Friday, September 30, 2005

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

The weekend of October 4-5th 1969 saw a meeting to establish a controlling body for all Northern defence committees and according to the stated objectives of the meeting the purchases of arms would also be on the agenda . The meeting was held in the Commercial Hotel , Bailieborough , County Cavan , which is owned by Vincent Kelly , brother of (FS) Captain James Kelly .

The meeting began with an assurance from Captain Kelly that the suspension of arms training at Ford Dunree for people from Derry was just a temporary matter and was due to a newspaper inquiry on the activity . In addition to the activity on all other fronts , the Dublin Government had actually opened a military training camp along the border and was training Northern activists in the use of arms . The principal discussion focussed on the funding of full-time people to control barricaded areas and , of course , the necessary provision of arms .

Meanwhile , the Special Branch were outside the hotel and reported back to Peter Berry in the (FS) Department of Justice on Captain Kelly's association with 'subversives' . Days later Charles Haughey authorised the transfer of £5,000 Red Cross funds (the Red Cross was officialy involved in the distribution of the £100,000 given by the Dublin Government for relief of distress in the North ) into an account in the Bank of Ireland in Clones , County Monaghan . The account holders , described as " Mr F , G and H.. " at the subsequent Dail (ie Leinster House) inquiry and the cover names used in the bank were 'John White , John Loughran' and ' Roger White' .

On October 15th and 30th 1969 amounts of £5,000 drawn on the (FS) 'Government Grant-In-Aid' of £100,000 were paid into the Clones bank account ; the money was to be distributed as agreed at the Bailieborough meeting and so strengthen the position of the newly-established Northern Defence Committee - the intention was to distribute it to full-time IRA organisers and vigilantes in the Defence Committees . But that money caused trouble in IRA circles .......



Their courage and daring , their discipline and determination are an inspiration to their older comrades in Sinn Fein , the IRA and Cumann na mBan .
Each Easter the ROLL OF HONOUR is published ; a list of those who have died in the service of their country in this phase of the struggle for Irish Freedom .
Among those names are the names of eighteen young martyrs - members of NA FIANNA EIREANN . They gave their young lives at different ages (the youngest was twelve , the oldest was eighteen ) and in different ways .
From 'IRIS' Magazine , Volume 1 , Number 2 , November 1981 .

After the Rising and the release from prison of many Fianna members at the end of 1916 and 1917 , Na Fianna Eireann was re-organised . From 1919 to 1921 the organisation took an active part in the fight for freedom throughout the country ; they carried despatches for the Volunteers , reconnoitred barracks , engaged in intelligence work and rendered first-aid to the wounded .

These years saw a rapid growth in membership (twenty-five thousand in 1921) and in organisation for the Fianna . Those years also saw great sacrifices and grievous losses . The agony Ireland went through was played out to the full in the Fianna - Fian Billy Myles killed in action at Tralee , County Kerry : Fian Toghd O'Suillivan , died after hunger-strike , Cork , 1917 : Fian Patrick Hanly , murdered in reprisal by the RIC in 1920 and many , many more of their comrades .

Na Fianna Eireann stood solidly behind the Republic after the split in 1922 over the Truce - that Truce , and the Civil War between Republicans and Free Staters which followed it , were to result in the setting up of two states in Ireland ; the twenty-six counties which was to have Dominion home-rule under Britain , and the six counties which were to be represented in the Westminster parliament as well as having their own loyalist government in Belfast . These years were to see more resistance , more deaths and imprisonment and more sacrifices .

This type of military resistance and the sacrifices which resistance demands were to continue long after the end of the Civil War ; indeed , in the six counties , where Na Fianna Eireann has always been an illegal organisation , they continue the struggle to the present day .

Victimisation and harassment , from being stopped and questioned on the street , to being arrested , sometimes charged , convicted and imprisoned for dubious offences - such as membership of Na Fianna , collecting or organising for the Fianna , possession of Fianna documents etc - all these are a regular occurrence both in the North and South of Ireland .......


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 .

The first 'Rescue Team' , led by Detective Inspector Carey , who had helped draw up the plan , took up its position in the field across the road from the house ; the second team , led by Detective Sergeant Michael Scanlon , also moved into position , approaching from the rear of the house . Radio silence was observed until all three teams were in position : at 4.50 PM the team led by Detective Sergeant Michael Scanlon radioed into base that they were in position - they were taking cover behind a large ditch overlooking the container .

The kidnappers and John O'Grady were hiding inside this same ditch - they heard the message being given over the garda radio ; it was then that Detective Michael Scanlon noticed that they were not , in fact , in their correct position . There was another field between them and the container and he ordered his men forward - Detective Garda Gerard Corbett went to climb over the ditch which was covered in dense undergrowth . The sound of a branch cracking beneath his weight was clearly audible . The kidnappers , a few feet below Garda Corbett , made a break for it out onto the open road .

Luck was on their side - a Hi-Ace van was approaching , the occupants of which , Charles and Mary Terry , were ordered out at gunpoint : using Mary Terry as a 'shield' , one of the gang fired two shots at Detective Corbett while roaring " Get down you scum " . More shots were exchanged . A Renault 9 pulled up behind the Hi-Ace van - the kidnappers changed their minds and hi-jacked this car instead - all this time one of the gang was firing shots . Another gunman was shouting - " Bring the hostage!" To the gardai the gang seemed well militarily drilled - the gardai were unable to return fire because Mary Terry was between them and the kidnappers .

The gang took off in the Renault , driving down the road towards the container where the garda 'Team One' was positioned .......