Thursday, October 13, 2005

Five members of the 'Ulster Defence Regiment' , formerly based at Drummad Barracks in Armagh , have been charged with murder , and the recent visits to this barracks by both the Duke of Edinburgh and Mrs Thatcher caused an uproar in the North .
But how exceptional are the 'Drummad Five' ? Just how many 'rotten apples' are there in the 'Ulster Defence Regiment' , which is now the principal back-up force to the RUC in the North of Ireland ?
From 'The Phoenix' magazine , 30 March 1984 .

We have chronicled herewith almost one hundred cases where members of the 'Ulster Defence Regiment' (UDR) have been charged with serious offences , mostly involving firearms or explosives . It is a directory of Dishonourable Discharge that is unmatched in the 'security forces' of any country in Europe and probably not even in South America . And even this list does not claim to be exhaustive .

It is standard practice for any UDR member charged with a serious offence to be required to resign from the Regiment before appearing in court . He (or , in a very tiny number of cases , she ) is therefore described in court as a "...former.. " UDR member . Or the fact of UDR membership is not mentioned at all . For example , although Roderick Shane McDowell and Thomas Crozier , convicted in October 1976 of the Miami Showband massacre , were members of the UDR and operating in UDR uniforms at the time of the murders , this was not mentioned at their initial court appearance .

And it was not until after the conviction of the 'Shankill Butchers' in February 1979 that the UDR membership of one of their number , Edward McIlwaine , was made public , and then only after SDLP spokesperson Michael Canavan put a question publicly to Northern Secretary Roy Mason .

It is also worth noting that the UDA , in the October 1976 issue of its magazine 'Combat' , published a list of 57 UDA members serving time in Long Kesh who had been members of the 'security forces' as well : 17 of them were UDR . An accompanying article claimed - " This list by no means exhausts the numbers of ex-security forces now convicted of politically-motivated offences , and at least three times this number could be added if I were to include Magilligan Prison , Crumlin Road and the men in the other Loyalist paramilitary groups . "


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 .

The Fenian James Fintan Lalor stated , re the land question - " Let the occupiers of the soil refuse all further payment of rent to the present usurping proprietors , until the people , the true proprietors ....have in national congress....decided what rents they are to pay and to whom . " Devoy further believed that the British government's certain refusal of the full Irish demand for land reform ('peasant' proprietory was seen as more radical and far reaching a settlement that Isaac Butt's policy of the three 'F' 's *) would create the condition for a withdrawal from the British parliament . (* Fair rent , Fixity of tenure and Freedom to sell the tenant right .)

In this belief (that the demands of land agitation could not be met by the British Government ) at no time was Devoy advocating that the demand for Irish independence be suppressed in favour of agrarian agitation ; on the contrary , he argued that the land question had to be expanded to give it a nationalist character . In fact he accepted the risk of Britain undercutting the agitation by conceding compromise demands ('1169...' Comment - Westminster did in 1998 with the Stormont Treaty) as a justifiable risk because " ...good work will have been done , sound principles will have been inculcated and the country aroused and agitated .. " - in other words , in the event of a failure to win complete victory , John Devoy felt that at least a step forward would have been taken in the building up of nationalist forces .

Devoy called on the Fenians to enter political life to fight , in particular on the platform of land reform , and by doing so to strengthen their organisation and 'end their isolation' . The full political programme of the 'New Departure' was never agreed upon let alone implemented ; the IRB Supreme Council rejected it at a meeting in Paris in January 1879 although individual members were left free to take part in open political activity , though not to enter parliament . Furthermore , the economic crisis of Irish agriculture in 1879 plus the commencement of the agrarian agitation in Mayo reduced to some extent the relevance of these plans .......


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 .

Detective Superintendent John Murphy , from Harcourt Square , Dublin , told Superintendent McGroarty to get the package to Portlaoise Garda Station where he had already made arrangements for someone to take it to Dublin : McGroarty handed the package to Detective Frank Duggan , emphasising that he get O'Grady's severed fingers to Portlaoise as quickly as possible . The package reached Detective Superintendent Murphy at 2.00 AM ; only then , three hours after they came into the possession of the gardai , were the fingers put on ice , before being rushed to Jervis Street Hospital , Dublin .

Wednesday , November 4, 1987 , was the gloomiest of the twenty-three days of the kidnap for the gardai , the O'Grady family and John O'Grady himself ; he had awoke around 8.30AM - after breakfast , he took more painkillers , removed the dressings and washed his fingers in a basin of lukewarm water . There was a large clot on what remained of the little finger on his right hand , which he snipped with a scissors . Eddie Hogan helped apply a second tourniquet to the finger stump on that hand . In the afternoon he noticed the clot on the finger had worsened and decided he would have to remove this clot to stop the flow of blood . Immediately there was a spurt of arterial blood , which he managed to stop by using pressure with a linen dressing in his left hand .

He realised that the finger would have to be cauterised again , otherwise he might bleed to death . Dessie O'Hare was not in the house , so he called for Eddie Hogan and told him what had to be done . They went into the kitchen . On this occasion John O'Grady and gang members worked in tandem - there was no need to tie his legs together . He was put sitting in a chair and gagged ; one of the gang held his right arm which was put on the table , another man held his left arm . O'Grady wrapped his feet around the chair . Eddie Hogan cauterised the wound five or six times with a red-hot knife : the flow from the artery was checked and blood loss reduced to a trickle . O'Grady was retured to the alcove under the stairs , and Hogan gave him more painkillers and two bottles of beer to wash them down with . O'Grady then fell asleep .......