Saturday, November 30, 2002

Our old friend Conor Cruise O Brien has been in the news here recently re income tax matters ; apparently , not only was he not paying all the tax judged to be owed by him , but actually admitted as much on radio !
Conor would consider himself as an opponent of colonialism abroad but defends the British presence in Ireland ; he is a former editor of a British newspaper yet agrees with censorship of Irish newspapers ; he is a self-proclaimed liberal and proponent of free speech yet , when he was a Free State Minister , he introduced Section 31 of the Broadcasting Act(which barred Republicans from radio and television) ; he was a member of thr Anti-Apartheid Movement yet broke the academic boycott of South Africa .
He joined the Free State Labour Party in 1937 and in 1968 he won a seat in Leinster House and was made spokesperson on foreign affairs (which included the Six County area !) by then Labour leader Brendan Corish . During an interview with 'Washington Post' journalist Bud Nossiter , O Brien showed Nossiter dozens of letters which had been sent to the Editor of 'The Irish Times' newspaper - Nossiter inquired if O Brien intended to censor those letters , to which O Brien replied -- " No , but we will hit the Editor who produces these things " . In 1977 , he lost his seat .
Lord William Whitelaw ,Frank Cluskey , Paddy Devlin and Ken Maginnis are amongst those who have defended him , while the late Neil Blaney , Tim-Pat Coogan and Austin Currie have criticised him .
In his autobiography 'My Life and Themes' , Conor Cruise O Brien wrote ~~ " If Home Rule had been achieved by the parliamentary route , David Sheehy (his grandfather) would certainly have had a seat in the Irish cabinet . Our whole family would have been part of the establishment of the new Home Rule Ireland . As it was , we were out in the cold , superseded by a new republican elite " .
DAMMIT ! Connor , you're right of course - your career in "the new Home Rule Ireland" was banjaxed by Republicans ; what a bummer ....
As such ,by way of an apology ,please accept the following verse ---
' With pomp and with ridiculous display
the politicians corpse is borne away ,
and all around him carped and slanged
I wept- I had wished to see him hanged ' .
( G K Chesterton , poet and British Liberal MP ) .

Friday, November 29, 2002

On August 11 , 1986 , U S Army physician Hugo Almeida was granted political asylum in Cuba . Almeida was serving at a U S Army base in Stuttgart , West Germany , when he was ordered by his C.O. to go to Central America . He refused , and was given duty by the C.O. at what Almeida classed as "unsocial hours" . He was then confronted by a Colonel Burgos , who threatened to force him to serve in Central America - he still refused ,and was demoted from Captain to Private .
It was then that he deserted . When Cuba announced that Almeida had been granted asylum , Washington denied that he even existed ! Then , on August 20 , 1986 , the Pentagon admitted that he was one of their recruits , but that he had been demoted because he was not a "fully-accredited doctor" . Almeida said - " I did'nt want to fight in a Vietnam war - type struggle in Central America . As an Hispanic , I could not participate in the U S military aggression in Central America . I've lived and travelled in those Countries and I' ve seen the poverty and misery there, and how little the U S does to help the people who need it most . We should not fool ourselves into believing these people really want us there ".
Theres a message in there for Cromwells people in this Country....
" Great God ! Did I ever think I would live tosee it , to see men who were the bravest , now fooled that this Treaty means a realisation of our highest ideals "
---- Kathleen Clarke , speaking about the 1922 Treaty of Surrender ; No doubt the woman would say the same re the 1998 Treaty .

Thursday, November 28, 2002

The 'new' British Secretary of State for our Six Counties , Paul 'Spud' Murphy , was'nt always in touch(!) with matters in that part of our isle : back in 1997 , the bould Murp was a lowly political development minister in Tony's cabinet and shared the pleasure of his company with us in October that same year , in Dublin . He was asked by a journalist of the possible composition of any Six County 'parliament' , and replied that any such assembly should consist of 90 members elected by PR and any cross-border bodies put in place would be tasked with "uncontroversial matters" such as tourism , energy, EU issues and agriculture and stated his opinion that "that is all that will emerge from the current settlement(sic) talks in the North" . That opinion was , of course , stated for the benefit of the Unionists , much the same as so-called republicans were told by their leadership that any such Six County assembly would be the first step on the road to getting the British out ! They both can't be right ..
Some correspondence received re the American Civil War - During the American revolution , Thomas Jefferson said that if he and his comrades-in-arms (ie"terrorists" !) were captured by the British , they can expect to be treated as the Irish are treated by the British - " mercilessly tortured and killed" . Abe Lincoln , in justifying the violent conflagration of a civil war which left over 625'000 dead , said - " Dangers spring up against us which must be met and if destruction be our lot , we must ourselves be its author and finisher " .
Also , correspondence received re Daniel O Connell - "...a middle-class landowner and monarchist , and an anti-revolutionary who vehemently condemned the working class struggle against capitalist inequality. In 1838 , he voted against reducing the hours of child labour in factories .... "
Keep 'em comin' , folks - thanks .

Wednesday, November 27, 2002

OLIVER CROMWELL - a name from Irish history which even our native 'Brits' in this Free State find hard to excuse !
Cromwell landed at Ringsend , Dublin , on August 15 , 1649 , with 20,000 soldiers and launched a nine-month military campaign . With King Charles 1 recently executed , Cromwell's position was impregnable and he had scores to settle in Ireland which had largely supported the Catholic King in Englands Civil War . When Drogheda ,in county Louth , refused to surrender , his army stormed the walls and slaughtered 3,500 defenders and civilians in what Cromwell called "a righteous judgement of God upon these barbarous wretches" . Four weeks later , Wexford suffered a similar fate from the 'New Model Army' , and those that survived were executed , exiled or had their lands confiscated , and the land was handed out as payment to his army - about eleven million acres of the Countrys 20 million acres was given away .
In his book entitled 'The Cromwellian Settlement of Ireland' (which was actually written and first printed in 1865) John Prendergast described how it was proclaimed by drum and trumpet on market days throughout Ireland in October 1652 that-- "On September 26 1652 , all the ancient estates and farms of the people of Ireland were declared to belong to the adventurers and the army of England " . One of Cromwells men(but this time wearing a British Army uniform , in Ireland , 1990 !) was interviewed in a Yorkshire TV documentary in August 1990 marking the 20th Anniversary of the deployment of British Troops in the Six Counties ; he described how he got a reaction out of those that did not offer resistence to him and his fellow troopers -- "You pull their armpit hair when you search them , that gets them going~you've got to muck them about as much as you can".
Not as bad as what Cromwell did to us , I know , but ,between them all , they've been "mucking us about" for almost 1000 years .... And Counting !

Tuesday, November 26, 2002

....the U S Constitutional Convention was all about the issue of slavery -- there would have been no agreement among the 13 colonies unless slavery continued and the idea that slaves would still be regarded as property was protected . Slave-owners wanted "their property" ,for purposes of the census , to be counted . To their shame , the framers of the Constitution gave in and counted slaves for purposes of representation as "three-fifths of a human being" ! President Abraham Lincoln is given credit for freeing the slaves but it was a political decision by Lincoln to satisfy abolitionists in his party for his re-election bid ; it was not a moral decision . Lincoln declared~ " That the two races could never live together on terms of social and political equality " .
"....that fine old soldier John Mitchel described MYLES BYRNE as " A tall figure , the splendid ruin of a soldier d'elite , bearing himself still erect under the weight of eighty winters .The grey eye is keen and proud , the thin face bronzed and worn by war and weather , and the whole bearing gives the idea not of decrepitude , but of a certain dashing gallantry .He has marched over half of Europe , and stood full often at the head of his regiment on the rough edges of battle in Spain , in Germany , in Greece and other , earlier memories , cloud at times his clear grey eyes ; and through and beyond the battle smoke and thunder of all Napoleon's fields , he has a vision of the pikemen at New Ross , and hears the fierce 'hurrah' on Oulart Hill " . END .
A beautiful description of a brave man and the cause he believed in . A man that would put todays pretenders to shame - those that strut the world stage .in fine suits and fancy cars , with their $500 -a-plate dinners in big hotels ~ its not what the struggle is about ; it must come from the heart , not the wallet . We may be broken sometimes , but never beaten !
( Thank you , Frank , in Enniscorthy , for the above information ).

Monday, November 25, 2002

Just in passing; a short story which speaks volumes --
In 1781, LUKE COLLINGWOOD , Captain of the British slave ship 'ZONG' ,(from Liverpool) , ordered that 131 sick slaves be thrown overboard ,which they were , and all drowned . The reason this was done was that if the slaves had died on board the ship , the owners would be left at the loss(ie out of pocket) but if they were thrown alive into the sea , it would be the loss of the insurance underwriters ! A legal case followed ('Gregson V Gilbert') which was a simple claim for compensation only , not a murder trial . (Hope the Adams Family know who they're dealing with ...) And on the issue of slaves --
George Washingtons livelihood depended on the institution of slavery - he was a prime 'breeder' who derived income from the sale of slaves . So , to, did Thomas Jefferson , who 'bred' slaves while writing the 'Declaration of Independence' ! The two men were said to be haunted by the guilt involved . The U S Constitutional Convention was all about the issue of slavery ...(more later) .
Also - more on MYLES BYRNE to follow....

Sunday, November 24, 2002

A few additional points re 1798 -
It is believed that one of that years leaders of the Rising,NAPPER TANDY, was the first Irishman to be judicialy extradited to England, in 1798. He was extradited from Hamburg and sentenced to death at Lifford Courthouse in 1801 - however , as part of the 'AMIENS TREATY' then being negotiated by Napoleon,he was released but died 18 months later, a free man . Pardon me while I now contradict myself regarding Catholic priests and politics -- During the 1798 Rising , Wexford had 85 priests , of whom only 11 joined the Rebels , including Fr Murphy of Boolavogue . He was captured , flogged and hanged in Tullow, Co Carlow , on July 2 , 1798 . One of the few decent priests ,recognised as such by the British and dealt with accordingly by them
Re MYLES BYRNE -- " For over 30 years he followed the flag of France across the battlefields of Europe ,whilst seeking out information from all sources on the situation in Ireland. After his retirement in 1835 , when all hope of striking a blow for his own country had failed , he settled in Paris and continued to write , off and on , for twenty years, right up to the day of his death in 1862 . His widow published his Memoirs in three volumes and the story was published in serial form in the 'Shamrock' of Dublin , in 1869 , and reprinted in the 'Irish Weekly Independent' in 1898 .
Whilst in Paris , his home was a 'safe house' for all who had ever served Ireland and one of the most welcome visitors to his home was that fine old soldier John Mitchel , who described Myles Byrne as ......(More later).