Monday, October 03, 2005

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

Trouble within the IRA was developing (over the £100,000 Free State 'relief' money ) and both sides (ie the IRA and the 'Northern Defence Committee') were falling over each other in grabbing the money from the Dublin Government ; the internal IRA row flared over the lack of guns in the organisation in mid-August 1969 - the 'old brigade' , who had now become active again , were bitterest in their attacks .

The left wing move of Cathal Goulding and company was the root cause of the shortage of weapons , the 'old brigade' claimed ; by now all heads were turned northwards and the social agitations in the South , and indeed the housing and other agitations in the North , were virtually forgotten about . On August 24th , 1969 , some members of the 'old brigade' aong with some activists discontent with the shortage of guns came together in Casement Park at Andersonstown , Belfast ; the meeting decided to oust the Belfast IRA leadership which was close to the Goulding leadership in Dublin . They also agreed that the Fianna Fail Government's generous offer of guns and money and the conditions of non-action South of the border should be immediately accepted .

While the row was developing , money from the Dublin Government continued to arrive in Belfast and was grabbed by the city's IRA leadership ; on September 14th , 1969 , the 'dissidents' met again in Belfast and were addressed by an un-named person who was described to them as a 'political commentator from Dublin ' - in fact he was a well-known journalist attached to one of the Dublin newspapers . Later in the evening the same journalist met a Staff member of the Belfast IRA in the Wellington Park Hotel on the Malone Road in Belfast ; the journalist explained that money and other assistance would be coming from the South and arrangements were made for a meeting between the IRA Staff Officer and the people in the 26 Counties . The meeting took place a few days later in Dublin - in Government Buildings ; it was hed in the Office of the (FS) Minister for Agriculture , Neil Blaney . Seamus Brady , Fianna Fail activist and the man who was in charge of the 'Voice Of The North' newspaper , was present .

Also there were prominent representatives of the minority community in the North of Ireland -they discussed personalities in the North and problems facing that community and how security for their safety could be improved .......



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 .

From the 1940's when Na Fianna Eireann defied the ban on the main Republican Commemoration at Bodenstown by hiking the 23 miles there and laying a wreath on Wolfe Tone's grave , under the guns of Free State soldiers , to the 1960's when Na Fianna sold the banned Easter Lily publicly and like many other Republicans were prosecuted for doing so , the organisation has refused to be bullied or brow-beaten . They proudly refuse today , too , and continue the glorious heritage of militant resistance bequeathed them by Countess Markievicz , Con Colbert , Sean Heuston , Liam Mellowes and Frank Ryan .

Na Fianna Eireann is the youth organisation of the Republican Movement ; it is a national youth movement organised throughout Ireland (and in the USA) , involved in a broad range of activities , scouting , political and cultural , and deeply committed to the freedom of Ireland and the Irish people . A spokesperson for the Fianna stated - " We are playing an important part in mobilising young people behind the demands of the prisoners . Our last 'Youth Against H-Block/Armagh' march was the largest youth march ever seen in Dublin . We were very pleased with that . It shows that young people do care . They link the oppression the prisoners are suffering under with the oppression they see around them every day - in employment , education , housing , in every aspect of life . "

Asked if Fianna are going totally political , he replied - " Na Fianna Eireann was never non-political . We are a Republican youth organisation , and in that sense we were always political . The Fianna is involved in a whole range of activities - we have Irish classes , we go on hikes and camps , we put up posters and give out leaflets . We are , if you like , at the service of the Republican Movement . Wherever the pressure is greatest , the Fianna will be there . At the moment the pressure is coming from the prisons and naturally we are straining at the leash to do everything we can to support the prisoners . Especially since many of them are our prisoners - members , or former members , of our organisation . Probably most of them are former members . Raymond McCreesh was a member of Na Fianna , Kieran Doherty TD , and Jackie McMullan were also former members .

So Na Fianna Eireann is a political youth organisation as well as being a scouting and cultural one....... "


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 .

State Detective Sergeant Michael Scanlon quickly radioed Detective Inspector Carey to tell him that the kidnappers and hostage had escaped and were headed in their direction . In the confusion he told them they were travelling in a Hi-Ace van ; the kidnappers , driving the Renault 9 , were on top of Detective Carey and his men before they knew it . Carey recognised Eddie Hogan in the Renault and shouted to his men . Garda Gerard O'Donoghue was in a crouched position on the grass verge beside the road with an Uzi machine gun ; there was a gunman pointing a gun out the back window of the car , which he had broken with the butt of his rifle . Garda John Gleeson was beside Garda O'Donoghue with a Smith and Wesson - there was an exchange of shots .

One of the bullets struck the boot of the car , another grazed the neck of Fergal Toal , the driver : the Renault swerved and went around the corner . The Gardai , with the exception of Garda Gerard O'Donoghue - whose lead had pinpointed the kidnappers - proceeded to run on foot to their cars which were parked a quarter of a mile away . Garda O'Donoghue flagged down a civilian car and gave chase . But the kidnappers were already gone .

The developments were radioed back to Superintendent Murray in Midleton Garda Station , who had already detailed eight uniformed gardai to set up roadblocks , but none were yet in position . Meanwhile , (FS) Army support had just arrived . The kidnappers were already miles away ........