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"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, July 07, 2005

Fionnuala O'Connor on the struggle for the Loyalist leadership as the politicians and their paramilitary allies gear up for a strike .
From 'MAGILL' magazine , March 1986 .

A week ago , a leading Official Unionist thought it necessary to put out a statement of re-assurance - to his own Loyalist community , and to the British public . He was upset by a BBC TV 'Panorama' programme on the Unionist response to the Anglo-Irish Agreement (ie the 1985 Hillsborough Treaty) .

In particular he had clearly been annoyed by the rhetoric of Alan Wright , spokesman for the 'Ulster Clubs' , and by that of one of his own Official Unionist Party members , the outspoken County Derry man , Esmond Thompson : Wright spoke of a people's army and the inevitability of conflict with the RUC , while Thompson spoke of the preparations under way for a last-ditch struggle , the "...specifications.. " already issued for necessary materials .

The UDA's second-in-command , John McMichael , a founder-member of the 'Ulster Clubs' , appeared on screen taking industrious notes in the front row at a meeting addressed by Alan Wright . 'Ulster Clubs' people were'nt altogether happy with the loose talk on the TV programme either - but their reason was entirely to do with security and timing . Esmond Thompson had no right to appear as a spokesman and was a little premature , Wright was too chatty , "...a bit carried away .. " .

But it is honestly , if privately , admitted that Esmond Thompson , in his talk of warlike preparations , spoke nothing but the truth .......


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 .

Gregory Campbell also wants to 'preserve' the purity (sic) of the Protestant people and is against mixed marriages - " I make a distinction between integrated schooling and mixed marriages . I would be quite happy for my child to go to a school where Protestants and Catholics were taught together , but I would not be happy for my child to marry a Roman Catholic . I would be quite happy that the way I am bringing up my children would be sufficient to enable them to hold to their Protestantism no matter what their school environment would be .

But that would be a different step from the child growing into a mature adult and then marrying a person who is not of the faith which she has been brought up to believe is the correct faith . If she chooses to do that , that's her affair , but it would not be with my blessing . I would hope that my children would grow up to be evangelical Protestants with a belief in the bible . That belief in the bible should preclude them from marrying someone who does not have the faith in the bible that they have . Also from a political point of view essentially what you are doing is asking a unionist to marry a nationalist and that is too much to ask . "

That deep-seated evangelical Protestantism is central to the DUP , and the fear of religious persecution is a large part of their fear of a United Ireland . Jim Wells sums up the objections to Catholicism : " We find much of Roman Catholic doctrine repugnant . I find repugnant the fact that any man has the right to forgive sins , that Christ can be recreated on the alter of the Mass , Sunday after Sunday ; that the Virgin Mary is regarded as a deity that can be prayed to , who can forgive sins and heal the sick and all that , that shrines which can supposedly move in Ballinspittle or wherever it is can delude thousands into believing that there are some magical powers .

That is superstition of almost African tribal levels , which we find totally repugnant , and we just do not wish a situation to arise where we would find ourselves dominated by that type of system ....... "


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 .

At the start of 1975 , the Provisionals' truce came into effect and loyalist assassination gangs re-emerged ; Ardoyne was a prime target for them , and the truce came under considerable strain . In July 1975 , four British soldiers were killed in retaliation for the shooting dead of two Provos , Francis Jordan in Bessbrook and Charles Irvine in Divis Flats . In August 1975 , the Miami Showband was gunned down . By 13th August 1975 , there were sectarian gun battles going on all across Belfast between the Provos and the loyalists . On that day , the Bayardo Bar on the Shankill was attacked in a gun and bomb attack - gunfire raked the front of the bar and a duffle-bag with a bomb was placed by a man who ran from a waiting car . Five people were killed .

Within minutes , Brendan McFarlane was stopped at a road block ; spent bullet cases and the fingerprints of all three later convicted for the attack , including McFarlane , were found in the car . They were each sentenced to twenty-five years minimum (no remission) . In an unsigned statement used at his 'trial' , Brendan McFarlane said he drove the car . While not denying that he was involved in the attack , he disputed " ...the circumstances under which the statement was made .. "

Brendan McFarlane is "...affected personally .. " by the victims of violence ; he does'nt like it but believes it an "...absolute necessity .. " . Asked about whether he was afraid on the streets , he says that he "..never worries about things until they happen .. " because people who do "..cease to function .. " . He does admit , though , that he was depressed throughout the blanket protest and the hunger strikes .

By the time Brendan McFarlane was jailed in May 1976 , the British had removed political status from the prisoners ; while on remand in Crumlin Road Prison , McFarlane was involved in disturbances arising out of that removal .......