dundalk – if we had, we would arrest them.”

Thatcher’s focus in the conversation, which lasted for half an hour on
December 3rd, 1985, was on unionist opposition to the agreement, which
had been signed on November 15th.

Later in the conversation, Mr FitzGerald suggested that the then British
Direct Ruler Tom King might indicate the possibility of early release
for IRA prisoners if there was a sustained period of reduced violence
after the agreement.

“That would be dynamite – no, not dynamite; nuclear,” Thatcher
responded. “We could not think of relief for people guilty of bombing,
of murder, of other atrocities”.

January 13th Fundraiser, in Sean Pender’s and Dan Dennehy’s Honor, to kick off their campaigns for AOH National Treasurer and National Director

Posted by Jim on

Brother Hibernians Malachy McAllister and Joe McManus recently opened a new establishment,

Wolfe Tone’s Irish Pub & Kitchen at 37 East 29th Street near Park Avenue in Midtown.
They are throwing a Fundraiser, in Sean Pender’s and Dan Dennehy’s Honor, to kick off their campaigns for National Treasurer and National Director, respectively, at the July 2016 AOH National Convention in Atlantic City.
They will provide food, live music and a great atmosphere at this great spot just down Park Avenue from Grand Central Station.
This fundraiser will provide much needed funds for costly hospitality and campaign expenses.
I would be most grateful if you joined us at Wolfe Tone’s on Wednesday, January 13 from 5 to 9 pm.

Donation: $25.00 per

Catholic priest condemns former anti- IRA taoiseach

Posted by Jim on

News Letter (Belfast) .Sunday, January 3, 2016

A Catholic priest has accused a former Irish leader of being a “useless Irishman” who was prepared to “abet British oppression”.

Father Sean McManus, founder of the Irish National Caucus Inc., made the comments about now-dead Fine Gael politician Garrett FitzGerald.

It followed a press report – published in Dublin’s The Journal on New Year’s Day – which contrasted Mr FitzGerald’s outright condemnation of the IRA in 1985 with the more equivocal attitude of John O’Connor, the Catholic Archbishop of New York.

In The Journal’s article, the former taoiseach was said to have told the archbishop that is was “wrong to equate what is done by security forces trying to maintain law and order” with the violence of unlawful paramilitaries.

Notes from the meeting came to light when they were released alongside other 30-year-old declassified papers.

In response, Fr McManus wrote: “Further proof, not that it’s needed, that Garret FitzGerald was a useless Irishman – a total quisling.”

The term ‘quisling’ stems from Norway, where puppet leader Vidkun Quisling was placed in charge of the country during its occupation by the Nazis.

Fr McManus (who is originally from Fermanagh) continued: “Had he [FitzGerald] remained as Taoiseach, there would never have been a peace process.

“He would have simply continued to aid and abet British oppression in Ireland. The man was a disgrace.”

The Irish National Caucus is based in Washington DC, and describes itself as “a human rights organisation dedicated to getting the United States to stand up for justice and peace in Ireland”. It bills itself as “non- violent, non-partisan, and non-sectarian”.

It is not the first time Fr McManus has spoken out to attack someone for their condemnation of violent republicans.

Freedom For All Ireland Christmas Appeal Fundraiser Jan. 28, 2016

Posted by Jim on December 28, 2015

Christmas-Appeal-Fundraiser-Red-Border-781x1024

Gerry Adams owes Slab Murphy a debt of gratitude

Posted by Jim on December 26, 2015

Brian Feeney. Irish News. Wednesday, December23, 2015

In a radio interview on Monday Gerry Kelly was correct to bat away contrived SDLP concern about Sinn Féin’s response to the conviction of ‘Slab’ Murphy for tax evasion. The SDLP had simply jumped on the bandwagon alongside every party in the Republic once Dublin’s Special Criminal Court had handed down its decision.

As Kelly pointed out, the SDLP have no dog in the fight. They don’t stand in the Republic’s elections or play any part in its politics. It was simply an opportunity to have a crack at Sinn Féin. He might also have pointed out that the BBC took no notice of the worst floods for years in the Republic with thousands of acres inundated by the River Shannon and water rising at Shannon Pot near the Fermanagh border. Yet a comment by Gerry Adams about a Dublin court case merited a lengthy interview.

You could hear the frustration in Kelly’s voice at the hypocrisy because the SDLP like all the other parties lining up to take a pop, know, or if they don’t should know, why Gerry Adams felt it necessary to issue a detailed statement about the case.

Let’s not beat about the bush here. Slab Murphy lost a libel case in Dublin before a jury, please note, whom he failed to convince that allegations about his IRA activities were false. Murphy became IRA chief of staff at a crucial time in the peace process, the end of 1997. At an IRA general army convention in Gortahork then the quartermaster Michael McKevitt led a dangerous split out of which emerged the Real IRA but he was unable to take any substantial group with him.

Murphy was able to hold the vast majority of the IRA, but critically carry south Armagh with him into the Good Friday Agreement and the commitment to exclusively peaceful and democratic means. Murphy presided as chief of staff through the process of elections and decommissioning and for all we know may still be on the army council.

Gerry Adams owes him an enormous debt of gratitude. Murphy’s people in south Armagh think to be pursued through the courts is a poor reward for his efforts through those difficult and dangerous years. The offences of which he was found guilty were committed more than ten years ago, 1996-2004 – a different time. What’s Adams supposed to do? Walk away? Join the condemnation? He knows, as Gerry Kelly knows and all those sanctimonious critics north and south know, that if it hadn’t been for Murphy events after 1997 would have taken an entirely different direction.

To say the least it wouldn’t go down too well in south Armagh if Gerry Adams were now to rat on the man to whom he owes so much. Of course Slab Murphy is not related to the Archangel Gabriel or even a mere Irish saint. He has been linked to many dreadful incidents but like many of those now in prominent positions in northern politics that was then.

People forget that Murphy is not the only one who has fallen foul of officials pursuing cases they were unable to prosecute before 1998. His close colleague Sean Hughes, the man the British army nicknamed ‘The Surgeon’ because of the precision of his IRA operations, was prosecuted in 2001 for money laundering and other offences. He pleaded guilty. The then Minister for Regional Development Conor Murphy MP said: “I know him [Hughes] very well. He’s a good friend of mine and has been for very many years and I’m very proud of that.”

Hiding behind parliamentary privilege as senior DUP men tend to do, Peter Robinson said Hughes had been appointed to the IRA army council in 2002. And why might that have been except to consolidate the position of the supporters of the peace process in the IRA as the movement edged towards decommissioning?

Now none of this is secret. On the contrary, if those politicians wringing their hands in righteous rage at tax evasion don’t know chapter and verse of this detail they shouldn’t be in politics. On the other hand because they do know but ignore the real background they provide an authentic example of politicians’ behaviour. Not edifying.

British government still determined to conceal its role in the conflict

Posted by Jim on

Martin McGuinness. Deputy First Minister. Irish News ( Belfast). Wednesday, December 23, 2015

THE past continues to permeate and impact on the current political process, while casting a shadow over our future.

Victims of the conflict have a right to the truth about the past. Providing mechanisms for achieving that right was the focus of much of the discussion over the recent ‘Fresh Start’ negotiations.

Broad agreement has been reached on the architecture of the legacy mechanisms, which could deliver independent investigations and information recovery for the families of all victims of the conflict. But, having previously agreed to ‘full disclosure’ the British government did a U-turn and is now insisting on a blanket veto on the release of that information, under the pretext of ‘national security’.

That veto is not acceptable to some groups representing victims and their families. It is not acceptable to Sinn Féin. This issue must be resolved.

During the recent negotiations, the British government articulated their alleged ‘national security’ concerns. These related to the potential identification of agents, and the revelation of techniques and methodologies utilised by their security services.

We discussed these concerns in depth, along with legal advisors and campaign groups. This allowed Sinn Féin to designate a number of reasonable options to guide and direct any decision around the onward flow of information to families. And to do so in a way which did not endanger lives. They also address the clear imbalance between the blanket ‘national security’ veto and the rights of families to the release of relevant information.

In doing this, we have stretched ourselves and offered a major compromise.

The first option offered in a bid to break the deadlock was for the director of the Historical Investigation Unit, a person of international standing, to have full discretion, in relation to onward disclosure of information to families, free of any veto by the British government. This would be similar to the powers the Police Ombudsman has in this respect.

The second option was the creation of an independent and international appeal panel incorporating three judges, one each appointed by the British and Irish governments respectively, and a third international judicial figure appointed jointly by both governments. This panel would adjudicate on appeal applications and determine whether to uphold or quash any veto on information made by the British Secretary of State.

The British government rejected both options. They are firmly set against the prospect of any international dimension to the appeal mechanism, despite the deployment of similar mechanisms throughout the peace process to unlock blockages on key issues like putting weapons beyond use, the monitoring of ceasefires, devising key principles and the chairing of key negotiations.

Instead the British government offered up a right to challenge any veto in the High Court. They have billed this as a ‘significant compromise’. This is a bogus gesture. This option already exists. Indeed, Theresa Villiers herself has exercised this right, by way of a judicial review, when she sought an injunction to prevent the release of documents available in the Public Records Office by DCAL minister Carál Ní Chuilin to the families of victims of the conflict. This in itself is clearly a telling indication of the British attitude to disclosure.

Moreover, it is ineffective and secretive – closed hearings in the High Court – leading only to significant delay in the publication of reports to families if such a challenge, and potential appeal to that challenge, is taken. The longer-term consequences are likely to be a clogging up of the criminal justice system, which is already being stretched by litigation around legacy issues.

Theresa Villiers’ ‘significant compromise’ is not a credible attempt to address the key issue of onward disclosure of information for families.

In the Stormont House Agreement the British government committed to full disclosure. Their subsequent retreat from this commitment is a telling indication of how much the British state has to fear from the truth about its involvement in the conflict.

British soldiers gunned down Irish civilians in rampages in Ballymurphy, Derry, Springhill, New Lodge and the Shankill.

The British state engaged in the systematic murder of people it claimed were its own citizens, including Pat Finucane, Sinn Féin elected representatives and activists and many, many others.

This is the appalling vista that the British government is determined to conceal.

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

Posted by Jim on

Radio Free Eireann this week will interview Gerry McGeough about next years 100th anniversary of 1916 and how the 50th anniversary inspired and awoke demands for Civil Rights Movement and  freedom in his generation. Anthony McIntyre will discuss how the British  are misusing national security to conceal the truth from families about the murders of their loved ones.He will also discuss the political and legal fallout of the conviction of South Armagh man Tom Murphy in a Dublin non-jury Court.
Ancient Order of Hibernians Director Dan Dennehy will talk about the plight of undocumented Irish immigrants in the US. Kate Nash will talk about why some families of BloodySunday victims will be marching for justice in Derry.
This week Martin Galvin will be guest-hosting.The program will be heard from noon to 1pm New York time on 99.5 FM  or live  at www.wbai.org, or listen afterwards on www.wbai.orgarchives.

 

 

 

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

where it is archived for 10 days..

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

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

Unrepentant Finian Bastards

Spotlight on Father Flanagan, Founder of Boys Town

Posted by Jim on December 20, 2015

Edward Joseph Flanagan was born in 1886 in Leabeg, County Roscommon, to John and Honoria Flanagan, both fluent Irish speakers. He was the eighth child in a family of eleven children.

Pictured, above, a scene from the “Boys Town” movie with Spencer Tracy as Father Edward Joseph Flanagan.

Some sources state that this baby was born prematurely, and that the family was advised that he might not survive through the first days of his life. His grandfather Patrick, however, had a different view, and kept this baby wrapped in a blanket lying on his chest next to the hearth in the kitchen over the following days and weeks. His grandfather’s warmth, prayers by all the family, and the love that was poured over him are testaments to his grandfather’s faith, love and determination that this child would survive.

The padre’s parents were farmers and were said to be intelligent and religious, handing down many traditions of religion, and prayers said in the family home were very much a part of those traditions. Given that he was not expected to survive, he was always a frail child, so there were no real expectations placed on him. Adored by all his family — all highly intelligent — he was sent out to herd the sheep as a means of keeping him occupied, as this was considered a job which would not tire him out. This pastoral work, in his family’s opinion, would give him much time to think, to study, to read and to pray. He would spend long hours with his father and grandfather, who taught him about the struggle for Irish Independence and in Edward’s own words, he is quoted as bestowing this accolade to his father:

It was from him I learned the great science of life, of examples from the lives of saints, scholars and patriots. It was from his life I first learned the fundamental rule of life of the great Saint Benedict about ‘Prayer and work.’ “

His family, who were always concerned for his welfare, thought long and hard about his future, knowing how physically frail he was. In their opinion, he would be better suited to a life of service within the Roman Catholic Church. He attended Cloonboniffe Primary National School before he moved to Summerhill College, Sligo, graduating in 1904.

Following his graudation he set sail for America with his sister Nellie, who happened to be emigrating to the United States, to reside with her brother, Fr. Patrick Flanagan. She would serve as his housekeeper as he served the people of St Patrick’s Church, in Omaha, Nebraska. Edward brought all the 32 counties’ sods of grass with him. He attended Mount St. Mary’s College in Emmittsburg, Maryland, where he began his fundraising events almost immediately. A gifted and brilliant orator, he invited Irish-Americans to walk on their native soil for $1 a time, establishing himself as a man who can get things done. In 1906, at Emmitsburg, he received his Bachelor of Arts and then went on to receive a Master of Arts.

By the end of his studies, he had fallen ill with pneumonia, a disease he was prone to since childhood, and went to reside with his brother so that their Nellie could look after him. When he had recuperated sufficiently, he then went on to study at St. Joseph’s Seminary, in Dunwoodie, New York, (left) before traveling to Italy, where he served a term as an Advent preacher at St. Sylvester’s Basilica in Rome, where he fell ill again and returned to Omaha, so his sister could nurse him back to health. Once on the mend, he got a job as an accountant with Cudahy Packing Co. in Omaha, Nebraska, to earn a living and to recuperate in the warmth, care and comfort of his brother and sister. This allowed him to build up his strength before once again embarking on his pastoral care duties.

This time he moved to the University of Innsbruck, Austria, to complete his studies for the priesthood, where he was ordained a priest in 1912. His first Mass was in St. Ignatius Church, Innsbruck,  with many of his family present. He then served periods in O’Neill, Nebraska, as assistant to his brother Pat in Omaha, and then went on to serve at St. Philomena’s.

About six months later, during Holy Week in 1913, Edward Flanagan was transferred to St Patrick’s Church to aid and support the ailing pastor, Fr. John T. Smith. At 6 p.m. that Easter Sunday, Omaha was struck by a violent tornado, destroying one third of the city, killing 155 people. Hundreds were left homeless and many, many people were put out of work. Flanagan set about administering to the needs of all those affected. By 1915, his outreach had incorporated the many seasonal workers who had been stranded and out of work because of a continuing drought in Omaha.

With so many desperate and homeless people to administer to, he found an old abandoned garage on a side street, and with assistance from volunteers, they spread straw on the floor and went around seeking people who were sleeping rough in coal bunkers, on the train tracks, and on the streets. Then, he had discussions with Bishop Scannell to convince him of the need to open a proper shelter for all these people, mainly men. By November of that year, he had acquired sufficient monies to buy the Old Burlington Hotel. He then recruited homeless men to clean and repair it, and before long 57 men had moved in.

The following year, when all these men had found jobs with board on the farms, Flanagan had acquired a much larger premises on the corner of Capitol and 13th Street. He called it ‘The Working Men’s Hotel.‘(right) It housed up to 1,000 men. When the USA entered the war in April 1917, The Working Men’s Hotel soon emptied as all these men enlisted. This did not mean the end of the accommodation, as Flanagan, always on the lookout for homeless people, soon found a different kind of occupant — drifters and other down-and-outs.  He always had a listening ear for people with problems and soon learned that their story was always the same — none of them had come from a loving, caring  family environment, all were victims of parental neglect or broken homes, had been left orphaned or had been deserted by the family.

By this time, combined with the support of the Diocese of Omaha’s Bishop Jeremiah Harty, he took seven boys from the courts and established a healthy routine for them with the aid of men from the courts. With the permission and the support of Harty in 1917, he opened his first home for boys in the old Byron Reed building at 25th and Dodge. All too soon, the number of boys outgrew this building, so he acquired another building, which happened to be the former German-American House, at 4206 South 13th Street. By Christmas of that year, he had the capacity for 150 young boys in the home. With his great ability and oration skills for fundraising and for motivating people, he had soon captivated the hearts and minds of the Mother Superior of the Notre Dame Sisters in Omaha. Combined with all her young nuns, and an army of trained teachers, he soon had his orphanage and school on a solid footing. Every boy was tested as to their ability, and each boy would begin to learn at their own pace.

By March 1918, his name became synonymous with the welfare and rights of children and he received the deeds of Overlook Farm. He had five new buildings constructed for his boys and was able to move them to their new home by October 1922. Overlook Farm was then incorporated into the Village of Boys Town. To instill into all the boys that they should not take everything for granted, he encourage them to pray every morning and say the rosary every day. That some were late every morning did not deter him from his goal of meeting their physical needs for shelter, food, warmth, their emotional need for love and their spiritual need for prayer. One particularly well-welll-traveled remark attributed to him was, “Every boy should learn how to pray, how he prays is up to him.”

By this time, with the orphanage and school under the care of the devoted Notre Dame Mother Superior and all her nuns, plus the army of schoolteachers, he decided to make an exhaustive study of the juvenile-justice system. He undertook the enormous task of traveling to 31 American states and 12 countries in Asia and Europe, immersing himself in the studies of social theories, the justice system and the welfare system in all of these states and countries, in his endeavor to find the best solutions for nurturing the children under his care.

By 1938, he was internationally known, and had received many awards for his work. He was asked to serve on many committees and boards dealing with the welfare of children. He tutored other clergy, who were in awe of his knowledge of the justice system, child care and related subjects. U.S. presidents and other world leaders and senators, congressmen and other powerful people sought his advice on all child-welfare policies. Pope Pius XI was so impressed by the dedication of this Irish priest to the cause of child welfare that in 1938 he bestowed on him Domestic Prelate, his title as the Right Reverend Monsignor Flanagan.

In 1946, he made his last trip to Ireland, where his fury had no bounds when he found himself dismayed that the institutions that housed the young, vulnerable, homeless Irish orphans and young women were treated with cruelty and virtual imprisonment. He publicly spoke out about these conditions, calling them “a national disgrace.”  The media and OIreachtas [Irish Parliament] were none too happy with Flanagan’s outspoken comments — to silence him, they pressured him to leave Ireland. In attempting to offer solutions to the disturbing institutionalized care that Ireland offered, he was publicly ridiculed and ostracized by Ireland’s government and by the officials of the Christian Brothers order. It was among Flanagan’s dying wishes that his mission work would be brought to Ireland.

In 1947, after World War II, President Truman asked Flanagan to travel to Asia and Europe to attend discussions about children who had been displaced and orphaned by the war. In 1948 he made similar trips to Austria and Germany, all in the name of child welfare. He died in Germany of a heart attack May 15, 1948.  At his own request, he was interred at Dowd Memorial Chapel of the Immaculate Conception, in Boys Town.

Here are highlights of Father Flanagan’s legacy:

  • The present-day Boys Town annually provides direct and indirect care to some 1.4 million youths and families, so that combined with the international success of his mission since he first provided shelter for people in Omaha, his legacy of care continues. As he put it, “This is not my work, it is God’s work.“
  • In 1938, a film was made based on the life of Flanagan, with some of the scenes filmed at Boys Town, starring Spencer Tracy, who won an Academy Award for best actor. Tracy spent his entire Oscar acceptance speech talking about Flanagan, adding “If you have only seen him through me, then I thank you.” Loath to hand over his Oscar to Flanagan, a replica was made for him with the words inscribed : “To Father Flanagan, whose great humanity, kind simplicity and inspiring courage were strong enough to shine through my humble effort. Spencer Tracy.”
  • Also in 1938, a short MGM documentary was made with Flanagan appearing as himself, giving a tour of Boy’s Town called “The City of Little Men.”
  • A sequel was also made starring Spencer Tracy, titled “Men of Boys Town,“ released in 1941.
  • Stephen McNally played Flanagan in the 1957 episode of the ABC-TV religion and anthology series “Crossroads.”
  • In 1986, the U.S. Postal Service issued a 4¢ Great Americans series postage stamp honouring him.
  • Father Flanagan is a member of the Nebraska Hall of Fame.
  • On February 25, 2012, the Catholic Archdiocese of Omaha, Nebraska, opened the canonization process for Flanagan. At a March 17, 2012, prayer service at Boys Town’s Immaculate Conception Church, he was given the title “Servant of God,” the first of three titles bestowed by the Church before canonization. The investigation was completed in June 2015 and the results forwarded to the Vatican. If the Vatican approves the local findings, Flanagan would be declared venerable. The next steps would be beatification and canonization.

A priest with a heart, soul and love of all humanity, the ability to inspire an international response to provide sorely needed care for others, even in the present-day materialistic society, Father Edward Flanagan deserves his place in the canonization process, so say all of us.

Sláinte!

Second-class republicans? Sinn Féin, feminism and the women’s hunger strike

Posted by Jim on

Armagh women’s prison protests promoted feminism within the republican movement and challenged sexist attitudes, but women’s issues were not a priority for Sinn Fein

by Maria Power

 Feminist demands were  secondary to the Republican agenda and most female members implicitly understood and supported this.  Mairéad Farrell,  on “dirty protest” at Armagh jail in 1980  and later a hunger striker, summed up this reasoning: “I am oppressed as a woman but I am also oppressed because I’m Irish. Everyone in this country is oppressed and we can’t successfully end our oppression as women until we first end the oppression of our country.” Photograph: PacemakerFeminist demands were secondary to the Republican agenda and most female members implicitly understood and supported this. Mairéad Farrell, on “dirty protest” at Armagh jail in 1980 and later a hunger striker, summed up this reasoning: “I am oppressed as a woman but I am also oppressed because I’m Irish. Everyone in this country is oppressed and we can’t successfully end our oppression as women until we first end the oppression of our country.” Photograph: Pacemaker

 Armagh was the only women’s prison in Northern Ireland and until 1976 all those with political status were recognised by the prison authorities. After the introduction of the criminalisation policy on March 1st, 1976, the Armagh women prisoners went on a “no work” protest, which due to harsh penalties imposed by the prison governor had escalated into a “no wash” protest by February 7th, 1980.

On December 1st, 1980, Mairéad Farrell, Mary Doyle and Mairéad Nugent joined the hunger strike from Armagh Jail. Although this protest was somewhat overshadowed by that in Long Kesh, it raised questions regarding the attitudes of feminists to the involvement of women within republicanism. Furthermore, within republicanism itself, it brought into focus the role of women and feminist principles within the movement.

Hunger striking as a feminist issue

Nell McCafferty, the Irish feminist writer, believed that the issue of the Armagh women prisoners was a basic issue of integrity for feminists. She argued that the protests were a direct consequence of the very imperialism which feminists believed was violating the rights of women through the direct denial of – among other things – medical care and attention to the prisoners. She stated that “the choice facing feminists on the matter of Armagh Jail are clear-cut. We can ignore these women or we can express concerns about them. Since the suffering of women anywhere, whether self-inflicted or not, cannot be ignored by feminists, then we have a clear responsibility to respond.” (Irish Times, August 22nd, 1980)

In this argument, Women Against Imperialism, who organised the annual protest outside Armagh prison on International Women’s Day, supported McCafferty. In a 1983 article in Spare Rib they argued that Women Against Imperialism “maintained that to support the prisoners didn’t mean a neglect of feminist demands, but they could not ignore the direct effect of British Imperialism in Ireland” (May 1983). Whilst the editorial team and writers of Spare Rib were on the whole sympathetic to republican feminists and the Armagh protesters, their readers were not, and on its letters page it is hard to find a letter supporting women campaigning from a republican feminist perspective (apart from one from the Armagh protesters themselves).

Such writers supported the views put forward by the feminists replying to Nell McCafferty’s Irish Times article, and expressed a cynicism about the place of women in the nationalist movement: “the so-called nationalist cause has no more place for women than the present ‘imperialism’ which is supposedly oppressing women”. (Spare Rib, June 1980)

Feminists writing from this point of view not only abhorred the violent nature of the republican movement but argued that “their [feminist republicans’] male mentors had so thoroughly inculcated the belief into their minds that socialism automatically represented liberation for women that they refused to examine it for themselves”. (Irish Times, September 5th, 1980)

The legacy of the women’s hunger strikes for the republican movement

But how far can such an analysis be justified? The republican movement gave a face to women’s issues with the creation of the Women’s Department in 1979, which was initially established as the Women’s Coordinating Committee. This department was founded as a direct result of a campaign by women within the republican movement who, despite their contributions, felt virtually invisible and who were dissatisfied with the idea that the issue of women’s repression was secondary to that of partition. The progress made by such women in bringing women’s issues to the attention of the republican movement was reinforced and furthered by the Armagh women’s protests.

This discourse translated itself into Sinn Féin’s women’s policy commencing with Women in the New Ireland presented to the 1980 Ard Fheis. This was a disappointment to many as it was the result of a compromise between the younger, radical elements in the movement and the older traditionalists. This compromise can be seen clearly in the section relating to abortion which at the time was the question concerning feminists. This document laid the foundation for Sinn Féin’s policy on women’s issues over the next decade. Issues such as sexism and stereotyping, violence against women and access to contraception were to become recurrent themes within the Women’s Department’s policy documents.

Taken in isolation, the language used in describing policy on each of these issues demonstrated a commitment to a feminist agenda. An example of this can be seen in the development of policy regarding equal opportunities. The policies suggested were comprehensive and practical and focused upon the need for the State to treat women equally both in the workplace and in the provision of benefits. Training was a central concern and remained an issue for the party. Such schemes were presented as a means of empowering women, enabling them to gain control over their own lives rather than being subjugated by men.

By examining the policy documents presented by Sinn Féin on women’s issues between 1980 and the late 1990s, it would be easy to assume that the relationship between feminism and republicanism was uncomplicated with both ideologies being motivated by a desire to promote women’s rights and improve their position within society. This, however, is where the relationship assumed by many to exist between the two ideologies ends, as underlying the development of the Republican movement’s policy on women was a fundamental issue: partition.

Every policy was linked back to this with most of the documents published prior to the 1998 Good Friday Agreement relating to women’s rights beginning with a section outlining the brutality of the British State and its effect on women’s lives. According to this reasoning, the only way in which women could enjoy equal rights was through a reunified Ireland as national liberation was the pre-condition for socialism and the liberation of women. Feminist arguments and demands were therefore secondary to the Republican agenda and most female members implicitly understood this and indeed supported it fully.

Mairéad Farrell, one of the Armagh hunger strikers, summed up this reasoning: “I am oppressed as a woman but I am also oppressed because I’m Irish. Everyone in this country is oppressed and we can’t successfully end our oppression as women until we first end the oppression of our country.” She does, however, state that women have to play a prominent role in the movement in order to achieve that equality. Sinn Féin created a feminist agenda for themselves which although espousing the rhetoric of mainstream feminism took on a distinctly Republican flavour demonstrating that feminism and republicanism were not “two sides of the same coin” in the aftermath of the hunger strikes but rather that feminist ideas were another means of highlighting the need to overthrow the British hegemony.

Although the stand made by women during the 1980 Armagh prison protests went some way towards promoting feminism within the republican movement and challenging sexist attitudes, women’s issues were not a priority for Sinn Fein and it has been alleged by one anonymous female Irish republican that they were excluded from decision-making structures within the party: “Women in this country … have been excluded from all levels of decision making … within their political parties. Sinn Féin is no different than any organisation … Within Sinn Féin as elsewhere political decisions are being made by a minority of men despite some gestures of representation for women.” (Women in Sinn Féin, May 1995).

For the republican movement, feminism served a purpose, with its ideals being manipulated to achieve that purpose whilst the raison d’etre of the republican movement centred upon ending British rule.

Maria Power is a lecturer in the Institute of Irish Studies, University of Liverpool

Molly O’Reilly and the Rising

Posted by Jim on December 19, 2015

———————————————————————-
We are on the eve of a momentous year, writes Gerry Adams. This time a
hundred years ago republican men and women were planning the overthrow
of the British Empire in Ireland. (For Leargas).
———————————————————————-

For those of you who have never heard her name Molly O’Reilly was a
young teenage girl who marched with the Citizen Army to the GPO on
Easter Monday April 24th 1916. Molly was born around 1900 in Gardner
Street in Dublin. At the age of 11 she joined Clann na nGaedheal the
republican girl scouts movement. Two years later she was so appalled by
the living conditions in the Dublin tenements that she volunteered to
support the workers and their families during the Lock-out. At the age
of 13 Molly helped organise a soup kitchen in Liberty Hall.

And it was there one week before the Easter Rising she raised the Irish
flag (the gold harp on green) for James Connolly.

Molly was hugely influenced by Connolly and was an active member of the
Citizen Army. In July 1914, after hundreds of rifles were landed by the
Asgard at Howth, she brought dozens of the rifles to her home in Gardner
Street where they stayed until they could be distributed throughout
Dublin.

During Easter week and in the midst of heavy rifle and machine gun fire
and the artillery shelling of Dublin City centre she fearlessly carried
dispatches for the leaders out of and into the GPO.

Later during the Tan War she was a member of the Cumann na mBan and as a
worker in the United Services Club in St. Stephens Green – a club for
British soldiers – she gathered intelligence for Michael Collins.

Molly opposed the Treaty. During the Civil War she was held in prison by
the Treaty side and went on hunger strike. As a result she and 50 other
women were released in November 1923. Molly remained a stalwart of the
republican struggle until her death in October 1950.

Molly O’Reilly was an exceptional woman; a courageous woman; a strong
woman.

I give you this short account of her exceptional life experience because
the Sinn Fein exhibition to celebrate the Easter Rising – REVOLUTION
1916 – which will open on Saturday February 27th 2016 – is largely
centred around Molly’s story. The visitor will experience the Rising
through Molly’s eyes.

The exhibition promises to be one of the highlights of the centenary
celebrations. It will be held in the historic Ambassador Theatre on O
Connell Street. It is part of the Rotunda complex which saw the founding
of Sinn Fein in 1905 and the Irish Volunteers in 1913. Over seven
thousand joined the Volunteers at that inaugural meeting and on the same
night a special section set aside for women was also full.

The organisers of the exhibition are going to extraordinary lengths to
make REVOLUTION 1916 an event not to be missed or forgotten.

It will host the Irish Volunteers Commemorative Organisation (I.V.C.O.)
collection of artefacts covering 1916 and afterwards. It will also
include an original 1916 Proclamation – one of only 50 known to exist.
This week another of the original Proclamations sold in London for
#300,000.

The exhibition will also have on display three Single Shot Mausers which
were part of the consignment of 900 brought in as part of the Howth
gunrunning episode. These were used during the Rising. One of the single
shot Mausers is a “Black” one – a one off rifle – that was said to have
been given to the veteran Fenian and 1916 signatory Tom Clarke. It was
only recently identified and the brass trigger guard has 20 notches
carved on it. It also has a British sappers serrated bayonet attached.
Only 12 of these Mausers are known to still exist.

Other artefacts include Luger and C96 Mauser machine pistols, original
uniforms of Irish Volunteers, Cumann na mBan and na Fianna Eireann.

There will be over 500 artefacts on display, many of which have never
been seen before. Also included are other items from after 1916
including Michael Collin’s revolver, the first I.R.A. Thompson machine
guns brought to Ireland, and the Tricolour that flew over the G.P.O. in
1966 on the 50th anniversary of the Rising.

A significant part of the exhibition will involve lifting part of the
floor of the Ambassador so that visitors can look down into the network
of tunnels underneath. These were used by Michael Collins’s, ‘The Squad’
to carry out attacks on the British military. It is also believed by
some that the leaders who abandoned the GPO as it burned on the evening
of 28 April 1916 were trying to make their way to these tunnels.

Also on display are a wide range of artistic pieces from framed
portraits to stylised garrisons, large charcoal prints to life size
sculptures. Artist Robert Ballagh has created a set of iconic images of
the 1981 Hunger Strikers which will be on exhibition for the first time
to mark the 35th anniversary in 2016. And master mural artist Danny
Devenny is completing two 1916 murals in the lobby of the Ambassador.

Each day at midday a uniformed P.H. Pearse will read aloud the
Proclamation outside the Ambassador.

The exhibition is scheduled to run for at least 33 weeks.

International Women’s Day on March 6th will see the ‘Women of the
Revolution’ honoured by an event at the GPO.

Other events will include a parade of the Irish Citizen Army that will
take place from Liberty Hall to St. Stephen’s Green on March 26th.

Dawn Vigils will be held outside Kilmainham Gaol on the dates the
leaders were executed and in Cork on 9th May and Pentonville on August
3rd 2016.

And on Sunday April 24th 2016 the Citizens’ Initiative will be holding a
national march and rally to ‘Reclaim the Vision of 2016’.

So, a lot of hard work and planning is going into REVOLUTION 1916.
Whatever else you are thinking of doing next year as your contribution
to the centenary celebrations take the time to come to Dublin for a once
in a life time opportunity to see a unique exhibition of artefacts of
that period. See you there.

Charles in charge as massacre Paras get favourable ruling

Posted by Jim on

Relatives of some of those killed and wounded on Bloody Sunday have said
they are not surprised by a High Court ruling in London that those
involved in the massacre will not be taken to Ireland for questioning.

The seven former paratroopers who brought the legal challenge have still
not been questioned by any police force over the events of January 30,
1972, in which 14 civil rights demonstrators in Derry were killed and a
further 15 were injured.

The basis for the former Paratrooper’s lodging their objections at the
High Court began in early November after the arrest of the soldier known
as ‘Lance Corporal J’, who lives in Ireland. He was arrested at his home
in Antrim and questioned at a police station in Belfast before being
released.

The High Court in London granted the seven former British soldiers an
order prohibiting the PSNI from arresting them on their undertaking
“that they will attend for an interview under caution… to be carried
out by the PSNI at a police station in England and Wales, or other
acceptable location”.

The three judges agreed with the former soldiers that their lives would
be put at risk by being questioned in Ireland, and that there was little
point in the questioning.

They said: “The present position of the claimants is that each will
exercise their right to silence in the interviews. It is, in our view,
almost impossible to foresee that any will depart from that position.
The interviews are therefore likely to be short and straightforward.”

Mickey McKinney, whose brother William was shot dead on Bloody Sunday,
said it was simply a continuation of what went on at the Saville Inquiry
some ten years ago.

He questioned the supposed threat to their security. “If the Queen on
Prince Charles can come to northern Ireland and receive protection from
the PSNI, then why can’t they?”

Kate Nash, whose brother William was shot dead on Bloody Sunday and
whose father Alex was seriously wounded, also said she expected them to
“continuously move the goalposts”.

“The next move we expect will be an insistence on anonymity, then it
will be that they will have to be tried in England and then it will
proceed to attempting to stop in on national security grounds,” she
said.

“What they need to know however is that we will continue to fight this
and seek justice. We are not prepared to give up on this, it is too
important.”

Both Mickey McKinney and Kate Nash said that the PSNI needed to initiate
the arrest procedures straight away.

“What needs to happen now is that we need to get on with it and get
these guys interviewed and get files sent to the Public Prosecution
Service. Let’s get this moving,” said Mr McKinney.

DARK HAND OF PRINCE CHARLES

Kate Nash also queried whether the commander-in-chief of the Parachute
Regiment had sight of secret military and government documents relating
to Bloody Sunday.

It was revealed this week through the Freedom of Information Act that
Prince Charles has been receiving Cabinet papers on a range of subjects
for decades and writing his thoughts on them to various Ministers.

It has been revealed that both Charles Windsor and his mother, Queen
Elizabeth, receive all cabinet memoranda, including highly classified
discussion documents that are only publicly released after 30 years. The
revelation has renewed allegations that the English royals retains
significant powers over the day-to-day lives of those living under their
jurisdiction.

Kate Nash says the affair also raises serious questions as to influence
of the Prince in the Bloody Sunday cover-up.

“It is outrageous that he is given preference over victims,” she said.
“Not only does Charles see the documents but he isn’t slow to tell
Ministers what he thinks of them and what should be done.

“Everyone who has campaigned for truth and justice regarding Bloody
Sunday should speak out and demand the details of the material Charles
has been allowed to examine and details of any conversations he may have
had afterwards with Ministers, army chiefs of members of the security
services.

“For example, was the Colonel-in-Chief of the Parachute Regiment allow
to express a view in advance on how the report of the Bloody Sunday
Inquiry should be dealt with? We know the report was discussed by the
cabinet. Did they also have Charles’ opinions in front of them? Did
these opinions influence Ministers?”

“The Saville report let every senior Para off the hook. It exonerated
every politician involved.

“It gave MI5 a clean bill of health. It pointed the finger at individual
paratroopers, but whitewashed everybody higher up the scale.

“Was this a result of establishment pressure and did Prince Charles
contribute to that pressure? How many other secret documents relating to
the North have been shown to him over the years?

“The fact that it has now come out is a victory. But, there is a great
deal of information about Bloody Sunday and about the North generally
which is still being kept from the public. Let’s have it all out in the
open. Charles Windsor has no more right than the rest of us. Answers
about this should be the very least demanded by elected representatives,
particularly from Derry.”

Who are the 1916 Societies?

Posted by Jim on December 18, 2015

1916 Societies

 

 

Who are the 1916 Societies?

For more information on our campaign visit our website: www.1916societies.com

 

WE BELIEVE:

  • 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

We contend the will of the people is for change in this country – for a National Republic in line with our democratic rights. We believe our flagship ‘One Ireland One Vote’ initiative – our demand for a single-constituency All-Ireland Referendum on Irish Unity – can realise that end.

Britain’s partition of Ireland and ongoing presence in the North is based on conquest, without mandate and usurps the will of the people. External interference in the democratic process violates Irish sovereignty and should be rejected.

‘One Ireland Vote’ is a means to resolve the constitutional conflict in Ireland. It seeks to end partition, establish a Government of National Unity and rebuild the Sovereign All-Ireland Republic.

Join 1916 Societies:

Membership of 1916 Societies shall be open to any Irish or Irish-American republican regardless of race, age, gender, sexual orientation, religion or ability, with the exception of those who endorse the legitimacy of British rule and the forces of British occupation in Ireland’.r ability, with the exception of those who endorse the legitimacy of British rule and the forces of British occupation in 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 recognised 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.

The 1916 Societies are committed to organising a campaign for Irish Unity.

The 1916 societies believe that a party political strategy will not unite Ireland. They have no intention of engaging in an electoral strategy to partitions institutions.

The 1916 societies are committed to putting the issues of the partition of Ireland and Irish unity at the top of the political agenda.

The 1916 societies are committed to honouring Ireland’s patriot dead.

The 1916 societies will work with other organisations and individuals, at home and abroad, to promote Irish unity.

The 1916 societies’ are committed at a local level to the following

To remember the patriot dead of Ireland.

Michael Nicholson: Famine novel changed my mind on England’s guilt

Posted by Jim on December 16, 2015

Britain’s most decorated reporter set out to write a Famine novel to restore England’s reputation but the facts confounded him. He tells how Trevelyan earned his scorn

Michael Nicholson: Almost all I have written happened in real life. I have exaggerated nothing. There was no need. The truth is appalling enough and if the reader finds the descriptions of people, events and their outcome hard to believe, then go to the history books and be convinced

Michael Nicholson: Almost all I have written happened in real life. I have exaggerated nothing. There was no need. The truth is appalling enough and if the reader finds the descriptions of people, events and their outcome hard to believe, then go to the history books and be convinced

  “A million dead. A million fled.” It was those few words that had such an impact on me. Think of it. Try to visualise. Try putting it into a modern context, something happening today, something you are watching on television news, an apocalyptic disaster on an unheard-of scale, something that dwarfs Hiroshima.

A million dying because a foreign blight had turned a potato crop into rotten, stinking, putrefying mush. Try to picture families of living skeletons whispering their last prayer in the shelter of a ditch as they watch others turning black with the fever that spread like a summer fire across bracken from Skibbereen to Donegal, from Wicklow to Clare. Imagine another million, still untouched by it, desperately fleeing their motherland to find safety and sanctuary anywhere and with anyone who would take them. This was Ireland in the Famine years.

As a foreign correspondent for ITN, travelling the globe for more than 30 years, I reckon I have seen more than my fair share of man’s inhumanity to man. It is said that we reporters suffer from an overdose of everything, saturated as we are in the world’s woes. In places like Bangladesh, Sudan, Ethiopia, Rwanda, I became used to dealing in numbers; the dead and dying in their hundreds, or in their thousands, even their tens of thousands. But a million corpses in a forgotten corner of what was then the world’s greatest and wealthiest Empire is inconceivable.

Dark Rosaleen is the story of murder and betrayal, of a starving people held captive, of a failed rebellion and a love that grew out of it during those years of the Great Hunger. In 1845, when the potato crop failed yet again, the British government sent a commissioner to Ireland to oversee the distribution of food aid. In my story his spoilt, overprivileged young daughter Kate is obliged to go with him to what, in her tantrums, she calls “this hateful land of saints and savages”. In her first few months, isolated in her father mansion overlooking Cork, she cares nothing for the suffering outside. Then the scale of the disaster gradually overwhelms her and her selfish arrogance turns to pity and anger. Finally, despairingly, she turns against both her father and her country. She is condemned as a traitor when she joins the rebellious Young Irelanders in their fight to end British rule.

You might think this would have been better written by an Irish author rather than an Englishman. I had a reason. At the start, my intention was to defend the government of Prime Minister Peel, to illustrate the immense physical and political problems trying to feed a starving nation across the Irish Sea. My mindset was that we English had been badly judged, that both England and Scotland were also suffering from the ravages of the blight, that communication between London and Dublin was slow and unreliable, that transporting food aid to the hinterland was a massive problem. In short, I thought there was good reason to reduce England’s blame.

I had read the famine novels of Liam O’Flaherty and Walter Macken, and was moved by their simplicity and pathos. I had listened at length to Ireland’s historical grievances in Dublin and Liverpool, in Cork and in Boston, Massachusetts, wherever Irishmen gathered over a pint of porter or a Jamesons. They spoke of a deliberate policy of imposed starvation, of land clearances, of ethnic cleansing, of exporting Irish peasants in coffin ships that might never reach the far shores of the Atlantic, and all this said as if it was proven historical fact.

Given an Irishman’s well-known considerable verbal licence I was happy to persuade myself that much of it was exaggerated blarney. But as I ploughed even deeper in my research, my characters took over and my storyline went into reverse. It was if I was a prosecuting counsel who had his side changed midway. I was a convert and I ended up with a novel I had not intended to write.

Kate is my heroine and Sir Charles Trevelyan, the government’s director of famine relief, is the villain. This is his real name and all that he does and says in my novel is as they appear, word for word, in the historical records of the time. I make this point because so much of what he said and did is barely believable.

“We will do what is necessary but no more. The Irish peasants are perverse and prefer to beg than borrow. They would rather eat free English food than labour for their own. It would be unjust and unwise to pamper them when our own people are pleading for assistance. I do not intend to transfer famine from one country to another.”

Trevelyan was guided not by any agreed government policy because there was none. He was guided by God. A pious, stubborn, uncompromising, devout evangelist, he saw the blight and the suffering as an act of Providence and to deny it was tantamount to blasphemy. The Anglo-Irish landowners, who considered the Irish peasants vermin, were loud and constant in their support and applause.

Here I must end this historical explainer for fear you will think my novel is yet another academic heavyweight. But against this background is the sequel, the story of Kate and the man who loved her, based on John Mitchel, leader of the rebellious Young Irelanders, the forefathers of Sein Féin. Kate rode with them as they preached their revolutionary gospel, as they attacked the landlords, set fire to their estates, ambushed the Redcoats and stole from the rich to feed the hungry. She became the legendary Dark Rosaleen, named after a banned nationalist poem by James Clarence Mangan.

“The Erne shall run with blood

The earth will rock beneath our tread

And flames wrap hill and wood

And gun-peal and slogan cry wake many a glen serene

Ere you shall fade, ere you should die

My Dark Rosaleen”

In order to turn history into a novel, an author is obliged to dramatise, to put words into mouths that might never have been spoken, to lay blame that perhaps was not entirely deserved. My heroine and her revolutionary lover may not have existed as I portray them. But some part of them will have lived those times and helped forge those times.

Nothing in my pages, not the people nor the lives they lived, is wholly fictional. Almost all I have written happened in real life. I have exaggerated nothing. There was no need. The truth is appalling enough and if the reader finds the descriptions of people, events and their outcome hard to believe, then go to the history books and be convinced.

Top British General thought the Irish were ‘shocking old cry babies’

Posted by Jim on

 by

A batch of British state files relating to the build-up to a Provisional IRA (PIRA) ceasefire in July, 1972 have revealed the thinking of the British establishment in the countdownto talks between both sides in that summer 43-years ago.

The files have been released in relation to the killing of 19-year-old IRA man Seamus Bradley during Operation Motorman on July 31, 1972. The 40 page-long batch of documents are categorised as containing the conclusions of discussions involving the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, the General Officer in Command (GOC) of the British Army and the Chief Constable of the RUC.

Whilst the conclusions of these meetings, ranging from June 12 through to November 22, 1972, have been withheld by the Crown, they do reveal that the British side was anxious to quell propaganda moves by the republican side to continue to gather support for the physical force campaign. There were also heavy discussions to ‘dispel the myth’ that undercover British assassination squads, namely the Military Reaction Force (MRF) were operating at that time. It since of course has been proven that MRF were indeed operating, most notably in Belfast.

 What has been established is that on Tuesday, June 20, 1972 a secret meeting took place at Ballyarnett on the outskirts of Derry between representatives of the PIRA and representatives of Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, William Whitelaw. Those acting on behalf of Whitelaw were PJ Woodfield and Frank Steele who was an MI6 operative. Both Woodfield and Steele are named in this batch of documents as having participated in the listed discussions at various times, held at Stormont Castle.
As ever in this period the primary location of concern for the British in the wake of Bloody Sunday was Derry. On June 5, a discussion between William Whitelaw, GOC Sir Harry Tuzo and RUC Chief Constable, Sir Graham Shillington, it was noted that: “The scope for increased activity by the security forces on the Border near Londonderry was limited but would be considered by the GOC: The area of IRA influence in Londonderry was spreading. The Londonderry traders whom the Secretary of State was meeting this afternoon were becoming increasingly concerned:The possibility should be considered of “sealing off” the ‘No Go’ areas in Londonderry.”

At the Secretary of State’s daily meeting on June 14, 1972 the papers claim that the approach for talks came from the PIRA. William Whitelaw appeared to be in favour of rejecting the idea of talks, but instead a Mr Howard Smith was asked to “enquire through such people as Mr (John) Hume and Mr (Frank) Laggan (head of the RUC in Derry) the reactions of the people in Londonderry to the latest developments. Mr Smith also agreed to look into the possibility that the request for talks by the IRA without preconditions about internment might be made towards some formal talks with the SDLP.”

The papers also state: “The Secretary of State referred to the growing necessity to consider further firm action in relation to Londonderry ‘No Go’ areas. It was possible that a decision to mount a new containment operation in Londonderry might take place within the next couple of weeks. This was to be discussed later in the day with the Army and the effects of such an operation in the Bogside and Creggan would have to be carefully examined.”

A long-term appraisal of the overall situation by the British showed that the military at least, were treating the situation in Northern Ireland no differently than any other ‘colonial difficulties’ they had faced be

The papers state: “In the present period the GOC said that the Army was suffering casualties which compared unfavourably with other internal security operations as those in Borneo and Kenya but without the special processes of law which had enabled effective action to be taken against terrorists in those theatres. Accurate sniper fire was particularly worrying as his troops felt that they were presenting sitting targets without the will on the part of the authorities to retaliate against the known enemy.”

On entering Northern Ireland in August 1969, the British military were insistent that they were there to act as neutrals between sectarian factions. By late 1972 however, the ‘honeymoon period’ was well and truly over and the following summation by GOC Sir Harry Tuzo is quite astonishing.

In expressing his disgust at the discrediting of the Army by the IRA he employs a quote from Honor Tracy, a British novelist who for a period was a lover of Seán Ó Faoláin. Tuzo quoted her as saying: “The charitable might say that the Irish tend not to minimise their sufferings; the candid that they are shocking old cry babies. If anyone lays a finger on them the world must hear of it with embellishment. And like children they believe in their own fantasies….Furthermore, nothing that happens, no action of troops or police, relates in anyway to anything done by themselves. Nothing is ever their fault, nor do they ever do wrong.”

Tuzo said: “The discrediting of the Army, along with the RUC and all concerned in maintaining law and order, has been a prime aim of Republican propaganda since about mid-1971. We refer loosely to such a campaign as ‘IRA propaganda’ because the only people who stand to gain by it are the IRA.

“Because the world at large is unaccustomed to this style of behaviour, complaints and allegations by Irishmen against the Army are apt to shock and disturb and even the most outrageous stories such as the activities of ‘Army assassination squads’ create doubts and unease amongst those brought up in the belief that ‘there is no smoke without fire’.

These words from Sir Harry Tuzo were written in November, 1972. It has long since been established that the MRF was formed in the summer of 1971. is is feasible to expect that the General Officer in Command in Northern Ireland knew nothing of their existence over a year later?

In 1972, MRF teams carried out a number of drive-by shootings in Catholic and Irish nationalist areas of Belfast, some of which had been attributed to Ulster loyalist paramilitaries.

At least fifteen civilians were shot. MRF members have affirmed the unit’s involvement in most of these attacks. There are also allegations that the unit helped loyalists to carry out attacks.

Another part of the long-term appraisal of the situation was recorded in these minutes and said: “The meeting went on to consider the embarrassment caused by Magistrates who granted bail against police advice-indeed a case was cited from that day’s local paper of bail being granted to a resident of the Republic-and discussions centred round ways and means of ensuring a more realistic approach by Resident Magistrates without prejudice to their independence. Mr Trevelyn was to let the Lord Chancellor’s department know that the Secretary of State wanted to speak personally to the Lord Chancellor on this matter in the course of the next few days.”

 

Tuzo’s notes of November, 1972 continue: “The IRA are aware that their stock is low, even amongst their erstwhile supporters, and propaganda overtly supporting terrorism or directly attributable to the organisation has small impact.

“Consequently they attach greater importance to front organisations like Sinn Fein and Republican clubs, whose statements on news events are, however, mainly directed at Republican audiences and fuel Catholic grievances. The greatest importance is attached to organisations which claim to be fighting for justice and civil rights. The Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association (NICRA) and the Association for Legal Justice are particularly active, the latter being a propaganda/pressure group that has made effective use of its ‘justice’ cover to inject stories alleging brutality, etc into the British and foreign media.

“Throughout the three months following Operation Motorman-August, September and October-the IRA’s attempts to generate public pressure for the removal of the Army from West Belfast achieved little. People in these areas had remembered too vividly how unpleasant life was under Provisional IRA domination; they appreciated the reduction in the level of violence; and as our intelligence improved and we arrested many of the men who intimidated and bullied, they acknowledged that our methods were evidently effective. Three factors seem to have combined during November to resurrect the full-scale campaign of anti-Army propaganda rule that has been muted since the introduction of Direct Rule.

“The first factor is the law of diminishing returns, which dictates that once the Security Forces have picked up the worst and the majority of the terrorists, the effort necessary to arrest the remainder increases, with fewer successes to show for it. The second is the instinctive fear amongst many Catholics of seeing the IRA decisively beaten, a fear that effects many who were glad to have them off their backs after Motorman. The third is the near desperate attempt by the IRA and their supporters to find ways of applying pressure on authority for the ending of effective counter-terrorist tactics; as the efforts of NICRA, PD (People’s Democracy)and other committed groups had failed, the need arose to find uncommitted and influential people who might convince that the Army was misbehaving.”

In this instance General Tuzo is directly referring to a press conference called by Catholic priests-Fr Brian Brady, Fr Desmond Wilson and Fr Alex Reid on November 20, 1972.

The top ranking British officer avoids calling the clergymen IRA sympathisers but is clear in his assertion that they were being used for propaganda purposes.

“We do not of course suggest that any of the priests concerned with the press conference intended to assist Republican propaganda, let alone the IRA. What does seem possible is that, in a sincere effort to demonstrate their concern at the plight of people in Catholic areas, the priests allowed themselves to be used by others with more sinister motives.”

He also noted: “Selected journalists only were invited but others who got to hear about and turned up were welcomed.

“Only ten priests besides the three named above were present. At one stage a sheet of paper was waved on which signatures were visible. So far as we are aware, these 65 names (of priests) have not been made public, which may be thought strange.

“Fr Wilson’s views on the Army are not new.”

A further assessment of the statement from the 65 priests, which is marked as ‘secret’, baulked at the decried Army actions and reasserted the Army’s primary objectives. So, despite the publicising of wrong doing by the clergymen it was apparently business as usual for the British Army.

Tuzo stated: “The Army’s agreed primary task was to pursue the IRA, whose activities remained at the root of the violence in the province. Searches for arms, ammunition and explosives were essential if this objective was to be fulfilled.

“Substantial successes had been achieved against IRA leaders, but the approved detention policy did not permit the security forces to reduce the numbers of the lower ranks of the organisation.

“Many of those firing at the security forces and responsible for explosives were in the 15-17 age group: there was little chance of dealing with these young offenders unless they were actually found in possession of weapons and explosives.

“Screening of suspects by identification and questioning was essential if the Army was to carry out its task. Some suspects made matters more difficult by giving false information and by other means.

“There was other evidence that a concerted propaganda campaign was being mounted against the Army. This had happened before when the IRA found it was loosing ground. The incident in which a picture of the Sacred Heart had been placed on a Saladin was evidence of the lengths to which those responsible were prepared to go.

“One object of the campaign was to implant the notion that the Army were initiating violence rather than curbing it.

“While there had been a few accidents, which were greatly regretted, there was no foundation whatsoever for the allegation that the Army were guilty of indiscriminate shooting of civilians.”

“One difficulty which the Army faced was that they could make no comment while complaints were under investigation or while proceedings were pending. This was frequently misunderstood.

“Relations in at unit level with Catholic communities were in many cases good.Priests were sometimes prepared to admit this in private conversations, but it would not say so publicly.

“Obviously there were occasional lapses by soldiers. Many of these were dealt with summarily under the Army Act without publicity. but the general level of the troops behaviour was very good indeed. The officers were generally of a very high calibre.

“All complaints about Army behaviour were carefully investigated.”

In response to Tuzo’s assertions, MI6 officer Frank Steele, whilst welcoming his comments, stipulated that there were more “moderate Catholics, anxious to see the IRA defeated, who were genuinely concerned that there was unjustified harassment in certain areas.”

“Some units, for example the Scots Guards in Londonderry, were highly regarded by most of the local Catholic community, and the problem would be largely solved if all units could win the same degree of confidence,” Steele continued.

It is worth noting at this point that it was members of the Scots Guards who shot dead 19-year-old Seamus Bradley and 15-year-old Daniel Hegarty in Creggan in the early hours of July 31, 1972 as they commenced Operation Motorman.

As the documents proceed to a conclusion more possibilities of countering the Republican propaganda campaign are discussed.

They state: “Allegations were made that Protestant extremists were not pursued with the same vigour. The possibility of interim custody orders and reference to the Commissioners would be borne in mind, but it would be important not to bring cases of Protestants which in event might be rejected.

“Suggestions that complaints were not pursued to a conclusion might be rebutted by reference to figures of cases which had been passed to the Director of Public Prosecutions after investigation. There were 46 such cases; in 7 he had directed prosecution, in some of the cases proceedings had been completed and in others were still pending.

“All cases where the was a possibility of criminal proceedings against members of the security forces were referred to the Director for a decision. None were decided by the Chief Constable.

“The GOC was fully conscious of the need to strike a balance between diligent pursuit of those concerned with terrorism and the evidence of actions which might appear to amount to unjustified harassment and possibly be unproductive in security terms.”

Generally Speaking: Happy 162nd birthday to Bay Ridge!

Posted by Jim on

 

By Theodore W. General | editorial@homereporter.com

 

BROOKLYN MEDIA GROUP/Photos by Ted General

BROOKLYN MEDIA GROUP/Photos by Ted General
Bronze tablet on the wall at the Bay Ridge Public Library marking the then 150th anniversary of the name change to Bay Ridge.

It was a mild winter Friday evening, on December 16, 1853 when a group of prominent area landowners met at the School District No. 2 Yellow Hook school house, then located on Third Avenue near our present day 73rd Street. As a result of the 1848-49 Yellow Fever epidemic, villagers were especially concerned about the continual stigma of having a name like Yellow Hook! So in the one-story frame school building, a historic meeting was called to consider a name change for their village.

James Weir, a florist with nurseries and greenhouses in the area, proposed the name “Bay Ridge,” taking in consideration the geographic features of the surrounding land, specifically, the bay along the Narrows and the high ridge just up from the shore which was formed by a glacial moraine. The new name was unanimously accepted and a resolution passed adopting it.

On December 16, the Bay Ridge Historical Society will be devoting a part of its meeting to a champagne toast heralding the 162nd anniversary of Bay Ridge. Also on the evening agenda, Colonel Joseph Davidson, commanding officer of the U.S. Army Garrison at Fort Hamilton, will be the keynote speaker. He will be discussing the history of one of the oldest U.S. Army bases in the nation which just happens to be located in Bay Ridge. Fort Hamilton is now the only active military post in New York City.

The BRHS meeting kicks off at 7:30 p.m., in the Shore Hill Neighborhood Center, on 91st Street between Colonial Road and Shore Road. Admission to the event is free and open to the public. Thomas McCarthy is the current BRHS president.

* * *

BROOKLYN MEDIA GROUP/Photos by Ted General
BROOKLYN MEDIA GROUP/Photos by Ted General

Bay Ridge Democrat District Leader Kevin Peter Carroll (l.) at his Salty Dog fundraiser with new Assemblymember Pam Harris, and City Councilmembers Mark Treyger and Vinnie Gentile.

Bay Ridge Democratic District Leader Kevin Peter Carroll, who running for re-election in 2016, recently held a fundraiser at the Salty Dog on Third Avenue. Among the elected officials attending we saw Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, City Councilmembers Vinnie Gentile and Mark Treyger, newly minted Assemblymember Pamela Harris, Kings County Democratic Chair Frank Seddio, District Leaders Joseph Bova, Betty Ann Canizio, Ari Kagan and Mark Davidovich, plus a host of civil and criminal court judges. We also spotted community leaders like Ilene Sacco, Cory Provost, Mary Ann Walsh, David Ryan, Irene Hanvey, Janet Gounis, Linda Orlando, Larry and Phillipa Morrish, and Kathy Khatari.

 

Onus on Britain to deal with past

Posted by Jim on December 12, 2015

Irish News Editorial. Friday, December 11, 2015

FOR some, the past may be a foreign country, but for those whose loved ones were killed and injured during the years of violence here, it is a place of immense significance and sorrow.

While no death can be regarded as more important than another, a full-page advertisement in this newspaper yesterday highlighted the failure of the British government to conduct effective, independent and reasonably prompt investigations into a number of killings.

It is a situation which adds unnecessarily to the suffering of many.

In highlighting these cases, the Pat Finucane Centre and Justice for the Forgotten quoted the view of Nils Muizneiks, European Human Rights Commissioner, that the British government is in breach of the European Convention of Human Rights. It is difficult to disregard his opinion.

The British government’s defence is that national security must take priority over independent investigation.

It is an argument which has validity in some circumstances, such as an on-going war.

But is it really suggesting that in every one of more than 150 killings, some of which happened more than 40 years ago, there are current national security issues?

If it is, then there is more to these killings than we have previously imagined and it might reasonably be argued that the case for an independent investigatory mechanism becomes significantly more pressing.

The government’s failure to act fuels the belief that it may have something to hide. This does little to help those who advocate peace and democracy here.

Government supporters argue that since it was not the only organisation involved in violence, there is also an onus on all paramilitary groups to reveal what they know about the deaths for which they were responsible.

This is a reasonable line of thought. However, it cannot lead to the conclusion that government can therefore be excused from failing to live up to its legal responsibilities.

The British government cannot claim that it reserves the right to behave like an illegal organisation.

The failure of the political parties to agree a way forward on dealing with the past has not helped to address the concerns of those who are still grieving.

It is particularly disappointing that the agreement reached a year ago at

Stormont House could not be sustained in the more recent Fresh Start document.

The problem will not be solved by shelving it and it does not help to include it on the same agenda as negotiations on social and economic policy.

The past raises issues of human loss and suffering. They are difficult to deal with. It also raises the issue of legal responsibility. There is no reason for failing to deal with that.

Remembering political prisoners at Christmas

Posted by Jim on

December is the traditional month for republicans to think of our
political prisoners. The following is a list of IRPWA and Cogus
prisoners behind bars this Christmas.

Addresses are included at the beginning of each section for sending
cards at this time of year. Additions or corrections are welcome.
——————————————————————

IRPWA PRISONERS, MAGHABERRY

Address:
Roe 4, Maghaberry Prison,
Old Road Ballinderry Upper,
Lisburn, BT28 2PT, County Antrim

Colin Duffy
John Paul Wotton
Brendan McConville
Anto Davison
Harry Fitzsimons
Martin Kelly
Alex McCrory
Ta McWilliams
Barry Concannon
Jason Ceulmans
Damien Harkin
Neil Hegarty
Nathan Hastings
Seamus McLaughlin
Christy O’Kane
Gerard McManus
Kevin Barry Nolan
Barry Petticrew
Davy Jordan
Gavin Coyle (CSU)
Martin McGilloway (CSU)

IRPWA PRISONERS, HYDEBANK

Address:
Hospital Wing,
Hydebank Wood,
Hospital Road,
Belfast BT8 8NA,

Sharon Rafferty

IRPWA PRISONERS, PORTLAOISE

Address:
Portlaoise Gaol E3 & E4,
Dublin Road,
Portlaoise, County Laois

Michael Finlay
Sean Connolly
Bob Day
Brian Quinn
Ciaran Burke
Stephen Hendrick
Pierce Moran
Nick Kendall
Cormack Fitzpatrick
Tony Carroll
Brian Walsh
Kevin Devlan

COGÚS PRISONERS, MAGHABERRY

Address:
Roe House, Maghaberry,
Old Road Ballinderry Upper,
Lisburn, County Antrim, BT28 2PT

Phil O’Donnell
Eamon Cassidy
Conor Hughes
Gerard Flanagan
Kevin O’Neill
Robert O’Neill
Danny McClean
Carl Reilly

COGÚS PRISONERS, PORTLAOISE

Address:
Portlaoise Gaol E2,
Dublin Road,
Portlaoise, County Laois

Michael McKevitt
Charles Anthony Deery
Garret Mulley
Paddy MacDonagh
Seamus McGrane
Donal Ó Coisdealbha

The jailing of Claire Knowles

Posted by Jim on

By 1916 Societies

Today, just two weeks before Christmas, a law-abiding mother, daughter,
sister, grandmother and friend to many, one Claire Knowles, was
committed to prison by Judge Sean O’Donnabhain in Cork Circuit Court.

Her crime seems to be that she was in ‘flagrant breach of a Court Order’
and it seems she was also guilty of being ‘brazen’, even though to
observers she tried to defend herself in a most calm, polite and assured
way.

Claire is what is known as a lay litigant. She represents herself, and
has done so for several years at this stage in both the Circuit Court
and the High Court, to answer the claim that is being brought against
her. Of course, like so many tens of thousands of people in Ireland, the
claim is to do with a mortgage issue; in Claire’s case the mortgage
being on her family home.

Claire has always worked hard. The financial history of how she got to
the position of defending her family home in Court is not so unique and
therefore is not central to events today. What is now far more relevant
and serious is the reasoning and logic used by the Judge when sending
Claire to prison this evening.

There is a concept in law known as a ‘Void Order’. It is recognised in
Common Law jurisdictions. At its most basic it means there is no Order
of a Court if the Court is found to have acted outside its jurisdiction
in the Granting of the said Order. Claire has gained much rock solid
evidence that an Order, as handed down by the Circuit Court in Cork that
granted possession to ICS Building Society of her family home on 20th
January 2014, is a Void Order on multiple provable grounds.

Indeed Claire was in the High Court just yesterday, 7th December, and
won the right to have an appeal heard of this Circuit Court Order
sometime in the New Year, with the view to getting it officially
declared Void. Claire it seems was ‘brazen’ for even mentioning this
information today to Judge O’Donnabhain. He completely ignored the fact
that she has an appeal yet to be heard in the High Court and informed
her that the High Court did not have jurisdiction while he in fact did.

Claire was evicted on the 22nd September of this year from her home. She
was encircled and intimidatingly frog-marched out by many Security men
who acted under the instructions of Cork County Sheriff Sinead McNamara.
Claire re-occupied her home thereafter. It seems this act of occupying
her home is what the Bank has now used to successfully get Claire sent
to prison, even though the Order used by them to gain Possession – and
now imprisonment – was and remains void.

Many witnesses heard Claire Knowles state today in open Court, before
she was jailed, the many ways in which her Order was void. All that she
stated is provable and not only that, it was all submitted by way of
affidavit to the Courts and to the Plaintiffs. She also has both a High
Court Judge and the Master of the High Court granting her leave to
appeal that initial Order. Claire went to court today in the now false
belief that she could not go to gaol as the High Court have vindicated
her right to appeal.

Yet Claire sleeps in Limerick prison tonight. A gun was put to her head
today by the Judge. She was instructed that unless she took the Order
seriously and arranged to hand over the keys to her home he was
committing her to prison. Could this be viewed as an abuse of process to
intimidate?

Claire would not be coerced in such a way and said she would not give
consent and re-iterated that the initial Order was void and wondered how
could she be in contempt of an order that did not exist? She was jailed.
This is Justice in Ireland in 2015. If you catch the Banks and their
agents out you get an endless array of overpaid Barristers and
Solicitors thrown at you in order to break you. Claire Knowles will not
be broken.

It seems the bank and agents for the Bank may have been on very
questionable grounds for evicting a woman from her home on a void order.
The pressing question is where does their liability now stand for
subsequently getting her jailed on a void order? The Tomás Mac Curtain
Society, with the 1916 Societies overall, stand full square with Claire
and demand her immediate release.

Frongoch, the first internment camp

Posted by Jim on December 9, 2015

People in Wales have called on the governments in Dublin and Cardiff to
provide a permanent commemorative centre in Frongoch, where 1,800
Irishmen were interned after the 1916 Rising.

The PoW camp, on the site of an old whisky distillery outside the town
of Bala, held rebels such as Michael Collins, Terence MacSweeney and
Richard Mulcahy.

It became known as ‘The University of Revolution’, as it was here that
plans were discussed for future attacks on British rule in Ireland.

“During the summer, we sent an invitation to President Higgins to come
here on the centenary of 2016,” said Councillor Alwyn Jones, who lives
nearby.

“This place is so important, both to Irish and Welsh history, and if
nothing is done to permanently mark it in 2016, we fear that nothing
will ever be done and it will be totally lost to history.”

Without Frongoch, the IRA could not have attained the efficiency and
professionalism it was able to demonstrate in 1919.

Personal bonds of friendship were established amongst prisoners
from opposite ends of the country. Command structures and intelligence
networks were established or prepared with strategic planning ready to
be implemented as opportunity arose.

The GPO may have been the birthplace of the war for independence but
Frongoch was its creche.

A small plaque was placed here by the Liverpool branch of Conradh Na
Gaeilge in 2002. A school has been built on the Southcamp site, with the
Northcamp’s location now farmland.

“It was here that young rebels like Michael Collins learned from fellow
older rebels – and, remember, it brought together rebels from all over
Ireland and placed them on one site. It was a huge mistake by the
British government,” said local Welsh natonalist councillor Elwyn
Edwards.

The camp housed German POWs prior to Irish republicans being brought in.

It was chosen because escape was all but impossible, with the nearest
large town 20 miles away. Prisoners quickly established Irish classes
and sports events. One field is still known locally as ‘Croke Park’
because Gaelic games were played there.

Chris Ruane, a former Labour MP in this constituency, believes the time
is now right for appropriate commemorations at Frongoch. His grandfather
Tommy Ruane, from Galway, was interned here in 1916 for republican
activities in Carnmore.

He said: “Think of the thousands of people who get the ferry from
Ireland to Holyhead and drive by without knowing that this place is
here.”

A clear case of internment

Posted by Jim on December 7, 2015

The Anti-Internment League has described court hearings in which
seven-year-old charges were resurrected against republicans Davy Jordan
and Gavin Coyle as “political show trials”.

Gavin Coyle, who has already endured five years of a punitive solitary
confinement regime at Maghaberry high-security prison, was arrested
inside the jail earlier this week, and it is feared that the new charges
could prolong his nightmare for several years.

In a Crown court in Strabane on Thursday, the Omagh man refused to stand
or speak. But his lawyer, Niall Murphy, demanded to know why the charge
had only materialised five years after an alleged recording was obtained
of a conversation about an IRA attack. He also questioned why it was not
used against his client in his previous prosecution.

A PSNI officer present responded only by claiming that expert voice
recording analysis had taken “a long time to progress”.

Mr Murphy also pointed out that no specific details about the attack
were mentioned in the alleged conversation. Upon further questioning,
the PSNI detective admitted that the case against Coyle did not include
fingerprint, DNA, fibre or vehicle tracking evidence.

Mr Murphy accused the police of an abuse of process and said a bid to
stay the prosecution would be made at a later court hearing.

However, the judge cancelled a period of temporary release Mr Coyle was
due to receive over the Christmas period. Nevertheless, the defiant
republican gave the thumbs-up to supporters in the public gallery as he
was led from the dock.

On Friday, another Tyrone Republican, Davy Jordan, appeared in a court
in Dungannon in connection with the same incident. Jordan also did not
speak or stand during the hearing.

A detective sergeant said Mr Jordan refused to answer questions during
interrogations and when the charges were finally put to him on Thursday
night he replied to each: “I am totally innocent of this fabricated
charge.” She said the accused then added: “This is yet another case of
internment by remand.”

The PSNI detective then attempted to connect Mr Jordan to the charges as
a result of car identification near to the scene, but was forced to make
a number of embarrassing admissions.

It ultimately transpired that there was no new evidence against Mr
Jordan that wasn’t available when he was arrested and interviewed about
the same incident seven years ago, when he was released without charge.

Despite this, the Magistrate remanded him to Maghaberry jail in what the
Anti-Internment League described as “one of the clearest incidents of
internment by remand seen in Ireland in recent years”.

“Despite the counter claims of collaborators and quislings, internment
by remand is continuing to be used against Irish Republicans by the
MI5-directed PSNI and State Judiciary, supported by the Stormont SF/DUP
Coalition,” they said.

“The case of Gavin Coyle and Davy Jordan should be highlighted by all as
a disgraceful abuse of process, especially in the context of the
continuing targeted isolation of Gavin.”

Stewart: McConnell Should Be Ashamed Of Himself For Blocking 9/11 First Responders Bill

Posted by Jim on December 4, 2015

firefighter 1by Shannon Argueta

 

If there is one issue that everyone in this country should be able to agree upon, it is that the first responders to the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks deserve proper medical care. There is absolutely no conceivable reason why a deal that aimed to reauthorize the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act should fail to pass the Senate, but this week it did. Not only was an agreement not reached, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) blocked it for the most self-serving, despicable reason imaginable. Now, former Daily Show host Jon Stewart is back on Capitol Hill and angrily demanding answers.

Stewart returned to Washington on Thursday, and blasted McConnell for his failure to protect the more than 33,000 who are receiving medical care through the 9/11 Health Act:

“This is insane. We have a bunch of first responders outside freezing their asses off,” he said. “Our country’s last responders, our country’s worst responders, are inside nice and comfy and cozy, and probably having soup…The man has literally sponsored and touted the exact same bill for energy workers. I honestly just wish I could understand the rationale. That bill cost twice as much what they’re asking for these guys. How in good conscience can you deny them the very thing that you have proudly brought to the people of your state? Please, personally ask him that.”

The $11 billion energy bill that Stewart referred to was one that McConnell was so proud of he touted it in re-election campaign ads in 2014. The bill provided cancer screenings and set up a compensation fund for workers who were injured while working at nuclear plants — many of whom were from his home state of Kentucky. Former governor Bill Richardson (D-NM), who was Energy Secretary at the time the bill passed, said that without McConnell’s help the bill never would have passed. So, why would the same man, who helped all of those victims, block a deal to help the 9/11 first responders?

Why, for money from the fossil fuel industry.

According to reports, McConnell was using the reauthorization of the act as leverage to ease restrictions on oil exports. McConnell’s office has, of course, denied that he had anything to do with the failure to reach an agreement. In addition to Stewart, the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) President Richard Trumka also ripped McConnell for his selfish attempts to profit from political maneuvering:

“Sen. McConnell recently said,’In Congress we have a responsibility to advocate for our service members and veterans and to ensure that they get the treatment they deserve during and after their service.’ Yet in an opportunity to act on those words, Sen. McConnell didn’t. He is utterly failing the first responders of September 11—the first veterans of America’s current wars. It is despicable and negligent for Sen. McConnell to play politics with the lives and health of some of America’s bravest men and women. Sen. McConnell should not stand in the way of a permanent and fully funded James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act.”

The Republican Party talks a good game about supporting our troops, police officers, and first responders, but when it comes time to actually put their money where their mouth is, they fail every single time. This is not a bill that should even be up for debate. The act should have been permanently reauthorized as part of the highway bill that is expected to pass with bipartisan support, but the GOP has prevented that from happening. The Republican Party has proven that they are completely ineffective leaders who spend more time catering to corporations than they do the people who elected them into office. This is just one more, of the many reasons to vote these people out of office and put progressives, who care about this country, in their seats.

Aer Lingus has announced extra services in time for St. Patrick’s Day 2016 on one primary North American route and expanded service on another.

Posted by Jim on December 3, 2015

Aer Lingus Chief Commercial Officer Keith Butler said: “We are delighted to add extra capacity to serve the strong demand for travel to Chicago and Washington.

“We continue to monitor and adjust our schedule to meet our guests’ needs. Washington has proven to be a very popular route and we’re delighted to resume the service early in time for St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.

“The launch of three new routes to Hartford, Connecticut, Newark and Los Angeles highlights the demand for travel to North America and we will continue to develop this network within the business.”

Breaking News.ie reports that the “airline will expand Dublin to Washington service for summer 2016 from four flights per week to daily flights adding an extra 10,000 seats. Meanwhile Chicago will also benefit with an extra flight per week making it 12 flights a week from Dublin.”

The Dublin to Washington service has proven very popular since it was first re-introduced in May 2015 and due to the demand, the service has been extended to January 4.

Flights will now begin from March 14 2016 allowing the airline to cash in on the lucrative St. Patrick’s Day travel, with four services per week on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday.

The announcement comes after the three new transatlantic routes from Dublin – Hartford, Connecticut, Los Angeles and Newark, New Jersey bringing the number of direct flights daily to 28. Aer Lingus’ total long haul seat capacity will grow by more than 17% in 2016.

MAGNA CARTA: A BRITISH PROPAGANDA TRIUMPH

Posted by Jim on December 2, 2015

 

 

This year marks  the 800th  anniversary of the  signing of the  Magna Carta at Runnymede. Most Americans recall the Magna  Carta  or “Great Charter”  from  their grammar school days. With his signature, we were told,   King John, a tyrant of blessed memory, was  prohibited  from the arrest of free men without cause,  taking  property without due process and denying justice to those arrested. The US tour of the document will end in Boston in 2016. Down through the ages Kings, Queens and Prime Ministers  have ignored the Magna Carta principles whenever it suited them and never more so than in  Ireland.  The document and its  intent  may be steeped in myth but its propaganda value is immense.

 

The British Library  promoted  its display of the Charter under the humble  title “How British Documents Shaped Today’s World ” with  handouts asserting that  the Charter “…is widely considered a cornerstone of constitutional government in England and the U. S.”   Professor Justin  Fisher, Director of the Magna Carta Institute  of Brunel University in London claims the Magna Carta is  still relevant today” … shows that nobody is above the law …and  establishes the rule of law as paramount.” The  American Bar Association  is hosting exhibits  of the Magna Carta  in America under banners claiming “Magna Carta:  800 Years of Democracy” and Magna Carta:  The Enduring Legacy.”  ABA  President,  William Hubbard, was no less laudatory claiming the Charter  “made possible precepts like the U. S. Constitution, the Universal Declaration of  Human Rights, and the framework of justice.”  U. S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch described the Magna Carta as “…the first draft of codes that now stand at the heart of our system of justice.”    England’s lawlessness  in Ireland  has demonstrated   how ludicrous and absurd this  hype has become. Why the necessity  for the propaganda accompanying this tour?   Feeding   gullible Americans  this tripe about British democracy, justice and the rule of law discourages  U. S. politicians from inquiring into their 30 year  murder and bombing campaigns  in the North of Ireland.

 

As a  historical artifact the document is hard to beat.  The original is an  800 year old sheepskin with Latin text and the signatures  of King John, Stephen Langton, the  Catholic Archbishop of Canterbury,  and those of  English warlords the British euphemistically like to call Barons.  Even this  novelty is unimpressive if you consider  that the Irish governed themselves  by the Brehon Laws formalized in writing in 700 A. D. some 500 years before the Runnymede rendezvous in  1215.  They were remarkably progressive and included gender equality, divorce, criminal punishments which favored restitution and did not provide for capital punishment.  Up until  Britain’s Penal Laws of the 17th century Brehon Laws were observed for much of Ireland  beyond the Province of Leinster or the  Pale.  The British rulers at the time determined that the Brehon Laws were not “compatible with crown sovereignty.”  As author Dan Jones put it in his book Magna Carta: The Birth of Liberty,  the claims of the Magna Carta’s contributions are “…either myths or half truths.”

 

Such is the  regard the British have for the Charter’s principles,  that Prime Ministers  have always used  arrest without charge, trial without jury, internment, imprisonment without due process and murder or  extra-legal execution in Ireland.

 

Other ‘Magna Carta Moments’  include:

 

  • Early in the 1970’s England’s hirelings set off bombs to get the Irish Government to passing a law that pretty much shredded the Magna Carta. In 1974 they  delivered bombs to loyalists for an act of slaughter unequalled in the history of Ireland: the no-warning bombing of Dublin and Monaghan shopping centers which killed 34 and injured and maimed 300.
  • The admission that British soldiers had no reason to kill 14 people on Bloody Sunday but no prosecution of the soldiers.  Similarly, British security services conspired to murder lawyers (aka officers of the court) Patrick Finucane and Rosemary Nelson
  • But no one was to be held accountable to the rule of law.
  • Authors Paul Larkin (A Very British Jihad), Anne Cadwallader (Lethal Allies) and Sir John Stevens (Stevens Inquiry) have all extensively documented the lawlessness and collusion in murder of innocents by British security services but there is obstruction of justice by the government and no effort to uphold the rule of law. The precise language of the Charter is “nor shall he [the King] proceed with force or send others to do so except by the lawful judgement of his peers or by the rule of law.” Prime Minister Cameron is doing his part by spelling out UK objections to the European Human, Civil & Political Rights provisions and is amending the accountability provisions of the British Ministerial Code for government Ministers. His first draft ELIMINATES references to abiding by international law, Treaty obligations and the administration of justice. Indeed the Committee on Administration of Justice in Ireland depicts  Britain as creating an elaborate “apparatus of impunity” to shield its cruel malevolence from the rule of law. Americans hardly noticed Britain’s corrupt use of the US-UK Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty and disregard for the Belfast Agreement by requiring archive records of Boston College in an attempt to interfere in Ireland’s election. The purpose of the Treaty was to expedite the certain prosecution of international human trafficking, narcotics smuggling and terrorist activities. Britain had a more useful purpose and didn’t care if the request was lawful.   So convincing was the hype over the Magna Carta mystique that its display in China was moved from a University setting to the more limited access of the diplomatic mission so as not to give too many people ideas about democracy and the rule of law. The Xi government needn’t have worried. The Chinese people are somewhat familiar with Britain’s disregard for law, treaties and human rights. In a speech last year commemorating the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall Chancellor Angela Merkel stated: “It is important citizens can believe the power of the law and not the law of the powerful. Laws must function as guardian of principles.” Let others believe all the hyperbole about Magna Carta. American’s should know better!

Kings County AOH is celebrating the 1916 Uprising with Commemorative T-Shirts. They come in Large, XL and XXL in Blue on White and White on Blue. Contact Jim@BrooklynIrish.com for ordering.

Posted by Jim on November 30, 2015

AOH Tshirts

Anniversary of Croke Park massacre marked

Posted by Jim on November 28, 2015

The Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) has marked the 95th anniversary of
the British army killings of 14 people at a sports match in Dublin,
which became known as Bloody Sunday.

British troops randomly opened fire into the crowd at a GAA game on
Sunday 21 November 1920 during the Irish War of Independence.

The association marked the anniversary of the Croke Park stadium attack
before Saturday’s International Rules test between Ireland and
Australia.

The names of the victims were read out before the match, and 14 flames
were lit in their memory.

The dead included 24-year-old GAA player Michael Hogan, after whom Croke
Park’s Hogan Stand is named. Senior GAA staff laid a laurel wreath at
the spot where he was shot, followed by a moment of silence.

The event is often referred to as the original Bloody Sunday, to
distinguish it from the 1972 British Army massacre of 14 civil rights
demonstrators in Derry.

GAA Árd Stiúrthóir Páraic Duffy said: “The events of Bloody Sunday on
November 21, 1920 are as much a part of the history of Croke Park as any
of the epic sporting contests which have taken place there since Gaelic
games were first played on Jones’ Road.

“The tragic loss of 14 lives on that fateful day, when almost 15,000
turned up to enjoy a football game between Dublin and Tipperary, was a
harrowing moment for the Association, and while we have thankfully left
those dark days behind us, it is only fitting that we honour the memory
of those who were killed.

“The memory of Tipperary’s Michael Hogan, who was 24 when he was killed,
has lived on through the famous stand at Croke Park that bears his name.
We are happy to play a part to ensure the names of the other 13 lives
lost at Croke Park on Bloody Sunday – Jane Boyle (26), James Burke (44),
Daniel Carroll (30), Michael Feery (40), Tom Hogan (19), James Matthews
(48), Patrick O’Dowd (57), Jerome O’Leary (10), William Robinson (11),
Tom Ryan (27), John William Scott (14), James Teehan (26) and Joe
Traynor (21) are also honoured.”

VICTIM RECALLED

A gravestone was also unveiled at grave of Jane Boyle in Glasnevin
Cemetery on the 95th anniversary of her death in Croke Park on Bloody
Sunday.

Jane Boyle, the only woman out of 14 people killed by Crown forces at
the Dublin-Tipperary football challenge match on 21 November 1920 in
Croke Park.

Ms Boyle was attending the match with her fiancé Daniel, and the couple
were due to get married five days later. Initially it was reported that
she had been trampled to death, but records released in 1999 revealed
that she had been shot.

Her great-nephew Richard Staveley led the effort to have a gravestone
erected when he discovered his great-aunt’s plot in Glasnevin Cemetery
was unmarked.

His effort received the support of the GAA and the extended Boyle
family, many generations of which attended the ceremony at the graveside
today.

The stone was unveiled by her great-nephew’s Dr Eamonn Boyle and
Professor Tony Boyle, both of whom had travelled from the United States
to be there. Her niece, 91 year old Nancy Wynne laid a wreath.

A century of secrecy for Derry victims

Posted by Jim on

A century of secrecy for Derry victims

The scale of British state secrecy efforts in the north of Ireland has
been highlighted after it emerged that a British Army film file on its
murderous ‘Operation Motorman’ in Derry has been declared ‘locked’ for
a period of 100 years.

A Freedom of Information request from the Derry Journal found that
Britain’s National Archive had three military films from the 1972
operation, but one has been marked as classified for a period of 100
years.

Two teenagers were killed by the British Army in Creggan on July 31,
1972, as it sought to assert control in the ‘Free Derry’ area.

In 2011, an inquest into the death of fifteen-year-old Daniel Hegarty
finally cleared his name of British military lies that he was engaging
in armed resistance when he was shot dead. In that inquest, one
military file was also deemed classified for a century.

The controversy over Britain’s refusal to admit the truth in its
actions in the Six Counties reignited last week when a deal in crisis
talks avoided any discussion on dealing with the past conflict as a
result of British ‘national security’ concerns.

The so-called ‘Fresh Start’ deal signed by Sinn Fein, the DUP and the
two governments has been strongly condemned by groups representing
victims and survivors of state killings and collusion.

Daniel’s sister, Margaret Brady said she wasn’t even aware that the
newly found film footage existed.

“I find this more than strange. In fact I find it shocking. Why is
locked for 100 years? Are they again trying to wait until we are all
rotting in the ground before they reveal the truth?

“They are just trying to manufacture a story that suits them. We have
political parties here talking about ‘fresh starts’. How can there be a
fresh start when the British government continue to hide things.

“But, like I’ve always said, it is not the innocent who have to fear
the truth. It is those who committed these crimes who are running
scared,” she said.

The other Motorman victim, 19-year-old IRA Volunteer Seamus Bradley,
was unarmed when shot by the British Army, arrested and tortured. The
process to get a fresh inquest into his death is underway.

Lawyer for the Bradley family, Richard Campbell said he had never come
across an incident before where material had been closed for such a
length of time.

“We have made a request to the Coroner’s Service, who have
investigatory powers for their help in getting all material in relation
to Motorman released.

“But, this is bizarre. Why is it locked for 100 years. What could be
contained in this material that is so bad that it is to be locked for a
century?”, he said.

The lawyer said he will be tabling the issue at the next meeting
working towards the establishment of a date for a new inquest into
Seamus Bradley’s death.

Anti-agreement republicans back 1916 parade plan

Posted by Jim on November 25, 2015

 
by Connla Young
ANTI-agreement republicans are planning to hold a commemoration to mark the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Rising in Co Tyrone next year.
The National Republican Commemoration Committee, which in a statement justified “armed revolution,” gathered in St Patrick’s Hall in Coalisland yesterday to launch the parade .
The committee is affiliated to republican prisoners held on the Roe Four landing at Maghaberry Prison who are aligned to the ‘IRA’.
On the morning of the Rising in 1916 republicans from across the north gathered at St Patrick’s Hall to take part in the rebellion, but their part was eventually called off.
The ‘Unfinished Revolution’ parade will take place from Clone to Coalisland on Easter Sunday next year.
Among the gathering was Kevin Hannaway, who is currently on bail after being arrested in Dublin earlier this year and charged with assisting the IRA.
He is one of 14 Catholics, known as the ‘Hooded Men’, who claim they were tortured by the British government after being detained during internment in 1971.
In a statement, the committee said the planned parade will “serve as an opportunity for those who legitimately continue to struggle for Irish freedom, by whatever means necessary, to re-dedicate ourselves to the ongoing fight to end the British occupation of our country and the establishment of a 32 county democratic socialist republic.”
The parade organisers said the Easter Rising is an “unfinished revolution, armed and otherwise.”
“While we have listened to the opinions of those who state that the time is not right for a continuation of revolution by any and all means, it is our opinion that while the denial of national self determination and British occupation continue, so too will armed revolution,” it said.
“Those who remain true to the ideals and principles of the 1916 Proclamation need to publicly re-dedicate ourselves to the achievement of that vision.”
Mr Hannaway said he was happy to attend the march launch.
“I believe I have a common denominator with everyone in this room, I, with them, will always oppose the British presence in Ireland,” he said.
“I have tried to live my life as an Irish republican and I will go to my grave as one.”
Also in attendance was Derry and Strabane councillor Gary Donnelly and prominent Co Tyrone republican Kevin Murphy.
In 2012 explosives charges against Mr Murphy were dropped while in 2004 he was one of four men cleared of conspiring to kill police and British soldiers and possession of a rocket launcher near Coalisland RUC station in February 2002.
He was joined at the launch by Tyrone man David Jordan, who was recently released from Portlaoise Prison, in Co Laois, after serving a sentence for possession of a weapon and Derry man Thomas Ashe Mellon, who earlier this year completed a sentence connected to the discovery of a note smuggled into republican inmates at Maghaberry Prison
High profile Lurgan republican Paul Duffy also attended the event.
He was acquitted of paramilitary charges last month after a judge ordered prosecutors to hand over details of a tracking device used during a multi-million pound MI5 surveillance operation.
SDLP justice spokesman Alban Maginness said he remains opposed to the use of violence.
“The use of violence during the course of the Troubles was wrong and the continued use of violence is still wrong” he said.
“The Irish people as a whole, both north and south, have on a widespread basis supported democratic change in Ireland and that is the broad spectrum of opinion through the body politic in Ireland.”
Mid Ulster Sinn Féin MP Francie Molly said his party’s approach is working.
“We believe we have a strategy to deliver on the proclamation, it’s the right strategy and is delivering,” he said.
“We believe it’s the best way to bring about the republic proclaimed in 1916.”

Calls to bring “democracy” back to parade

Posted by Jim on November 24, 2015

The venue for the meeting was Cathedral High School in Manhattan.

By Aaron Vallely
Bringing back “democracy to the running of the New York St. Patrick’s Day parade was a particular focus of participants in a meeting of parade affiliated organizations held even as the parade’s immediate future appeared to be in the hands of the courts as opposed those same organizations.

The recently formed Committee of Concerned Affiliated Organizations held the meeting Wednesday last in Cathedral High School in Manhattan.

It was chaired by Dennis Grogan and John Manning, both leading members of the Ancient Order of Hibernians though the meeting was not a Hibernian gathering per se.

Between 150 and 180 people were in attendance.

Amongst matters discussed, was the idea of “bringing democracy back to the parade” and including more transparency in how the parade is organized.

The issue of on-going litigation between certain parties was raised, though not discussed in detail.

A case was made for greater accountability on the part of the parade board to the affiliated organizations.

This included the proposal to remove all board members who are not qualified under the criteria and current by-laws. This was met with a round of applause.

Election of the Parade Celebration Committee, Grogan told the attendees, should be by the delegates of the affiliated organizations of the parade.

Using slides as an illustration there was also a case made for the 2017 Grand Marshal to be elected by the delegates of the affiliated organizations of the parade, or at least by a committee created by the affiliates.

There was also what was termed “A Call To Action”, whereby affiliates were invited to put some pressure on the board to hold a meeting and discuss these issues.

Affiliates were then invited to ask questions or make comments.

Mr. Martin Kiely, an active member for 40 years, said: “I am glad some people seen what I have seen. Money is what causes problems, and the parade belongs to the people.”

Ms. Eileen Cronin made the point that certain members involved in the litigation deserved to get the credit for their hard earned work and not just criticism.

There were also some critical comments regarding the participation of certain groups in the parade in light of the decision to include gay marching units in the parade.

John Manning made the point that “last year’s decision is what it is, and still stands.”

Afterwards, Dennis Grogan said that “when all is said and done, the parade belongs to the people and the groups that make it up, and that is why we are holding this meeting.”

John Manning stated that many people were very frustrated with the situation surrounding the parade and were trying to address these concerns in a fair, open, and transparent way.

The ticking clock dilemma

Posted by Jim on

McGurk’s Bar activist, Robert McClenaghan, writes on the reality of
Britain’s inability to face up to its human rights abuses, and how this
now becomes his own ticking clock dilemma.

I was with other family members in west Belfast to hear about the
current situation with the Stormont House Agreement and how families who
lost loved ones during the conflict are yet again abused by the British
state. Britain does not want to deal with its past.

I found out the British Government are using what they call “National
Security Issues”to allow them to hold onto documents and files which
they think are too important to British National Security Interests to
give to families of those murdered or injured during the conflict.

And it does not matter to them if your son, daughter, father, mother,
was IRA, UDA, UVF, UDR British Army, INLA, IPLO, Ulster Resistance, or
civilian Protestant, Catholic or Dissenter.

Every single family is being refused the truth because of British
National Security Interests.

My Thoughts

Firstly, when we talk about Legacy Issues, Dealing with the Past or
National Security, we lose sight of the human beings we are actually
talking about. The victims are faceless and nameless. They have no
family and left nobody behind that mourns for them every day. They do
not exist. And neither do we.

This brings me to my own personal case which I would like to share with
you as it has been on my mind recently.

I call it the Ticking Clock Dilemma.

On the one hand we have the British Government steadfastly refusing to
tell the truth about its involvement in the conflict here for fear it
may reveal terrible dark crimes committed in its name by the British
Army, the RUC, the UDR and MI5 as well as its gangs of agents recruited
to wage war as a counter to the IRA campaign to destroy the State of
Northern Ireland as they saw it.

On the other hand of the Ticking Clock Dilemma is my Dad, Sam.

Sam is 86 years of age and I love him to bits. On December 4 1971 my
Dad’s step-father, Philip Garry, was murdered along with 14 other
innocent men women and children in McGurk’s Bar in the New Lodge area of
North Belfast. He was having a quiet pint when the bomb exploded. My
grandfather was 73 years of age at the time of his death. 73.

Within 12 hours of the murders in McGurk’s Bar, the RUC made up the
story that my grandfather was a bomber, an IRA man who along with the
others blew themselves up as part of an IRA own-goal.

I was 12 at the time and I am 56 now.

We have been waiting for nearly 44 years for the authorities to tell the
truth.

The Ticking Clock Dilemma for my Dad is this:

On Friday the 24 October the Chief Heart Consultant in the RVH told Sam
that he has only one artery to his heart left working and it is being
kept open by a small metal tube called a stent. The rest of his arteries
have all collapsed and cannot be repaired. They sent him home from
hospital saying there was nothing more medically could be done for him
and it was now in Gods hands how much longer he had left to live. I
cried when he told me as now I know my Dad is living on borrowed time.
One artery is now doing 100% of the work and sooner or later it is going
to stop and Sam will be dead.

The Ticking Clock for the British is that they want to waste as much
time as possible before they are forced by public opinion to tell what
they did as part of the conflict here.

They are refusing to hand over to my Dad crucial documents relating to
McGurk’s Bar.

My Dad along with other McGurk’s Bar families have taken the former PSNI
Chief Constable Matt Bagott and the present Chief Constable to court to
overturn a report by the failed and discredited Historical Enquiries
Team which was sanctioned by the Police Service of Northern Ireland. The
HET’s report lied and said that the RUC did nothing wrong in December
1971 when they blamed the IRA for the atrocity and not the real culprits
the UVF.

This is despite a mountain of evidence to the contrary discovered and
presented to the by our campaign to the police from the state’s own
files. They have it in front of them in black and white. They deny us
other information which they are attempting to deny us access to for 84
years.

What delay means

I mention all this because i want to highlight our particular case to
prove a general point which is simple.

My Dad and other families cannot afford any further delay in getting the
British Government to admit not only what happened at McGurk’s Bar in
1971 but also hundreds and hundreds of other cases.

The RFJ website estimates that 365 people where murdered by the British
State and a further 1100 where murdered on top of that by the UVF and
UDA and Ulster Resistance as a result of a policy of collusion with the
British State.

The McGurk’s Bar case is one of the first cases of the British State
using counter-gangs to try and defeat the IRA, and to deter the
Nationalist community from supporting the IRA. The control of the
narrative in the aftermath which presented the bombing as an own-goal
was a classic psychological operation. It is a psychological operation
which continues to this day.

The McGurk’s Bar fell into a timeline. It did not explode in a vacuum.

The Ticking Clock dilemma persists as the British State tries to cripple
the coronial system, or the proposed Historical Inquiries Unit, and it
still refuses to allow any information that they do not like to see in
the public domain to be shared with anyone.

The British want to see the clock tick longer and further into the
future. My Dad Sam does not have the luxury of time. Something has to
give. Either my Dad’s heart or the British State.

The blockages in my Dad’s heart can be compared to the blockages put in
the way of the truth. We all must do our best to unblock them. Sam needs
it before it is too late. Thousands of other family members need it too.

Bloody Sunday: Ministry of Defence ‘insulting’ families of the dead

Posted by Jim on November 22, 2015

A relative of two of the victims of Bloody Sunday has described as an “insult” that the British Ministry of Defence is to foot the legal bill for soldiers arrested in connection with the PSNI investigation into the events of January 30, 1972.

The news emerged after an emergency question was lodged in the House of Commons over last week’s arrest of a former member of the Parachute Regiment. ‘Lance Corporal J’ was arrested on November 10 and it is understood he was questioned in relation to the killing of William Nash, John Young and Michael McDaid as well as the wounding of Alexander Nash. The ex-soldier was detained in County Antrim and questioned at a Belfast police station before being released on bail pending further police police inquiries.

This prompted seven other soldiers to seek a judicial review in London. It is understood these soldiers are soldiers B, N, O, Q, R, U and V. These were the anonymous names applied to the ex-soldiers during the 12 year Saville Inquiry.

Lawyers for the soldiers contended that the motivation behind the arrest of ‘Lance Corporal J’ was “politically motivated” and also followed on from the realisation that if they are charged their anonymity could be put aside. It is also possible that if charged and subsequently convicted that they may not quality for early release under the Good Friday Agreement as it falls outside the timeframe agreed for non-qualification agreed in the 1998 accord.

 The seven soldiers also lodged objections to not being given at least 24 hours notice of arrest, whereby they could arrange to present themselves to local police stations for questioning. They have also objected to being transferred to Northern Ireland for police questioning.

The judicial review will take place at a Divisional Court in London, next Thursday, November 26. Mr Justice Ouseley ordered that families of those killed on Bloody Sunday are not persons “directly affected” by the application as the case concerns the lawfulness of the anticipated arrests, chiefly because the soldiers are willing to be interviewed in England, and because of risks faced in Northern Ireland.

Independent MP for North Down, Lady Sylvia Hermon, asked in the House of Commons if the Ministry of Defence will pay for his and other soldiers’ legal costs.

She said: “That’s the legal advice and legal representation – top legal representation – of any former soldiers who served in Northern Ireland and who are charged in connection with any inquiry, Bloody Sunday or indeed inquests such as those announced for Ballymurphy.”

Confirming that legal fees will be paid, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Northern Ireland Office, Ben Wallace, said that the Ministry of Defence recognises it has a duty of care to all current and former members of the armed forces.

He said: “As an essential part of that, we will pay for independent legal advice, so that they are able to defend themselves when they face legal proceedings on matters related to their former service.”

Reacting to the news that the ex-Paratrooper’s will have their legal fees paid by the Ministry of Defence, Kate Nash whose brother was shot dead and father wounded, told the ‘Journal’: “Again the British Government have insulted the family’s and victims of Bloody Sunday.

“They are paying legal expenses for former soldiers they say they owe a duty of care to. Are they serious? What about the innocent victims who’s lives ended that day? What about the innocent people they wounded? What about the hundreds they arrested and brutalised? What about the people who still suffer because of their memories of that day.

“They are paying for these cowards because if they don’t they might tell the real story-that they were ordered in to do exactly what they did, murder Irish people.”

Struggling firefighter injured after just 10 days into new job

Posted by Jim on

By Susan Edelman, NY Post

A female firefighter who was allowed to graduate the Fire Academy despite failing physical tests has already gone out on medical leave — just 10 days into the job, The Post has learned.

Probationary firefighter Choeurlyne Doirin-Holder injured herself Monday while conducting a routine check of equipment at Queens’ Engine 308 in South Richmond Hill. Getting off the truck, Doirin-Holder missed a step and landed on her left foot, suffering a fracture, sources said.

It was her second shift after a transfer from Engine 301. In training for a hazmat assignment, officers found her struggling to perform the required tasks.

Firefighters called the tripping incident embarrassing — and alarming.

“If you’re going to get hurt in the firehouse checking a rig, what would happen at a fire?” an insider asked.

On Nov. 6, Doirin-Holder celebrated her FDNY graduation as one of four new female Bravest, bringing the number of women to 49 — an all-time high in the FDNY’s 150-year history.

But Doirin-Holder’s competence was questioned by sources familiar with her training. They said academy instructors let her pass the Functional Skills Test, a rigorous obstacle course of job-related tasks, even though she had failed to complete it in the required 17 minutes and 50 seconds or under.

In addition, when she failed to finish a 1.5-mile run in 12 minutes or less — even after the course was shortened — she was allowed to demonstrate aerobic capacity on a StairMaster machine under watered-down requirements enacted by FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro.

Doirin-Holder, who turns 40 this month, is one of 282 “priority hires” passed over in 1999 and 2000. Federal Judge Nicholas Garaufis ordered they must get preference as victims of past discrimination against minorities.

It was Doirin-Holder’s third attempt to pass the academy. She failed midway through an academy class in 2013 and returned to her former job as an EMT. Two other female priority hires in that class did well.

Doirin-Holder started another class in early 2014 but dropped out because of an injury. The FDNY then gave her a desk job and kept her on the payroll at top firefighter salary, $76,488. She made $81,376 with overtime in 2014 and entered her third class this summer.

Since she was injured on duty, she is eligible for a disability pension that would pay three-quarters of her annual salary, tax-free, if deemed unfit to return.

In an online FDNY forum, firefighters fumed at the preferential treatment.

“If you can’t meet the standards, you are a danger to yourself, the public and most importantly everyone operating on the fire ground who is doing their job,” one wrote.

The FDNY said it won’t discuss personnel or medical matters.

Marley family seek justice

Posted by Jim on November 21, 2015

Informers within the Provisional IRA are suspected of providing
information that led to the loyalist murder of a senior republican in
north Belfast man almost 30 years ago.

Laurence Marley, known as Larry, was shot dead by the UVF in front of
his wife and new-born son as he answered a knock at the door of his
Ardoyne home in April 1987.

The senior IRA figure was gunned down 18 months after serving a 13-year
jail term for his part in the armed struggle, which included helping to
mastermind the famous Long Kesh prison breakout of 1983.

His family is now preparing to sue the PSNI police, the British Ministry
of Defence and Direct Ruler Theresa Villiers over his death. They
believe the Crown Forces played a part in targeting the father-of-six by
passing information to his loyalist killers, facilitating the attack and
protecting their own agents.

His funeral was delayed for three days after the RUC police launched a
massive security operation and formed a heavily armed cordon around his
home to prevent a republican funeral.

Two attempts to bury the IRA man were aborted after a platoon of RUC
surrounded his cortege. His funeral finally took place six days after
his death.

During the stand-off undertakers had to re-embalm the body in the house
amid threats from the RUC that it would be seized under public health
laws.

The episode led to Bishop of Down and Connor Cahal Daly calling on the
RUC to rethink its approach to dealing with republican funerals.

It is now thought that the senior republican was set up by a number of
agents within the IRA who supplied information to their Crown Force
handlers on his movements — and who in turn passed it on to the UVF.

His son Setanta believes that information was “passed on by republican
agents to their handlers which would have added to the knowledge of my
father’s involvement in planning the ‘great escape’ in 1983 which was a
major embarrassment to the Thatcher administration, especially in the
shadow of the hunger strike.”

Setanta, who was only two week’s old when his father was killed, accused
the PSNI of failing to investigate his death properly.

“The behaviour of the security forces at the funeral is nothing short of
proving investigative bias,” he said.

He said the family wants “accountability and truth on the part of the
British government” and has been “put in a position where they have to
pursue a civil action in the hope that the discovery process divulges
information that can provide assistance and the truth”.

Mr Marley, who is himself a member of the legal team at KRW Law taking
his father’s case, said the family was also engaged with the Police
Ombudsman on the matter.

He said he believes his father’s murder was “sanctioned at the highest
echelons of the British establishment” and described the RUC’s actions
during the funeral as “vicious”.

Mr Marley said that in the months before his father’s death he had been
arrested several times and threatened while being interrogated by the
RUC at its Castlereagh base.

He said that floor plans and diagrams of the family home were also taken
during Crown raids in the run up to his death. Mr Marley said his family
also wants a new inquest under Article Two of the European Convention of
Human Rights.

FURY AT ‘THATCHERITE’ TALKS DEAL

Posted by Jim on

There are fears that this week’s talks agreement represents such a
victory for unionist and British negotiators that it could wreck the
North’s political process, rather than sustain it.

The so-called ‘Fresh Start’ agreement comes after ten weeks of talks
aimed at reviving the main elements of the failed Stormont House
Agreement, which was reached in the run-up to last Christmas.

Unionist commentator Newton Emerson said he was unnerved by what he
described as a “total defeat for Sinn Fein”. He warned the deal was
“destabilising and unsustainable”.

Every aspect of the negotiations saw setbacks for nationalists,
republicans and progressives. Arguably the most controversial
development was that an entire section of the previous agreement on
dealing with the past was shelved. That component was dropped over the
British government’s insistence that its “national security” take
precedence over the release of information to victims of the conflict.

Sinn Fein officials said no deal on legacy issues was better than a bad
deal. However, victims groups said the party should have refused to
sign up to any agreement at all.

“In their homes around the country, those who lost loved ones in the
conflict will be privately grieving and angry,” said Relatives for
Justice and Justice for the Forgotten.

On the welfare issue, Sinn Fein pointed to a headline figure of
financial measures of 146 million pounds a year to compensate those
affected by cuts in welfare and tax credits.

Overall, however, the ‘Fresh Start’ agreement contains less money than
the Stormont House deal it is meant to replace, to the tune of 85
million pounds. A broad range of left-wing groups and political parties
have denounced it, and protests have already been organised for this
weekend.

There are reports that some in Sinn Fein could rebel against the deal.
The party’s leader on Belfast council Jim McVeigh, in a message to
supporters, warned that planned cuts in corporation tax might not go
ahead “unless we afford it and we won’t be able to afford it any time
soon, comrades”.

That earned an apparent rebuke from Martin McGuinness, who said: “Sinn
Fein will honour all commitments it made in this week’s agreement.”

The new deal includes cuts to all working age benefits, a benefit cap
for families with children, and also agrees to another round of cuts
currently before Westminster.

“It is overwhelmingly children who will suffer,” said Eamonn McCann of
People Before Profit. He said Sinn Fein had now joined the ranks of the
pro-austerity parties.

“Staying in government with the DUP took precedence over standing by
the most vulnerable,” he said. “The worst-off people in deprived places
like Derry will be hardest hit. If the Coalition in the South
introduced this sort of package, Sinn Fein would be elbowing its way to
the front of street protest.”

The British Crown Forces in the North are the new deal’s clear
financial winners. The PSNI and a new cross-border agency will receive
160 million pounds of additional funding over the coming years, with an
additional 85 million pounds to secure interface area as well as issue
payments to “community workers”.

The deal appears stacked against republicans by concentrating on
illegal cross-border activity — there is no requirement for the PSNI
or other British state agencies to address loyalist criminality or
sectarian and racist violence.

In another embarrassing development, Sinn Fein was required to openly
cut its ties to the Provisional IRA’s Army Council by agreeing to a
principle to “accept no authority, direction or control on our
political activities other than our democratic mandate alongside our
own personal and party judgment”. Neither unionists nor the British
government have an equivalent commitment to end their co-operation with
loyalist paramilitaries.

BAIT AND SWITCH

In a key intervention, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the
promotion of truth and justice, Pablo de Greiff, warned against the
British stance on dealing with the past.

He said it had worked “to cover up the action of their agents, army,
police and political establishment by using a so-called national
security veto.

“That pretext for blocking disclosure is clearly nonsense as much of
the information families are looking for is related to events 30 to 40
years ago,” he said.

Brian Gormally of the Committee for the Administration of Justice
described Mr de Greiff’s remarks as “significant”.

Accusing the British government of pulling down the shutter on legacy
investigations, he said: “This is contrary to international standards
and unacceptable to victims.

“It will use state power to give impunity to state agents. In so doing,
it jettisons the interests of victims and the truth, continues its
violation of international human rights standards and undermines the
rule of law.”

Relatives for Justice spokesman Mark Thompson said British ‘national
security’ issues were not raised during the Stormont House Agreement
last year.

“It’s introduction was an indication that the British government do not
want to face into the truth of their responsibility and role in the
conflict,” he said.

“They are denying families from all sides of the community who lost
loved ones the truth and facts about those murders.”

‘TORY PROXIES’

The other political parties at Stormont sought more time to examine the
contents of the agreement when it was released on Tuesday. However, the
welfare element was pushed through by Sinn Fein and the DUP at the
Belfast Assembly within 24 hours.

The motion ended Sinn Fein’s opposition to the Tories directly
legislating on the matter from Westminster. There are fears that the
axe is now set to fall on a range of crucial welfare payments and
frontline public services as collective punishment of the nationalist
community.

In the day-long debate, Sinn Fein was accused of capitulating on its
main ‘red line’ vow to oppose Tory cuts, and also needlessly agreeing
to give London 60 million pounds a year to balance potential changes to
tax credits.

Sinn Fein denied it was supporting austerity in the Six Counties but
opposing it in the 26 Counties. Its Minister for Regional Development
Conor Murphy said the devolved administration had acted as a “bulwark”
against the Tory government’s austerity policies.

“I think what is being proposed and agreed in part of this
implementation plan gives us protection measures better than exist
anywhere on these islands for people who are struggling,” he said.

However, SDLP deputy leader Fearghal McKinney accused Sinn Fein of a
u-turn.

“We are being asked to hand over to the Tories – or ‘Thatcher’s
children’ as Martin McGuinness likes to call it – decisions on
legislating on welfare,” he said.

“Only a matter of weeks ago Sinn Fein would have described this as a
huge serious mistake but now Sinn Fein are doing Tory austerity, and in
spades.”

REPUBLICANS OUTRAGED

In its response, Republican Network for Unity spokesperson Nathan
Stuart said the Sinn Fein had agreed on a document that “would make
Margaret Thatcher blush”.

“Once again, and after a nine month delay, the right-wing coalition in
Stormont have shafted the Irish working class in favour of feathering
their own nest,” he said.

“All anti-imperialist groups must begin a process of working together
and putting the doctrine of Irish sovereignty back on the agenda.”

The 1916 Societies said the fact that Sinn Fein had agreed to move
forward while Britain still refused to admit its ‘Dirty War’ was a
“clear demonstration of who holds sway in Ireland”.

“The Sinn Fein project of drawing power away from Westminster,
supposedly towards regional decision-making processes, stands in ruin,
the handing back of key powers to London exposing the same as facade,”
they said.

“All of this makes clear the deal in question has been framed to uphold
partitionist government, fulfilling the needs of the British state and
its occupation system, with the people barely an afterthought.”

But Sinn Fein insisted the deal was an important milestone.

“I am hopeful that we will be able get on with the important work of
building a fairer society for all the people on the island of Ireland,”
said the party’s Galway West election candidate, Trevor O Clochartaigh.

“The agreement is as Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness described
it, evidence of a common commitment to a better future,” he said.

“There are of course aspects of the agreement that we may not be overly
happy with but there is enough in it that is positive and constructive
and allows us to move forward.

“Our aim must be to focus on the positive aspects and look to the
future.”

British Government must honor its commitments on disclosure to victims

Posted by Jim on November 20, 2015

 

IN THE Stormont House Agreement that was reached in December 2014, the British government committed to providing full disclosure to families of victims of the conflict but have now done a U-turn from that position.The British government has failed to honour this agreement, just as they failed to honour the agreement for a full and independent inquiry into the killing of Pat Finucane.

It continues to cover up the actions of its agents, army, police and political establishment during the conflict in Ireland by using a ‘national security’ veto. Because of this, no agreement has been possible on dealing with the legacy of the past as part of the Stormont House Agreement and Implementation Plan announced on 17 November.

THE British government’s proposals on legacy are unacceptable, Sinn Féin MLA Conor Murphy said on 17 November following the conclusion of talks at Stormont.

“The British government’s proposals on legacy issues pre- sented during the most recent talks were about preventing the full disclosure to the families of victims of the conflict they committed to as part of the Stormont House Agreement last year.

“The ‘national security’ pretext for blocking disclosure is clearly nonsense as much of the information families are looking for is related to events 30 to 40 years ago.

“This is unacceptable and means that no agreement was possible on dealing with disclosure and the past.

Mr Murphy said Sinn Féin will continue to work with victims’ groups and families to hold the British government to account.

“The two governments committed to return to this issue to seek an early resolution – and we intend to hold them to that,” he said.

While welcoming the agreement, the Sinn Féin MLA criticised the role of the British and Irish governments throughout the talks process.

“The influence of Britain’s military establishment and security and intelligence agencies is the major factor in reinforcing the Westminster Government’s intransigence against revealing the truth about its role in the conflict,” he said.

“They are absolutely hostile to Sinn Féin being in government in the North and share with the Southern political establishment an opposition to the continued electoral rise of Sinn Féin in the 26 Counties.

“The British government has failed to honor the Stormont House Agreement on full disclosure to meet the needs of victims. “The Irish government must stand as a co-equal guarantor of the agreements, must honour its commitments and must hold the

British government to account. They have failed to do this.”

Victims groups criticise British government position on disclosure

“In their homes around the country, those who lost loved ones in the conflict will be privately grieving and angry at London’s insistence that it must be able to redact/censor reports from the proposed Historical Investigations Unit on ‘national security’ grounds.

“The PFC and JFF consider it totally unacceptable for the state to demand the right to conceal the actions of its agents in bombings, shootings and murders during the conflict. This was not part of the Stormont House Agreement in December 2014.”

“Let us be very clear – this is not a question of the ‘local parties failing to agree’. It is the UK Government that has vetoed progress by demanding the right to use ‘national security’ to cover up the unlawful activities of its agents. “It will use state power to give impunity to state agents. In so doing, it jettisons the interests of victims and the truth, continues its violation of international human rights standards and undermines the rule of law.”

Stormont House legacy elements in “suspension”

Posted by Jim on

by Connla Young 
A Negotiator in the talks that ended with this week’s political deal has said the legacy elements of the Stormont House Agreement are now “in suspension”.
Alex Attwood was speaking after the ‘Fresh Start’ document failed to include agreement on how Troubles-related killings will be investigated – including the setting up of a dedicated Historical Investigations Unit (HIU).
The SDLP assembly member said while the British government’s insistence on a ‘national security’ veto is an obstacle, other issues relating to legacy investigations also need to be resolved.
The HIU formed part of the Stormont House Agreement and was due to replace the now defunct police Historical Enquiries Team.
Earlier this year the British government was forced to shelve legislation on dealing with the past after nationalists objected to powers to withhold information on national security grounds.
Mr Attwood said that during the 10-week negotiations his party submitted eight separate papers dealing with legacy issues.
“We wanted to get into law all that needed to be got into law, we felt there was progress being made,” he said.
He added that his party wants talks to resume soon.
“We will be looking to close on all the issues, national security being one of the biggest.”
The Stormont House Agreement last Christmas also made provision for an Independent Commission on Information Retrieval, an Oral History Archive and the creation of an Implementation and Reconciliation Group.
“All the legacy elements are now in a place of suspension,” Mr Attwood said.
The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth and justice, Pablo de Greiff, visited the north last week and met with Troubles victims.
Speaking last night, he said none of the stakeholders can assume the position of “neutral arbiters of the Troubles”.
He said that while “everyone must acknowledge the significance of national security concerns, it must also be acknowledged that particularly in the days we are living in, it is easy to use ‘national security’ as a blanket term”.
Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness met with British Secretary of State Theresa Villiers yesterday.
“They continue to cover up the action of their agents, army, police and political establishment by using a so-called national security veto,” he said.
“That pretext for blocking disclosure is clearly nonsense as much of the information families are looking for is related to events 30 to 40 years ago.”
Relatives for Justice spokesman Mark Thompson said national security issues were not raised during the Stormont House Agreement last year.
“It’s introduction was an indication that the British government do not want to face into the truth of their responsibility and role in the conflict,” he said.
“They are denying families from all sides of the community who lost loved ones the truth and facts about those murders.”
Brian Gormally of the Committee for the Administration of Justice described Mr de Greiff’s remarks as “significant” because of the British government’s “insistence on total control of disclosure of the results of investigations in the name of national security”.
“This is contrary to international standards and unacceptable to victims,” he said.
A spokeswoman for the Northern Ireland Office said the British government “continues to support the provisions of the Stormont House Agreement”.

THE POLITICS OF THE ST. PATRICK’S DAY PARADE

Posted by Jim on

 

by Bill Donohue

When I became president of the Catholic League in 1993, there was no Catholic League unit in New York’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade. That soon changed. For the past 20 years we have had a small contingent in the parade, but we will not be marching in 2015.

As I have already indicated, my support for the parade’s rules, about which I have invested a lot of time and energy defending on radio and TV for the past two decades, was based on the principal that no groups with their own agenda could march. I have constantly defended the exclusion of pro-life Catholic groups on this basis, using it analogously to defend the right of parade officials to exclude gay groups. So when I was asked how I would react to a gay group being asked to join, I said I could support this decision only if a pro-life group were also invited. Indeed, I explicitly pressed for confirmation that there has been a formal change in the parade’s rules. I was told that there was and that a pro-life group would march in 2015. Count me in, I said.

It soon became apparent that things were different. I was asked to keep the news of the parade rule change confidential prior to being announced on September 3. I did. I was also told that the parade’s new spokesman, William O’Reilly, would call me on September 2 to inform me of how he was going to roll out the story. He never called. Moreover, someone leaked the story to Irish Central and the Associated Press late on September 2. When I got to work on the 3rd, the story was out and I was being called by the media for my reaction.

The media were sent a statement by O’Reilly on the morning of the 3rd formally making the announcement. I was not sent a copy. The statement was worrisome because it made no mention of a change in the parade’s rules, or that a pro-life unit would be welcome. Instead, it concentrated exclusively on the gay group.

I did not allow my displeasure with the absence of a principled rule change in O’Reilly’s statement to alter my commitment to marching. But I intentionally titled my news release, “NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade Amends Rules,” saying, “I have been assured that the rules have been formally changed to allow both of these groups [a gay and a pro-life unit], as well as others, to march under their own banner. That being the case, there should be no controversy.”

O’Reilly said on the morning of the 3rd that no gay group, other than Out@NBCUniversal would be marching in 2015. Later that day he was overridden by John L. Lahey, the vice chairman of the parade committee: he told the media at the New York Athletic Club that other gay groups could still apply to march in next year’s parade. Lahey is the president of Quinnipiac University and an advocate of gay groups marching in the parade; he is next in line to become chairman of the parade committee.

Curiously, no mention of a pro-life group was cited in either O’Reilly’s statement or Lahey’s remarks. But on the evening of the 3rd, the Wall Street Journal wrote that “As part of the change in policy, the organizers also will now let a ‘pro-life’ group march with a banner, said parade spokesman William O’Reilly.”

When I learned that a pro-life group would be marching, I felt relieved. But it didn’t empty my concerns. According to Lahey, there would be more gay groups marching in 2015. Which gay groups? DignityUSA says it is a Catholic gay group, but it openly rejects the Church’s teachings on sexuality and is properly regarded as a dissident, if not anti-Catholic, group. I also noticed that there was no talk about having more pro-life groups marching.

On September 8, Lahey was again asked if more gay groups would be marching next year. He hedged. “I won’t say that it is possible that we would consider another group,” he said. “We are under pressure to shorten the parade—I would be surprised if we would.” As usual, he never said a word about pro-life Catholics marching.

On September 9, O’Reilly was asked by Wall Street Journal reporter Mark Morales to reply to the promise that parade officials had made to me, namely that a pro-life group would march in the parade. “Mr. O’Reilly said that if a group opposed to abortion rights applied, parade organizers would look at the application favorably, but that none did so.” O’Reilly also said that the list of groups marching in the 2015 parade was “settled.”

This is truly amazing. The fact is there was no reason for either gay groups or pro-life groups to apply given the reality that there was no public announcement of a rule change. This accounts for the fact that no pro-life group applied. So what about the NBC gay group? How did they know there was a rule change when no other group did?

OUT@NBCUniversal didn’t have to apply—it was selected. NBC televises the parade and it threatened not to broadcast the event if a gay group was not included. Francis X. Comerford is the chief revenue officer at NBC and a member of the parade committee; he is also a past grand marshal of the parade, as is Lahey. The dots are not hard to connect. There is a lot of money at stake, both for NBC and the parade. There is also a lot of prestige to be had in elite Catholic circles to show their colleagues how “progressive” they are.

The final straw for me was when Lahey was asked by Irish Central to comment on my assertion that a pro-life group was slated to march. On September 10, he said, “That won’t be happening.” In other words, I was double-crossed.

The goal of some in the Irish community is to neuter the Catholic element in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. They want it to be an ethnic celebration. But as I have said, we are not the Irish League: we are the Catholic League. Indeed, our full name is the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights.

Under the direction of Lahey, who has effectively taken over control of the parade, there is no room for a pro-life Catholic group in 2015, but there is room for a non-Irish, non-Catholic, gay group. But the worst is yet to come.

When Lahey was told that radical gay groups, led by Brendan Fay, would like to march in 2016, he “reacted enthusiastically.” Fay is a former official of DignityUSA, an outfit that works against the teachings of the Catholic Church. “I think Brendan Fay will find we’re very receptive,” Lahey said.

For the record, DignityUSA is a group which had Paul Shanley as its chaplain, the most infamous child rapist priest in the history of the Catholic Church. More recently, it opposed the request made by the Catholic League that the Empire State Building light its towers in honor of Mother Teresa’s centenary. In 2010, it expressed its displeasure with the election of New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan as the new president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

This explains why the Catholic League is finished with the New York St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

Eirí Amach na Cásca (Part 8)

Posted by Jim on November 19, 2015

 

from The Road to Rebellion by Mike McCormack

On Easter Sunday, after sending out new mobilization notices from the Hibernian Hall to local Volunteer companies, Pearse ordered the Louth Volunteeres to demolish a section of the Portleix railway to prevent troops from reaching Dublin.  They also raided the Wolfhill RIC Barracks becoming the first to fire shots in the Rising.  Meanwhile, 1000 copies of the Proclamation were printed in the basement of Liberty Hall as the Countess painted the words Irish Republic on a green flag that would fly over the GPO the following day next to the tricolor raised by Argentine-born Volunteer Eamon Bulfin.  Bulfin had attended Pearse’s school at St. Enda’s and his sister would later marry Nobel Laureate Sean MacBride.

As Easter Monday dawned, a smaller than normal group of Irish Volunteers, Citizen Army, Cumann na mBan and Fianna hEireann gathered at Liberty Hall. John J. Scollen, knew by the cancellation notice in Sunday=s paper that some- thing was afoot so he ordered his Hibernian Rifles to gather at the Hibernian Hall as well.  Posts were assigned to each leader: the Four Courts to Ned Daly; Jacob=s Factory to Tom MacDonagh; Boland=s Mill to Eamon deValera; the South Dublin Union to Eamonn Ceannt; St. Stephen=s Green to Michael Mallin and Countess Markievicz; and the Mendicity Institute to Sean Heuston. They were to capture surrounding buildings as necessary and follow the battle plan laid out by Joseph Plunkett to prevent British troops from reaching the General Post Office (GPO) Headquarters. They hoped to hold out long enough for the world to pressure Britain to free Ireland since the excuse for WW1 was to free small nations.

At noon on Easter Monday they marched into the streets of Dublin and onto the pages of Irish History.  One of the men asked Connolly, Is the Citizen Army in the lead and Connolly replied, there is no longer a Citizen Army or Irish Volunteers, only the Army of the Irish Republic!  For the first time since the invasion of Canada 49 years earlier, the Irish Republican Army was back in the field.  The insurrection was to start with a bang as the Magazine Fort, a Phoenix Park storehouse of British munitions, was to be blown, but the men sent to blow it couldn’t get into the locked storeroom so they blew the fort but the storeroom did not explode.  At noon, Pearse, with Clarke and Connolly at his side, read the Proclamation of the Irish Republic to startled passers-by.  There were a few cheers, but for the most part the people were simply astonished.  Inside the GPO, men were filling mail bags with scraps and blocking the windows. They also used figures from the Wax Museum on Henry Street and thought it ironic that King George, Queen Mary and Lord Kitchner would stop incoming British bullets.

That afternoon The O=Rahilly, long opposed to a rising, drove up in his classic De Dion Bouton automobile loaded with rifles.  To those surprised to see him he said, I=ve helped to wind this clock, I=ve come to hear it strike!  Sadly, neither he nor his expensive auto would survive the rising.  His car would be buried with the rubble from the Rising at the railway end of Croke Park B the GAA athletic field B and covered over.  Later immortalized as Hill 16 it became perhaps one of the most famous sports terraces in the world.  The four British Barracks: Marlborough, Richmond, Royal and Portobello were caught napping with only 100 soldiers on duty in each.  The first British incursion into Dublin took place Monday afternoon as a group of mounted Lancers rode up O=Connell Street to clear the GPO; they were scattered by firing from the Post Office roof.  The first thing the IRA did was to cut the telephone wires to prevent the British from calling for aid, but a Castle telephone exchange was secure and soon troops from Athlone, Templmore, Belfast and the Curragh were on their way.

In order to get word out to the world, Joseph Plunkett sent a party of 7 men to the Wireless School of Telegraphy which had been shut down.  They managed to repair a 1.5 Kilowatt transmitter and Dave Bourke, an experienced Marconi operator, began transmitting in Morse Code the message >Irish Republic declared in Dublin . . . Irish troops have captured the City and are in full possession . . . the whole country is rising=. Since early telegraphic communications were station to station, Marshal MacLuhan, philosopher of communication, considers this diffused message to be the world’s first radio broadcast!  One of the 7 men was the Dublin-born, Protestant patriot Arthur Shields, later an American movie star who would appear as the Protestant minister in the Quiet Man with his brother Barry Fitzgerald.  John J. Scollan sent a message to Connolly that the Hibernian Rifles were ready to assist.  Connolly replied saying he was glad of the assistance and at later sent orders to the Hibernian Rifles to proceed to the G.P.O.  They were put under the command of The O=Rahilly who ordered the group to break and barricade all the windows on the upper floors. One member P.J. Walsh was stationed at the telegraph station on the second floor since he had a good knowledge of Morse Code and was able to pose as a government agent sending out queries about the rising to the government station in an effort to obtain information.  He received a few items of information which he reported to Plunket and Pearse.  Connolly detailed Scollan to check reports of British troops in the a