Wednesday, October 12, 2005

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

On the weekend of January 10th/11th 1970 the Sinn Fein Ard Fheis was held ; the structural proposals were carried but the non-participation in parliament policy remained on the books .

But then Denis Cassin , a leading Civil Rights activist and IRA man , stood up to propose a vote of confidence in the Army Council of the IRA . This was routine procedure . Cassin was armed at the time and , before he could propose the vote of confidence another armed delegate , Sean MacStiofain , was up proposing a vote of confidence in the Provisional Army Council : on the following morning the Dublin journalist instrumental in making the contact between the Belfast IRA and Fianna Fail announced the split in banner headlines .

The simmering split was complete ; the Dublin Government's monies which were going North were now directed only to the Provisionals . 'The Voice Of The North' newspaper continued in existence until the end of 1970 . The rest is already public knowledge - the ministerial sackings , the eventual Arms Trial , the inquiry by the Committee of Public Accounts into the £100,000 and the continuing power struggles in Fianna Fail .

(Tomorrow - ' UDR'S ROTTEN APPLES' - from 1984 .)

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 1878 Charles Stewart Parnell was re-elected , with Fenian help and against the wishes of Isaac Butt , as President of the Home Rule Confederation of Great Britain . At this point John Devoy offered Parnell the 'New Departure' package and the support of American (Irish) nationalists on the following conditions -

1. Abandonment of the federal demand and substitution of a general declaration in favour of self government .
2. Vigorous agitation of the land question on the basis of a peasant proprietory , while accepting concessions tending to abolish arbitrary eviction .
3. Exclusion of all sectarian issues from the platform .
4. Party members to vote together on all imperial and home questions , adopt an agressive policy and energetically resist coercive legislation .
5. Advocacy of all struggling nationalities in the British Empire and elsewhere .

The Fenian John Devoy further publicly suggested that a majority of members of (the British) Parliament , secured by such an alliance , should eventually meet as an Irish legislative " ...making that declaration a signal for a war of independence (if the country) were otherwise ready .. " . In relation to the land question he advocated involvement in the Land League , started in Connaught in 1879 by Michael Davitt and a handful of Fenian allies and poor tenants .

While deeply involved in land agitation , this section of the Fenians also felt that the land question was "...the material for victory.. " in the sense that James Fintan Lalor had first advocated .......


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 .

Solicitor Hilary Prentice gave Dessie O'Hare an aircell telephone number where he could speak directly to Dr. Austin Darragh : O'Hare wanted to know if there was a tap on the aircell number . Prentice said she did'nt know , to which O'Hare replied - " They must be very naive . Tell them to wake up . Tell them to contact the 'Security Risk' crowd . " He then hung up , only to ring back immediately to make more threats . Prentice emphasised that the family wanted to co-operate . O'Hare told her that the fingers were in the mortuary chapel in Carlow Cathedral .

The O'Grady family were to put the note in Limerick and the note in Carlow together and that would instruct them how and when to pay the ransom . Inside the envelope in Carlow there were three envelopes - one containing the fingers of John O'Grady , another containing photographs of John O'Grady showing his fingers severed , and the third containing a note . O'Hare rang Prentice : " Now , if they have'nt got the ransom I don't know what I wil do . I'll chop this fucking bastard up . I'm reaching the end of my tether . Don't forget to go to Kilkenny to get the other message , " he repeated - she would need both messages . O'Hare then hung up the phone .

Hilary Prentice was more nonplussed than ever : where did Kilkenny come in ? Immediately the phone rang again - it was Dessie O'Hare ; when he said Kilkenny he really meant Limerick . Prentice updated the O'Grady family on the latest developments - the gardai were also informed . Detective Chief Superintendent Murphy of the Central Detective Unit in Harcourt Square contacted Superintendent John McGroarty in Carlow Garda Station to ask him to organise a search of Carlow Cathedral . Murphy's record of the call is that he made it at 8.45 PM . McGroarty asked Detective Frank Duggan to locate Rev. Tom Dillon , the keyholder , on the basis of a phone call he received at 10.15 PM .

At 11 PM McGroarty and Duggan were let into the cathedral by Rev. Dillon ; they found the note . McGroarty returned to the station and telephoned Detective Superintendent John Murphy in Harcourt Square . Murphy told him to open the package ; wrapped in blood-stained tissue were John O'Gradys fingers . Also in the package were the photographs and note referred to earlier by Dessie O'Hare in his conversation with Hilary Prentice .......