" 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.)



This blog was listed as one of the 'Finalists' in the '2016 current affairs/politics' category of the Littlewoods Ireland blog awards - but we didn't win the award. Ah well! Thanks to everyone involved for getting us to the final stage of the competition and sure we'll try again next year!

Friday, January 21, 2005

THE BOUNDARY COMMISSION , 1921-1925 .......
A British 'sleight-of-hand' which caused a mutiny within British forces in Ireland.......

....... British Lieutenant-Colonel 'Sir' Charles Wickham was a good 'all-rounder' for the British Crown ; as the 'Divisional Commissioner for Ulster' in the RIC (from 1920 to 1922) , he helped to establish the 'Ulster Special Constabulary' . In 1922 , at 43 years of age , he was appointed as the Inspector-General of the RUC , a position he held until 1945 .......


In 1945 , British Lieutenant-Colonel 'Sir' Charles Wickham was 66 years of age ; but no rest for the wicked ! He was sent to Greece to serve as the 'Head of British Police and Prisons Mission' , where he 'crossed swords' with the ELAS guerilla group . He remained in that position until 1952 (when he was 73 years of age) . The man died in 1972 , at the grand age of 93 .

'Tangents , tangents ' ! : As I was saying (ages and pages ago !) - on 7th October 1924 , British 'Sir' James Craig (Stormont 'Prime Minister') practically threatened Westminster that he would be prepared to lead 40,000 armed men against said institution if same recommended changes to the Six County area (re the 'Boundary Commission' report) . Craig was referring to the 'Special Constabulary' - the Ulster (sic) Special Constabulary Association , a powerful group in its day .

It was estimated that , at the peak of its power , one in every five of the adult male Protestant population was a member ! Following the final report of the Boundary Commission it became clear that the Free Staters were no longer prepared (if , indeed , they ever were) to push for changes regarding the 'border' , and the British realised that they had no further use for the Special Constabulary , so they set-about disbanding them ; money was put on the table .......

(MORE LATER).


THE POLITICS OF H-BLOCK .......
By Vincent Browne .

From 'MAGILL' magazine , December 1980 , pages 26 and 27 .
Re-published here in 10 parts .
(5 of 10).

Inside the prison , the initial H-Block protestors were young inexperienced members of the Movement ; they understood the basic politics of jail protest but they had little sense of leadership . Through the aegis of the authorities , however , this deficiency was rectified by the placement of Brendan Hughes in the H-Blocks , where he quickly became the chief organiser of the protest . Hughes , aged 32 , had been on the Belfast Brigade Staff of the Provisional IRA prior to his capture in 1974 in a flat off the Malone Road in Belfast .

He had previously been arrested and beaten in June 1973 but he escaped from Long Kesh in October 1973 , hidden inside a used mattress which was being dumped .

Brendan Hughes was Officer Commanding of his cage in Long Kesh and was a Special Category Prisoner - the charge on which he was convicted was committed prior to March 1976 , the 'cut-off' date for Special Category status . Hughes got involved in a row between another prisoner and a warder after the latter had insulted the prisoner's wife during a visit .

Hughes was convicted of assualt on the warder , even though another warder had given evidence in support of Hughes' defence that he had moved in to break up the row . As the assualt charge related to a time after March 1976 , Brendan Hughes suddenly lost his Special Category status and was transferred from the compound at Long Kesh to one of the H-Blocks .......

(MORE LATER).


NORAID'S UNTOLD MILLIONS .......

Irish-Americans have long had complex and contradictory relations with Ireland and the 'Irish Question' . On Saint Patrick's Day , all the ambiguities are apparent .
This year (ie 1987) , on Saint Patrick's Day , the latest book by Irish writer , Jack Holland was published in New York , exploring the tangled web of links between Irish-Americans and the Irish in Ireland , the IRA and the Irish government .

' The American Connection ' describes the activities of leading Irish-American politicians , of romanticising writers and of gun-runners .
In this edited extract , the author tells how Noraid was set up and how it has resisted pressures to disclose all the sources and uses of its funds .
First published in 'MAGILL' magazine , April 1987 .
Re-published here in 31 parts .
(28 of 31).

NORAID attracted many conservative Irish-Americans who could only see the Irish 'problem' as a British-versus-Irish struggle ; anything deeper than that , especially with a social and economic analysis smacking of socialism , was rejected angrily . The INAC is aware of this ; they know that if Irish Republican left-wingers had their way in America , supporting blacks and Palestinians and Salvadoran guerrilas , it would alienate many Irish-Americans .

In America , those contradictions are easily resolved by being ignored . The chief platform which the INAC has for expounding Irish Republican views is 'The Irish People' newspaper - though it is not in any sense owned or run by NORAID , it is edited by NORAID's publicity director , Martin Galvin , and its policies generally support those of both the IRA and the INAC . The bulk of 'The Irish People's ' material comes from Sinn Fein's weekly newspaper An Phoblacht but the left-wing world view of that newspaper is not evident from the selections that appear in 'The Irish Preople' .

Though South Africa-related stories have occasionally been reprinted , the Sinn Fein-IRA attitude on most other liberation struggles , which An Phoblacht expresses , is , in general , omitted .......

(MORE LATER).






Thursday, January 20, 2005

THE BOUNDARY COMMISSION , 1921-1925 .......
A British 'sleight-of-hand' which caused a mutiny within British forces in Ireland.......

....... on 9th November 1921 , the Divisional Commissioner of the RIC in the Six Counties , a Lieut.-Colonel 'Sir' Charles Wickham , sent a 'secret' circular to his men stating that Westminster was considering hiring more UVF men to work as 'Special Constabulary' ; a copy of his circular ended up in the hands of Michael Collins who threw it at the Brits during the Treaty of Surrender negotiations (on 23rd November 1921) and told them that that circular , alone , could end the Negotiations - so the Brits instructed 'their' man in the Six Counties , 'Sir' James Craig (the Stormont 'Prime Minister') to withdraw and dis-own Wickham's circular .......


'Sir' Charles Wickham had an interesting background - he spent 23 years as the man in charge of the 'B' Specials , and was also Head of the RUC for a period . He was born in 1879 , in England , and was educated at Harrow and Sandhurst , where he no doubt picked-up his 'stiff upper lip' . At 20 years young he joined the British Army and served in the Boer War and in the 'First World War' .

Between the years 1918 and 1920 he served as a Lieutenant-Colonel with the British military 'mission' in the Russian Civil War , following which (at 41 years young) he was the 'Divisional Commissioner for Ulster' in the RIC , from 1920 to 1922 .

It was at that time in his 'career' that he helped to establish the Ulster Special Constabulary . At 43 years young he was appointed as the Inspector-General of the RUC , a position he held until 1945 when , at 66 years of age , his paymasters in Westminster formed the opinion that the 'johnnies' in the 'colonies' would benefit from a spot of ' Wickham-ism ' .......

(MORE LATER).


THE POLITICS OF H-BLOCK .......
By Vincent Browne .

From 'MAGILL' magazine , December 1980 , pages 26 and 27 .
Re-published here in 10 parts .
(4 of 10).

Perhaps the most important of these has been has been the failure of successive political initiatives on the part of the British Government . An indication of the Catholic frustration with the stalemate is the refusal of the SDLP to participate in another round of elections for another convention or assembly which does'nt offer them guaranteed power-sharing . Also the renewed interest by the SDLP in the all-Ireland dimension . Whatever else the SDLP may be , it is a good barometer of feeling within the Catholic community , even if it lags behind on the more hard line issues , such as H-Block .

Then , of course , there has been the continued tale of brutality and torture emanating from Castlereagh - it was'nt difficult to link this with the H-Block issue , as virtually all the prisoners of H-Block have graduated through Castlereagh and many of them have undoubtedly been brutalised and made to sign forced confessions .

And finally there was the apparent reasonableness of the demands of the prisoners ; whatever else the Catholic community thinks of the Provisional IRA , they know that there is a political motivation involved in their campaign and the refusal to acknowledge this by the authorities seems merely vindictive .......

(MORE LATER).


NORAID'S UNTOLD MILLIONS .......

Irish-Americans have long had complex and contradictory relations with Ireland and the 'Irish Question' . On Saint Patrick's Day , all the ambiguities are apparent .
This year (ie 1987) , on Saint Patrick's Day , the latest book by Irish writer , Jack Holland was published in New York , exploring the tangled web of links between Irish-Americans and the Irish in Ireland , the IRA and the Irish government .

' The American Connection ' describes the activities of leading Irish-American politicians , of romanticising writers and of gun-runners .
In this edited extract , the author tells how Noraid was set up and how it has resisted pressures to disclose all the sources and uses of its funds .
First published in 'MAGILL' magazine , April 1987 .
Re-published here in 31 parts .
(27 of 31).

While Sean Flynn , an IRSP Belfast City Councillor , was in America , he undertook a tour of his own , organised by a small left-wing support group , the H-Block Armagh Committee , based in New York . Outside the INAC circuit , Sean Flynn spoke to mainly small , radical groups , not prime fund-raising sources . However , INAC people would occasionally show up .

On one occasion , on the West Coast , Flynn met a NORAID supporter who was a millionaire warehouse owner ; the wealthy Irish-American at first assumed that Flynn was just another IRA or Sinn Fein activist on the 'stomp' looking for dollars , not realising his left-wing background . Flynn mentioned the need for funds to cover the funeral expenses of two of the hunger strikers , and the millionaire generously offered to write a cheque out the following morning for whatever the cost was .

Flushed with this offer , the IRSP spokesman invited the would-be patron along to hear him speak that evening : the millionaire showed-up , only to find himself in the company of radicals , blacks , and various leftist politicos . He was appalled when Flynn spoke , comparing North of Ireland Catholics and their struggle with that of the blacks in South Africa .

The millionaire got up to leave - he told Sean Flynn their morning appointment was cancelled . Shocked , Flynn asked why . " I don't like niggers , " he was told .......

(MORE LATER).






Wednesday, January 19, 2005

THE BOUNDARY COMMISSION , 1921-1925 .......
A British 'sleight-of-hand' which caused a mutiny within British forces in Ireland.......

....... the 'Special Constabulary' had been formed , mainly from the ranks of the 'Ulster Volunteer Force' (UVF) , a pro-British militia - but the UVF was still in existence , with a British Colonel , F.H. Crawford , in charge of it . It had 20,000 armed members , and the politicians in Westminster were looking at Crawford and his organisation , and wondering if they could use it , too .......


The RIC was in favour of such a move by Westminster ; on the 9th November 1921 , the Divisional Commissioner of the RIC in the Six Counties , a Colonel 'Sir' Charles Wickham , stated , in a 'secret' circular which he sent to other RIC bosses in the Six Counties -

- " Owing to the number of reports which have been received as to the growth of unauthorised Loyalist defence forces , the (British) Government have under consideration the desirability of obtaining the services of the best elements of these organisations . They have decided that the scheme most likely to meet the situation would be to enrol all who volunteer and are considered suitable into Class 'C' (of the 'Special Constabulary') and to form them into regular military units .

There is no necessity to produce the maximum possible number of units ; what is required is to ensure that every unit recommended for formation can be constituted from a reliable section of the population . "

Note how the supposed 'neutral' RIC described the UVF paramilitary organisation as a "... loyalist defence force .." and as " .. a reliable section of the population ... " - the Brits were then , and still are today , 'in charge' of said Loyalist paramilitary organisations , and use them to carry-out 'jobs' which Westminster wants done , but not 'officially' . Also , about two weeks after 'Sir' Wickham wrote and dispatched his 'secret' circular , a copy of it found its way into the hands of Michael Collins who , on 23rd November 1921 , whilst attending Treaty negotiations with the British in London , produced it to the startled Brits and told them it may very well signal the end of the 'negotiations' .

Westminster called-in its top man in the Six Counties - 'Sir' James Craig , the Stormont 'Prime Minister' - and told him that the 'secret' circular would have to be withdrawen ; Craig then instructed his 'Minister for Home Affairs' , a Mr. Richard Dawson Bates (a UVF man himself) to withdraw the circular . However , by way of a 'two-fingered salute' to his political masters in Westminster , when he returned to Belfast , Craig increased the number of 'A Specials' by 700 men , and the 'B Specials' by 5,000 men ! If they could'nt 'hire' " ... from a reliable section of the population ... " in one way , then they'd find another way to do it !

Colonel 'Sir' Charles Wickham had an interesting background - a Brit through and through .......

(MORE LATER).


THE POLITICS OF H-BLOCK .......
By Vincent Browne .

From 'MAGILL' magazine , December 1980 , pages 26 and 27 .
Re-published here in 10 parts .
(3 of 10).

The Provos themselves eventually agreed on a broad front strategy and took part in a Relatives Action Conference in the Green Briar Hotel , Belfast , in September 1979 . Even then they were ambiguous about their commitment to co-operation with other groups . The Chairperson of the meeting was a committed Provo and although there was a rule that no person could speak more than once , Gerry Adams , Vice President of Provisional Sinn Fein , spoke on at least ten occasions and managed to dominate preceedings .

Resolutions from other organisations were hindered and of course any criticisms of the Provo campaign went unheard . In spite of this a broad-based National H-Block movement got off the ground , with support from the IRSP , the Peoples Democracy , Bernadette McAliskey's organisation in mid-Ulster and a number of other small groups , as well as Provisional Sinn Fein .

The progress of the campaign has been classically successful ; there was a gradual build up of activity , with demonstrations attracting greater and greater support . But of course it was'nt just the astute organisation of the campaign which led to the vast volume of support it has won across the Northern Catholic community .

Other factors were of greater significance .......

(MORE LATER).


NORAID'S UNTOLD MILLIONS .......

Irish-Americans have long had complex and contradictory relations with Ireland and the 'Irish Question' . On Saint Patrick's Day , all the ambiguities are apparent .
This year (ie 1987) , on Saint Patrick's Day , the latest book by Irish writer , Jack Holland was published in New York , exploring the tangled web of links between Irish-Americans and the Irish in Ireland , the IRA and the Irish government .

' The American Connection ' describes the activities of leading Irish-American politicians , of romanticising writers and of gun-runners .
In this edited extract , the author tells how Noraid was set up and how it has resisted pressures to disclose all the sources and uses of its funds .
First published in 'MAGILL' magazine , April 1987 .
Re-published here in 31 parts .
(26 of 31).

The Irish Republican Socialist Party (IRSP) sent over one of its leading members , Sean Flynn , a Belfast city councillor , to meet INAC officials in New York ; he was asking for one-third of the money , since in the cold arithmetic of death , approximately one-third of the ten men who died on hunger-strike were INLA members . Sean Flynn also pointed out that Liz O'Hara had played an important part in the tour which raised the money .

Sean Flynn met INAC officials in New York ; he told them that the families of two of the dead INLA men still owed money for the funerals of their sons . In one case , they did'nt have enough to cover the cost of their electricity bills and travelling expenses . When Flynn went to the home of a prominent INAC member , he was told that NORAID knew nothing about giving money to the IRSP .

Their meeting deteriorated into a shouting match , and Sean Flynn was asked to leave .......

(MORE LATER).






Tuesday, January 18, 2005

THE BOUNDARY COMMISSION , 1921-1925 .......
A British 'sleight-of-hand' which caused a mutiny within British forces in Ireland.......

....... in November 1920 , recruitment commenced for the 'Special Constabulary' ; three months later (ie January[23rd] 1921) , the RIC (pro-British 'police force') got a call telling them that a pub in Clones , County Monaghan , was being destroyed by armed men - the RIC , thinking it was an IRA Unit 'closing-down' the pub because it served and sheltered enemy forces , 'tooled-up' and hit the road .......


The RIC pulled-up outside the premises - and opened fire on those inside ! And what a pity that those RIC men were'nt better shots or more heavily armed , or both , for those inside the pub were members of the 'Special Constabulary' , doing what they did best : looting ! One of them was shot dead by the RIC gunfire .

Meanwhile , while the 'Specials' were out looting and the RIC (when not doing the same !) were mistakingly shooting at them , the 'Ulster Volunteer Force' (UVF) , a Loyalist paramilitary organisation , (from which group the 'Specials' came) were still active ; the new man in charge was British Colonel F.H. Crawford , who had played an active part in the Larne gun-running episode in 1914 .

Westminster estimated UVF membership at 20,000 armed men ; its leader , Crawford , is perhaps better known for signing his name in blood on 'Ulster's Solemn League and Covenant' , and was regarded by those who worked with him as 'a fanatic' .

But rather than be alarmed at this 20,000-strong UVF organisation , the Brits were considering using it for their own advantage - the RIC were known to be in favour of such a move .......

(MORE LATER).


THE POLITICS OF H-BLOCK .......
By Vincent Browne .

From 'MAGILL' magazine , December 1980 , pages 26 and 27 .
Re-published here in 10 parts .
(2 of 10).

The support on the outside for the H-Block protest was minimal and Provisional Sinn Fein seemed unable to muster even a gesture of solidarity . Certainly they were not prepared to co-operate with individuals or organisations that were not also prepared to support the military struggle .

This has been one of the major issues of division within the Provisional Republican Movement for several years ; some of the die-hard elements don't want to co-operate with people who have reservations about the military campaign , while others are more aware of the need for a broad anti-imperialist front .

It was perhaps Bernadette McAliskey more than anyone else who convinced the die-hards within the Provos to co-operate with individuals and groups on a broad front ; she organised the 'Coalisland Conference' in early 1979 and while the Provos attempted to 'pack' the meeting and block votes on issues , it opened their awareness to the possibilities of a 'broad' campaign .

The 'Relatives Action Committee' included many non-Provo supporters and there had been several clashes within it over the question of support for the military campaign .......

(MORE LATER).


NORAID'S UNTOLD MILLIONS .......

Irish-Americans have long had complex and contradictory relations with Ireland and the 'Irish Question' . On Saint Patrick's Day , all the ambiguities are apparent .
This year (ie 1987) , on Saint Patrick's Day , the latest book by Irish writer , Jack Holland was published in New York , exploring the tangled web of links between Irish-Americans and the Irish in Ireland , the IRA and the Irish government .

' The American Connection ' describes the activities of leading Irish-American politicians , of romanticising writers and of gun-runners .
In this edited extract , the author tells how Noraid was set up and how it has resisted pressures to disclose all the sources and uses of its funds .
First published in 'MAGILL' magazine , April 1987 .
Re-published here in 31 parts .
(25 of 31).

According to sources close to the U.S. tour itself , the three relatives raised about a quarter of a million dollars - more than the INAC had been able to collect in any year since 1972 , at least according to its official returns .

But the INAC alleges that no more than $200,000 was collected for the whole year , and that the relatives' tour was only a small part of the overall campaign .

The question of how much money was contributed was to have other ramifications when it came to deciding how it should be divided up , and whether or not the INLA and its political wing , the Irish Republican Socialist Party (IRSP) , were entitled to a share .

The INLA's political wing , the IRSP , met with Sinn Fein and demanded a slice of the $250,000 'cake' that the IRSP claimed had been produced by the U.S. tour , but Sinn Fein reportedly told the IRSP that it must address its requests to the INAC .......

(MORE LATER).






Monday, January 17, 2005

THE BOUNDARY COMMISSION , 1921-1925 .......
A British 'sleight-of-hand' which caused a mutiny within British forces in Ireland.......

....... Joe Devlin was amongst those who objected to a Loyalist paramilitary organisation being armed by Westminster (the UVF) and being called a ' police force ' ; Devlin was a busy man - as well as other political jobs , he acted as General Secretary for the United Irish League (UIL)/Home Rule Party , from 1904 to 1920 .......


At 34 years of age , Joe Devlin served as the 'National President' of the Ancient Order of Hibernians , a position he held for 29 years (!) [until he died in 1934] , during which time he forged links between the Ancient Order of Hibernians and the United Irish League .

He first took a seat in Stormont in 1921 (at 50 years of age) [and stayed there until 1934] ; in 1928 (at 57 years of age) he founded , and Chaired , the 'National League of the North ' . Incidentally , he was not related to Bernadette Devlin or Paddy Devlin : end of that Joe Devlin 'tangent' !

Back to basics : in November 1920 , in Belfast , recruitment for the 'Specials' commenced ; the 'calibre' of these 'Specials' can be accurately gauged from an incident on 23rd January 1921 , when the RIC were called-out to investigate a claim that a pub in Clones , County Monaghan , was being destroyed by armed men .

Thinking it was an IRA Unit 'closing down' a pub because it served and sheltered enemy forces , the RIC 'tooled-up' and hit the road .......

(MORE LATER).


THE POLITICS OF H-BLOCK .
By Vincent Browne .

From 'MAGILL' magazine , December 1980 , pages 26 and 27 .
Re-published here in 10 parts .
(1 of 10).

The H-Block issue has caused divisions in Irish society deeper than any exposed during the last decade of troubles in the North . Not alone are the unionist and nationalist communities now sharply polarised again , but there has arisen the spectre of a deep and hostile division between the nationalist community in the North and the vast majority of the people of southern Ireland .

The degree of support for H-Block protestors in the Catholic areas of the North has witnessed no parallel , certainly not since the Civil Rights demonstrations of the late 1960's . The Roman Catholic community's alienation from the Provisional IRA was thought to be almost complete following a succession of atrocities , culminating in the La Mons disaster , and the very obvious support given to the 'Peace People' in 1976 .

Yet it was during the 'Peace Peoples' most notable triumphs on the streets of the Falls and Shankill that the H-Block issue started to germinate .

It was that summer that young Kieran Nugent started on his blanket protest , which seemed doomed to failure and a wall of public indifference .......

(MORE LATER).


NORAID'S UNTOLD MILLIONS .......

Irish-Americans have long had complex and contradictory relations with Ireland and the 'Irish Question' . On Saint Patrick's Day , all the ambiguities are apparent .
This year (ie 1987) , on Saint Patrick's Day , the latest book by Irish writer , Jack Holland was published in New York , exploring the tangled web of links between Irish-Americans and the Irish in Ireland , the IRA and the Irish government .

' The American Connection ' describes the activities of leading Irish-American politicians , of romanticising writers and of gun-runners .
In this edited extract , the author tells how Noraid was set up and how it has resisted pressures to disclose all the sources and uses of its funds .
First published in 'MAGILL' magazine , April 1987 .
Re-published here in 31 parts .
(24 of 31).

Objections were raised to Liz O'Hara's presence on the tour ; could'nt someone with more pure 'republican' connections be found ? Ironically , at the same time that some of NORAID's leaders were expressing these objections , ' The Irish People ' newspaper was praising Patsy O'Hara as a martyr .

In the end , Malachy McCreesh and Bobby Sands' brother , Sean , refused to go on the U.S. tour unless Liz O'Hara accompanied them - whatever INAC's objections were , they had to be put aside in the interests of solidarity with the hunger strikers .

The vexing question of exactly how much cash was raised on that tour was made even more complex than usual with NORAID at this time : because it was in dispute with the U.S. Justice Department over the registration issue , the Committee was refusing to file its six-monthly financial returns . The last period for which those figures were available before 1984 , when the dispute was resolved , was January-July 1981 .

For this period , NORAID disclosed that it raised $92,800 , a startingly small sum considering the huge swell of support it was then getting .......

(MORE LATER).