Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Bhi an saoire caite inne !
The holiday was over yesterday !
....great to be back ; we continue from where we left off on Wednesday 21 December last ...
But first ...three years before the Sinn Fein organisation was founded ; three years after 'The United Irishman' newspaper was founded ; and Anna Johnston died in this year : 1902 . This man , a legend amongst Irish Republicans , was born that year , and celebrated his 104th birthday on Monday last , January 2nd ! 'Respect' , Dan - Congratulations ! From the '1169....' team .

The Easter Commemoration Parades took place this year in the North as usual . At the regular venues - Belfast , Derry , Crossmaglen , Newry - the same Proclamation was read , the usual speeches were made and the routine Army Council message was delivered to the faithful .
The only difference this year was that by Good Friday the North's death toll since 1969 had reached 2,500 and Ireland's longest period of civil disturbance appeared no nearer an end .
Behind much of the violence stands the Provisional IRA , organisers of most Easter Parades and , by their own claims , direct lineal descendants* of the men of 1916 . But how strong are they and for how long can they continue the military and political struggle ?
PATRICK MURPHY reports from Belfast .
First published in 'NEW HIBERNIA' magazine , May 1987 .
(* In 1986 the Provisional IRA abandoned that lineage and offered their support to what was to become a Leinster House-registered political party.)

In military terms , British Army personnel are the more difficult to hit ; of course they are by no means impossible to hit , but their military alertness , their firepower , their training and their mobility make them a more difficult target . The problem with fighting the British Army is that they are likely to fire at you first and even if they do not you normally only get one shot at them before they start firing back .

In recent years the alternative tactic has been to bombard their bases with mortar shells and although this has had marked success against the RUC - notably in Newry - the British Army have survived largely intact from this type of attack . British Army superiority in the air and the PIRA inability to bring down helicopters has meant that there really is no contest on a military level between the two sides .

The difficulty in hitting the British Army has been accompanied by a political shift of emphasis in the Westminster 'Northern Ireland (sic) Office' where dead RUC/UDR bodies are apparently more acceptable than dead British bodies ; the switch towards the priority of the RUC as the main 'security force' with the British Army as the 'back-up' organisation has been justified by 'NIO' sources in terms of the primacy of the RUC and the need for an 'acceptable police force' as a foundation for political stability in the North of Ireland . ('1169.... Comment - There will never be 'political stability in the North' as long as Westminster maintains its military and political presence in this country.)

But the political unacceptability of military funerals on a regular basis in Britain must also be a factor and with less British Army personnel on the ground the PIRA have 'obliged' the British by hitting at the softest targets ; ' ...if the Provos must kill people , let them kill the Irish ..' , runs the British 'logic' .

And kill the Provos certainly have .......


First published in 'IRIS' magazine , Volume 1 , Number 2 , November 1981 .

Fr. Denis Faul's complete and deliberate distortion of the truth had achieved for him what he wanted ; he had created a 'chink' in the hitherto unified front of prisoners , hunger-strikers' relatives and prisoners' supporters .

Unashamedly , and with single mindedness , after having been proved in the presence of more than a score of people to have been deliberately untruthful , Faul pressed ahead with his primary intention of having the hunger-strike ended immediately . Like the ICJP before him , he was attempting to use the families of the hunger-strikers as a 'pressure group' towards that end . However , even in this he did'nt have things his own way , coming under vociferous attack , particularly from Mrs Margaret Doherty - Kieran's mother - and members of Thomas McElwee's family who were aghast at the idea of removing pressure from the British and putting it on the prisoners .

But given that Faul's premise for forcing this meeting to take place in the first instance was entirely incorrect - a fact of which he himself was fully aware - the meeting was largely inconclusive ; only one of the several aspects of the discussion could be dealt with . Some of the families raised doubts about whether their relatives on hunger-strike were fully appraised of the political situation outside the prison and its grim consequences for those on hunger-strike . Despite the fact that this was not the case - communications detailing all the known facts accompanied by a full assessment of their implications , were been smuggled into the prison on a daily , and often on a twice daily , basis - Gerry Adams , the following day , contacted Fr. Denis Faul to see if arrangements could be made whereby he could see the hunger-strikers in order to allay those particular fears of the families : after some initial failures , Adams eventually contacted Faul at Cardinal O'Fiaich's residence in Armagh city .

It was in fact Cardinal O' Fiaich who made the necessary arrangements with the British administration at Stormont to facilitate an unprecedented visit between Gerry Adams , the hunger-strikers and the prisoners' representative , Brendan McFarlane , on the afternoon of Wednesday , July 29th 1981 . Also present at that meeting were Owen Carron of Sinn Fein and Seamus Ruddy of the IRSP .......


From 'MAGILL' magazine , April 1982 .

The murder of Hugh Halloran , September 8 , 1979 :
Hugh Halloran , a former member of Sinn Fein The Workers Party , was 'sentenced' to a beating for indiscipline : he was beaten to death with hurley sticks by members of the Official IRA in Belfast .

Two of the men responsible for the murder fled to Cork , where they were looked after by local Official IRA contacts . Meanwhile , public outrage over the killing evinced from Seamus Harrison , who 'mans' the Sinn Fein The Workers Party office in Belfast's Springfield Road , this comment : " Our party wishes to place on record its absolute condemnation and disgust at these murders (caused by street violence generally) . Those responsible showed callous disregard for human life by their unprovoked assaults against innocent and harmless people . "

Public re-action became so intense that the Official IRA decided to order the culprits back from Cork and give themselves up to the RUC ; Francis Macklin of Britton's Parade , Belfast , and Stephen Hunter of Ballymurphy Road , Belfast , duly arrived in Newry and gave theselves up at the RUC Barracks there .

In the course of their trial , their counsel told the court that they had been approached by two Official IRA men and told they would be shot if they refused to return to the North to confess the killing : Macklin was jailed for 15 years and Hunter for 13 years .
(Tomorrow - Joe McCabe - shot in the head in August 1980.)