" 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!


Friday, June 24, 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 .

In a lane beside Drumree Post Office , behind an iron gate , two armed men were waiting ; they wore blue boiler-suits and black balaclavas . One carried a Sten submachine gun , the other had a Webley revolver , .455 calibre . Just a few feet away , inside the post office , Michael Gilsenan and Mick Boyle , the local postman , were sorting mail .

The post office van pulled into the lay-by at Drumree Post Office ; Donal Brady , the van helper , got out with the money bag - this time he did'nt wait for Detective Frank Hand to join him . He went into the post office . It was 8.03am , give or take a minute . The Garda Fiat car coasted to a stop behind the post van . The gunmen in boiler suits , two of them , began running towards the garda car from the lane beside the post office . The one in front had the Sten gun , the one slightly behind had the Webley .

Detective Garda Michael Dowd , glancing to his left , saw the two gunmen coming at him ; he shouted to Frank Hand : someone else shouted - " GET DOWN , YOU FUCKER ! " The man with the Webley was already firing - there were six bullets in the cylinder , .455 calibre , all old , some defective . The man got off three rounds , two of which hit the rear left door of the garda Fiat . One lodged in the door panel , the other passing through the car , missing both gardai and smashing through the driver's window , beside Frank Hand .

The third shot from the Webley hit the ground behind the post office van . The gunman pulled the trigger again , and once more , those two rounds misfired ; at this stage the gunman with the Sten was moving to his left : he had not yet fired . He was now standing to the front and left of the garda car . While this was happening - inside the post office Gilsenan and Boyle and Brady heard the running feet , the shouting , the shots . Boyle and Brady ran out the back of the post office and hid in a shed . Gilsenan ran forward and slammed the front door of the post office . He locked the door and went upstairs to look out the window .......

(MORE LATER).




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

Gerry Fitt manned a polling station for Sinn Fein in 1958 ; he was of the opinion that Sean South was 'a broth of a boy' , though a bit of an 'eejit' , rolling up to the RUC barracks door like that to get shot dead . " I would have worked with anybody that got up and after the Unionists , " said Fitt , explaining his liaison with Sinn Fein . " Sinn Fein then was'nt like it is now , and I agreed to man a polling station for them in the Belfast Corporation elections . A woman came in to personate for the Unionists . I spotted her straight away and challenged her and she stood her ground so I called the police (sic) over to arrest her . 'You can't do that ' , says the Sinn Fein man beside me . 'Why not ?' , says I . ' Because you'll have to testify in court against her and we don't recognise the courts ' , says he . 'Fucks sake , ye bunch of cunts' , says I , and I tore up my agent's card and walked away . " ('1169....' Comment - ... and he spent the rest of his political career "walking away... " )

Twenty two years later , Sinn Fein were'nt even recognising the prisons ; in November 1980 , 'blanket prisoners' went on hunger strike in pursuit of political status ; Gerry Fitt sat in the House of Commons , opposite Margaret Thatcher , on Monday November 10 , 1980 , and listened to speeches about unemployment . 35,900 people had been thrown on the dole in Wales in one year . A computer company had just closed , shedding fifteen hundred workers . The British Steel workforce had been reduced by 826 that week . The Broadcasting Bill for a fourth television channel was discussed , plus plans for Welsh language programmes . At 8pm , the Commons moved onto the issue of the North of Ireland -

- 'Remanded Persons' was up for discussion , and Humphrey Atkins assured the House that the current industrial strike by prison officers in the North , in support of the strike taken by prison officers in England , was not affecting the security situation in Long Kesh : " In the province (sic) we do not have the rapid turnover in and out of prisons that occurs in England and Wales . " Prisoners in the North of Ireland were serving much longer sentences , you see . Some of those prisoners were on hunger strike this two weeks now , but Mr Atkins scarcely discussed that . But Jim Molyneux did ; he spent eleven minutes 'explaining' that "...the IRA hunger-strikers .. " were " beasts . " He urged the British government not even to concede civilian clothing to
them . Molyneux sat down , and Gerry Fitt rose to his feet .......

(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 .

The whole question of the role of the GAA in Nationalist affairs was raised , with it becoming blatantly clear that the courage was lacking from top GAA Officials to come out openly , and support with direct action , motions passed at successive GAA congresses which backed the prisoners' demands .

The influence of Fianna Fail and Fine Gael members , and the ever-present voice of the Garda Siochana in the GAA , was beginning to cause even more alarm among GAA Headquarters' staff ; the grassroots' support at Northern level was understandable as many clubs had at least one member in Long Kesh , but the gulf in understanding of many Southern GAA personnel was a reflection of how removed from the realities of the Northern situation they had become .

GAA Headquarters kept one careful eye on events in Long Kesh and the other on those middle-class conservatives who wanted the GAA to steer well clear of involvement in the H-Blocks crisis . Statements from the GAA management committee referred to bringing "...the whole sad situation to an end ... in the interests of peace .. " - hardly words calculated to cause Southern politicians to take seriously the degree of GAA concern over the prison situation !

Other statements talked of "...humanitarian concern .. " , while the increased pressure exerted by some GAA members in the South gave rise to terms such as "...condemnation of violence and men of violence .. " being increasingly included in policy statements from the GAA management committee .......

(MORE LATER).