Tuesday, October 18, 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 ? 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 .From 'The Phoenix' magazine , 30 March 1984 .
JOHN BEST of Belfast , sentenced to two years in in February 1978 for assembling a bomb for the UDA .
DESMOND WILLIAM BOYD of Strabane , fined £20 in April 1978 for firing off a machine-gun while drunk and off duty .
WILLIAM JOHN CAHOON of Belfast , fined £125 in December 1983 for reckless driving . Allegedly tried to run down two Ardoyne youths .
HAROLD CARDWELL of Carrickfergus , jailed for 18 months in January 1976 for illegal possession of shotgun . UVF connections .
SAMUEL CARSON of Bangor and NOEL MOORE BOYD of Belfast , jailed for 15 and 12 years respectively in October 1976 for bombing an Irish pub in Kilburn , London .
BARRY CLARKE of Fivemiletown , convicted of attempted armed robbery . Suspended sentence in February 1981 .
KENNETH JOHN COCKRANE of Magherafelt , fined £100 in August 1983 for possession of loaded firearm , drunkeness and assault .


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 what is known as the Kilmainham Treaty in 1882 , Charles Stewart Parnell agreed to use his influence to restore order in Ireland while the British Government would release the prisoners , would deal with the question of 'rent' arrears in a manner satisfactory to the 'tenants' and would amend the Land Act of 1881 in certain ways , in particular by extending the benefit of its fair 'rent' clauses to leaseholders .
In fact the Land Act legalised the three 'F' 's , and while this did not ease the pressing social problems which remained especially in the West of Ireland , it was seen to be a considerabe victory .
In national terms , the power of the landlords was considerably reduced over large areas , the IRB had become increasingly involved in mass organisation of the people and in agitationary action by them together with localised armed actions . There was a partial undoing of the 'conquest' but not the progression into a nationalist war of independence with full 'peasant' backing as anticipated by many Fenians . This was based on the presumption , widespread among most quarters at that time , that the British would not concede the full demand of the land agitation . Parnell , with whom an alliance of sorts - unoffical but there all the same - was forged did not subscribe to this view .
He believed that a good measure of land reform , sufficient to end the agrarian social conflict , could be got from the British Parliament and that such reform would bring the landlords into the nationalist ranks and from there to a Home Rule Government .......


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 .

John O'Grady's fingers had been hacked off ; the kidnappers had shown themselves to be inept and sloppy . The Guinness Bi-Centennial card left at the scene of the Midleton shoot-out was almost as good as a forwarding address - the owner of that card , Paul O' Sullivan , told the gardai he had given the card to an acquaintance , Gerry Wright , who ran a barber's shop a few doors away . Detectives Henry Spring and Martin O' Connor went down to Wright's barber shop : when they went in Gerry Wright , who was reading a newspaper , jumped up and asked " Which of you is first ?" . The Detectives introduced themselves and asked Wright about the card . He told them he had used it as an admission card to get into the Guinness leisure centre and use their swimming pool . He also told them that he had lost the card a long time ago , and could not help them in their inquiries as to how it had been found at the scene of the Midleton shoot-out .

They questioned Gerry Wright further - he told them he lived at 260 Carnlough Road . He was asked by O ' Connor was there anybody else there ; Wright replied " No , " adding " ...you can look if you like . " Detective Henry Spring said they would need a search warrant . Wright started bluffing , and told them that there was nothing or nobody in his house and the gardai were welcome to search it without the necessity of getting a search warrant - Spring , O' Connor and Wright then got into the unmarked patrol car . It was nearly twelve noon .
Fr. Brian D'Arcy had earlier called to the Bank of Ireland in Baggot Street , Dublin , to collect the £1.5 million ransom and was already on his way to the Silver Springs Hotel in Cork to make the delivery .
Dr. Austin Darragh was in Leinster House locked in a heated exchange with (FS) Justice Minister Gerry Collins (FF) ; Darragh had been critical of the media coverage of the kidnap , which he considered reckless and irresponsible .

That morning the lead story in 'The Irish Independent' newspaper broke the news that the kidnappers had increased their ransom demand . 'The Irish Times' newspaper had also got the story from garda sources but had agreed to a news blackout . 'The Irish Independent' had apparently got their information from a (FS) Department of Justice source .......