" 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 - we made it to the finalists page last year but never got to the stage :- ( 'cause not enough of ye feckers out there voted for us! So we're gonna give ya a second chance - the blog awards this year will be held on Thursday, October 5th (2017) in The Academy, Middle Abbey Street, in Dublin city centre, and we would appreciate if you could keep an eye here and give us a vote when ya can. Or else we'll get our 'Junior' to put up a pay wall and then ye will be sorry...!

Wednesday, July 13, 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 .

Unionist tactics to date have worked well enough as a simple demonstration of implacable resentment , but there is no 'coherent , well-thought out strategy' directed at the achievement of an agreed aim : because there is no post-agreement policy , either inside the respective parties , or in the joint working-party , there can be no clarity now .

On the one hand , the Unionists have talked of wholesale withdrawal , on the other they hold back - urging the councillors to forge ahead , stopping short of total withdrawal at Westminster . Some express relief that the British government's 'goof' of prematurely declaring their power to bring in commissioners to run the councils , not only whipped up a flagging protest , but also may take the councillors off the hook of responsibility for running down local services .

An 'Ulster' Clubs member stated - " And we've got a whole host of other opportunities for causing disruption ; obstructing the commissioners , that kind of thing . " In the wings , the Clubs are looking on , a bit grimly - " This is the politicians' last chance . If the councillors break ....the people won't stand for that , " says one rather bleak young man , over-estimating his own somewhat makeshift organisation . A more detached observer reckons no councillor will have to go the distance and go to jail , thus ending a local government career ! " The government will strike a rate - then what's the point of the courts penalising councillors for failing to ? "

Meanwhile , the 'working party' surveyed the scene in the wake of that damp and cold by-election , weighing the handsome Unionist total vote against Seamus Mallon's Westminster seat , and eventually decided they needed another gimmick . Perhaps a one-day strike ... ?


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 , DUP , states - " Obviously I thought about their ( the Catholics in the Six Counties) deprivation and I thought about what kind of political structures there might be to bring about a better society , but there continued to be an attitude on their part that they were the only ones being discriminated against , and that I was part of the group that was discriminating against them . There seemed to be a continual diatribe against me , against people like me .

We were the first-class citizens and these people were separated , were downtrodden and different . And it never seemed to get across to them that the people they were agitating against were in exactly the same position as them . Maybe in the early days there was a socialist ideology in the Civil Rights Movement , but it was always couched in terms of republicanism which obviously distanced me and people like me from it . I joined the 'Young Unionist Movement' and I found myself campaigning for people that I was still socially opposed to . I found myself campaigning for people like Robin Chichester-Clarke , brother of the former Prime Minister , and to me that person was on a different social scale , a different planet , to me . The guy was a highbrow Tory who cared very little if at all for working-class Protestant people , who were the people who were electing him .

And gradually I moved over to the Protestant Unionist Party which , at that time , 1970-1971 , was just changing over to the DUP . "

Sammy Wilson , the DUP Chairperson of the Planning Committee of Belfast City Council , is also from a working-class background : " I've lived most of my life in East Belfast , which is perhaps in Belfast now the stomping ground for the DUP . It's a strongly traditional Loyalist area where there was a fair amount of social deprivation , far worse housing conditions even at present , and longer waiting lists for houses , than you have in West Belfast . I was attracted by the new dimension which the DUP introduced into Ulster (sic) politics and that was the radicalism which characterises Evangelical Protestantism , and which can be seen for instance in the kind of people who left here and went to form the backbone of the American revolution , their dislike of the old establishment and the system .

In the longer term it's the potential radicalism of the party which attracted me , representing as I do an area where there is terrible housing and other social problems . " He does not , however , like to be called a socialist - " I think it's one of the problems with those kind of labels in Northern Ireland (sic) that the constitutional question has really over-ridden other considerations . Socialism is , mainly because of the actions of the Labour Party , identified with republicanism ......." .......


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 2.15 pm on Sunday 25 September 1983 , Brendan McFarlane and two others moved into the 'sensitive' area , the 'Circle' , of H-Block 7 . They were armed . The warders were overpowered in Wings A , B , C and D . One of the warders made a move to an alarm button and was shot . Warders were stripped and some of the prisoners put on their clothes . McFarlane walked towards the gate with the 'warders' and was let through ; the plan was to take over each gate , one at a time , and leave Provos behind dressed as warders . They commandeered a food lorry and they intended to replace any warders that challenged them with men from inside the lorry .

However , at what was known as 'the Tally Lodge ' , there were too many warders coming and going ; one of them started to blow his whistle - two cars pulled-up in front of the lorry and scuffles broke out . Some warders were stabbed . The Provos then apparently surrendered , and things calmed down . Then they made a rush across the fence ; the British Army was unable to fire on the fleeing men due to the confusion - there were prisoners dressed as warders , and warders in civilian clothing , all running across the fields . Cars were hijacked as soon as the road was reached . Nineteen men were recaptured almost immediately . Brendan McFarlane , by now dressed as a warder , led seven men to the road , took over three vehicles and drove off in the direction of Moira . They took over a secluded house belonging to a Protestant couple , the McFarlanes (no

They were a few miles from the jail and still within roadblocks . McFarlane changed his clothes , took a torch , a map , a compass and food from the house . All eight men headed off to cross the border at 11 pm that night ; at 5 am the following morning , they decided to 'dig in' for the day . They watched as a helicopter flew over and back and listened as Garret FitzGerald ( Free State [Fine Gael] 'Taoiseach' ) said on the radio that if any of the escapees were caught , they would be handed back across the border .......


(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 :)