Ernie O'Malley, pictured during his arrest in Dublin Castle in 1921 . He was using the alias 'Bernard Stewart' .
ERNIE O'MALLEY : SOLDIER OF OGLAIGH na hEIREANN .......
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.
Then as now, Irish Republican prisoners fought against criminalisation and for prisoner-of-war status : as Ernie O' Malley wrote - " Free men cannot be kept in jail , for their spirits are free . In our code , it is the duty of prisoners to prove that they cannot be influenced by their surroundings . Make the enemy feel a jailer but be free yourself ." An appendix of prison letters documents that spirit of defiance . Not surprisingly , O' Malley was the last republican leader to be released from the Curragh in July 1924 , although he had been confined to bed with his many wounds for most of his imprisonment : despite medical operations , he carried in his body five bullets to the grave .
When 'The Singing Flame' was published in 1978 , twenty-one years after his death , the chief political book reviewer of ' The Irish Times' newspaper saw Ernie O' Malley as "...the unrepentant Fenian and perhaps even as the very first Provisional.." ('1169...' Comment : we disagree - O' Malley fought against Westminster , he didn't administer political or military 'control' on their behalf.) Ernie O' Malley was one of the bravest , most idealistic , most dedicated and determined of socialist republican fighters , ruthless against imperialism , but chivalrous in war .
On 30th June 1922 , Ernie O' Malley , as Officer Commanding of his IRA Garrison , most unwillingly surrendered the destroyed Four Courts in Dublin: when Free State officers accused him of deliberately causing the fire and the great explosion that had wrecked the building , he denied that republicans had set off a mine - " It was the spirit of freedom lighting a torch . I'm glad she played her part." Two years before he died he wrote - " The spirit of freedom is immeasurable and its strength can suddenly increase in unexpected ways."
The time will come when through that Spirit of Freedom the Irish Republic will not just be realised in the mind , and then the epitaphs of those like Ernie O' Malley and Bobby Sands and Francis Hughes can indeed , together with that of Robert Emmet , be truly written , as part of a living tradition .
[END of 'ERNIE O'MALLEY : SOLDIER OF OGLAIGH na hEIREANN']
(Next : 'The IRA' : from 'MAGILL' magazine , 1980)
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.
On May 12th 1978 there were two funerals of particular relevance for the nationalist people : one was Jackie McMahon's, his body having been dragged from the River Lagan , the first time he had been seen since being taken into RUC custody four months earlier . The other was the funeral of 27-year-old Brian Maguire who , two days earlier on May 10th 1978 , had been found hanging by a sheet from his cell ceiling , in Castlereagh Barracks.
Brian Maguire was an electronics engineer at the Strathearn Audio factory in West Belfast , a branch secretary of his trade union , the AUEW(TASS) , and a militant in the Trade Union Campaign Against Repression . In November 1977 he had helped organise a march in West Belfast against repression , at which one of the speakers warned that unless Castlereagh were closed then somebody would be tortured to death . Brian Maguire was that somebody .
Brian Maguire's murder was , typically , 'offically' dismissed as suicide , physically an impossibility in the regime of constant supervision in Castlereagh . A key to what did actually happen to him , however , is given by the case of Phelim Hamill from West Belfast who was being held for questioning about the same matters as Brian Maguire . Phelim Hamill was 20 years of age when he was taken from his home on April 23rd 1978 : over the next two days he experienced the most severe physical and mental torture in Castlereagh , suffering ear damage , abdominal bruising and bruising to the kidneys and testicles . While being beaten by 'teams' of up to eight RUC men , Phelim Hamill was made to stand against the wall spread-eagled for long periods . His RUC torturers also engaged in a specific type of mock strangulation which induced a drowning sensation : this is the last torture that is believed to have gone too far in Brian Maguire's case and led to his death.......
OPERATIONAL COMMENTS OF A BRITISH ARMY OFFICER.......
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.
The whole British Battalion 'hand-over' system in the Occupied Six Counties is designed to maximise knowledge of a battalion or company area in the short 18-week 'roulement' tour : the same constraints do not apply to the same extent to a 2-year tour as part of the garrison . Whatever the length of tour , proper preparation and training for a tour of the North is , of course , absolutely vital to them . In the early years training was haphazard as , for a start , few were certain what it was they were training for ! But now there is a well-oiled training machine which puts every British Army battalion through a 'standard' training package , including intensive patrolling , either urban or rural , depending upon battalion location , riot-control techniques , shooting at fleeing targets , first aid , powers of and procedures for arrest , orders for opening fire , IRA bomb and weapon recognition and capabilities , IRA techniques , capabilities and organisation as well as traing in the use of various items of internal security equipment . British soldiers now go to the North of Ireland well-prepared and trained .
It is important to Westminster that patrolling be co-ordinated as a haphazard system is unlikely to produce results nor will it dominate the area it takes place in . Conversely a predictable and repetitive plan , however well co-ordinated , can be used by the enemy to mount ambushes . A Company Commander will therefore try to achieve a balance between these two sometimes conflicting requirements .
As a general rule there will always be someone on the ground 24 hours a day - this was certainly the case at the height of 'the troubles' in the early and mid 1970's , though it may not always be the case today when the British Army's role is more reactive . ('1169...' Comment - and when that 'role' is being done for them by their one-time enemy) . The British Army presence on the streets need not be obvious - it could be , and often is during the early hours of the morning , a static presence in the form of covert Observation Posts, as a well-sited Post can often dominate large areas of a Company area . Indeed the Observation Post need not be covert : it may be on top of an obvious block of flats and its presence may be well known . If this is the case it will of course have to be well guarded and defended ('1169...' Comment - ....even from what once was its own community!).......