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 .......