" A wealth of information..."

"1169 And Counting is a wealth of information on our Republican past and present , and demonstrates how the Irish political landscape , like that of any nation, will never be a black and white issue..."

(From the ‘e-Thursday’ section of the ‘Business Week’ supplement of the ‘Irish Independent’ , 21st August 2008.)



IRISH BLOG AWARDS 2017 - ooops! It seems that our entry application was "not completed in time to be considered.." (?) and, as such, we are not now in the running. But we wish all the best to the successful entrants and to the organisers, and we hope all goes well for them on the day!


Wednesday, December 30, 2015

DEATH-BED WARNING FROM IRA QUARTERMASTER.

DÁITHÍ Ó CONAILL COMMEMORATION , FRIDAY 1ST JANUARY 2016, GLASNEVIN, DUBLIN.

"Dáithí came from a strong Cork Republican family. His uncle Michael O’Sullivan (17), along with five of his comrades, was bayoneted to death by British Crown forces in March 1921. He joined Sinn Féin at the age of 17 during the local elections in 1955. By the end of the following year he was on active service as a Volunteer in the Irish Republican Army , serving as an organiser under GHQ staff in Co Fermanagh.

On January 1st 1957, he was second-in-command of the Pearse Column during the attack on Brookeborough RUC barracks which resulted in the deaths of two of his comrades, Fearghal Ó hAnluáin and Seán Sabhat. Four others were wounded including the column commander. At 18 years of age Dáithí took command and led a successful withdrawal back across the border – evading 400 RUC, B-Specials, two helicopters and the British army – where they were forced to retire. He was then imprisoned in Mountjoy and the Curragh Concentration camp from where he escaped with his friend and comrade Ruairí Ó Brádaigh in September 1958. He returned to active service and for a period was Director of Operations. He was critically wounded in an ambush by the RUC and B-Specials in Arboe, Co Tyrone on the shores of Lough Neagh in November 1959. He made his escape but was forced to seek help because of loss of blood and his weakened condition. He was captured by Crown Forces and was sentenced to eight years which he served in Belfast’s Crumlin Road Jail. Following his release in 1963 he reported back to active service.

In 1969/70 he again made his talents available to the Republican Movement. Ruairí Ó Brádaigh said of him he possessed the 'ablest mind in the Republican Movement for over 20 years'. The sheer breadth of his ability and intellect was evidenced by his service to the All-Ireland Republic both militarily and politically. He had a central role in framing ÉIRE NUA and remained a tireless advocate of it right up to his death in 1991. Dáithí Ó Conaill never equivocated on what was the cause of the war in Ireland or what was required to deliver a just and lasting peace for all of the Irish people. Speaking in Belfast at Easter 1973 he said: 'Today, the central issue in the war is one of conflict between Ireland’s right to freedom and England’s determination to keep us in subjection. All other issues are subordinate to this basic point. There can be no compromise on the fundamental issue as to who should rule Ireland: the British Parliament or the Irish people. We have had 800 years of British ineptitude in ruling Ireland; we have never known rule by the Irish, of the Irish, for the Irish. Until we do, we shall never enjoy peace and stability in our land.' "
(From here.)

The commemoration will be held, as stated, on New Year's Day in Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin. Those attending are asked to assemble at the main gates at 12.45pm. Go raibh maith agat.





PROSE AND CONS.

By prisoners from E1 Landing, Portlaoise Prison, 1999.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS :

Grateful thanks to the following for their help, support, assistance and encouragement, and all those who helped with the typing and word processing over the past few months. Many thanks to Cian Sharkhin, the editor of the book, Mr Bill Donoghue, Governor, Portlaoise, Mr Seán Wynne, supervising teacher, the education unit in Portlaoise Prison and the education staff, especially Zack, Helena and Jane. Education officers Bill Carroll and Dave McDonald, Rita Kelly, writer, print unit, Arbour Hill.

First Print : November 1999, reprinted March 2000, illustrations by D O'Hare, Zack and Natasha. Photograph selection : Eamonn Kelly and Harry Melia.

SUICIDE.

The cell measured

ten by six by twelve

A dull light shone on

grey concrete floor

and artic walls

that stenched of stain and blood

mice scuttled in the dark

gloomy corners

The spy hole on the heavy steel door

opened and closed.




A two-by-two cast iron frame

surrounded the thirty-five

dirty perspex panes

A prisoner's naked body

hung limp

from a white sheet.

The shit ran down his legs.


John Doran.

(Next : 'Bird Man', by John Doran. )







IS PEACE SAFE WITH ANDREWS....?

Where politics once stagnated, events in Northern Ireland now chase each other helter-skelter. As 'Magill' went to press, a new joint government document turned recent perceptions head over heels. Fionnuala O'Connor charts the doubts behind the instant reactions. From 'Magill' magazine, February 1998.

"I'm sure the loyalists would love to know what it would take," says an ex-IRA prisoner. "I'm sure they're wondering 'if we went into a youth club or a community centre or a bookies or a pub (and opened fire), would that draw the IRA in ?' I don't know what the threshold is." He was speaking before a loyalist gang placed themselves on the roadside in the heart of republican west Belfast, flagged down a taxi driver, and shot him dead.

By one of those thought processes that southerners rarely understand, the INLA is not blamed in republican districts for triggering this terror by killing Billy Wright - "No," the ex-prisoner says, "because the catholic mood was up before that. They'd say 'what about Seán Brown in Bellaghy ('1169' comment - Seán Brown was "not a real victim", according to an 'Ulster Unionist' political leader!) , what had that got to do with Billy Wright? That was the LVF, whoever the hell they really are, trying to wreck the thing."

The much-reported RUC estimate that Billy Wright was responsible for up to 30 catholic deaths over a 15-year period certainly colours opinions about his killing. Loyalist violence before the recent spate, continuing through the IRA's cease-fire and scarcely commented upon, is more to the point - republicans killed five people in 1997 (two RUC men and a British soldier killed before the cease-fire, and an RUC man and Billy Wright, by the INLA) whereas loyalists of various kinds killed 15 people - the UDA two, the UVF two, the LVF four, with disputed circumstances in several other deaths. Some killings were apparently the results of internal loyalist feuds. (MORE LATER.)







1916 - WHAT DID IT MEAN FOR IRISH WOMEN....?

By Ursula Barry.

. What is there for women in Ireland to commemorate in 1916? Did the 1916 Proclamation and the subsequent 'Democratic Programme of the First Dáil' contain radical or revolutionary statements on the position of women in Irish society that were later betrayed or sold out in the process of establishing the Free State?

From 'Iris' magazine, Easter 1991.

The more radical republican ideology which emphasises diversity and co-existence based on a concept of common humanity was completely marginalised during this period in which the State took on increasingly the role of a single moral authority and the nature of that moral authority was such that the rights, needs and creativity of women were buried under a rigid system based on the deliberate preservation of the economic and political system for men and the fear of sexuality , especially female sexuality.

The 1937 Constitution, perhaps more than any other document, reflects the contradiction between the revolutionary period of 1880-1920 and the reactionary thinking of the 1920-1950 period. As the constitution of the 26 Counties it echoes some of the elements of the 1916 Proclamation and the Democratic Programme of the First Dáil but it also, and in some ways ever more so, reflects the time in which it was produced.

While the equality of all citizens before the law is enshrined within it, it also makes reference to different capacities of citizens based on sex. In addition it asserts directly and unambiguously that women have only one role in Irish society - that of mother and homemaker - reinforced by a prohibition on divorce legislation. Interestingly, those aspects of the Constitution which have their roots in the more radical definitions of the Republic are precisely those which have been used in a number of constitutional cases to assert democratic rights. (MORE LATER.)







ON THIS DATE (30TH DECEMBER) 44 YEARS AGO : IRA VETERAN KILLED IN EXPLOSION IN DUBLIN.

The funeral of IRA operative Jack ('John') McCabe, who died in an explosion on the 30th December 1971 - 44 years ago on this date. He was buried in Killann Graveyard, East Cavan, on the 1st January 1972 and the then PIRA chief of staff, Seán MacStiofain, delivered the graveside oration. Details re his death and funeral can be read here.

Jack McCabe, who was born in 1916, joined the IRA in Cavan in the 1930's, when he would have been in his late teens/early 20's, and rose to the position of Quartermaster General in that organisation. He operated for a while in England in the late 1930's, where he served the Cause as officer commanding in the Manchester area (he worked alongside a then 17-years-young Jackie Griffith) where he was captured while on active service and sentenced to 20 years penal servitude. He was released from Parkhurst Prison in 1948, at 32 years of age, and returned to Ireland to continue his work for the Movement.

In 1954, after an IRA raid in Omagh for enemy equipment, he was captured and imprisoned in Crumlin Road Jail and, when released in the early 1960's, he immediately reported back for duty and worked tirelessly for the IRA until his untimely death in 1971 - he was instrumental, along with Myles Shevlin (and others) in the defence of Bombay Street and, as Quartermaster General, he was part of the IRA team which first met with a Libyan delegation to discuss the issue of arms.

He was one of the main explosives experts for the IRA and that was how he was to meet a gruesome death - he was mixing explosives in the garage of his house on the Swords Road, in Dublin, when a spark from the shovel he was using set the mixture off. His eyes were blown out of his head and his testicles were blown off but, before he died (on 30th December 1971, 44 years ago on this date) he managed to devise a safe method of mixing explosives to ensure that the same mistake would not be made again. Even on his death-bed, and in great agony, Jack McCabe's thoughts were with those he knew would follow in his footsteps. Incidentally, his death inadvertently assisted the IRA in refining the use of a weapon still employed to this day.





AND FINALLY - THIS IS OUR LAST POST FOR 2015 :

Here's to the crazy ones.

The misfits.

The rebels.

The troublemakers.

The round pegs in the square holes.

The ones who see things differently.

They're not fond of rules.

And they have no respect for the status quo.

You can praise them, disagree with them, quote them,

disbelieve them, glorify or vilify them.




About the only thing you can't do is ignore them.

Because they change things.

They invent. They imagine. They heal.

They explore. They create. They inspire.

They push the human race forward.

Maybe they have to be crazy.




How else can you stare at an empty canvas and see a work of art?

Or sit in silence and hear a song that's never been written?

Or gaze at a red planet and see a laboratory on wheels?

We make tools for these kinds of people.

While some see them as the crazy ones,we see genius.

Because the people who are crazy enough to think

they can change the world, are the ones who do...
(From here.)

Athbhliain faoi Mhaise Duit and Happy New Year to all our readers : thanks for reading, Sharon.





Saturday, December 26, 2015

NEITHER (STATE) 'HELL' NOR (NATURE'S) 'HIGH WATER' : CABHAIR CHRISTMAS SWIM 2015.

SWIMMING IN THE RAIN : 39TH CONSECUTIVE CABHAIR SWIM, 25TH DECEMBER 2015.

The four Cabhair swimmers who, like the rest of us, got soaked making their way to the 3rd Lock of the Grand Canal in Dublin, on Christmas Day 2015, only to get soaked again!

'How heavy fell the rain that day

From burdened clouds of mournful grey....

My skin wrung wet with icy chill

As mud embraced that sodden hill...'
(from here.)



Those of us who managed to make it to the Cabhair Swim in Inchicore, Dublin, on Christmas Day last (continuous heavy rain in Dublin had caused flooding) were informed by one of the 'Christmas Crew', John Horan, Dublin - during his 'Speech from The Lock' - that two of the swimmers, who were travelling in the same car to the site had apologised for their absence as they had been caught in a small flood which had disabled the vehicle. And, really, it was a wonder that any of us got there at all, as the incessant rain had caused havoc in parts of Dublin since Christmas Eve.

And that also explained the smaller-than-usual turnout, as those who didn't have to venture outdoors weren't going to do so, understandably, as it would have been unwise to take children out on such a vicious day. But those of us who were there enjoyed ourselves as much as we could, with the usual offerings available - a good few cans of different beers, something stronger (thanks, Bernard!) , mince pies, lemonade, crisps, sweets, Christmas crackers etc, most of which had to be distributed from the boot of a car as it was too wet to set-up the usual tables and music system. Four swimmers managed to get there, and each of them earned their keep - two of them swam from lock to lock, twice, and the other two swam two widths each. Apart from the weather and the two absent swimmers, the only other set-back was supplied by the State, rather than nature - three car loads of Special Branch and the contents of one Garda squad car competed with the mini-storm in an attempt to keep this Cabhair event from going ahead, but couldn't do so. As John said, during his speech, next year will mark the 40th such Swim and, come more State 'hell' or High Water from nature, it will be held!

These are a few pics from the event, with more here ('Facebook' link) and a proper report will be published in the January 2016 issue of 'Saoirse', which goes to print on Wednesday, 13th of that month :















Thanks for reading, Sharon.






Wednesday, December 23, 2015

39TH ON THE 25TH FOR THE 32 AT THE 3RD!

39TH ON THE 25TH FOR THE 32 AT THE 3RD!

39 Years underwater!

It began - properly structured and organised - in 1976, as a 'fundraiser with a difference', combined with the need to gain extra publicity for a situation which was then - as now - making world headlines. Those that sat down together in early September 1976 to tighten-up the then 'hit-and-miss' affair were a dedicated team who fully understood that to fail in their business would not only bring derision on them and the issue they sought to highlight, but would give their enemy a publicity coup which they would exploit to the fullest extent. With that in mind, the team persevered - favours were called-in, guarantees were secured, provisions obtained and word dispatched to like-minded individuals in the area. At the appointed time on the agreed day - 12 Noon, Christmas Day 1976 - a soon-to-be 39-years-young event was 'born'. The CABHAIR Christmas Day Swim is, thankfully, still going strong and will be, as mentioned, 39-years-young on December 25th next!

Sponsored Swim * Christmas Day * 12 Noon * Grand Canal * 3rd Lock* Inchicore* Dublin*

ALL WELCOME!







PROSE AND CONS.

By prisoners from E1 Landing, Portlaoise Prison, 1999.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS :

Grateful thanks to the following for their help, support, assistance and encouragement, and all those who helped with the typing and word processing over the past few months. Many thanks to Cian Sharkhin, the editor of the book, Mr Bill Donoghue, Governor, Portlaoise, Mr Seán Wynne, supervising teacher, the education unit in Portlaoise Prison and the education staff, especially Zack, Helena and Jane. Education officers Bill Carroll and Dave McDonald, Rita Kelly, writer, print unit, Arbour Hill.

First Print : November 1999, reprinted March 2000, illustrations by D O'Hare, Zack and Natasha. Photograph selection : Eamonn Kelly and Harry Melia.

WEE KITTEN.

Two young girls played

in the back garden

they heard the faint cries of a kitten

they jumped up on the three foot brick wall

and they scanned the garden



The wee kitten cried out again

the grass was wet and two foot high



Sinéad crawled on her hands and knees

and called out 'here kitty kitty kitty'

as mother cat nursed her three other kittens.



The wee neglected kitten tried to burrow

into the warm litter

but mother cat lashed out with her paw



Sinéad saw what was going on

she felt sorry for the abandoned pet

and cried out 'I found the cat'

Amy ran excitedly,

'Where, where, show me where'



Tenderly they carried the kitten

into the kitchen and gave him milk on the white saucer



Too weak to drink

he shook like a leaf

as they lifted him back beside the mother

hoping she would care



Next morning the kitten lay dead in the grass.

The girls cried.


John Doran.

(Next : 'Suicide'. )







IS PEACE SAFE WITH ANDREWS....?

Where politics once stagnated, events in Northern Ireland now chase each other helter-skelter. As 'Magill' went to press, a new joint government document turned recent perceptions head over heels. Fionnuala O'Connor charts the doubts behind the instant reactions. From 'Magill' magazine, February 1998.

Republicans in and close to leadership insist that their cease-fire is not about to end in the near future. "We're in this for the long haul, said a republican official on the night after the heads of agreement emerged. "Negotiations are the only game in town, we're not walking away from it, whatever worries we may have." But then the same person continued - "We have no difficulty reading it as a basis for negotiation. It doesn't preclude us from bringing our own issues." The IRA response, eight days later, was a good deal harsher.

Whatever the true level of republican unease about Dublin's dealings with London and their joint management of negotiations, the pace of loyalist violence gives republicans immediate problems : there is a growing, primitive* call for the IRA to strike back, even though 30 years of death tolls show that retaliation is no more deterrent than it is moral**. In much the same way as unionists believe the INLA to be a proxy for the IRA, 'licensed' by it in David Trimble's phrase and essentially part of a pan-nationalist front to break the union, many nationalists, not just republicans, suspect that the LVF is a catch-all title used when it suits the larger groups - and secretly admired by unionists who think the IRA's cease-fire is just the most recent nationalist trick, dreamed up by an alliance of the catholic church, Gerry Adams and, wiliest of all, John Hume.

The strongest republican argument against the IRA ending their cease-fire in the face of the recent string of killings is that this would give loyalists and unionists what they want, by preventing negotiations. Some of those who support the argument are themselves unsure about the outcome, as they are about the shape of any likely settlement.

('1169' comment : *It would obviously be republicans who would call for the IRA to strike back - "primitive" republicans, in the opinion of the author of that article who, to the best of my knowledge, has never referenced British imperialism [and the damage it is responsible for here in Ireland and elsewhere] as "primitive" - it seems that only those under attack, rather than the instigator of the attack, can be considered "primitive" // ** likewise with the claim that, apparently,it is only those who retaliate that should be judged as 'immoral', not those who initiated the conflict.) (MORE LATER.)





1916 - WHAT DID IT MEAN FOR IRISH WOMEN....?

By Ursula Barry.

. What is there for women in Ireland to commemorate in 1916? Did the 1916 Proclamation and the subsequent 'Democratic Programme of the First Dáil' contain radical or revolutionary statements on the position of women in Irish society that were later betrayed or sold out in the process of establishing the Free State?

From 'Iris' magazine, Easter 1991.

Within 20 years of the establishment of the Free State a legislative framework had been put in place reflecting conservative and reactionary thinking with particularly serious implications for women. Women who had played a key role in both republican and workers' organisations as well as asserting their own demands for the vote were systematically excluded from public life and constrained to the private domestic sphere in both the Free State and the North.

But more than that : social life was viciously suppressed in the Free State, where literature, film, sexual expression and even dancing were the target of repressive laws. The 1920's saw the denial of the right to civil divorce, the virtual exclusion of women from jury service and the savage censorship of films and other publications.

During the 1930's the focus shifted inevitably towards sex as contraceptives were outlawed, in a piece of legislation that simultaneously penalised brothel-keepers, and the 'Public Dance Halls Act' of 1935 gave district justices the power to regulate and control public dances, a move directly in line with a Catholic Church pastoral on 'the evils of modern dancing' a few years earlier and in that same year the 'Conditions of Employment Bill 1935' imposed a maximum proportion of women workers in industry and gave the State minister for labour the right to prohibit women completely. So much for equal opportunities! (MORE LATER.)







HO! HO! HO! POWER TO THE TAXPAYING PRINTER. AGAIN!

Whether it's the season to give or not, we State taxpayers are, as ever, generous beyond belief when it comes to 'giving' to the career politicians in Leinster House. And, it seems, especially so at Christmas - one of their number, ex-Fianna Fail member Averil Power (now an 'Independent' Free State Senator) 'gifted' the taxpayer with a bill for just under €3,000 for 73,000 personalised 2016 calendars, Kieran O'Donnell (Fine Gael) used taxpayers money to purchase 30,000 calendars and Emmet Stagg thanked taxpayers for buying 6,000 Christmas cards for him. They are just three of many that (ab)used State money to impress those that (might) vote for them - a more detailed list can be seen here.

And, talking of 2016 calendars -

- this is the RSF calendar for 2016 (front of same, top pic, and back) which is available for a fiver (Euro or Sterling) from the usual RSF contacts. And no free money from taxpayers was spent in the production of same!







ON THIS DATE (23RD DECEMBER) 31 YEARS AGO : RUC DISRUPT REPUBLICAN FUNERAL.

IRA Volunteer Ciarán Fleming (left) - 'On Sunday 2nd December 1984, IRA Volunteers Antoine Mac Giolla Bhríghde, from Magherafelt, County Derry and Ciarán Fleming, who had broken out of Long Kesh prison in the Great Escape of 1983, were preparing to mount an operation against crown forces near Drumrush in County Fermanagh when Mac Giolla Bhríghde saw a car parked on the lane which he believed to contain civilians. Approaching the car to tell the occupants to leave the area, undercover SAS members opened fire, hitting him in the side. Cuffed with plastic stays, Mac Giolla Bhríghde was tortured before being summarily executed. His comrades, when later debriefed, reported hearing a single shot, then screaming, and a short time later a further burst of machine gun fire, after which the screaming stopped....' (from here.)

Ciarán Fleming '...drowned in Bannagh River, near Kesh, County Fermanagh (while) escaping from a gun battle between undercover British Army (BA) unit and Irish Republican Army (IRA) unit. His body (was) found in the river on 21st December 1984..' (from here) Ciarán was buried on the 23rd December 1984 - 31 years ago on this date - and his funeral was at the time described as '...the most gratuitously violent RUC attack of the year on any funeral. Many of the RUC had come in full riot gear of helmet, shield and body armour, to show that they were intent on violent disruption. Several times during a tense and exhausting funeral which lasted three full hours, the RUC baton-charged the mourners, which encouraged near-by children, standing on a wall, to throw stones at them in reprisal : the RUC then fired at least four plastic bullets into the funeral cortege, seriously injuring two people. During the afternoon, numerous mourners suffered bloody head wounds and one man was knocked unconscious by the RUC. Stewards were often forced to halt the proceedings because of this harassment but, despite the RUC's terror, the people stood firm and, in a twilight Bogside, three uniformed IRA Volunteers stepped out of the crowd and paid the IRA's traditional salute to their fallen comrade, as a forest of arms were raised in clenched-fist salute. Finally , thanks to the courage of thousands of nationalists, Volunteer Ciaran Fleming was laid to rest..' (from 'IRIS' magazine, October 1987.)

IRA sources that were contacted at the time by journalist Ed Moloney stated that Ciarán Fleming '...was noted for his hard line militarist republicanism. He is reputed to have backed a plan to form full-time guerrilla units or 'flying columns' based in the Republic, which would carry out four or five large scale attacks in the north a year. This approach was espoused by the militant Provisional IRA East Tyrone Brigade led by Padraig McKearney and Jim Lynagh, who wanted an escalation of the conflict to what they termed "total war". They were opposed by Kevin McKenna, the IRA Chief of Staff and by the republican leadership headed by Gerry Adams, on the grounds that actions on that scale were too big a risk and unsustainable. The IRA leadership wanted a smaller scale campaign of attrition, supplemented by political campaigning by (Provisional) Sinn Féin....' (from here.)

That "political campaigning by Provisional Sinn Féin" has seen that grouping morph into a slightly more-nationalist political party than either of the latter-day Fianna Fáil or SDLP organisations but, true to form, like Fianna Fáil and the SDLP, the Provisional Sinn Féin party has distanced itself (except verbally) from Irish republicanism. It's an easier life, with a salary and a pension, neither of which were available when Adams and company professed to be advocates of change rather than that which they are now (and have been for almost 30 years) ie advocates of British accommodation in Ireland.





ON THIS DATE (23RD DECEMBER) 44 YEARS AGO : TED HEATH, BRITISH PM, VISITS IRELAND, CALLS FOR PEACE. BUT IGNORES BRITISH VIOLENCE.

British PM Ted Heath, right, with his friend Jimmy Savile.

On the 23rd December 1971 - 44 years ago on this date - British PM Edward Heath paid a visit to the Occupied Six Counties of north-east Ireland and declared his 'determination to end the violence', making it clear in the process that he was referring to the then IRA campaign to remove the British military and political presence. Five weeks after that visit, his troops let loose with live rounds in the Bogside area of Derry, killing fourteen Irish people and, as a PR exercise, Heath (and his sidekick, Reginald Maudling) set up the 'Widgery Inquiry' into the massacre.

'Lord' Widgery proceeded to exclude the political background to the shootings, a politically motivated decision, as was suggested by the minutes of an extraordinary discussion between Widgery, Edward Heath and the British 'Lord Chancellor', 'Lord' Hailsham, at Downing Street, two days after the massacre, on the evening before the British 'Commons' announcement of Widgery's appointment to conduct the 'inquiry'. Among "..a number of points which I [Edward Heath] thought it right to draw to the Lord Chief Justice's [Widgery] attention (was that) it had to be remembered that we were in Northern Ireland (sic) fighting not just a military war but a propaganda war..." and, indeed, Heath is on record as saying that the Derry Guildhall building would be unsuitable as a venue for tribunal hearings as it "...was on the wrong side of the River Foyle.." (ie - the 'Catholic/Nationalist' side) !

It should be noted that the day before the Bogside massacre (ie on Saturday 29th January 1972) , the RUC and the British Army issued the following joint statement : "Experience this year has already shown that attempted marches often end in violence and (this) must have been foreseen by the organisers. Clearly, the responsibility for this violence and the consequences of it must rest fairly and squarely on the shoulders of those who encourage people to break the law. The (British) security forces have a duty to take action against those who set out to break the law..."

Mutinous talk there, from that joint statement because, if they were to do their 'duty', then they would have had to "take action" against themselves and their own political leaders, including Edward Heath. But considering that Heath and his political establishment were pals with the Jimmy Savile's of their world, then it should have been obvious to all that they would have no 'duty' of care or responsibility to 14 dead Irish people.





ON THIS DATE (23RD DECEMBER) 76 YEARS AGO : IRA REMOVE GUNS AND AMMUNITION FROM A FREE STATE FORT.

"Now's here's a proof of Irish sense

Here Irish wit is seen

When nothing's left that's worth defence,

We build a Magazine."
(Jonathan Swift)

The Magazine Fort, Phoenix Park, Dublin (pictured, left) - built in 1735, raided by republicans twice ; in 1916, when thirty members of the Irish Volunteers and Na Fianna Éireann captured the building and took guns and withdrew from the area and again in 1939 - on the 23rd December, 76 years ago on this date - when, at about ten pm on that Saturday night, an IRA man walked up to the Free State sentry who was guarding the locked gate and told him that he had a parcel for his commanding officer. The sentry unlocked the gate only to be faced with a revolver pointed at his head : he was held there as other IRA men entered the Fort and then the hapless State soldier was forced to lead the IRA men to the guardroom where they ordered the Free Staters to surrender, which they promptly did.

13 lorries were then driven into the complex and crates containing Thompson machine guns and ammunition (estimated at 1,084,000 rounds!) were removed from the premises and neither side suffered any casualties. However, State soldiers who were based in the nearby Islandbridge Barracks were perplexed as to the reason why such a heavy volume of truck traffic was entering and leaving the Phoenix Park and they went to investigate : two of the IRA raiders were captured but their comrades made good their escape, complete with that which they came for. However, within a week most of the liberated munitions (including about 850,000 bullets) had been recovered by the Staters : two-and-a-half-tons were seized in Dundalk, County Louth, eight tons recovered in Swords, County Dublin, sixty-six cases of Thompson machine guns and ammunition were seized from an arms dump in South Armagh and 100 crates containing 120,000 bullets recovered in Straffan, County Kildare.

Also, on March 1st, 1940, Jack McNeela and Jack Plunkett - two of the many republicans who were 'lifted' by the Staters following the 'Fort Raid'- were sentenced to two years and eighteen months respectively on a charge of "conspiring to usurp the function of government" by, of all things, operating a 'pirate' radio transmitter. On March 5th, 1940, Tony D'Arcy and Michael Traynor, both arrested during a raid on the Meath Hotel, Parnell Square, Dublin, the previous month, where an IRA meeting was being held to plan an attack in the Six Counties, were sentenced to three months imprisonment for refusing to answer questions. After being sentenced, the four prisoners were transferred to Arbour Hill Prison, Dublin and, on March 27th 1940, they were moved to St Brican's Military Hospital next to the prison. On April 1st that year they were joined there by Tomas MacCurtain and Thomas Grogan, both of whom were still awaiting trial. MacCurtain was charged with shooting dead a Special Branch detective in Cork and Thomas Grogan with taking part in the Magazine Fort raid.

On April 16th, 1940, Tony D'Arcy, a native of Headford, County Galway, died after 52 days on hunger strike ; Jack McNeela, a native of Ballycroy, Westport, County Mayo, died three days later, after 55 days on hunger strike. The fast ended that night when the prisoners were informed that their demands had been met. The hunger strike began on February 25th, 1940, in Mountjoy Jail, Dublin, and resulted in the deaths of two IRA Volunteers.







ON THIS DATE (23RD DECEMBER) 93 YEARS AGO : 'VOICE OF LABOUR' ROARS!

Liam Mellows (pictured, left) wrote, in his last letter to his mother - "The time is short and much I would like to say must go unsaid. But you will understand in such moments heart speaks to heart. At 3.30 this morning we [Dick Barrett, Rory O’Connor, Joe McKelvey and I] were informed that we were to be "executed as a reprisal"...I go to join Tone and Emmett, the Fenians, Tom Clarke, Connolly, Pearse, Kevin Barry and Childers. My last thoughts will be on God, and Ireland, and you. I had hopes that some day I might rest in some quiet place – beside Grandfather and Grandmother in Castletown (Co. Wexford), not amidst the wordly pomps [sic] of Glasnevin but if it is to be the prison clay, it is all the sweeter for many of our best lie here..." . That was on December 8th, 1922 - he was then executed by a Free State Army firing squad. However, forty-six years after that execution (ie in 1968) more information regarding that deed was made public ; in a letter to the media forty-six years after the execution of Liam Mellows (ie on April 24th, 1968) a Free State Army Captain, Ignatius O'Rourke, who was present at the execution of Liam Mellows and the other three men - Dick Barrett, Rory O'Connor and Joe McKelvey - wrote that, a few minutes before Mellows was shot dead he [Mellows] sent for the prison chaplain, a Father McMahon. Captain O'Rourke wrote that "... a few minutes later...I saw Father McMahon leaving the room [cell] ..accompanied by Liam Mellows, with his right arm around Liam's shoulders, and they walked along together leading the group as we all walked to the sandbags. Liam and Father McMahon appeared to be in deep, friendly conversation, with no sign of discord, disagreement or argument, just like two men discussing some point in a friendly fashion. They continued to talk until Father McMahon left Liam in the number one position at the sandbags ..."

Fifteen days after his execution (ie on the 23rd December 1922 - 93 years ago on this date) an article he had written, entitled 'Labour and the Irish Republic' was published in the trade union 'Voice of Labour' newspaper : "Industries will receive encouragement ; employment will increase ; the natural resources of the country tapped ; emigration stopped ; education put on a proper basis, and direct contact with the outside world established. Yet all this, resulting as it would in the country being richer and more prosperous, would not mean that the freedom of Ireland has been attained if the economic system remained unchanged. A political revolution in Ireland, without a co-incident economic revolution, simply means a change of masters - instead of British capitalists waxing rich on the political and economic enslavement of Ireland, as at present, we would have Irish capitalists waxing rich on the political freedom, but continued enslavement, of Ireland. We do not want a change of masters* : it would be foolish, surely, to free Ireland from foreign tyranny today, and less than twenty years hence to have to free it from domestic tyranny*. Therefore, the Irish Republic must have for its foundation the people. It is they who are freeing Ireland, and it is for the people - all the people - that it is being done, not for any section or group.

The Dail Éireann had this clearly in mind when, at its first session, in January 1919,it issued its 'Programme of Democratic Policy' that the soil of Ireland and all that grew upon it and lay under it, as well as all the wealth and wealth-producing processes in the country, should belong to the people. In the last analysis, the fight between the Irish people and the British government is not alone one between two nations : it is more than that - it is a struggle between two systems of civilisation, between the feudal system of England under its present guise of industrialism and the democratic system upon which the old civilisation of Ireland was built. A vestige of that civilisation remains in Ireland today - it is growing, expanding, and the end of foreign rule in Ireland will usher in not alone a new political era in Ireland, but a new economic one as well."

*Unfortunately, as Mellows opined, above, the citizens in this part of Ireland - the so-called 'Free State' - have had 'a change of masters/domestic tyranny' imposed on them, not only by an outside force (Westminster, which established the Leinster House 'parliament') but by a force that they themselves are responsible for - the ballot box. "The foundation, the people" , as referenced above by Liam Mellows, are for the most part made of clay and it is a relief that Mellows and his comrades did not live to witness the hypocritical shambles that the political institution on Kildare Street in Dublin, and those voters that time and again 'legitimise' that cess pit, converted his efforts into. Small mercy that the man went to his grave believing that his contribution to the struggle for freedom would help to achieve a proper Irish democracy rather than the 'whats-in-it-for-me' political culture that has hijacked his efforts.





UP THE REPUBLIC - OUR DAY WILL COME !
NOLLAIG SHONA DAR LEITHEOIRI ! Ar eagle an dearmaid.... Ba bhrea an rud e siocháin bhuan bunaithe ar an gceart a bheith againn in Éireann . Is i an bronntanas is fearr a d'fheadfaimis a thabhairt duinn fein agus dar gclann. Coinniodh an ceart agus an tsiocháin uainn le breis agus ocht gcead bliain , de bharr ionradh , forghabhail agus miriaradh na Sasanach. Socrú ar bith a dheantar in ainm mhuintir na hÉireann agus a ghlacann le riail Shasana agus a dhaingnionn an chriochdheighilt , ni thig leis an ceart na an tsiocháin bhuann a bhunu.

Ni dheanfaidh se ach la na siochána buaine a chur ar an mhear fhada agus an bhunfhadb a thabhairt do ghluin eile . Tharla se seo cheana nuair a siniodh Conradh 1921 agus cuireadh siar ar mhuintir na hÉireann e in ainm na siochána . Is mór ag Sinn Féin Poblachtach Éire a bheith saor agus daonlathach , an cuspoir ceanna a bhi i gceist ag Wolfe Tone agus ag na Poblachtaigh uile anuas go dti 1916 agus an la ata inniu ann.

Rinne a lan fear agus ban croga iobairti mora , thug a mbeatha fiu, ar son na cuise uaisle seo.
CEART. SAOIRSE. DAONLATHAS.

A PEACEFUL CHRISTMAS TO OUR READERS ! Least we forget .... A just and permanent peace in Ireland is most desirable. It is the greatest gift we could give to ourselves and our children. We have been denied justice and peace for more than eight centuries, because of English invasion, occupation and misrule of our country. Any arrangement which, in the name of the Irish people or otherwise, accepts English rule and copperfastens the border, will not bring justice and lasting peace. It will only postpone the day of permanent peace, handing over the basic problem to another generation.

This happened before when the Treaty of 1921 was signed and was forced on the Irish people in the name of peace. Republican Sinn Féin cherishes the objective of a free, democratic Ireland, as envisaged by Wolfe Tone and all Republicans down to 1916 and our own day. Many brave men and women sacrificed a lot, even their lives, for this noble objective.
JUSTICE. FREEDOM. DEMOCRACY.

(From the '1169...' Crew , December 2015. PLEASE NOTE : we are now on a short break from normal posting, although we will post details of how the CABHAIR swim went and possibly a few other posts. We will return to 'normal' early in the New Year. Go raibh maith agat, and thanks for reading! Sharon.)






Tuesday, December 22, 2015

39TH ON THE 25TH FOR THE 32 AT THE 3RD....

FORT RAIDERS IN IRELAND IN 1916 AND 1939...

39th on the 25th for the 32 at the 3rd - this event has been held since 1976 and will celebrate its 40th 'birthday' next year....death of a wee kitten - from Portlaoise, 1999....INLA a proxy, 'licensed' by the IRA?....social life was viciously suppressed in the Free State, where literature, film, sexual expression and even dancing were the target of repressive laws....a gratuitously violent attack on a funeral by the RUC...British PM calls for peace in Ireland but ignores his country's 'contribution' to political violence here...British/Free State Fort raided for arms twice by republicans...Liam Mellows on a change of masters and domestic tyranny...this blog, this Wednesday (23rd December 2015)...

Sharon.






Wednesday, December 09, 2015

"WHAT'S IN IT FOR ME?" - SHAMELESS GOMBEENS GO ON THE RECORD.

"WHAT'S IN IT FOR ME...?"

"I have a question for you Nina, I have a question for you. What's in it for me?," he asks. McElvaney goes on to say that he would be able to help and queries again, "What are you putting on the table for me...are you going to pay me by the hour or by the job?," he asks during the same conversation. After 'Nina' tells McElvaney that she's coming to Ireland he tells her to "...have plenty of Sterling with you. Ten grand would be a start...if you let me down, there'll be war.."

The above headline (link) and the paragraph following it, 'featuring' (now former) Fine Gael politician Hugh 'I-trapped-RTE-and-my-own-party' McElvaney, is just one example of how politics 'work' in this corrupt State. All Leinster House-based political parties have an endless supply of in situ and/or up-and-coming political representatives that are aware that they have, at best, on average about four years in between elections in which to feather their own nest.

There are three solutions to the political gombeen men and women that contaminate political society in this backward Free State : vote NOTA (1) and keep doing so at all elections, State and local, until such time as the political establishment concede that it is a new political system (2) that's needed, not 'new' political reps to carry-on working the present corrupt system. And this is the third solution, for those who don't wait to wait for (1) or (2) to materialise.





PROSE AND CONS.

By prisoners from E1 Landing, Portlaoise Prison, 1999.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS :

Grateful thanks to the following for their help, support, assistance and encouragement, and all those who helped with the typing and word processing over the past few months. Many thanks to Cian Sharkhin, the editor of the book, Mr Bill Donoghue, Governor, Portlaoise, Mr Seán Wynne, supervising teacher, the education unit in Portlaoise Prison and the education staff, especially Zack, Helena and Jane. Education officers Bill Carroll and Dave McDonald, Rita Kelly, writer, print unit, Arbour Hill.

First Print : November 1999, reprinted March 2000, illustrations by D O'Hare, Zack and Natasha. Photograph selection : Eamonn Kelly and Harry Melia.

CARING PERSON.

You are the one

who cares for the poor

and disadvantaged in Ballyfermot

visits the prisoners since the late 70's

bring them clothes and money

gets them jobs and flats.




Dozens never went back in again



You are the one who tried

so hard

to save so many more,




They are full of joy



You are the one who shows love

Sister Caoimhín.


John Doran.

(Next : 'Wee Kitten'. )







IS PEACE SAFE WITH ANDREWS....?

Where politics once stagnated, events in Northern Ireland now chase each other helter-skelter. As 'Magill' went to press, a new joint government document turned recent perceptions head over heels. Fionnuala O'Connor charts the doubts behind the instant reactions. From 'Magill' magazine, February 1998.

But the SDLP leader's profile in the talks process generally is curious. Like the Taoiseach's special adviser on the north, Martin Mansergh, Hume was out of the country on the crucial weekend. He has been more absent than present for much of the process to date, say participants. Dublin might well have difficulty deciding where SDLP authority now lies, other parties suggest.

"Hume can't stand this stuff now," said a former fan who hopes against hope, "I think he might be pacing himself for the final stretch." Another is glad the famously impatient SDLP leader has paid sparing visits to the talks. "He'd be climbing the walls if he was here more. You can see him deciding to switch off for the good of his health. The head goes down on the arms. I don't know if he actually sleeps."

It is of course possible that nationalist, particularly republican, discontent with Dublin and London is exaggerated as part of a general 'positioning' by all parties—gearing up as negotiation on specifics becomes unavoidable. "Everybody's posturing," said one tired politician. "Everybody's positioning at this stage." (MORE LATER.)





1916 - WHAT DID IT MEAN FOR IRISH WOMEN....?

By Ursula Barry.

. What is there for women in Ireland to commemorate in 1916? Did the 1916 Proclamation and the subsequent 'Democratic Programme of the First Dáil' contain radical or revolutionary statements on the position of women in Irish society that were later betrayed or sold out in the process of establishing the Free State?

From 'Iris' magazine, Easter 1991.

Within 20 years of the establishment of the Free State a legislative framework had been put in place reflecting conservative and reactionary thinking with particularly serious implications for women. Women who had played a key role in both republican and workers' organisations as well as asserting their own demands for the vote were systematically excluded from public life and constrained to the private domestic sphere in both the Free State and the North.

But more than that : social life was viciously suppressed in the Free State, where literature, film, sexual expression and even dancing were the target of repressive laws. The 1920's saw the denial of the right to civil divorce, the virtual exclusion of women from jury service and the savage censorship of films and other publications.

During the 1930's the focus shifted inevitably towards sex as contraceptives were outlawed, in a piece of legislation that simultaneously penalised brother-keepers, and the 'Public Dance Halls Act' of 1935 gave district justices the power to regulate and control public dances, a move directly in line with a Catholic Church pastoral on 'the evils of modern dancing' a few years earlier and in that same year the 'Conditions of Employment Bill 1935' imposed a maximum proportion of women workers in industry and gave the State minister for labour the right to prohibit women completely. So much for equal opportunities! (MORE LATER.)





ON THIS DATE (9TH DECEMBER) 42 YEARS AGO : ANOTHER FALSE TREATY ACCEPTED BY THE FREE STATERS.

The 'Sunningdale Agreement' was an attempt in 1973 by Westminster at a 'power-sharing' arrangement between the British political establishment and Irish 'civil-right' nationalists regarding the British-occupied six north-eastern counties of Ireland. The document was signed by British PM Edward Heath and Free State 'Taoiseach' Liam Cosgrave on the 9th December 1973 at Sunningdale Park Hotel in Berkshire, England, and spawned a 'power-sharing Northern Ireland Executive' and a cross-border 'Council of Ireland', both of which were rejected by the then republican movement (but which were accepted by the UUP, the SDLP, Free State Labour Party and the Alliance Party) and, indeed, the whole set-up collapsed within a year and 'direct rule' from Westminster was imposed.

When, 25 years after Sunningdale (ie in 1998) a similar half-way-house treaty was being promoted by the political establishments in this country and England and by the Provisional organisation, the republican leadership here again spoke out about yet another bad treaty - "...the great unanswered question before history is why did Paisley on the one hand and the present Provo leadership on the other not accept and work the Sunningdale Agreement of 1973 which offered more and for which less was to be paid than the 1998 Belfast Agreement? Did we, as a people, have to endure 25 years more of sacrifice and suffering until both elements were poised to divide the major share of the spoils of office between them...when the Framework Documents were issued in 1995 (what) Irish people were facing was a repeat of Sunningdale with the Provos on board this time. Indeed, the British Prime Minister Edward Heath is reported as saying that "..the Good Friday Agreement was modelled on Sunningdale. But the present prime minister has never acknowledged that. He may even be ignorant of it for all I know. But obviously we know the people who were working out the new agreement went back over the whole of Sunningdale and more or less copied it." But the Stormont Deal was actually less than Sunningdale. The l973 Agreement provided for an evolving Council of Ireland while the 1998 accord contains the possibility of merely cross-border bodies which would be responsible to the New Stormont and cannot grow and develop without the permission of that Unionist-dominated assembly. Further, the 26-County State has paid more for the Stormont Agreement than it did for Sunningdale. Articles 2 and 3 of the 1937 Constitution were not given away in 1973; in 1998 they were and the nationalist people of the Six Occupied Counties were reduced – in the eyes of the 26-County State – to the level in rights of people with one Irish grandparent living as far away as Australia or New Zealand..."

The republican position, then as now, can be summed-up in the words of Seán MacDiarmada - "We bleed that the nation may live. I die that the nation may live. Damn your concessions, England; we want our country."





ON THIS DATE (9TH DECEMBER) 58 YEARS AGO : UNITED IRISHMEN, THE LONDON TIMES AND POLITICAL ACTORS...

The following article was published in 'The United Irishman' newspaper in January 1958 - 'An article in 'The London Times' newspaper of December 9th, 1957, entitled 'Actors In The Political Scene', stated : 'The country families of the North of Ireland, after surrendering control to the captains of industry for a long period , are well established in the present government.' There, perhaps, is the key to the whole situation : the 'lords of land' and the 'barons of industry' who together make up the Tory-Unionist Ascendancy, the 'master-minds' with Britain's Tories, of the anti-freedom struggle in Ireland. These are the 'gentry' who imposed their views on the Orange rank-and-file under the guise of religion - the ones who stand to lose most by separation from Britain. It is those gentlemen who act as Britain's puppets in Ireland : even those who consider themselves as 'left-wingers' can be enticed to forget where they came from.

In a fit of pitiful pleading, David Bleakley stated : "It is an anachronism that an economically insecure Northern Ireland should exist in the midst of an industrially thriving British community. Ulster's labour force is ready, anxious and able to work its way through to prosperity. All it asks is to be given the tools and the jobs." He should have said that the whole concept of Occupied Ireland is an anachronism - that the only way we can all 'work our way through to prosperity' is by first winning vocational independence and driving British imperialism from our land. That would be wisdom but one does not expect wisdom for Ireland in the columns of 'The London Times' newspaper...'

The word 'anachronism' ('something [such as a word, an object, or an event] that is mistakenly placed in a time where it does not belong in a story, movie, etc/ a person or a thing that seems to belong to the past and not to fit in the present..') is apt when describing the continuing military and political occupation of part of Ireland by Westminster, but unfortunately it's not only in the columns of English newspapers that such wisdom is absent. We have, and always have had, our 'Times' readers here, too.





ON THIS DAY NEXT WEEK (WEDNESDAY 16TH DECEMBER 2015).....

...we won't be posting our usual contribution, and probably won't be in a position to post anything at all ; this coming weekend (Saturday/Sunday 12th/13th December 2015) is spoke for already with a 650-ticket raffle to be run for the Cabhair organisation in a venue on the Dublin/Kildare border (work on which begins on the Tuesday before the actual raffle) and the 'autopsy' into same which will take place on Monday evening 14th in RSF Head Office on Parnell Street in Dublin and then it's straight back to the preparations for the Cabhair Christmas Swim, which is the 39th successive such event. Our next 'normal' (!) post will be on Wednesday 23rd December 2015, although if anything grabs our attention between this and then we might do a 'ghoster' - but it would wannabe good!

Thanks for reading, Sharon.






Wednesday, December 02, 2015

THIS FREE STATE CAREER POLITICIAN IS ON €1989 A WEEK AND HAS 7 'ASSISTANTS' IN HIS OFFICE!

POW PICKET TO BE HELD AT 12.45PM, GPO, DUBLIN, ON SATURDAY 5TH DECEMBER 2015.

As the bureaucrats, speculators and presidents alike,

Pin on their dirty, stinking, happy smiles tonight,

The lonely prisoner will cry out from within his tomb,

And tomorrow’s wretch will leave its mother’s womb!
(Bobby Sands, from here.)

An hour-long picket in support of Irish republican POW's will be held at the GPO in O'Connell Street, Dublin, on Saturday 5th December 2015, starting at 12.45pm. All genuine republicans welcome!







PROSE AND CONS.

By prisoners from E1 Landing, Portlaoise Prison, 1999.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS :

Grateful thanks to the following for their help, support, assistance and encouragement, and all those who helped with the typing and word processing over the past few months. Many thanks to Cian Sharkhin, the editor of the book, Mr Bill Donoghue, Governor, Portlaoise, Mr Seán Wynne, supervising teacher, the education unit in Portlaoise Prison and the education staff, especially Zack, Helena and Jane. Education officers Bill Carroll and Dave McDonald, Rita Kelly, writer, print unit, Arbour Hill.

First Print : November 1999, reprinted March 2000, illustrations by D O'Hare, Zack and Natasha. Photograph selection : Eamonn Kelly and Harry Melia.

PUNISHMENT CELL.

One more sleepless night to go

as the rain pours down

onto the roof,top block

into the gutter down

the half broken drainpipe

the rain comes gushing through

my broken window.



Thunder and lightening

shaking and frightened

I see my reflection

in the water on the floor.



I stand naked

on the stripped bare bed

in the dark basement : cell number 13.


John Doran.

(Next : 'Caring Person'. )







IS PEACE SAFE WITH ANDREWS....?

Where politics once stagnated, events in Northern Ireland now chase each other helter-skelter. As 'Magill' went to press, a new joint government document turned recent perceptions head over heels. Fionnuala O'Connor charts the doubts behind the instant reactions. From 'Magill' magazine, February 1998.

A man known for the moderation of his language says - "Bertie Ahern's channel to David Trimble, alongside Trimble's access to Blair, that's damaged the possibility of building up the talks themselves. Trimble loves this notion of the three prime ministers in conclave. Why would he lower himself to negotiate at Stormont when a prime minister and a taoiseach are his to command?"

British and Irish ministers together emphasised that these were merely propositions for 'heads of agreement', an agenda rather than a blueprint. It took several days for Sinn Féin disquiet to emerge in detailed form, echoed in an IRA statement with an ominous ring. This stated baldly that "...yet another British prime minister had succumbed to the Orange card.." , that the document was not a basis for a lasting peace settlement and that "meaningful inclusive negotiations" were crucial, with the implication that these had been blocked off.

SDLP negotiating strategy demands at least a public show of approval for anything Dublin has jointly signed whereas Sinn Féin is more openly disappointed. After the obstruction they saw in John Major, the SDLP and Sinn Féin alike accept that Tony Blair's Labour government decided to go with the peace process as defined for them by Dublin : that is, to test the proposition that this could end violence and deliver a stable settlement. Blair's policy has caused tremors - his "no united Ireland in the lifetime of the youngest person in this room"-remark , Mo Mowlam's visit to the UDA. Northern nationalists never imagined that the weakest link in the process might turn out to be an Irish government led by Fianna Fáil.

"It could be that they underestimated Adams's objections before they finally signed up to these heads of agreement. It could be that this was purely intended to kickstart negotiations. That's the best interpretation possible. That's what the SDLP profess to believe, though I don't think they do," says the veteran observer. He wonders again why Bertie Ahern was not better advised, if not by officials then by someone like John Hume. (MORE LATER.)







1916 - WHAT DID IT MEAN FOR IRISH WOMEN?

By Ursula Barry.

. What is there for women in Ireland to commemorate in 1916? Did the 1916 Proclamation and the subsequent 'Democratic Programme of the First Dáil' contain radical or revolutionary statements on the position of women in Irish society that were later betrayed or sold out in the process of establishing the Free State?

From 'Iris' magazine, Easter 1991.

Certainly it is true that the 1916 Proclamation called for a radical democratic republic based on principles of equality and justice with a national government "...representative of the whole people of Ireland, and elected by the suffrages of all her men and women..the republic guarantees religious and civil liberty, equal rights and equal opportunities to all its citizens, and declares its resolve to pursue the happiness and prosperity of the whole nation and all of its parts, cherishing all the children of the nation equally, and oblivious of the differences carefully fostered by an alien government, which have divided a minority from the majority in the past." Hannah Sheehy-Skeffington, a major feminist activist, was to be one of five members of the Provisional government to be set up once the rebellion was victorious.

Three years later, the 'Democratic Programme' of the First Dáil (where Constance Markievicv followed Alexandra Kollontai in the Soviet Union as the second female national public representative) asserted its commitment to "...the principles of liberty, equality and justice for all.." and declared that "...the duty of the nation (is) to assure that every citizen shall have opportunity to spend his or her strength and faculties in the service of the people (and) the right of every citizen to an adequate share of the produce of the nation's labour.." Very little of this kind of radical democratic republicanism was to survive amongst those who shaped the Free State over the following decades. (MORE LATER.)







WHAT'S MY JOB? €1989 A WEEK TO HIRE MORE ASSISTANTS!?

'...then there are the expenses. MEPs are refunded the cost of travel upon provision of a receipt, and are also entitled to a fixed allowance based on the distance and duration of the journey (including to the airport, etc, for the flight) but there’s no information about the allowance. Is it €1 or €10, and how is it verified and is it tax-free? Added to this is the tax-free, €4,243 for ‘travel’ to meetings within member states. But that’s not all. There is also the tax-free, €304 per day to cover the 'cost' of accommodation and lunch, which is €152 a day when outside the EU, with travel and hotel costs paid directly....' (from here.)

And now, it transpires, some MEP's have more 'assistants' (the minimum wage for whom, as set by the parliament in Brussels and paid by us taxpayers, is €750 a week!) than they must surely know what to do with. Nessa Childers ('Independent', ex-State Labour Party) , for instance, has 3 full-time assistants, Mairéad McGuinness (Fine Gael) has 5, as has Luke Flanagan, ('Independent') and Provisional Sinn Féin's Matt Carthy, who is obviously busier than his above-mentioned colleagues, has 7 (6 of whom are based in Ireland, the other one is in the bank vault that is the Brussels parliament)!

Incidentally, MEP's have agreed a rather tasty redundancy package for themselves - in their first year of 'retirement' they will receive 60% of their salary, 45% in their second year and 30% in their third year. We only hope their poor assistants will be looked after just as well. But no, on second thoughts, we don't - because we taxpayers will have to foot that bill, too.





ON THIS DATE (2ND DECEMBER) 38 YEARS AGO : ESCAPED IRA LEADER CAPTURED AFTER 50 MONTHS ON THE RUN.



In March 1973, IRA leader Joe Cahill was arrested by the Free State Navy in Waterford, aboard the Claudia, a ship from Libya loaded with five tons of weapons, and was sentenced to three years imprisonment, and another IRA leader, Seamus Twomey (pictured, right), was appointed IRA Chief of Staff. In early October that year, Twomey was caught and arrested by the Free Staters and imprisoned in Mountjoy Jail, which meant that three top IRA operatives (Twomey, J.B. O'Hagan and Kevin Mallon) were now housed in the one location - and the IRA wanted them back!

An 'American businessman', a 'Mr. Leonard', approached the manager of the 'Irish Helicopters' company at Dublin Airport and discussed hiring a helicopter for an aerial photographic shoot in County Laois and, after being shown the company's fleet of helicopters, this 'businessman' booked a five-seater Alouette II helicopter for October 31st. 'Mr Leonard' arrived at Irish Helicopters on the day and was introduced to the pilot of the helicopter, a Captain Thompson Boyes, who was instructed to fly to a field in Stradbally, County Laois, to pick up photographic equipment.

After landing, the pilot saw two armed and masked men approaching the helicopter from nearby trees and he was held at gunpoint and told he would not be harmed if he followed instructions. 'Mr Leonard' left the area with one gunman, while the other gunman climbed aboard the helicopter armed with a pistol and an Armalite rifle. Captain Boyes was told to fly towards Dublin following the path of railway lines and the Royal Canal, and was ordered not to register his flight path with Air Traffic Control. As the helicopter approached Dublin, Boyes was informed of the escape plan and instructed to land in the exercise yard at Mountjoy Prison.

On Wednesday, 31st October 1973, at 3.40pm in the afternoon, the Alouette II helicopter landed in the 'D Wing Exercise Yard' of Mountjoy Prison in Dublin, when a football match was taking place between the prisoners, and Twomey, O'Hagan and Mallon jumped aboard, but were quickly spotted (!) by an alert (!) prison screw who used his training and power of intuition to take immediate action - he *called on the screws at the gate to close them over as he feared the helicopter was trying to escape (*according to the RTE 'Scannal - Prison Break' programme!). Another IRA prisoner who was in the yard at the time recalled how an embarrassed screw told him that he had apologised to the prison governor in relation to the incident, saying that he thought the helicopter contained a visiting (Free State) Minister for Defence (and well-known publican) Paddy Donegan : the IRA prisoner replied that , in fact, "...it was our Minister of Defence leaving...!"

All three men reported back to the IRA and continued their work for the Movement but, after a few weeks of freedom, Kevin Mallon was recaptured at a GAA Dance in the Montague Hotel in Co. Laois on 10th December 1973, J.B.O'Hagan was recaptured in Dublin in early 1975 and Seamus Twomey managed to remain uncaptured until December 2nd, 1977 - 38 years ago on this date - after the Special Branch came across him in a 'suspicious car' parked in Sandycove, in Dublin. He had managed to evade the forces of 'law and order', North and South, for fifty months, despite been hunted by the best that Leinster House and Westminster could throw at him!





ON THIS DATE (2ND DECEMBER) 44 YEARS AGO : THREE IRA PRISONERS JOIN NINE OF THEIR COMRADES!

Crumlin Road Jail, Belfast (pictured, left) - known for its good quality bed sheets...

In November 1971, there were more than 700 IRA prisoners being held in Crumlin Road Jail in Belfast, with at least the same number again 'housed' in Long Kesh and other prisons. All had access to an exercise yard and, in Crumlin Road Jail, the escape committee decided to use that yard as part of their plan to free three of their number - Martin Meehan, Anthony 'Dutch' Doherty and Hugh McCann. The plan was for the three men to hide themselves under a sewer manhole in about two feet of water, which they did - on the 2nd December 1971, 44 years ago on this date - for about five hours. As luck would have it, when they eventually let themselves out, a thick fog had settled in the area, giving good cover. They ran for the prison wall and, using bed sheets which they had roughly fashioned into a rope ladder, with a home-made 'hook' tied to the top of the 'ladder', they managed to scale the wall. Within hours, Martin Meehan and Hugh McCann were in a safe house in the Free State and their comrade, Anthony Doherty - who stayed in Belfast following the escape - joined them two weeks later.

Incidentally, on the 17th November 1971 - about two weeks before the above-mentioned 'rope ladder' escape - nine other IRA prisoners had also escaped from that same prison with the use of rope-ladders! The nine were Thomas Kane, Seamus Storey, Bernard Elliman, Danny Mullan, Thomas Fox, Tom Maguire, Peter Rogers, Christy Keenan and Terrence 'Cleaky' Clarke and all of them escaped in two cars which were waiting for them on the near-by Antrim Road. To add further to the distress caused to the then British 'Home Affairs Minister', Brian Faulkner, and his side-kick, 'Sir' Edmund Compton ("...torture would never happen in a British jail..") by those jail breaks, they were referenced in a popular song of the time -

OVER THE WALL.

In Crumlin Road Jail all the prisoners one day

took out a football and started to play,

and while all the warders were watching the ball

nine of the prisoners jumped over the wall!



Over the wall, over the wall,

who would believe they jumped over the wall?

over the wall, over the wall,

It's hard to believe they jumped over the wall!



Now the warders looked on with the greatest surprise

and the sight that they saw brought tears to their eyes,

for one of the teams was not there at all

they all got transferred and jumped over the wall!



Now the governor came down with his face in a twist

and said "Line up those lads while I check out me list,"

but nine of the lads didn't answer at all

and the warder said "Please Sir, they're over the wall."



The 'security forces' were shook to the core

so they barred every window and bolted each door,

but all their precautions were no use at all

for another three prisoners jumped over the wall!



Then the news reached old Stormont, Brian Faulkner turned pale

when he heard that more men had escaped from his jail,

said he - "Now we'll have an enquiry to call, and we'll get Edmund Compton to whitewash the wall."






ON THIS DATE (2ND DECEMBER) 95 YEARS AGO - QUESTIONS IN WESTMINSTER RE 'ESCAPING' IRISH PRISONERS BEING SHOT BY BRITISH FORCES IN IRELAND ARE SIDE-STEPPED.

Ireland, 1920 : a flavour of the chaos inflicted here by the British political and military presence : in January that year, the 1st Cork Brigade of the IRA captured Carrigtwohill 'Royal Irish Constabulary' (RIC) barracks, in February the 'Home Rule Bill' was published, in which Westminster voiced its intention to establish a 128-member 'parliament' in Dublin and a 52-member 'parliament' in Belfast despite knowing, from previous partition experiments, that two 'parliaments' in one country was a receipe for political disaster, Sinn Féin Lord Mayor of Cork, Tomás Mac Curtain, was murdered in his house by British forces in March, in April a hunger-strike began in Mountjoy Prison in Dublin by IRA prisoners who were demanding POW status, in May that year forty IRA prisoners who were on hunger-strike in Wormwood Scrubs in London, England, were released and in June an armed British militia in Ireland, the RIC, got the go-ahead from Westminster to'officially' shoot republicans dead.

In July 1920, those deemed not fit for the regular British forces in Ireland were given a new home in the 'ADRIC' ('Auxiliary Division Royal Irish Constabulary') and in August Terence MacSwiney went on hunger-strike in Brixton Prison in England. In September the 'Black and Tans' destroyed more than fifty properties in Balbriggan town in Dublin, a British militia, the 'USC', was established in October, in November fourteen British spies were executed in Dublin by the IRA and in December 1920 Westminster declared 'Martial Law' in Cork, Kerry, Limerick and Tipperary.

Questions re 'the Irish situation' surfaced occasionally in the grand halls of Westminster and, on the 2nd December 1920 - 95 years ago on this date - the following exchange took place in that venue but was dismissed by the chairperson as 'the wrong question having been asked' :

Lieut-Commander KENWORTHY asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland how many prisoners in Ireland have been shot dead while trying to escape, according to police reports, up to the end of November of this year and during the present year; how many have been wounded; and how many of these were handcuffed at the time of their death or wounding?

Mr. GALBRAITH asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland what is the total number of persons who have been shot at in Ireland when attempting to escape from custody; and how many of such persons have been wounded and killed, respectively?


Mr. HENRY : According to the police reports the number of prisoners fired at while attempting to escape from custody within the period from 1st January to 30th November, 1920, is 11. Of these nine were killed and two wounded. One of the prisoners killed and one of those wounded are stated to have been handcuffed while attempting to escape.

Lieut-Commander KENWORTHY : Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that when the bodies have been given to the relatives that in many cases those men have been found to be riddled with bullets through the head: how does he think that men can try to escape from police lorries; and can he inform me if all these cases have been investigated by a court of inquiry?

Mr. HENRY : I must have notice of that question.

Mr. MacVEAGH : Can the Attorney-General say whether the figure he has quoted includes those shot dead on the allegation that they were attempting to resist arrest?

Mr. HENRY : The question put to me was as to the number of men shot whilst attempting to escape from custody.

Lieut-Commander KENWORTHY : Surely the right hon. and learned Gentleman can say whether there has been an inquiry into these cases, in view of the very serious allegations made and reported in the newspapers throughout the country?

Major O'NEILL : Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that when General Lucas was captured, the officer who was captured with him attempted to escape, and was shot by the Sinn Feiners?

Mr. MacVEAGH : Also does the right hon. and learned Gentleman know that when General Lucas was released he stated that he had been treated with the greatest consideration by his captors?

Mr. SPEAKER : We are getting a long way from the question on the Paper...

(HANSARD 1803–2005 ? 1920s ? 1920 ? December 1920 ? 2 December 1920 ? Commons Sitting ? IRELAND. ESCAPING PRISONERS [SHOOTING]. HC Deb 02 December 1920 vol 135 cc1410-1 1410.) (From here.)

That was 95 years ago and shows that those political defenders of British imperialism were as quick then as they are now to use obfuscation in an attempt to 'neutralise' an embarrassing situation. But Irish republicans had been fighting the British writ in Ireland centuries before the Westminster parliament was established and - no obfuscation here - will continue to do so, in one form and/or another, until they remove themselves, politically and militarily, from our country!

Thanks for reading, Sharon.