" 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!

Thursday, September 15, 2005

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

1969 : Street fighting in Derry saw an end to the possibility of internment in the South of Ireland - instead the Dublin Government began a series of special emergency cabinet meetings .

On August 13th , 1969 , in response to massive demonstrations on the streets of the South in support of the Northern minority , an invasion of Derry was considered and all previous rifts within the (FS) Cabinet were apparently forgotten .

The (FS) Army statement on their lack of preparedness , read to the (FS) Cabinet , helped Jack Lynch to quietly resist the invasion proposals : but the danger of pogroms in other parts of the North was a real fear . A compromise of seeking the agreement of the British Government to send the Irish (ie Free State) Army to protect Nationalist areas was agreed , and stronger dramatic action came in the establishment of military field hospitals on the border for those injured who did not want to risk going to a northern hospital for aid .

The 'dangers' of the left-wing-led IRA taking the initiative was also discussed and all were united that it could not be allowed .......


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 .

In the aftermath of the Hillsborough Treaty , Seamus Mallon issued cautions : the 'Agreement' was only as good as its implementation , there must be visible progress , and eventually after Tom King's unhelpful elaboration on Dr. Garrett Fitzgerald's acceptance of partition in perpetuity , came a growl from Seamus Mallon that Dublin had better get on with representing Nationalists in there and stop worrying about Unionist sensibilities , since that was'nt what they were there to worry about .

Some veteran John Hume-watchers cannot decide if there really has been all that tension between him and Mallon over the years , or whether it is useful to the party leader to have a sea-green incorruptible , friend of Haughey even , on his right-hand side : and whether Mallon is now playing that role for all it is worth , with Hume's blessing , in the Anglo-Irish process .

Certainly during the months of horse-trading and the last touchy stages , the advantages could be imagined - when Hume could point over his shoulder to that lined face , so stern on television , and tell the perfidious hacks of British diplomacy - " You expect me to sell that to him ? " . To which the British replied , at a very early stage indeed on the question of the UDR : " It cost £45,000 to train a soldier to fire a nuclear weapon in Germany and we are not going to get his fucking head blown off in Ballymurphy , are we ? Without the UDR we just have'nt the manpower that's needed , available . And the UDR keeps the Loyalists where everybody can see them . "

The SDLP , at least those in the know , settled for that , implicity accepting also the RUC as 'semi-trustworthy go-betweens' , and , yes - 'police' , "...who knew where the UDR landrovers are supposed to be at any given time .. " , as one SDLP man puts it , and can pull them into line . If they want to , that is .......

( ' 1169 ... ' Comment - The RUC were/are ['PSNI'] 'go-betweens' , right enough - they share any information they have between the UDA and the UVF . )


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 put in a cellar ; his glasses and handcuffs were removed - he took stock of his new surroundings : the walls were bare . There was a blue coloured blanket hanging from the ceiling separating him from his captors . There was a black Victorian fireplace in the corner . The only heat being provided , however , was from one bar of a superser heater .

A dinner of roast beef , vegetables and potato was provided . Fergal Toal and Tony McNeill , who had returned with Dessie O'Hare , took up guard duties . Eddie Hogan and Dessie O'Hare left . It was Wednesday October 14 ; the first full day of this kidnap was nearing a close . Gerry Wright's cellar was to be ' home' for the next four days .

4. The "...poor old 'Border Fox' .. "

John O'Grady's guards were prepared to make minor concessions ; on Wednesday evening he was asked if he would like a drink . He asked for , and was provided with , a bottle of Muscadet wine and Ballygowan mineral water . The two mixed together is known as a 'spritzer' and is a fairly popular drink in many of Dublin's upwardly mobile bar lounges .

There was nothing salubrious about his present surroundings , however . The spritzer was served in a paper cup ; there was a bucket to urinate in and , for most of the time , he was handcuffed and obliged to wear the pair of blacked-out glasses . Meals were strictly functional - tea , toast and boiled eggs for breakfast , yogurt , fruit and sandwiches for lunch and burger and chips or Kentucky fried chicken in the evening .

Toal and McNeill worked in rotation , taking turns for sleep .......