Thursday, September 22, 2005

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

The objectives of the Free State Government's 'Northern Sub-Committee' were outlined by Charles Haughey at the 'Arms Trial' : " We were given instructions that we should develop the maximum possible contacts with persons inside the Six Counties and try to inform ourselves as much as possible on events , political and other developments - within the Six County area . "

The Free State Cabinet also decided on appointing a 'Propaganda Corps' to lead an international publicity attack against Britain over partition ; this 'Corps' consisted of 20 public relations men , 18 of whom were drawn from the State or semi-State companies .

In line with their instructions , the 'Northern Sub-Committee' made contact with the Belfast IRA , with Saor Eire elements through the Citizens Committee located in a house in Kildare Street in Dublin (now demolished) the use of which was made available by the New Ireland Assurance Company , and contact was also made with Cathal Goulding , the IRA Chief Of Staff .

The idea was to get involved in the North : to use every possible contact to influence decision making in the Northern Nationalist community . The Dublin Government was not prepared to be compromised by the decisions taken in either the Civil Rights Association or the IRA . The Irish Army (sic - FS) and special Garda intelligence units were deployed on both sides of the border gathering information on activists of all sorts .......


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 .

If you did'nt accept Gerry Adams' arguments , the suspicion inevitably arose that here was a man , and a political party , sucked into a process against its purist judgement by the very fact of being there ; that suspicion partially explained the nature of the Sinn Fein campaign , and it would suggest internal trouble ahead for Adams with those who have always seen the election strategy as at best a distraction from the fight , and at worst inevitably destructive of the Republican Movement's real purpose . ( ' 1169 ... ' Comment - that "election strategy" has resulted in Provisional Sinn Fein sitting in Leinster House and Stormont [Westminster soon ?] and calling on it's own colleagues in the PIRA to not only dis-arm , but to dis-band as well . Career building ... )

It was an odd business , the Provos campaign this time : no money to spend , none of the swarms of young people who so disheartened the SDLP a couple of elections back as they popped up everywhere preaching the Sinn Fein message . Even according to the SDLP , who accuse Sinn Fein of most kinds of skullduggery , there were few allegations of dirty work this time - which many hardened Northerners would regard as an integral part of any energetic election campaign .

Instead the SDLP fretted that Sinn Fein were leaving them to make the running , and wondered why . In Mid-Ulster and Fermanagh-South Tyrone someone had a little go at Sinn Fein's '...dangerous social policies .. ' through the time-honoured method of letters to local papers , and managed to cause Danny Morrison and probably Owen Carron - though he has not been available for comment - some bad moments . Even the faintest whisper of abortion makes your average West of the Bann nationalist turn purple . As Morrison stated - " I was asked at least half a dozen times on the doorsteps or after Mass if it was true Sinn Fein supported abortion . You would'nt know how many other conversations on the subject of 'Morrison-the-baby-killer' those represented .

Then Father Faul joined in with a letter to the 'Irish News' newspaper at the very last minute , meaning I could'nt answer it in time . " Morrison spent time explaining how a motion at the 1985 Sinn Fein Ard Fheis indeed proposed abortion on demand but had been modified by a Sinn Fein Executive amendment . That answer may not have cut much ice on doorsteps in , for instance , Ballynanny .......


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 .

In early December 1986 Dessie O'Hare was involved in an attempted bank robbery in Shercock , County Cavan - in dramatic fashion the doors of the bank were smashed down , but the gang left empty-handed . O'Hare was arrested shortly afterwards under Section 30 of the Offences Against the State Act and taken to Dundalk Garda Station for questioning . Detectives interviewing him were impressed by his agile mind ; he told them that he was now a pacifist .

Over the next ten months he killed , or had killed , five people : he had contacted the GHQ faction of the INLA and had been instructed to form a Unit - this Unit's one and only action against the British 'security forces' , carried out on New Year's Eve , ended in disaster ; the target was a member of the UDR , but the assassins missed and shot his seventy-two year old mother who died soon afterwards .

The INLA feud erupted at the end of January when John O'Reilly and Thomas 'Ta' Power were shot when they attended the Rossnaree Hotel for what they assumed were peace talks . O'Hare was first into bat for the GHQ faction - he was involved in abducting Tony McCloskey , who had his finger , nose and ear cut off before being put out of his misery by a bullet . In the coming weeks O'Hare was to kill two others , both INLA members , one for alleged informing and another in a personal vendetta .

In June he attempted to assassinate Official Unionist Party representative Jim Nicholson . Funds were low and in August he robbed a bank in Ballybay , County Monaghan ; in August he robbed two banks within minutes of each other in Castlepollard , County Westmeath .......