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 .......