" 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, July 15, 2005

POLITICOS AND PARAMILITARIES .......
Fionnuala O'Connor on the struggle for the Loyalist leadership as the politicians and their paramilitary allies gear up for a strike .
From 'MAGILL' magazine , March 1986 .

James Molyneaux watches the intense and emotional Harold McCusker , once a contender for his 'throne' , and he watches the coldly ambitious MEP John Taylor , who wheeled out the remains of the Official Unionist Party 'fur-coat' establishment brigade to take the European selection off McCusker , the 'working-class boy ' . And when there is time , no doubt , Jim Molyneaux also watches the perpetually ambitious Orange Order leader the Reverend Martin Smyth . The Official Unionist Party leader could not be said to take a vital part in the joint working-party .

No more , in fact , than his co-leader , who has his own 'boys' to keep an eye on , and none 'hungrier' than Peter Robinson , and the Ballymena barrister Jim Allister . Ian Paisley's remarkable preoccupation with Unionist unity in this campaign has left Robinson free to cultivate the 'Ulster' Clubs , to make the noises on the ultimate place for the violence that Paisley usually specialises in .

Ian Paisley has 'toned down' the rhetoric , veterans of his campaigns think , because the failure of the 1977 strike still haunts him . As one of his men put it - " He thought he could do it on his own (but) the Official Unionist Party swung in against him and the power-workers did'nt pull the plug . He's not going to make that mistake again . We can only ask the people to do this after everything else . Morally we had to have the elections , the council thing , the Assembly had to be put at risk - because then we can say , as the politicians have done everything , now it's the turn of the Clubs ... " Often Unionist political figures do not finish that sentence , but this was a frank DUP man .

Even he was'nt specific about what happens next , but there was no mistaking his relish for the imminent exhaustion of constitutional means , nor his approval of the 'Ulster' Clubs .......

(MORE LATER).




FIRE AND BRIMSTONE .......
The Democratic Unionist Party would prefer a Civil War to acquiescence in a role for the Dublin Government in the affairs of the North of Ireland after the Anglo-Irish summit .
FINTAN O'TOOLE spoke to DUP activists about the depth of their opposition to the Anglo-Irish deal and their willingness to resort to violence .
From 'MAGILL' magazine , November 1985 .

The DUP is implacably opposed to any role whatsoever for the Irish government (sic) in the running of Northern Ireland , (sic) even if that role is minor , 'consultative' and cosmetic - they see it as the beginning of the end , the road to Armageddon : " While we are interested in the fine print of an agreement , and we will study it carefully , the fact that for the first time the Dublin government are going to be given an input in any way , that will be enough to trigger off all of our opposition , whatever the fine print , " says the DUP's Gregory Campbell .

" If Tom King were to say to us - 'Look , we're only consulting Dublin about the colour of the lamp-posts ' , that is sufficient for us to say that for the first time Dublin has a toe in the door . It's only a few months or a few years from advising us on the colour of the lamp-posts , to telling us what way we will conduct the traffic , to what way we will dress the police , to what way we will arm them . If Dublin is to have a say in any respect , if they are to have a say in that the ' Flags and Emblems Act ' is to be repealed , because Peter Barry and Garret Fitzgerald have said it is offensive to nationalists and must be repealed , something that is regarded as small beer , then the British government will be sitting down and listening to the views of the Dublin government .

Sovereignty is sovereignty . You either are sovereign over a part of a country (sic) or you are not . You either have absolute control or you do not . If Dublin has a consultative role , that is the beginning of the end . I would see the final day had arrived whereby Ulster (sic) had finally been sold , and we would have no other option but to exhaust the constitutional process and then proceed as quickly as possible to arming ourselves and to fighting .

Lets not forget that Charles Haughey is waiting in the wings and if Garret Fitzgerald were to put his toe in the door , Haughey will be coming through the door . Fianna Fail are'nt going to be content with the colour of the lamp-posts or of the police uniforms or with the 'Flags and Emblems Act' . They are going to demand a more meaningful role and subsequent summits will increase that role ....... " ('1169... ' Comment - Fianna Fail continues to 'comment' on how Westminster 'governs' the Six Counties ; however , Fianna Fail never queries Westminster's jurisdictional control over those Six Counties . The Unionists and their 'paymasters' in Westminster have nothing to fear from Fianna Fail - or any other group of Free Staters .)

(MORE LATER).




McFARLANE - THE INSIDE STORY .......
Last month , BRENDAN McFARLANE was ordered by a Dutch court to be extradited back to the North to serve out a sentence of 25 years . He is appealing the decision . His companion GERARD KELLY had his plea accepted that his offences were political . BRENDAN McFARLANE has been on the run since he led thirty-seven men in an escape out of the MAZE PRISON in September 1983 . In an exclusive interview with MAGILL at Bylmerbages Prison in Amsterdam , McFARLANE talks about his life , his youth and upbringing , and his involvement with the ARMED STRUGGLE in the North .
By DEREK DUNNE .
First published in 'MAGILL' magazine , April 1986 .

Brendan McFarlane is not very optimistic about his own future ; he believes that he will be extradited back to the North of Ireland - " When they lock me up , they'll throw away the key . I don't want to go back to H-Blocks , or any prison for that matter . But if they do send me back it's a small price to pay for the political victory we have scored in Holland . I think it's very significant - they recognise that the struggle is political . It was an achievement beyond all expectations . It was also unprecedented in so far as there were two IRA Volunteers in front of cameras for the first time in quite a number of years . "

He was amused at the last court hearing when he was told that he could make a claim for various items that were taken from him when he was arrested , such as jewellery and cassettes : " I was also told that I could claim for the 'equipment' found nearby ! I told them if they were so disposed regarding the found 'equipment' , they could forward it to the Republican Movement ... " It should be noted that Brendan McFarlane has not been charged with any offence in Holland .

He is totally isolated in the Amsterdam prison - he has no association with any of the other prisoners .......

(MORE LATER).

(Please Note - the '1169...' crew will be 'shutting up shop' today , Friday 15th July for at least/about/hopefully (!) one week [maybe two - if the cash stretches... !] - we are off to the 'Sometimes Sunny Southeast' ; Waterford , for a bit of a break . Leave your e-mail address (on the back of a €50 note !) in the 'Guestbook' and we might send you a postcard . And you might also get spammed ... - Sharon :)






Thursday, July 14, 2005

POLITICOS AND PARAMILITARIES .......
Fionnuala O'Connor on the struggle for the Loyalist leadership as the politicians and their paramilitary allies gear up for a strike .
From 'MAGILL' magazine , March 1986 .

The 'post-mortem' the day after the election count was in Ian Paisley's house ; big , over-heated and a bit overpowering , like its owner . Too many things on the walls , thick carpets . Unusually , they moved the talk from the particular to the general and for about thirty minutes , with souls bared , discussed the viability of the various options for 'governing Northern Ireland' (sic) .

Willie McCrea , the 'country-and-western' singing cleric from bitter South Derry , public ranter supreme , talked very frankly about power-sharing ; he felt no need , obviously , to go through the set-piece denunciation : " I could never sell it to my voters , " he said , " not after all the deaths of the last fifteen years . " Harold McCusker , Deputy Leader of the DUP , is right - he said in public a few weeks ago that the taboo had gone and it was now possible to discuss the previously unmentionable without automatically being called a 'Lundy' .

It sounded , mind you , a bit like the recitation of a 'charm' to ward off retribution - he had just finished proposing a tripartite London-Dublin-Belfast conference with no executive powers to discuss matters of mutual interest . Peter Robinson followed him with his new positive relationship with Dublin . Discussion of anything so sensitive as power-sharing is not frequent , however , in the joint working-party . It's an uneasy group , two mutually suspicious parties , individuals who had'nt much to do with each other prior to the agreement , ill-matched leaders . Ian Paisley blusters , tiredly , with nothing to contribute , really , once the microphones are off and the committee room door closes out the public . Everyone says the 'Big Man' is tired , but that does'nt mean he's going .

James Molyneaux , the bachelor who lives and breaths for politics and eats only as "...fuel.. " , has been shaky since Margaret Thatcher so ruthlessly exposed his mistaken trust in her , his conviction that in direct proportion to his visible love of Westminster and propriety , she would 'stand by Ulster' (sic) - he was wrong . But that does'nt mean that Molyneaux is 'going' , either . At least not yet .......

(MORE LATER).




FIRE AND BRIMSTONE .......
The Democratic Unionist Party would prefer a Civil War to acquiescence in a role for the Dublin Government in the affairs of the North of Ireland after the Anglo-Irish summit .
FINTAN O'TOOLE spoke to DUP activists about the depth of their opposition to the Anglo-Irish deal and their willingness to resort to violence .
From 'MAGILL' magazine , November 1985 .

Sammy Wilson , DUP , does not like to be called a 'socialist' ('1169... ' Comment : we would'nt think that would be a big worry for him ... ) : " Socialism is not a term that people use very often in Northern Ireland (sic) and yet if you look at the things that they (ie Irish Republicans) believed and the ideas they would put forward , I suppose if they lived anywhere else they would be socialists . I would prefer , because of the stigma which attaches to socialism , the term 'radicalism' rather that socialism . One of the problems of Irish history is that the concentration on the constitutional question by nationalists gave the excuse for not dealing with , and not prioritising , the social issues which affected the Protestant people as much if not more in some cases , than they affected the Roman Catholic people . " ('1169... ' Comment - Translation = ' Our people were stressed having usurped your land but you ignored our stress ...' )

With that view of the Protestant poverty , there is little sympathy in the DUP for talk of Catholic alienation : " Alienation ?" says Jim Wells , " There's many who feel alienated all the way to the bank . Catholics in West Belfast have houses that would be the pride of Dublin and many of them have top jobs . ('1169... ' Comment - replace the word 'Catholics' with 'Blacks' .......) How many Protestant barristers are there in Northern Ireland ? (sic) Catholics have prospered and increased in numbers here . They have retained their own educational system , the GAA gets more money for facilities from the oppressive British government than they get down south , in some cases they have their own hospitals , all funded by the state .

I do accept that Roman Catholics feel that the old structure of Stormont did not give adequate expression to their viewpoint , and I am realistic enough to accept that there will be no return to a one-party majority rule state . But the SDLP have been given a veto on all new arrangements for devolved government and until that veto is removed they have no incentive to come to terms with the unionists ... " ....

(MORE LATER).




McFARLANE - THE INSIDE STORY .......
Last month , BRENDAN McFARLANE was ordered by a Dutch court to be extradited back to the North to serve out a sentence of 25 years . He is appealing the decision . His companion GERARD KELLY had his plea accepted that his offences were political . BRENDAN McFARLANE has been on the run since he led thirty-seven men in an escape out of the MAZE PRISON in September 1983 . In an exclusive interview with MAGILL at Bylmerbages Prison in Amsterdam , McFARLANE talks about his life , his youth and upbringing , and his involvement with the ARMED STRUGGLE in the North .
By DEREK DUNNE .
First published in 'MAGILL' magazine , April 1986 .

Brendan McFarlane and seven others had escaped from the H-Blocks (on Sunday 25 September 1983) ; they were now 'on the run' . At 8pm that evening they took to the fields again - they were close to the River Bann but could'nt cross it and they made a bed for the night close to a manor house . They then crossed the Bann late that evening and walked towards Scarva ; they walked on the main road to Newry until dawn . On the Wednesday (28 September 1983) they came to a railway line which they followed . It took them across the border - " I still remember every minute of that escape . I did an interview with 'An Phoblacht' two days after I got away . "

Brendan McFarlane is reluctant to say where he has been since the escape ; he claims that to do so would entail giving countries and dates which would in turn identify people . His name was linked with the Don Tidey kidnap and shoot-out at Derrada Wood near Ballinamore towards the end of 1983 , which took place shortly after his escape . However , he says that he was "...definitely not .. " involved with that . Garda Recruit Gary Sheehan and (Free State Army) Private Paddy Kelly were shot dead during that incident . Whilst on the run , he began to learn of other deaths , more friends being killed : on the first Sunday in December 1984 , Provo Antoine MacGiolla Bhrighde was shot dead when an undercover SAS squad was taken on by three Provos . An SAS man was also shot dead . However , a few weeks later , the body of another Provo turned up - that of Kieran Fleming ; he had escaped with Brendan McFarlane from the Maze Prison and had also evaded capture by the SAS squad following the shoot-out .

It was presumed that he had escaped ; he was last seen on the banks of the River Bannagh close to where the shoot-out took place ; he had a fear of water and drowned . Brendan McFarlane says that he "...was out of the country at the time . He (Fleming) had escaped and got out of the ambush and then the water .... I was pretty down when I read about that . It's the type of thing you read about and you say 'Jesus Christ !' "

He laughs when he remembers his arrest ; the Dutch police came through the windows and threw 'flash' grenades - which set fire to the curtains , filling the flat with smoke ! " I was sleeping on the floor . The guys were piling in the windows . I crawled to the door and one of them said to me - ' Excuse me , do you have a key to the front door?' " He declined to give the Dutch police the key ! Among the items that were seized by the Dutch police was an entire collection of Christy Moore albums ; he misses them as they were a tangible link with Ireland at a time when he could not even make a telephone call back , just in case it would be traced and his whereabouts discovered and those who were helping him endangered .......

(MORE LATER).

(Please Note - the '1169...' crew will be 'shutting up shop' on Friday 15th July next for at least/about/hopefully (!) one week [maybe two - if the cash stretches... !] - we are off to the 'Sometimes Sunny Southeast' ; Waterford , for a bit of a break . Leave your e-mail address (on the back of a €50 note !) in the 'Guestbook' and we might send you a postcard . And you might also get spammed ... - Sharon :)






Wednesday, July 13, 2005

POLITICOS AND PARAMILITARIES .......
Fionnuala O'Connor on the struggle for the Loyalist leadership as the politicians and their paramilitary allies gear up for a strike .
From 'MAGILL' magazine , March 1986 .

Unionist tactics to date have worked well enough as a simple demonstration of implacable resentment , but there is no 'coherent , well-thought out strategy' directed at the achievement of an agreed aim : because there is no post-agreement policy , either inside the respective parties , or in the joint working-party , there can be no clarity now .

On the one hand , the Unionists have talked of wholesale withdrawal , on the other they hold back - urging the councillors to forge ahead , stopping short of total withdrawal at Westminster . Some express relief that the British government's 'goof' of prematurely declaring their power to bring in commissioners to run the councils , not only whipped up a flagging protest , but also may take the councillors off the hook of responsibility for running down local services .

An 'Ulster' Clubs member stated - " And we've got a whole host of other opportunities for causing disruption ; obstructing the commissioners , that kind of thing . " In the wings , the Clubs are looking on , a bit grimly - " This is the politicians' last chance . If the councillors break ....the people won't stand for that , " says one rather bleak young man , over-estimating his own somewhat makeshift organisation . A more detached observer reckons no councillor will have to go the distance and go to jail , thus ending a local government career ! " The government will strike a rate - then what's the point of the courts penalising councillors for failing to ? "

Meanwhile , the 'working party' surveyed the scene in the wake of that damp and cold by-election , weighing the handsome Unionist total vote against Seamus Mallon's Westminster seat , and eventually decided they needed another gimmick . Perhaps a one-day strike ... ?

(MORE LATER).




FIRE AND BRIMSTONE .......
The Democratic Unionist Party would prefer a Civil War to acquiescence in a role for the Dublin Government in the affairs of the North of Ireland after the Anglo-Irish summit .
FINTAN O'TOOLE spoke to DUP activists about the depth of their opposition to the Anglo-Irish deal and their willingness to resort to violence .
From 'MAGILL' magazine , November 1985 .

Gregory Campbell , DUP , states - " Obviously I thought about their ( the Catholics in the Six Counties) deprivation and I thought about what kind of political structures there might be to bring about a better society , but there continued to be an attitude on their part that they were the only ones being discriminated against , and that I was part of the group that was discriminating against them . There seemed to be a continual diatribe against me , against people like me .

We were the first-class citizens and these people were separated , were downtrodden and different . And it never seemed to get across to them that the people they were agitating against were in exactly the same position as them . Maybe in the early days there was a socialist ideology in the Civil Rights Movement , but it was always couched in terms of republicanism which obviously distanced me and people like me from it . I joined the 'Young Unionist Movement' and I found myself campaigning for people that I was still socially opposed to . I found myself campaigning for people like Robin Chichester-Clarke , brother of the former Prime Minister , and to me that person was on a different social scale , a different planet , to me . The guy was a highbrow Tory who cared very little if at all for working-class Protestant people , who were the people who were electing him .

And gradually I moved over to the Protestant Unionist Party which , at that time , 1970-1971 , was just changing over to the DUP . "

Sammy Wilson , the DUP Chairperson of the Planning Committee of Belfast City Council , is also from a working-class background : " I've lived most of my life in East Belfast , which is perhaps in Belfast now the stomping ground for the DUP . It's a strongly traditional Loyalist area where there was a fair amount of social deprivation , far worse housing conditions even at present , and longer waiting lists for houses , than you have in West Belfast . I was attracted by the new dimension which the DUP introduced into Ulster (sic) politics and that was the radicalism which characterises Evangelical Protestantism , and which can be seen for instance in the kind of people who left here and went to form the backbone of the American revolution , their dislike of the old establishment and the system .

In the longer term it's the potential radicalism of the party which attracted me , representing as I do an area where there is terrible housing and other social problems . " He does not , however , like to be called a socialist - " I think it's one of the problems with those kind of labels in Northern Ireland (sic) that the constitutional question has really over-ridden other considerations . Socialism is , mainly because of the actions of the Labour Party , identified with republicanism ......." .......

(MORE LATER).




McFARLANE - THE INSIDE STORY .......
Last month , BRENDAN McFARLANE was ordered by a Dutch court to be extradited back to the North to serve out a sentence of 25 years . He is appealing the decision . His companion GERARD KELLY had his plea accepted that his offences were political . BRENDAN McFARLANE has been on the run since he led thirty-seven men in an escape out of the MAZE PRISON in September 1983 . In an exclusive interview with MAGILL at Bylmerbages Prison in Amsterdam , McFARLANE talks about his life , his youth and upbringing , and his involvement with the ARMED STRUGGLE in the North .
By DEREK DUNNE .
First published in 'MAGILL' magazine , April 1986 .

At 2.15 pm on Sunday 25 September 1983 , Brendan McFarlane and two others moved into the 'sensitive' area , the 'Circle' , of H-Block 7 . They were armed . The warders were overpowered in Wings A , B , C and D . One of the warders made a move to an alarm button and was shot . Warders were stripped and some of the prisoners put on their clothes . McFarlane walked towards the gate with the 'warders' and was let through ; the plan was to take over each gate , one at a time , and leave Provos behind dressed as warders . They commandeered a food lorry and they intended to replace any warders that challenged them with men from inside the lorry .

However , at what was known as 'the Tally Lodge ' , there were too many warders coming and going ; one of them started to blow his whistle - two cars pulled-up in front of the lorry and scuffles broke out . Some warders were stabbed . The Provos then apparently surrendered , and things calmed down . Then they made a rush across the fence ; the British Army was unable to fire on the fleeing men due to the confusion - there were prisoners dressed as warders , and warders in civilian clothing , all running across the fields . Cars were hijacked as soon as the road was reached . Nineteen men were recaptured almost immediately . Brendan McFarlane , by now dressed as a warder , led seven men to the road , took over three vehicles and drove off in the direction of Moira . They took over a secluded house belonging to a Protestant couple , the McFarlanes (no
relation)
.

They were a few miles from the jail and still within roadblocks . McFarlane changed his clothes , took a torch , a map , a compass and food from the house . All eight men headed off to cross the border at 11 pm that night ; at 5 am the following morning , they decided to 'dig in' for the day . They watched as a helicopter flew over and back and listened as Garret FitzGerald ( Free State [Fine Gael] 'Taoiseach' ) said on the radio that if any of the escapees were caught , they would be handed back across the border .......

(MORE LATER).

(Please Note - the '1169...' crew will be 'shutting up shop' on Friday 15th July next for at least/about/hopefully (!) one week [maybe two - if the cash stretches... !] - we are off to the 'Sometimes Sunny Southeast' ; Waterford , for a bit of a break . Leave your e-mail address (on the back of a €50 note !) in the 'Guestbook' and we might send you a postcard . And you might also get spammed ... - Sharon :)






Tuesday, July 12, 2005

POLITICOS AND PARAMILITARIES .......
Fionnuala O'Connor on the struggle for the Loyalist leadership as the politicians and their paramilitary allies gear up for a strike .
From 'MAGILL' magazine , March 1986 .

The DUP's Frank Millar is a much-resented thirty-one year-old with no following ; not least because he repeatedly asks the most belligerent of his colleagues if they will themselves lead the fight they so often predict with apparent glee . Last week he told a BBC radio interviewer that no , he could not envisage any circumstances in which he would take to the streets and fight the members of the RUC .

The trouble is that not only do most of Millar's working party colleagues see the inevitability of confrontation with the RUC , but that there are almost as many different destinations envisaged for the campaign - independence , integration , a confederation of the 'British Isles' (including the 'Republic') , power-sharing of some kind - as there are working party members ! Which is perhaps inevitable , given the different elements of Unionism they represent .

Not to mention the state of Unionism , generally . It is pointless to try fitting the 'Ulster' Clubs , for example , into a neat scheme of Unionist opposition ; the old monolith is long gone and while talk of a mass identity-crisis is overdone , there is no doubt that unthinking allegiances have probably had their day . One of the many Official Unionists who have joined their local 'Ulster' Clubs defends their present function as a neutral , extra-party 'meeting-place' : but maintains their eventual place depends on circumstances -

- " Whether they'll 'slot in' behind the political parties as the infantry or take the lead fronted up by Robinson , who knows ? It's very like 1972-74 , when the lead moved from one group to another depending on circumstances ... " .......

(MORE LATER).




FIRE AND BRIMSTONE .......
The Democratic Unionist Party would prefer a Civil War to acquiescence in a role for the Dublin Government in the affairs of the North of Ireland after the Anglo-Irish summit .
FINTAN O'TOOLE spoke to DUP activists about the depth of their opposition to the Anglo-Irish deal and their willingness to resort to violence .
From 'MAGILL' magazine , November 1985 .

The Reverend Ivan Foster , DUP , states - " I have a dread in my heart at ever being under a Roman Catholic regime . I don't anticipate that if we were under a United Ireland tomorrow , that my house would be burned down and I'd be put out on the street and my children butchered , but without a shadow of a doubt , there are those who at this moment dislike me so much , not me as an individual but me as a being , that they are prepared to back those who would plan my murder and kill me , back them by their votes , back them by their support , back them by not turning them in .

Have I not got grounds for fearing therefore a political change that will give greater freedom to those people who feel that way ; freedom to express their opposition , to act out that opposition , act it out business-wise , social-wise , every way ? "

Gregory Campbell , in another world , might have been a socialist ; the Waterside in Derry where he has always lived is no bastion of Loyalist privilege - " My parents were'nt members of any political party , and paid no heed or interest to politics . My father was a serviceman in the navy . We were just the average Protestant family in Northern Ireland (sic) . The thing that pushed me into involvement in politics was the whole Civil Rights scenario , and the whole nationalist complaint and agitation that they were getting a raw deal . That was the clincher for me because I saw on the television screens and read in the papers where people like John Hume and the beginnings of the SDLP were agitating for Catholic rights , and at that same time I saw the type of community that John Hume was from and the type of living standards that they had , which were very similar to my own .

Barry White's biography of John Hume makes great play of the fact that Hume was a working-class Catholic - no bathroom , two up , two down , outside toilet . Well I had the exact same . I saw the nationalists were campaigning for better living conditions , jobs , voting rights , and yet everything that they were campaigning for , I had'nt got either . I had'nt got hot running water , I had to go outside to the toilet , I had all the disadvantages that the urban Catholic had , and yet they were campaigning as if it were an exclusive prerogative of Catholics to be discriminated against . I felt the exact same way ....... "

('1169... ' Comment : if Mr Gregory Campbell was happy with his lot , then that was his business ; but he had no right to insist that others should not seek to improve their living conditions . Or was it because those 'others' were Catholics ? Perhaps he was of the opinion that they were getting a bit 'uppity' ...)

(MORE LATER).




McFARLANE - THE INSIDE STORY .......
Last month , BRENDAN McFARLANE was ordered by a Dutch court to be extradited back to the North to serve out a sentence of 25 years . He is appealing the decision . His companion GERARD KELLY had his plea accepted that his offences were political . BRENDAN McFARLANE has been on the run since he led thirty-seven men in an escape out of the MAZE PRISON in September 1983 . In an exclusive interview with MAGILL at Bylmerbages Prison in Amsterdam , McFARLANE talks about his life , his youth and upbringing , and his involvement with the ARMED STRUGGLE in the North .
By DEREK DUNNE .
First published in 'MAGILL' magazine , April 1986 .

Brendan McFarlane is still visibly shaken and emotional when he talks about the 1981 hunger-strike : he had smuggled a 'crystal' radio into his cell and had an aerial hooked-up to it - he left it on at night so that he could hear the news in the morning . He listened to the BBC news at 2am , and learned that Bobby Sands had died at 1.17am ; " I was shattered , " he says .

He was considered the 'soft underbelly' by the British , in relation to the hunger strike ; he knew each of the men personally and had a close friendship with Sinn Fein leaders on the outside , especially Gerry Adams . During this time he became pale , tense and nervous . The ten men who died on hunger strike are never far from his mind - " There's not a day goes by but I don't think of them . It was a traumatic experience and it took a lot out of me mentally and physically . I never experienced anything like it in my life , and I don't think I ever will . Just talking with guys two and three and four days before they died . It's very hard to see it , to feel it ...the pressure ... the dedication they had . I've never seen anything like it anywhere . "

After it was over , the men began to re-group and build on the concessions that they had gained from the hunger strike ; they as good as had their five demands , even if they were known by another name . Out of that came the Armalite/Ballot Box strategy - Brendan McFarlane says that "...it came out of the forces of the establishment lined up against the Republican Movement . It was progress on a big scale . Otherwise how could we get 43 per cent of the Nationalist vote ? " ('1169...' Comment - "progress on a big scale" ? Not as far as this scribbler is concerned . It gave the 'wannabe' politicians in the Movement the leverage to eventually 'water down' the actual objectives [as opposed to the then stated objectives] of the Sinn Fein organisation ; 'nationalists' [as opposed to Republicans] began to show an interest in the organisation as they [correctly] figured it was attempting to 'turn its back ' on what they termed "violence" and which we considered , and still do , as self-defence in a just war . If "progress" can be measured in "votes" , then Fianna Fail , for instance , or the Unionist partys , are much more 'progressive' ! And what "per centage" had Wolfe Tone got ? Or Padraig Pearse ? )

Brendan McFarlane subscribes to the idea that no matter what military operations are carried out by the IRA , their support will not fall below a certain level .

But if the men were building on the reforms gained , they were also thinking of escape - Brendan McFarlane was instrumental in the planning of the mass break-out from Long Kesh (re-named the Maze) in September 1983 . He led thirty-seven men through the wire .......

(MORE LATER).

(Please Note - the '1169...' crew will be 'shutting up shop' on Friday 15th July next for at least/about/hopefully (!) one week [maybe two - if the cash stretches... !] - we are off to the 'Sometimes Sunny Southeast' ; Waterford , for a bit of a break . Leave your e-mail address (on the back of a €50 note !) in the 'Guestbook' and we might send you a postcard . And you might also get spammed ... - Sharon :)






Monday, July 11, 2005

POLITICOS AND PARAMILITARIES .......
Fionnuala O'Connor on the struggle for the Loyalist leadership as the politicians and their paramilitary allies gear up for a strike .
From 'MAGILL' magazine , March 1986 .

The Unionist political parties and the 'Ulster' Clubs have worked together on plans for a one-day strike ; the push came from the DUP , through their representatives on the joint Official Unionist /DUP anti-agreement working party .

Peter Robinson and Harold McCusker duly went off to meet the Clubs' Steering Committee - the UDA's John McMichael among them . " Well , they needed us , did'nt they ? " says a cynical Clubs man . " They need someone to do the blockades , cut the power , stop the milk ... " He would'nt be drawn on the details , nor on whether he - and the politicians - had in mind a re-run of the unsavoury scenes in the 1974 strike's first uncertain week , when the presence of large numbers of paramilitaries at barricades on the streets over successive days convinced the workers to stay at home .

What is becoming clearer is that the DUP people on the joint political working party want a full-scale strike after their rehearsal , and they want it soon . Frank Millar's statement on the 'Panorama' programme constituted the first public comment from within the joint Unionist working party on the risks and difficulties of the present campaign , especially for Official Unionists ; he wound-up ringingly .... " I am re-echoing the oft-repeated declaration of Mr. Molyneaux and Dr. Paisley that violence has no part to play in the Anglo-Irish Agreement - that we as politicians are resolved , as we can only be resolved , to defeat that Agreement by way of political action .

The 420,000 who voted for us want us to do whatever is necessary to defeat the Anglo-Irish Agreement and we have undertaken to do that . We are confident we can do that . I think they equally expect us to give them the assurance that we know where we are intending to go , that we have a coherent , well-thought-out strategy and that our intention at all times is to steer a steady course through danger to safety . "

Frank Millar is highly articulate , perhaps the Unionist most aware of British perceptions of Unionist behaviour and the most capable of tailoring a campaign to suit . He is also a much-resented thirty-one year-old with no following .......

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FIRE AND BRIMSTONE .......
The Democratic Unionist Party would prefer a Civil War to acquiescence in a role for the Dublin Government in the affairs of the North of Ireland after the Anglo-Irish summit .
FINTAN O'TOOLE spoke to DUP activists about the depth of their opposition to the Anglo-Irish deal and their willingness to resort to violence .
From 'MAGILL' magazine , November 1985 .

Jim Allister , the DUP's Chief Whip and former 'Personal Assistant' to Ian Paisley , says that his own parents "...had to move north out of the Irish republic (sic) where they were born . "

" I live in Fermanagh , " says Ivan Foster , " I have always lived in Fermanagh . That's only a hop and a skip across the border . I know the Protestants across the border , and I know what they endured . Nothing visible , but what they had to put up with when they went to the mart , when they went to the shop , when they were looking for financial assistance . Whenever anyone else had a problem , they had ten problems . It was civilised behaviour , it may have forbade the use of the scythe and the billhook , but it did'nt stop the manifestation of that animosity towards them .

And I think it has been subdued so much over the last forty , fifty years because there was still a section of Ireland that had to be re-taken , as it were , and it was no good pretending to be the best of friends while at the same time you were openly hammering the life out of Protestants . So the very existence of the Protestant majority in the north (sic) was the greatest guarantee that the Protestants in the south were at least given some degree of freedom .

Even if that were not the case , you can't tell me that the people who are prepared to back murderers will not do me any harm if they get the chance ....... "

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McFARLANE - THE INSIDE STORY .......
Last month , BRENDAN McFARLANE was ordered by a Dutch court to be extradited back to the North to serve out a sentence of 25 years . He is appealing the decision . His companion GERARD KELLY had his plea accepted that his offences were political . BRENDAN McFARLANE has been on the run since he led thirty-seven men in an escape out of the MAZE PRISON in September 1983 . In an exclusive interview with MAGILL at Bylmerbages Prison in Amsterdam , McFARLANE talks about his life , his youth and upbringing , and his involvement with the ARMED STRUGGLE in the North .
By DEREK DUNNE .
First published in 'MAGILL' magazine , April 1986 .

The 3 Republican prisoners - Brendan McFarlane , Pat McKeon and Larry Marley - had escaped from Long Kesh , but were re-captured almost immediately . They were deemed to have left Cage 11 , Long Kesh , voluntarily , lost their political status and were transferred to the H-Blocks ; Brendan McFarlane had his clothes taken from him and was told to do prison work - he refused and joined others 'on the blanket ' : the men were locked in their cells , with no association . Their new environment was very restricted .

The prisoners shouted to each other from cell to cell , passing information , learning Irish , and so on . They sang and played quizzes to keep their spirits up ; they had reckoned that it was going to be a short protest . Towards the end of 1978 , forced washes and hair cuts were being introduced . Brendan McFarlane resisted and got a busted eye . As the men in H-Blocks began to be moved from cell to cell , they were learning from the writing on the wall . For example , the past tense of an Irish verb might be on one wall , the future tense on another and the present tense on another - "Jailic" , they called it ! In the beginning , they were scratched out . Later on , they were written in shit . Gradually , they came to accept that it was going to be a long-term struggle and resigned themselves to it .

Thirty-two men were put in isolation in an attempt to break the protests - it had the opposite effect and even more men went 'on the blanket.' Outside the prison , the Republican leadership was less than enthusiastic about taking on the political status issue in a major way for fear that it would hijack the entire Movement , and everything else would take second place . By the end of 1979 , the prisoners decided to take matters into their own hands : a hunger strike was decided and Brendan McFarlane volunteered - he was'nt chosen . The hunger strike went on for seven weeks and was called off coming up to Christmas in 1980 . The men believed that their five demands had been acceded to ; these included association , their own clothes , visits , parcels and remission . However , the deal did'nt stand up .

With the failure of the hunger strike , the men on the inside formulated another strategy , which both Brendan McFarlane and Bobby Sands were instrumental in shaping . McFarlane took over as 'Officer in Command' of the H-Blocks , representing over 400 men , on 1st March 1981 , when Bobby Sands went on hunger strike . Sands had passed the leadership to him , and it had also been ratified by the men .

Brendan McFarlane did'nt get to see Bobby Sands until almost the end , when he was very weak . All he said to him was " I'm dying ... " .......

(MORE LATER).

(Please Note - the '1169...' crew will be 'shutting up shop' on Friday 15th July next for at least/about/hopefully (!) one week [maybe two - if the cash stretches... !] - we are off to the 'Sometimes Sunny Southeast' ; Waterford , for a bit of a break . Leave your e-mail address (on the back of a €50 note !) in the 'Guestbook' and we might send you a postcard . And you might also get spammed ... - Sharon :)