" 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!

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

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

With the 'doomsday situation' apparently around the corner the IRA was another influential decision-maker but with their record of destructive involvement in the South , and their left-wing politics , not to mention their constant attacks on Fianna Fail , TACA , and indeed their regular picketing of the homes of several government ministers including the homes of Neil Blaney and Kevin Boland , under different guises , clearly meant that they would be hostile (to the Free State Administration) .

To cap it all the traditional Fianna Fail support body , the 'Nationalist Party' was all but dead since the Stormont Elections ; with the military situation opening up , the IRA was certainly a threatening presence in the North of Ireland . In any case the (FS) Government decided that money would have to be provided to deal with distress and it was essential that it should be spent in a way which would win friends and influence people for the Fianna Fail Government .

Eventually £100,000 from (FS) exchequer funds was agreed and a special sub-committee of the State Cabinet was appointed to deal with the whole Northern 'problem' ; elected to that sub-comittee were Padraig Faulkner , Joe Brennan , Neil Blaney - their constituencies were on the border - and Charles J. Haughey , who was (FS) Minister for Finance and had strong Northern connections , his father having come South to join the Free State Army in the 1920's .

The objectives of that 'Northern sub-committee' were outlined by Charles Haughey at the 'Arms Trial' .......


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 .

1983 was Sinn Fein's highest point when they topped the 100,000 votes mark - a year later that total vote dropped to 93,000 . 1985's local government elections brought them back up again over the 100,000 ; to the great though unpublicised relief of Dr. Garret Fitzgerald (Fine Gael) , then pressing his , and John Hume's , case with Margaret Thatcher that Nationalist alienation must be checked and reversed or Sinn Fein and the IRA would inexorably make headway at the expense of constitutional Nationalists .

To get the perspective straight - over recent years the respective shares of the Nationalist vote have been -

1982 : SDLP 65 % to SF 35 % ;
1983 : SDLP 57.4 % to SF 42.6 % ;
1985 : SDLP 60.3 % to SF 39.7 % ;
1986 : SDLP 64.6 % to SF 35.4 % .

Jim Nicholson , a unionist , in defeat , maintained that Sinn Fein and the SDLP had indeed worked a pact in Newry-Armagh to get him out ; Jim McAllister's compassionate hug for the grey-faced Seamus Mallon in mid-count probably finally convinced Nicholson that he was right . The President of (P) Sinn Fein , Gerry Adams , meanwhile commented that some Sinn Fein voters stayed at home and some backed the strongest horse . As the results came in Adams made an interesting study , batting percentages around like the smoothest commentator and insisting the SDLP gain was no surprise and would not last beyond people's disillusionment with the Anglo-Irish Agreement as an instrument of real change . ( ' 1169.... ' Comment - ...that same charge can now be made against the 1998 Stormont Treaty/'GFA' . )

Those who have been wondering all along whether the Provos' involvement in politics will change the Provos more than the politics must have watched Adams' performance with a special interest ; he was least convincing on Sinn Fein's reasons for fighting an election they called "...a so-called referendum.. " and which they originally suggested Nationalists should boycott .......


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 .

At the time of his arrest (late 1979) , Dessie O'Hare was credited by the RUC , without substantiation , with involvement in over twenty killings : he had not yet reached twenty-one years of age .

O'Hare could not adjust to jail ; there were several naive escape attempts right up to within months of his release , costing him remission . He was frequently beaten up by prison warders and had few friends in jail . Eddie Hogan had been sentenced to eight years in 1981 for his involvement in an armed robbery ; Fergal Toal was sentenced in 1984 for his part in an attempted armed robbery in Dundalk . The three , along with Jimmy McDaid , who was serving a sentence for the manslaughter of a British soldier , formed one of the many 'cliques' in prison .

Dessie O'Hare was released from jail in October 1986 and Fergal Toal shortly afterwards . The INLA was in disarray ; initially O'Hare approached a member of the new 'Army Council' faction and proposed that the list of legitimate targets should be widened to include people like Bishop Cathal Daly - who had made a number of statements critical of republicans - and Peter Sutherland , who had been (FS) Attorney General when the (FS) Supreme Court reversed its policy of not extraditing people suspected of involvement in offences while on 'active service' .

The man to whom Dessie O'Hare proposed this was appalled , gave him £500 and told him he would be in touch .......