Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Ernie O'Malley, pictured during his arrest in Dublin Castle in 1921 . He was using the alias 'Bernard Stewart' .

Following the recent publication of O'Malley's third book 'Raids And Rallies', on the Tan War years 1920-1921 , Frances-Mary Blake , who edited the book and his earlier works , writes an appreciation of the man who wrote 'On Another Man's Wound' and 'The Singing Flame'.
From 'IRIS' magazine , July 1983.

True to his word , when the 1921 Treaty was ratified , Ernie O' Malley's Second Southern Division IRA was the first to renounce its allegiance to both IRA GHQ and Dail Eireann : in the war against the Staters, Ernie O' Malley was (Acting) Assistant Chief of Staff to Liam Lynch and was also Officer Commanding of the Ulster and Leinster Commands . Liam Lynch was in the South/Cork area while Ernie O' Malley remained based in the enemy's stronghold of Dublin . He wrote of waging a guerrilla warfare that , this time , for him , was urban based rather than rural and , when asked by a journalist why the IRA were still fighting , he replied : " I think they think they're fighting for a younger generation. " Ernie O' Malley was 24 years of age at that time .

He himself knew that he was fighting imperialists , both British and Irish varieties , and believed that the Free State Cabinet and a few Catholic bishops should not be immune from the war . He also recognised and acknowledged the great support given to the Republican Cause by Cumann na mBan and other Irish Republican women , and one feature of his books is the courage , strength and involvement of such women . As he wrote - " During the Tan War the girls had always helped but they had never sufficient status . Now they were our comrades , loyal , willing and incorruptible comrades . Indefatigable , they put the men to shame by their individual zeal and initiative."

His book 'The Singing Flame' reveals much of Free State treachery and covers inside stories of the critical months before the IRA attack on the Four Courts began , and he paints a vivid picture of the war . But perhaps the most important pages are the prison chapters , detailing the scenes of prison life in Portobello Barracks, in Mountjoy, in Kilmainham Jail and in the Curragh internment camps, highlighting the deaths of comrades and the hunger-strike . Despite his wounds (hit over 20 times by Free State gunfire), the threats of execution , and a wasting sickness worsened by forty-one days on hunger-strike , Ernie O' Malley was a leading challenge to "...the petty automatons that help to keep one captive.." . Some of his most inspiring passages in 'The Singing Flame' concern that 'other war' that prisoners fought : in jail.......

AN OUTLINE HISTORY OF THE RUC . RUC brutality , torture , murder and lies were brushed aside as the unionist establishment congratulated itself for the continuing existence of a paramilitary force which had maintained and safe-guarded its rule in the Occupied Six Counties of Ireland.......
From 'IRIS' magazine , July/August 1982.

James Joseph Rafferty , from Dungannon in County Tyrone , was arrested in November 1976 and held for three days in Omagh RUC Barracks where he was brutally beaten by RUC detectives from the 'Regional Crime Squad', which had only recently been established by the then RUC assistant chief constable Kenneth Newman for just such purposes . Eventually , James Joseph Rafferty was released without charge and taken to hospital where he remained for several days . The evidence of the brutality used against him was clear-cut : he had multiple bruising , his scalp was covered with blood-red pin-pricks , and his backside was gashed . Doctors testified that these injuries could not have been self-inflicted.

Nevertheless , after years of a stonewall conspiracy of RUC silence , which caused one member of the 'RUC Police Authority', Jack Hassard (see '26/2006' , here ) , to resign in disgusted frustration , James Joseph Rafferty's torturers were acquitted in 'court' and his claim for compensation has been , recently , dismissed . As the ex-RUC 'Police Authority' member , Jack Hassard , said - " The bastards who beat up James Joseph Rafferty would stop at nothing , even killing."

And they didn't stop for Brian Maguire-

'In Castlereagh from day to day
The tortured know no rest,
And men don't sleep and men must weep
Until they have confessed,
Confessed to 'crime' for sentenced time
Though guilt they may not know,
But that is law , however raw,
So bear your cross of woe... '

(Bobby Sands: 'The Crime of Castlereagh')

British Lieutenant-Colonel Michael Dewar of the Royal Green Jackets has served in Cyprus , Borneo and Malaya , as well as in the Occupied Six Irish Counties . He has written three previous books - 'Internal Security Weapons And Equipment Of The World' and 'Brushfire Wars' . The extracts reproduced here are from 'The British Army In Northern Ireland' , which was published by 'Arms and Armour Press' in 1985 . The underlined comments in this article are ours . This article reflects the operational thinking of a British military commander , more so than his political or ideological outlook.
From 'IRIS' magazine , October 1987.

'Law and Order' patrolling in the Six Counties has two main purposes : domination of the ground , so as to deny the enemy freedom of movement and , secondly , to get to know the area intimately in order to build up a detailed knowledge of it and its inhabitants . During the period between 1969 and 1971 , British Army/RUC patrolling was re-active rather than preventive.

British battalions were having some difficulty in even keeping up with the pace of events and were seldom able to take the initiative . As the years passed , patrolling maps were updated and the sheer volume of Intelligence on the inhabitants of the battalion or company's area of responsibility provided such a degree of back-up that patrol commanders were able to put a name to most faces they passed in the street .

So as not to have to start from scratch , each battalion sent an advance party to the North of Ireland some weeks before the arrival of the main body of the battalion - this 'advance party' consisted of the commanding officer , company commanders , and platoon and section commanders , whose job it was to 'tramp the ground' with patrols from the battalion they were relieving . Thus by the time the battalion's second-in-command , the company seconds-in-command and the platoon sergeants brought over the bulk of the soldiers , the commanders had made themselves familiar with the ground. The Battalion Intelligence Officer had preceded the advance party by several weeks , so that he could assimilate the accumulated knowledge of the Intelligence Officer of the battalion being relieved . This system of relief took some years to develop and has now been refined to a drill but , during the early years , battalions were rushed out at little or no notice as both the British Government and the British military merely
re-acted to events.......