Thursday, May 26, 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 .

Free State Justice Minister Paddy Cooney denied that any concessions had been offered to bring to an end the kidnapping of Dr. Tiede Herrema ; but Free State Garda Commissioner Edmund Garvey had signed a document - this was witnessed by solicitor Stanley Siev .

One of the conditions of that document/agreement was that the conduct of Eddie Gallagher and Marion Coyle in prison should be " reasonable " and "serious misconduct " avoided . The latter was defined as misconduct which " ...would make it impracticable for the Minister to grant remission . " The deal was ratified by the Free State Cabinet .

Eddie Gallagher claimed that as a result of this deal , he was encouraged to think of his trial as nothing more than a formality and he did not have legal representation there . The document relating to the deal was brought into court and read by the three judges in the Free State Special Criminal Court but was not read out . Later still , Gallagher had to initiate High Court proceedings to get possession of the document . He had given it to Dr. Herrema who had passed it on to the Gardai .

In any event , the promise of release within two years for Marion Coyle and four years for Eddie Gallagher was'nt worth the paper it was written on - according to the authorities , Gallagher and Coyle had broken both of the conditions .......

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

Mary Holland's story , ' John Bull's Political Slum' , was scheduled as a major feature on the inside pages of ' The Observer ' newspaper of Sunday 6 October , 1968 ; Gerry Fitt came on the phone again pleading with her to return to Derry for October 5 , " just to see , just to see ... "

Three Labour Party MP's had agreed to come - " Ah come on Mary , for Jaysus sake ... " : 'The Observer' agreed , and sent over a photographer as well . He was the only photographer from a British newspaper . The picture he took of Gerry Fitt being batoned on the head by the RUC and the blood spurting down his shirt went all over the world , accompanied by RTE film . Mary Holland phoned the story in from a fish and chip shop in Duke Street , dictating amid the screams and shouting , and standing in a crush of bodies drenched with water from the RUC cannons and blood from their wounds .

The proprietor of the fish and chip shop handed her his card , hoping for a mention - there was a sense that the North was about to attract journalists on expense accounts ! ('1169 ... ' Comment - it is not only the journalists who are now on expense accounts : some of the Republican activists at that time are now in receipt of a regular stipend from Westminster and/or Leinster House . And their tastes have evolved (?) from fish and chips . )

Was she frightened ? - " I was outraged ; this was a part of Britain (sic) and the police were hitting a Westminster MP over the head . " That night she flew back to London and rang all the journalists she knew - she was crying .......

A DECADE OF CENSORSHIP .......Bernadette Quinn looks at the development of SECTION 31 of the Broadcasting Act , used by the Free State government to suppress the Republican viewpoint on state radio and television - and extended by Radio Telefis Eireann itself into a regime of self-censorship . From ' IRIS ' magazine , November 1983 .

State censorship - Section 31 of the Broadcasting Act - was used against Irish Republicans : for instance , in 1976 , the RTE programme 'Feach' was not allowed to transmit a short report of that year's Sinn Fein Ard Fheis , despite the fact that the report did not contain any comments by members of Sinn Fein !
In 1977 , the RTE radio programme 'This Week' highlighted the case of the late Guiseppe Conlon , a Belfastman with no connection with the Republican Movement , who had been jailed in England on explosives forensic evidence so flimsy that even Gerry Fitt and arch-Tory MP John Biggs-Davison had taken up his case . Nonetheless , the Director-General of RTE sharply criticised 'This Week' for even mentioning that there were Irish political prisoners in English jails !

The absurdity of Section 31 was thrown into sharp relief by the screening of ' Ireland : A Television History ' , a series co-produced by RTE and the BBC and screened on both channels in 1982 - one of the episodes which had been allocated to a BBC production team contained interviews with a number of identifiable Sinn Fein members from the North . After some media speculation , Albert Reynolds , the then Free State Minister for Posts and Telegraphs ( who had himself renewed Section 31) was forced to lift the Section 31 restriction for that one episode to save RTE from the ridiculous position of censoring a production that they had partly made and financed !

Yet the clearest exposure of Section 31 censorship occurred during the 1982 general election in the Free State .......