" 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 - 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!


Thursday, June 23, 2005

THE DEATH OF FRANK HAND .......
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 .
By GENE KERRIGAN.
First published in ' MAGILL' magazine , March 1986 .

Ironically , the route which the post office van took on its way to the beginning of its deliveries - through Phibsboro , Cabra , Blanchardstown etc - was the way it would travel on its official route back ; in other words , the van was going to almost the most distant point on the route before beginning to drop off money ! Had it began dropping off mailbags on its way out of the city it would have arrived in Drumree with just a few thousand pounds .

The armed Detectives stayed roughly 100 yards behind the post office van ; routinely , they paid attention to any vehicle coming in sight , assessing it for danger . There was nothing suspicious . At Dunboyne Post Office , the first drop , the garda car stopped behind the van ; Detective Michael Dowd sat where he was , the Uzi on his lap . Detective Frank Hand got out of the car ; the post office helper , Donal Brady , got out of the van with the mailbag . He and Hand went to the door of the post office together , and Hand kicked the bottom of the door and rattled the letterbox . The bag of money was handed over .

Next stop , Batterstown , the same procedure . Detective Hand got out , Dowd stayed in the car . Brady got out of the van and J.J. Bell , the van driver , stayed at the wheel . No problems . Next stop , Drumree . The van now carried £202,900 in cash . It was about 7.50am .

Around that time Tommy Eccles , Pat McPhillips and someone else , a man with an earring , were in the red Mercedes in the shed about three miles from Drumree ; Brian McShane was in the beige Opel Ascona along with some others . They had walkie-talkies . In Kentstown , about fifteen miles from Drumree , Seamus Lynch was up and about . He had to be in the designated field at Rathfeigh to pick up the money and guns ; he needed a car and knew where to get it . He had several times borrowed Joe Gargan's yellow Ford Escort . Gargan also lived in Kentstown .

Noel McCabe had left his home in Dundalk at 7.10am and was now driving his 'borrowed' blue Ford Cortina south-west towards a crossroads somewhere around Dunshaughlin , where he would pick up 'the lads' , as requested by Paul Finnegan .

In a lane beside Drumree Post Office , behind an iron gate , two armed men were waiting .......

(MORE LATER).




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

The British offered a 'White Paper' dealing with the North of Ireland , in November 1979 ; but it contained no mention of an Irish dimension . Gerry Fitt urged acceptance of the paper in Belfast , saying - " An Irish dimension will always be there while the six counties exist on the island of Ireland ... " . The SDLP rejected the 'Paper' in Dungannon , west of the Bann . Fitt supported their stand and flew back to Westminster from where , one day later , faced with a British government that was fast losing patience with the Irish , he resigned from the SDLP .

Gerry Fitt was a man at the end of his tether . The IRA would'nt listen to the Pope ; the SDLP would'nt listen to him . He had the ear only of the RUC and the British House of Commons . And he had his gun : " I had only had it for protection , " he said , " the IRA never protected anybody . The (British) Army was there to protect people . ('1169... ' Comment - the SDLP position then . And now - ' those sent by our persecuters will protect us ... ' !) At least they (the British Army) had to follow the rules of the Yellow Card . ('1169...' Comment - did the 'Yellow Card' allow the BA to work with the Loyalist paramilitaries , too ... ?) The IRA never used a Yellow Card . "

Paddy Kennedy (SDLP) recalled the very early days : " Gerry could never figure out the Republicans . When he was out fighting World War Two , the IRA killed a policeman (sic) on the Springfield Road . " Tom Williams was hung for that in 1943 . " Gerry Fitt called the Republicans wimps and gimps and hunchies , running round with their coat collars turned up . The trouble was he was very funny about it . He can slander more wittily than anybody you'd know , and be laughing without realising the damage he was causing and the real hurt he was doing to people's feelings . "

For all that , Gerry Fitt manned a polling station for Sinn Fein in 1958 , in the middle of their 1956-1962 armed campaign against the B-Specials and the RUC . It was a comparatively minor campaign though , and few people died.......

(MORE LATER).




THE GAA AND THE HUNGER-STRIKERS .......
" 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 .

Organised protests in the North took up again with the commencement of the second hunger-strike in March 1981 , intensifying with the dark news that Bobby Sands was growing weaker .

Every team travelling North from the 26 counties experienced H-Block demonstrations at half-time and were continually made aware of the feelings of Northern GAA members about the dilemma of their fellow Irishmen in Long Kesh . GAA banners were familiar sights on H-Block marches across the six counties and GAA grounds were frequent venues for demonstrations and rallies . The H-Block video film was distributed around many GAA social centres and enthusiastically received .

In August 1981 , a seven-day token fast and vigil was held outside Casement Park in Belfast by South Antrim GAA members ; it was to be expected that the British Army would not allow the picket to go by without harassment , and indeed two plastic bullets were fired into the protestors without warning , but they stood their ground and refused to be intimidated .

Over £2000 was collected at this fast and vigil in an illustration of the unstinting generosity of the people of West Belfast , who simultaneously were being called upon to contribute to a constant stream of other collections to provide the finance necessary for the hunger-strike campaign ; however , concern began to grow among the GAA's conservative hierarchy that the organisation , and particularly its Northern members , were going too far .

These people feared that the support shown for the blanketmen would 'tarnish' the nice respectable image the GAA nurtured , and that full backing for the prisoners' five demands would be interpreted as support for the armed struggle .......

(MORE LATER).