" 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, June 03, 2005

FETCH ....... !
By Gene Kerrigan .
Four years ago this month the RUC began trying to put JOHN O' REILLY away . Four 'Supergrasses' failed to do the job . O' REILLY is now in Michael Noonan's custody . The RUC have demanded that Noonan "...bring him forthwith .. " to answer the accusations of HARRY KIRKPATRICK .
From 'MAGILL' magazine , February 1986 .

John Grimley's accusations against John O' Reilly kept O' Reilly in jail for more than a year ; by the time the Grimley supergrass trial began , in November 1983 , John O' Reilly had been in jail for a total of twenty-two months .

When Grimley's record of robbery , violence , mental disorder , sexual assualt and lies was untangled the trial collapsed and the presiding judge , Lord Justice Gibson , called a halt , declaring that "...absolutely no reliance.. " could be placed on John Grimley's evidence . The twenty-two people , including John O' Reilly , who had spent long periods in jail , were discharged .

By then , however , the RUC had turned up Harry Kirkpatrick , who , himself , had been 'fingered' by the informers Jackie Goodman and John Grimley , became another INLA supergrass ; he in turn 'fingered' thirty-one people , including John O' Reilly . In the Grimley trial it had been alleged that the RUC had a list of people they wanted to put away and were soliciting accusations against those people from suitable supergrasses , with promises of easy treatment and shortened sentences .

John Grimley , after the collapse of his trial , alleged this against the RUC : Grimley , however , was a proven liar .......

(MORE LATER).




TO WESTMINSTER AND BACK .......
The Life And Times Of Gerry Fitt.
By Nell McCafferty .
First published in ' MAGILL' magazine , July 1983 .

Jack Lynch , 26 County Taoiseach , moved his troops up to the border ; Harold Wilson , British Prime Minister , moved British soldiers onto the streets of the North of Ireland . Gerry Fitt in Belfast welcomed the British Army , and Bernadette Devlin in Derry opposed them .

The RUC were removed , and eventually (temporarily) disarmed but , says Derryman Michael Canavan , now SDLP spokesman on security , the first mistake had already been made by Britain - " Control of the British Army was left in the hands of Stormont . " ('1169... ' Comment - that was by no means Britains 'first mistake' : that occured over 800 years before then ).

Effectively the Unionists had been handed an even more powerful weapon with which to assert their 'authority' ; that 'authority' was copperfastened by the removal of Harold Wilson and his replacement as British Prime Minister by Edward Heath of the ' Conservative and Unionist Party of Great Britain and Northern Ireland ' (sic) in June 1970 . Bernadette Devlin and Gerry Fitt were both returned in that election .

Gerry Fitt went over to England to sit in even more obscurity , on the Opposition Benches behind the British Labour Party ; Bernadette Devlin , upon re-election , went straight into Armagh Jail to serve a six month sentence for her part in the ' Battle of the Bogside' . Derry rioted for three more days . Two weeks later , on July 3 1970 , a rifle was discovered in a house off the Falls Road and British soldiers sealed off the entire surrounding area .

Residents were put under curfew for the weekend and three men were killed ; Captain John Brooke , a Stormont Minister , arrived in a truck with the media horde and the British Army escorted them on a televised tour of the suppressed area .......

(MORE LATER).




A DECADE OF CENSORSHIP .......
Bernadette Quinn looks at the development of SECTION 31 of the Broadcasting Act , used by the Free State government to suppress the Republican viewpoint on state radio and television - and extended by Radio Telefis Eireann itself into a regime of self-censorship .
From ' IRIS ' magazine , November 1983 .

Eamonn McCann stated re Section 31 of the Broadcasting Act : " It's like covering the Middle-East without allowing any mention of the fact that the Palestinians want a homeland . It's ridiculous . It would be far better and more honest if journalists at RTE were to refuse to cover stories which involve republicans and republicanism , rather than cover them in the inadequate and inaccurate manner which Section 31 forces on them .

For instance , recent coverage of the informer phenomenon has been seriously distorted because the view of the biggest element centrally involved cannot be included in any account .

Even if the majority of RTE journalists find that for whatever reason they could not go along with blacking coverage altogether , then it would still be useful if the union made it clear that any journalist refusing to implement Section 31 on an individual basis would have full and automatic union support if the RTE management tried to retaliate . "

[END of ' A DECADE OF CENSORSHIP '].
(MONDAY 6th : ' Ups And Downs For RUC's Perjurer Strategy' - from 1983).






Thursday, June 02, 2005

FETCH ....... !
By Gene Kerrigan .
Four years ago this month the RUC began trying to put JOHN O' REILLY away . Four 'Supergrasses' failed to do the job . O' REILLY is now in Michael Noonan's custody . The RUC have demanded that Noonan "...bring him forthwith .. " to answer the accusations of HARRY KIRKPATRICK .
From 'MAGILL' magazine , February 1986 .

RUC 'supergrass' John Grimley had been convicted on various theft charges in the North of Ireland and in London in the late 1950's , when he was still a teenager . For a time he was confined in a mental hospital ; between 1963 and 1971 he did his best to become a British soldier .

First he joined the Irish Guards , then the Royal Irish Fusiliers , finally the Royal Pioneer Corps - he was discharged from all three British regiments , on psychiatric and disciplinary grounds . In 1973 he was convicted in the Republic (ie the 26-County State) on various robbery and assault charges , including beating-up his common-law wife . In 1975 he lost a job with the 'Goodyear' factory in Craigavon after being convicted of theft from the company .

Then John Grimley joined Sinn Fein ; he lasted five years with the Provos , his conduct becoming increasingly bizarre , until they expelled him in 1980 for "...irrational behaviour.. " . Then he joined the INLA - incredibly , they accepted him and made him a recruiting officer . Shortly after this , having done just about everything else , John Grimley threw his lot in with the RUC and became an informer . He was recruiting people for the INLA and informing on them to the RUC at £25 a go !

Eventually , he 'graduated' to 'supergrass' , fingering twenty-two people .......

(MORE LATER).




TO WESTMINSTER AND BACK .......
The Life And Times Of Gerry Fitt.
By Nell McCafferty .
First published in ' MAGILL' magazine , July 1983 .

There had been increasing ambiguity among all shades of Nationalist opinion about how best to defend Catholics against attacks from the RUC and loyalists , especially in Belfast . Whole shifts of population were occuring there as Catholics and Protestants retreated into the safety of the ghettoes , but Gerry Fitt warned on August 7 at a meeting in Trinity College , Dublin , that the swopping of houses was not a mutually polite arrangement . Catholics were being forced out of their homes , he said , and "...the people .. " (whom he did not specify) did not like it -

- " The time is coming when they will change their tactics and instead of moving people elsewhere under these circumstances they will have to protect them in their homes . The RUC are messenger boys of the UVF . " More was needed than a telephone network against the arrival of the RUC and the UVF in the area , he warned , but he did not specify what .

In Derry that August the 'Citizens Defence Committee' had been set up alongside the 'Civil Rights Association' , with overlapping Executive membership , and community halls were used to store petrol bombs ; no elected representatives shouted 'stop' . On August 12 Orangemen marched in the city centre , a few desultory stones were thrown at them , and the RUC and the Bogsiders re-acted as to a referee's whistle starting a football match - both sides running onto the 'pitch' under the High Flats , in the heart of Catholic territory . The set piece battle lasted for three days and Belfast street fighters came out in support in an effort to siphon off RUC strength .

Guns were used on both sides in Belfast . People died . Jack Lynch (Free State 'Taoiseach') moved his troops up to the border , four miles from Derry . Harold Wilson (Westminster PM) moved British soldiers onto the streets of the North of Ireland .......

(MORE LATER).




A DECADE OF CENSORSHIP .......
Bernadette Quinn looks at the development of SECTION 31 of the Broadcasting Act , used by the Free State government to suppress the Republican viewpoint on state radio and television - and extended by Radio Telefis Eireann itself into a regime of self-censorship .
From ' IRIS ' magazine , November 1983 .

Section 31 of the Broadcasting Act is a political act suppressing political opinion ; in order to be non-political , to do their job in presenting facts uncoloured by political bias , RTE journalists should take direct action against Section 31 . And the NUJ should defend them - otherwise admit that they are taking a political stand - admit that they are anti-republican , pro-Free State establishment and pro-British . There can be no excuse for them any longer .

Eamonn McCann , author of ' War and an Irish Town ' , former 'Sunday World' newspaper columnist and now a freelance journalist , has always opposed Section 31 and is a member of the 'Freedom of the Press and Broadcasting Committee' . In this interview with 'IRIS' magazine he talks about the effects of Section 31 on the coverage of events by RTE , and how it should be actively opposed -

- " Any journalist should be instinctively opposed to state control of the media . Section 31 is clearly against the code of conduct of the NUJ and against their stated policy . It has proved impossible to have union policy implemented on RTE and has led to a situation where RTE news and current affairs programmes are quite unable to give an accurate account of what is happening in the North .

The effect of Section 31 is not just to cut republicans out of coverage , but it also seriously distorts the coverage itself because in effect it is impossible to report the political views of the Catholic working class . That is an absolutely incredible thing for journalists to allow to happen - even journalists who are personally hostile to Sinn Fein ....... "

(MORE LATER).







Wednesday, June 01, 2005

FETCH ....... !
By Gene Kerrigan .
Four years ago this month the RUC began trying to put JOHN O' REILLY away . Four 'Supergrasses' failed to do the job . O' REILLY is now in Michael Noonan's custody . The RUC have demanded that Noonan "...bring him forthwith .. " to answer the accusations of HARRY KIRKPATRICK .
From 'MAGILL' magazine , February 1986 .

John O' Reilly was held that evening (October 9 , 1985) in Portlaoise Garda Station . He was questioned , fingerprinted , had a hair sample taken and his hands were swabbed . He was also photographed . He was told the RUC were interested in him ; a Garda Detective read from a pink folder labelled 'Office No. 6' . John O' Reilly , he noted , had failed to appear in a Belfast court on January 28 , nine months earlier .

John O' Reilly is 26 this month (ie February 1986) . He was born in Belfast . He was arrested by the RUC at around six in the morning of February 5 , 1982 , the day after his 22nd birthday - he was taken to Castlereagh Interrogation Centre and held for seven days . Two 'supergrasses' , Robert McAllister and Sean McConkey , had accused him of involvement in possession of firearms and armed robbery on behalf of the INLA . O' Reilly claimed he was in jail when the offences were committed .

That affair lasted seven weeks ; then Robert McAllister and Sean McConkey , who had accused a number of people of various crimes , retracted . The charges against John O' Reilly were withdrawn ; he was immediately re-arrested and again taken to Castlereagh - he had been 'fingered' by two more 'supergrasses' , Jackie Goodman and John Grimley . One of the other people they named was a Harry Kirkpatrick . That was in March 1982 ; O' Reilly remained in jail , awaiting trial . In September , Jackie Goodman retracted the accusations he had made against thirty-six people , including John O' Reilly .

But O' Reilly remained in jail : he still had to answer the accusations of John Grimley , the other 'supergrass.......'

(MORE LATER).




TO WESTMINSTER AND BACK .......

The Life And Times Of Gerry Fitt.

By Nell McCafferty .

First published in ' MAGILL' magazine , July 1983 .


Bernadette Devlin MP arrived at Westminster to help highlight the death of Sammy Devenney : " The publicity was unbelievable ; Gerry Fitt had booked me into the Irish Club , and I sat there in my mini-skirt and the press just drooled ! If I had been older or wiser or just more thoughtful or even courteous or machiavellian , I would have ended every remark with a reference to Gerry Fitt who was sitting , ignored , in the room . "

The 'alliance' , in any case , was doomed from the start , she says - " It was a matter of emphasis . Gerry Fitt would plead for reform , saying the RUC and later the British soldiers were only making martyrs by their handling of what was called 'security' . I would stand there saying - 'you've tried everything down the centuries , from hanging , drawing and quartering , to straight bullets . And the Croppy will never lie down ' " . ('1169...' Comment - "Gerry would plead for reform .... " : sounds familiar !)

There was also the acute difference of the socialist approach : " I appeared on every left-wing platform in England , speaking on gypsies rights , defending the Dagenham strikers against Harold Wilson , and I spoke in Trafalgar Square in defence of the PLO . Paul Rose took the Israeli side and wrote me a letter criticising my stand . I released it to the newspapers and the split with Labour widened . There was them and Gerry Fitt ; and there was me . "

And then there was the Battle of The Bogside in August 1969 , which brought the British Army into the North , with a resultant quagmire of political and armed struggle into which Gerry Fitt was to hopelessly flounder .......

(MORE LATER).




A DECADE OF CENSORSHIP .......
Bernadette Quinn looks at the development of SECTION 31 of the Broadcasting Act , used by the Free State government to suppress the Republican viewpoint on state radio and television - and extended by Radio Telefis Eireann itself into a regime of self-censorship .
From ' IRIS ' magazine , November 1983 .

On September 28 , 1983 , on RTE's current affairs programme ' Today Tonight' , Fr. Denis Faul and Unionist MP Harold McCusker were interviewed at length on the use of paid perjurers in the North of Ireland ; there was no representative of Sinn Fein interviewed , although there were repeated references to Sinn Fein's 'motives' in opposing the use of perjurers .

There was not even a mention that Sinn Fein would deny the charge that they were using the campaign against show trials for "...their own ends .. " . Was this not selective and distorted , as well as untrue (re NUJ 'rules') ? Section 31 of course is not just about the suppression of the views of Sinn Fein ; it is about suppression of the views of the working-class Nationalist community in the North ; it is denying information to people in the South not just about Sinn Fein policies but about the beliefs and aspirations of a significant section of the Irish population .

By contrast , Section 31 has not been used to deny access to RTE by the UDA , despite that organisation's massive involvement in sectarian murders of Catholics in the North - not to mention its bombing of Dublin and Monaghan in 1974 when 31 civilians died . The majority of RTE journalists justify their implementation of Section 31 by saying that they have to abide by the law - but it is surely not for journalists to do the Free State government and RTE Authority's political dirtywork for them when it flagrantly contravenes their own code of conduct .

For instance , why did the 'Today Tonight' production team not interview a Sinn Fein spokesperson on September 28th and leave RTE to cut out the interview , rather than themselves censoring Sinn Fein in the first place ? Why did'nt they do that during the elections ....... ?

(MORE LATER).







Tuesday, May 31, 2005

FETCH !

By Gene Kerrigan . Four years ago this month the RUC began trying to put JOHN O' REILLY away . Four 'Supergrasses' failed to do the job . O' REILLY is now in Michael Noonan's custody . The RUC have demanded that Noonan "...bring him forthwith .. " to answer the accusations of HARRY KIRKPATRICK . From 'MAGILL' magazine , February 1986 .

John O' Reilly was lifted by the gardai while passing through Portlaoise on October 9 , 1985 . They used the Road Traffic Act to take him into the local garda station , ostensibly to check his identity . After a while a Garda Sergeant came into the room and said there had been a phone call from Dublin and O' Reilly was'nt to be questioned about anything . He was taken to a cell , " ...until we can establish your identity . "

Two hours later , John O' Reilly was ostensibly released ; he was no longer being held under the Road Traffic Act . The Gardai were now satisfied of his identity . As O' Reilly left the Garda Station he was arrested under Section 30 of the Offences Against The State Act 1939 . Section 30 is the 'catch-all' law under which the gardai can jail anyone at anytime for two successive 24-hour periods .

In the period 1980-1984 a total of 11,035 Section 30 arrests were made ; this compares with a total of 2,724 arrests in the period 1972-1976 , the most violent period in the present round of the Northern conflict . Only a small fraction of the people thus lifted are charged - Section 30 is primarily a 'fishing net' , hauling in shoals of people for routine interrogation .......
(MORE LATER).




TO WESTMINSTER AND BACK .......
The Life And Times Of Gerry Fitt.
By Nell McCafferty .
First published in ' MAGILL' magazine , July 1983 .

'The Irish Times' newspaper went mad over Gerry Fitt with " ... his sailor's roll , his malapropisms , his Belfast turn-of-phrase which makes stiff upper lips wince , his yea-saying to life .. " but oh! - Bernadette ! : starting sonorously with "... youngest MP ever elected to Westminster .. " , journalists trundled down the Thesaurus runway and took off into the wild blue yonder ! She arrived , an orphan in a miniskirt , a real live Left Winger , a megastar , in the Commons , on her birthday , April 22 , 1969 .

" That made me 22 , which spoiled the script so nobody mentioned it " , she recalls tartly . She represented the newly militant civil rights movement , no longer prepared to turn the other cheek to British batons , if Britain was going to turn a blind eye to the facts . It was one thing being beaten from Belfast to Burntollet , quite another to be pursued on arrival all the way into the Bogside which the RUC now frequently did .

Sammy Devenney had been beaten by the RUC in his own home , in front of his family , and died from his injuries ; a Scotland Yard enquiry subsequently found a conspiracy of silence among the RUC and no one was charged . The 'barricades' were going up . Bernadette Devlin recalls -

- " The Devenney death was being raised at Westminster and Gerry Fitt wanted me over for it . I had won the by-election only a few days before and I had'nt a penny . He gave me fifty pounds for the fare and to buy myself something to wear . Things went wrong right from the start ; I had decided that the youngest MP should be introduced by the oldest MP , Manny Shinwell of Labour , and , of course , Gerry . But Gerry had decided I should be introduced by himself and Paul Rose , one of the leaders of the Campaign for Democracy .
We had'nt consulted on it , and Gerry found himself having to withdraw the invitation to Paul Rose . " The 'slight' and unintended erosion of Gerry Fitt's 'authority' was compounded by the events of the day .......

(MORE LATER).




A DECADE OF CENSORSHIP .......Bernadette Quinn looks at the development of SECTION 31 of the Broadcasting Act , used by the Free State government to suppress the Republican viewpoint on state radio and television - and extended by Radio Telefis Eireann itself into a regime of self-censorship . From ' IRIS ' magazine , November 1983 .

There have been a few other protests by some principled journalists , and in March this year (ie 1983) the 'Committee for the Freedom of the Press and Broadcasting ' was set-up , whose main objectives are the abolition of Section 31 along with the repeal of the laws on libel and contempt of court . Most RTE journalists , however , not only accept the ban but reinforce and extend it themselves .

The 'Code of Conduct' in the NUJ ('National Union of Journalists' ) rulebook includes the following -
Rule 2 : ' A journalist shall at all times defend the principle of the freedom of the press and other media in relation to the collection of information and the expression of comment and criticism . He/she shall strive to eliminate distortion , news suppression and censorship .'
Rule 3 : ' A journalist shall strive to ensure that the information he/she disseminates is fair and accurate , avoid the expression of comment and conjecture as established fact , and falsification by distortion or misrepresentation ... '
Rule 9 : ' A journalist shall not lend himself/herself to the distortion or suppression of a truth because of advertising or other considerations . '

Clearly , journalists on RTE are in breach of their own rules , as suppression of views and distortion of facts is part of the everyday running of RTE ....... ('1169... ' Comment - and it is still is today ; this scribbler has personally attended dozens of political marches , protests , parades , commemorations etc , alongside thousands of other people , which have brought Dublin city centre to a standstill . If RTE acknowledges the event at all , it is by way of a traffic report only ! )

(MORE LATER).






Monday, May 30, 2005

A ROUGH DEAL .......

Ten years ago EDDIE GALLAGHER went to prison for his part in the kidnapping of TIEDE HERREMA . He is still there , even though he did a deal which promised him only four years in jail . His accomplice , MARION COYLE , has been released . DEREK DUNNE reports on GALLAGHER's maverick relationship with the IRA , on the negotiations which led to the release of TIEDE HERREMA and on the roots of GALLAGHER's involvement .
First published in 'MAGILL' magazine , January 1986 , pages 6 , 7 , 8, and 9 .


Eddie Gallagher is currently spending twenty-three hours a day in his cell - he does a lot of physical exercise . He stands on the bed -end and he can see prison life through the bars on the windows . He says that prison life has made him more patient and circumspect .

Some years ago , he used do a lot of study and some reading in his cell . Now most of the sight is gone from one eye and the other one is weak . He does'nt bother any more .

[END of 'A ROUGH DEAL'].(Tomorrow : ' FETCH ! ' - John O'Reilly and four 'Supergrasses' )



TO WESTMINSTER AND BACK .......
The Life And Times Of Gerry Fitt.
By Nell McCafferty .
First published in ' MAGILL' magazine , July 1983 .

The British Labour Government had commissioned Lord Cameron to report on the events and marches preceeding and following October 5 , and assign reasons . This Report , which Harold Wilson and the entire British Commons accepted , stated that Gerry Fitt " ...must clearly have envisaged the possibility of a violent clash with the police as providing the publicity he so ardently sought . His conduct , in our judgement , was reckless and wholly irresponsible in a person occupying his public position . "

From that moment on Gerry Fitt was effectively rendered impotent at Westminster . Back in the North of Ireland the high terrain of anti-unionism was about to be occupied by a whole new batch of articulate , pragmatic political operators who swept into Stormont in the spring of 1969 , on a civil rights wave which had drowned out the old Nationalist Party ; Hume , Cooper , O'Hanlon and Paddy Devlin waved no flags and did not gaze hopelessly into the Celtic mist : Austin Currie had long abandoned green fields for street smarts .
('1169... ' Comment - those are the words of Nell McCafferty , and are not shared by the writers of this blog . Currie proved himself to be a useful 'native employee' for the Brits .)
Gerry Fitt abandoned his own party ; he had been campaigning for a republican Labour councillor from Belfast who wanted a run at a seat - any seat - and Fitt had sent him off to fight in mid-Ulster . They addressed a small crowd after the ten o' clock mass , and hung around to see how their opponent Ivan Cooper would do after the eleven o' clock mass : Cooper attracted a massive crowd to his ' Independent Civil Rights' tag - Gerry Fitt got up on the truck and spoke in support of Cooper !

These Civil Rights guys wanted to slug it out toe to toe with the Unionists and they were men after Fitts' involved 'gurrier' heart ; he was no longer alone . He was in fact surrounded and obscured as they marched people all over the areas west of the Bann - in Newry , Armagh , Mid-Ulster , Fermanagh and Derry . Besides which , Bernadette Devlin had arrived at Westminster : together they should have made a colourful picture - the sailor home from the sea and the maiden in from the hills .......
(MORE LATER).




A DECADE OF CENSORSHIP .......Bernadette Quinn looks at the development of SECTION 31 of the Broadcasting Act , used by the Free State government to suppress the Republican viewpoint on state radio and television - and extended by Radio Telefis Eireann itself into a regime of self-censorship . From ' IRIS ' magazine , November 1983 .

The song ' The Men Behind The Wire' topped the music charts in the Free State for weeks during the 1970's but was never played on RTE ! More recently , Christy Moore's song ' On The Blanket ' was banned , as was his song about Nicky Kelly , ' The Wicklow Boy ' . Even traditional rebel songs are no longer played .

Most of the banned songs are never specifically banned by 'directive' or 'guidelines ' , but RTE presenters - in the atmosphere of fear that pervades RTE - do the censoring themselves .

During the last Westminster elections , in June 1983 , the Free State coalition government refused a request from RTE to lift the ban on Sinn Fein members for the purposes of election coverage . Charles Haughey , Fianna Fail leader and Free State 'Taoiseach' , opportunistically issued a statement saying that he "...had always taken the view that elected representatives should have the fullest possible access to the public media .. " - although it had earlier been Fianna Fail who refused Owen Carron MP and Sinn Fein's five Assembly elected representatives access to RTE ! (' 1169... ' Comment - typical Fianna Fail and Free State obfuscation : Republicans know , from experience , to 'watch what they do , not what they say ' . Those that leave the Movement not only forget that maxim , but become part of the group that has to be watched , not listened to . )
In protest at the refusal by Jim Mitchell (Fine Gael) , the Free State Minister for Posts and Telegraphs , to lift the ban , RTE journalists covering the election in the North of Ireland said they would refuse to interview any of the other candidates . They kept this stand for one week only ....... !
(MORE LATER).