Wednesday, June 18, 2008

THE IRA : the new IRA is younger , more radical and has seen little of life other than violence.......
By Ed Moloney.
From 'Magill' magazine, September 1980.

Five minutes after the IRA Mark 10 mortars were launched , the first of them exploded , but it fell short of its target , Newry RUC Barracks , and blasted a five foot hole in its perimeter wall . A second mortar followed but exploded in mid-air breaking the leg of a teenage boy and injuring 25 civilians and two RUC men . None of the other mortars went off .

It was an insane but calculated gamble by the IRA : if the mortars had fallen short they would have ploughed into a row of terraced houses killing and maiming dozens but , on the other hand , had the attempt succeeded as planned the mortars would have caused carnage inside the RUC barracks . Afterwards British Army bomb experts reckoned that up to 40 RUC members and British soldiers could have been killed - almost enough , as one BA source put it , for the IRA to 'blast their way back to the negotiating table' .

A faulty firing mechanism had prevented the IRA from inflicting on the Northern 'security forces' their heaviest casualties yet . If the Newry mortaring had succeeded it would have put the Warrenpoint operation of August 1979, in which 18 British soldiers were killed , into the shadows . It would also have transformed 1980 'security statistics' into a grim catalogue of death and sent flurries of foreign journalists over to Ireland for yet another series of lengthy analyses of Europe's longest surviving guerrilla army . That the IRA have survived to remain that sort of threat not only to the British Army and RUC but to any hope that the British government has of creating a peaceful internal settlement * is due in the main to a massive re-organisation of the Army that was carried out from 1977 onwards . ( * '1169...' Comment - now , for shame , they sell themselves to Westminster and Leinster House as "a bulwark" against Irish republicanism!)


Arrested on active service in April 1976 and sentenced at her 'trial' eight months later to 14 years imprisonment , Belfast republican Mairead Farrell became one of the first women POW's to take part in the protest for political status . Later on she was involved in the 'no wash' escalation of the protest in Armagh Jail , and in December 1980 she was one of three women prisoners to join the first hunger-strike . Here , in a smuggled communication to this magazine , she writes about the strip searches , prison work and isolation that are features of the prison regime's repression in Armagh.
From 'IRIS' magazine , July 1983.

" During the last seven years that I have been imprisoned in Armagh Jail my comrades and I have endured much from the prison administration's ever-changing attitude . Now , three months after the termination of our 'no work' protest, the conditions have deteriorated , the regime is more repressive , and the punishments more severe and excessive . I hope here to give you an insight into this present-day situation in Armagh , where the new prison regime has resorted to the familiar tactic of 'divide and conquer' in every aspect of prison routine .

Considering the overall prison population of the North there are very few women prisoners - all of these are held in Armagh . Republicans form the vast majority of the total , and at present there are 28 sentenced republicans and seven on remand , scattered throughout the jail . Within the prison building there are three separate structures housing prisoners - 'A' , 'B' and 'C' wings - each of which is completely isolated from the others . Inside each of these wings there are two landings , one blocked off from the other with no contact possible between the two . This is geared to further isolating republicans in the jail , with the number of prisoners on each landing not exceeding nine . This in fact is not a prison , but many prisons within a prison .

The purpose of dividing republicans into small units is one of surveillance and control , it is not primarily a security measure but more a means to determine any weaknesses in individuals which the administration hope to exploit for their own ends . The whole atmosphere is hostile and oppressive , with every movement , spoken word and general habit chronicled by Prison Screws on the landings and scrutinised by the prison administration daily . One cannot help feeling like a caged animal walking up and down with every twitch monitored , analysed and filed away for further use against us . Or so they believe . It's a popular boast of the present regime that they know all we say and do , but they choose to forget that their mania for surveillance does not reveal what's in our minds , and that's what counts....... "


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 plan must be constantly up-dated and checked to ensure that one is a step ahead of the enemy . Above all , British Army patrol commanders must be debriefed by the Company Commander after each patrol . Only in that way can the intelligence 'jigsaw' be kept up to date - the most insignificant snippet may be of value at a later date ie that a new family have moved into a particular house .

The patrol commander , his briefing complete , leads his four-person patrol to the sandbugged bunker by the entrance to the base : pointing their rifles into the bunker they cock their weapons and run zigzagging out of the gate and are then instantly 'on patrol' away from the comparative safety of the company base where , even if they can be mortared , they at least cannot be shot at . As the patrol commander leads his patrol into the area he has been told to investigate he will be conscious of several things : perhaps most importantly of all he will be looking into every window and doorway , every street corner and hedgerow for a possible telltale sign of an ambush - something glinting in the sun , an open window , a curtain moving , something that could be construed as a signal by perhaps boys to a waiting gunman or bomber .

He will also be responsible for keeping his patrol together , watching each soldier and ensuring that he/she is carrying out their allotted task . He will be navigating - however familiar he and the patrol are with the area , he does have to be aware all the time of precisely where he is because , in the event of a 'contact' he must be able to report instantly over the radio where he is and in what street . He will be responsible for communicating over his Pye pocket-phone with British Army Company HQ and with other patrols out on the ground supporting him or working with him and , most important of all , he will be carrying out whatever the patrol task is . It will be he who has to fill in a written patrol report after the patrol , he who it will be who carries out identity checks and/or checks the occupants of vehicles at a Vehicle Check Point . In short , the pressure will be on the Patrol Commander (JNCO ['Junior Non Commissioned Officer'] ) all the time.......

Monday, June 16, 2008

Mayo Republican Dan Hoban delivering the main oration at Bodenstown , 15 June 2008.

RSF Wreath laid in Bodenstown Graveyard yesterday , Sunday 15 June 2008.

As promised yesterday in our post ,today we publish a few more photographs from the Republican Sinn Féin-organised Wolfe Tone Commemoration which was held yesterday in Sallins , County Kildare: out thanks to our colleagues in Cork for helping us with the collection of these pictures . Incidentally , our Cork friends have asked us to mention that when they alighted in Heuston Station in Dublin from the Cork train at around lunch-time they were almost immediately surrounded by a group of Special Branch operatives , who proceeded to question and harass them . When the Dublin bus arrived , as arranged , to collect the Corkonians these Branch men , ignoring their friends in the two-car convoy that was accompanying said bus , entered the vehicle and proceeded to attempt to intimidate the driver and passengers . However , after a few minutes they realised that their intimidatory tactic was having no effect on those present and , copping-on to the fact that the sooner they leave the city limits the sooner they could claim 'country expenses' , they piled back into their own vehicle and joined the mini-convoy to Kildare! So , readers - beware when driving past busy train stations . The pollution level is high.....

Republican Band entering Bodenstown Graveyard.

London Republicans in Bodenstown , 15 June 2008.

Kilkenny Republicans in Bodenstown , 15 June 2008.

RSF Wreath at the Tone Memorial Stone , Bodenstown.

"Wouldn't miss it for anything..." :a solid Republican in Bodenstown , 15 June 2008.

The front of the Speakers plinth , Bodenstown.

" In Bodenstown Graveyard..." : photo taken on Sunday 15 June 2008 , at the back of the main Wolfe Tone platform , Bodenstown Graveyard.

That's it for now : see ye on Wednesday , as usual!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

RSF Colour Party in Bodenstown , Sunday 15 June 2008.

Brief report and a few pics (with more to follow) of the RSF-organised Wolfe Tone Commemoration , held today, Sunday 15 June 2008, in Bodenstown Graveyard in Sallins , Co. Kildare .

The Dublin bus , which left Aston Quay just before one pm , received a two-car 'escort' out of the city : each car had four occupants , each a Special Branch man - one car stayed behind the bus , one in front . Passengers due to be collected en route were very kindly notified by the occupants of a third car that their bus would be with them in ten minutes or so . While the passengers were waiting , ID badges were shown and names and addresses demanded...
However : the rest of the day went as planned : approximately one thousand people assembled in Sallins Village and marched behind an RSF Colour Party , a Cumann na mBan Colour Party and Republican Bands from there to Bodenstown Graveyard , about one-and-a-half kilometers away.
The main oration was delivered by
Dan Hoban from Mayo , who spoke for about 50 minutes , with no script , yet managed to give a detailed history of the life and death of Wolfe Tone and of Tone's family and the circumstances in which they lived, mentioning also , in detail , the history of those who were in the leadership of the on-going 1798 struggle with Tone at that time. It was a fascinating story , delivered in a clear , strong voice by a man who knows his history. Proceedings lasted for about two hours , following which the parade formed-up and marched back to Sallins Village . Matt and his team from the National Graves Association are to be sincerely commended for the magnificent work they put into maintaining the plot , and for their work today with the flags . Go raibh mile maith agat!

We publish with this post a few photographs from today's proceedings , with more to follow . Also , a proper report and other photographs will be published in the July 2008 issue of Saoirse, which will be available on the 2nd of that month. We will publish more Bodenstown 2008 photographs on this blog and elsewhere - links will be supplied - over the next day or so.

Colour Party in Bodenstown Graveyard , Sunday 15 June 2008.

Dan Hoban , delivering the main oration.

Members of the Cumann na mBan and Na Fianna Eireann colour parties.

A section of the crowd in Bodenstown Graveyard.