Friday, October 28, 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 .

EDWARD McILWAINE of Belfast , sentenced to 15 years in February 1979 for kidnapping , assault and possession with intent . One of the Shankill Butchers .

ALASDAIR McKENDRY of Ballymena , charged in August 1983 with armed robbery , illegal possession of arms and UVF membership .

WILLIAM McVEIGH of 7th Battalion UDR HQ , jailed for three years in October 1973 for possession of a revolver in suspicious circumstances .

EDGAR MEEHAN of Castlederg , sentenced (in Dublin) to six months in March 1976 for illegal possession of a sub-machine gun and 35 rounds of ammunition in County Donegal .

RONNIE NELSON 'BILLY' YEARL , SAMMY ANDERSON and BILLY McCLEANAGHAN , all of Cookstown-Maghera area , sentenced to 10 years each in April 1978 for 'robbing' 320 guns , 9,500 rounds of assorted ammunition , grenades and a rocket from Magherafelt UDR armoury , plus robbery and sectarian arson attacks . Also known to be members of the UDA .



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 .

An interesting insight into how the IRA viewed the new Sinn Fein Movement , in which some of them held executive positions , is given in a letter from the IRA Army Executive , which had come to light some months earlier : " The principle duty of the executive is to put the Volunteers in a position to complete by force of arms the work begun by the men of Easter week . The Volunteers are notified that the only orders they are to obey are those of their own executive . "

IRA Volunteers were reminded that , in the past , the conjunction of Fenianism with constitutional politics had led to the abandonment of physical force as a policy * and were warned to join Sinn Fein only in order to propagate the principles of their own organisation which was the only one to which they owed allegiance . (' 1169 ... ' Comment - * - happened again , beginning in 1986 , when a section of people deserted the Movement to enter constitutional politics . The leadership of that group are now paid salaries and expenses by Westminster , Stormont and Leinster House , and will soon be issuing instructions for their followers to 'police' the occupied Six Counties on behalf of Westminster . Their actions can only be described as treachery and , I believe , will be recorded as such by history. )

Sinn Fein , attempting to win 'moderate nationalists' to its side was much embarrassed by this letter and by the increasing actions of armed Volunteers throughout the country : in particular , the actions of groups of IRA Volunteers , especially in the West of Ireland , in commandeering private land (with compensation for the owners ) in the name of the Irish Republic and ploughing it up for food cultivation as a necessary precaution against famine , caused some discomfort to the Sinn Fein Executive , especially , given the criticism of these and other "...ill-considered agitations.. " by the Catholic Cardinal Logue and by many constitutional nationalists .

Against such a background Sinn Fein fought and lost three by-elections in the early part of 1918 ; however , none of these by-elections - a consoling factor for Sinn Fein - could be said to provide a representation of a cross section of the country as a whole . All three defeats were at the hands of the old Home Rule Nationalist Party - one in Waterford and the other two in South Armagh and East Tyrone . None of those three results were seen as decisive defeats for Sinn Fein , given the lack of organisation in the northern counties and the fact that the Waterford by-election , caused by the death of John Redmond , was contested by his son .......



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 .

23. "They tore the bloody shirt of my back ... "
Catherine Ryan had spent a pleasant evening with her friend Charles Barret ; they had dinner , met friends and finished off the night in Shaughnessy's Pub , in Kilfinane . They left at 10.30 pm and Ryan dropped off Barret at Buttevant - as she drove towards Tipperary she heard on the late news that the search for the two kidnappers was concentrated in Tipperary . She stopped in Ard Patrick and rang her friend , Charles Barret , who re-assured her that there was nothing to worry about . She ended the call by saying she would ring him when she got home safely .

Just outside Tipperary the road was blocked by a tree ; she stopped to clear it out of her way . Fergal Toal appeared and took the car , and he took Catherine Ryan as a hostage . He wanted to drive to Dublin but , after driving around back roads for three hours , he still had'nt left the county of Tipperary . He was chatting away with Ryan in the car and found out that she was a nurse ; he asked her to examine a cut on his little finger which he was concerned about . The finger was grazed and a little bit of the skin was off the knuckle . The radio news gave details of his escape and Ryan asked him if the report was accurate . " They tore the bloody shirt off my back , " Toal replied .

At one point Fergal Toal drove through a roadblock and within minutes was spotted by a garda patrol car which gave chase ; Toal crashed the car which turned over on its roof and skidded for forty yards . He got out of the car and threatened to kill Ryan , but was surprised from behind by Garda Pat Whelan who put one arm around Toal's neck and put a machine gun to his back with his other hand . For Fergal Toal it was all over .......