Tuesday, September 13, 2005

By Breasal O Caollai .
First published in ' New Hibernia ' Magazine , December 1986/January 1987 .

The General Election of June 1969 in the 26 Counties kept everyone busy in Fianna Fail and Neil Blaney abandoned his Northern speeches for the sake of the appearance of party unity . Nevertheless , the battles between George Colley , Charles J. Haughey and Neil Blaney continued with Jack Lynch as Taoiseach avoiding involvement .

Seamus Brady , the PR man/journalist , was active for Fianna Fail in the General Election turning out scripts which hit at the Labour Party for its 'red politics' ; Brady had been active in the previous year's referendum campaign on Proportional Representation and at a number of Fianna Fail Ard Fheisanna - always turning out 'hot' speeches for Fianna Fail leaders - mainly his friend Neil Blaney .

Seamus Brady was a member of the Dublin North-East Comhairle Dail Ceanntair of Fianna Fail and his professional touch - which he obtained while working for an English newspaper and later the 'Irish Press' newspaper - was always in demand . The Northern issues played little or no part in the June 1969 General Election when the country ' Backed Jack .... '

Meanwhile , in the 'unknown land' of the IRA , a group of Sligo members were expelled because they would not allow the 'Connolly Youth' group march at the Easter Commemoration .......


Seamus Mallon , at 50 , has finally made it to Westminster , but the Anglo-Irish Agreement is still a difficult gamble .
Fionnuala O'Connor reports on the North after the elections .
First published in 'MAGILL' magazine , February 1986 .

Seamus Mallon went to Westminster on Monday January 27 1986 . That night a UDR patrol opened fire on a car full of young Tyrone Catholics in the car-park of a pub near Cookstown .

As a text-book example of the pitfalls in the way of the Anglo-Irish Agreement (ie the Hillsborough Treaty) the sequence could hardly be bettered . One of Mr. Mallon's colleagues in Tyrone spoke with restraint of the dubious circumstances of the shooting ; Peter Barry (Fine Gael) demanded an explanation from the British government , and the UDR said those who fired the shots would not be suspended pending an inquiry because that would suggest guilt .

In other words , Mr. Seamus Mallon , SDLP MP - make what you can of that ! There's your Irish voice in the inter-governmental machinery for you , and your new voice at Westminster , and what effect have they had on the behaviour of your favourite targets of criticism , the overwhelmingly Protestant/Loyalist Ulster Defence Regiment ? Who were not accompanied at the time of the incident by the Royal Ulster Constabulary , needless to say , as the Taoiseach promised Northern Nationalists in the wake of Hillsborough they would henceforward be .

Seamus Mallon knew the score all along , better than anyone . When tight-lipped he stood before the party's annual conference last autumn and promised in so many words that he would not be joining his friend and mentor the Fianna Fail leader , Mr. Charles Haughey , in immediate opposition to the then imminent Anglo-Irish Agreement , his face showed the struggle that cost him . Party observers were not surprised , though they were relieved to hear him be so definite . " Where else can he go ? " they said , " ...he is not a well man , he's not fit to be fighting John Hume ... " .......


The Gardai had in their possession a clue which could have led them to the O'Grady kidnappers and their captive some ten days earlier .
A card found in a rucksack after the Midleton shoot-out led them directly to the gang once they checked it out - but this was ten days later , by which time John O 'Grady had lost two of his fingers .
First published in 'MAGILL' Magazine , May 1988 .
By Michael O'Higgins .

John O'Grady was taken upstairs to rejoin the rest of his family . He lay down on the bed beside his wife Marise ; he was aware that the gang had discussed the possibility of taking one of the children as well as himself . He talked it over with his wife . John O'Grady decided Anthony would be the one they should take along with himself . All the time gang-member Tony McNeill was sitting , armed with a shotgun , on a chair in the corner of the room watching them .

After an hour or two John O'Grady was taken down to the playroom where he was made to sit on a swivel chair ; Eddie Hogan talked with him for a while about Dr. Austin Darragh's wealth . Before the family was allowed go to bed for the night a ransom note demanding £300,000 was drafted .


In the morning , Dessie O'Hare took John O'Grady downstairs ; Marise O'Grady was told to get warm clothes , socks and wellington boots for her husband . He was to be kept in a field , she was told . John O'Grady was in the playroom with Tony McNeill guarding him . Shortly before nine o'clock one of the gang came in and blindfolded him with a lint and gauze dressing . O'Hare led him , still handcuffed , out to the back of the house to a car and John O'Grady was ordered to get into the boot .

Dessie O'Hare returned to the house . The 'phone rang . O'Hare stood over Marise O'Grady while she accepted an invitation from a friend to Sunday dinner . It was another cock up : O'Hare was not wearing his balaclava and Marise O'Grady got a good look at his face . O'Hare told her that he was leaving with her husband and warned her not to contact the Gardai . The car they were leaving in had already been packed with provisions from the house . The gang also took a walkman radio , walkie-talkies and a polaroid camera .

Two members of the gang , Fergal Toal and Tony McNeill , remained behind to ensure O'Hare's safe getaway . Dessie O'Hare and Eddie Hogan drove off with John O'Grady ; they intended driving to a lock-up garage on the north side of Dublin , but quickly lost their way . They were forced to rely on directions from John O'Grady who was blindfolded and in the boot . Less than twelve hours into the kidnap it was apparent Dessie O'Hare and his gang were not the smoothest of operators .......