Wednesday, November 02, 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 THOMPSON , jailed for three years at Belfast Crown Court in May 1974 for manslaughter of Phillip Lowrey . The killing was described in court as " accident.. " .

GERALD TODD of Belfast , sentenced to one year (suspended) in January 1973 for the illegal possession of a sub-machine gun .

DENIS GEORGE WARTON of Loughgilly , County Armagh , jailed for six months in September 1977 for armed robbery .

PATRICIA SHIRLEY WHYTE , UDR 'Greenfinch' , of Limavady , charged in February 1984 for attempted murder of a local woman in the same month .

WILLIAM MICHAEL WORKMAN of Islandmagee , County Antrim , sentenced to five years in March 1977 for possession of a sub-machine gun and three other guns . Known to be the 'Training Officer' of the East Antrim UVF .

KENNETH YOUNG of Portadown , sentenced to five years in February 1978 for shooting up (Catholic) Obins Street area on July 12 , 1977 .

(Tomorrow - 'A History of Armagh Jail' : from 1984.)


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 poor people and the young people , always supportive of Irish Republicanism , were voting in greater numbers (in the December 1918 election) than before ; this , allied with the number of prominent nationalists of 'the old school' who came out publicly in support of Sinn Fein candidates and the failure of the 'Nationalist Party' to muster an election machine , in no less than 26 constituencies , meant that these constituencies , representing nearly a quarter of the total Irish electorate , went to Sinn Fein even before polling day .

The Sinn Fein election manifesto made it clear that Sinn Fein stood for an Irish Republic and that its elected candidates , refusing to attend at Westminster , would form a National Assemby in Dublin . The results of the election were Sinn Fein 73 seats , Unionists 26 . The Nationalist Home Rule Party retained only six seats , four of which it held thanks to an electoral pact with Sinn Fein . Of the Unionist vote there was a Unionist majority in only four of the nine Ulster counties and in only one of these , County Antrim , was it as high as two to one .

Equally interesting was that although Sinn Fein with a vote of 485,105 had won nearly all the nationalist seats, 237,293 nationalists voted for the 'Nationalist Party' and , presumably , against Sinn Fein . Despite this , however , for the first time in Irish history a party demanding total sovereign independence for Ireland had received a massive national mandate from the Irish people and the Republic , proclaimed in arms in 1916 , was ratified by popular vote . The old 'Nationalist Party' , which had dominated Irish (constitutional) politics for over thirty-five years and held sixty-eight seats in the British House of Commons had been virtually obliterated , at least in terms of seats .

Sinn Fein won 47 per cent of all votes cast and almost 65 per cent of the votes cast in what afterwards was to become known as ' the 26 counties ' .......



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 .

A £100,000 reward for the capture of Dessie O' Hare had been offered by the Free State Cabinet ; the gardai , meanwhile , were raiding houses of known INLA sympathisers ; on the morning of November 11 , 1987 , eleven armed Detectives with uniformed back-up support called to a house in Le Fanu Drive in Ballyfermot , Dublin - they knocked on the door but got no reply . Detective Sergeant Michael Carolan kicked the door down . Tony McNeill was asleep in the living room on a couch . He gave the Detectives a false name , but was recognised by some of the raiding party who put it to him that he was 'Anthony McNeill' ; he made no reply . There was a gun in his jacket , and a letter addressed to " ...those I love , especially my mother .. " .

In that letter was a poem dedicated to his three-year-old-son , entitled - ' A Bright Star' . McNeill was arrested under Section 30 of the Offences Against the State Act and taken to Ballyfermot Garda Station : once there , he made a half-hearted bid to escape - he was said to be consumed with remorse . " I wish I was dead, " he told Detectives , who claimed that he broke down in tears while in custody and pleaded with them to contact his family to re-assure them that he had played no part in the severing of John O' Grady's fingers and that he had argued against cutting off the fingers and , when it happened , had prayed for John O' Grady .

He was asked if he had tried to prevent the other gang members cutting off John O' Grady's fingers - " No ," he replied , " but when he (Dessie O' Hare) gets wired up nobody could stop him . He acts like he is in Vietnam . " Tony McNeill was said to be co-operative in garda custody , freely admitting his involvement in the kidnap . He refused , however , to discuss specific incidents . " I will have to live with these fellows in Portlaoise, " he told them . One of the detectives asked him " How in the name of Christ did you get involved with O' Hare ? " " I used to think he was a socialist , but I know now he is one dastardly bastard , " he responded .......