Wednesday, December 28, 2016



The weather at the swim site in Inchicore, Dublin, on Christmas Day last was dry and mild, but a bit stormy : and the weather at that outdoor event is all important, as it effects everything, from the number of on-lookers that might turn up to how well the crew can display the donated 'goodies' and, just as important, the overall atmosphere at the site. We were lucky this year, as the rain only started to fall at about 2pm, as the final check of the cleaned area was just finishing.

The crew arrived 'on site' at about 9.30am and, as always, 'walked' the swim site and surrounding area, checking for broken glass and other obstacles etc and then unloaded the gear - the display tables, the 'goodies', the music system, the flag and banners and the bags of turf and other materials for the fire, and began setting everything in place (they had regular 'tea breaks' which they think we don't know about, but sure that's allowed!) and, at about 11am, they took a(nother) well deserved 'break' as they double-checked everything. There was a less-than-usual physical State presence (the 'traffic cameras' were extremely active during the few hours on site!) and this no doubt contributed to the numbers of on-lookers and well-wishers who joined us for the full event or stood with us for a half-hour chat and a glass of 'lemonade' (!) and a bite to eat. Altogether, from start to finish, Cabhair catered for about fifty people, each of whom was made welcome and joined in the craic!

Anyway - here's a few pics from the day itself, finishing with a certain pic which the organisers would rather we not show (no peeping, now, work your way down to it...) and we hope they give a flavour of this event and, more so, perhaps encourage you to join in with us next year :

10am - setting out their stall.

10.45am - having a chat and the craic before the 'main event'!

"WHA'??! They expect us to actually GET IN the water...??"

"RIGHT! That's me done. Up against a bleedin' brick wall here...!"

Three in, three to go -

- "Thought the other three said they had warmed it up for us...?"

Alan does his infamous 'war dance' before he takes on the chilly water...

...and then wonders if he should just sit that one out...!

- "This is how I done the backstroke in there..."

Six brave lads, wondering if they had done enough to win a medal...

...and all delighted to discover that they had!

And that's almost it - we had a ball, raised a decent few quid for the Cabhair prisoners, maintained contact with old friends, made a few new ones and, hopefully, raised the on-going issue of the continuing (and unwanted) British political and military presence in Ireland with at least some of the passengers in the dozens of cars etc that slowed down to have a look at the wonderland that that part of the Grand Canal had been temporarily transformed into! And now for that forbidden (!) pic...

So that's how they've done it for the last forty years - BY CHEATING! - practically turning the 3rd lock into a sauna. For shame...!

And that's it for now and, indeed, for 2016. We'd like to think that we'll be back here next Wednesday, 4th January 2017, but we have the Dáithí Ó Conaill Commemoration in Glasnevin on Sunday 1st and then it's straight into preparations for a 650-ticket fund-raising raffle for the Dublin Executive of Sinn Féin Poblachtach, which will be held on the following Sunday (8th), so we'll play it by ear for the 4th. But go raibh maith agaibh a chairde for your support and your company during 2016 ; we wouldn't be here without ya! Slán go fóill anois...

Thanks for visiting - see ye all in the New Year! Sharon.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016


SWIM PACKS OUT (not in...!)

1,000 printed items of a republican nature (photographed, left) have been collated into different size 'packs' and distributed pub-to-pub and door-to-door in the 'Swim' area, notifying recipients of an event which will be 40-years-young on the 25th December next and which began 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 be keen to exploit. With that in mind, the team persevered - favours were called-in, guarantees were secured, provisions obtained and word dispatched to like-minded individuals in that part of Dublin. At the appointed time on the agreed day - 12 Noon, Christmas Day 1976 - a soon-to-be 40-years-young event was 'born' - the CABHAIR Christmas Day Swim is, thankfully, still going strong and will be, as mentioned, 40-years-young on December 25th next, an occasion which will be marked by a special presentation to each swimmer -

A '40th Anniversary' medal will be presented to each of the Cabhair swimmers on Christmas Day 2016.

We'll be at the 3rd Lock of the Grand Canal in Inchicore, Dublin, on Christmas Day, from about 10am until about 1pm and, if you're in the area, drop by and say hello, have a mince pie, pull a cracker or two, and have a glass of 'lemonade'. And if you're feeling rough and maybe haven't fully woke yourself up, we can help you with that :

A reluctant medal recipient!

Hope to see you at the 3rd Lock in Inchicore, Dublin , on Christmas Day 2016!


Fermanagh council offices
(pictured, left) issued the following statement on this date - 21st December - in 1921 : "We, the County Council of Fermanagh, in view of the expressed desire of a large majority of people in this county, do not recognise the partition parliament in Belfast and do hereby direct our Secretary to hold no further communications with either Belfast or British Local Government Departments, and we pledge our allegiance to Dáil Éireann."

Short, sharp, and to the point. And it was rightly seen by 'Sir' Richard Dawson Bates, the Stormont 'Minister for Home Affairs' (who was a solicitor by trade and was also Secretary of the 'Ulster Unionist Council', a position he had held since 1905) wasn't impressed. He had 'made his name' in that same year (1921) when, at 44 years of age, he ordered the RIC to close down the Offices of Tyrone County Council as he didn't like the way they were doing their business - that body had declared its allegiance to the rebel Dail Éireann (32 County body)! On the 6th December that year (1921), 'Sir' Bates seen to it that a 'Local Government (Emergency Powers) Bill' had been passed into 'law' ; that new 'law' stated that "...the Ministry, in the event of any of the local authorities refusing to function or refusing to carry out the duties imposed on them under the Local Government Acts, can dissolve such authority and in its place appoint a Commission to carry on the duties of such authority."

Bates instructed the RIC to ready themselves - he assembled a raiding-party and stormed the offices of Fermanagh County Council ; the building was seized, the Council Officials were expelled and the institution itself was dissolved. In the following four months (ie up to April 1922), Bates and his RIC raiding-party were kept busy ; Armagh, Keady and Newry Urban Councils, Downpatrick Town Commissioners, Cookstown, Downpatrick, Kilkeel, Lisnaskea, Strabane, Magherafelt and Newry No. 1 and No. 2 Rural Councils and a number of Boards of Poor Law Guardians had all been dissolved and pro-Stormont 'Commissioners' appointed to carry out their functions.

The people of those areas (ie the voters) were not asked their opinion on whether their council should be closed down or not, nor were they asked if they agreed with the 'appointment' of a new 'Commissioner' ; in all cases, the new 'boss' understood what his job was - to do as instructed by 'Sir' Bates and his bigoted colleagues in Stormont. In actual fact, the new 'Commissioner' for Armagh and Keady Councils, for instance, was a Colonel Waring, who later 'progressed' through the ranks to become a County Commandant of the 'B' Specials, an indication of the manner in which Westminster intended to 'govern' that part of Ireland - by destroying democratic institutions and imposing its own people and administrations in power in place of same, a scenario which it continues with to this day.


By prisoners from E1 Landing, Portlaoise Prison, 1999.


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.

SISTER CAOIMHÍN. (By Kevin Lynch.)

Always a big smile

a kind gesture or thought.

God on her side

she knows no limits.

In the face of intolerance

her face is tolerance.

In the face of retribution

her face is forgiveness.

Street-smart and wise

she wonders why!

Then only, child, how can I help

Ah, that's our sister, our angel,

she's one of our own.

(Next - 'The Team I Worship' , by Harry Melia.)


IRA Volunteer Ciarán Fleming (pictured, left); his body was found on the 21st December 1984 - 32 years ago on this date - '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 an undercover British Army (BA) unit and an Irish Republican Army (IRA) unit. His body (was) found in the river on 21st December 1984..' (from here.) His funeral was 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, mostly, 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 - advocates of British accommodation in Ireland.


The role of the trade union movement in Ireland in relation to the continued imperialist occupation of the North and to the foreign multi-national domination of the Irish economy - both north and south - remains an area of confusion for many people. John Doyle examines the economic policy of the 'Irish Congress of Trade Unions' (ICTU) and the general failure of the official Labour movement to advance the cause of the Irish working class, except in terms of extremely limited gains. From 'Iris' magazine, November 1982.

The economic 'boom' from the mid-1960's to the early 1970's not only massively expanded trade union membership but heightened workers' social and economic aspirations, a heightening which Irish capitalism could only partially accommodate , dependent as it was on cheap labour. The response of the ICTU was to identify as its objectives full employment, prosperity and due recognition of its own status.

The ICTU increasingly adopted a corporate approach to industrial negotiations, undermining the real militancy which was often present in local areas and at the level of individual unions.

Despite major strikes right through the 1960's, notably the 1962 bus strike, the 1964 building workers' strike, and the maintenance workers' dispute in 1969, and the influx of new (nationalist) forces into the public service unions in the Six Counties the ICTU, rather than fuelling this militancy, actively suppressed it.

The introduction of a two-tier picketing policy in 1970 and the practice of 'national wage agreements' and 'social contracts' during the decade, actually led to a decrease in the living standards of industrial workers of about 12% by the end of the 1970's , as compared to a real increase in the 1960's.



On the 21st December 1796 - 220 years ago on this date - a French Commander, General Louis-Lazare Hoche (pictured, left), who had sailed for Ireland with a fleet of 35 ships, arrived in Bantry Bay, Cork, on the south-west coast of Ireland, as that location was an ideal spot for the job in hand - to assist the Irish rebels in their fight against the British military and political presence in Ireland. The Bay is 26 miles long, 7 miles across and, at its deepest, 40 fathoms. There was about 15,000 fully-armed and experienced French fighting troops on board the fleet - the same men that had only recently proved their mettle in Europe and that were known as "the greatest revolutionary army in the world".

A storm at sea had separated the lead ship , with General Hoche on board , from the rest of the fleet, but a strong head-wind prevented any of the ships from landing their troops. The Bay itself was wide open, with no British troops to offer resistance, but the wind was growing in strength, and soon became a gale-force, which forced 20 of the great French ships out of the Bay and pushed them out to sea ; the other 15 ships attempted to move up the Bay but, it was later reported, they could only manage to move about 50 yards every 8 hours. By December 22nd, 1796, only about half of the fleet had entered the Bay and French Marshal Emmanuel Grouchy, the second-in-command, decided not to disembark as he had only 6,400 men and the storm would have made a landing hazardous : "England," said Wolfe Tone, "has not had such an escape since the Armada" and, years later, W.B. Yeats wrote that "John Bull and the sea are friends..." .

The high winds were mixed with squalls of sleet and snow, but still no notable British presence to face them had materialised in the area. But - so near and yet so far - the French were still unable to land. General Hoche's men were in Bantry Bay for a week and, by now, a small force of some 400 British troops from the Bantry area were on the beach, pretending to 'shape up' to the those at sea, safe in the knowledge that the French troops could not get at them - the British 'authorities' had apparently been 'tipped-off' about the French fleet by the 'landlord' who lived in the 'big house' at the head of Bantry Bay - this man was later awarded the title of 'Lord Bantry', by the British, for his loyal 'service to The Crown'. Wolfe Tone, who was on board the ship with General Hoche, wrote in near despair of the efforts to land the soldiers at Bantry Bay - "We are now, nine o'clock, at the rendezvous appointed ; stood in for the coast till twelve, when we were near enough to toss a biscuit ashore ; at twelve tacked and stood out again, so now we have begun our cruise of five days in all its forms, and shall, in obedience to the letter of our instructions, ruin the expedition, and destroy the remnant of the French navy, with a precision and punctuality which will be truly edifying."

The ships were being pulled and pushed by the continuing storm and were forced, one by one, to cut their anchor cables and allow themselves to be pushed out of the bay and forced back to sea again. They made sail for France, dejected, one and all. Ireland lost a good friend and skilled soldier when Lazare Hoche died of fever in 1797, in Wetzlar, Germany : more fleets were organised, notwithstanding the strain on military resources, as the new French Republic came under attack from so-called monarchs and emperors throughout Europe, including the British, who hadn't forgot about the lucky escape they had on those days in December 1796.



By Jim McCann (Jean's son). For Alex Crowe, RIP - "No Probablum". Glandore Publishing, 1999.

Biographical Note : Jim McCann is a community worker from the Upper Springfield area in West Belfast. Although born in the Short Strand, he was reared in the Loney area of the Falls Road. He comes from a large family (average weight about 22 stone!). He works with Tús Nua (a support group for republican ex-prisoners in the Upper Springfield), part of the Upper Springfield Development Trust. He is also a committee member of the 'Frank Cahill Resource Centre', one of the founders of 'Bunscoil an tSléibhe Dhuibh', the local Irish language primary school and Naiscoil Bharr A'Chluanaí, one of the local Irish language nursery schools.

His first publication last year by Glandore was 'And the Gates Flew Open : the Burning of Long Kesh'. He hopes to retire on the profits of his books. Fat chance!

The screws looked over at Seán and said "Well...?" "Well what?" said Seán. "What did the Germans say to you?", asked the screw. "I can't tell you," said Seán. "Ye can't tell us? Why not?" asked the screw. "It's impossible, I just can't..." "For fuck's sake," said the screw, "go on, tell us. I don't want to be here all day." "That's too bad, mate," said Seán, "but I can't help you." "Could you not even give us a clue?" pleaded the screw. "No chance," answered Seán.

The door of the reception opened and a Senior Officer (S.O.) entered the room : "Why are them bastards out of their cubicles?" , he asked. "It's these two Germans, Sir..." replied one of the screws, "..we can't find out anything about them and these guys were giving us a hand.." "And what have you found out?", asked the S.O. "This bastard here.." said the screw, pointing to Seán, "..was talking to yer man, the German, but he won't tell us what the German said.." "Why not? What's the big secret?", asked the S.O., looking at Seán. "There is no big secret," replied Seán. "Then why won't you tell them what he said?", demanded the S.O. "I've told bucky-beard here four times aleady - I can't tell you because I haven't a clue what they said..."

The screws were flabbergasted - "But you told me you could speak German..." "...and so I can.." said Seán, "..but it's the same as the stuff you were asking him at the start.." - and, with that, the Germans busted out laughing - "..but you didn't ask me how much I knew." (MORE LATER).


- this is our 'Almost Done'-piece for 2016 : we'll post a few Christmas Swim pics here before the end of the year (...a bit vague that, we know, but sure it's the time of the year that's in it..) and, as we probably won't get a chance later ('time of the year' etc!) we'll say a big 'Thank You / Go Raibh Maith Agaibh' to all our readers for their interest throughout the past year, and over all the other years (we've been here since 2002!) and we hope that ye will continue to come back to our wee corner of the web, where we have had about 170,000 visits since the 1st January last. Enjoy your Christmas and New Year break - stay healthy, hope you stay/become wealthy enough to survive in this greedy society and wise enough to realise that too much (of anything!) can be as bad as too little. Thanks again, agus slán go fóill anois.

Thanks for reading, Sharon.

Monday, December 19, 2016



During the 'emergency' mentioned above, a British minister instructed his paramilitary thugs to move against the local councils who were challenging the British writ..

Is the Cabhair Swim 'packing' in (or out...)? ....the British 'administration' in that part of Ireland instructed its paramilitary forces to reply to the opposition voiced by elected representatives and the councils they sat in...a street-smart and wise response to the intolerance suffered in Portlaoise Prison...this group degenerated from an opposer of British injustice to a paid enabler and supporter of same...'weather stops play' in this particular episode from Irish history...talking gibberish and having the craic at the screws expense in Long Kesh... MORE LATER - see you back here on Wednesday 21st December 2016...
Thanks for the visit, Sharon.

Wednesday, December 07, 2016



Austin Stack (pictured, left) was born on the 7th December, 1879 - 137 years ago on this date - in Ballymullen, Tralee, County Kerry and, at 29 years young, joined the 'Irish Republican Brotherhood' (IRB). At the time of the 1916 Rising, he was 37 years of age and was the commandant of the Kerry Brigade of the Irish Volunteers and was arrested, by the British, with Con Collins, on the 21st April that year while planning an attack on Tralee RIC Barracks in an attempt to rescue Roger Casement. He was court-martialed on the 14th June and sentenced to death, but this was commuted to twenty years penal servitude and he was released in the general amnesty of June 1917, and became active in the Irish Volunteers again. He opposed the Treaty of Surrender in 1921 (stating, during the debate on same - "Has any man here the hardihood to stand up and say that it was for this our fathers suffered, that it was for this our comrades have died in the field and in the barrack yard..") and took part in the subsequent Irish Civil War.

He was captured in 1923 and went on hunger strike for forty-one days before being released in July 1924. When Eamon de Valera founded Fianna Fail in 1926, Stack remained with Sinn Féin and was elected Secretary of that organisation, a position he held until his death. His health was shattered due to the number of prison protests and hunger strikes for political status that he undertook. In the 1918 general election, while a prisoner in Crumlin Road Jail in Belfast, he was elected to represent West Kerry in the First (all-Ireland) Dáil as an abstentionist Sinn Féin Member of Parliament. The British incarcerated him in Strangeways Prison in Manchester, from where he escaped in October 1919 and, during the 'Black and Tan War', as Minister for Home Affairs, he organised the republican courts which replaced the British 'legal' system in this country. He rejected the Treaty of Surrender in 1921 (stating, during the debate on same - "Has any man here the hardihood to stand up and say that it was for this our fathers suffered, that it was for this our comrades have died in the field and in the barrack yard..") and, following a short fund-raising/public relations tour of America, returned to Ireland to fight on the republican side in the Civil War.

In the general round-up of Irish republican leaders in April 1923 (during which Liam Lynch was shot dead by Free State troops) Stack, the Deputy Chief of Staff of the rebel forces, was arrested in a farmyard in the Knockmealdown Mountains in County Tipperary - this was four days after Lynch's death. Imprisoned in Kilmainham Jail in Dublin, he took part in the mass hunger-strike by republican prisoners in October 1923, which was his 5th hunger-strike in 6 years. Shortly after the end of that forty-one day hunger-strike, in November 1923, he was released with hundreds of other political prisoners, and he married his girlfriend, Una Gordon, in 1925. In April 1929, at forty-nine years of age, he entered the Mater Hospital in Dublin for a stomach operation. He never recovered and died two days later, on 27th April 1929. He is buried in the Republican Plot, Glasnevin Cemetery, in Dublin.

A commemorative pamphlet, entitled 'What Exactly is a Republican?' was issued in memory of the man - 'The name republican in Ireland, as used amongst republicans, bears no political meaning. It stands for the devout lover of his country, trying with might and main for his country's freedom. Such a man cannot be a slave. And if not a slave in heart or in act, he cannot be guilty of the slave vices. No coercion can breed these in the freeman. Fittingly, the question - 'What is a republican?' fails to be answered in our memorial number for Austin Stack, a man who bore and dared and suffered, remaining through it all and at the worst, the captain of his own soul. What then was Austin Stack, republican? A great lover of his country. A man without a crooked twist in him. One who thought straight, acted straight, walked the straight road unflinchingly and expected of others that they should walk it with him, as simply as he did himself. No man could say or write of him "He had to do it". That plea of the slave was not his. His duty, as conscience and love dictated, he did. The force of England, of the English Slave State, might try coercion, as they tried it many times : it made no difference. He went his way, suffered their will, and stood his ground doggedly, smiling now and again. His determination outstood theirs, because it had a deeper foundation and a higher aim. Compromise, submission, the slave marks, did not and could not exist for him as touching himself, or the Cause for which he worked and fought ,lived and died.'

Ireland had lost one of its best soldiers.


By prisoners from E1 Landing, Portlaoise Prison, 1999.


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.

YANKEY'S TOWN. (By Kevin Lynch.)

The fucking gardai are fucking keen

to fucking keep it fucking clean

the fucking pig's a fucking swine

who fucking draws the fucking line

at fucking fun and fucking games

the fucking kid's he fucking blames

are everywhere to be fucking found

anywhere in

The fucking scene is fucking mad

the fucking news is fucking sad

the fucking gear is fucking dirt

the fucking hash is fucking worse

the fucking people are fucking gas

they really make me fucking laugh

it fucking hurts to look around

every where in

The fucking train is fucking late

you fucking wait and fucking wait

you're fucking lost and fucking found

stuck in fucking

The fucking view is fucking cat

for fucking miles and fucking miles

the fucking babies fucking cry

the fucking flowers fucking die

the fucking food is fucking muck

the fucking drains are fucking fucked

the colour scheme is fucking brown

every where in

The fucking parties are fucking full

of fucking birds and fucking blokes

with fucking murder in their minds

a fucking bloke is fucking stabbed

waiting for a fucking cab

you fucking stay at fucking home

the fucking neighbours fucking moan

keep the fucking music down

this is fucking

The fucking cars are fucking fast

the fucking lads are fucking out

fucking harpo is about

the fucking fish is fucking old

the fucking chips are fucking cold

the fucking beer is fucking flat

the fucking gaffs have fucking rats

the fucking clocks are fucking wrong

the fucking days are fucking long

and it fucking gets you fucking down

that is fucking

(Next - 'Sister Caoimhín' , by Kevin Lynch.)


St. Columcille (aka 'St. Columba') is an Irish saint, monk and soldier who was born on the 7th December, 521 AD in Gartan, County Donegal - 1,495 years ago on this date - and is perhaps best known for his 'Book Battle' and for being responsible for a mass hunger strike in Ireland. Embarking on such a protest is part of a very ancient Irish tradition (although it might appear to be the case that James Connolly was the first to use it in 1913 as tool of political protest in 20th century Ireland) - fasting as a means of asserting one's rights when faced with no other means of obtaining redress is something that has been embedded in Irish culture from ancient times. Even when the ancient Irish law system, the Laws of the Fénechus, which we popularly called the 'Brehon Laws' from the word breitheamh (a 'judge'), were first codified in AD 438, the law relating to the troscad ('hunger strike'), was ancient.

The hunger striker gave notice of their intent and, according to the law tract Di Chetharslicht Athgabhála, if the person who is being fasted against does not come to arbitration and actually allows the protester to die, then the moral judgement went against them and they endured shame and contempt until they made recompense to the family of the dead person. If they failed to make such amends, they were not only damned by society but damned in the next world. They were held to be without honour and without morality.

The ancient Irish texts are full of examples of people fasting to assert their rights and shame powerful enemies into accepting their moral obligations. St Patrick is recorded to have done so according to the 'Tripartite Life of St Patrick' and, in the 'Life of St Ailbe', we found St Lugid and St Salchin carrying out ritual fasts to protest.

King Conall Dearg of Connacht fasted when he found his rights infringed, and the entire population of Leinster is said to have fasted against St Colmcille when he rode roughshod over their rights. The poet Mairgen mac Amalgado mac Mael Ruain of the Deisi fasted against another poet Finguine over an act of perceived injustice. The troscad continued in Irish law throughout the centuries until the English conquests proscribed the native law system and foisted English law on Ireland through a series of Acts between 1587 and 1613. Nevertheless, individual fasts against the cruelties of the English colonial administration are recorded several times over the subsequent years.

Saint Columcille ('Columba'), 'credited' (!) with spreading Christianity in what is today Scotland, died aged 76, in Iona, Scotland and, much like the 'Holy Men' of today, was not shy in claiming that (his) God was on his side -

'O God, wilt thou not drive off the fog,

which envelopes our number,

the host which has deprived us of our livelihood,

the host which proceeds around the carns!

He is a son of storm who betrays us.

My Druid, he will not refuse me,

is the Son of God, and may he side with me;

How grandly he bears his course,

the steed of Baedan before the host;

Power by Baedan of the yellow hair

will be borne from Ireland on him the steed.'


The role of the trade union movement in Ireland in relation to the continued imperialist occupation of the North and to the foreign multi-national domination of the Irish economy - both north and south - remains an area of confusion for many people. John Doyle examines the economic policy of the 'Irish Congress of Trade Unions' (ICTU) and the general failure of the official Labour movement to advance the cause of the Irish working class, except in terms of extremely limited gains. From 'Iris' magazine, November 1982.

The inevitable consequence for Irish workers, within an economy where the industrial base has expanded extremely artificially with over-weighted multi-national investment compared with 'home' industries, is that when the system turns nasty the political lessons which have not been learned will have to be learned in a far more vicious social classroom.

Given that the ICTU confines itself purely to economic and limited social demands, its recent track record is worthy of examination. In the late 1950's and 1960's capitalism in Ireland developed in a new way - the hitherto protectionist economic policies of the Free State were gradually abandoned, and following the Whitaker report (1958) and Seán Lemass's pro-American speech at the Fianna Fail ard fheis of 1962, the 26-counties were drawn increasingly under the shadows of international, not just British, industrial exploitation.

'Open Door' economic policies operated under both the Stormont and Leinster House regimes, coupled with the 're-unification' of the unions under the aegis of ICTU in 1959 and the growing 'respectability' of trade unions, led to the expansion of the industrial base by multi-nationals and to a rapid increase in the size of the industrial working class, who for the first time represented the largest section of employment. (MORE LATER).



By Jim McCann (Jean's son). For Alex Crowe, RIP - "No Probablum". Glandore Publishing, 1999.

Biographical Note : Jim McCann is a community worker from the Upper Springfield area in West Belfast. Although born in the Short Strand, he was reared in the Loney area of the Falls Road. He comes from a large family (average weight about 22 stone!). He works with Tús Nua (a support group for republican ex-prisoners in the Upper Springfield), part of the Upper Springfield Development Trust. He is also a committee member of the 'Frank Cahill Resource Centre', one of the founders of 'Bunscoil an tSléibhe Dhuibh', the local Irish language primary school and Naiscoil Bharr A'Chluanaí, one of the local Irish language nursery schools.

His first publication last year by Glandore was 'And the Gates Flew Open : the Burning of Long Kesh'. He hopes to retire on the profits of his books. Fat chance!

A group of six or so of us were standing looking on at the 'German sit-com' that was unfolding in front of us, when the prison screws suddenly became aware of our presence again, and one of them looked over at us. He seemed uncomfortable by our presence and said - "These fuckin' Germans over here stealing out of our shops and they can't even speak the lingo, typical eh?" "Maybe I can help you with your predicament", interjected a comrade called Seán, from Andersontown. "Can you speak any German, Mucker?" asked the screw. We looked at Seán in disbelief - "Is there something wrong with your head?", he was asked.

"Look", said Seán, "these screws have a job to do and it's hard enough without having to deal with or having to contend with situations like this," he said, as he winked at us. He walked over to the two Germans and said "Vas ist..." - the rest was unprintable. Because it was a German-sounding gibberish!

The talkative Germans knew exactly what was happening and embarked on this German diatribe which lasted about three minutes. While this was going on, Seán nodded knowingly and threw in a few 'ja's' and 'neins'. I don't know about the screws but we were very impressed - now and again, Seán would stop the Germans' flow with a question in German that always seemed to be the same question, which started with "Vas ist..." . One of the screws stood scratching his head while the other, who had no real interest in the proceedings, stood scratching his arse. "Jesus Christ, c'mon," said the head-scratcher, "we're going to be here all day. What in the name of Jesus are they talking about?" Seán pursed his lips with his finger and shushed the screw then, after about what was only three minutes but seemed like ten, Seán said "Auf wiedersehn" to the Germans and walked back to where we were standing... (MORE LATER).


Seán Hales (pictured, left),a brigadier in the Free State Army and a Cumann na nGaedhal member of the Leinster House administration, was shot in Dublin on December 7th, 1922 - 94 years ago on this date - as he left a Dublin hotel, having had lunch. The IRA had listed as targets all the elected reps who had voted for 'emergency legislation' authorising the executions of republicans. His companion, Pádraic Ó Máille, deputy speaker of the Free State parliament, was seriously injured, but still managed to get Hales into the car and drive to the nearest hospital, where he died. British soldiers in the immediate area attempted to engage the two IRA shooters but they made good their escape. Ó Máille was an elected representative for Sinn Féin from 1918 to 1921 and was active in the IRA in the Galway region, but supported the 'Treaty of Surrender' in 1921 (he later left Cumann na nGaedhal, attempted to form his own party but then joined Fianna Fáil). Both were, at the time of the shooting, members of the Cumann na nGaedhal party which, in 1933, merged with smaller groups to form the 'Fine Gael' party (pictured here, in that same year).

'The actual killer, the playwright Ulick O'Connor was told in 1985, by Sean Caffrey, an ex-IRA Intelligence officer, was Owen Donnelly, from Glasnevin, "a rather girlish-looking, fair-haired fellow who had been a very good scholar in O’Connell Schools." "Who ordered him to do it?" I asked. "No one gave him an order," he said. "At that time the general orders issued by Liam Lynch were for anybody to shoot TDs or Senators if they could." He was in the main room of the Intelligence Centre when Donnelly came in shortly after the killing, on the afternoon of December 7, 1922. I asked Caffrey what was his reaction when he heard Sean Hales had been killed - "I was delighted," he said, and then gave a little chuckle, as if reminiscing over something which he particularly enjoyed. "Donnelly was carrying on the fight," he said. "There are no rules in war. The winner dictates the rules..." ' (from here.)

The reaction of the Free State administration was swift and ruthless : they announced their intention to execute four of the republican prisoners being held without charge or trial in Mountjoy jail and, the following morning (December 8th, 1922, at dawn) Dick Barrett, Rory O'Connor, Liam Mellows and Joe McKelvey were summarily executed by firing squad in the yard of Mountjoy jail. The executioneers declared that the four men were executed " a reprisal for the assassination of Brigadier Seán Hales and as a solemn warning to those who are associated with them who are engaged in a conspiracy of assassination against the representatives of the Irish people.. (sic)"

The four men were the first of the Free State administration's executions of it's former comrades and drew condemnation from, among others, Thomas Johnson, the then leader of the State Labour Party : "Murder most foul as in the best it is - but this (is) most foul, bloody and unnatural. The four men in Mountjoy have been in your charge for five months..the Government of this country (sic) — the Government of Saorstát Eireann, announces apparently with pride that they have taken out four men, who were in their charge as prisoners, and as a reprisal for that assassination, murdered them. I wonder whether any member of the Government who has any regard for the honour of Ireland, or has any regard for the good name of the State, or has any regard for the safety of the State, will stand over an act of this kind..."

One of those who had 'regard for the honour of Ireland', at that time, anyway, was Tom Hales, one of Seán's brothers - Tom was in command of the IRA 'Flying Column' which attacked a Free State Army convoy at Béal na Bláth in West Cork on the 22nd August 1922, in which Michael Collins was killed, but he later dishonoured himself by becoming an active and vocal (elected) member of the Fianna Fáil party. If you have a half hour to spare, you could use it wisely by watching this 'YouTube' video concerning the Hales brothers and that particular period in our history.


An unusual 'On This Date' piece for us to post, but worthy of a mention, nonetheless - two months after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbour, which occurred on 7th December 1941 - 75 years ago on this date - a dentist named Lytle S. Adams from the town of Irwin, Pennsylvania, wrote to the President of the United States stating that he should be made aware that the Japanese were simply terrified of bats : on 9th February 1942, Franklin Delano Roosevelt passed the letter on to William Donovan with a cover note saying "This man is NOT a nut.."

No one checked out the 'bat theory' but, as it transpired, it was untrue. William Donovan, who made a name for himself as 'Mr. U S Intelligence', headed the 'Office of Strategic Services' (OSS), forerunner of the Central Intelligence Agency and, for the next several years, he organised the dropping of bats on Japan - sometimes the bats were just slung out of bombers, other times they were dropped by parachute! When you throw bats out of a plane at high altitude they freeze to death. We can find no record of what the Japanese thought of this carry-on, but wonder if they considered it to be 'manna from heaven...'!

'Developed by the United States during World War II, four biological factors gave promise to this plan. First, bats occur in large numbers (four caves in Texas are each occupied by several million bats). Second, bats can carry more than their own weight in flight (females carry their young—sometimes twins). Third, bats hibernate, and while dormant they do not require food or maintenance. Fourth, bats fly in darkness, then find secluded places (often in buildings) to hide during daylight. The plan was to release bat bombs over Japanese cities...' (from here.) So this 'Adam' was not actually the first 'Batman', then..!


...we won't be posting our usual contribution, and probably won't be in a position to post anything at all, next Wednesday, 14th December 2016. This coming weekend (Saturday/Sunday 10th/11th) is spoke for already with a 650-ticket raffle to be run for the Cabhair group 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 12th in a Dublin city centre venue and then it's straight back to the preparations for the Christmas Swim regarding which, by the way, four heavily-sponsored swimmers have been confirmed, with at least another two expecting to be cleared by the swim committee in the next week or so. We'll be back on Wednesday 21st December next, with what will probably be our second-last post for 2016. And we'll wish you a 'Happy Christmas' then, and hope that the lads and lassies looked after by Cabhair will have one, too!

Thanks for reading, Sharon.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016



Pat O'Donnell (pictured, left) was a member of the 'The Invincibles' ('Irish National Invincibles'), a 19th-century organisation which opposed, in arms, British interference in Ireland. He is best known for having assassinated the informer James Carey (aka 'James Power').

When Carey told on 'Skin the Goat',

O'Donnell caught him on the boat —

He wished he'd never been afloat,

The dirty skite!

It wasn't very sensible

To tell on the Invincibles —

They stood up for their principles

Day and night.

And you'll find them all in Monto, Monto, Monto

Standing up in Monto,

To you!

In November 1881, a group was formed in Dublin with the objective of "removing all the principal tyrants from the country" ; they called themselves 'The Irish National Invincibles' and, within a few months, they were to make world headlines. The group, consisting mainly of former Fenians, decided to announce their presence in a dramatic fashion - on May 6th, 1882, they assassinated two of Britains top officials in Ireland : Chief Secretary Lord Frederick Cavendish and Under Secretary Thomas F. Burke in the Phoenix Park in Dublin, just yards from the Viceroy Lodge. The British offered a reward of £1000 for information leading to the arrest of those responsible and put their top man in Dublin, Superintendent John Mallon of the 'G Division' of the Dublin Metropolitan Police, on the case. He arrested dozens of 'suspects' and repeatedly questioned those who were known to be in the Phoenix Park area that night, but to no avail.

Then, in November 1882, six months after the British lost their men, Superintendent John Mallon arrested a member of the Invincibles, Robert Farrell, and Mallon told him that they knew the identity of those that had carried-out the assassinations and advised Farrell to save himself - this was the same line that those previously arrested had been told but, unfortunately, Robert Farrell fell for it ; within weeks, twenty-six men were arrested. The 'G' man, John Mallon, needed additional witnesses and evidence to build a substantial case against the men and reverted to form - three of the twenty-six men (Michael Kavanagh, James Carey and his brother, Peter) turned informers. In April 1883, in Green Street Courthouse in Dublin, Judge O'Brien began to hear 'evidence' against thirteen of the men. Five of them - Joe Brady, Dan Curley, Michael Fagan, Thomas Caffrey and Tim Kelly - received the death sentence and the other eight men were sentenced to long periods of imprisonment (nineteen year-old Tim Kelly faced three 'trials' before eventually being convicted, the jury at the previous 'trials' having failed to agree on a verdict). Joe Brady, Michael Fagan, Thomas Caffrey, Dan Curley and young Tim Kelly were hanged in Kilmainham Gaol in Dublin between May 14th and June 4th, 1883.

One of the informers, James Carey, was shot dead on board 'The 'Melrose' off Cape Town, South Africa, on his way to Natal to 'begin a new life' with his wife and children, on July 29th, 1883, by Donegal-man Patrick O Donnell, who was caught and escorted back to Ireland ; his 'trial' (all two hours of it) was held at the 'Old Bailey' in London on the 30th November 1883 - 133 years ago on this date - in front of Judge George Denman, a Liberal politician known to be in favour of public executions. Pat O'Donnell was found guilty of 'wilful murder', despite having the best defence team that money could buy - his supporters had raised and spent about fifty-five thousand dollars on legal representation for him, but then, as now, the British wanted their 'pound of flesh'. And they got it on the 17th December 1883 when they executed Patrick O'Donnell.

My name is Pat O’Donnell I was born in Donegal

I am you know a deadly foe to traitors one and all

For the shooting of James Carey I was tried and guilty found

And now upon the scaffold high my life I must lay down.

I sailed on board the ship Melrose in August 1883

James Carey was on board the ship but still unknown to me

When I found out he was Carey we had angry words and blows

The villain swore my life to take on board the ship Melrose.

I stood a while in self defence to fight before I'd die

My loaded pistol I pulled out at Carey I let fly

I gave to him a second one which pierced him through the heart

I let him have a third volley before he did depart.

Then Mrs Carey came running up to the cabin where he lay

O'Donnell you shot my husband Mrs Carey she did say

O'Donnell you shot my husband Mrs Carey loud did cry

"I only stood in self defence kind madame", answered I.

The captain had me handcuffed and in strong irons bound

He gave me up as prisoner when we landed in Capetown

They turned me back to London my trial for to stand

And the prosecutors for the crown were Carey's wife and son.

To all the evidence they swore I said it was a lie

The jury found me guilty and the judge he did reply

"You'll never more see Erin's shore, O’Donnell, you must die"

On the 17th of December upon the scaffold high.

If I had been a free man could live another year

All traitors and informers I would make them shake with fear

Saint Patrick drove the serpents from the our holy sainted land

I'd make them run before me like the hare before the hound.

Farewell to dark old Donegal the place where I was born

And likewise to the United States which ne'er was known for scorn

And twice farewell to old
Gráinne Mhaol with her fields and valleys green

For never more around Erin's shore Pat O'Donnell will be seen.

That British show trial began on this date - 30th November - 133 years ago.


By prisoners from E1 Landing, Portlaoise Prison, 1999.


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.

THE CRIER. (By Kevin Lynch.)

Morning is beautiful

as the rays of sunlight shine in the window.

It's great to be alive I say

I don't even notice the bars.

I open the cell door

I'm just half way down the landing to slop-out.

I see the crier, his face is hard with thought

Oh no, I think, but then I make the effort.

A very good morning to you...?

What's good about it and who's on the phone next?

The porridge is too lumpy and the fucking water's too cold.

All his days were wet ones

and all his thoughts were sad.

And any time you meet him

you would regret you had.

He'd depress you drip by drip

and leave you feeling low.

He is a wet day man

and always will be so.

(Next - 'Yankey's Town', by Kevin Lynch. [NOTE : if you're offended by 'bad language', then don't read this poem...!] )


'...he had drunk an estimated 42,000 bottles of Pol Roger champagne through his life ; he thought nothing of starting the morning with cold game and a glass of hock and ending it at 3am with the best part of a bottle of cognac..' (from here) : 'Sir' Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, KG, OM, CH, TD, PC, DL, FRS, RA, was born in Oxfordshire, England, on this date, 30th November, 142 years ago, and evolved from a little pup into a pugnace britannicii, becoming top dog in British politics twice (1940 to 1945 and again from 1951 to 1955). During the 1921 'Treaty of Surrender' discussions it was the then British 'Colonial Secretary to Ireland', Winston Churchill, who maneuvered a friend of his, South African Judge Richard Feetham into the position of 'Chairman' of said meetings, even though Churchill himself described that particular 'talking shop' as a "toothless body". Still - no harm to have its 'Chairman' in your pocket, an old British custom, practiced to this day.

But, drunk or sober, when he was on 'empire business', he himself was anything but 'toothless' '..a man who swilled on champagne while 4 million men, women and children in Bengal starved due to his racist colonial policies...a white supremacist whose hatred for Indians led to four million starving to death - "all who resist will be killed without quarter" because the Pashtuns need "recognise the superiority of race" - the man who loathed Irish people so much he conceived different ways to terrorise them, the racist thug who waged war on black people across Africa and in Britain...he found his love for war during the time he spent in Afghanistan ("we proceeded systematically, village by village, and we destroyed the houses, filled up the wells, blew down the towers, cut down the great shady trees, burned the crops and broke the reservoirs in punitive devastation..."(from here). Yes, indeed - men like Churchill made Britain 'Great', as in that that country has done (and continues to do) some 'great' harm on the world stage.


The role of the trade union movement in Ireland in relation to the continued imperialist occupation of the North and to the foreign multi-national domination of the Irish economy - both north and south - remains an area of confusion for many people. John Doyle examines the economic policy of the 'Irish Congress of Trade Unions' (ICTU) and the general failure of the official Labour movement to advance the cause of the Irish working class, except in terms of extremely limited gains. From 'Iris' magazine, November 1982.

Speaking about the basic principles for workers vis-a-vis capitalism, James Connolly wrote - "The real battle is the battle being fought out to control the number of those workers who enrol themselves in an industrial organisation with the definite purpose of making themselves masters of the industrial equipment of society in general."

But there is very little of Connolly in the practice of today's trade unions, as locked within a capitalist vision of development they fight only, and even at that meekly, not for control but for a share. A share which, although it has increased proportionately since 1894-1913, has been given by a subtle Western capitalism, not taken by an assertive working class.

As Michael Peillon says, the workers' movement has advanced no rationality as an alternative to the irrationalities of capitalism. Given that absence of political perception it is not even bureaucratic trade union leadership that prevents movement forward to Connolly's revolutionary socialism, but the lack of ideology and its necessary practice. (MORE LATER).


On the 16th October, 1854, a boy was born to a middle-class family who lived at Westland Row, Dublin : the child's father 'Sir' William Wilde, was a doctor and his wife, who was known to be 'unconventional' for the times that were in it - Jane Francesca Agnes (née Elgee aka 'Lady' Wilde) - was a poet who mixed in artistic and intellectual circles, and was left-leaning in her political beliefs. The child was christened 'Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde' : Oscar Wilde.

Oscar was educated in Trinity College in Dublin and then in Magdalen College in Oxford, England, and won a 'double-first' in 'Mods' (one of the hardest examinations ever devised!) and the Newdigate Prize for Poetrty but, nonetheless, had to revert to lecturing and freelancing for periodicals to make a living. However, he persevered and, in his mid-30's, made a name for himself with 'The Happy Prince', followed three years later with 'Lord Arthur Savile's Crime' and, in that same year, 'A House of Pomegranates'.

He then took the world by storm and ensured for himself a place at the top table of literary giants with his works Lady Windermere's Fan, A Woman of No Importance, An Ideal Husband and The Importance of being Earnest. But 'life' intervened - being, as Oscar Wilde was, a gay man in the Victorian era brought with it even more dangers than for a heterosexual who 'played the field' : his affair (and letters) to his boyfriend lead to him serving two years in prison, after which he wrote 'The Ballad of Reading Gaol' -

"Dear Christ! the very prison walls

Suddenly seemed to reel,

And the sky above my head became

Like a casque of scorching steel;

And, though I was a soul in pain,

My pain I could not feel."

('The Ballad of Reading Gaol', by Oscar Wilde, written after his release from Reading prison on 19 May 1897.)

When he was released (at 43 years of age, in 1897) he went into exile and died, three years later, in Paris, on the 30th November 1900 - 116 years ago on this date.



By Jim McCann (Jean's son). For Alex Crowe, RIP - "No Probablum". Glandore Publishing, 1999.

Biographical Note : Jim McCann is a community worker from the Upper Springfield area in West Belfast. Although born in the Short Strand, he was reared in the Loney area of the Falls Road. He comes from a large family (average weight about 22 stone!). He works with Tús Nua (a support group for republican ex-prisoners in the Upper Springfield), part of the Upper Springfield Development Trust. He is also a committee member of the 'Frank Cahill Resource Centre', one of the founders of 'Bunscoil an tSléibhe Dhuibh', the local Irish language primary school and Naiscoil Bharr A'Chluanaí, one of the local Irish language nursery schools.

His first publication last year by Glandore was 'And the Gates Flew Open : the Burning of Long Kesh'. He hopes to retire on the profits of his books. Fat chance!


The screw lifted the telephone and dialled a number : "Listen, Sir," he said, "I've got these two Germans here just brought in for shoplifting in Belfast city centre and they can't speak the English, like what me and you can. Do ye know what I mean, like?" The seemingly one-sided telephone conversation continued - "Yes, ok, right, do you think so? I'll try, fair enough, no trouble at all, Sir, sorry for taking up your time. How's your wife? Oh, did she? Sorry to hear that, Sir, nobody told me. And she took the car as well...?" He replaced the receiver. "Slap it up ya, where the fuck am I going to find an interpreter?" , he shouted aloud. I saw a momentary smirk on the face of one of the Germans. This could be interesting, I thought.

The screw's attempt to glean information from the Germans was going no where and then he was joined by one of his colleagues who, on hearing his mate's dilemma, sprang into action. This screw's efforts to question the Germans was even worse than his mates. At one stage he broke into a 'Allo Allo!' -type French accent as the Germans looked on, impassively.

In an effort to break the deadlock, the first screw started giving the Nazi salute and screaming "Ve hav vays of making you talk. If you do not answer our questions you vill be sent to the Russian Front..." and both screws laughed uncontrollably. This 'investigation' was going from the ridiculous to the Pythonesque. "I am from Lisburn," shouted the second screw, slowly and, as he spoke, he was gesticulating wildly with his hands, making shapes of houses and other types of buildings, like skyscrapers. I think. This struck me as strange, as there are no skyscrapers in Lisburn. "Ver are you from?" , he asked the Germans. No answer... (MORE LATER).


'On November 30th, 1835 (181 years ago on this date) the small town of Florida in Missouri witnessed the birth of its most famous son. Samuel Langhorne Clemens was welcomed into the world as the sixth child of John Marshall and Jane Lampton Clemens...approximately four years after his birth, in 1839, the Clemens family moved 35 miles east to the town of Hannibal. A growing port city that lay along the banks of the Mississippi, Hannibal was a frequent stop for steam boats arriving by both day and night from St. Louis and New Orleans. Samuel's father was a judge, and he built a two-story frame house at 206 Hill Street in 1844. As a youngster, Samuel was kept indoors because of poor health. However, by age nine, he seemed to recover from his ailments and joined the rest of the town's children outside. He then attended a private school in Hannibal. When Samuel was 12, his father died of pneumonia and, at 13, Samuel left school to become a printer's apprentice. After two short years, he joined his brother Orion's newspaper as a printer and editorial assistant. It was here that young Samuel found he enjoyed writing...'

And, since then, millions of people have enjoyed his writings - "Loyalty to country always. Loyalty to government, when it deserves it."

"Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect." And an Irish connection - 'Croker (NOT this one!) earned the undying wrath of (Samuel Langhorne Clemens) who in a mock eulogy to the Irish emmigrant got his facts wrong, but maybe not the tone, when he said "Yes, farewell to Croker forever, the Baron of Wantage, the last, and I dare say the least desirable, addition to English all-round blatherskite and chief pillager of the municipal till..." ' This is the wordsmith in question...!


"Burn everything English but their coal" - the 'Hibernian Patriot' [from the 'Drapier's Letters' collection], Jonathan Swift (pictured, left), an Irish author and satirist (perhaps best known for 'Gulliver's Travels' and for his position as dean of St. Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin) was born in Dublin on the 30th November 1667 - 349 years ago on this date. His father (from whom the 'Patriot' got his first name) was an attorney, but he died before the birth of his son. As if that wasn't misfortune enough, young Jonathan suffered from Meniere's Disease and, between the bill's mounting up and her sickly son, his mother, Abigail, found that she was unable to cope and the young boy was put in the charge of her late husband's brother, Godwin, a wealthy member of the 'Gray's Inn' legal society.

His position in St. Patrick's Cathedral ensured that he had a 'pulpit' and a ready-made audience to listen to him, an opportunity he readily availed of to question English misrule in Ireland - he spoke against 'Wood's Halfpence' and in favour of 'burning everything English except their coal' and, satirically, wrote a 'modest proposal' in which he suggested that poor children should be fed to the rich ('a young healthy child well nursed is at a year old a most delicious, nourishing, and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled..')!

In 1742, at 75 years of age, Jonathan Swift suffered a stroke, severely affecting his ability to speak, and he died three years later, on the 19th October, 1745. He was buried next to the love of his life, Esther Johnson, in St. Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin. "It is impossible that anything so natural, so necessary, and so universal as death, should ever have been designed by providence as an evil to mankind" - Jonathan Swift.

Thanks for reading, Sharon.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016



..they're made of sweat, determination, and a hard-to-find alloy called guts." (Dan Gable.)

The medals in the pic on the left are not gold, but they're going to be as hard-earned as if they were - the 25th December this year will witness the 40th successive CABHAIR fund-raising swim which, as always, will be held outdoors, regardless of the weather.

Cabhair supporters in the Kilmainham area of Dublin have gifted the above medals (inscription : 'Cabhair 40th Anniversary Swim : 1976 - 2016') to the local Cabhair committee to be presented to each of the swimmers on Christmas Day 2016 in recognition of the "sweat, determination and guts" it has taken all concerned - especially the swimmers - in having kept this event going since 1976. The lads and lassies in Kilmainham - stalwart supporters of this annual event - are to be thanked for this gesture of goodwill but, at the same time, they needn't come looking for an extra glass of 'lemonade' on the day...!


- that's our prediction in relation to the new children's hospital which is already under construction in the grounds of an existing infrastructurally-challenged Dublin hospital : "We have power to change this decision and make the right decision for the kids of this country, not just for this generation but for the next three or four generations. This children's hospital is supposed to last for 100 years. It can't. It won't be able to accommodate a maternity hospital on site and as a result of that, babies are going to die. This is wrong, wrong, wrong...many appallingly bad decisions have been made by successive governments over the last few decades which have cost us dearly - PPARS, voting machines, four instead of six lanes on the M50, the Red and Green lines of the Luas not connecting, Thornton Hall, etc...this new hospital is supposed to meet the needs of our sickest children from the whole of Ireland for the next 100 years. If we allow institutional politics to prevail by building on the St James's site, children's needs won't be met for even the next 10 years...the proposed hospital is as high and much longer than Croke Park ; this on a site that is already built on and will require major re-location of parts of the adult hospital, re-routing a major sewer at an estimated cost of €18m and causing major disruption for patients and staff...a ridiculous decision and a terrible mistake...the site is surrounded by very narrow single-lane streets which create significant problems for ambulance access.

The proposed parking provision would be the lowest of any recently built children's hospital anywhere in the world, significantly adding to parents' stress. If built at St James's, subsequent air pollution will exceed mandatory EU figures and the air quality guidelines of the World Health compelling clinical or planning reasons have ever been produced to support the choice of St James's - because none exist..." - Dr. Fin Breatnach, paediatrician.

'Ultimately, this was a political decision...' - from here. And, in our opinion, it was a decision taken by various members of the establishment in this State, political and business class, because they were bribed to arrive at that conclusion, as has happened here before. Once again, wealthy individuals in positions of authority have feathered their own nest at the expense of society and, by doing so, they have endangered the lives of children - not their own children, of course, as their kids will be helicoptered to the nearest private facility should the need arise - but the children of working-class and unemployed parents who themselves are constantly ripped-off by that greedy and shameless 'elite' and, as a mother of three children, I have experience of that. We'd guess that it will be at least a decade after the new entity has been squeezed into an already crowded and totally unsuitable space before the corruption involved comes to light but, by then, those responsible will have moved on - perhaps to Brussels or a private nursing home here or abroad - and no heads will roll, no compensation will be sought and nothing will have been learned. That's 'Free Statism' for ya.


By prisoners from E1 Landing, Portlaoise Prison, 1999.


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.

SWEET DREAMS. (By Kevin Lynch.)

All alone I dream of night time with you

a cold winter's night it is.

I see your face of beauty smiling like the sun

it warms me in this cold.

I see our house, our home

then I'm in our room.

In my mind nothing has changed

I see the picture on the wall

with the baby in the basket.

You have everything just right

the scented flowers in the dish on the dresser

and the water bottle in the bed.

As in life you have your side

and I have mine.

We slip under the covers

and entwine in each other's embrace.

You say your feet are cold

but nothing of you could be cold to me.

Then we settle

your head is on my chest.

With one arm and one leg across me.

It seems so natural, so right.

I haven't a care in the world

and everything is quiet.

We drift into a beautiful lovers sleep.

We are like dancers in the night

You turn and I turn with you

I turn and you turn with me

then we are still, moulded together

our spirit is one in the night.

Morning wakes us from our embrace

the soul of day is echoed in your face

I just lie and stare at you.

The dribbles on your cheek

and the look I love so much.

My hand reaches out to touch you

but you disappear. I wake up all alone again.

(Next - 'The Crier', by Kevin Lynch.)


And, yes, we are members of that rare breed - house owners. But it took us over twenty years to get there : we were in our late teens when we got married and took out a mortgage (with all that that entails ie financial hardship, no holidays, the extra money needed to rear three kids, a car held together with sellotape etc etc) and, as stated, it took us over twenty years to pay it back, but pay it back we did, ahead of schedule. Which, apparently, marks us out as a 'cash cow' as far as the politicians here are concerned, as we are being pursued by the taxman for a 'property tax' ie money 'owed' for owning our our home!

I've mentioned this 'property tax' scam before (see 'IF, WITHIN 14 DAYS FROM THE DATE OF THIS LETTER...', here) and we are in the same position regarding other double-taxes we 'owe' - the bin tax and the water tax, neither of which we will entertain or pay, for the same reason : the property that the political administration here is attempting to make us pay (twice!) for is a property which we bought ourselves over more than two decades and on which we owe no money, to anyone. We always paid the local council (through general taxation and VAT) to have our rubbish bins emptied but, to cut a long story short, the council 'sold' those bin routes to private operators who, obviously, seek payment from citizens for that service and they, the council, never reduced general taxation rates or VAT rates to take account of the changed situation. And likewise with the water tax issue.

And that, in a nutshell, is why we won't pay for them - because we don't believe in paying at least twice for any one service, but the State 'officials' looking for us to pay, again, for those services have been in touch with us, again, re 'accounts payable for property number ** *********', informing us, in a 'Notice of Estimate', that they intend to deduct said amount from our wages. So, here we go, again - that's my cue to notify the wages department in my job not to deduct any non-work related stoppages from my wages unless I agree to same in advance. As I said in the 'IF, WITHIN..' link, above, if nothing else I'll have the satisfaction of knowing that I didn't voluntarily allow them to rip me off, nor did I meekly hand over that money to them. Small comfort, I know, but when you're up against a powerful and corrupt goliath it simply has to be enough, sometimes, just to survive and walk away with peace of mind. And that's something they won't get off me.


The role of the trade union movement in Ireland in relation to the continued imperialist occupation of the North and to the foreign multi-national domination of the Irish economy - both north and south - remains an area of confusion for many people. John Doyle examines the economic policy of the 'Irish Congress of Trade Unions' (ICTU) and the general failure of the official Labour movement to advance the cause of the Irish working class, except in terms of extremely limited gains. From 'Iris' magazine, November 1982.

The balance between militancy and cynicism is one that pervades all layers of the trade union rank-and-file in Ireland. The militancy is just what could be expected from members of a national trade union organisation (ICTU) which represents 65% of insured workers in both parts of the country, and which has a history dating to 1894.

The cynicism of course derives from bitter experience of betrayal from the Congress leadership. The dissipation of the initially enormously militant PAYE demonstrations of recent years and the isolation, or exclusion, of militant unions (such as the busworkers' union, the NBU) from the ICTU umbrella, are classic examples of the trade union leadership acting to prevent disruption of its spineless conservatism.

Michel Peillon, a lecturer in sociology at Maynooth college, writing in his book 'Contemporary Irish Society ; An Introduction', clearly demonstrates that despite the ICTU's formal recognition of the exploitativeness of the capitalist system it nonetheless accepts the capitalist model of industrial development, as well as an industrial development policy based on the multi-national investment which is now predominant in the Irish economy.

Speaking at the Congess, Peillon says - "It daily pits itself against a bourgeoisie whose leadership it accepts. The trade unions, defensive associations operating within capitalism, by and large accept the industrial project of the bourgeoisie. They offer no serious alternative to the capitalist future of Irish society."

The fundamental failing of the Irish trade union movement can be seen in that, of the 90 unions affiliated to Congress (and those few outside its highly restrictive embrace), all confine themselves nearly absolutely to the role of 'gas and water socialism' warned against by James Connolly in his controversy with the Northern unionist/labour politician, William Walker (who, incidentally, died on this date - 23rd November - (at 47 years of age) 35 years ago).



"These Irish are really shocking, abominable people. Not like any other civilised nation..." - the words of Britain's 'Queen' Victoria, on hearing about the 'Manchester Outrage', as she called it. Her comments were replied to by one of the 'uncivilised Irish' people she was speaking about : "I will die proudly and triumphantly in defence of republican principles and the liberty of an oppressed and enslaved people..." - the words of 18-years-young William Allen, from Bandon, County Cork. The "outrage", as far as the British are concerned, anyway , began on the 11th September that year (1867) (....although, in reality, it began for us Irish in 1169) when, in the early hours of the morning of Wednesday, 11th September 1867, two men were arrested by police in Shudehill, Manchester, on suspicion that they were about to commit a robbery.

The two men were charged under the 'Vagrancy Act' and were detained in police custody, and it was then they were recognised (by fellow Irishmen in British police uniforms) as Colonel Thomas J.Kelly and Captain Timothy Deasy, two known Fenians. Their comrades in Manchester, which was the 'Bandit Country' of its day, vowed to free the two men and, on the 18th of September, 1867, as a prison van carrying the two men (and a 12-years-young boy, plus three female prisoners) was travelling on the Manchester to Salford road, on its way to 'deposit the cargo' in Belle Vue Gaol on the Hyde Road in Gorton, Manchester, accompanied by a team of 12 horse-mounted policemen, it was attacked by about 50 Fenians. Kelly and Deasy were handcuffed and locked in two separate compartments inside the van, guarded by a police sergeant, a Charles Brett, and, as such, were unable to assist their comrades outside.

The mounted police escort fled the scene on seeing the number of attackers but Brett was obviously unable to do so : the Fenian rescuers were unable to force open the van and advised Brett that it would be for his own good to open the doors and let the prisoners go. Brett refused the offer, and was looking through the keyhole to further assess his situation when one of the rescuers decided to shoot the lock apart - the bullet went through the keyhole and hit Brett in the head, killing him instantly. One of the female prisoners had the good sense to take the keys from his pocket and hand them out through an air vent to those outside, and Kelly and Deasy were taken to safety.

Twenty-six men were later arrested and tried for playing a part in the rescue, and five of them were detained to stand trial, on 1st November 1867, for their alleged part in what the British called the "Manchester Outrage" : all five were actually sentenced to be hanged, but one was granted clemency and another was 'pardoned' as the evidence against him was found to be perjured. The other three - William Allen, Michael O'Brien and Michael Larkin - the 'Manchester Martyrs', were hanged in front of thousands of baying spectators on Saturday, 23rd November 1867 - 149 years ago on this date - in Salford, Manchester, outside the New Bailey Jail. In an address to the court, William Philip Allen, 18, stated - "No man in this court regrets the death of Sergeant Brett more than I do, and I positively say, in the presence of the Almighty and ever-living God, that I am innocent ; aye, as innocent as any man in this court. I don't say this for the sake of mercy : I want no mercy — I'll have no mercy. I'll die, as many thousands have died, for the sake of their beloved land, and in defence of it."

"I will die proudly and triumphantly in defence of republican principles and the liberty of an oppressed and enslaved people. Is it possible we are asked why sentence should not be passed upon us, on the evidence of prostitutes off the streets of Manchester, fellows out of work, convicted felons — aye, an Irishman sentenced to be hanged when an English dog would have got off. I say positively and defiantly, justice has not been done me since I was arrested. If justice had been done me, I would not have been handcuffed at the preliminary investigation in Bridge Street ; and in this court justice has not been done me in any shape or form. I was brought up here and all the prisoners by my side were allowed to wear overcoats, and I was told to take mine off. What is the principle of that? There was something in that principle, and I say positively that justice has not been done me. As for the other prisoners, they can speak for themselves with regard to that matter. And now, with regard to the way I have been identified. I have to say that my clothes were kept for four hours by the policemen in Fairfield station and shown to parties to identify me as being one of the perpetrators of this outrage on Hyde Road. Also in Albert station there was a handkerchief kept on my head the whole night, so that I could be identified the next morning in the corridor by the witnesses."

"I was ordered to leave on the handkerchief for the purpose that the witnesses could more plainly see I was one of the parties who committed the outrage. As for myself, I feel the righteousness of my every act with regard to what I have done in defence of my country. I fear not. I am fearless — fearless of the punishment that can be inflicted on me ; and with that, my lords, I have done." However, he then added the following - "I beg to be excused. One remark more. I return Mr. Seymour and Mr. Jones my sincere and heartfelt thanks for their able eloquence and advocacy on my part in this affray. I wish also to return to Mr. Roberts the very same. My name, sir, might be wished to be known. It is not William O'Meara Allen. My name is William Philip Allen. I was born and reared in Bandon, in the County of Cork, and from that place I take my name; and I am proud of my country, and proud of my parentage. My lords, I have done."

Michael Larkin, 32, lived in the Banagher region of County Offaly and was a tailor by trade. He was not of good health and himself and his two comrades were captured as they carried him away from the scene of the rescue. He, too, addressed the court : "I have only got a word or two to say concerning Sergeant Brett. As my friend here said, no one could regret the man's death as much as I do. With regard to the charge of pistols and revolvers, and my using them, I call my God as witness that I neither used pistols, revolvers, nor any instrument on that day that would deprive the life of a child, let alone a man. Nor did I go there on purpose to take life away. Certainly, my lords, I do not want to deny that I did go to give aid and assistance to those two noble heroes that were confined in that van, Kelly and Deasy. I did go to do as much as lay in my power to extricate them out of their bondage ; but I did not go to take life, nor, my lord, did anyone else. It is a misfortune there was life taken ; but if it was taken it was not done intentionally, and the man who has taken life we have not got him. I was at the scene of action, when there were over, I dare say, 150 people standing by there when I was. I am very sorry I have to say, my lord, but I thought I had some respectable people to come up as witnesses against me ; but I am sorry to say as my friend said — I will make no more remarks concerning that. All I have to say, my lords and gentlemen, is that so far as my trial went, and the way it was conducted, I believe I have got a fair trial. What is decreed a man in the page of life he has to fulfil, either on the gallows, drowning, a fair death in bed, or on the battle-field. So I look to the mercy of God. May God forgive all who have sworn my life away. As I am a dying man, I forgive them from the bottom of my heart. God forgive them."

Michael O'Brien, 31, from Ballymacoda in Cork, was a lieutenant in the US Army and was better known in England by the name 'William Gould'. He delivered the following speech to the court : "I shall commence by saying that every witness who has sworn anything against me has sworn falsely. I have not had a stone in my possession since I was a boy. I had no pistol in my possession on the day when it is alleged this outrage was committed. You call it an outrage, I don't. I say further my name is Michael O'Brien. I was born in the county of Cork and have the honour to be a fellow-parishioner of Peter O'Neal Crowley, who was fighting against the British troops at Mitchelstown last March, and who fell fighting against British tyranny in Ireland. I am a citizen of the United States of America, and if Charles Francis Adams had done his duty towards me, as he ought to do in this country, I should not be in this dock answering your questions now. Mr. Adams did not come, though I wrote to him. He did not come to see if I could not find evidence to disprove the charge, which I positively could, if he had taken the trouble of sending or coming to see what I could do. I hope the American people will notice this part of the business." He then read a passage from a paper he was holding - "The right of man is freedom. The great God has endowed him with affections that he may use, not smother them, and a world that may be enjoyed. Once a man is satisfied he is doing right, and attempts to do anything with that conviction, he must be willing to face all the consequences. Ireland, with its beautiful scenery, its delightful climate, its rich and productive lands, is capable of supporting more than treble its population in ease and comfort.

Yet no man, except a paid official of the British Government, can say there is a shadow of liberty, that there is a spark of glad life amongst its plundered and persecuted inhabitants. It is to be hoped that its imbecile and tyrannical rulers will be for ever driven from her soil amidst the execrations of the world. How beautifully the aristocrats of England moralise on the despotism of the rulers of Italy and Dahomey — in the case of Naples with what indignation did they speak of the ruin of families by the detention of its head or some loved member in a prison. Who has not heard their condemnations of the tyranny that would compel honourable and good men to spend their useful lives in hopeless banishment?"

"They cannot find words to express their horror of the cruelties of the King of Dahomey because he sacrificed 2,000 human beings yearly, but why don't those persons who pretend such virtuous indignation at the misgovernment of other countries look at home, and see that greater crimes than those they charge against other governments are not committed by themselves or by their sanction? Let them look at London, and see the thousands that want bread there, while those aristocrats are rioting in luxuries and crimes. Look to Ireland; see the hundreds of thousands of its people in misery and want. See the virtuous, beautiful and industrious women who only a few years ago — aye, and yet — are obliged to look at their children dying for want of food. Look at what is called the majesty of the law on one side, and the long deep misery of a noble people on the other. Which are the young men of Ireland to respect — the law that murders or banishes their people or the means to resist relentless tyranny, and ending their miseries for ever under a home government? I need not answer that question here. I trust the Irish people will answer it to their satisfaction soon. I am not astonished at my conviction. The Government of this country have the power of convicting any person. They appoint the judge ; they choose the jury ; and by means of what they call patronage (which is the means of corruption) they have the power of making the laws to suit their purposes. I am confident that my blood will rise a hundredfold against the tyrants who think proper to commit such an outrage. In the first place, I say I was identified improperly by having chains on my hands and feet at the time of identification, and thus the witnesses who have sworn to my throwing stones and firing a pistol have sworn to what is false, for I was, as those ladies said, at the jail gates. I thank my counsel for their able defence, and also Mr. Roberts, for his attention to my case."

All three men shouted the words "God Save Ireland!" at different times during the 'trial', perhaps realising that, then, as now, the British were going to get their 'pound of flesh' one way or the other. The three men were, as stated, hanged by the British on this date - 23rd November - 149 years ago, and are still remembered and commemorated today by Irish republicans.


'Sir' Richard Dawson Bates (pictured, left) was born in Strandtown, Belfast, on the 23rd November 1876 - 140 years ago on this date - and was a solicitor (in Belfast) by profession. He was Secretary to the 'Ulster Unionist Council' at 28 years young, and held that position until he was aged 44 (ie from 1905 to 1921). In 1921, he was elected to Stormont and was appointed as the 'Minister of Home Affairs', a position he held for 22 years (from 1921 to 1943). In 1943, at 66 years of age, he retired to the 'back benches', where he stayed until 1945.

As the British 'Minister of Home Affairs' in the Six County 'parliament', he gave himself unprecedented powers to, for instance, "..outlaw detain or intern people indefinitely without charge or trial...(and) destroy houses and buildings..", amongst other 'rights'. He was to become the envy of others with a similar mind-set : some 40 years later (ie in [April] 1963) a Mr. Vorster , then South African 'Minister for Justice', was introducing a new Coercion Bill in the South African Parliament when, no doubt thinking of 'Sir' Bates and his colleagues in Stormont and Westminster, he stated that he "..would be willing to exchange all the legislation of that sort for one clause of the Northern Ireland (sic) Special Powers Act." Birds of a feather indeed.

'Sir' Richard Dawson Bates was a known bigot, and apparently took it as a compliment when it was said of him in Stormont (by a Senior Civil Servant) - "He has such a prejudice against Catholics that he made it clear to his Permanent Secretary that he did not want his most juvenile clerk or typist, if a Papist (Catholic), assigned for duty to his ministry." In 1935, however, he seemed to believe that he could treat everyone like dirt, regardless of their religion - on 18th June that year (1935), 'Sir' Bates issued an 'official order' banning all parades, not just those with a republican/nationalist 'flavour' : the Orange Order objected and told Bates and his people that it was their intention to hold a parade on the 23rd June (1935) and that said parade would be going ahead. Bates was not pleased - it was one thing to trample over the rights of the 'Papists', but the Orange Order were his own people and he expected that they would support him. Bates put his troops on notice, and repeated his 'banning order'. On the 23rd June (1935), the Orange Order took to the streets, as they said they would - and the RUC, and 'Sir' Bates, stood and watched!

At that parade, the then Orange Grand Master, a 'Sir' Joseph Davison, 'put it up' to his friend, 'Sir' Bates - "You may be perfectly certain that on the 12 July the Orangemen will be marching throughout Northern Ireland (sic). I do not acknowledge the right of any government, Northern or Imperial, to impose conditions as to the celebration." On the 22nd December 1938, 'Sir' (or 'Master'?) Bates introduced internment for republicans, saying - "The (Stormont) Government decided there was no alternative other than to arrest and intern well-known leaders and prominent members of this illegal organisation (IRA)." No 'backing-down' on that one.

Bates was a 'product' of the times and 'class' he was born into ; he could not help but be arrogant, a trait which was to his advantage when it came to his chosen 'career'. He died in Somerset, England, on the 10th June 1949 at 72 years of age, having been a 'proud Orangeman' for all his adult life.


Ireland 1915 ; The 'Irish Volunteer' movement had split ; approximately 170,000 men stayed with John Redmond and fought with England in the belief that to do so would guarantee a form of 'Home Rule' for Ireland - but about 10,000 men broke away as they had no faith in Redmond's plan. Months earlier, British 'Sir' George Richardson had taken command of the Ulster Volunteer Force (a pro-British militia) and had landed about 25,000 rifles and two-and-a-half million rounds of ammunition at Larne in County Antrim - when the British Government in Westminster attempted to move against the UVF (as they had no control over them then), British Army officers mutinied in objection. Meanwhile, elsewhere in Ireland, other forces were recruiting : Irish republicans were re-organising ; the 'Irish Citizen Army' was recruiting for volunteers, as was Sinn Féin, the 'Irish Republican Brotherhood' and John Redmond's 'United Irish League'. There was turmoil in the country.

On the 11th of November 1913 in Dublin, in the then 68-year-old Wynn's Hotel on Lower Abbey Street, a group of Irishmen and women held a meeting to discuss the formation of an 'Irish National Volunteer Force'. Those present at that meeting and/or at five other such meetings which were held immediately afterwards in the space of a two-week period, included Sean Fitzgibbon, John Gore, Michael J Judge, James Lenehan, Michael Lonergan, Peadar Macken, Seamus O'Connor, Colm O'Loughlin, Peter O'Reilly, Robert Page, George Walsh, Peadar White and Padraig O'Riain, amongst others (all of whom were well known in Irish nationalist circles ie Sinn Féin, Cumann na mBan, Na Fianna Éireann, the Gaelic League, the IRB, the Ancient Order of Hibernians, the Irish Parliamentary Party and the United Irish League).

Then, on the 25th November 1913, the inaugural enrolment meeting for the 'Irish Volunteers' was held at the Rotunda Rink in Dublin, to "secure the rights and liberties common to all the people of Ireland". That meeting was overseen by a provisional committee consisting of thirty members, all of whom had been elected at the above-mentioned meetings. Previous to the formation of the 'Irish Volunteers', James Connolly and others had formed the 'Irish Citizen Army', and both groups were in competition for members, the former on a 32-county basis whereas the latter was confined to the Leinster area, although attempts were made, through trade union structures, to recruit in Cork, Belfast, Derry, Sligo, Limerick, Kilkenny, Waterford, Dundalk, Galway and Wexford, but with little success. Also, those joining the 'Volunteers' were supplied with a uniform and other equipment while those joining the 'ICA' had to purchase their gear themselves. Relations between the two organisations were not the best, as the 'Volunteers' allowed, for instance, employers to join and this at a time when employees and other trade unionists would most likely be 'ICA' members or supporters and, actually, when the 'Volunteers' were in conference for the first time(25th November 1913) Irish Citizen Army members and supporters loudly made their presence felt and they also objected in print - their first leaflet stated that the 'Volunteers' were controlled by those who were opposed not only to trade unionism but also to workers rights regarding working conditions etc.

Within a few months, however, the animosity had lessened to the extent that there was some official co-operation between both groups at the Wolfe Tone commemoration in June 1914 and again in October that year during the events held to commemorate Charles Stewart Parnell, and both groups joined forces at Easter 1916 and took part side-by-side in the 1916 Rising, during which almost 100 women, members of Cumann na mBan and the Irish Citizen Army , played a full part in the fighting : Cumann na mBan , formed in April 1914, and the Irish Citizen Army, were in training months before the 1916 Rising. Both groups received instruction in first aid, signalling and weapons preparation. Connolly's daughters, Nora and Agnes, who were both members of Cumann na mBan, joined other members of that organisation in travelling around the country to ascertain the strengths and weaknesses in a particular area.

The 'Irish Citizen Army' was formed by James Connolly and Jack White on the 23rd November 1913 - 103 years ago on this date - and other prominent members included Seán O'Casey, Constance Markievicz, Francis Sheehy-Skeffington, P. T. Daly and Christopher Poole. The organisation proper became inactive in the late 1930's although its ethos lives on to this day.


'PayPal' will not allow Palestinians living in Gaza and the occupied West Bank to have an account - they have no problem allowing Israelis living in illegal settlements using their service and, as Sam Bahour (Ceo of consulting firm 'Applied Information Management') puts it - "Regretfully, when corporate America turns a blind eye to the services these start-ups require to thrive, the message they are indirectly sending is that they don't think young Palestinians deserve the same opportunities and advantages that their products offer so many other tech entrepreneurs.."

You can show your support for fair play in relation to this issue by signing the petition here and/or by contacting 'Paypal' on 00 1 402-935-2050, by filling-in their online complaint form and/or using the contact information at this link.

'Here, there, anywhere' indeed.



By Jim McCann (Jean's son). For Alex Crowe, RIP - "No Probablum". Glandore Publishing, 1999.

Biographical Note : Jim McCann is a community worker from the Upper Springfield area in West Belfast. Although born in the Short Strand, he was reared in the Loney area of the Falls Road. He comes from a large family (average weight about 22 stone!). He works with Tús Nua (a support group for republican ex-prisoners in the Upper Springfield), part of the Upper Springfield Development Trust. He is also a committee member of the 'Frank Cahill Resource Centre', one of the founders of 'Bunscoil an tSléibhe Dhuibh', the local Irish language primary school and Naiscoil Bharr A'Chluanaí, one of the local Irish language nursery schools.

His first publication last year by Glandore was 'And the Gates Flew Open : the Burning of Long Kesh'. He hopes to retire on the profits of his books. Fat chance!


The reception area of Long Kesh in 1973 was actually a couple of Nissan Huts with little one-person cubicles where you waited to get processed by the screws. The governor read you the 'Riot Act' as you stood pretending to dig a big snatter out of your nose and scratch your arse at the same time. Screws barked out orders in front of the governor trying to make themselves seem important and on the job - "Left wheel, right wheel, eyes front, back straight..." and so it went on as you stood there picking your nose, shuffling your feet and looking all about you with 'the-prison-hasn't-been-built-yet-that-can-hold-me' -look on your face.

"Your number is..? "I have no number," I said, as I glared back at him. The screw just uttered the number anyway like an automation. That was his job. "Stick your number up your arse sideways," I answered. That was my job. The governor hoped I would have a pleasant stay in his concentration camp and bade me goodbye with the words "If you have any problems, good..." As I attempted to etch 'Patrick Pearse wuz 'ere' on the wall of my little cubicle with my plastic knife, Entente Cordiale was being shot to pieces outside the door. "Vat is your naam?" asked the screw in a bad BBC sit-com German accent to one of the two Germans who had just been deposited in his care by members of the irreparable RUC ('Patton Commission', please note!)

The Teutonic tealeaf looked expressionless at his inquisitive turnkey and would-be incarcerator. The German then turned and looked at his accomplice, who was feeling really sorry for himself as he stood there with his prison-issue bedding, blue plastic mug, grey plastic cutlery, razor, package of 'Seven-O-Clock' blades and bar of white buttermilk soap... (MORE LATER).

Thanks for reading, Sharon.