Wednesday, October 05, 2005

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

On the evening of September 22 , 1969 , the 'dissident' IRA members marched into a Staff meeting of the Belfast IRA Command which was being held in Cyprus Street in the Lower Falls - they were armed and informed all present that they were taking over .

In the interests of unity and in the face of possible pogroms , the Officer Commanding of the Belfast IRA agreed to have talks with the 'dissidents' : an agreement was made which brought representatives of the 'dissidents' onto the Belfast Command Staff , a temporary shelving of the IRA's socialist policies , a break with GHQ in Dublin , and abstention from the coming General Army Convention due for December 1969 . That special convention would decide on Sinn Fein's attitude towards parliamentary participation and the development of a National Liberation Front in Ireland which might unite left wing forces . The examples of Vietnam was popular worldwide in left wing circles .

Meanwhile the Fianna Fail strategists realised that influence over the IRA would not be enough - they must have control of Citizens Defence Committees which had sprung up - otherwise 'the tail would still be wagging the (southern) dog' . A meeting initiated by Fianna Fail's operators was held in Lurgan , County Armagh , on Saturday September 27, 1969 , of Central Defence Commitees and a 'Provisional Central Committee' was established . That meeting was held in opposition to a similar gathering called by the IRA for the Oriel Hotel , Monaghan . At the Lurgan meeting , organised by the Fianna Fail government , was Ruairi O Bradaigh who in fact had been an active member of the IRA Army Council for many years .

At this time Republican Ireland was being visited by personalities out of the Celtic Twilight : they were the Belfast 'dissidents' , including Maire Drumm , Jimmy Steele and others , who travelled the 32 Counties 'stirring the pot' , openly campaigning against the existing leadership and making contacts all over the country . They were helped in their travels by Seamus Brady , a Fianna Fail man .......



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 .

A Fianna spokesperson stated - " Young people in the South suffer a wide range of problems - youth unemployment is twice the national average , working-class youth are effectively denied the right to a third level education through the miserable grants scheme operating there . Apprentices and young workers , especially girls , are discriminated against in pay . There's the whole question of illegitimacy , the age of criminal responsibility , the care of young offenders , the provision of adequate sports and recreational facilities . These are just a few of the problems facing young people in the South - problems which Na Fianna Eireann as a youth organisation is vitally concerned about .

We believe that such a bad situation is made worse by the absence of any effective and comprehensive policy document on youth by the twenty-six county government . This clearly shows the lack of commitment on the part of the establishment parties in the South to solving the real issues facing young people today . The twenty-six county government lacks both the vision to see the measures that would be needed to solve these problems , and the will to put these measures into practice .

Na Fianna Eireann , the Irish Republican youth movement , was founded seventy-two years ago and , in that time , in a history that few youth organisations can parallel , it has served the Republican Movement and the cause of Irish freedom well ....... "


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 .


That morning , Tuesday October 27 , 1987 , John O'Grady got a decent breakfast - hamburger , bacon , sausage , double egg and a pint jug of tea . After that he was moved downstairs and put in an alcove under the stairs in the living room . He was told that once inside he could remove his blacked-out glasses - his handcuffs had already been removed . There was a mattress on the floor , a light bulb hanging from a waterpipe and a radio . The electricity supply was controlled from the livingroom outside . The alcove was big enough to sit in comfortably but not large enough to stand in .

He was given a selection of Wilbur Smith novels , a book on Liam Mellowes , the writings of Bobby Sands and a book by Nora Connolly O'Brien on the development of Ireland since 1916 ; he was told to study them carefully as he would be asked questions later .

The newspapers were full of accounts of the shooting incident in Midleton , Cork : it was the first time he knew that he had been in Midleton though from listening to the radio , which had a lot of Cork-based ads , he had suspected that Dessie O'Hare's shots at supposed British soldiers was an attempt to disorientate him . There was criticism in the newspapers over the garda handling of the operation at Midleton ; public disquiet over the way the kidnap was being handled was growing . There was some consolation for the gardai , however - because there had been no contact with the O'Grady family many gardai feared that John O'Grady was dead . Secondly , the gang had left plenty of fingerprints behind in the container : the gardai were now able to harden up their suspicions and positively identify the remaining gang members .

Dessie O'Hare turned up at Carnlough Road the night after the shoot-out , Tuesday October 27 , 1987 ; the gang bought beer and celebrated . In the alcove under the stairs John O'Grady could here O'Hare and the others talking about the escape in excited tones . O'Hare was accompanied by a woman - he never came near O'Grady that night .......