" 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, September 16, 2005

FIANNA FAIL AND THE IRA CONNECTION .......
By Breasal O Caollai .
First published in ' New Hibernia ' Magazine , December 1986/January 1987 .

Fianna Fail's contacts in the Six Counties were in tatters due to the demise of the 'Nationalist Party' and there was serious concern that the IRA might take the initiative . The (Free State) Army and Gardai were instructed to concentrate their intelligence work on both sides of the border .

(FS) Taoiseach Jack Lynch went on television and announced - " The Stormont Government is evidently no longer in control of the situation ....the Government of Ireland (sic) has requested the British Government to apply to the United Nations for urgent despatch of a peace-keeping force to the Six Counties ....many injured do not wish to be treated in Six County hospitals , so Irish Army (sic) authorities have been instructed to establish field hospitals in Donegal and other points on the border ... " .

The Republican tone of Jack Lynch's words such as "...Six County hospitals .. " illustrates the strong Republican stance of his Government* . But other things were happening behind the scenes which were not announced . ( * ' 1169 ... Comment - ...those words 'illustrated' no such thing ; what they did illustrate was that Jack Lynch was more than capable of 'playing' to his own party , amongst others . )

The British Army intervened and * defended the nationalist areas in Derry but on the night of August 14th trouble with a capital 'T' broke out in Belfast . ( * ' 1169 ... ' Comment - ...the British Army moved in , under pressure from the worlds media , to force the loyalists back out of the neighbourhoods in which the Nationalists lived . It was propagated as "defence" by Westminster . ) Ten people died that night , hundreds of houses burned to the ground and refugees in their thousands swept South . Northern nationalist leaders appeared at the nightly public meetings at the GPO in Dublin and everyone was openly demanding arms and money .

Dr. Patrick Hillery , then (FS) Minister for External Affairs in the Dublin Government , flew to London where he was told to mind his own business before flying off to America and the UN where he was to raise the matter at the Security Council .......

(MORE LATER).



THE SEA GREEN INCORRUPTIBLE .......
Seamus Mallon , at 50 , has finally made it to Westminster , but the Anglo-Irish Agreement is still a difficult gamble .
Fionnuala O'Connor reports on the North after the elections .
First published in 'MAGILL' magazine , February 1986 .

When Seamus Mallon (SDLP) began crusading on the UDR the general verdict inside his party was that he was electioneering - not that anyone blamed him . At 50 , with several episodes of heart trouble behind him and generally patchy health , this was his fourth and surely last try at Westminster .

He has suffered more than most Northern politicians for his political persistence - apparently doomed to watch at galling close-hand John Hume jetting off to 'hobnob' with other international statesmen forever , while he stayed home doing constituency work on the kitchen table with his wife Gertrude nursing to keep the family .

Out of expediency and principle and sentiment combined , the SDLP gave the Newry-Armagh by-election their all ; John Hume 'lent' Mallon the young Mark Durkan from his Derry office , and turned up along the border and in cynical Newry to boost him - though he did manage a trip to the U.S. to pick up another honorary degree in between - and party workers weighed in from all over the North .

Local canvassers slogged the hardline estates in Newry and Armagh alike ; the candidate slogged along with them in the sleet and rain , through Derrybeg and Barcroft , big ex-footballer's frame deep in the collapsed driver's seat of a bashed old car bumping up and down the lanes of Derrynoose and Darkley . He met enough cautious welcome to make him start to hope , though he did'nt always say so .......

(MORE LATER).



23 DAYS IN HELL : THE STORY OF THE O'GRADY KIDNAPPING .......
The Gardai had in their possession a clue which could have led them to the O'Grady kidnappers and their captive some ten days earlier .
A card found in a rucksack after the Midleton shoot-out led them directly to the gang once they checked it out - but this was ten days later , by which time John O 'Grady had lost two of his fingers .
First published in 'MAGILL' Magazine , May 1988 .
By Michael O'Higgins .

John O'Grady succeeded in having a brief conversation with Tony McNeill about his Republican beliefs and getting the British soldiers out of the North of Ireland ; McNeill told him he wanted to see a Socialist State in Ireand and every other country that was not already communist . O'Grady was allowed read the newspapers and was given his son's walkman radio to listen to ; he tuned in to pirate radio station NRG 103 FM .

On Thursday October 15 Dessie O'Hare and Eddie Hogan returned ; the kidnap was by now public knowledge . O'Hare then asked O'Grady for the names of other people whom they could contact to make a ransom demand ; O'Grady suggested a relative , an 'Auntie Bettie' , and Hilary Prentice , a solicitor who worked in the firm of Matheson Ormsby and Prentice : Hilary Prentice was a patient of O'Grady's . O'Hare asked O'Grady for details which would show his bona fides when he contacted them to demand the ransom .

John O'Grady provided details which were written down by Eddie Hogan ; the two then departed . The following morning O'Grady was supplied with a basin of hot water and allowed to wash ; he was also given the three morning newspapers which were full of news of the kidnap . Toal and McNeill also read the papers but did'nt pass any comment on them . O'Grady was given two books , ' Murder in The Vicarage' by Agatha Christie and an adventure thriller by Wilbur Smith called ' The Power of The Sword' . He passed the day reading and listening to the radio . Overhead he could hear movement in the barber's shop as Gerry Wright tended to his customers .

On the following Saturday , October 17 , Dessie O'Hare returned alone . John O'Grady was to be moved to a new location - on the journey the gang were in high spirits . They joked about the "...poor old 'Border Fox' being blamed for everyrthing .. " . They stopped after about an hour and O'Hare went to a takeaway to get fish and chips and curries and ate it in the car . O'Hare joked to O'Grady that he would take him for a drink except he might be recognised . They drove on . O'Hare suddenly ordered everyone in the car to get down and shouted " Brits !" and fired two shots out the window . John O'Grady now presumed he was in the North - they had driven for three to four hours in all .......

(MORE LATER).







Thursday, September 15, 2005

FIANNA FAIL AND THE IRA CONNECTION .......
By Breasal O Caollai .
First published in ' New Hibernia ' Magazine , December 1986/January 1987 .

1969 : Street fighting in Derry saw an end to the possibility of internment in the South of Ireland - instead the Dublin Government began a series of special emergency cabinet meetings .

On August 13th , 1969 , in response to massive demonstrations on the streets of the South in support of the Northern minority , an invasion of Derry was considered and all previous rifts within the (FS) Cabinet were apparently forgotten .

The (FS) Army statement on their lack of preparedness , read to the (FS) Cabinet , helped Jack Lynch to quietly resist the invasion proposals : but the danger of pogroms in other parts of the North was a real fear . A compromise of seeking the agreement of the British Government to send the Irish (ie Free State) Army to protect Nationalist areas was agreed , and stronger dramatic action came in the establishment of military field hospitals on the border for those injured who did not want to risk going to a northern hospital for aid .

The 'dangers' of the left-wing-led IRA taking the initiative was also discussed and all were united that it could not be allowed .......

(MORE LATER).




THE SEA GREEN INCORRUPTIBLE .......
Seamus Mallon , at 50 , has finally made it to Westminster , but the Anglo-Irish Agreement is still a difficult gamble .
Fionnuala O'Connor reports on the North after the elections .
First published in 'MAGILL' magazine , February 1986 .

In the aftermath of the Hillsborough Treaty , Seamus Mallon issued cautions : the 'Agreement' was only as good as its implementation , there must be visible progress , and eventually after Tom King's unhelpful elaboration on Dr. Garrett Fitzgerald's acceptance of partition in perpetuity , came a growl from Seamus Mallon that Dublin had better get on with representing Nationalists in there and stop worrying about Unionist sensibilities , since that was'nt what they were there to worry about .

Some veteran John Hume-watchers cannot decide if there really has been all that tension between him and Mallon over the years , or whether it is useful to the party leader to have a sea-green incorruptible , friend of Haughey even , on his right-hand side : and whether Mallon is now playing that role for all it is worth , with Hume's blessing , in the Anglo-Irish process .

Certainly during the months of horse-trading and the last touchy stages , the advantages could be imagined - when Hume could point over his shoulder to that lined face , so stern on television , and tell the perfidious hacks of British diplomacy - " You expect me to sell that to him ? " . To which the British replied , at a very early stage indeed on the question of the UDR : " It cost £45,000 to train a soldier to fire a nuclear weapon in Germany and we are not going to get his fucking head blown off in Ballymurphy , are we ? Without the UDR we just have'nt the manpower that's needed , available . And the UDR keeps the Loyalists where everybody can see them . "

The SDLP , at least those in the know , settled for that , implicity accepting also the RUC as 'semi-trustworthy go-betweens' , and , yes - 'police' , "...who knew where the UDR landrovers are supposed to be at any given time .. " , as one SDLP man puts it , and can pull them into line . If they want to , that is .......

( ' 1169 ... ' Comment - The RUC were/are ['PSNI'] 'go-betweens' , right enough - they share any information they have between the UDA and the UVF . )

(MORE LATER).




23 DAYS IN HELL : THE STORY OF THE O'GRADY KIDNAPPING .......
The Gardai had in their possession a clue which could have led them to the O'Grady kidnappers and their captive some ten days earlier .
A card found in a rucksack after the Midleton shoot-out led them directly to the gang once they checked it out - but this was ten days later , by which time John O 'Grady had lost two of his fingers .
First published in 'MAGILL' Magazine , May 1988 .
By Michael O'Higgins .

John O'Grady was put in a cellar ; his glasses and handcuffs were removed - he took stock of his new surroundings : the walls were bare . There was a blue coloured blanket hanging from the ceiling separating him from his captors . There was a black Victorian fireplace in the corner . The only heat being provided , however , was from one bar of a superser heater .

A dinner of roast beef , vegetables and potato was provided . Fergal Toal and Tony McNeill , who had returned with Dessie O'Hare , took up guard duties . Eddie Hogan and Dessie O'Hare left . It was Wednesday October 14 ; the first full day of this kidnap was nearing a close . Gerry Wright's cellar was to be ' home' for the next four days .

4. The "...poor old 'Border Fox' .. "

John O'Grady's guards were prepared to make minor concessions ; on Wednesday evening he was asked if he would like a drink . He asked for , and was provided with , a bottle of Muscadet wine and Ballygowan mineral water . The two mixed together is known as a 'spritzer' and is a fairly popular drink in many of Dublin's upwardly mobile bar lounges .

There was nothing salubrious about his present surroundings , however . The spritzer was served in a paper cup ; there was a bucket to urinate in and , for most of the time , he was handcuffed and obliged to wear the pair of blacked-out glasses . Meals were strictly functional - tea , toast and boiled eggs for breakfast , yogurt , fruit and sandwiches for lunch and burger and chips or Kentucky fried chicken in the evening .

Toal and McNeill worked in rotation , taking turns for sleep .......

(MORE LATER).







Wednesday, September 14, 2005

FIANNA FAIL AND THE IRA CONNECTION .......
By Breasal O Caollai .
First published in ' New Hibernia ' Magazine , December 1986/January 1987 .

One of those expelled from the Republican Movement for preventing the 'Connolly Youth' group from marching at an Easter Commemoration was Nobby Ferguson , the 1967 Mayor of Sligo ; a revolt in the ranks was obviously simmering when the bodies of IRA martyrs Barnes and MacCormack were brought back and buried in Mullingar ; the chief organiser of the Mullingar funeral was Ruairi O Bradaigh .

The platform was used by an 'old brigade' man for an attack on the IRA leadership for its left-wing policies - the attack had been preceded by a local Republican woman rubbing it into the 'Commies' - she recited five decades of the rosary just as the proceedings commenced !

Bank raids became fashionable with Saor Eire taking much of the credit ; between the IRA burnings of the foreign-owned farms which caused uproar in the West German Parliament and the bank raids , the Fianna Fail government seriously considered the possibility of selective internment - a figure in the region of 50 people to be interned was discussed .

In early August 1969 , (FS) Taoiseach Jack Lynch met the editors of the Dublin newspapers and requested that they ignore IRA statements about their actions South of the border ; he also drew to their attention that in fact it was illegal to be reproducing IRA statements ! But then the 'Troubles' in the North began to erupt .......

(MORE LATER).




THE SEA GREEN INCORRUPTIBLE .......
Seamus Mallon , at 50 , has finally made it to Westminster , but the Anglo-Irish Agreement is still a difficult gamble .
Fionnuala O'Connor reports on the North after the elections .
First published in 'MAGILL' magazine , February 1986 .

Seamus Mallon , SDLP MP , made ritual angry noises on what he would expect in the line of curbing the UDR , though he knew that there was no chance of it being disbanded . Then he flatly denounced the very idea of an anti-violence pledge * to be taken by all future election candidates , still a negotiating gambit on the British side as the Agreement package reached the 'tying-up' stage .

John Hume duly showered Mallon with praise in the conference's big set-piece , the 'Leaders Speech' - he all but called his deputy the conscience of the party , to happy delegates' applause . Another piece of neat Hume 'packaging' .

* Re the British-imposed Political Test Oath :

" I declare that , if elected , I will not by word or deed express support for or approval of -

(A) Any organisation that is for the time being a proscribed organisation specified in Schedule 2 to the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Act 1978 : or
(B) Acts of terrorism (that is to say , violence for political ends) connected with the affairs of Northern Ireland . "

The British 'Oath' called for the public disowning of the Irish Republican Army , Cumann na mBan , Fianna Eireann and a repudiation of the right of the Irish people to use force of arms to end British occupation . That right has been asserted in every generation and in those 836 years it has been asserted at tremendous cost in terms of life , liberty and human suffering .

Republicans will not allow Ireland's fight for freedom to be branded "...over 800 years of crime.. " - we have never accepted British 'oaths' of allegiance : for fifty years Republican candidates were debarred from public office because of their refusal to take such 'oaths' . Many public bodies were abolished for refusing to take an 'oath' of allegiance to the British Crown - it required the great upheaval of the Civil Rights Movement and the armed resistance of the people to smash the oath at local government level .

Meekly accepting the taking of such an 'oath' demeans the whole cause of Irish Republicanism and dishonour's all those who gave their lives for Irish freedom - particularly the twenty-two men that have died on hunger-strike between 1917 and 1981 .

(MORE LATER).
.......on 'The Sea Green Incorruptible'.



23 DAYS IN HELL : THE STORY OF THE O'GRADY KIDNAPPING .......
The Gardai had in their possession a clue which could have led them to the O'Grady kidnappers and their captive some ten days earlier .
A card found in a rucksack after the Midleton shoot-out led them directly to the gang once they checked it out - but this was ten days later , by which time John O 'Grady had lost two of his fingers .
First published in 'MAGILL' Magazine , May 1988 .
By Michael O'Higgins .

3. " Look As Natural As Possible... "

The car slowed down and mounted two kerbs or bumps ; from inside the boot John O'Grady could hear a roller door being opened . Dessie O'Hare got into a second car and drove off . The plan had been for McNeill and Toal , who remaimed behind in the house , to drive off after a time in John O'Grady's car which they were then to dump outside the Fairways Hotel in Dundalk . This was to create the impression that the gang had gone across the border .

Dessie O'Hare switched cars and drove off to meet with McNeill and Toal to bring them back to Dublin ; back in the lock-up garage John O'Grady could hear Eddie Hogan snoring . In the boot , O'Grady munched a pear from the stock of provisions . He , too , dozed off . When he woke he asked Eddie Hogan if he could go to the toilet but was supplied with a milk bottle which he filled twice . A short time later Dessie O'Hare returned ; John O'Grady was released from the boot of the car and ordered into the back seat of another car .

The blindfold was removed and he was given a pair of glasses with the lenses blacked out with masking tape . They drove for about half an hour in heavy traffic - O'Grady was given a cigarette on the journey and told to pretend to smoke it and to look as natural as possible . Their destination was a barber's shop at 41 Parkgate Street in Dublin near Guinness's brewery . They were met by the proprietor of the premises , Gerry Wright ; O'Grady was led to a cellar ; his arm was shaking . Wright took his arm , told him he was alright and not to worry . The cellar was dilapidated , dusty and disused .

He was put sitting in a sweaty-smelling armchair in a corner .......

(MORE LATER).







Tuesday, September 13, 2005

FIANNA FAIL AND THE IRA CONNECTION .......
By Breasal O Caollai .
First published in ' New Hibernia ' Magazine , December 1986/January 1987 .

The General Election of June 1969 in the 26 Counties kept everyone busy in Fianna Fail and Neil Blaney abandoned his Northern speeches for the sake of the appearance of party unity . Nevertheless , the battles between George Colley , Charles J. Haughey and Neil Blaney continued with Jack Lynch as Taoiseach avoiding involvement .

Seamus Brady , the PR man/journalist , was active for Fianna Fail in the General Election turning out scripts which hit at the Labour Party for its 'red politics' ; Brady had been active in the previous year's referendum campaign on Proportional Representation and at a number of Fianna Fail Ard Fheisanna - always turning out 'hot' speeches for Fianna Fail leaders - mainly his friend Neil Blaney .

Seamus Brady was a member of the Dublin North-East Comhairle Dail Ceanntair of Fianna Fail and his professional touch - which he obtained while working for an English newspaper and later the 'Irish Press' newspaper - was always in demand . The Northern issues played little or no part in the June 1969 General Election when the country ' Backed Jack .... '

Meanwhile , in the 'unknown land' of the IRA , a group of Sligo members were expelled because they would not allow the 'Connolly Youth' group march at the Easter Commemoration .......

(MORE LATER).




THE SEA GREEN INCORRUPTIBLE .
Seamus Mallon , at 50 , has finally made it to Westminster , but the Anglo-Irish Agreement is still a difficult gamble .
Fionnuala O'Connor reports on the North after the elections .
First published in 'MAGILL' magazine , February 1986 .

Seamus Mallon went to Westminster on Monday January 27 1986 . That night a UDR patrol opened fire on a car full of young Tyrone Catholics in the car-park of a pub near Cookstown .

As a text-book example of the pitfalls in the way of the Anglo-Irish Agreement (ie the Hillsborough Treaty) the sequence could hardly be bettered . One of Mr. Mallon's colleagues in Tyrone spoke with restraint of the dubious circumstances of the shooting ; Peter Barry (Fine Gael) demanded an explanation from the British government , and the UDR said those who fired the shots would not be suspended pending an inquiry because that would suggest guilt .

In other words , Mr. Seamus Mallon , SDLP MP - make what you can of that ! There's your Irish voice in the inter-governmental machinery for you , and your new voice at Westminster , and what effect have they had on the behaviour of your favourite targets of criticism , the overwhelmingly Protestant/Loyalist Ulster Defence Regiment ? Who were not accompanied at the time of the incident by the Royal Ulster Constabulary , needless to say , as the Taoiseach promised Northern Nationalists in the wake of Hillsborough they would henceforward be .

Seamus Mallon knew the score all along , better than anyone . When tight-lipped he stood before the party's annual conference last autumn and promised in so many words that he would not be joining his friend and mentor the Fianna Fail leader , Mr. Charles Haughey , in immediate opposition to the then imminent Anglo-Irish Agreement , his face showed the struggle that cost him . Party observers were not surprised , though they were relieved to hear him be so definite . " Where else can he go ? " they said , " ...he is not a well man , he's not fit to be fighting John Hume ... " .......

(MORE LATER).




23 DAYS IN HELL : THE STORY OF THE O'GRADY KIDNAPPING .......
The Gardai had in their possession a clue which could have led them to the O'Grady kidnappers and their captive some ten days earlier .
A card found in a rucksack after the Midleton shoot-out led them directly to the gang once they checked it out - but this was ten days later , by which time John O 'Grady had lost two of his fingers .
First published in 'MAGILL' Magazine , May 1988 .
By Michael O'Higgins .

John O'Grady was taken upstairs to rejoin the rest of his family . He lay down on the bed beside his wife Marise ; he was aware that the gang had discussed the possibility of taking one of the children as well as himself . He talked it over with his wife . John O'Grady decided Anthony would be the one they should take along with himself . All the time gang-member Tony McNeill was sitting , armed with a shotgun , on a chair in the corner of the room watching them .

After an hour or two John O'Grady was taken down to the playroom where he was made to sit on a swivel chair ; Eddie Hogan talked with him for a while about Dr. Austin Darragh's wealth . Before the family was allowed go to bed for the night a ransom note demanding £300,000 was drafted .

2 . NOT THE SMOOTHEST OF OPERATORS .

In the morning , Dessie O'Hare took John O'Grady downstairs ; Marise O'Grady was told to get warm clothes , socks and wellington boots for her husband . He was to be kept in a field , she was told . John O'Grady was in the playroom with Tony McNeill guarding him . Shortly before nine o'clock one of the gang came in and blindfolded him with a lint and gauze dressing . O'Hare led him , still handcuffed , out to the back of the house to a car and John O'Grady was ordered to get into the boot .

Dessie O'Hare returned to the house . The 'phone rang . O'Hare stood over Marise O'Grady while she accepted an invitation from a friend to Sunday dinner . It was another cock up : O'Hare was not wearing his balaclava and Marise O'Grady got a good look at his face . O'Hare told her that he was leaving with her husband and warned her not to contact the Gardai . The car they were leaving in had already been packed with provisions from the house . The gang also took a walkman radio , walkie-talkies and a polaroid camera .

Two members of the gang , Fergal Toal and Tony McNeill , remained behind to ensure O'Hare's safe getaway . Dessie O'Hare and Eddie Hogan drove off with John O'Grady ; they intended driving to a lock-up garage on the north side of Dublin , but quickly lost their way . They were forced to rely on directions from John O'Grady who was blindfolded and in the boot . Less than twelve hours into the kidnap it was apparent Dessie O'Hare and his gang were not the smoothest of operators .......

(MORE LATER).







Monday, September 12, 2005

FIANNA FAIL AND THE IRA CONNECTION .......
By Breasal O Caollai .
First published in ' New Hibernia ' Magazine , December 1986/January 1987 .

Fianna Fail Minister Neil Blaney advised Northern Catholics not to support Northern Premier Captain Terence O'Neill , who was seeking their support in the Stormont elections in early 1969 . While O'Neill gave away ground to Ian Paisley , Fianna Fail were shattered by the result .

Their lap dog party , 'The Nationalist Party' , was smashed in the election and its leader Eddie McAteer was defeated for the Derry seat by John Hume . On this stage Kevin Boland's recollection was - " We considered the establishment of Fianna Fail on the other side of the border and had almost decided that this might have to be done . " He explained his reasoning : re-unification was not an issue in the Northern elections .

Others in Fianna Fail felt the danger of the Northern issue dictating politics in the South was real and something must be done to control the situation . This second possibility was very dangerous for Fianna Fail if they were to remain a force in the 26 Counties ; therefore it was essential that the Fianna Fail presence in the North be restored following the collapse of their close associates 'The Nationalist Party' . It was during this period that the first contact in modern times between Fianna Fail and the IRA took place .

A prominent businessman in South Derry approached his local IRA Officer Commanding whom he personally knew and passed on the message that there were plenty of guns and money available from the South ; the IRA man played along and reported back to his GHQ in Dublin while the businessman reported this recitation to a leading Fianna Fail TD from the border area .......

(MORE LATER).




SINN FEIN ALONE .......
As Sinn Fein has become more active , members of the government parties have sought to isolate the Provos politically .
The record shows , however , that some of those politicians have for years sought support from Sinn Fein - and some continue to do so in so far as it is politically expedient .
By JOHN McHUGH .
First published in ' MAGILL ' Magazine , September 1984.

The decision of the (FS) Government not to see members of Sinn Fein is important but even if there was'nt a general government policy on the matter , Ministers Kavanagh and Desmond could carry out a very effective embargo on their own . Environment and Health and Social Welfare are surely the two most important political Departments for a local politician .

Liam Kavanagh has made his position clear , the Donegal incident notwithstanding , and Barry Desmond has said that he would find it repugnant to have a member of Sinn Fein in his office , and that he would regard it as an act of political hygiene to have no dealings with a Sinn Fein member - Desmond was talking about a specific member of Sinn Fein : Phil Flynn , Vice President of Sinn Fein and General Secretary of the State's largest public service union , the LGPSU .

That trade union has several thousand members working in the health sector and it is doubtful that Phil Flynn will be withdrawing from delegations .

[ END of 'SINN FEIN ALONE' .]
(Tomorrow - ' THE SEA GREEN INCORRUPTIBLE' - from 1986.)



23 DAYS IN HELL : THE STORY OF THE O'GRADY KIDNAPPING .......
The Gardai had in their possession a clue which could have led them to the O'Grady kidnappers and their captive some ten days earlier .
A card found in a rucksack after the Midleton shoot-out led them directly to the gang once they checked it out - but this was ten days later , by which time John O 'Grady had lost two of his fingers .
First published in 'MAGILL' Magazine , May 1988 .
By Michael O'Higgins .

Dessie O'Hare told John O'Grady to open the safe - all that it contained was birth , baptism and marriage certificates , passports , a TV licence , other personal documents and jewellery worth just over a thousand pounds . O'Hare took everything . Marise O'Grady was upstairs in one of the bedrooms with her three children - they were under armed guard by another member of the gang , Tony McNeill .

Marise O'Grady found that McNeill was reasonable - he acceded to all her requests but attempts to draw him into conversation failed . He put his finger up to his lips to indicate that she should be quiet . Downstairs , Dessie O'Hare was in a foul temper . He summoned Marise O'Grady ; he was trying to think of a ruse that would entice Dr. Austin Darragh out to the house : one of his suggestions was that John O'Grady should ring him and tell Dr. Darragh that Marise had fallen down the stairs and broken her neck . Marise O'Grady told O'Hare the plan would not work - O'Hare kicked her on the backside . On the way back upstairs he called her a " ...lying cunt.. " .

The kidnap gang held a conference over tea and biscuits ; O'Hare lamented the fact that O'Grady was not a son of Dr. Darragh - he took the view that John O'Grady would be 'expendable' . The idea of taking Marise O'Grady was discussed but O'Hare was against taking a woman . John O'Grady was summoned downstairs again - the fourth member of the gang , Eddie Hogan , produced a video camera and filmed O'Grady , flanked on either side by Dessie O'Hare and Tony McNeill who had guns pointed at his head .

Afterwards they asked O'Grady where his video cassette player was , to check if the camera worked . 'MANOR HOUSE' has almost every modern convenience imaginable but John O'Grady told an incredulous O'Hare that they did not own a video cassette player . The reason , he explained to O'Hare , was that he did'nt want his children to watch video nasties .......

(MORE LATER).