" 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. But not to worry -thanks to everyone involved for getting us to the final stage of the competition and sure we'll try again the next time!

Friday, September 23, 2005

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

Surplus Irish (sic- Free State) Army uniforms were widely distributed free in Nationalist areas of the North and were a big hit with the young activists . The main activists of the Dublin Government's action campaign were Seamus Brady and Captain James Kelly , who was already active gathering intelligence along the border .

Captain Kelly was acting in accordance with his military commission and was doing his duty at all times . But for Seamus Brady it was politics ; Charles Haughey appointed him on the 15th August 1969 to the Propaganda Corps and according to the Head of the Government's Information Bureau at the time , while giving evidence to the eventual Dail Committee of Public Accounts - " The first information I had about Mr. Brady's selection and appointment ...was as a result of a casual meeting on Friday , August 15th (1969) , with the then Minister for Finance , Mr. C.J. Haughey , who informed me that he had arranged for Mr. Brady to join the Bureau for the duration , at a fee .. "

When Seamus Brady reported for duty on 19th August 1969 he was the only person in the propaganda squad selected to go into the North ; his first report to the (FS) Taoiseach , Jack Lynch , filed in late August 1969 , had little to do with explaining the Northern situation - it was an intelligence report on the IRA and the various defence groups in the North of Ireland .

Meanwhile , back in IRA 'land' , Cathal Goulding and his GHQ Staff had a retake on the situation in the North : four IRA Units , fully armed , had been sent to the border with the intention of re-staging a border campaign and thereby take the pressure off Belfast and Derry - but the pogrom situation in Belfast had eased with the arrival of the British Army and it was clear to the 'top brass' in the IRA that the action planned could now back-fire on them .......

(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 .

It will be interesting to watch the Provos develop their response to the situation created by the Anglo-Irish Agreement (ie 1985 Hillsborough Treaty) : though they reject any suggestion that IRA violence has been stepped up because of that 'Agreement' , IRA statements have been contradictory enough for that denial to be ignored .

A policy of 'goading' the Unionists into even fiercer opposition by keeping up the campaign against off-duty* UDR men and mortar attacks on RUC stations still looks likely . ( * ' 1169 ... ' Comment - The UDR , like the present-day RUC/PSNI , are never "off-duty" : in or out of uniform , they are the 'eyes and ears' of the British 'establishment' . )

If the Provos cannot bring down the 'Agreement' themselves , then they will push the Protestant community - the only people who can defeat it - to do the job for them , the argument goes . The Provos' official answer to that charge is to point out that Loyalists seem to need no further 'goad' than the 'Agreement' itself ; loyalism , meanwhile , is claiming ever more loudly to be united while trying to cover the cracks in the joint party facade , but there is no doubt at all that a unity of disgust with the Hillsborough Treaty remains .

When the 'Ulster Clubs' weighed in recently with their call to the fourteen Unionist MP's to withdraw from Westminster , it was perhaps the clearest sign yet that "ordinary" (ie grassroots) Unionists have become worried by the lack of clear leadership . it took the quite spectacular dithering about how many MP's should leave Westminster , and when , to produce the Clubs' unmistakeable message - they spoke with the authority of almost fifty branches spread across the North and a probable 8,000 members , made up of UDA men , UVF men , almost all the DUP's twenty-one Assembly members and half a dozen Official Unionist Assemblymen .......

(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 .

Dessie O' Hare was formally expelled from the INLA , and the IRA were also looking for him in connection with guns he had stolen from them ; he was now totally marginalised . The three bank robberies had yielded only £7,000 . He could count those he could rely on in single figures . Eddie Hogan was released from jail in October and immediately took up with O'Hare .

Tony McNeill was the most unlikely member of the gang ; from Belfast , he studied for a diploma in electronic engineering and came south in 1980 after the RUC allegedly issued a death threat to him through his sister . He got a job as a nurse's aide in Palmerstown Hospital . He was friendly with Gerry Wright , a barber in Dublin , whom he introduced to Dessie O'Hare . Wright was not a member of any group but had 'sympathies' , and considered the differences between the Official IRA and the INLA and the Provisional IRA to be only notional . His brother had been a member of the Official IRA in the 1970's but had been shot dead by a fellow member of the organisation after he made a statement in police custody implicating fellow members in a bank robbery .

Gerry Wright agreed to co-operate with Dessie O'Hare when O'Hare said he would shoot Billy Wright's killer , whose identity was well known . Wright was obsessed with his brother's death . In early October the O'Hare gang killed Jimmy McDaid ; O'Hare alleged that he had misappropriated money - his family claims that he was shot because he wanted to disassociate himself from O'Hare , who liked to think of himself as leading a disciplined group who acted under military orders ; the reality was far different .


7. " A Bunch Of Amateurs.. "
The Garda investigation , now well into its second week , had yielded little . After Fergal Toal and Tony McNeill had left John O'Grady's house at 1.50 PM on the first day of the kidnap , Marise O'Grady contacted her father Austin Darragh ; they discused what to do and after some deliberation decided to contact the gardai , who arrived at the house shortly after nine o'clock that night .......

(MORE LATER).







Thursday, September 22, 2005

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

The objectives of the Free State Government's 'Northern Sub-Committee' were outlined by Charles Haughey at the 'Arms Trial' : " We were given instructions that we should develop the maximum possible contacts with persons inside the Six Counties and try to inform ourselves as much as possible on events , political and other developments - within the Six County area . "

The Free State Cabinet also decided on appointing a 'Propaganda Corps' to lead an international publicity attack against Britain over partition ; this 'Corps' consisted of 20 public relations men , 18 of whom were drawn from the State or semi-State companies .

In line with their instructions , the 'Northern Sub-Committee' made contact with the Belfast IRA , with Saor Eire elements through the Citizens Committee located in a house in Kildare Street in Dublin (now demolished) the use of which was made available by the New Ireland Assurance Company , and contact was also made with Cathal Goulding , the IRA Chief Of Staff .

The idea was to get involved in the North : to use every possible contact to influence decision making in the Northern Nationalist community . The Dublin Government was not prepared to be compromised by the decisions taken in either the Civil Rights Association or the IRA . The Irish Army (sic - FS) and special Garda intelligence units were deployed on both sides of the border gathering information on activists of all sorts .......

(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 .

If you did'nt accept Gerry Adams' arguments , the suspicion inevitably arose that here was a man , and a political party , sucked into a process against its purist judgement by the very fact of being there ; that suspicion partially explained the nature of the Sinn Fein campaign , and it would suggest internal trouble ahead for Adams with those who have always seen the election strategy as at best a distraction from the fight , and at worst inevitably destructive of the Republican Movement's real purpose . ( ' 1169 ... ' Comment - that "election strategy" has resulted in Provisional Sinn Fein sitting in Leinster House and Stormont [Westminster soon ?] and calling on it's own colleagues in the PIRA to not only dis-arm , but to dis-band as well . Career building ... )

It was an odd business , the Provos campaign this time : no money to spend , none of the swarms of young people who so disheartened the SDLP a couple of elections back as they popped up everywhere preaching the Sinn Fein message . Even according to the SDLP , who accuse Sinn Fein of most kinds of skullduggery , there were few allegations of dirty work this time - which many hardened Northerners would regard as an integral part of any energetic election campaign .

Instead the SDLP fretted that Sinn Fein were leaving them to make the running , and wondered why . In Mid-Ulster and Fermanagh-South Tyrone someone had a little go at Sinn Fein's '...dangerous social policies .. ' through the time-honoured method of letters to local papers , and managed to cause Danny Morrison and probably Owen Carron - though he has not been available for comment - some bad moments . Even the faintest whisper of abortion makes your average West of the Bann nationalist turn purple . As Morrison stated - " I was asked at least half a dozen times on the doorsteps or after Mass if it was true Sinn Fein supported abortion . You would'nt know how many other conversations on the subject of 'Morrison-the-baby-killer' those represented .

Then Father Faul joined in with a letter to the 'Irish News' newspaper at the very last minute , meaning I could'nt answer it in time . " Morrison spent time explaining how a motion at the 1985 Sinn Fein Ard Fheis indeed proposed abortion on demand but had been modified by a Sinn Fein Executive amendment . That answer may not have cut much ice on doorsteps in , for instance , Ballynanny .......

(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 .

In early December 1986 Dessie O'Hare was involved in an attempted bank robbery in Shercock , County Cavan - in dramatic fashion the doors of the bank were smashed down , but the gang left empty-handed . O'Hare was arrested shortly afterwards under Section 30 of the Offences Against the State Act and taken to Dundalk Garda Station for questioning . Detectives interviewing him were impressed by his agile mind ; he told them that he was now a pacifist .

Over the next ten months he killed , or had killed , five people : he had contacted the GHQ faction of the INLA and had been instructed to form a Unit - this Unit's one and only action against the British 'security forces' , carried out on New Year's Eve , ended in disaster ; the target was a member of the UDR , but the assassins missed and shot his seventy-two year old mother who died soon afterwards .

The INLA feud erupted at the end of January when John O'Reilly and Thomas 'Ta' Power were shot when they attended the Rossnaree Hotel for what they assumed were peace talks . O'Hare was first into bat for the GHQ faction - he was involved in abducting Tony McCloskey , who had his finger , nose and ear cut off before being put out of his misery by a bullet . In the coming weeks O'Hare was to kill two others , both INLA members , one for alleged informing and another in a personal vendetta .

In June he attempted to assassinate Official Unionist Party representative Jim Nicholson . Funds were low and in August he robbed a bank in Ballybay , County Monaghan ; in August he robbed two banks within minutes of each other in Castlepollard , County Westmeath .......

(MORE LATER).







Wednesday, September 21, 2005

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

With the 'doomsday situation' apparently around the corner the IRA was another influential decision-maker but with their record of destructive involvement in the South , and their left-wing politics , not to mention their constant attacks on Fianna Fail , TACA , and indeed their regular picketing of the homes of several government ministers including the homes of Neil Blaney and Kevin Boland , under different guises , clearly meant that they would be hostile (to the Free State Administration) .

To cap it all the traditional Fianna Fail support body , the 'Nationalist Party' was all but dead since the Stormont Elections ; with the military situation opening up , the IRA was certainly a threatening presence in the North of Ireland . In any case the (FS) Government decided that money would have to be provided to deal with distress and it was essential that it should be spent in a way which would win friends and influence people for the Fianna Fail Government .

Eventually £100,000 from (FS) exchequer funds was agreed and a special sub-committee of the State Cabinet was appointed to deal with the whole Northern 'problem' ; elected to that sub-comittee were Padraig Faulkner , Joe Brennan , Neil Blaney - their constituencies were on the border - and Charles J. Haughey , who was (FS) Minister for Finance and had strong Northern connections , his father having come South to join the Free State Army in the 1920's .

The objectives of that 'Northern sub-committee' were outlined by Charles Haughey at the 'Arms Trial' .......

(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 .

1983 was Sinn Fein's highest point when they topped the 100,000 votes mark - a year later that total vote dropped to 93,000 . 1985's local government elections brought them back up again over the 100,000 ; to the great though unpublicised relief of Dr. Garret Fitzgerald (Fine Gael) , then pressing his , and John Hume's , case with Margaret Thatcher that Nationalist alienation must be checked and reversed or Sinn Fein and the IRA would inexorably make headway at the expense of constitutional Nationalists .

To get the perspective straight - over recent years the respective shares of the Nationalist vote have been -

1982 : SDLP 65 % to SF 35 % ;
1983 : SDLP 57.4 % to SF 42.6 % ;
1985 : SDLP 60.3 % to SF 39.7 % ;
1986 : SDLP 64.6 % to SF 35.4 % .

Jim Nicholson , a unionist , in defeat , maintained that Sinn Fein and the SDLP had indeed worked a pact in Newry-Armagh to get him out ; Jim McAllister's compassionate hug for the grey-faced Seamus Mallon in mid-count probably finally convinced Nicholson that he was right . The President of (P) Sinn Fein , Gerry Adams , meanwhile commented that some Sinn Fein voters stayed at home and some backed the strongest horse . As the results came in Adams made an interesting study , batting percentages around like the smoothest commentator and insisting the SDLP gain was no surprise and would not last beyond people's disillusionment with the Anglo-Irish Agreement as an instrument of real change . ( ' 1169.... ' Comment - ...that same charge can now be made against the 1998 Stormont Treaty/'GFA' . )

Those who have been wondering all along whether the Provos' involvement in politics will change the Provos more than the politics must have watched Adams' performance with a special interest ; he was least convincing on Sinn Fein's reasons for fighting an election they called "...a so-called referendum.. " and which they originally suggested Nationalists should boycott .......

(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 .

At the time of his arrest (late 1979) , Dessie O'Hare was credited by the RUC , without substantiation , with involvement in over twenty killings : he had not yet reached twenty-one years of age .

O'Hare could not adjust to jail ; there were several naive escape attempts right up to within months of his release , costing him remission . He was frequently beaten up by prison warders and had few friends in jail . Eddie Hogan had been sentenced to eight years in 1981 for his involvement in an armed robbery ; Fergal Toal was sentenced in 1984 for his part in an attempted armed robbery in Dundalk . The three , along with Jimmy McDaid , who was serving a sentence for the manslaughter of a British soldier , formed one of the many 'cliques' in prison .

Dessie O'Hare was released from jail in October 1986 and Fergal Toal shortly afterwards . The INLA was in disarray ; initially O'Hare approached a member of the new 'Army Council' faction and proposed that the list of legitimate targets should be widened to include people like Bishop Cathal Daly - who had made a number of statements critical of republicans - and Peter Sutherland , who had been (FS) Attorney General when the (FS) Supreme Court reversed its policy of not extraditing people suspected of involvement in offences while on 'active service' .

The man to whom Dessie O'Hare proposed this was appalled , gave him £500 and told him he would be in touch .......

(MORE LATER).







Tuesday, September 20, 2005

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

A Mayo Republican was rumoured to have got his flash new car from Fianna Fail ; this was not exactly true . In fact he got the car from a Fianna Fail man involved in car sales . Yet the Republican was virtually penniless . Eventually the IRA established that their member had set up the motor dealer to find him in a 'compromising' position with a woman - the Republican's wife !

Ballinamore in County Leitrim was typical of the reaction by Gardai to the unusual events those days ; two Gardai stood in the centre of the town watching the comings and goings and constantly looking in the direction of John Joe McGirl's pub - their orders were to watch but under no circumstances to intervene . Those orders had come from the (FS) Government .

The IRA had orders not to shoot any garda even if it meant arrest . No one participating really believed that this public relation-orientated order would be upheld if the situation arose . Meanwhile the real (sic) Irish [ie Free State] Army were preparing for action in case the British Government gave their permission * for their participation north of the border . ( * ' 1169... ' Comment - Free Staters waiting for 'permission' from a foreign administration before they dare travel on to what is Irish soil ... !) .

The (FS) Minister for Defence , Jim Gibbons (FF) , authorised a recruiting campaign to bring the (FS) Army up to full strength ; enter the 'Mighty Rangers' of television fame . However the real problem confronting the Dublin Government was how to effectively influence the decisions being taken in Nationalist areas throughout the North - they pinpointed the 'Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association' as one influential body . The rapidly-growing local Defence Committees presented another area of power in the North .......

(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 .

On BBC Television the face of psychologist Dr. Sidney Elliott was a sight to behold as 'Northern Ireland' Office Minister Nicholas Scott , Tom King's deputy , followed other commentators in throwing around percentages . It should be noted , said Minister Scott , what a small fraction of the total electorate of the Unionist vote represented . He did not subject the SDLP vote to the same test , happily comparing it to the Sinn Fein result as per centages of the Nationalist electorate in the four marginal constituencies they contested , and drawing the conclusion that Sinn Fein supporters had begun to be detached by the Anglo-Irish Agreement .

Dr. Elliott had no chance to comment while British Minister Scott remained on the air , but as soon as he left managed to point out that Margaret Thatcher's government took office with the support of only 30 per cent of the electorate and that Scott himself enjoyed the support of only 25 per cent of the electorate and to judge his own 'large vote' by the same harsh test !

After that initial silly season , no one is drawing too many lessons from the oddest of 'Northern Ireland's many elections ; but , for the record , it should be noted that the Unionist vote in the fifteen constituencies actually exceeded their performance in 1983 , in fact cannot be matched except by the figures for the anti-Sunningdale election of 1974 and even then only by combining the votes of the hardline 'United Ulster (sic) Council' and the moderate 'Faulknerites' .

The SDLP increased their vote in the four seats fought and there was a swing of around six per cent to them from Sinn Fein , compared to the 1983 figures .......

(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 .

Before leaving the shed , Dessie O'Hare used the polaroid camera and took a photograph of John O'Grady in chains with a gun to his head ; O'Grady noticed that O'Hare was wearing his Longines gold watch and that his Cross pen , bearing the logo of the Institute of Clinical Pharmacology was sticking out of his pocket . The next day was spent in the clearing - it was raining . On the instructions of O'Hare the chains were still attached to O'Grady's wrists and ankles .

There were nuggets of comfort ; the 'Gay Byrne Radio Show' had broadcast a message saying that his mother who had been ill had recovered and that his wife and family were well , and that he was not to worry . That afternoon Tony McNeill , clad in a balaclava , played a couple of games of chess with O'Grady . McNeill was the only one of the gang he could establish any kind of rapport with . McNeill assured O'Grady that he would see to it that he would not be shot .

6. A GANG WITH NOTHING TO LOSE.

John O'Grady by now realised he was in the company of dangerous and desperate men . The newspapers had been full of profiles of Dessie O'Hare , detailing his most notorious deeds . O'Hare was born in Keady , County Armagh , in 1958 ; he joined the Provisional IRA at the age of sixteen and quickjly acquired a reputation as a fearless , ruthless but also reckless operator . He led a charmed life ; in June 1979 he was on an IRA operation with Paddy McIlvenna - from a cattle truck they fired on an RUC Station : their retreat brought them past the house of a prison officer who was mowing the lawn . He had a shotgun handy and he opened up on the cattle truck . By the time they crossed the border McIlvenna was dead and O'Hare injured ...

Five months later , O'Hare was involved in a car chase with the gardai ; the car crashed and O'Hare's passenger , Tony McClelland , was killed . O'Hare was charged with possession of a shotgun and sentenced to nine years in Portlaoise Prison .......

(MORE LATER).







Monday, September 19, 2005

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

The British told Dr. Patrick Hillery , the Free State Minister for External Affairs * to 'mind his own business' regarding issues in the Six Counties - so he went to America and then to the United Nations ; his speech to the U.N. was as (Irish) 'Republican' in style and wording ( as that which he delivered in London and America ) similar to which one could hear anywhere reflecting the mood of the times . ( * ' 1169 ... ' Comment - Why was the 'Minister for EXTERNAL Affairs' involved in this issue , anyway .. ? ) .

Meanwhile the IRA was not 'standing idly by ' : IRA Units from the South assembled in the gymnasium under Bily Wright's barbers shop at Parkgate Street , near Dublin's Phoenix Park . Only fully-trained IRA Volunteers were to assemble but everyone turned up for their patriotic chore . The Garda Special Branch watched the goings-on but their orders were not to intervene . In a false fear that the 'real men' would be 'nabbed' , the IRA leadership , who were in control of the nightly 'rabble rousing' meetings outside the Dublin GPO , sent the assembled mobs on a wild goose chase to the border .

Many people woke up the following morning in Dundalk and other points along the border with no train fare home , or a commandeered vehicle in their possession but above all a mighty hangover ! Meanwhile the IRA Units travelled to their destinations on this State's side of the border and waited ...

There were numerous unofficial arrivals at the border including the arrival at Ballinamore of a well-known Republican from County Galway ; he had been expelled some years earlier , with the strong insistence of Ruairi O Bradaigh , because he wanted Sinn Fein to recognise 'the Dail' * ; he went to the Garda Station in Ballinamore and asked where the IRA Headquarters was (!) - the Gardai directed him to John Joe McGirl's pub at the bottom of the town ! It was'nt long before he was committed to Mullingar for alcoholic treatent while his car was use by the IRA ... (* ' 1169 ... ' Comment - ...now you cannot GET IN to (P) Sinn Fein unless you 'recognise the Dail' !) .

This Galway Republican should not be confused with the Mayo Republican , who was driving a flash new car . While it was rumoured that he got the car from Fianna Fail this was not exactly true .......

(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 .

The 'Agreement' (Hillsborough Treaty) was not a major subject of conversation on the election canvass , though it did recur ; Seamus Mallon (SDLP) thought the effect was "...subliminal.. " . Mostly the voters wondered aloud if this time the Unionist , unexciting Jim Nicholson , might be beatable and Mallon told the like an incantation at doorstep after doorstep ... "... we're going to do it , we're going to do it .. " . For some reason he rarely met accusations of 'splitting the nationalist vote ' , Sinn Fein's anti-SDLP theme-song in the election . (' 1169 ...' Comment ; at the time that was what the SDLP were doing - almost as if they wanted to spare their Westminsters' masters blushes by attempting to ensure that they would not have to suffer having 'a fenian about the place' . Nowadays , the ony difference between Provisional Sinn Fein and the SDLP are the letters 'D' , 'F' and 'L' !)

To the last couple of days , though , Seamus Mallon worried about Newry's Catholic thousands who did not come out in the local government elections in May 1985 : " Round Markethill , now, my place , Poyntzpass , Tandragee , Hamiltonbawn , where they're very much in the minority , they'll come out and vote to a man (sic) . "

In Armagh , Sinn Fein Councillor Tommy Carroll advanced his candidate's cause as a canvasser simply by being known to have lost one brother , an unarmed IRA man , to a shoot-to-kill RUC squad , while UDR men from the local Drumadd Base face trial for the murder of another . Armagh people asked Seamus Mallon about the UDR and RUC as well ; Mallon was firm - 'they would have to clean up their act' , he said . ( ' 1169...' Comment - ...and that was 'firm' - for a nationalist . A Republican would have called for the disbandment of both groups .)

Mallon had not welcomed an 'Agreement' without being very sure that it could lead to radical changes . It was a beginning . ( ' 1169 ... ' Comment - The Hillsborough Treaty offered only to 'tweak' a corrupt system , not to 'radically' change it . But the SDLP would have been quite happy with a bit of 'tweaking' as indeed , would the Provos be now .) Seamus Mallon beat Official Unionist Party candidate Jim Nicholson by a healthy 2,583 votes ; the Sinn Fein candidate , Jim McAllister , was down over 3,000 votes from his performance in the general election of 1983 .

Jim Nicholson (OUP) improved his vote by over one thousand ; the turnout was virtually the same as in 1983 . From that point on you paid your money and you took your choice ! The votes for the fifteen Unionists , and for SDLP versus Sinn Fein were subjected to swift , non-scientific , highly political analysis and the various parties drew the conclusions they wished to .......

(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 .

5. Evacuation Lessons.

John O'Grady did not yet suspect it but he was actually in Carriggtwohill in County Cork , and not in the North of Ireland as he was led to believe . For the second time in a week his living standards were to drop sharply but , compared with what was to follow , the grimy cellar in Gerry Wright's barber shop would seem a very attractive place indeed ...

The first night was'nt too bad ; he spent it in a cottage which was damp with , he noticed , lots of cobwebs in the corner . Early next morning he was taken by Dessie O' Hare out to a shed in the yard . Entrance to the shed was through a two-foot hole in the wall . Tony McNeill and Fergal Toal resumed their guard duties . Each morning they would take their mattresses out through the hole and then travel a couple of hundred yards through gorse undergrowth to a clearing - here they would remain until sundown .

They put blankets over themselves to keep out the cold ; John O'Grady read books supplied by his captors and listened to the radio ; at night they returned to the shed , which was made from bare cement blocks and measured ten feet by eight , with a corrugated iron roof and a mud floor . O'Grady by now was learning to associate the intermittent appearance of gang leader Dessie O'Hare with disruption or trouble . O'Hare returned on the night of October 20 th ; O'Grady was finding him increasingly volatile and aggressive - O'Hare enquired of O'Grady's guard whether he (O'Grady) was getting in and out of the hole in the shed quickly enough , and was told that O'Grady was a bit slow .

Chains were produced and attached to both wrists and ankles ; O'Hare then got a scarf and gagged O'Grady : he started to kick O'Grady in the head , legs , bottom and back . O'Grady put his hands around his head and tried to scream through the gag . Dessie O'Hare was shouting and cursing that he was'nt getting out of the hole quickly enough ; he stopped the beating and said - " When I say go , you are to gather your mattress and get out of the hole . " Once instructed , O'Grady immediately gathered up his mattress and dived for the hole but he was'nt fast enough for O'Hare and received another kicking . He went again , this time more quickly and his improved speed seemed to satisfy O'Hare's evacuation requirements .......

(MORE LATER).







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

The British told Dr. Patrick Hillery , the Free State Minister for External Affairs * to 'mind his own business' regarding issues in the Six Counties - so he went to America and then to the United Nations ; his speech to the U.N. was as (Irish) 'Republican' in style and wording ( as that which he delivered in London and America ) similar to which one could hear anywhere reflecting the mood of the times . ( * ' 1169 ... ' Comment - Why was the 'Minister for EXTERNAL Affairs' involved in this issue , anyway .. ? ) .

Meanwhile the IRA was not 'standing idly by ' : IRA Units from the South assembled in the gymnasium under Bily Wright's barbers shop at Parkgate Street , near Dublin's Phoenix Park . Only fully-trained IRA Volunteers were to assemble but everyone turned up for their patriotic chore . The Garda Special Branch watched the goings-on but their orders were not to intervene . In a false fear that the 'real men' would be 'nabbed' , the IRA leadership , who were in control of the nightly 'rabble rousing' meetings outside the Dublin GPO , sent the assembled mobs on a wild goose chase to the border .

Many people woke up the following morning in Dundalk and other points along the border with no train fare home , or a commandeered vehicle in their possession but above all a mighty hangover ! Meanwhile the IRA Units travelled to their destinations on this State's side of the border and waited ...

There were numerous unofficial arrivals at the border including the arrival at Ballinamore of a well-known Republican from County Galway ; he had been expelled some years earlier , with the strong insistence of Ruairi O Bradaigh , because he wanted Sinn Fein to recognise 'the Dail' * ; he went to the Garda Station in Ballinamore and asked where the IRA Headquarters was (!) - the Gardai directed him to John Joe McGirl's pub at the bottom of the town ! It was'nt long before he was committed to Mullingar for alcoholic treatent while his car was use by the IRA ... (* ' 1169 ... ' Comment - ...now you cannot GET IN to (P) Sinn Fein unless you 'recognise the Dail' !) .

This Galway Republican should not be confused with the Mayo Republican , who was driving a flash new car . While it was rumoured that he got the car from Fianna Fail this was not exactly true .......

(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 .

The 'Agreement' (Hillsborough Treaty) was not a major subject of conversation on the election canvass , though it did recur ; Seamus Mallon (SDLP) thought the effect was "...subliminal.. " . Mostly the voters wondered aloud if this time the Unionist , unexciting Jim Nicholson , might be beatable and Mallon told the like an incantation at doorstep after doorstep ... "... we're going to do it , we're going to do it .. " . For some reason he rarely met accusations of 'splitting the nationalist vote ' , Sinn Fein's anti-SDLP theme-song in the election . (' 1169 ...' Comment ; at the time that was what the SDLP were doing - almost as if they wanted to spare their Westminsters' masters blushes by attempting to ensure that they would not have to suffer having 'a fenian about the place' . Nowadays , the ony difference between Provisional Sinn Fein and the SDLP are the letters 'D' , 'F' and 'L' !)

To the last couple of days , though , Seamus Mallon worried about Newry's Catholic thousands who did not come out in the local government elections in May 1985 : " Round Markethill , now, my place , Poyntzpass , Tandragee , Hamiltonbawn , where they're very much in the minority , they'll come out and vote to a man (sic) . "

In Armagh , Sinn Fein Councillor Tommy Carroll advanced his candidate's cause as a canvasser simply by being known to have lost one brother , an unarmed IRA man , to a shoot-to-kill RUC squad , while UDR men from the local Drumadd Base face trial for the murder of another . Armagh people asked Seamus Mallon about the UDR and RUC as well ; Mallon was firm - 'they would have to clean up their act' , he said . ( ' 1169...' Comment - ...and that was 'firm' - for a nationalist . A Republican would have called for the disbandment of both groups .)

Mallon had not welcomed an 'Agreement' without being very sure that it could lead to radical changes . It was a beginning . ( ' 1169 ... ' Comment - The Hillsborough Treaty offered only to 'tweak' a corrupt system , not to 'radically' change it . But the SDLP would have been quite happy with a bit of 'tweaking' as indeed , would the Provos be now .) Seamus Mallon beat Official Unionist Party candidate Jim Nicholson by a healthy 2,583 votes ; the Sinn Fein candidate , Jim McAllister , was down over 3,000 votes from his performance in the general election of 1983 .

Jim Nicholson (OUP) improved his vote by over one thousand ; the turnout was virtually the same as in 1983 . From that point on you paid your money and you took your choice ! The votes for the fifteen Unionists , and for SDLP versus Sinn Fein were subjected to swift , non-scientific , highly political analysis and the various parties drew the conclusions they wished to .......

(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 .

5. Evacuation Lessons.

John O'Grady did not yet suspect it but he was actually in Carriggtwohill in County Cork , and not in the North of Ireland as he was led to believe . For the second time in a week his living standards were to drop sharply but , compared with what was to follow , the grimy cellar in Gerry Wright's barber shop would seem a very attractive place indeed ...

The first night was'nt too bad ; he spent it in a cottage which was damp with , he noticed , lots of cobwebs in the corner . Early next morning he was taken by Dessie O' Hare out to a shed in the yard . Entrance to the shed was through a two-foot hole in the wall . Tony McNeill and Fergal Toal resumed their guard duties . Each morning they would take their mattresses out through the hole and then travel a couple of hundred yards through gorse undergrowth to a clearing - here they would remain until sundown .

They put blankets over themselves to keep out the cold ; John O'Grady read books supplied by his captors and listened to the radio ; at night they returned to the shed , which was made from bare cement blocks and measured ten feet by eight , with a corrugated iron roof and a mud floor . O'Grady by now was learning to associate the intermittent appearance of gang leader Dessie O'Hare with disruption or trouble . O'Hare returned on the night of October 20 th ; O'Grady was finding him increasingly volatile and aggressive - O'Hare enquired of O'Grady's guard whether he (O'Grady) was getting in and out of the hole in the shed quickly enough , and was told that O'Grady was a bit slow .

Chains were produced and attached to both wrists and ankles ; O'Hare then got a scarf and gagged O'Grady : he started to kick O'Grady in the head , legs , bottom and back . O'Grady put his hands around his head and tried to scream through the gag . Dessie O'Hare was shouting and cursing that he was'nt getting out of the hole quickly enough ; he stopped the beating and said - " When I say go , you are to gather your mattress and get out of the hole . " Once instructed , O'Grady immediately gathered up his mattress and dived for the hole but he was'nt fast enough for O'Hare and received another kicking . He went again , this time more quickly and his improved speed seemed to satisfy O'Hare's evacuation requirements .......

(MORE LATER).