Wednesday, March 07, 2012

By Peadar O'Donnell ; first published in January 1963.

" We are forced to recognise ," wrote Liam Mellows , " that the commercial interests and the merchants are on the side of the Treaty. We are back to Tone - and it is just as well - relying on the men of no property. The stake-in-the-country people were never with the Republic - they will always be against it until it wins." Mellows referred in bitter terms to the Catholic Bishops , who had issued a pastoral in support of the Treaty : " Invariably wrong in their political outlook ; against the people in 1798 ; against Emmet ; against the Young Irelanders ; against the Fenians ; supported the British in 1914-18; they were against the Easter Rising ; Bishop Cohalan's excommunication of Cork IRA in 1920......"

Mellows's proposals , apart from the formation of a Republican Government , were unreal. To have made an impression on the IRA , Mellows should have spoken his mind at the first general army Convention following the Treaty. He might not have carried the Convention with him - and he might - but anyway his views would have been argued over, and the dynamics of struggle , once the Republic was attacked , would have favoured them. His message from jail would then have been understood.

It did not help that the 'Lefts' outside , who alone hailed his teaching, misunderstood him ; they acclaimed him a socialist republican but the truth was that Mellows was a great Fenian who saw the poor as the freedom force of the nation , as Tone did. He was influenced by the lessons of Irish history , his experience as an organiser of the Fianna , his memory of the men and women who rose with him in Galway , and the way of life of the prisoners around him in Mountjoy Jail. It was clear to him that the middle class, which lurked in the shadow of the Republican Movement from its rise to popularity , was no part of the freedom forces ; it had no aim that could not be realised in Home Rule within the British Empire*. He spoke from his vision of the Irish scene , kin to Tone in his faith in the men of no property , and to McCracken in his distrust of the rich.......
('1169...' Comment : *Like those that inhabit this building ; rich and hoping to get richer by helping to stabilise and enforce the status quo.)

THE PETER BERRY PAPERS....... The Top Secret Memoirs of Ireland's Most Powerful Civil Servant : Dirty Tricks, Election '69/ Spying on a Unionist Politician/ Keeping the (State) Taoiseach informed/ The Garda Fallon Murder/ Advice to Jack Lynch- 'Fire the pair of them...'/ Vivion De Valera's advice to O'Malley/ Rumours of a Coup D'Etat/ The Internment Plot, November 1970/ Secret Meeting with William Craig.
From 'MAGILL' magazine , June 1980.

" Later on , to anyone reading the reports of the arms trials or the evidence before the Committee of Public Accounts it must have been evident that the Taoiseach knew on 14th May that what he was saying was not true. It was certainly evident to me that he was not speaking the truth when he said - ' I acted immediately on information conveyed to me' (vol. 246 , No. 9 , Col. 1592).

The Taoiseach , speaking on a Motion of Confidence in Government , said that he had made specific enquiries and that there was not and could not have been any payments made out of public funds for the purchase of arms. In its Report (page 57 , paragraph 70) , the CPA say that they were satisfied that the words used by the Taoiseach were justified by the form of words suggested to him by the Secretary of the Department of Finance but that they did not feel that the terms of the assurance suggested to the Taoiseach were justified.

The Report goes on - ' Moreover , the Committee feels that when shortly afterwards , suspicions were aroused that money for the purchase of arms might have come from the fund, the Taoiseach's attention should have been drawn to the implications of this so far as the assurance given to the Dail was concerned.' The Committee are referring here to a telephone call which I had made to Mr. Murray , Secretary of the Department of Finance , on 19th May (which was recorded on a dictaphone belt at my end) and to a semi-official letter which I sent to him on 21st May......."



Clonmult Martyrs.

Despite many repeated requests to do so , we seldom post the full content of orations delivered at Republican commemorations , protests , pickets etc , as we prefer to reserve this 'spot' for items that might not otherwise see the light of day : however , we will break that 'rule' today , because the following oration , by Mary Ward , is one of the best we have ever had the pleasure of reading :

" The strongest common bond uniting mankind is love of liberty and a willingness to sacrifice anything to achieve it. From man’s earliest record to the present time the names that glow forth from the yellowed pages of history are not the names of rulers who controlled men’s lives, not the great orators and poets who stirred men’s hearts but the simple honest men of every race. Men like those we honour here today, the Clonmult Martyrs, who by sacrificing themselves for the ideal of freedom ennobled men’s souls.
Throughout history’s pages there is no story so sorrowful yet so grand as Ireland’s long struggle for freedom. Indeed no country has laboured so long and diligently, has suffered so much and failed so often and yet had the strength, the courage and the character to try again. The dying words of Robert Emmet - 'When my country takes her place among the nations of the world, then, not till then, let my epitaph be written'. The glorious words of Alan Larkin and O'Brien 'God save Ireland' were spoken before a hostile tribunal for a cause which they knew in their day at least was doomed to failure. They failed but they inspired other to follow in their example. And so it was the Fenians inspired the men and women of 1916 and they in turn inspired the men and women of the 1919-1922 period. During the 1919-1922 period the IRA were well aware that they faced the might of the British Empire, a far more superior and equipped enemy, so they changed and adapted their tactics. They perfected the art of guerrilla warfare; a method which was later employed by freedom fighters the world over from Kenya to Algeria. When the men from East Cork went to the farmhouse in Clonmult, they had witnessed the cruelty of the Black and Tans auxiliaries, they had attended the funerals of Tomás MacCurtain murdered in front of his pregnant wife and children and of Terence Mac Swiney following a long hunger strike in Brixton prison. They had witnessed the burning of Cork city, yet they pledged to fight for the freedom of Ireland, to uphold the Republic proclaimed in arms at Easter week and ratified by the Irish people in open ballot in 1918.

In January 1921 the active service unit of the fourth battalion of the first Cork Brigade IRA took possession of a disused farmhouse in a secluded position overlooking the village of Clonmult. Commandant O'Hurley decided to ambush a military train at Cobh junction on Tuesday February 22, 1921. He set out to make the necessary arrangement accompanied by Vice-commandant Joseph Ahern and Captain Patrick Whelan.

On Sunday February 20 Michael Desmond and John Joe Joyce left the farmhouse to go to a nearby spring when they noticed the house was surrounded by British forces. They both died as they fought to return to the house, but not before they had warned those inside of the situation. A sortie from the farmhouse was attempted in the hope that assistance could be organised from the local company in Conan. With the farmhouse burning around them, an attempt was made to escape, but many of the volunteers were killed in a hail of bullets from the Black and Tan forces who had come to re-enforce the British regulars. Of the prisoners taken, two were later executed, five others had their sentences commuted and one, Captain Higgins, who had been shot through the mouth, had his life spared by the advent of the truce in July.
The Ireland of today is a product of a counter-revolution, which succeeded in over throwing the 32-County Republic of 1916 and the all-Ireland Dáil Éireann of 1919. The forced partition of Ireland in 1922 was brought about by the threat of an immediate and terrible war by England and by the collaboration of erstwhile Irish Republicans. The more recent Stormont agreement of 1998 updated and secured English rule in the Six Counties, again with the collaboration of former Republicans. In helping to bring all of this about these lost souls, we are told, had been infiltrated by English agents. There is scarcely a doubt about this but they were already infiltrated from deep within by an overweening pride and arrogance, which has been the downfall of many before. No Irish patriot died for a new Stormont or a new style English crown police force. But some are so conceited in their self-importance that they think they can ignore this truth.
The objective of the so-called peace process never was a peace in Ireland; its objective was to bring the armed struggle for Irish freedom to an end, just as in 1921-1922 the English found more devious and wily ways of defeating Irish resistance to their rule.
There is also a more ominous, more menacing and longer-term objective behind this un-holy alliance of English imperialism and Irish collaboration, it is to extinguish forever Irish Republican resistance to English rule in our country, but there are still faithful Republicans in Ireland, north and South. We, you and I, men and women, boys and girls renew our Republican vows here today, we pledge ourselves, as the Clonmult martyrs pledged themselves never to desist in our efforts until we have ended English rule in our country for all time.
There is so much in the Ireland of today which is an affront to the noble ideals of our patriot dead. The dishonesty, the lies, the deceit, the mercenary and shameless selfishness and greed in public life are the very anti-thesis of the generous and honourable ideals of our patriot dead. The contrast is obvious and unmistakable.
Not only have we the unjust and undemocratic partition of our country, we also have an ever widening gap between the rich and the poor, the haves and the have-nots. This has not happened by any accident or misfortune. This is the result of deliberate and pre-meditated policies implemented under the cover of a clever smoke screen provided by well-paid and unscrupulous spin doctors.
The education system has been fundamentally re-shaped to train workers for the multinational enterprises which are now more powerful than governments and for export to Australia and elsewhere. Just this week the government was calling for the speeding up of apprenticeships from FAS, they can’t get rid of our young people quick enough, our best and our brightest.
Even in the universities, the classics, the Irish language, Irish history and Irish and Celtic studies have been downgraded, some would say virtually abandoned. Is this any wonder when the Smurfit’s and the O’Reillys now provide considerable finance for some of these colleges? Skills are certainly important, but the schools and colleges should also be helping parents to imbue their children with standards and values for life. They should also be helping students and pupils to appreciate and develop their Irish identity, as well as to develop their critical facilties, their capacity to think things through, to assess and appraise and evaluate all that they will have to encounter in life. The politicians and the bosses of finance and industry, however, prefer to keep young people malleable and compliant, a prey to advertising hype and disinformation.
The travesty of democracy, which we witness daily in our country, is a well-managed spectacle of mockery and deception. From the local councils and shady deals to the mock theatre of Leinster House and Stormont, to the mandarins of Westminster and the European Union, and the invincible looking power of the United States and Britain backed by the muscle and might of international capitalism, the ordinary, decent, hardworking people of Ireland in town and country are being exploited, and the weakest and most vulnerable, the old, the ill, the incapacitated, the disadvantaged many young people who come from our schools barely literate are the most exploited of all. We have ever rising levels of crime, some of it quite vicious and ruthless.
Both states fail to protect their citizens from exploitation by trans-national capital and manipulative commercial interest, from drug pushers and alcohol producers, as well as from British spies and agents. Politicians get into power backed by the wealthy groups and individuals and then they are the prisoners of these people. Two examples of this are the compliant hire of Shannon airport to the US administration and the revelations that Irish hospitals have to pay twice what they pay in Spain for essential drugs manufactured by companies in Cork.
In a democratic system, power rests with the people; in Ireland today there is collusion and a conspiracy among the wealthy, the politicians and sections of the media to accumulate and share the spoils at the expense of ordinary people. Yet the ordinary people have to pay for the bank bail-out and the excesses of these gangsters who are actually being paid up to €200,000 by NAMA, eight times more than the average industrial wage.
The priorities in public life in Ireland are the priorities of rampant capitalism and this is facilitated and made possible by politicians whose only interest is power for powers sake. Meanwhile we have a plethora of tribunals, enquiring into all kinds of misconduct and costing millions of euro each year. A lot of fraud and corruption has been unearthed, but nobody ever seems to be prosecuted for misdeeds. And since shame and embarrassment are in short supply , these tribunals serve now as expensive and protective shock-absorbers, where wrong doing can be reluctantly exposed while even more corruptive practices proceed apace.
We have lost our manufacturing base, our fishing rights, mineral rights and financial independence to the EU and the infamous Troika. No, the Ireland of today is not a pretty sight. English imperialism is alive and well and holds six of our counties in direct occupation. This same power infiltrates the other 26 Counties and dictates its terms to them. In the whole country, there is a basic affliction which is a lack of principle, standards, value and morality. Both states are in hock to English imperialism, neo liberal capitalism and its free market and culture of greed.
The great and almost daunting, challenge to us Irish Republicans is to confront and change all of this. In the 1790’s Wolfe Tone and his comrades faced a similar challenge. They rose to the occasion in every sense of the word. They formulated their plans and they confronted those who were the exploiters of the Irish people, foreign and domestic.
The hallmark of their approach was that they sought no personal gain for themselves, their rallying cry was liberty, equality and fraternity and they gave generous and unstinting service. Then, they made their appeal to the broad mass of the Irish people, Protestant, Catholic and Dissenter, and they organised their generation. They were truly revolutionary and their message struck a chord with the common people. The broad mass of the people always retain and cherish a yearning for freedom based on justice.
We are not alone in the task we seek to accomplish. We have many active supporters who are not present here today. We have our Republican prisoners, who are also a source of inspiration to us as they keep their lonely vigil for Ireland, and to whom we send greetings from this historic spot. We have many friends and sympathisers throughout Ireland and we have active supporters abroad. All share with us our vision of a New Ireland – ÉIRE NUA, a New Democracy of four provinces with regional, local and community self-government. For us the model is neither Boston nor Berlin. For us the task is to restore the historic Irish nation on the basis of liberty, equality and fraternity, and to put the people of Ireland in charge of their own destinies. We will continue to work to accomplish this noble task, for which so many have laboured over the centuries. We will continue to work regardless of the defections of recent years and regardless of the sinister efforts by certain elements in the Establishment and in the media to denigrate our work and to smear our good name.
In the Six Occupied Counties, the nightmare of the nationalist people continues. In some areas it is particularly acute and communities live in continual fear of attack. The Stormont Agreement has not brought reassurance to the Unionist people either. And neither Westminster nor Leinster House can bring peace with justice, because both of these institutions operate to a different agenda. As Wolfe Tone said of the Ascendancy of his time - "They see Ireland only in their rent rolls, their places, their patronage and their pensions".
The ÉIRE NUA programme for a four province federal Ireland represents a modern progressive project based on the original ideas of Tone. It is the surest guarantee of a secure place in Ireland for all our people.
I will conclude with the words of General Liam Lynch - 'We have declared for a Republic, We will have no other law.'
An Phoblacht Abú !"

As stated , one of the best speeches that has ever come across our desk , and one which we are proud to be associated with. Maith an Cailín , Mary !
Thanks for reading,