Friday, September 23, 2005

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

Surplus Irish (sic- Free State) Army uniforms were widely distributed free in Nationalist areas of the North and were a big hit with the young activists . The main activists of the Dublin Government's action campaign were Seamus Brady and Captain James Kelly , who was already active gathering intelligence along the border .

Captain Kelly was acting in accordance with his military commission and was doing his duty at all times . But for Seamus Brady it was politics ; Charles Haughey appointed him on the 15th August 1969 to the Propaganda Corps and according to the Head of the Government's Information Bureau at the time , while giving evidence to the eventual Dail Committee of Public Accounts - " The first information I had about Mr. Brady's selection and appointment ...was as a result of a casual meeting on Friday , August 15th (1969) , with the then Minister for Finance , Mr. C.J. Haughey , who informed me that he had arranged for Mr. Brady to join the Bureau for the duration , at a fee .. "

When Seamus Brady reported for duty on 19th August 1969 he was the only person in the propaganda squad selected to go into the North ; his first report to the (FS) Taoiseach , Jack Lynch , filed in late August 1969 , had little to do with explaining the Northern situation - it was an intelligence report on the IRA and the various defence groups in the North of Ireland .

Meanwhile , back in IRA 'land' , Cathal Goulding and his GHQ Staff had a retake on the situation in the North : four IRA Units , fully armed , had been sent to the border with the intention of re-staging a border campaign and thereby take the pressure off Belfast and Derry - but the pogrom situation in Belfast had eased with the arrival of the British Army and it was clear to the 'top brass' in the IRA that the action planned could now back-fire on them .......


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 .

It will be interesting to watch the Provos develop their response to the situation created by the Anglo-Irish Agreement (ie 1985 Hillsborough Treaty) : though they reject any suggestion that IRA violence has been stepped up because of that 'Agreement' , IRA statements have been contradictory enough for that denial to be ignored .

A policy of 'goading' the Unionists into even fiercer opposition by keeping up the campaign against off-duty* UDR men and mortar attacks on RUC stations still looks likely . ( * ' 1169 ... ' Comment - The UDR , like the present-day RUC/PSNI , are never "off-duty" : in or out of uniform , they are the 'eyes and ears' of the British 'establishment' . )

If the Provos cannot bring down the 'Agreement' themselves , then they will push the Protestant community - the only people who can defeat it - to do the job for them , the argument goes . The Provos' official answer to that charge is to point out that Loyalists seem to need no further 'goad' than the 'Agreement' itself ; loyalism , meanwhile , is claiming ever more loudly to be united while trying to cover the cracks in the joint party facade , but there is no doubt at all that a unity of disgust with the Hillsborough Treaty remains .

When the 'Ulster Clubs' weighed in recently with their call to the fourteen Unionist MP's to withdraw from Westminster , it was perhaps the clearest sign yet that "ordinary" (ie grassroots) Unionists have become worried by the lack of clear leadership . it took the quite spectacular dithering about how many MP's should leave Westminster , and when , to produce the Clubs' unmistakeable message - they spoke with the authority of almost fifty branches spread across the North and a probable 8,000 members , made up of UDA men , UVF men , almost all the DUP's twenty-one Assembly members and half a dozen Official Unionist Assemblymen .......


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 .

Dessie O' Hare was formally expelled from the INLA , and the IRA were also looking for him in connection with guns he had stolen from them ; he was now totally marginalised . The three bank robberies had yielded only £7,000 . He could count those he could rely on in single figures . Eddie Hogan was released from jail in October and immediately took up with O'Hare .

Tony McNeill was the most unlikely member of the gang ; from Belfast , he studied for a diploma in electronic engineering and came south in 1980 after the RUC allegedly issued a death threat to him through his sister . He got a job as a nurse's aide in Palmerstown Hospital . He was friendly with Gerry Wright , a barber in Dublin , whom he introduced to Dessie O'Hare . Wright was not a member of any group but had 'sympathies' , and considered the differences between the Official IRA and the INLA and the Provisional IRA to be only notional . His brother had been a member of the Official IRA in the 1970's but had been shot dead by a fellow member of the organisation after he made a statement in police custody implicating fellow members in a bank robbery .

Gerry Wright agreed to co-operate with Dessie O'Hare when O'Hare said he would shoot Billy Wright's killer , whose identity was well known . Wright was obsessed with his brother's death . In early October the O'Hare gang killed Jimmy McDaid ; O'Hare alleged that he had misappropriated money - his family claims that he was shot because he wanted to disassociate himself from O'Hare , who liked to think of himself as leading a disciplined group who acted under military orders ; the reality was far different .

7. " A Bunch Of Amateurs.. "
The Garda investigation , now well into its second week , had yielded little . After Fergal Toal and Tony McNeill had left John O'Grady's house at 1.50 PM on the first day of the kidnap , Marise O'Grady contacted her father Austin Darragh ; they discused what to do and after some deliberation decided to contact the gardai , who arrived at the house shortly after nine o'clock that night .......