Saturday, January 04, 2003

.......the English had strengthened the Antrim Garrison and were better prepared than was known ......
Though lacking adequately-trained officers and now with only 3000 men , due to a belief shared by the majority of his previous force that an attack on Antrim was unwise , McCracken assembled the insurgents on Donegore Hill , above Antrim and , after assembling his force and issuing instructions , they began the fight . Within hours , nearly all of Antrim , except Carrickfergus and Belfast , had been captured by the United forces .
The attack on Antrim was a disaster ~ the insurgents occupied strategic positions and forced the English troops to retreat : however , it went wrong due to bad communication - the United forces from County Down , under Samuel Orr , were advancing on Antrim after their success at Randalstown and , on seeing the fleeing Englisg garrison , mistook it for an attack . Orr's men scattered and soon the panic spread to McCracken's men who broke ranks and fled . When English reinforcements arrived to Antrim that evening they took revenge on insurgents and civilian's alike .
McCracken hid for months in the Slemish Mountains and transport was arranged for him to escape to America . But it was not to be - he was arrested by the English , tried by court-martial , found guilty of treason and hanged at Belfast Market House on July 17 , 1798 . He was 31 years of age . McCracken's legacy will always be remembered , whereas those that helped do him in , like Magin , leave nothing but a bad taste in the mouth .

On U S President Abe Lincoln's orders , political opponents and dissidents of his war policy were jailed without charge at Fort McHenry in Baltimore Harbour - among those jailed were the Mayor ,Police Chief , Police Commissioner , thirty-one members of the State Legislature , newspaper reporters and members of the U S Congress and Judges !!
Will George Bush Jnr do the same ?

Friday, January 03, 2003

Another informer , Nicholas Magin , earned his 30 pieces of silver during the 1798 Rising ......
Henry Joy McCracken , leader of the United Irishmen in County Antrim during the 1798 Rising , was born in High Street , Belfast , in August 1767 . When he was 24 years young , he founded the United Irishmen with Wolfe Tone and Thomas Russell . At 29 years of age he was known to the authorities and was arrested for his involvement in an ' illegal organisation' (sounds familar!) ~ he was imprisoned in Kilmainham Jail and kept there for 13 months before being allowed out on bail .
He made himself scarce and , unlike many of the other United Irish leaders , he succeeded in avoiding arrest in the months leading up to the rising , and was appointed to command the insurgents in County Antrim . By June 6 , 1798 , two weeks after the beginning of the rising , McCracken mobilised 12,000 fighters , armed with muskets , swords and pikes and prepared to attack Antrim town . Arrangements had been made for thousands of insurgents from County Down to join them in the battle and then to march on Belfast itself .
However , the English commander of the northern garrison , General Nugent , was already aware of the plan , thanks to Nicholas Magin , a man trusted by the united Irish leadership ,~ and an informer . The English had strengthened the Antrim garrison and were better prepared than was known .......(MORE LATER ) >

" You people of the Shankill Road - what's wrong with you ? Number 425 Shankill Road : do you know who lives there ? Pope's men , thats who ! Forte's ice-cream shop , Italian Papists on the Shankill Road ! How about 56 Aden Street ? For 97 years a Protestant lived in that house and now there's a Papisher in it . Crimea Street , number 38 ! Twenty-five years that house has been up , 24 years a Protestant lived there but there's a Papisher there now " .
----- Ian Paisley , speaking in 1959 , in the run-up to that years July 12 ' celebrations' . Most people dismiss Paisley as a loud-mouthed dinosaur , a figure of fun, almost - but he is dangerous enough in that he will set people up for a ' visit' from his buddies in the Loyalist community , even if he condemns those same friends afterwards .

Thursday, January 02, 2003

..... Wolfe Tone and the United Irishmen were in agreement that the best hope of carrying out a successful revolution was with aid from France , which was by now at war with England ; the French responded favourably to Tone's plan . Being sympathetic , the French knew that if they could land a large army in Ireland it could overrun the country , make it independent from England and so weaken their enemy ~ a meeting was arranged for Tone to discuss war details with a French nominee : the Reverend William Jackson .
The meeting took place and a plan of action was agreed - however , shortly afterwards , the informer Cockayne lead the English forces to Jackson , who was arrested . Presumably , Cockayne was paid his thirty pieces of silver . In April 1795 , Jackson was charged with high treason and brought forward to ' trial ' where he was found guilty .
On April 30 , 1795 , at 58 years of age , Jackson poisoned himself , and died , in the dock of the courthouse . Although perhaps not as well known as other aspects of that period , the ' Jackson Affair ' is yet another example of how informers have stymied possible advances at cruical times in Irish history ~ a history which is still being written .....

" Let me first of all make quite clear that I do not advocate anything other than British withdrawal(from Ireland) . We stayed in India on much the same plea that there would be much greater communal violence if we withdrew and indeed there was very great communal violence . Part of that was due to the fact that we should have withdrawn twenty years before " . -----
A J P Taylor , British historian , who died aged 84 on September 7 , 1990 . Wise words , and still time to act on them .....

Wednesday, January 01, 2003

The Reverend William Jackson , who was born in Dublin in 1737 , lived most of his life in London , where he edited a radical journal , the ' Public Ledger and Morning Post ' . He was vocal in his support of the American revolutionaries of 1776 . Following the founding of the United Irishmen in October 1791 by Wolfe Tone , the newly-established French revolutionary government sent several emissaries to Ireland , the most important of whom was the Reverend Jackson .
His betrayal and arrest , following his arrival in Ireland , caused consternation in the United Irishmen and forced many of the leaders of that organisation to go into exile to avoid arrest .
When he was fifty-five years of age , Jackson went to France and was commissioned by the authorities there to ascertain the chances of success of a French invasion of England and , while in London , en route to Ireland , he renewed acquaintance with a man named Cockayne ~ an encounter he was to regret later .......

One of our better known career politicians in this State ( better known now because he was actually caught with his hand in the greasy till) is Liam Lawlor (now ex) Fianna Fail , a man who was always full of his own self-importance , and perhaps never more so than in February 1990 when , in an interview with ' Dublin Diary' magazine ,he stated - " Politicians are trusted , and up to 75 per cent of the population turn out to vote for their politicians , thereby recording their faith and trust in public representatives " .
.... Told ya so - voting for them only encourages them !

Tuesday, December 31, 2002

" .... lets shoot 100 men a week " ~ No doubt MacReady learned his ' peace-keeping' skills in other countries which the British sought to claim as their own -- Wales , Scotland , North America , Africa , India , Australia , New Zealand , Burma , Afghanistan , China , Sudan , Egypt , and South Africa !!

Like most of the above-named countries , Ireland has had various British ' solutions ' imposed on her ~ direct rule , indirect rule , genocide , apartheid , puppet parliaments , so-called 'real' parliaments (Stormont) martial law , civil law , colonisation , land reform and partition . All have failed , being successful only in prolonging the conflict . The alternative , so far ignored and dismissed by the establishment as " unworkable " ( and not even up for discussion by the professional politicians in Leinster House , Stormont or Westminster) is that of a complete British military and political withdrawal from the 32 Counties of Ireland .
However , there are still those amongst us pushing for that solution ...

Eamonn's friend , Garret Fitzgerald , is remembered (by me, anyway !) for his conduct during the November 1982 Leinster House election campaign in this State , when he verbally lashed the then Fianna Fail leader , Charlie Haughey , for not supporting Maggie Thatcher in her Malvinas(Falklands) War _- Fitzgerald stated that if he was Free State Taoiseach during said episode he would have supported her ! According to ' The Sunday Tribune' newspaper of July 24 , 1983 , a former senior Free State civil servant (not named) claimed that Fitzgerald made a rushed secret visit to London in 1974 to persuade the British Government NOT to withdraw from the Six Counties . It was also claimed that the then leader of Fianna Fail , Jack Lynch , also made it known to the Brits that he was against withdrawal - he is said to have pleaded with the then British Foreign Secretary , James Callaghan . I can just picture a small queue of sniveling Free Staters waiting outside Downing Street .......

Monday, December 30, 2002

.........indeed, after his stint as a British ' peace-keeper ' , Widgery maintained his British Army connections by continuing to serve with the British Territorial Army for several years after the war . He is perhaps best remembered in Ireland for his statement on Bloody Sunday ~
" I would not be surprised if , in the relevant half-hour , as many rounds were fired at the (British) troops as were fired by them " ! It was obvious that defence of the Para's actions , not inquiry into them , was what Widgery saw as his task .
The British Minister of State for the Six Counties at the time , a Mr Van Straubenzee , later stated that he had visited many British Army barrackrooms and was constantly told , and I quote - " The average troops feeling is that if only they could be let off the leash they could finish the whole thing " . An echo of a similar statement by British General MacReady , who vowed to solve the Six County situation by proposing to shoot 100 men in a week ! (MORE LATER) .

He is said to be this States highest paid journalist , and is certainly never far from the headlines ~ Mr Eamonn Dunphy , that is - you may see him on a bus near you soon ...
The man was once a member of Fine Gael , and said he joined because he was " attracted by Garret Fitzgerald . He seemed a man of reason , a cut above the rest . He did'nt pander to the Catholic Church , did'nt promise to do away with the border overnight , or indeed at all , nor did he promise to make us wealthy in the morning . I knew nothing of Blueshirts - I had lived in England for nearly 25 years , and was unfamilar with the fine print of Irish politics " .
I would have thought it wise to check-out the political scene before joining any political party - but apparently the Blueshirts will accept the politically ignorant , perhaps even depend on them ......

Sunday, December 29, 2002

" It strikes me that the British Army ran amok that day and they shot without thinking of what they were doing . They were shooting innocent people . I say it without reservation - it was sheer unadulterated murder "
------ So said British Major Hubert O Neill , the then Derry City Coroner , at the end of the inquest into Bloody Sunday ; O Neill delivered the above comments on August 21 , 1973 - a full 19 months after the massacre had taken place . It took the British that long to admit to something that must have been obvious to the rest of the world within hours of it happening - that the British Army were under instructions to let the Nationalist population in the Six Counties know that their then existence , their then lifestyle , such as it was , WAS IT ! There was no more on offer , whether requested politely by so-called Nationalist leaders or whether demanded on the streets - there was no more for the Nationalist population ! And that in-built discrimination which Bloody Sunday , January 30 , 1972 , symbolised , still lives on in the Six County area , even if it has been given a new coat of gloss with the Stormont Treaty .
On that Sunday , 15,000 people assembled in the Creggan Estate and , when the march reached the perimiter of the Bogside , near the high-rise Rossville Street flats , the marchers were confronted by barricades manned by the British Para's - the Parachute Regiment were under orders to prevent the marchers from entering the walled city ; suddenly , with no warning , the British Troops opened fire on the crowd - they shot 42 people , 14 of whom died . The British ' Report ' into Bloody Sunday was headed by British Lord Widgery , a man who had seen service in the British Army during WW2 - indeed , after his stint as a British ' peace-keeper ' ........ (MORE LATER) >

Although it is often assumed that the Free State ' Offences Against the State Act 1939 ' was introduced as an emergency measure due to the imminence of what became known as ' World War Two ' , it was in fact a routine adoption by the State of repressive powers . According to the then Fianna Fail Minister for Justice , Seamus Ruttledge , who introduced the OAS Bill in February 1939 , the FS administration " had it under consideration " since the adoption of the 1937 Free State Constitution . The period 1937 - 1939 was one of exceptional calm , as was agreed at the time by the Free State Labour Party leader , William Norton , and Fine Gael leader T F O' Higgins . Fine Gael , however , voted for the Bill on the day .
They may have thought it was'nt necessary , but then again , if it helps secure the position of the Establishment .....