" 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.)

IRISH BLOG AWARDS 2017 - we made it to the finalists page last year but never got to the stage :- ( 'cause not enough of ye feckers out there voted for us! So we're gonna give ya a second chance - the blog awards this year will be held on Thursday, October 5th (2017) in The Academy, Middle Abbey Street, in Dublin city centre, and we would appreciate if you could keep an eye here and give us a vote when ya can. Or else we'll get our 'Junior' to put up a pay wall and then ye will be sorry...!

Friday, May 27, 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 .

In 1978 , the then Free State Minister for Justice , Gerry Collins (Fianna Fail) wrote to Marion Coyle's mother in Derry and stated that the two conditions attached to the (early release) deal were broken by Ms Coyle - she was said to have assaulted a Ban (female) Garda on November 26 , 1975 . She was released late last year (ie 1985) having served ten of the fifteen years imposed on her .

Last October (ie October 1985) Eddie Gallagher's solicitor wrote to the Bishop of Raphoe , the Most Reverend Dr. S Hegarty , looking for support on several grounds with a view to entering a petition to the Free State Department of Justice for his release .

Some of the grounds included the fact that members of the UDA served less than one-third of their sentences when convicted and jailed in the 'Republic' ; the fact that the Littlejohns served eight out of their fifteen and twenty years respectively ; the fact that there is fifty per cent remission in the Six Counties ; the fact that he treated his trial as a formality on the basis of the agreement which he had entered into ; the fact that vision in one of his eyes is impaired eighty per cent ; the fact that he spent thirty-nine days on hunger strike ; the fact that his father is permanently hospitalised and he has not seen him for over ten years ; the fact that he has a ten-year-old son whom he has seen only twice in the last ten years .

However , the fact remains that Eddie Gallagher and Marion Coyle released Tiede Herrema unharmed on the basis that they would not serve more than four and two years in jail respectively , and the authorities refused to honour the undertaking . The siege might not have ended so peacefully if they had known what was going to happen . Tiede Herrema fully expected the deal to be honoured ; more importantly , the credibility of anyone attempting to make some similar arrangement at some future date in similar circumstances is undermined .

If Eddie Gallagher serves the same sentence as Marion Coyle on a pro-rata basis , he will be released in 1988 . He would then have served more than nine years longer than he envisaged when he surrendered on November 7 , 1975 .......


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

Mary Holland was crying - with vexation , frustration , anger , outrage and pity . She rang Bernard Levin ; he rang David Frost . 'The Observer' newspaper front-paged her story of October 5 March , and directed readers to the back-ground expose on the inside pages . David Frost came to Northern Ireland (sic) within days to do a live programme . The media wall burst to flood Britain with the facts . ('1169... ' Comment - this scribbler , for one , doubts that the British people ever have got the 'facts' about their government's involvement in this country . And certainly not from 'The Observer' or any other British newspaper.)

Gerry Fitt had done what he set out to do ; he had turned the spotlight on the North of Ireland , though he was run off his feet in the process . 'The Irish News' newspaper recorded proudly that on one historic day he attended Belfast Corporation as Councillor , in the morning , Stormont as MP for Dock in the afternoon , and Westminster as MP for West Belfast in the evening .

To Unionist protests that the whole civil rights thing was a plot by communists , republicans , intent on overthrowing the 'Crown' , murdering gunmen standing in the wings etc , Fitt would say across the floor of Stormont - " ... when I was on the Murmansk convoy .. " . He then reminisced about the dangers of the merchant seaman's lot in World War Two when he had helped defend Britain and the 'Free World' : the titled peers and majors on the Stormont government benches , most of whom had never fought in the war , chewed their lips .

The 'reasonable' response from the 'reasonable' members of Westminster , by which Gerry Fitt had set such store , came in the 'Cameron Report .......' ('1169 ... ' Comment - ...and here we are , some 30 years after Gerry Fitt expected a "reasonable response from reasonable members of Westminster ... " , witnessing another Gerry expecting much the same . 'Lord Adams' , anyone ...)


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 .

The clearest exposure of Section 31 censorship occurred during the 1982 general election in the Free State ; Sinn Fein fielded seven candidates and as such were entitled to make a party political broadcast on RTE . RTE agreed , but Patrick Cooney at Posts and Telegraphs ordered that Section 31 should be extended to include electoral broadcasts !

The Sinn Fein candidate in Cooney's own constituency of Longford/Westmeath , Sean Lynch , took an action in the High Court claiming that Section 31 was unconstitutional and interfered with his rights - the High Court agreed , and ruled that Section 31 of the 1976 (Amended) Broadcasting Act was repugnant to the Free State constitution . Making the ruling , Justice Hanlon said that the amendment to Section 31 " ... appeared to contain insufficient safeguards for the constitutional guarantee of the right of freedom of expression of opinion , with particular reference to the freedom of the press . "

Patrick Cooney immediately took the case to the Supreme Court , where the Chief Justice , Kevin O'Higgins , over-ruled the High Court and upheld Cooney's ban on a Sinn Fein election broadcast .
As well as being used to suppress any political comment by Sinn Fein , the indirect effect of Section 31 creates a self-censoring atmosphere in RTE that even prevents the playing of certain records (!) : 'The Men Behind The Wire' topped the charts in the South for weeks during the 1970's but was never played on RTE . And that was'nt the only song to be 'banned' .......