Friday, October 07, 2005

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

The (pro-Republican) newspaper 'The United Irishman' and the Fianna Fail-led 'Voice Of The North' newspaper were engaged in a 'war of words' ; when Seamus Brady (Fianna Fail member , and the man in charge of the 'Voice' newspaper) was asked for a comment on ' Fianna Fail takeover attempts' -type articles published in 'The United Irishman' newspaper , he described such comments as a pack of lies - " These people could'nt tell the truth if their lives depended on it . "

Days later , on November 3rd , 1969 , Seamus Brady (as explained in his submission to the subsequent Leinster House inquiry) submitted an invoice for £1,580, 6 shillings , 6 pence to Eoin Neeson in the 'Government Information Bureau' for the organisation and production of the first three editions of 'The Voice Of The North' newspaper . On the day before 'The United Irishman' newspaper exclusive (re the attempt by Fianna Fail to takeover the 'Civil Rights' issue in the Six Counties) , on October 29th , 1969 , Seamus Brady wrote to Eoin Neeson , Director of the (FS) 'Government Information Bureau' , pointing out that the (FS) Minister for Finance , Charles Haughey , had authorised payment of £1,000 to him to cover 'Voice Of The North' expenses .

As agreed between Brady and Neeson the description was ' preparation of manuscripts for Government Information Bureau.. ' The publicity given to the disclosure meant changes in the way the 'Voice' newspaper would get its finances ; on November 10th , 1969 , £2,500 was withdrawn from the 'undercover' bank account in Clones , County Monaghan , and was used to open the 'Ann O'Brien' account in Baggot Street , Dublin . So the newspaper continued , with the 'Ann O'Brien' account paying its bills , via Captain James Kelly . Meanwhile , a meeting of all key IRA figures was being organised .......


Despite the fact that SINN FEIN has been contesting local elections in the 26 counties for more than two decades , much comment has been passed and incorrectly interpreted about Republican involvement in elections - north and south of the British-imposed border - in the past several months .
Here we review Republican interventions in the electoral process for the past century and more .
From 'IRIS' magazine , Volume 1 , Number 2 , November 1981 .

Republican intervention in the British electoral process dates back to the elections of Charles Kickham and O Donovan Rossa , while a political prisoner , between 1869 and 1875 , to the Westminster Parliament .

Five years later , John Mitchel was elected MP for Tipperary and Cork City ; when this election , in which he was returned unopposed , was declared 'invalid' ( because " Mitchel had not purged himself of his felony") he stood again and was returned with an 80 per cent majority against his opponent . These men were Fenians , members of the Irish Republican Brotherhood , jailed for their political affiliations and their opposition to British rule in Ireland .

The question , therefore , of Republican intervention in electoral politics is not a new one and an exploration , even a cursory one , of such interventions , gives an interesting and , at times , an illuminating insight into many of the questions which have bedevilled nationalist politics in Ireland for centuries . Constitutionalism versus physical force ; social issues versus national issues - constitutional nationalism versus militant nationaism versus republicanism and the many and varied efforts by Republicans to bring al these tendencies together against British colonialism . The period 1878-1887 is particularly interesting in this respect .

The Fenian Movement , the Irish Republican Brotherhood , was founded in 1858 , and had as its objective the winning of Irish Independence by armed rebellion . In its reports and communications , incidently, mention of the IRA is made for the first time . That apart , and more interestingly , Fenianism was the first truly nation-wide lay secular society which was distinctly radical and committed to founding '... a Republic based on universal suffrage which shall secure for all , the intrinsic value for their labour . The soil of Ireland belongs to us , the Irish people , and to us it must be restored . We declare , also , in favour of absolute liberty of conscience , and the complete separation of Church and State ... '


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 .

On the evening of Thursday , October 29 , 1987 , a conference was held in Dr. Austin Darragh's apartment , attended by solicitor Hilary Prentice , Detective Superintendent Noel Conroy , Dr. Austin Darragh and members of the O'Grady family ; the following morning 'Auntie Bettie' (Dr. Walter Doyle's wife ) was driven to Limerick Cathedral by Dr. Darragh's chauffeur ; she searched all around the statue for twenty-five minutes , but all she found was a petition to Our Lady asking her to help ' Sean's nerves' . 'Auntie Bettie' returned to Dublin with the petition which she handed over to Detective Superintendent Noel Conroy ; the note to which Dessie O'Hare referred was indeed in the cathedral , but 'Auntie Bettie' would have had to lift the statue up to find it .

That note instructed a courier to go to the Blarney Hotel in Cork on Tuesday , November 3 , 1987 , at 1.00 PM , in a car with a car phone , and the ransom . At the hotel he was to take a call under the name of 'Pat Murray' and would be given further instructions .

On Saturday October 31 , 1987 , Dessie O'Hare made another phone call , this time to the offices of 'The Sunday Tribune' newspaper : he gave an interview to that newspaper , telling them that John O'Grady was safe and would remain so providing certain instructions given to Dr. Darragh were followed carefully .

Over the next day or two , Dessie O'Hare discovered that the Blarney Hotel was useless as a contact point - it was closed for renovations . On Tuesday , November 3rd , 1987 , O'Hare telephoned Hilary Prentice . He was unaware that the ransom note had not been found in Limerick Cathedral ; he wanted Prentice to get 'Auntie Bettie' to contact , by car phone , the courier who O'Hare presumed was sitting outside the Blarney Hotel . O'Hare told Prentice there had been "...a fuck up.. " - that the hotel was closed . 'Auntie Bettie' was to instruct the courier to proceed to the Killeshin Hotel in Portlaoise - this was to be the new point of contact . But Hilary Prentice had'nt the remotest idea what O'Hare was talking about ; O'Hare said he would ring back shortly after two o'clock .

During this call , Hilary Prentice told O'Hare that 'Auntie Bettie' had gone to Limerick Cathedral as instructed - but had not found the note . It was at this point that Dessie O'Hare flipped his lid .......