Tuesday, October 11, 2005

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

In December 1969 , the General Army Convention of the IRA was held at an old mansion-type house at Knockvicar , Boyle , County Roscommon ; this special convention was held to decide on the findings of an 'Internal Commission' which had been inquiring into the structure of the Republican Movement . Participation in parliament was also on the agenda .

Belfast was not represented at the convention because of the agreement with the 'dissidents' and the unique situation there . One delegate complained that other delegates were not collected at their pick-up points and blamed it on a move against those opposed to the proposed changes in electoral strategy .

The vote in favour of taking seats in parliament was carried by a very large majority (more than 3 to 1) and the IRA Chief Intelligence Officer up to then , Sean MacStiofain , declared that this was " ...the end of the IRA .. " : after the convention - nobody walks out of such gatherings- Ruairi O Bradaigh , Daithi O Conaill , Sean MacStiofain , John Joe McGirl and others met at O'Bradaigh's mother's house on the Battery Road , Longford .

On December 29th , 1969 , the first statement from the Provisional Army Council and signed in the name of 'P O' Neill' was published : it warned of the dangers to the abstentionist policy at the coming Sinn Fein Ard Fheis . On the weekend of January 10th/11th 1970 the Sinn Fein Ard Fheis was held .......


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 .

In 1875 , Joseph Biggar , at that time a member of the IRB , which he joined while MP for County Cavan , initiated a policy of obstruction in the British House of Parliament . While this policy , aimed at delaying and frustrating the British Government from passing Irish coercion acts , outraged Isaac Butt , it was regarded with approval by even the most militant varities of Nationalist opinion , including some prominent Fenians .

Having said that , however , it should also be stressed that many Fenians , especially Kickam and O'Leary , remained totally opposed to any form of constitutionalism and the development of the IRB's attitude to the constitutionalists was an uneasy process , leading almost to the destruction of the IRB itself .

In 1877 , Joseph Biggar was joined by Charles Stewart Parnell and other Irish MP's and the policy of obstruction and filibustering undertaken by them increased their standing among militant nationalists , especially the Clann na Gael (the IRB's American ) leadership . At the same time , John Devoy was finding the relative absence of publicly expressed opposition to British rule in Ireland an impediment to enlisting foreign support for the Republican cause . The Clann na Gael leadership were already sold on the idea of an alliance of sorts with C. S. Parnell in which they hoped he would espouse separatism .

Discussions between Parnell and individual Fenians , like J.J. O' Kelly and Dr. William O'Connor , led them to believe that Parnell was committed to the principle of absolute independence , something to which he was not in fact disposed .......


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 .

Ampliclox antibiotics , Ponstan pain killers and k50 sedatives were administered to John O'Grady , who had just had two of his fingers cut off . Tony McNeill , one of the kidnap gang , had been upstairs in the house when that happened ; he came in to the room with a basin of hot water and dressings - " Jesus Christ , Jesus Christ ... " he repeated , and left . It fell to Eddie Hogan to apply the dressings , which proved inadequate . O'Grady instructed the gang to cut up a linen sheet and boil it for one hour to sterilise it , and told them to boil a scissors in the same way .

Under O'Grady's guidance , Hogan re-dressed both hands and applied a tourniquet to both fingers ; O'Grady then fell asleep holding his hands up to stop the bleeding .

Dessie O'Hare , meanwhile , had left Carnlough Road and was back on the telephone to Hilary Prentice ; he wanted her home telephone number so that he could ring her later to tell her where John O'Grady's fingers could be picked up . During that call it was clear to Prentice that O'Hare's temper had not improved . She began telling him that 'Auntie Bettie' had searched the area around the statue carefully - " It's just cost John two of his fingers . Now I am going to chop him up into bits and pieces and send you fresh lumps of him every fucking day if I don't get my money fast . " He told Prentice to send someone back to the cathedral and "...smash up the fucking statue if necessary .. " to get the note .

Dessie O'Hare rang Hilary Prentice at home that evening ; she told him that she had been in contact with the O'Grady family and they were anxious to co-operate - " Well they would want to now , because there's two fingers lying in Carlow Cathedral .." , replied O'Hare .......