" 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, July 05, 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 spent six weeks in solitary confinement in Portlaoise Prison , as a protective measure . In the course of the subsequent trial , in February and March 1985 , he pleaded guilty to robbery and received a 10-year sentence , suspended - there was uproar in the public gallery of the Special Criminal Court and a man named Eoin McKenna , from Darndale , Dublin , shouted at McCabe - " McCabe , you are a supergrass , the first Free State supergrass ! " McKenna was ordered to apologise to the court ; he refused and was immediately sentenced to 12 months for contempt of court .

The accusation of 'supergrass' was silly ; Noel McCabe made his statement on August 29 ; Seamus Lynch and Joe Gargan made statements on August 15 ; Paddy Duffy made a statement on August 22 , Tommy Eccles on August 23 . The only person named in McCabe's statement who was subsequently convicted and who had not himself made a statement by that time was Pat McPhillips .

It suited the gardai and the courts to portray the affair as a well-planned and professionally executed robbery ; the Provos have their own macho reasons for believing in their own professionalism . The evidence is that the Drumree raid was poorly organised , dependent on amateurs , panicky in its execution and counter-productive in its political effects . And they got no money . The net effect was the death of a 25 year-old garda .

Tommy Eccles , Brian McShane and Pat McPhillips pleaded not guilty to capital murder and claimed their statements were untrue and involuntary . The statements were declared admissible and the three were found guilty of capital murder and sentenced to death . Their appeal was dismissed on February 10 and , on February 21 , their sentences were commuted to forty years without remission .......


The Democratic Unionist Party would prefer a Civil War to acquiescence in a role for the Dublin Government in the affairs of the North of Ireland after the Anglo-Irish summit .
FINTAN O'TOOLE spoke to DUP activists about the depth of their opposition to the Anglo-Irish deal and their willingness to resort to violence .
From 'MAGILL' magazine , November 1985 .

Jim Wells joined the DUP " ... because I like my politics cut and dried . If I'm in a party which favours the use of punishment for terrorists , I don't want to find , as you find in the Official Unionist Party , that half the party does'nt agree with that policy . I like to know exactly where I stand . "

Where Jim Wells stands is with the planter stock he came from . He believes in a separate Protestant race in the North of Ireland and in preserving the purity of that race : " I'm descended from settlers who came over from England and Scotland - my mother's side was Scottish and my father's side was English . There has been no intermarriage with Celts in the four centuries that we have been over here . There's been no intermarriage in any section of the family over those centuries . And that's the same for many Protestant families .

So we are direct descendants of mainland (sic) British residents , who carry British passports , who regard the Queen (..the 'Queen' of England , that is .. ) as their sovereign , and regard parliament as the sovereign body of this province , who regard themselves as an integral part of the United Kingdom , no different from Scotland or Wales . It's a fact , not something to be debated about . We don't feel British , we are British . That is what Southern people cannot grasp .

They believe that because we live on the island of Ireland that we regard ourselves as Irish . Nothing could be further from the truth . I think we regard ourselves as more British than the British . I think we're the first to stand for the (British) National Anthem and to show respect for the (British) Queen , even more so than many mainland (sic) British subjects , many of whom have intermarried with Pakistanis and West Indians and allowed a dilution of their Britishness . That has'nt happened here and we remain militant British subjects .

Here there has been very little intermarriage with immigrants or with native Irish , and mixed marriage is frowned upon . I only know of one mixed marriage . We at least have maintained our Britishness , even if other parts (sic) of Britain have wavered somewhat ....... "


Last month , BRENDAN McFARLANE was ordered by a Dutch court to be extradited back to the North to serve out a sentence of 25 years . He is appealing the decision . His companion GERARD KELLY had his plea accepted that his offences were political . BRENDAN McFARLANE has been on the run since he led thirty-seven men in an escape out of the MAZE PRISON in September 1983 . In an exclusive interview with MAGILL at Bylmerbages Prison in Amsterdam , McFARLANE talks about his life , his youth and upbringing , and his involvement with the ARMED STRUGGLE in the North .
First published in 'MAGILL' magazine , April 1986 .

Brendan McFarlane is unassuming about the almost legendary status he has achieved among his fellow Provisionals ; he has no illusions about his own part in the scheme of things - he jokes easily too . For example , when asked if he "specialised" in any particular area of activity when he was on the streets and active between 1972 and 1975 , before answering " No , " he says , " Yes . I could talk the leg off a dresser . The Provos were going to send me in as a secret weapon to talk the Brits to sleep . "

Brendan McFarlane does not conform to the typical profile of a Provisional ; he is extremely articulate and does not come from a republican background . Born in 1951 in Ardoyne in Belfast , he attended Holy Cross Primary School and Saint Malachy's College . His father worked in Michelin's tyre firm in the city ; his family , especially his mother , were staunch Catholics , and even though they came from a republican area , they did not subscribe to that ethos . He was bright at school . His friends nicknamed him 'Bic' and the name has stuck ever since . (The name came from McFarlane's biscuits.)

In 1968 , he decided to enter the priesthood and joined the SVD Missionary Order ; he went to study in North Wales and returned home for holidays - " I was always pretty religious and I believed I had a vocation at the time , " he says . He came home in the summer of 1969 and Ardoyne was attacked by loyalist mobs ; he returned to the seminary . There was " ...a continuous question and answer session going on in my head . " He quit and returned home the following year .

" I know now I was right I did'nt continue . I still don't know why . I thought about it often when I was in H-Blocks but I still can't answer that . " He says he missed completely the "...upheaval in the Republican Movement .." when the Provos split from the Officials ; he had many friends in both wings and did'nt know which one to join . Ardoyne was a particularly vulnerable area , being bordered on all sides by loyalist strongholds .......