Monday, September 26, 2005

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

At that time (ie August 1969) it was felt that any IRA action on the border could lead to a resumption of trouble in Belfast , rather than drawing it off , reasoned the IRA Chiefs ; Cathal Goulding ordered the four IRA Units to withdraw and so the 1969 'Border Campaign' was over without a shot being fired in anger .

On Sunday August 17th 1969 , the Sunday following the Belfast 'mini-pogrom' , a person attached to the Irish Centre in London contacted Cathal Goulding with the news that he could be put in contact with people who had an unlimited supply of money available for arms purchasing , provided they would be for use only in the North of Ireland . The following morning , Monday , August 18th 1969 , Goulding flew to London where he met the contact . When they met , Goulding was fully satisfied that the contact was indeed representing the Dublin Government .

The contact asked if Goulding was supplied with money could the Northern people be supplied with arms ? 'No problem' , said Goulding , provided the money was supplied but the figure would have to be in the region of £50,000 - 'No problem' , said the contact , and handed Goulding £1,500 ; the balance of the £50,000 would be provided within days . Goulding returned to Dublin and put the money into the IRA arms fund . The contact's trip and expenses were paid for out of State funds .

Another contact with the IRA was made back home ; a director of a factory in County Louth contacted a member of the IRA Command Staff from Belfast , at Dundalk . When they discussed the matter , figures of £50,000 to £150,000 for arms were thrown about - but the company director had one big provision : that the arms would not be used South of the border . On the day previous to this meeting the Dublin Government sub-committee had been given £100,000 " provide aid for the victims of the current unrest in the Six Counties .. " .......


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 .

Catholics living in remote rural areas near Orange Halls have been well aware for months past of the frequent late-night meetings , the lines of cars . The Clubs have developed from a start last August with only a few DUP people willing to get involved - the ever-practical DUP Deputy Peter Robinson of course addressed the first meeting to set up a co-ordinating Ulster (sic) Loyalist Front , side by side with the UDA's John McMichael ; to the position now where the Unionist politicians recognise the necessity to be in there or lose status and dominance entirely to the paramilitaries .

The joint OUP/DUP working party on the 'Agreement' (ie the 1985 Hillsborough Treaty) probably owes its existence to the same pressure . Of the Westminster muddle , the 'Ulster Clubs' said that both Unionist councillors and Assembly-men had come to them to ask for guidance on the next step in the anti-'Agreement' strategy .

For politicians aware that the Clubs only reason for being is to prepare for the day when their strategy breaks down or runs out , that must have been an ominous message . Already they knew that the eternal maverick Belfast Lord Mayor , John Carson , had held a closed meeting of council leaders , mayors and chairmen , to air worries about the strategy .......


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 .

Manor House , on Brennanstown Road , is in the area for which Dun Laoghaire Garda Station has responsibility and this became the station from which the hunt for the kidnappers was to be co-ordinated . Every piece of information which was turned up was to be collated and analysed at Dun Laoghaire .

At eleven o'clock on the morning of October 15 , Detective Sergeant Neill visited Manor House and showed Marise O'Grady a dozen photographs - she quickly picked out Dessie O'Hare and , from the account given by Mrs O'Grady , the gardai believed the gang to be "...a bunch of amateurs.. " : many detectives spoke of an early breakthrough .

Dessie O'Hare had told Marise O'Grady to pack wellington boots for her husband as he would be kept in the open , so initially searches concentrated on woodlands but that method did not reveal any significant clues .

On the night of October 22 John O'Grady was asleep in the shed when he was woken up by Dessie O'Hare ; wearing the blacked-out glasses he was led out of the shed down a slope covered in gorse and bushes . His chains kept catching in the undergrowth and progress was slow . There were two cars waiting for them . O'Grady was given a cup of tea , then they drove for about ten minutes until they reached Ballymascinley , just outside Midleton , in Cork . Dessie O'Hare handed John O'Grady paper , a felt pen and a book to lean on and was told to move his glasses up on his forehead .

O'Hare dictated a ransom note addressed to Dr. Austin Darragh , demanding a million pounds sterling and half a million in punts .......


( To 'Joe's great grand-daughter' : thank you for the visit and the comments - I hope I did not include any material which your family were not already aware of . Thanks again , Sharon .)