" 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!


Tuesday, June 28, 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 .

Free State Detective Michael Dowd was still struggling upright in the garda car , his forehead bleeding , when the door was pulled open beside him and a handgun put to his head ; he was grabbed by the arm and thrown out beside the car on his hands and knees . His handgun was pulled from its holster - he was told to lie down . He hesitated . A gun was put to the back of his head - " On your belly . " He was told to put his nose and lips on the ground and not to move . He sank to the ground .

There was a man with a submachine gun at the driver's door of the post van - " Turn off the fucking ignition . " The van driver , J.J. Bell , switched off and pulled out the key . He was told to get out and open the back doors . For some reason he found himself reaching into the glove compartment and taking his cigarettes and lighter . The stolen beige Opel Ascona and the red Mercedes , with Tommy Eccles , Pat McPhillips , Brian McShane and two or three others whose identity is not known , called there by walkie-talkie , arrived at the post office , skidding to a stop .

J.J. Bell had opened the back doors of the van and was now lying face down on the ground ; he still had the keys of the van in his right hand . One of the gunmen kicked the keys from under his hand , put a gun to the back of his head and said - " If you move , son , you are fucking dead . " Bell did'nt move ; in his left hand he still had his smokes and his lighter . The money bags were transferred into the red Mercedes ; the radio was torn out of the garda car . Detective Michael Dowd , gambling that the gunmen would be watching the money , raised his right arm and turned his head so he could see under his armpit .

From the number of legs he saw moving back and forth he thought there were at least eight raiders . They were wearing blue boilersuits and black balaclavas with red stitching around the mouths . He could see one raider holding a pistol that looked like his own . The leader of the gang , giving orders in a Northern accent , several times said - " Shoot him ! Shoot him ! " to the raider standing near Detective Dowd ; Dowd did'nt know how the gunmen would interpret this , whether it was a real order or a method of intimidation . Each second he expected to be shot .......

(MORE LATER).




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

Having spoken for 39 minutes in the British House of 'Commons' on his regret at having fought for political status for Irish Republican prisoners in 1972 , Gerry Fitt sat down . The discussion moved on to other issues : the 'Avoidable Destruction of Wildlife Bill ' on which Janet Fookes , member for Plymouth-Drake , rose to speak . She mentioned birds "...dying of starvation induced by lead poisoning of their environment .. " . The House agreed to an extension beyond the 10pm deadline to let her speak fully of this crisis . Then she spoke about moles which , she said , were dying "...painfully , underground , where we cannot see them . Out of sight ought not to mean out of mind .. " ('1169 ... ' Comment - unless , that is , you are an Irish political prisoner .)

On June 10 , 1983 , Gerry Fitt lost his seat to Gerry Adams of Sinn Fein . John Hume , benefitting from the deal which (British) Labour did with the Unionists , won the restructured seat in Foyle and set off himself to be the lone voice in Westminster . The 'Housing Executive' announced that they were pulling down Gerry Fitt's house as part of their 'modernisation programme' ; Fitt said he was moving out his furniture anyway before the Provos came to celebrate their victory - he would consider his future in England , he said , adding that if he took a 'peerage' , he might not be able to contest the following year's European elections .

He also spoke about losing all those " ...Prod votes.. " . But if he does take a 'peerage' - if a seat is offered to him in the British House of 'Lords' and he accepts - the man who sought 'one man one vote' (sic) in the North of Ireland will not be allowed a 'commoner's ' vote ever again . Pro Tanto Quid Retribuamus .

[END of ' TO WESTMINSTER AND BACK ' ].
(Tomorrow - ' FIRE AND BRIMSTONE ; THE DUP ').



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 .

Near-panic spread through the GAA Headquarters Staff when one leading GAA member in the North of Ireland appeared on a television interview confirming that every support would continue for the prisoners and that GAA directives to the contrary from the management committee would be completely ignored ! The GAA's involvement in the hunger-strike showed up clearly the basic grassroots' support for the suffering prisoners , but also highlighted the GAA hierarchy's apathy and conservatism .

As a national cultural and sporting body , the GAA has of necessity to embrace many shades of political persuasion , but it also undeniably has an obligation to support its members in Northern jails . With the ending of the hunger-strike , which saved the GAA from further polarisation on the issue , the problems remain of the denial of Gaelic games , language and traditions to the Republican prisoners .

The GAA hierarchy has yet to give voice to these grievances .

[END of 'THE GAA AND THE HUNGER-STRIKERS'].
(Tomorrow - 'THE LONG KESH ESCAPE ' - SUNDAY 25 SEPTEMBER 1983).