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"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 - ooops! It seems that our entry application was "not completed in time to be considered.." (?) and, as such, we are not now in the running. But we wish all the best to the successful entrants and to the organisers, and we hope all goes well for them on the day!

Monday, June 20, 2005

On February 10 , 1986 , the courts turned down the appeals of three men sentenced to hang . The men now face , on commutation of sentence by the (Free State) government , 40 years in prison without remission , for their involvement in the Drumree robbery and killing .
First published in ' MAGILL' magazine , March 1986 .

Noel McCabe kept the bag of IRA guns under his bench for a few weeks ; Paul Finnegan came and took them away . A few days later he was back with a request that Noel McCabe " ...do a wee run . " Someone else had let him down ; and , at the weekend he might want McCabe to do another run up the country "...to collect a few lads and take them back to Dundalk . "

Noel McCabe drove Finnegan about three-quarters of a mile up the Carrickmacross Road that day , to an old farmhouse . There was an old man there and he told Finnegan - " There was a few of your lads here earlier this week . " A Ford Cortina drove into the yard and a transaction followed involving guns ; one man from the Cortina wound coloured tape around a rifle - " I'll know my marking , " he told Finnegan .

That gun was passed on to a man driving yet another car , and then Noel McCabe drove Finnegan back to Dundalk ; on the way , Finnegan told McCabe he wanted him to pick up three blokes the following Friday morning , August 10 , and take them to Dundalk - they would'nt be armed , they'd be clean . On the Thursday night , Finnegan would show him where to pick them up . That Thursday , Paul Finnegan went about organising a number of people for the robbery of a post van at Drumree Post Office , to take place about 8am the following morning .

Drumree is a 'speck on the map' about twenty miles from Dublin , about forty-five miles from Dundalk ; the post office is in a lay-by . It is run by Mary Gilsenan and her son Michael - it is not the obvious place for a large haul .

That Thursday , Paul Finnegan went to Drogheda at noon and met Seamus Lynch , a Provo from Kentstown , which is about fifteen miles from Drumree : Finnegan instructed Lynch to be at a field at Rathfeigh , near Drumree , shortly after 8am the following morning , to collect guns and money and store them . Finnegan and Lynch drove to the field so that Finnegan could show Lynch where to pick up the stuff.......


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

Gerry Fitt was " ...beginning to regret the decision to set it up (the 'Housing Executive') at all .. " His political base , which he had assiduously tended since first becoming a Councillor , was being cut from under him .

In lesser 'wigwams' , in the cells of Long Kesh , men wrapped only in blankets had spent the years since 1976 signalling with excrement smeared on the walls that life was unbearable : " I remain convinced to this day that some of the men sentenced were absolutely innocent , " says Michael Canavan (SDLP) . " Confessions had been tortured out of them by the RUC in Castlereagh . There was a definate breakdown in the administration of law and order . That only increased the alienation between the Catholic population and them , and reinforced the support for the Provos . I had difficulty in persuading the SDLP that brutality and corruption was going on .

Reluctance to admit that things were so was reinforced by the knowledge that every time you criticised the RUC you were strengthening the hand of the IRA . I issued a detailed statement one morning , criticising the UDR , and a few hours later a UDR man and his young daughter were blown up in their car . I was physically sick all day but I stood over my statement . "

Gerry Fitt , he says , "...always got things just slightly wrong .. " on the issue of law and order , highlighting the activities of the IRA and the loyalists , and never totally appreciating the more covert activities of the (British) 'security forces' . Paddy Kennedy , erstwhile colleague of Fitt , had a meeting with him in Dublin around that time : " Gerry had raised the wrongful imprisonment of Giuseppe Conlon in Westminster and I mentioned to him the framing of an IRA man well known to us both . Fitt replied - ' I know he is innocent of that particular charge , but he's guilty of plenty of other things ... ' . " Gerry Fitt refused to pursue the matter .

The ethics of handling law and order was something that was to puzzle Gerry Fitt always , and came to the fore in an incident involving the 'Shankill Butchers' .......


SEAN DELANEY looks at recent developments in the use of perjurers in the North .
From ' IRIS ' magazine , November 1983 .

Significantly , in a 'Panorama' programme screened on BBC 1 television on October 24th - after Robert Lean's retraction - Ian Paisley again appeared to resolutely oppose the use of perjurers : more than most politicians , he , arguably , has a great deal to lose from future loyalist perjurers bringing up parts of his past life !

For loyalists , under greater pressure from the judiciary than for a long time , the use of paid perjurers must be causing a further crisis of identity and resulting in a heavy demoralisation . But for nationalists , existing under a constant regime of repression , the situation is clearer-cut and the option a simple one - resistance .

With scores of nationalists and republicans still imprisoned on the 'word' of paid perjurers , there is certainly no room for complacency despite recent retractions and the ever-present hope of more , but there is now a will and an ability to mobilise on the issue in the nationalist community that was not fully there before .

(Tomorrow - 'THE GAA AND THE HUNGER-STRIKERS' : from 1983 ).