" A wealth of information..."

"1169 And Counting is a wealth of information on our Republican past and present , and demonstrates how the Irish political landscape , like that of any nation, will never be a black and white issue..."
(From the ‘e-Thursday’ section of the ‘Business Week’ supplement of the ‘Irish Independent’ , 21st August 2008.)

Wednesday, November 25, 2015



By prisoners from E1 Landing, Portlaoise Prison, 1999.


Grateful thanks to the following for their help, support, assistance and encouragement, and all those who helped with the typing and word processing over the past few months. Many thanks to Cian Sharkhin, the editor of the book, Mr Bill Donoghue, Governor, Portlaoise, Mr Seán Wynne, supervising teacher, the education unit in Portlaoise Prison and the education staff, especially Zack, Helena and Jane. Education officers Bill Carroll and Dave McDonald, Rita Kelly, writer, print unit, Arbour Hill.

First Print : November 1999, reprinted March 2000, illustrations by D O'Hare, Zack and Natasha. Photograph selection : Eamonn Kelly and Harry Melia.


Brendan Kennelly

I met you in the Joy

in the early eighties

I can still picture you sitting

beside the school window

it was a summer's day.

Middle-aged you wore

a beige cap

receding shoulder length

black hair greying

blue eyes

warm smile

clean shaven

heavy built.

Check coat

white open neck shirt

black pants brown shoes


with a Kerry accent

recited poetry

and when you raised your foot

I could see a hole in your shoe

the light was shining through

the room was electric

with a crowd of inmates.

I heard you on the radio

many times over the years

read some of your books

was inspired by you

Rain Man don't go away

I want you to stay.

John Doran.

(Next :'Punishment Cell'. )


Where politics once stagnated, events in Northern Ireland now chase each other helter-skelter. As 'Magill' went to press, a new joint government document turned recent perceptions head over heels. Fionnuala O'Connor charts the doubts behind the instant reactions. From 'Magill' magazine, February 1998.

The paper eventually presented as the two governments' 'heads of agreement' was meant to kickstart real negotiation when talks reconvened after Christmas on January 12th. As that date approached, loyalists suggested their cease-fires were precarious, and their imprisoned leaders were visited in quick succession by David Trimble and British Secretary of State Mo Mowlam. Then, journalists sympathetic to the Ulster Unionists ran predictions that the document would show Tony Blair meeting a unionist prescription for a settlement firmly bounded by the union (with Britain).

A frantic weekend of phone calls between Tony Blair, in Tokyo, and the Taoiseach produced a result less strident than the leaks but left many nationalists rattled. A northern assembly got prominence while unionists' chief bugbears, the kernel of the framework, were omitted : the proposition of equality for nationalists and unionists inside Northern Ireland
(sic) and the potential for North-South structures to develop.

Bertie Ahern had to take responsibility for the unseemly fluster of his own dealings with Tony Blair, said one non-nationalist observer. But sooner or later a Dublin-directed disaster was inevitable : "I can say this, the Shinners and the SDLP won't. There's no consistency. Ray Burke looked strong, did alright, but he was distracted and he hardly got his feet under the table. David Andrews doesn't do the work. Nobody on his own side tells him when he goofs. Dublin's all over the place, puffing David Trimble up on the one hand, leaving Sinn Féin out of the room one minute, sucking up to them and annoying the SDLP the next. Now this."


Like their comrades in the H-Blocks and Armagh, the Irish POW's in England have resisted criminalisation against all the odds, with the same conviction articulated by Joe O'Connell, speaking from the dock at the Old Bailey during the 1977 'Balcombe Street' trial - "We admit to no crimes. The real crimes and guilt are those British imperialism has committed against our people." From 'Iris' magazine, July/August 1982.

The fact is that these prisoners are being held as political hostages, a punitive warning to others who may bring the war into England that they can expect to spend their natural lives imprisoned on foreign soil in brutal and hostile conditions, isolated from comrades, friends, family and community.

It is an indication of the courage and political strength of these prisoners that they have not only sustained themselves mentally, even in extreme isolation, but have persisted in protesting for their beliefs inside the jails, with their pens, or from the prison rooftops or barricaded in their cells.

Like their comrades in the H-Blocks and Armagh, the Irish POW's in England have resisted criminalisation against all the odds, with the same conviction articulated by Joe O'Connell, speaking from the dock at the Old Bailey, during the 1977 Balcombe Street trial :
"We admit to no crimes, the real crimes and guilt are those British imperialism has committed against our people."

[END of 'Conditions in English Jails'. Next : '1916- What did it mean for Irish women?' , from 'Iris' magazine, Easter 1991.)


On the 11th of November in 1913 in Dublin, in the then 68-year-old Wynn's Hotel on Lower Abbey Street, a group of Irishmen and women held a meeting to discuss the formation of an 'Irish National Volunteer Force'. Those present at that meeting and/or at five other such meetings which were held immediately afterwards in the space of a two-week period, included Sean Fitzgibbon, John Gore, Michael J Judge, James Lenehan, Michael Lonergan, Peadar Macken, Seamus O'Connor, Colm O'Loughlin, Peter O'Reilly, Robert Page, George Walsh, Peadar White and Padraig O'Riain, amongst others (all of whom were well known in Irish nationalist circles ie Sinn Féin, Cumann na mBan, Na Fianna Éireann, the Gaelic League, the IRB, the Irish Citizen Army, the Ancient Order of Hibernians, Irish Parliamentary Party and the United Irish League).

Then, on the 25th November 1913 - 102 years ago on this date - the inaugural enrolment meeting for the 'Irish Volunteers' was held at the Rotunda Rink in Dublin, to "secure the rights and liberties common to all the people of Ireland". That meeting was overseen by a Provisional Committee consisting of thirty members, all of whom had been elected at the above-mentioned meetings. A week previous to the formation of the 'Irish Volunteers', Jim Larkin and James Connolly had formed the 'Irish Citizen Army', and both groups were in competition for members, the former on a 32-county basis whereas the latter was confined to the Leinster area, although attempts were made, through trade union structures, to recruit in Cork, Belfast, Derry, Sligo, Limerick, Kilkenny, Waterford, Dundalk, Galway and Wexford, but with no success. Also, those joining the 'Volunteers' were supplied with a uniform and other equipment while those joining the 'ICA' had to purchase same themselves. Relations between the two organisations were not the best, as the 'Volunteers' allowed, for instance, employers to join and this at a time when employees and other trade unionists would most likely be 'ICA' members or supporters and, actually, when the 'Volunteers' were in conference for the first time (25th November 1913) 'ICA' members and supporters loudly made their presence felt and they also objected in print - their first leaflet stated that the 'Volunteers' were controlled by those who were opposed not only to trade unionism but also to workers rights re conditions etc.

Within a few months, however, the animosity had lessened to the extent that there was some official co-operation between both groups at the Wolfe Tone commemoration in June 1914 and again in October that year during the events held to commemorate Charles Stewart Parnell, and both groups joined forces at Easter 1916 and took part side-by-side in the Rising, the 100th anniversary of which will be marked in a national commemoration in Dublin on Saturday 23rd April next.


On the 25th November 1921 - 94 years ago on this date - Michael Collins and Arthur Griffith arrived in Dublin, from London, where they had taken part in negotiations on a 'Peace Treaty' with the British and one of the clauses that caused dissension in the ranks of the Irish republicans was a British demand that 'Ireland shall recognise the British Crown for the purposes of the Association as symbol and accepted head of the combination of Associated States'. The military and political sections of the republican movement were split over what the British demanded and what they should be given and Collins, among others, sensed that an 'in-house' compromise was not going to be reached and, by February 1922, he was openly recruiting for a new 'National Army' from among those who, like himself, reluctantly (?) accepted the 'Peace Treaty' : he was assembling, in effect, an armed military junta in Ireland to enforce British demands re their 'Treaty'. Collins and his people assured Westminster that they would secure the 'Treaty' and all it encompassed and, on the 6th December 1921, the 'Treaty', which partitioned Ireland, was signed. The British began to withdraw their own proper soldiers from the bases which they had been occupying and some of these bases were then taken over by Irish republicans and, in late June 1922, the new Free State Army borrowed heavy weaponry from their new allies in Westminster and proceeded to enforce the British writ in Ireland. The rest, as they say, is history but, incredibly, the lessons learned remain unheeded by some (and more so by others) but have been taken on board by republicans who continue to campaign for a full British military and political withdrawal from Ireland, despite the best efforts of the above-linked advocates of accommodation.


On the 25th November 1925 - 90 years ago on this date - the then Free State President, William Cosgrave, and his 'Minister for Home Affairs', Kevin O'Higgins, arrived in Downing Street in London for a meeting with British Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin and Stormont 'Prime Minister' 'Sir' James Craig. Within nine days (ie by the 3rd December 1925), the Free Staters had been 'sold' a(...nother!) 'pup' by the British. On the 3rd December 1925, all those present at a meeting (ie all those mentioned above) agreed that the 'border', as fixed 5 years earlier in the '1920 Government of Ireland Act' and as stated in the 1921 Treaty of Surrender, would so remain, and an agreement was signed to that effect by those present. But the British, no doubt smelling fear and relief at the same time from the Free Staters, wanted more 'concessions' : they pushed for, and got , a separate agreement that the 'Council of Ireland' (a 'talking-shop' which the 1921 Treaty promised to set-up) be scrapped (even though it had not, in fact, ever been established!) and, as a final insult to the Free State 'negotiators', the British demanded that they repay the compensation which Westminster had paid to them for damage which the British themselves had caused in Ireland during the Black and Tan War!

And, in for a (British) penny, in for a (British) pound - no doubt by now realising the 'calibre' of the men they were up against, the British also insisted, and again, got, a commitment from the Free Staters that they would continue to pay land annuities to the British Exchequer! The above shambles , and many others, occurred during 'negotiations' between Westminster and the then newly-minted Free State administration during meetings which were held as part of the 'Boundary Commission' remit, a useless talking shop which the Staters shamelessly sold to their own followers as a 'political vehicle' which they could use to wring concessions from Westminster. For instance, On 2nd February 1922, a meeting was held between Michael Collins and the Stormont 'Prime Minister', 'Sir' James Craig. Voices were raised over the issue/structure/terms of reference of the Boundary Commission, and the meeting ended abruptly over the matter. However, 'spin' and 'PR' (media manipulation) was immediately employed by both sides - at a press conference following that failed meeting, 'Sir' James Craig (Stormont 'PM') claimed that the British Prime Minister, Lloyd George, had assured him that the Boundary Commission "... would deal only with minor rectifications of the boundary ..." ; in effect, that the Boundary Commission was a useless 'talking-shop' which had only been set-up to help the Free Staters to 'sell' the 'six County idea' to other Free Staters. However, Michael Collins claimed that he had left that same meeting with a promise, from the British, "...of almost half of Northern Ireland (sic) including the counties of Fermanagh and Tyrone, large parts of Antrim and Down, Derry City, Enniskillen and Newry." Obviously, both men could not have been right ; it is straightforward to state that the 'Boundary Commission' idea was a 'sweetener', if you like, to be used by both sides to convince their respective 'flock' that the British were really on their side!

We wrote about that 'Commission' and all its failings, in consecutive posts, beginning here (click on the 'Newer Post' link for part 2, and same again for part 3 etc).


10am, Saturday 21st November 2015 - Ard Fheis business beginning.

Ard Fheis graphics, Saturday 21st November 2015...

..and a few random pics from both days :

(and more here, from 'Facebook'.)

Thanks for reading, Sharon.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015



By prisoners from E1 Landing, Portlaoise Prison, 1999.


Grateful thanks to the following for their help, support, assistance and encouragement, and all those who helped with the typing and word processing over the past few months. Many thanks to Cian Sharkhin, the editor of the book, Mr Bill Donoghue, Governor, Portlaoise, Mr Seán Wynne, supervising teacher, the education unit in Portlaoise Prison and the education staff, especially Zack, Helena and Jane. Education officers Bill Carroll and Dave McDonald, Rita Kelly, writer, print unit, Arbour Hill.

First Print : November 1999, reprinted March 2000, illustrations by D O'Hare, Zack and Natasha. Photograph selection : Eamonn Kelly and Harry Melia.


Never give into it or anyone

it will only create

problems mentally

and physically it will paralyse you

Chase it and it will run from you

life forever

people thrive on weakness

they will respect you if you stand

up to them

don't let anybody push you

into something you may not wish to do

or you will regret it in time to come

people suffered for so long

and hadn't got the courage to fight it

many people wish they had done something

about it years ago

Start today there's no tomorrow

and you will never look back

be the one don't wait for someone

to do it for you

let fear, fear itself.

John Doran. (Next :'Memories of You'. )


Where politics once stagnated, events in Northern Ireland now chase each other helter-skelter. As 'Magill' went to press, a new joint government document turned recent perceptions head over heels. Fionnuala O'Connor charts the doubts behind the instant reactions. From 'Magill' magazine, February 1998.

The present spiral of violence was initially due to two groups outside the talks - the tiny, discredited 'Irish National Liberation Army' (INLA) , which has a history of murderous internal feuding and crime, and the more mysterious 'Loyalist Volunteer Force' (LVF), originally largely composed of UVF dissidents, which exists to oppose and undermine the ceasefires of the larger UDA and UVF. Both of the maverick groups are excluded from talks because they refused to call cease-fires and both bitterly oppose the talks format and the prospect of any compromise it might produce.

LVF leader Billy Wright's killing by the INLA inside the Maze prison was followed by a string of loyalist killings of catholics, another INLA killing, and more catholic deaths. To those who feel most vulnerable in the wider population, arguments about throwing parties out of talks are not the priority. Steel bars have gone back up inside front doors, gates on the bottom of stairs - in a small supermarket on the fringe of a loyalist district, the catholic owner took a sledge-hammer and broke a crude hole in the back wall of the shop. He did it without thinking about how to block it at night, his only though being escape.

UDA man Jim Guiney had been trapped days before by his INLA killers in his own small shop, hemmed in by rolls of marked-down carpet ; his killing shook the tiny UDP. He was close to two party delegates at Stormont - UDP leader Gary McMichael and David Adams - and by all accounts was a strong supporter of negotiations. McMichael and Adams are liked in the talks : "It was uncomfortable to watch, but I felt for them too", said a delegate from another small party who saw the news come in. Another noted the UDP's confusion - "They kept saying 'he's not a shooter, he's not a shooter.' "

Another participant declared - "It's clear the UDA don't listen to Gary McMichael or Davy Adams, but I don't know about John White." In talks where many others have violent records, White's convictions for two particularly gruesome killings all of 22 years ago should not lend him the image he seems to relish as hard man to the diplomacy of Gary McMichael and the soft-spoken David Adams. Even John White's credentials seem to have failed to reach the other hard men. The probability of a UDA split now hangs over the UDP, and the possibility of their being allowed to come back into talks.


Like their comrades in the H-Blocks and Armagh, the Irish POW's in England have resisted criminalisation against all the odds, with the same conviction articulated by Joe O'Connell, speaking from the dock at the Old Bailey during the 1977 'Balcombe Street' trial - "We admit to no crimes. The real crimes and guilt are those British imperialism has committed against our people." From 'Iris' magazine, July/August 1982.

Although many prisoners' families live in Ireland, only four prisoners have ever been repatriated , and then only after a 205-day force-fed hunger-strike. Yet it is official British Home Office policy to transfer prisoners to jails close to home, and British soldiers are automatically sent back to England or Scotland in the few cases where they have been sentenced for their criminal activities in the North. The 'closed' visit, strip-searching, the harassment of relatives on visits and the issue of repatriation have been the chief areas of protest by the republican prisoners in English jails over the years.

Over the next two or three years most of the shorter-term prisoners will be released. In previous years eleven republican prisoners have been released, and the latest releases were Tony Madigan and Brian McLaughlin, released in June, and Fr. Patrick Fell and David Owen who were released in July. This will leave a core of republican prisoners serving life or more, such as Joe O'Connell, serving 'life plus 159 years'
(!) , who have lost all remission.

Repeated demands that these prisoners should be allowed to serve their sentences in Ireland have been refused - the original grounds given by the British Home Office were the inadequacy of secure prison conditions in the North, but since the building of the H-Blocks and new prison facilities at Magheraberry this is even more batantly untrue than before.


On the 17th November 1920, a 46-year-old Kerry-born RIC Sergeant, James O'Donoghue, who had 22 years 'service' in that particular 'police force' and was about to be promoted to Head Constable, was shot dead in White Street in Cork city by three IRA men (Charlie O'Brien, Willie Joe O'Brien and Justin O'Connor) , who were standing in a gateway, waiting for a target that never showed. The IRA unit were about to leave the area when they were spotted by O'Donoghue, who had just left his home at Tower Street, in full uniform, to make his way to the RIC barracks at Tuckey Street, about a half-mile of a walk from his house. According to reports of the incident, the RIC man "came upon" the IRA men and he was shot dead as a result.

The next day - the 18th November (1920), 95 years ago on this date - a gang of masked men, believed to be RIC and/or Black and Tans from the Tuckey Street barracks, forced their way in to the O'Brien house, looking for Charlie and Willie Joe ; they shot Charlie, leaving him for dead, and then shot his brother-in-law, Eugene O'Connell, who died at the scene. The execution gang then broke into the near-by home of Patrick Hanley and shot him dead, and then turned their guns on his friend, Stephen Coleman, severely wounding him, and a James Coleman was also attacked by the gang and shot dead. An IRA investigation into how the IRA unit had been exposed led the organisation to believe that informers had been at work and three men were shot dead as a result - John Sherlock, 'Din-Din' O'Riordan and Eddie Hawkins (whose father, Dan, was seriously wounded in that action).

Incidentally, a week after they killed the RIC man, the Cork Command IRA officially apologised in writing to his family and let it be known that they were 'furious' that their Volunteers had taken it on themselves to carry-out that operation. No such apology was issued by the RIC or the Black and Tans.


HANSARD 1803–2005 - 1920s - 1920 - November 1920 - 18 November 1920 - Commons Sitting - IRELAND.


HC Deb 18 November 1920 vol 134 cc2072-4

Mr. PENNEFATHER (by Private Notice) asked the Secretary of State for War whether he had any information to impart relating to the four officers taken by force out of a train at Waterfall, County Cork, the day before yesterday, and carried off in rebel motor cars, and whether, in view of this further proof of the assistance to crime afforded by privately-owned motor cars, the Government would at once prohibit their use in the disturbed areas?

Mr. DEVLIN : "What is a "rebel motor car"? "

The SECRETARY of STATE for WAR (Mr. Churchill): "The only information which I have at present is that two Education Officers, Captain M. H. W. Green, Lincolnshire Regiment, and Captain S. Chambers, Liverpool Regiment, and an officer of the Royal Engineers, Lieut. W. Spalding Watts, were captured by the rebels. I understand that Captain Green and Lieutenant Watts might have been witnesses of a murder of a police sergeant and that Captain Chambers was the principal witness against Father O'Donnell, who was arrested in October, 1919, for seditious speeches. Presumably, these are the reasons why they were kidnapped, but I do not know the circumstances of their capture. With regard to the last part of the hon. Member's question, I think ample powers already exist under the Restoration of Order in Ireland Regulations. Certain restrictions regarding the use of motor vehicles are already in force, and I understand that further drastic restrictions will come into operation on 1st December."

Mr. TERRELL : "Have these officers been released?"


Mr. DEVLIN : "The right hon. Gentleman brings in the trial, and the statement that Father O'Donnell was arrested for seditious language. For what reason ho dons (sic - 'he done'?) that, I do not know. Will he state that the court-martial acquitted him of that charge?"

Mr. CHURCHILL : "I did not attach importance to that. I have given the answer specially framed for me in answer to this question."

Mr. DEVLIN : "Who framed it for you?"

Mr. CHURCHILL "I had no communication whatever with the hon. Member (Mr. Pennefather), and there is no ulterior design behind the framing of the answer." (From here.)

We also found the following information in relation to this incident :

Capt M H W Green - removed and shot. Capt S Chambers - removed and shot. Lt W S Watts - removed and shot... there were 4 officers in mufti in a 3rd class compartment travelling from Cork (they thought it less conspicuous to travel 3rd class). There were 10 people in the compartment. The officers were en route to Bere Island. The soldiers were Lt R R Goode (inspector of Army Schools), Capt Reedy R.E., Chambers and Green. The train stopped at Waterfall, 6 miles from Cork. 3 armed civilians entered their compartment. Looking at Chambers one of these armed men said "That is one of them" and looking at Green said "That is the other". Chambers and Green were then marched out with their hands up and were last seen at the bridge over the railway....In 'The Year of Disappearances' (link here) the author makes a case for mistaken identity, for the Green the IRA wanted being George Edward Green, and not MHW Green...Watts had decided to travel First Class and was by himself. Reedy only realised Watts was missing when the train got to Kinsale Junction and he could not find Watts...Goode added to his statement that he knew that Chambers had been responsible for the arrest of Father O'Donnell (Chaplin to the Australian Forces) in Oct 1919 for seditious language....Goode also said that Chambers and Green had the previous week been witnesses to the murder of 2 RIC constables at Ballybrack in the course of a railway journey...Goode believed that Green was carrying an automatic pistol, but believed that the others were unarmed...1921 Nov 29- The IRA confirm that the men were executed, but details of their burial place did not emerge... (from here) and these British Army documents also make for interesting reading.

The lesson, whether it should have been learned in 1920 (if not centuries earlier!) or will be learned even at this late stage by those who think they have secured their political future and that of this Free State, is a simple one : 'Ireland unfree shall never be at peace'.


On the 18th November 1920 - 95 years ago on this date - an aeroplane made an emergency landing in a field near Punches Quarry in Cratloe, County Clare, and word quickly spread in the area that the craft was fitted-out with a machine gun. The British 'authorities' heard about the incident, as did the local IRA unit, and the former ordered their man in the area, 2nd Lieutenant MH Last, to organise a platoon from 'C' Company, 'Oxon and Bucks' (the 'Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry' regiment) and get to the site to guard the wreck, which they did and, in an act of bravado (given the times that were in it!) the British forces apparently posted no sentries and built and lit a large fire to make themselves comfortable.

The IRA, too, had arrived on site and a gun battle ensued - a report of the fight is carried here (see 'Incident at Cratloe'), but we're still trying to find out if the IRA got airborne that year or not...!



Isaac Butt was born in Glenfin, Donegal, on the 6th September 1813. His father, The Reverend Robert Butt, became Rector of St. Mary's Church of Ireland, Stranorlar in 1814 so Isaac spent his childhood years in Stranorlar. His mother's maiden name was Berkeley Cox and she claimed descendency from the O'Donnells. When Isaac was aged twelve he went as a boarder to the Royal School Raphoe and at the age of fifteen entered Trinity College Dublin.

He trained as a barrister and became a member of both the Irish Bar and the English Bar. He was a conservative lawyer but after the famine in the 1840s became increasingly liberal. In 1852 he became Tory MP at Westminster representing Youghal, Co. Cork and in 1869 he founded the Tenant League to renew the demand for tenant rights. He was a noted orator who spoke fervently for justice, tolerance, compassion and freedom. He always defended the poor and the oppressed. He started the Home Rule Movement in 1870 and in 1871 was elected MP for Limerick, running on a Home Rule ticket. He founded a political party called The Home Rule Party in 1873. By the mid 1870s Butt's health was failing and he was losing control of his party to a section of its members who wished to adopt a much more aggressive approach than he was willing to accept. In 1879 he suffered a stroke from which he failed to recover and died on the 5th May in Clonskeagh, Dublin. He was replaced by William Shaw who was succeeded by Charles Stewart Parnell in 1880. Isaac Butt became known as "The Father of Home Rule in Ireland". At his express wish he is buried in a corner of Stranorlar Church of Ireland cemetery, beneath a tree where he used to sit and dream as a boy.'
(from here.)

On the 18th November, 1873 - 142 years ago on this date - a three-day conference was convened in Dublin to discuss the issue of 'home rule' for Ireland. The conference had been organised, in the main, by Isaac Butt's then 3-year-old 'Home Government Association', and was attended by various individuals and small localised groups who shared an interest in that subject. Isaac Butt was a well-known Dublin barrister who was apparently viewed with some suspicion by 'his own type' - Protestants - as he was a pillar of the Tory society in Ireland before recognising the ills of that creed and converting, politically, to the 'other side of the house' - Irish nationalism, a 'half way house', if even that - then and now - between British imperialism and Irish republicanism ie Isaac Butt and those like him made it clear that they were simply agitating for an improved position for Ireland within the 'British empire', as opposed to Irish republicans who were demanding then, and now, a British military and political withdrawal from Ireland.

Over that three-day period the gathering agreed to establish a new organisation, to be known as 'The Home Rule League',and the minutes from the conference make for interesting reading as they highlight/expose the request for the political 'half way house', mentioned above - 'At twelve o'clock, on the motion of George Bryan, M.R, seconded by Hon. Charles Ffrench, M.P., the Chair was taken by William Shaw, M.R. On the motion of the Rev. P. Lavelle, seconded by Laurence Waldron, D.L., the following gentlemen were appointed Honorary Secretaries : — John O.Blunden, Philip Callan M.P, W.J.O'Neill Daunt, ER King Harman and Alfred Webb. ER King Harman read the requisition convening the Conference, as follows : —

We, the undersigned feel bound to declare our conviction that it is necessary to the peace and prosperity of Ireland, and would be conducive to the strength and stability of the United Kingdom, that the right of domestic legislation on all Irish affairs should be restored to our country and that it is desirable that Irishmen should unite to obtain that restoration upon the following principles : To obtain for our countiy the right and privilege of managing our own affairs, by a Parliament assembled in Ireland, composed of her Majesty the Sovereign, and the Lords and Commons of Ireland.

To secure for that Parliament, under a Federal arrangement, the right of legislating for, and regulating all matters relating to the internal affairs of Ireland, and control over Irish resources and revenues, subject to the obligation of contributing our just proportion of the Imperial expenditure. To leave to an Imperial Parliament the power of dealing with all questions affecting the Imperial Crown and Government, legislation regarding the Colonies and other dependencies of the Crown, the relations of the United Empire with Foreign States, and all matters appertaining to the defence and the stability of the Empire at large....'
(from here.)

The militant 'Irish Republican Brotherhood' (IRB) was watching those developments with interest and it was decided that Patrick Egan and three other members of the IRB Supreme Council - John O'Connor Power, Joseph Biggar and John Barry - would join the 'Home Rule League' with the intention of 'steering' that group in the direction of the IRB. Other members of the IRB were encouraged to join the 'League' as well, and a time-scale was set in which to completely infiltrate the 'League' - three years. However, that decision to infiltrate Isaac Butt's organisation was to backfire on the Irish Republican Brotherhood : the 'three-year' period of infiltration ended in 1876 and in August 1877 the IRB Supreme Council held a meeting at which a resolution condemning the over-involvement in politics (ie political motions etc rather than military action) of IRB members was discussed ; after heated arguments, the resolution was agreed and passed by the IRB Council, but not everyone accepted that decision and Patrick Egan, John O'Connor Power, Joseph Biggar and John Barry refused to accept the decision and all four men resigned from the IRB.

Charles Stewart Parnell was elected as leader of the 'Home Rule League' in 1880 and it became a more organised body - two years later, Parnell renamed it the 'Irish Parliamentary Party' and the rest, as they say, is history (with an interesting tangent along the way) !



Smaller than our usual offering, that is - time constraints, that's why! We've been working for the last week or so on the Ard Fheis Clár (32 pages, 93 motions) and other related material (bookings, hotel arrangements, visitors etc) and the event itself will be held this coming weekend, Saturday/Sunday 21st and 22nd November, in a Dublin venue, which means spare time is scarce.

And coming up hot on the heels of that event a 650-ticket fund-raising raffle for Cabhair (booked in for Sunday 13th December) has yet to be fully organised following which preparations for the Cabhair Christmas Day Swim have to be continued with. We will post a piece next Wednesday (25th November 2015) but it will be only (probably) half the quantity but quality won't be affected. Says she, clapping herself on the back....!

Thanks for reading, Sharon.

Wednesday, November 04, 2015



By prisoners from E1 Landing, Portlaoise Prison, 1999.


Grateful thanks to the following for their help, support, assistance and encouragement, and all those who helped with the typing and word processing over the past few months. Many thanks to Cian Sharkhin, the editor of the book, Mr Bill Donoghue, Governor, Portlaoise, Mr Seán Wynne, supervising teacher, the education unit in Portlaoise Prison and the education staff, especially Zack, Helena and Jane. Education officers Bill Carroll and Dave McDonald, Rita Kelly, writer, print unit, Arbour Hill.

First Print : November 1999, reprinted March 2000, illustrations by D O'Hare, Zack and Natasha. Photograph selection : Eamonn Kelly and Harry Melia.


Swimming up the river in a lazy kind of mood

feeling very hungry I was looking for some food

from the corner of my eye

I saw a fly

I caught him in a flash

and dived in again

with a thunderous splash

slowly swimming along chewing with ease

all of a sudden I had to sneeze

deep in my chest I felt I had the flu

my mouth opened and out went my chew

although he was half dead he tried to get away

I caught him with ease, it was just my day

along the river waved my tail with ease

feeling very happy and free

in front of my eyes was a fish of many colours

swimming alone there wasn't any others

I snapped it with my mouth

in and out my gills the hooks were hanging out

with a few jerks I was up on the bank

standing over me an Irishman and a Yank

saying to his partner "He is a beaut!"

I'm lying down like James Galway's flute

he lifted me up and weighted me fine

saying to his friend I was eight-nine

weaker and weaker the lights were going out

I should have known better not to open my mouth.

Paul Dillon. (Next : 'Fear', by John Doran.)


Where politics once stagnated, events in Northern Ireland now chase each other helter-skelter. As 'Magill' went to press, a new joint government document turned recent perceptions head over heels. Fionnuala O'Connor charts the doubts behind the instant reactions. From 'Magill' magazine, February 1998.

The charge now - made more openly by Sinn Féin and less so by some in the SDLP - is that Bertie Ahern allowed British prime minister Tony Blair to re-tool a draft 'heads of agreement' document presented to the parties on January 12 in both their names, under pressure from Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble and the threat of increased loyalist violence. The concern was that this sets out an agenda for negotiation that has been stripped of the framework's essence and was nakedly partitionist.

"What bothers me is the notion that there's no centre of gravity anymore" , says an ageing observer, "maybe this is the crunch that always has to come. Maybe it was inevitable when unionists were faced with the necessity to deal and republicans had to face the limits of what's on offer. But I think I see signs of the British losing the plot. Worse than that, the Irish seem to have forgotten it." Another observer was more blunt : "The Brits are never going to stick with it unless Dublin stays on their back. It's always been the way. Why would Tony Blair be different? Bertie Ahern has lost the script. And if Martin Mansergh's still dialoguing with the Provos, nobody's listening to what he hears."

The most serious implication some draw, almost under their breath because they dislike admitting they think so, is that the government has helped confirm loyalists in the belief that the talks and the entire 'peace process' can be swept away if they continue to kill at the present rate.... (MORE LATER.)


Like their comrades in the H-Blocks and Armagh, the Irish POW's in England have resisted criminalisation against all the odds, with the same conviction articulated by Joe O'Connell, speaking from the dock at the Old Bailey during the 1977 'Balcombe Street' trial - "We admit to no crimes. The real crimes and guilt are those British imperialism has committed against our people." From 'Iris' magazine, July/August 1982.

The rules governing category 'A' prisoners are used punitively against them and it is this system that has enabled the British Home Office to treat them in an altogether more repressive way than other groups of prisoners, while formally maintaining the fiction that there are no political prisoners. The rules are designed to impose maximum isolation on the Irish prisoners.

Solitary confinement is a major weapon : British courts cannot sentence anyone to long periods in solitary but through the use of 28-day renewable spells in the 'punishment blocks' the prisons have constantly done just that to Irish POW's, for petty infringements of prison rules, protests and reactions to beatings they receive from prison warders.

In addition, 'Rule 43' allows a prisoner to be isolated indefinitely to 'maintain good order and discipline' in the prison. By using these two rules, the regime has managed to hold Irish POW's in continuous solitary confinement for as long as two-and-a-half years
(Brendan Dowd) and several for two years (Eddie Butler, Liam McLarnon and Hughie Doherty) and almost all for regular 28-day spells.

When six POW's in Albany prison staged a peaceful 'sit-in' in their cells in 1976 as a protest against Brendan Dowd's two-and-a-half years in solitary, they were subjected to a full-scale attack by prison warders, leading to broken limbs and other serious injuries, and were punished by further periods in solitary. Physical assault is routine ; nearly 75% of POW's have been seriously attacked and beaten, many to the extent of being hospitalised...


...and it is ok to do that - it's the way it should be and the way it has to be but no, it's not ok to purposely aim to break that acronym, as a marketing ploy, unless you consider that apologising after such a blatant and obvious 'no respect' incident is 'OK', and I, for one, don't think it is. But some marketing and/or management ignoramus at 'Reebok' saw nothing wrong in launching an 'Ireland' T-shirt, pictured, left, with a geographically (and politically) incorrect 'map of Ireland' on it and attempting to sell same by stating that sport fans should '..show (their) UFC territorial allegiance with this UFC Ireland map tee...'.

The 'Reebok' company has since apologised for their "design error" mistake and withdrawn the product from their shops, but it's hard to believe it was a genuine mistake rather than a mere marketing ploy. And whether it was a mistake or a ploy, it caught the attention of, among others, the Conor McGregor camp, who voiced their objection and challenged Reebok to correct it or else...

..and, again, the Reebok team screwed up - this time, by not pointing out to the McGregor camp that they and their man can't have it both ways ie wearing a poppy (as McGregor is, pictured, left) and declaring yourself to be, politically, a 32-county supporter at the same time! McGregor himself must have noticed the hypocrisy involved but dug a deeper hole by going on the offensive about it - "I know where my allegiance lies and what I do for my country. I don’t need a stupid little flower with a 100 different meanings to tell me if I do or do not represent my country. Check the facts of its original meaning. ALL soldiers. ALL wars. Fuck you and the queen.." (from here). So this character believes that it's a "fact" to state that the Poppy symbol has "a 100 different meanings" and is used in connection with raising funds for "ALL soldiers (in) ALL wars.." and, no doubt - such is his apparent arrogance - he will keep telling himself that as 'proof that he's right'!


On the 10th October, 1969, 'The Hunt Report' recommended that the RUC (which had been formed on the 5th April 1922) should be changed into an unarmed force, that the 'B Specials' (the 'Ulster Special Constabulary') should be disbanded and a new reserve force be established, to be known as the 'Ulster Defence Regiment'. The RUC name was given to the then-existing RIC force on the 1st June 1922 in an attempted sleight-of-hand manoeuvre to present an existing pro-British paramilitary force as a 'new entity' and that 'new entity' - the RUC - was, in turn, amalgamated into the 'new' PSNI on the 4th November 2001 - 14 years ago on this date. This was another tweaking of the name and uniform of a paramilitary outfit, as the 'police force' in that part of Ireland are still administered by Westminster and are as anti-republican as they were when they bore the 'RIC' name, and maintain the same structure and objective as when they were known by that latter name.

The more gullible among us (although they are well salaried to be so or, at least, to behave in such a gullible manner) profess themselves convinced that a new day has dawned, ignoring the fact that the shadow in the room is caused by an elephant that they themselves have encouraged.


Judith Ward (pictured, left), an 'IRA activist', was arraigned on the 3rd October 1974 at Wakefield Crown Court, West Yorkshire, England, on an indictment containing 15 counts : Count 1: causing an explosion likely to endanger life or property on the 10th September 1973, at Euston Station, Count 2: a similar count relating to the explosion on the motorcoach on the M62 on the 4th February 1974, Counts 3-14: twelve counts of murder relating to each of the persons killed in the explosion on the motorcoach and Count 15: causing an explosion as before on February 12, 1974, at the National Defence College at Latimer. She pleaded "not guilty" to all counts but, on the 4th November 1974 - 41 years ago on this date - she was convicted on all counts, by a majority of 10 to two on Count 1 and unanimously on all the others. She was sentenced to five years' imprisonment on Count 1, 20 years' imprisonment concurrently on Count 2, life imprisonment for the murder Counts 3-14 and to 10 years on Count 15, to be served consecutively to the 20 years on Count 2, making a determinate sentence of 30 years.

It took eighteen years of campaigning to have her conviction quashed, which it was on the 11th May 1992 and it transpired that she had changed her 'confession' several times and that the police and the prosecution selected various parts of each 'confession' to assemble a version which they felt comfortable with! One of the main pieces of forensic evidence against her was the alleged presence of traces of nitroglycerine on her hands, in her caravan and in her bag. Thin layer chromatography and the Griess test were used to establish the presence of nitroglycerine but later evidence showed that positive results using these methods could be obtained with materials innocently picked up from, for instance, shoe polish, and that several of the forensic scientists involved had either withheld evidence or exaggerated its importance. Her book, 'Ambushed - My Story' makes for interesting reading and allows the reader to draw comparisons with the injustices suffered by the Maguire Seven, the Birmingham Six and the Guildford Four ; a total of 18 innocent people, including Judith Ward (13 men, 3 women and two children) who, between them, spent a total of 216 years in prison. Anne Maguire, a mother of 5 children, was menstruating heavily and denied all toiletries for a week, and was beaten senseless and Carol Richardson, who didn't even know she was pregnant, miscarried in Brixton Prison days after her arrest. Pat O'Neill, who had minutes before entered the Maguires house to arrange for a baby-sitter when the police arrived, was told by a cop to swear that he saw a big cardboard box on Maguires table or else he would be done, but he refused to lie - he served eleven years. On his release, he found his marriage was broken beyond repair and that his six children had left the family home.

How many more Irish children will have to 'leave the family home' before the British eventually give a date for their political and military withdrawal from Ireland, because the situation as it now (and still) exists here is that their very presence continues to be objected to by Irish republicans and continues to give rise to unrest. And, if our history is to be used as a yardstick, that will always be the case.


...we won't be posting our usual contribution, and probably won't be in a position to post anything at all, next Wednesday, 11th November 2015. This coming weekend (Saturday/Sunday 7th/8th) is spoke for already with a 650-ticket raffle to be run for the Dublin Executive of Sinn Féin Poblachtach in a venue on the Dublin/Kildare border (work on which begins on the Tuesday before the actual raffle) and the 'autopsy' into same which will take place on Monday evening 9th in RSF Head Office on Parnell Street and then it's straight back to the preparations for the up-coming Ard Fheis, which is being held this month in a Dublin venue. Anyway, that's the position - between the three of us we're booked up solid with our 'pay-the-bills/day-job' work and the work on the Ard Fheis and then it's straight on to the Cabhair Christmas Swim and loads of other stuff which one committee or another will no doubt be looking to have done! But it's all for a good Cause and we don't mind helping out. Check back here for us on Wednesday 18th November 2015.

Thanks for reading, Sharon.

Tuesday, November 03, 2015



This man was locked up by the British for 11 years after a politically-motivated 'trial' for being in the wrong place at the wrong time - he was simply trying to arrange for a babysitter for the evening....this British political 'leopard' changed its spots twice in Ireland but maintained its old objectives....'Punch drunk' ? - he wears a Poppy because he believes it represents what he wants it to represent....this Irish political prisoner was kept in continuous solitary confinement for two-and-a-half years....'sleeping with the fishes' for opening his mouth...check back here tomorrow, Wednesday 4th November 2015.

Thanks for reading, Sharon.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015



By prisoners from E1 Landing, Portlaoise Prison, 1999.


Grateful thanks to the following for their help, support, assistance and encouragement, and all those who helped with the typing and word processing over the past few months. Many thanks to Cian Sharkhin, the editor of the book, Mr Bill Donoghue, Governor, Portlaoise, Mr Seán Wynne, supervising teacher, the education unit in Portlaoise Prison and the education staff, especially Zack, Helena and Jane. Education officers Bill Carroll and Dave McDonald, Rita Kelly, writer, print unit, Arbour Hill.

First Print : November 1999, reprinted March 2000, illustrations by D O'Hare, Zack and Natasha. Photograph selection : Eamonn Kelly and Harry Melia.


Torturous thoughts travel through my dungeon

cobwebs cling to each and every wall

spiders climb each web slowly.

Torturing the nerve channels superbly.

Bitter thoughts engrave my dungeon

leaving a mark for potential torture.

I fight to control my cells

most of the time I succeed

though the odd spider conquers my brain,

to the delight of the demons.

I hear their laughter and contemplate revenge

knowing it is I who will prevail.

Paul Dillon. (Next : 'I Should Have Known Better', by Paul Dillon.)


Where politics once stagnated, events in Northern Ireland now chase each other helter-skelter. As 'Magill' went to press, a new joint government document turned recent perceptions head over heels. Fionnuala O'Connor charts the doubts behind the instant reactions. From 'Magill' magazine, February 1998.

Republicans fear that the central premise on which they came to the table has been torn up, unionists are torn between hoping that that is so and fears that the governments are once more dithering. Their decision to oust the UDP may have come too late to re-establish authority and the document of Tuesday January 27th last might have redressed the balance and eased nationalist discontent but there is a real and general concern that Dublin and London have been blown this way and that, showing dangerous weakness.

The first IRA cease-fire broke down when Sinn Féin's admission to talks was repeatedly postponed, and those talks themselves got bogged down as unionists stalled on format and rules. Dublin's input has been vital at several points, fundamentally in drawing up the joint framework document of February 1995. John Bruton as taoiseach caused frequent anxious moments to those most involved in creating and maintaining movement towards negotiation, principally SDLP leader John Hume and the Sinn Féin leadership under Gerry Adams. In their eyes, Bruton's mistaken conviction that he could bring unionists on board and his distaste for Sinn Féin distracted him from what all concerned saw as the Irish government's chief role - to speak for the limited but defined nationalist consensus in dealings with the British government.

Irish officials were largely responsible for the framework document's scope and nuance - theirs , not John Bruton's, was the passion for the underlying principles and, in detailing how 'Northern Ireland' could be reconstructed along lines of equality for two competing political identities and in describing the possible reach of North-South bodies, the framework gave republicans hope, and a fig-leaf - a chance to argue that they could achieve arrangements that at least allowed for gradual transition to a united Ireland. They decided it could be a basis for negotiation...


Like their comrades in the H-Blocks and Armagh, the Irish POW's in England have resisted criminalisation against all the odds, with the same conviction articulated by Joe O'Connell, speaking from the dock at the Old Bailey during the 1977 'Balcombe Street' trial - "We admit to no crimes. The real crimes and guilt are those British imperialism has committed against our people." From 'Iris' magazine, July/August 1982.

There are currently 67 Irish political prisoners in jail in England, 53 of them republicans and at least 14 of them totally innocent victims of political trials. Five of the POW's are women, held in Durham Jail, and there is one remand prisoner, John McComb from Belfast (the "terrorist" mentioned here) , who has been in Brixton for several months now.

Over half the prisoners are from the North, the rest are from the twenty-six counties ; thirty-two of them are originally from Belfast. There are supposed to be no political prisoners in England, no political trials, but in reality the arrests, trials and prison conditions of the POW's are all highly political. Most of the trials took place in an anti-Irish, highly prejudicial atmosphere, the circumstances of the arrests were often indiscriminate, and many cases involved paid
agent provocateurs and police set-ups.

The nature of the evidence was usually flimsy, and 80% of cases have been under the notorious catch-all conspiracy laws, where the onus of proving innocence is on the defendant. The length of sentence has invariably been savage, as in the North. The vast majority of the POW's are classified as top-security category 'A'...


"We must take no steps backward, our steps must be onward, for if we don't, the martyrs that died for you, for me, for this country, will haunt us forever" - Máire Drumm, pictured, left.

On the 28th October 1976, the then Sinn Féin Vice President, Máire Drumm, was shot dead in her hospital bed by a pro-British loyalist death squad. She was born in the townland of Killeen, South Armagh, on the 22nd October 1919 to a staunchly republican family (the McAteer's) and her mother had been active in the Tan War and the Civil War.

In 1940, Máire joined Sinn Féin in Dublin but, in 1942, she moved to Belfast, which became her adopted city, and she continued her republican activities. Every weekend, she would carry food parcels to the republican prisoners in Crumlin Road Jail and it was here that she met Jimmy Drumm, who she married in 1946. When the IRA renewed the armed struggle in the late 1950s, Jimmy was again interned without trial from 1957 to 1961, and Máire became more actively involved in the civil rights movements of the 1960s. She worked tirelessly to rehouse the thousands of nationalists forced from their homes by unionist/loyalist pogroms.

During her work as a civil rights activist, Máire emerged as one of the republican movement's most gifted leaders and organisers and was the first to warn that the British troops sent in as 'peace keepers' were a force of occupation. Máire was a dynamic and inspirational speaker - once, when addressing a rally in Derry after the shooting of two men from the city, Máire said - "The people of Derry are up off their bended knees. For Christ sake stay up. People should not shout up the IRA, they should join the IRA..." In 1972, she became Vice President of the then Sinn Féin organisation and, due to her dedication and the dedication of her family to the republican struggle, they were continuously harassed by the RUC, British Army and by loyalist paramilitaries.

The British Army even constructed an observation post facing their home in Andersonstown and, at one point, her husband and son were interned at the same time. Her husband, Jimmy, became known as the most jailed republican in the Six Counties and Máire herself was also jailed twice for 'seditious' speeches, once along with her daughter.

In 1976, at only 57 years of age, her eyesight began to fail and she was admitted for a cataract operation to the Mater Hospital, Belfast. On the 28th October 1976, as Máire lay in her hospital bed, loyalist killers wearing doctors white coats walked into her room and shot her dead. Máire Drumm, freedom fighter and voice of the people, was buried in Milltown Cemetery.


It's practically impossible to write about William Keogh (pictured, left) without mentioning his pledge-breaking colleague and fellow charlatan, John Sadleir. Both men were born into difficult times, but so were many others and not all of them resorted to being 'snake oil' sales people, the path chosen by Keogh and Sadleir. Their 19th century Ireland was one in which approximately six-and-a-half million people 'lived' in, which was a rise in population of about three-and-a-quarter million since the introduction of the potato into the country in the middle of the 18th Century (ie 1760, population of approximately three-and-a-quarter million ; 1815 - population of approximately six-and-a-half million).

With the potato being in itself highly nutritional and a good basis for an adequate diet, as well as being a prolific crop, the poor were able to get better use from what little land they had and use their land to support more people, which led to an increase in the population. Also, the potato needed less land than, for instance, grain, and allowed the farmer to grow other crop elsewhere which he could then sell. Unfortunately for the Irish 'peasant' farmer (as the British described us) , this 'good fortune' was noticed by the British 'landlords' and rents were increased at the same period that land was scarce (due to the population increase) - the 'rent' for a 'holding' quadrupled between 1760 and 1815, so the 'holding' (ie small farm) was sub-let, usually to the farmers sons, so that the 'rent owed' for that patch of soil could be shared by the family.

However, the Irish spirit was strong, and the British 'landlords' and their agents did not have it all their own way. The so-called 'lower-ranks', the 'wretched people', those who wore 'the mark of slavery', had organised themselves as best they could ; secret, underground oath-bound societies fought back - the Whiteboys, Oakboys, Moonlighters, the Defenders and the Steelboys : fences belonging to British 'landlords' were ripped-up, the 'masters' cattle were taken, his haystacks and crop removed, his 'Big House' attacked and, when possible, levelled and burnt, and he himself, and his minions, put to death when the opportunity presented itself to do so. It was into this 'melting-pot of madness' that a child was born in County Tipperary in 1815 - John Sadleir.

At the time that John Sadleir was growing-up, a man named George Henry Moore (who was connected to, and supported by, the Catholic Church Hierarchy) was organising a 'pressure-group' which was to be called the 'Irish Brigade' to lobby Westminster on behalf of the Catholic Church, its members, and its 'flock' - John Sadleir joined the 'Irish Brigade' lobby-group and became a prominent member of it, as did about twenty liberal-minded British MP's, including William Keogh. When John Sadleir was 36 years of age (in 1851) the British administration introduced the 'Ecclesiastical Titles Bill' (on 6th February 1851) making it 'illegal' for any Catholic prelate (ie priest, arch-bishop, bishop etc) to be that which the Vatican claimed him to be - that is, under the 'Ecclesiastical Titles Bill', it was deemed to be 'a crime' to be described as the 'parish priest of XXX', 'arch-bishop of XXX', 'bishop of XXX' etc - in short, the assumption of titles by Roman catholic priests was outlawed by Westminster : the British wanted to curb the activities and influence of the catholic church, but this 'law' was not always followed-up (ie enforced) on the ground (what we in Ireland would call 'an Irish solution to an Irish problem').

However, enforced or not, the 'Titles Bill' was vehemently opposed by John Sadleir and William Keogh and 'The Irish Brigade' (who were by now known by the nick-name of 'The Popes Brass Band', such was their support for the catholic hierarchy) and others, too, were opposed to the 'Bill' - a group known as the 'Tenant Right League', which had been founded in 1850 by 'Young Ireland' Movement leaders Charles Gavan Duffy and Frederick Lucas (to secure better conditions for those that worked the land) also campaigned against 'The Ecclesiastical Titles Bill' : the 'Tenant Right League' was formed in City Assembly House in William Street in Dublin in August 1850, after a four-day conference which was attended by a right mix of people - magistrates, 'landlords', tenants themselves, priests (of both Catholic and Presbyterian persuasion) and newspaper journalists and editors. In his own constituency, where he was entertained to a public banquet on the 28th October, 1851 - 164 years ago on this date - William Keogh declared, in the presence of Archbishop McHale : "I will not support any party which does not make it the first ingredient of their political existence to repeal the Ecclesiastical Titles Act..." and again, in Cork, on the 8th March, 1852, he declared : "So help me God, no matter who the Minister may be, no matter who the party in power may be, I will support neither that minister nor that party unless he comes into power prepared to carry the measures which universal popular Ireland demands..." As the British themselves are fond of saying - 'Fine words butter no parsnips'.

In 1852, 'The Irish Brigade' and 'The Tenant Right League' joined forces to get the 'Ecclesiastical Titles Bill' revoked and, in July that year (1852) the new grouping came together as 'The Independent Irish Party', which declared that "legislative independence is the clear, eternal and inalienable right of this country, and that no settlement of the affairs of Ireland can be permanent until that right is recognised and established...(we will) take the most prompt and effective measures for the protection of the lives and interests of the Irish people, and the attainment of their natural rights..." John Sadleir and William Keogh, two of the more prominent MP's in 'The Independent Irish Party' (of which there were about forty, as the new 'IIP' was joined by Irish MP's in Westminster) , like all the other 'IIP' representatives, took a pledge not to accept any Office in a Westminster administration or to co-operate with same until, among other things, the 'Ecclesiastical Titles Bill' was done away with ; however, the British had seen developments like this elsewhere in their 'empire' and were preparing to manoeuvre things in their own favour.

The new 'Independent Irish Party' was flexing its muscle ; as William Keogh (a barrister and MP for Athlone) put it - "I will not support any party which does not make it the first ingredient of their political existence to repeal the Ecclesiastical Titles Bill. So help me God ..." By this stage, Charles Gavan Duffy had been elected as an 'Independent Irish Party' MP to Westminster, representing the New Ross area of Wexford. The 'IIP', with forty members elected to Westminster, did actually hold the balance of power in 'Lord' Derby's Tory-led government in Westminster and so pressed their claims with that administration regarding the 'Titles Bill' and other matters pertaining to Ireland - but they got no satisfaction from 'Lord' Derby or any of his Ministers, so the 'IIP' 'pulled the plug' and the British government of the day collapsed. The main opposition party in Westminster, the 'Whigs', led by 'Lord' Aberdeen, apparently promised John Sadleir IIP MP and William Keogh IIP MP that the 'Whigs' would be sympathetic to the interests of the 'Independent Irish Party' and the two Irish MP's, in turn, passed this information on to the ruling body of their own party and it was agreed to support the 'Whigs' in their bid for power which, with 'IIP' support, they got. But no sooner had 'Lord' Aberdeen climbed into the prime ministerial chair when his political promises to Sadleir and Keogh were cast aside ; he was, it seems, prepared to 'honour' part of the agreement he made with the 'Independent Irish Party' representatives and party, but not enough to satisfy them, and certainly not enough when compared with what he said he would do. This led to rows and bickering within the 'IIP', a signal which 'Lord' Aberdeen picked-up on and used to his own advantage , in true British 'divide-and-conquer'-style.

'Lord' Aberdeen offered John Sadleir IIP MP the position of 'Lord of The Treasury' in the new British administration, and also 'threw a bone' to the other dog, William Keogh IIP MP - that of the Office of British Solicitor-General for Ireland and, despite already having their parsnips well buttered, both men took the offer, and the Catholic Church, subservient as ever to the British, when push came to shove, supported them for doing so! This tore not only the 'Independent Irish Party' asunder (although it did manage to 'hobble' on for another few years, disintegrating along the way) until finally it disbanded in 1858, but it also disappointed Charles Gavan Duffy IIP MP, one of the more prominent members of the party, so much so that, in October 1855, he emigrated to Australia in despair. As 'Lord of The (British) Treasury', John Sadleir aspired to a lifestyle which he no doubt considered to be his of right - he was, after all, a British Minister and he also owned, by now, a community-type bank/financial house, in Ireland - the 'Tipperary Joint-Stock Bank' : however, such was his taste for the fine life and his desire to 'keep in' with his new 'friends', when his bank was found to be shy by over one million pounds the shame was too much and he killed himself in 1856. However, his old buddy, the British Solicitor-General for Ireland, William Keogh, somehow managed to 'soldier-on' and was asked to perform another task for his British pay-masters and he became a British Judge, in Ireland, during the infamous Fenian Trials of 1865-1867, where he verbally cracked many an Irish rebel skull, saving his employers from getting their hands even more bloodier. His conscience must have eventually got the better of him because, in 1878, he, too, killed himself. It could only make you wonder that, had he a bank to embezzle, would he have lived longer?

Despite success at the polls, and having the 'ear' of the political bosses and the 'respect' of the British 'establishment' and good, favourable media coverage, being well-dressed, well-spoken and well-paid, if you lose your political principles, you're finished - draw your own conclusions....

Thanks for reading, Sharon.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015



By prisoners from E1 Landing, Portlaoise Prison, 1999.


Grateful thanks to the following for their help, support, assistance and encouragement, and all those who helped with the typing and word processing over the past few months. Many thanks to Cian Sharkhin, the editor of the book, Mr Bill Donoghue, Governor, Portlaoise, Mr Seán Wynne, supervising teacher, the education unit in Portlaoise Prison and the education staff, especially Zack, Helena and Jane. Education officers Bill Carroll and Dave McDonald, Rita Kelly, writer, print unit, Arbour Hill.

First Print : November 1999, reprinted March 2000, illustrations by D O'Hare, Zack and Natasha. Photograph selection : Eamonn Kelly and Harry Melia.


My feathered little friend

I see you have returned

Your sudden departure

Had left me empty

I searched the sky for a glimpse

of your tiny body

Clouds covered my mind

as well as the woollen roof.

Now how your appearance

has touched my very soul

the happiness you bring me

makes waves look like raindrops

There were times I thought you were hurt

I prayed for your safety

my prayers have been answered

my feathered friend.

Paul Dillon.

(Next : 'Demons in The Dungeon', by Paul Dillon.)


E-mail: supportthepows AT irish-solidarity.net

Web: http://supportthepows.irish-solidarity.net

The 5th Annual International Day in Support of the Irish Prisoners of War held in Maghaberry, Portlaoise, and Hydebank jails will be held on the 24th, 25th and 26th of October 2015 ; this event, since 2011, has been held annually on the last weekend of October and, as in previous years, it is organised by the "International Committee to Support the Irish Prisoners of War". The committee is supportive of all Irish Republican prisoners held in Irish and British jails.

The last weekend of October is a historical date for Irish Republicans ; on October 25th, 1917, the Ard-Fheis of Sinn Féin adopted a Republican Constitution and, three years later, Sinn Féin’s Lord Mayor of Cork, Terence MacSwiney, died after 74 days on hunger strike. Furthermore, Joseph Murphy died on hunger strike in Cork prison on that day. On October 27th 1980, the first H-Block hunger strike began and on October 26th 1976, Máire Drumm, Vice-President of Sinn Féin, was murdered in the Mater Hospital, Belfast, by a loyalist death squad. Finally, on the last day of October 1973, the helicopter escape from Mountjoy jail took place.

A selection of the 1,200 pieces of republican material which will be distributed in various-sized 'packs' on Sunday, 25th October 2015, at the Half'penny Bridge in Dublin.

In 2015, as in previous years, to mark these historical events as well as highlighting the plight of today's Irish Republican POW's, protests and pickets will be organised by various organisations and concerned individuals in Ireland, England, Scotland, Continental Europe, USA, Australia, and elsewhere. If you want to add a city or country to that list, contact the Organising Committee. All international organisations, Irish republican activists and their supporters are invited to join preparations to make the 5th annual POW-Day a success. We would appreciate if those of our readers in Ireland who want to show their support for Irish Republican POW's could join us on Sunday, 25th October 2015, at 1pm on the Half'penny Bridge in Dublin city centre. All genuine republicans welcome!


The following piece was published in the 'Socialist Republic!' newspaper in September 1986.

The Chilean people have recently created an armed wing of their struggle against the Pinochet dictatorship - the 'Manuel Rodrigues Patriotic Front'. Although very little has been published in the press, their often spectacular actions of sabotage and attack on the regime forces have proven very successful. The following is a testimony of one of the fighters in the aftermath of one such operation.


"I have my first visit. Suddenly I see my wife coming and I cannot control my feelings - I cry uncontrollably. She's alive! "Don't cry", she says, "Please can't you see that I could also cry." All the strength I had to overcome my wounds continues to keep me alive and fighting, a strength which comes from my heroic people. To them I owe the fact that I'm alive today. My absent comrades helped save me too. Thanks to them I'm still alive - they taught me what is most precious in a fighter : how to live."

[END of 'Chilean Fighters Need Your Help Now' ; next - 'Conditions in English Jails', from 1982].


Where politics once stagnated, events in Northern Ireland now chase each other helter-skelter. As 'Magill' went to press, a new joint government document turned recent perceptions head over heels. Fionnuala O'Connor charts the doubts behind the instant reactions. From 'Magill' magazine, February 1998.

Attitudes to the 'peace process' have always been very different - nationalists well-disposed but wary, unionists hostile or suspicious. As negotiations at last reach points of substance, the dread of paramilitary killings is constant, pressures on all sides intense. Some fear that the departure from negotiations of the tiny 'Ulster Democratic Party', one-time voice of what seems an increasingly anarchic UDA, may start unravelling the whole talks process.

The irony, in the view of participants and observers alike, is that progress has been stalled and the situation destabilised by the oddest combination - the actions of maverick paramilitaries and the erratic behaviour of the Dublin government. No one could be surprised at the destabilising effect of renewed violence, but there is a surprise and growing anger that a Fianna Fáil-led administration should endanger structures created largely by the efforts of Irish governments, in particular by those of former Labour leader Dick Spring and Bertie Ahern's predecessor as party leader, Albert Reynolds.

It's been a rocky ride so far for the northern talks, underpinned as they are supposed to be by paramilitary cease-fires. At this point, to meet the May deadline signed up to by both Irish and British governments, serious negotiations should be well under way. Instead their very basis is at risk. (MORE LATER).


On the 21st October 1879- 136 years ago on this date- a meeting of concerned individuals was held in the Imperial Hotel in Castlebar, County Mayo, to discuss issues in relation to 'landlordism' and the manner in which that subject impacted on those who worked on small land holdings on which they paid 'rent', an issue which other groups, such as tenants' rights organisations and groups who, confined by a small membership, agitated on land issues in their own locality, had voiced concern about. Those present agreed to announce themselves as the 'Irish National Land League' (which, at its peak, had 200,000 active members) and Charles Stewart Parnell (who, at 33 years of age, had been an elected member of parliament for the previous four years) was elected president of the new group and Andrew Kettle, Michael Davitt, and Thomas Brennan were appointed as honorary secretaries.

The leadership had 'form' in that each had made a name for themselves as campaigners on social issues of the day and were, as such, 'known' to the British authorities ; for instance, Michael Davitt, who was born into poverty in Straide, Mayo, on the 25th of March, 1846 - at the time of An Gorta Mór - was the second of five children, and was only four years of age when his family were evicted from their home over rent owed and his father, Martin, was left with no choice but to travel to England to look for a job. Martin's wife, Sabina, and their five children, were given temporary accommodation by the local priest in Straide. The family were eventually reunited, in England, where young Michael attended school for a few years. His family were struggling, financially, so he obtained work, aged 9, as a labourer (he told his boss he was 13 years old and got the job - working from 6am to 6pm, with a ninty-minute break and a wage of 2s.6d a week) but within weeks he had secured a 'better' job, operating a spinning machine but, at only 11 years of age, his right arm got entangled in the machinery and had to be amputated. There was no compensation offered, and no more work, either, for a one-armed machine operator, but he eventually managed to get a job helping the local postmaster. He was sixteen years young at that time, and was curious about his Irish roots and wanted to know more - he learned all he could about Irish history and, at 19 years young, joined the Fenian movement in England. Two years afterwards he became the organising secretary for northern England and Scotland for that organisation and, at 25 years of age, he was arrested in Paddington Station in London after the British had uncovered an IRB operation to import arms. He was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment, on a 'hard labour' ticket, and served seven years in Dartmoor Prison in horrific conditions before being released in 1877, at the age of 31, on December 19th.

Almost immediately, he took on the position as a member of the Supreme Council of the IRB and returned to Ireland in January 1878, to a hero's welcome. At the Castlebar meeting he spoke about the need "...to bring out a reduction of rack-rents..to facilitate the obtaining of the ownership of the soil by the occupiers...the object of the League can be best attained by promoting organisation among the tenant-farmers; by defending those who may be threatened with eviction for refusing to pay unjust rents; by facilitating the working of the Bright clauses of the Irish Land Act during the winter; and by obtaining such reforms in the laws relating to land as will enable every tenant to become owner of his holding by paying a fair rent for a limited number of years..."

The new organisation realised that they would be well advised to seek support from outside of Ireland and, under the slogan 'The Land for the People' , Michael Davitt toured America, being introduced in his activities there by John Devoy and, although he did not have official support from the Fenian leadership (some of whom were neutral towards him while others were suspicious and/or hostile of and to him) he obtained constant media attention and secured good support for the objectives of the Land League. (Incidentally, Davitt died at 60 years of age in Elphis Hospital in Dublin on the 30th of May 1906, from blood poisoning - he had a tooth extracted and contracted septicaemia from the operation. His body was taken to the Carmelite Friary in Clarendon Street, Dublin, then by train to Foxford in Mayo and he was buried in Straide Abbey, near where he was born.)

At a meeting in Ennis, County Clare, on the 19th September 1880, Charles Stewart Parnell (of whom the British were to describe as "..combining in his person all the unlovable qualities of an Irish member with the absolute absence of their attractiveness...something really must be done about him...he is always at a white heat or rage and makes with savage earnestness fancifully ridiculous statements.." but who was also looked at in a wary fashion by some of his own people as he was a Protestant 'Landlord' who 'owned' about 5,000 acres of land in County Wicklow and his parents were friends of and, indeed, in some cases, related to, the local Protestant 'gentry') stated - "Now what are you to do with a tenant who bids for a farm from which his neighbour has been evicted? Now I think I heard somebody say 'Shoot him!' , but I wish to point out a very much better way, a more Christian and more charitable way...when a man takes a farm from which another had been evicted you must shun him on the roadside when you meet him, you must shun him in the streets of the town, you must shun him in the shop, you must shun him in the fairgreen and in the marketplace, and even in the place of worship, by leaving him alone, by putting him in a moral Coventry, by isolating him from the rest of his country as if he were the leper of old, you must show your detestation of the crime he has committed.." and another man in the leadership of the 'League', John Blake Dillon (who was also a member of 'The Young Irelanders' War Council) will forever be associated with introducing the word 'boycott' into the English language as it was Dillon who was the most active in organising such campaigns.

Two years after it was founded (by "men of no consequence", according to the catholic church, which opposed the League with all its might) Charles Stewart Parnell's sisters, Anna and Fanny, established a 'Ladies Land League' (on the 31st January 1881, which, at its full strength, consisted of about five hundred branches and didn't always see eye-to-eye with its 'parent' organisation - in its short existence, it provided assistance to about 3,000 people who had been evicted from their rented land holdings) to assist and/or take over land agitation issues, as it seemed certain that the 'parent' body was going to be outlawed by the British and, sure enough, the British Prime Minister, William Ewart Gladstone, introduced and enforced a 'Crimes Act' that same year, 1881, (better known as the 'Coercion/Protection of Person and Property Act') which made it illegal to assemble in relation to certain issues and an offence to conspire against the payment of rents 'owed' which, ironically, was a piece of legislation condemned by the same catholic church which condemned the 'Irish National Land League' because that Act introduced permanent legislation and did not have to be renewed on each political term. And that same church also condemned the 'Ladies Land League' to the extent that Archbishop McCabe of Dublin instructed priests loyal to him "..not to tolerate in your societies (diocese) the woman who so far disavows her birthright of modesty as to parade herself before the public gaze in a character so unworthy of a Child of Mary..." - the best that can be said about that is that that church's 'consistency' hasn't changed much over the years!

In October 1881, Westminster proscribed the 'Irish National Land League' and imprisoned its leadership, but the gap was ably filled by the 'Ladies Land League' until it was acrimoniously dissolved on the 10th August 1882, 19 months after it was formed. And it should be noted that the anti-republican State parliament in Dublin, which was created by a British act of parliament, is still involved in the business of landlordism...


'In County Kildare - hardly ground zero of the Republican Movement - since the 1930's, Frank Driver had been a well known Sinn Féin figure in Ballymore Eustace. The locals knew him as slightly eccentric, the Kildare Gardaí knew him as one of their few republican subversives and the Special Branch in Dublin had him on their list. In his long coat and black beret, he collected money, appeared at commemorations, made his views known, lent a fiver, carried messages...he had money of his own that went to the movement, as did his life...his contacts, his friends and his services made possible, after 1970, an extensive net that absorbed, stored and distributed most of the imported IRA arms...' (from here.) FRANK DRIVER COMMEMORATION : Sunday 1st November 2015, Ballymore Eustace, County Kildare. Those attending are asked to assemble at 1pm at the church from where a parade will be held to his grave.

"Kevin Barry was executed on November 1st 1920 in Mountjoy jail in Dublin by the English invaders of our country. He was the first Irish republican to be executed by the British since 1916, and was captured while on active service outside the entrance of Monk's bakery in Dublin. Although he was born in Dublin he spent much of his life at the family home in Tombeigh, Hackettstown, in Carlow. Both sides of his family, the Barry's and the Dowling's, came from the area and some of his ancestors had fought in 1798. His was a strong republican family. At the time of his death his eldest brother Mick was O/C of the volunteers in Tombeigh and his sister Sheila was in Cumann na mBan.." (from here.) KEVIN BARRY COMMEMORATION : Sunday 1st November 2015, Rathvilley, County Carlow. Those attending are asked to assemble at 3pm in the village.

'James Daly had claimed to be the leader of the mutinous soldiers at Solon and while this was undoubtedly true, he had not in fact instigated the protest. This had begun two hundred miles away at Wellington Barracks, Jullundur, in the Punjab, on Sunday 27th June 1920. That night, a small group of Rangers (among them Daly's brother) had been discussing the appalling state of affairs at home and they had decided to make a protest against British military atrocities in Ireland: they would 'ground arms' and refuse to soldier...' (from here.) JAMES DALY COMMEMORATION : Sunday 8th November 2015, Tyrellspass, County Westmeath. Those attending are asked to assemble at 2pm at the hotel on the Green in Tyrellspass from where a parade will leave for the local cemetery.

Volunteer Paul Smith, Bessbrook, County Armagh, Volunteer George Keegan, County Wexford, Volunteer Paddy Parle, County Wexford, Volunteer Oliver Craven, Newry, County Armagh and Michael Watters, County Louth, who was the owner of the cottage where the tragedy occurred in November 1957 (more here). EDENTUBBER MARTYRS COMMEMORATION : Sunday 15th November 2015, Edentubber, County Louth. Those attending are asked to assemble at the Border Bar at 2.30pm from where a parade will leave for the Edentubber Martyrs Monument.


"This is an opportune time to inform the House that I wrote on behalf of the Assembly last week to congratulate the Queen ahead of the milestone achievement of becoming the longest-serving monarch..." - Mitchel McLaughlin, Provisional Sinn Féin member of Stormont and 'President of the NI Assembly Branch of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association' (seriously!) , congratulating his 'queen' on all the work that she and her ilk have done on helping to provide a political career for Mitchel and toadies like him! There is no truth in the rumour, however, that he serenaded his employer with the following verse :

'Who could believe that I could be happy and contented

I used to think that happiness hadn't been invented

But that was in the bad old days before I met you

When I let you walk into my heart...'

...and here he is again, with a previous T-shirt which, like the other one he sports in this post, was designed in London for him. Word is he will be sporting a new designer garb for Easter 2016 - Butchers Apron on the front, orange on the back, but won't be distributing them to members of the British Army, as he has special awards for them. And here's one of Mitchel's party colleagues, Councillor Mickey Larkin from Slieve Gullion, in Armagh, taking the mickey out of Irish republicans by having a regular 'coffee with a cop', and imploring others to do the same (topped, at 9 minutes 21 seconds in, in this RTE podcast, by Gerry Adams admitting that he regularly passes on information about republicans to the Free State RUC/PSNI, who claim to be 'Ireland's National Police Service'!) -

"This is a welcome community engagement...in getting to know and get help from their (surely you mean 'our', Councillor?) local officers...in the new dispensation. It's a relaxing atmosphere...have a chat, have a coffee...",he said earnestly to those of his constituents that weren't gagging at the very thought of voluntarily getting that close to a member of that pro-British militia. Which wins Mickey this award...

...and, finally , if you want to give yourself or a loved one a proper 'award' (or 'reward'), as opposed to having 'coffee with a cop', then these two Irish republican items are new to the market and are now available from either 223 Parnell Street in Dublin 1 (00353-1-8729747) or 229 Falls Road in Belfast (0044-4890-319004 / 0044-2890-319004), with the jersey selling for €50/£35 and the '2016 Lily Badge' priced at a fiver (Euro or Sterling) :

When it comes to 1916-2016 or, indeed, anything to do with Irish republicanism, don't let the Provos and other pretenders take the mickey - buy genuine republican items only!

Thanks for reading, Sharon.