Wednesday, May 18, 2005

A ROUGH DEAL .......

Ten years ago EDDIE GALLAGHER went to prison for his part in the kidnapping of TIEDE HERREMA . He is still there , even though he did a deal which promised him only four years in jail . His accomplice , MARION COYLE , has been released . DEREK DUNNE reports on GALLAGHER's maverick relationship with the IRA , on the negotiations which led to the release of TIEDE HERREMA and on the roots of GALLAGHER's involvement .
First published in 'MAGILL' magazine , January 1986 , pages 6 , 7 , 8, and 9 .

At exactly 3.41pm on Wednesday October 31 , 1973 , a helicopter took off from Mountjoy Prison with three leading Provos aboard - Seamus Twomey , J.B. O'Hagan and Kevin Mallon . Mallon's freedom was shortlived and he was arrested at a dance-hall in Portlaoise six weeks later : he got four years . Marion Coyle was charged with allegedly firing at a detective at the dance-hall but she was acquitted through lack of identification .

The helicopter escape severely embarrassed the government in the south and led directly to a review of national (sic - the Leinster House Administration has not got national authority) security carried out by Justice Finlay . But if the escape was an embarrassment to the (Free State) government , it was an inspiration to the Provos and inspired another operation : on January 24 , 1974 , Rose Dugdale posed as a journalist and hired a helicopter along with two others to fly to Tory Island . Eddie Gallagher and Rose Dugdale had registered as man and wife in a hotel in Gortahork prior to the operation .

According to Eddie Gallagher , they first met in a 'doss house' in Edinburgh - they were both fascinated at how 'dossers' could sleep on ropes when they could not afford to pay for a flea-infested bed in the dormitory . They were very close and Dugdale later gave birth to Gallagher's son in prison . However - the helicopter was hijacked and forced to fly to Strabane RUC Station with three milk-churn bombs aboard . The bombs failed to explode when dropped .......

The Life And Times Of Gerry Fitt.
By Nell McCafferty .
First published in ' MAGILL' magazine , July 1983 .

Gerry Fitt read James Connolly at sea and other socialist literature : " You know the way it is " , he says , " you dock into any port in the world and in some wee back lane you'll find the Communist Party bookshop , and wee cheap pamphlets . "

When he finally returned to Belfast and started his political career as a councillor , Gerry Fitt quickly attracted the attention of student militants like Eamonn McCann and Michael Farrell - " There was no smell of the Catholic grammar school off him , " says McCann , " he was an urban working class man . He was abrasive . He was nice . "

Paddy Kennedy , the other half of the Republican Labour Party presence at Stormont , learned his politics at Gerry Fitt's electoral knee : " He came off the merchant ship and back into Belfast and he used to say to me that what he would really love to be was an MP for Cardiff or Liverpool , a dockside place where he could get stuck into a straight fight .

Gerry called himself Republican Labour because the 'Northern Ireland (sic) Labour Party' was tied into union with Britain and the Irish Labour Party was preoccupied with the border . " Also , he added , Fitt did'nt like big parties .
Gerry Fitt's republicanism was entirely internal and personal , freeing him from bondage to any flag , although being Gerry Fitt he could wave flags with the best of them when electoral advantage was to be gained from it .......


IT HAPPENED IN IRELAND . From 'The United Irishman' newspaper , Aibrean [April] 1957 , page 8.(IML. IX. UIMHIR 4 - price Tri Pingin [Three Pennies].Thanks to my late friends Christy and Theresa L. for giving me this 48-year-old newspaper ; this thread published in memory of those two old Fenians ! - John.

The men seized at Warrenpoint , County Down , were threatened by nervous RUC men toting sten guns and were covered by machine guns : a man seized in Fermanagh , and later freed for there was nothing against him , was beaten for a whole night in an RUC Barracks cell - an enraged Sergeant threatened to kill him . A woman was informed by the RUC that her husband would be shot - they were looking for information on his movements .

Fathers have been threatened by the RUC with loss of job unless they explain in detail the activities of their sons . A youth was seized at his father's funeral and when relatives travelled to Belfast they were'nt allowed to visit him . Men are being held without trial and their families are not allowed to see them .

Remand prisoners at Crumlin Road Jail can't associate - they exercise singly , ten paces or so behind one another , with a prison warder on each side . It is difficult to get information on conditions at Crumlin Road Jail but the fact that warders and prisoners clashed recently is symptomatic .......