" 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!

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 - * - ...it 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 .......