Monday, February 13, 2006

This article is based on a lecture delivered by Sean O Bradaigh in Dublin on January 21 , 1989 , marking the 70th Anniversary of the founding of the First (All-Ireland) Dail Eireann in the Mansion House on January 21 , 1919 , and the links between Irish and French Republicans - 'Partners in Revolution' 200 years ago .
Published in 1989 by Sean Lynch , Cleenrath , Aughnacliffe , County Longford , on behalf of the County Longford Branch of the National Graves Association .
By Sean O Bradaigh .
Liberte ! Egalite ! Fraternite ! Ou La Mort ! ( (Freedom ! Equality ! Brotherhood ! or Death!).
Unite Indivisibilite De La Republique !

The French Revolution was not without fault - it had its excesses and its terror ; nor have the subsequent French Republics been without blemish either - they had their colonies , and they have been less than just to the minority nations within the French State . Yet , the principles which inspired the Revolution were human and generous and the French Republic has been a model for many other countries .

On the night of August 4 ,1789 , the National Assembly suppressed all the privileges of the 'nobility' and clergy : three weeks later the Declaration of the Rights of Man - 'Forogra ar Chearta an Duine' - was promulgated and later a constitutional regime based on popular suffrage was installed .

On October 5 ,1789 , between six and seven thousand of the women of Paris marched on the Palace of Versailles to force the King to accept the Declaration of the Rights of Man : on January 21 , 1793 , King Louis XVI was publicly executed by guillotine in Paris , and later that year his Queen , Marie Antoinette met the same fate .

In Ireland , the 18th century was probably the most miserable of all times for the people ; a great mass of people lived in mud cabins , on a diet which consisted mostly of potatoes and buttermilk and were ground down by landlords and tithe proctors . They got whatever education they could in the illegal hedge schools :

' Crouching 'neath the sheltering hedge
Or stretched on mountain fern ,
The master and his pupils met
Feloniously to learn . '

On 30 January 1972 , 14 civilians were shot dead by the British Army . They had been taking part in a civil rights march in Derry , protesting against internment without trial .
British 'Lord' Widgery was highly selective in the 'evidence' he used in his 'official' report on the matter - and some of the accounts he chose to include were highly suspect. The victims' families have campaigned for justice ever since . Their case is too strong to ignore any longer .
First published in 'MAGILL' magazine , February 1998 .
By Eamonn McCann .

Tony Doherty , whose father , Patrick , was shot dead on Bloody Sunday , stated - " The repudiation of Widgery would logically involve establishing a new inquiry . And after Widgery , we are justified in insisting on an independent element , whether an international panel of judges or whatever . We want all the available evidence made public and examined objectively . That includes any evidence of political motivation . "

The most obvious explanation of what happened in Derry is that the British paras were deployed either to entice the IRA into battle or in the expectation that they would anyway be confronted by IRA members intent on battle , the plan being to inflict a major defeat on the Republican forces and thereby shatter the resistance of the 'Free Derry' no-go area while teaching the 'illegal' anti-internment marchers a lesson in 'law and order' they would remember for a long time - long enough for Mr. Brian Faulkner to staunch the haemorrhage of support to William Craig and Ian Paisley and to consolidate his position at Stormont .

Given the certainty of thousands of marchers in the vicinity , any such plan would have involved a reckless disregard for civilian life - the paras were not 'policemen' . Recalling the events in a BBC documentary broadcast in January 1992 , the Commander of 1 Para , Lieutenant Colonel Derek Wilford , put it plain - " When we moved on the streets , we moved as if we in fact were moving against a well-armed , well-trained army . "

INFORMERS : The RUC's Psychological War .......
From 'IRIS' magazine , March 1983.
By Sean Delaney.

The restrictions imposed on Castlereagh methods of torture by the Amnesty International and Bennett Reports have made the British administration amenable to sweeping changes in the practice and interpretation of existing 'extraordinary' legislation , involving the use of the voluntary 'Bill of Indictment' to bypass normal judicial preliminary enquiries , and generally attempting to lower the threshold of the calibre of 'evidence' needed to secure a conviction , to allow the uncorroborated 'evidence' of an alleged accomplice .

In a broader political context , it seems likely that following the end of the hunger-strikes , the British took a decision to mount a massive psychological offensive against those sections of the Nationalist community that gave tactic or active support to the Republican Movement , and which had been further polarised by the Thatcher government's intransigence towards the hunger-strikers . This 'psy-ops' strategy involved a series of large-scale indiscriminate house raids across the North of Ireland , mostly in Belfast and Derry , during which considerable damage was done to homes , and in which the Brits and RUC usually claimed they were "...acting on information received.. " .

Other aspects of this 'psy-ops' strategy by the Brits involved the use of explosives against Nationalists and blaming it on Republicans .......