Thursday, October 27, 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 .

HENRY McCONNELL of Belfast , fined £65 in April 1975 for possession of ammunition in suspicious circumstances .

JOSEPH DENNIS McCONVILLE of Annaghmore , County Armagh , jailed for two years in September 1976 for theft of ammunition from a (British) Ministry of defence firing range .

HENRY McCOSH of Belfast , sentenced to six months (suspended) in February 1974 for possession of a revolver and more than 200 rounds of ammunition in suspicious circumstances .

RODERICK SHANE McDOWELL and RAYMOND THOMAS CROZIER , jailed for 35 years in October 1976 for the Miami Showband massacre . Two other UDR men , WESLEY SOMMERVILLE and HARRIS BOYLE , blew themselves up in the same incident . All four were members of the UVF .

JOSEPH McGRANAGHAN of Belfast , jailed for two years in April 1974 for possession of a revolver (previously 'stolen' from an RUC man) in suspicious circumstances .

JAMES McGUCKEN of Coagh , County Tyrone , fined £100 in December 1976 for assaulting local Catholics .


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 turn-out for the funeral of Thomas Ashe (on September 30 , 1917) gave a boost to Irish Republicans ; this was noted by the 'Establishment' in Westminster - 'The Daily Express' newspaper remarked - " The circumstances of Ashe's death and funeral have made 100,000 Sinn Feiners out of 100,000 constitutional nationalists ... " , while 'The Daily Mail' newspaper recalled that , a month earlier , Sinn Fein , despite its electoral successes , had been a waning force . That newspaper said - " It had no practical programme , for the programme of going further than anyone else cannot be so described . It was not making headway . But Sinn Fein today is pretty nearly another name for the vast bulk of youth in Ireland . "

In October 1917 , a Convention in Dublin was able to give more coherence to the political side of the national Movement , when two thousand people including delegates from over a thousand Sinn Fein cumann agreed on a new broadly nationalist constitution and elected a 24-person national executive . Despite the fact that the Movement owed much of its public support to the discipline and organising skill of the Republicans , its weakness , with the election of many anti-physical force constitutionalists to the executive , was becoming obvious to close observers .

However , with the need to build a genuinely broad based national Movement , which drew maximum support from all nationalist tendencies while still permitting the Republicans to manoeuvre in the background , their differences were successfully covered up , at least from the attention of the general populace .

The National Executive contained such diverse personalities as Eoin MacNeill who had tried to cancel the 1916 Rising and Cathal Brugha , an uncompromising Irish Republican who was badly wounded during the 1916 Rising . Interestingly , Eoin MacNeill headed the poll by more than 200 votes over Cathal Brugha who was his closest rival .

Against such political manoeuvrings the IRA stepped-up their raids for arms , and drilling and re-organisation continued .......


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 .

Fergal Toal was in Garda custody ; all the gardai had heard the instructions to hold him but none of them , in statements made subsequenty , made reference to being told that a second man had escaped ; the gardai in whose care Toal had been entrusted formed quite different opinions of him . Garda Fallon and Sergeant Merrigan stress that he appeared plausible and co-operative . When he had first 'arrived' into the garda station , he had asked for water to take tablets . Garda Moriarty thought he might be a mental patient !

Two Garda , Moriarty and Fallon , got Fergal Toal ready to put him into a cell . Sergeant Merrigan was standing about ten feet away ; Garda Moriarty took £222 from Toal's pocket with his left hand , whilst taking the mans belt off him with his right hand . Garda Fallon was helping Toal to step out of his jacket . " What are you doing with my money ? " , said Toal in his phoney Cork accent . His belt was caught in one of the loops of his trousers - Garda Moriarty turned around for a second to put the momey in his left hand on the table behind him ; when he looked back he saw Toal over at the door letting himself out to the reception area of the station .

Moriarty ran after him , as did Merrigan and Fallon . Fergal Toal crossed the reception to a door leading out to the narrow hallway to the entrance to the station , but Moriarty caught hold of his shirt . To his " great dismay ," as Moriarty later said , the shirt ripped and came away in his hand . The hallway was too narrow for the other gardai to get past : Toal jumped the seven steps leading up to the station and ran . It was the third time that Fergal Toal and Eddie Hogan had escaped from the gardai .......