" A wealth of information..."

"1169 And Counting is a wealth of information on our Republican past and present , and demonstrates how the Irish political landscape , like that of any nation, will never be a black and white issue..."

(From the ‘e-Thursday’ section of the ‘Business Week’ supplement of the ‘Irish Independent’ , 21st August 2008.)

IRISH BLOG AWARDS 2017 - ooops! It seems that our entry application was "not completed in time to be considered.." (?) and, as such, we are not now in the running. But we wish all the best to the successful entrants and to the organisers, and we hope all goes well for them on the day!

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 .......