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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!

Wednesday, June 22, 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 .

Drumree , August 10 , 1984 :

Just before 7am that morning Detective Garda Frank Hand of the Central Detective Unit arrived at his Headquarters at Harcourt Square . The detective with whom he would work that day , Detective Garda Michael Dowd , was already there . Dowd had signed out an attache case which held an Uzi submachine gun ; the two Gardai went out and found the Fiat Mirafiori they would be using that day . Dowd took the Uzi from the case , along with two magazines carrying twenty rounds each ; he put the attach case , containing three more magazines , on the back seat of the Fiat .

He put one magazine into the Uzi and left the other on the floor of the car near his feet . He was also armed with a Walther P.P. semi-automatic pistol ; Frank Hand was armed with a Smith and Wesson .38 Special . Frank Hand was 25 . He joined the Garda force in 1977 and became a detective in 1981 . He was one of seven children of a Roscommon family and , on joining , in 1977 , worked in Dublin - in Donnybrook and Irishtown . In 1981 he became a detective and subsequently worked with the Drug Squad . Early in 1984 he was assigned to the Central Detective Unit .

In July 1984 he married Ban Gharda Breda Hogan ; they had returned from their honeymoon in Venice about a week before Hand set out with Detective Michael Dowd on post office escort duty . They lived in Lucan , County Dublin . Frank Hand was driving . He and Dowd arrived at the GPO at around 7.15am and almost immediately drew in behind a post office van and set off on Route 3 , which begins at Dunboyne , in Meath , just beyond the border with Dublin . That Route then went to a few post offices in Meath , wound back into Dublin , through Blanchardstown , Cabra , Phibsboro , to Berkeley Road , a stone's throw from O' Connell Street .

Route 3 covered nineteen post offices , there were twenty-three mailbags in the van , containing almost a quarter of a million pounds , most of it social welfare money .......


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

Gerry Fitt was returned for West Belfast , for the last time , in the May 1979 general election which followed . Michael Foot , who had negotiated the deal with the Unionists , paid glowing quoted tribute in Fitt's election literature : Frank Cluskey , leader of the (Free State) Labour Party signed himself "...deeply impressed by your unrelenting opposition to social injustice and sectarianism .. " . Joe Gormley , President of the Mineworkers Union was quoted too , as was Ray Buckton , General Secretary of ASLEF .

The SDLP got the vote out for him ; they did not attempt to get the vote out in Fermanagh-Tyrone , that peculiar seat west of the Bann , where Frank Maguire was returned as a Unity candidate . Austin Currie resigned as chief whip of the SDLP to fight Frank Maguire as 'independent SDLP' and he lost .

In June , John Hume won a northern Euro seat without the help of Gerry Fitt , who went to Dublin to campaign for the (FS) Labour Party . In September the Pope came . In November the SDLP annual conference barely rejected a motion from the mid-Ulster branch calling for talks with the Provos and suppressed motions critical of Gerry Fitt .

Later that November , Humphrey Atkins , with the approval of Margaret Thatcher , published a white paper suggesting yet another Assembly to which " If ... " etc , and everybody being agreed of course ... - but there was to be no mention of an Irish dimension . Still , in Belfast , Gerry Fitt urged acceptance of the paper . But not all in the SDLP agreed with him .......


" We declare that political status is ours of right and we declare that from Monday 27th October 1980 a hunger-strike by a number of men representing H-Blocks 3 , 4 and 5 will commence . Our widely-recognised resistance has carried us through four years of immense suffering and it shall carry us through to the bitter climax of death , if necessary . "
No by-line.
From 'IRIS' magazine , November 1983 .

Some GAA clubs had taken the decision not to play football and hurling at all during the hunger-strike : in the South Antrim Division the 25 clubs came out and fully supported the five demands , agreeing to cancel fixtures on days of national demonstrations to encourage members to attend .

It was at one of these demonstrations , in Belfast on Sunday 30th November 1980 , that 3,000 GAA members marched up the Falls Road from the Dunville Park to the GAA grounds at Casement Park where the rally was held . Buses had ferried in the GAA supporters from all parts of the North , but the loudest cheer was reserved for the contingent that had travelled all the way from North Tipperary .

On an administrative level , with the example of prominent GAA individuals such as the legendary Kerry footballer Joe Keohane throwing their weight behind the campaign , various County Boards answered their members' concern by issuing statements of support . The Antrim County Executive Committee of the GAA declared -

- " We call on the British government to take immediate steps to afford normal decent standards and humane treatment to the prisoners , to relieve further distress for their relatives .... we confirm our support for the principles embodied in the five demands of the prisoners on hunger-strike . "

Telegrams were sent by clubs in the Antrim area to the (British) 'Northern Ireland Office' , and the British and Free State premiers .......