Monday, May 14, 2007

The men of 1922 / Derry besieged / Death and Mystery.

'THE MEN OF 1922.......'
From 'The United Irishman' newspaper, January 1958 .

' We wonder do Fianna Fail members ponder occasionally when they read their party newspapers where would Rory, Liam, Dick and Joe have stood today had Free State English guns not robbed them of life on that bleak morning 35 years ago ? Would they stand with the men who stand for Irish freedom and who are locked in the jails of Ireland and England , or would they stand with the men who have used their power to put Irish Republicans behind bars ?

" Freedom , Independence - he had striven for these and less than these he would not take...." , the 'Sunday Press' newspaper writer so described Rory O' Connor ; 'Less than freedom he would not take ...' " He was one of the people and it was Ireland , the people , for him . He was a social insurgent as well as a national one . In his cell at night he pondered deeply on a system which would take from the rich and give to the poor ... " , the 'Sunday Press' so described Liam Mellowes . Would Mellowes then accept today the social evils of unemployment , emigration and poor living standards ?

" Somehow the North was in him. Joe McKelvey had commanded a brigade where all around were foes , and he had that astuteness of the man who works in constant danger , the astuteness and a courage which he does not know himself to possess ..." , the newspaper wrote of Joe McKelvey . Would he stand today for co-operation with the British authorities in Occupied Ireland? And Dick Barrett who was " write one strange line showing that he had thought much and was great : ' Death ' , he wrote ,' is only terrible from a distance' . What of Dick Barrett.......? '


Derry , once the cockpit of the Northern Irish conflict , has become quarantined in apathy , grimness and deprivation , writes Seamus Deane , the Derry-born poet and writer . In a return look at his native city he finds that its demoralisation has disturbing implications .
From 'FORTNIGHT' magazine, 1983.

It is more than twenty years since I lived in Derry and , although I have visited it regularly in that interval , I have become an outsider and can lay no claim to any special knowledge of the way it is now . My affection for the town remains unimpaired , but it is founded on memories which are constantly being disturbed by its present image . There is no need to rehearse what the place has been through in the last fifteen years - despite heroic efforts on the part of various organisations , the effects have been devastating .

Town-planning has been responsible for a great deal of this , especially in the Bogside, where the open spaces of earlier years have been replaced by bleak apartment blocks and where , as in Belfast , the shape of the neighbourhoods has been changed to accommodate the motor car . New housing estates have sprung up in Shantallow and the Waterside. The Creggan, the oldest of the town's housing estates , built initially both to rehouse people and to preserve the gerrymander system, is , in part , a ruin . Vandalism is responsible for that , but the conditions which allow it to grow and become rampant remain distressingly familiar .

Unemployment is one of them , disaffection with the 'State' and its 'security forces' - which have an appalling record of unpunished crime in the city - is another . The pressure of political and social circumstances has been so unrelenting for so long a time that many people seem to be borned down by it . There is certainly strong support for the IRA and for Sinn Fein in the districts which have suffered most . This is , in itself , sufficient commentary on the policies of successive British governments.......

John O Shea was a small farmer and republican . He died at his Kerry home in October 2001 within hours of being released from Garda custody . The inquest into his death raised more questions than it answered and now Kerry County Council has backed calls for a public inquiry . Did John O Shea die from natural causes or is there a more sinister explanation ?
By Mairead Carey.
From 'MAGILL' magazine, May 2003 .

Even before the inquest into the death of John O' Shea was held , coroner Helen Lucey wrote to solicitor Michael Finucane saying : " The inquest would be to establish identity and to establish how , when and where the deceased met his death . The question of blame or exoneration will not arise . "

After leaving the Garda Station it was thought that John O' Shea took a taxi to Castlemaine to his local pub . However , this magazine has spoken to a number of people who say they met John O' Shea at a pub in Tralee shortly after he left the garda station . Local man Jerome Daly (35) said he met O' Shea in Richie Houlihan's pub at around 10pm : " He pulled up his shirt and said 'Look what them fuckers did to me...' There were red marks on his side , up near his rib cage , " said Jerome Daly .

Daly , who says he knew John O' Shea through (P) Sinn Fein , was never interviewed by gardai and says he never thought of going to them - " My understanding was that he hit his head and that that was how he died . It's different now . No one is sure anymore . " According to Jerome Daly , John O' Shea "...didn't stay long in the pub . At most he had a short......."