" 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!

Monday, July 11, 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 .

The Unionist political parties and the 'Ulster' Clubs have worked together on plans for a one-day strike ; the push came from the DUP , through their representatives on the joint Official Unionist /DUP anti-agreement working party .

Peter Robinson and Harold McCusker duly went off to meet the Clubs' Steering Committee - the UDA's John McMichael among them . " Well , they needed us , did'nt they ? " says a cynical Clubs man . " They need someone to do the blockades , cut the power , stop the milk ... " He would'nt be drawn on the details , nor on whether he - and the politicians - had in mind a re-run of the unsavoury scenes in the 1974 strike's first uncertain week , when the presence of large numbers of paramilitaries at barricades on the streets over successive days convinced the workers to stay at home .

What is becoming clearer is that the DUP people on the joint political working party want a full-scale strike after their rehearsal , and they want it soon . Frank Millar's statement on the 'Panorama' programme constituted the first public comment from within the joint Unionist working party on the risks and difficulties of the present campaign , especially for Official Unionists ; he wound-up ringingly .... " I am re-echoing the oft-repeated declaration of Mr. Molyneaux and Dr. Paisley that violence has no part to play in the Anglo-Irish Agreement - that we as politicians are resolved , as we can only be resolved , to defeat that Agreement by way of political action .

The 420,000 who voted for us want us to do whatever is necessary to defeat the Anglo-Irish Agreement and we have undertaken to do that . We are confident we can do that . I think they equally expect us to give them the assurance that we know where we are intending to go , that we have a coherent , well-thought-out strategy and that our intention at all times is to steer a steady course through danger to safety . "

Frank Millar is highly articulate , perhaps the Unionist most aware of British perceptions of Unionist behaviour and the most capable of tailoring a campaign to suit . He is also a much-resented thirty-one year-old with no following .......


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 Allister , the DUP's Chief Whip and former 'Personal Assistant' to Ian Paisley , says that his own parents "...had to move north out of the Irish republic (sic) where they were born . "

" I live in Fermanagh , " says Ivan Foster , " I have always lived in Fermanagh . That's only a hop and a skip across the border . I know the Protestants across the border , and I know what they endured . Nothing visible , but what they had to put up with when they went to the mart , when they went to the shop , when they were looking for financial assistance . Whenever anyone else had a problem , they had ten problems . It was civilised behaviour , it may have forbade the use of the scythe and the billhook , but it did'nt stop the manifestation of that animosity towards them .

And I think it has been subdued so much over the last forty , fifty years because there was still a section of Ireland that had to be re-taken , as it were , and it was no good pretending to be the best of friends while at the same time you were openly hammering the life out of Protestants . So the very existence of the Protestant majority in the north (sic) was the greatest guarantee that the Protestants in the south were at least given some degree of freedom .

Even if that were not the case , you can't tell me that the people who are prepared to back murderers will not do me any harm if they get the chance ....... "


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 .

The 3 Republican prisoners - Brendan McFarlane , Pat McKeon and Larry Marley - had escaped from Long Kesh , but were re-captured almost immediately . They were deemed to have left Cage 11 , Long Kesh , voluntarily , lost their political status and were transferred to the H-Blocks ; Brendan McFarlane had his clothes taken from him and was told to do prison work - he refused and joined others 'on the blanket ' : the men were locked in their cells , with no association . Their new environment was very restricted .

The prisoners shouted to each other from cell to cell , passing information , learning Irish , and so on . They sang and played quizzes to keep their spirits up ; they had reckoned that it was going to be a short protest . Towards the end of 1978 , forced washes and hair cuts were being introduced . Brendan McFarlane resisted and got a busted eye . As the men in H-Blocks began to be moved from cell to cell , they were learning from the writing on the wall . For example , the past tense of an Irish verb might be on one wall , the future tense on another and the present tense on another - "Jailic" , they called it ! In the beginning , they were scratched out . Later on , they were written in shit . Gradually , they came to accept that it was going to be a long-term struggle and resigned themselves to it .

Thirty-two men were put in isolation in an attempt to break the protests - it had the opposite effect and even more men went 'on the blanket.' Outside the prison , the Republican leadership was less than enthusiastic about taking on the political status issue in a major way for fear that it would hijack the entire Movement , and everything else would take second place . By the end of 1979 , the prisoners decided to take matters into their own hands : a hunger strike was decided and Brendan McFarlane volunteered - he was'nt chosen . The hunger strike went on for seven weeks and was called off coming up to Christmas in 1980 . The men believed that their five demands had been acceded to ; these included association , their own clothes , visits , parcels and remission . However , the deal did'nt stand up .

With the failure of the hunger strike , the men on the inside formulated another strategy , which both Brendan McFarlane and Bobby Sands were instrumental in shaping . McFarlane took over as 'Officer in Command' of the H-Blocks , representing over 400 men , on 1st March 1981 , when Bobby Sands went on hunger strike . Sands had passed the leadership to him , and it had also been ratified by the men .

Brendan McFarlane did'nt get to see Bobby Sands until almost the end , when he was very weak . All he said to him was " I'm dying ... " .......


(Please Note - the '1169...' crew will be 'shutting up shop' on Friday 15th July next for at least/about/hopefully (!) one week [maybe two - if the cash stretches... !] - we are off to the 'Sometimes Sunny Southeast' ; Waterford , for a bit of a break . Leave your e-mail address (on the back of a €50 note !) in the 'Guestbook' and we might send you a postcard . And you might also get spammed ... - Sharon :)