PROSE AND CONS.
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.
BIRD MAN, by John Doran
Kevin was five foot ten, an athletic young man in his late twenties, black hair and good looking. He was a middleweight ex-boxer who fought for Ireland, a hard working man who got mixed up with the wrong crowd, eventually ending up in prison. He was a very quiet man who kept to himself.
One cold winter's morning, as the icicles hung from the wire fencing, Kevin walked on the snow-covered prison yard and noticed a young grey crow under the bench. It was shaking like a leaf. Kevin bent down and picked it up, and brought it back to his cell and put it into an old shoe box, which he placed on the heating pipe. After a few hours, the crow started to flap its wings. Kevin fed it some bread and butter mashed up and, after a few more days, it moved around the cell. Then one day the door was left open and the crow followed him down the landing , unknown to Kevin. It followed him right down to the hot plate. All the inmates and screws had a good laugh looking at this.
After a few more days, the weather improved and Kevin decided to bring the crow out to the yard and let it loose. He put the crow into the palm of his hand and raised his arm up in the air. The crow flew and circled the prison yard a few times and landed beside Kevin, as all the inmates in the yard cheered. As he walked in from the yard, the crow followed him. Kevin called him 'Greybird'.... (MORE LATER.)
IS PEACE SAFE WITH ANDREWS....?
Fionnuala O'Connor charts the doubts behind the instant reactions. From 'Magill' magazine, February 1998.
The LVF victims were catholic civilians, two of them teenagers, a girl shot in bed beside her protestant boyfriend, a boy whose burned body was hidden among animal carcases. Yet some imagine that the LVF began to kill only when Billy Wright was shot, and that the two larger loyalist groups held blamelessly in 1997 to their ceasefires. Republicans and others in the wider nationalist community resent that impression - the sense that loyalist violence against catholics is invisible and unnoticed translates into more pressure on the IRA, already digesting political problems.
Whatever the polished (P) Sinn Féin spin, this comes down to macho pride ; other paramilitaries are putting it up to them. Their community says 'do something'. "If republicans are extremely clever, they won't do anything," says the ex-prisoner, "the big danger for them is if catholics continue to be killed and the INLA kills some major loyalist paramilitary figure. There would be a sort of residual respect for the INLA then which would hurt the IRA. I don't think it's likely - the INLA are far more likely to end up killing ordinary protestants. Why did they target Jim Guiney? Because he was a quarter of a mile out of Twinbrook. But there's still the myth - August 1969 , IRA means I Ran Away, and that's what this whole last two generations has been predicated on."
Perhaps, with hindsight, this was exactly when we should have expected the crunch to come, even down to the INLA—which no informed quarter believes was anything but characteristic reflex violence on their part.
Both governments began to insist before the Christmas talks break that the first month of the new year must see the start of real negotiation. Ministers pointed towards mid-February or March. "That's when we'll need to have the gist of it agreed," one said privately, "or we'll never make the May deadline." A period of six weeks' intensive negotiation, in other words, a crash-course towards compromise. Persistent rumour has it that the UDA in the Maze gave Mo Mowlam a deadline to achieve an outline of an acceptable settlement - six weeks again. And republicans do not deny the security-force claim that the IRA is to review the cease-fire in March. According to IRA rules, it is said, no review is needed to end a cease-fire, only to prolong it. Deadlines multiplying, muscles flexing. (MORE LATER.)
1916 - WHAT DID IT MEAN FOR IRISH WOMEN....?
. What is there for women in Ireland to commemorate in 1916? Did the 1916 Proclamation and the subsequent 'Democratic Programme of the First Dáil' contain radical or revolutionary statements on the position of women in Irish society that were later betrayed or sold out in the process of establishing the Free State?
From 'Iris' magazine, Easter 1991.
For example, the right to import contraceptives for personal use, women's right of access to jury service and to co-determine the education of their children were all established under the Constitution, but there is little doubt that the defeat* of radical republicanism and the subsequent partitioning of the island stripped the new state of its radical democratic potential. Partition has given us two weak and fragile states which have secured their existence through political and social repression.
A formidable alliance of right-wing forces, both inside and outside the institutional churches, has resisted progressive democratic change in both parts of this island. In the North the selective application of British social legislation (for example abortion and homosexuality) finds its direct parallel in the socially repressive 26-County state where, for example, married women were banned from public and private service employment and restricted in industrial employment, where abortion and male homosexual practice still carry a possible life sentence, where contraception was only finally and partially legalised in 1980, where the state designs its marital breakdown legislation according to catholic church dictates and where 'ethical' committees in the health and education systems succeed in determining the content of sex education, the availability of sterilisation and the limits on infertility research.
So what does it mean for women to commemorate 1916? I think that for women the question is not so much the Rising or the content of the 1916 Proclamation but rather to reflect on a period of critical revolutionary thought and action on this island. (* '1169' comment - radical republicanism has not been 'defeated' ; rather it has suffered a temporary set-back, inflicted by the Free State constitutional parties that nest in Leinster House.) (MORE LATER.)
USURPERS HIRE MORE GOONS TO PROTECT THEIR ILL-GOTTEN GAINS.
'More than 100 extra gardaí have been drafted into the 'riot squad' to cope with 1916 centenary events. The serving officers, who come from all six Garda regions, were given specialised training to qualify for the Public Order Unit...the force has been beefed up amid fears that centenary commemorations could be hijacked by troublemakers...' (from here.)
"..hijacked by troublemakers..." indeed : too late, for now, anyway, to worry about that, as it has already happened. The riot squad and their employers are the "troublemakers", the usurpers - representatives of those that Irish republicans challenged and fought against in one way or another in every generation since the 12th century. That fact won't change, no matter how many goons they hire in an attempt to legitimise themselves, and that's the message that will be delivered loud and clear to them from O'Connell Street in Dublin on Saturday 23rd April next and from other venues before and after that date. "It's not those who inflict the most, but those that endure the most, that shall prevail"(Terence MacSwiney).
ON THIS DATE (6TH JANUARY) 76 YEARS AGO : REPRESSIVE FREE STATE LAWS UPDATED.
'Council of State' (this was the first such meeting ever of said body) to discuss a bill he was asked to sign, concerning an amendment to the heavy-handed 'Offences Against the State Act 1939', which would have allowed the Leinster House administration to intern Irish-born citizens in a move said to be necessary in the Free State's fight against the IRA. It should be noted that those who wanted that power fully intended to use it against men and women that they had fought side-by-side with only twenty years previously.
Two days later (ie on the 8th January 1940) the 'Council' held a meeting in a Free State residence in Dublin's Phoenix Park (behind closed doors, minutes not made public) following which Hyde announced that he was going to refer the proposed amendment/legislation to the Free State 'Supreme Court', stating that he also intended to seek a judgement on the 'Offences Against the State (Amendment) Bill 1940' in its entirety. The 'Supreme Court' replied that, in its opinion, it was within the power and the authority 'of the Oireachtas, consistent with the Constitution, to enact such legislation'. Hyde then signed the necessary paperwork, no doubt having convinced himself that he had done all in his power to prevent further injury to the republicans he would have associated with during his years as a member of the 'Society for the Preservation of the Irish Language', the 'Gaelic League' and the 'Gaelic Journal'. But easing your conscience isn't the same as cleansing it.
ON THIS DATE (6TH JANUARY) 29 YEARS AGO : IRA OTR CAPTURED BY FS SPECIAL BRANCH.
Two of the seven men detained were from Letterkenny in County Donegal ; Patrick McIntyre of Ard O'Donnell and his colleague, Jim Clarke. Patrick McIntyre is the fifth of a family of nine, who did his 'Leaving Certificate' (school examination) in 1976 and, after taking a six months AnCo (state work-training) course, started working on a building site in Letterkenny. As a youth, Patrick was, as friends describe him, a 'withdrawn kind of a lad'. His involvement with the IRA was to surprise the entire family. But he had been impressed by the 1916 plaque in Saint Eunan's College, by the sight of Derry refugees taking shelter in Letterkenny, of the (Free State) Army on stand-by near the border, by emotive speeches by politicians and by the 'Arms Trial'. He mixed with Official Sinn Fein members in the early 1970's : they held meetings in a room over a pub in Letterkenny where local issues were discussed. But he always stayed clear of public displays and not a word was said at home.
However - the IRA Colour Party had now been detained by the British 'security forces' and, after 14 months on remand in the North, Patrick McIntyre came before a judge ; he was in deep trouble, as he had signed a statement admitting involvement in the attempted 'murder' of a UDR member ('Ulster[sic] Defence Regiment', a pro-British militia) near Castlederg in County Tyrone, in late 1977. McIntyre refused to recognise the court, was convicted and given a fifteen year jail sentence ; Jim Clarke was also jailed for the Castlederg attack - he got eighteen years. The first part of their detention was spent in Crumlin Road Prison and the two men were then transferred to the Kesh at a time when the campaign for retention of political status was intensifying ; they took part in the Blanket Protest and were still there during the 1981 Hunger-Strike. They were two of the 38 inmates who escaped from the prison in September 1983. Patrick McIntyre managed to stay loose for two days ; cameramen were alerted to film him and another escaper, Joe Corey, being recaptured near Castlewellan, County
Re-captured within two days after the September 1983 jail-break, Patrick McIntyre had to wait three years and three months to get a second chance ; with less than six months of his original sentence left, he was due three days 'rehabilitation parole' as Christmas 1986 approached. The prison authorities opposed his release because the trial of the Maze escapers was pending, but McIntyre defeated their objections before the courts. The Provisionals approved his absconding - they believed the recently introduced 'rehabilitation' gimmick was geared to cause divisions in their structures within the prisons. By December 20th, 1986, the RUC were looking for him but he was over the border, in Donegal, getting his hair tinted! On the twisty main road between Killybegs and Kilcar, in West Donegal, there is a white flat-roofed dwelling in the townland of Cashlings ; some Gardai consider it 'a safe house'. Raymond 'The Rooster' McLaughlin, a well-known IRA activist, was suspected of stopping off there not long before he drowned, accidentally, in a pool, in County Clare, in 1985. Shortly after eight o'clock on the morning of 6th January 1987 - 29 years ago on this date - Aiden Murray and other armed Free State detectives raided the house.
They roused a young man from his sleep - he was wearing pants only and, when asked his name, he hesitated before telling them he was 'Colm McGuire'. He requested to see a doctor and solicitor and refused to answer any further questions. Detective Aiden Murray promptly arrested 'McGuire' on suspicion of being a member of the IRA. The Gardai were back at base in Ballyshannon with their prisoner soon after nine o' clock ; they still had no official identity for him and, in accordance with his wishes, a local solicitor, John Murray, was sent for ; he
arrived and, after consulting with the man in the cell, he told gardai during a casual conversation that the prisoner was Patrick McIntyre of Ard O'Donnell, Letterkenny. The gardai say that minutes afterwards they received information which possibly linked McIntyre to a robbery in Ballyshannon before Christmas and that they began questioning him about this crime. By mid-morning the word was out in Donegal : Paddy McIntyre had been collared and the prospect of extradition loomed. By that afternoon, a Belfast solicitor, Pat Finucane, was contacting a colleague in Dublin.
The legal defence was prepared in the tiny rooms over a swop-shop along Ormond Quay, near the Four Courts, in Dublin, where solicitor Anne Rowland, a native of Ballina, County Mayo, set up her own firm five years ago. Her penchant is for the cut and thrust of criminal cases. On accepting the McIntyre brief, she immediately sought out barrister Patrick Gageby - they had worked together before ; Evelyn Glenhomes and Gerard Tuite were among those they had represented. Rowland and Gageby immediately agreed that their defence case would focus on the circumstances of McIntyre's arrest and detention. They were told that an extradition application would come before District Justice Liam McMenamin at Ballyshannon District Court on January 7th (1987). Before leaving for County Donegal, Rowland put the state on notice that she would require in court the garda who performed the Section 30 arrest and the Garda Officer who signed the order extending Patrick McIntyre's detention for a second 24 hour period.
About one hundred Sinn Féin protestors shouted abuse outside the court as Patrick McIntyre was escorted from a prison vehicle ; in the melee, nobody noticed three plainclothes detectives sliding another man past - RUC member Robert Herron. He was needed to identify Patrick McIntyre. As he rose to speak, Sinn Féin members immediately headed for the exits but gardai told them the doors would have to be kept closed. Then, his identity unknown to those outside, the RUC man was discreetly and safely brought past the crowds before the hearing ended. Chief Superintendent Patrick Murphy was in the witness box - a stranger to the area, he had been transferred from Limerick to Letterkenny, in Donegal, on promotion the previous October. Murphy gave evidence of signing the Section 30 Extension Order for a second 24 hour period. State Solicitor Ciaran McLoughlin asked him nothing further. District Justice McMenamin had no questions, and Defence Counsel Patrick Gageby kept quiet. Chief Superintendent Patrick Murphy left the witness box ; defence counsel Patrick Gageby didn't even attempt to smile ; but he did believe that 'the door had been left ajar'. Early last year Patrick Gageby and Anne Rowland had unsuccessfully appealed the three convictions of County Louth men in the Drumree Post Office murder trial - Garda Frank Hand had been killed in an armed robbery. In the Court of Criminal Appeal, however, Gageby had spotted one sentence and quietly filed it away. He now suggested that Chief Superintendent Murphy had not informed the court of his state of mind when signing the extension order ; it had not been proven that the garda officer had the requisite mental element to justify the detention. State Solicitor Ciaran McLoughlin was quickly on his feet trying to answer the point ; District Justice McMenamin adjourned the hearing to consider this and other legal matters raised.
When the case came before District Justice mcMenamin again in Donegal town on January 14th (1987), he again heard Defence Counsel Patrick Gageby question the validity of the Section 30 extension ; but Judge McMenamin dismissed the arguments and granted the extradition order. An appeal was immediately lodged in the High Court.
McIntyre's case was becoming something of a cause celebre ; on March 10th (1987), when Leinster House met to elect a Taoiseach, Independent Donegal Leinster House member, Neil Blaney, demanded that the extradition arrangements between Britain and Ireland "be repealed so that in the interim a young county man of mine, by name McIntyre, be not extradited." But when the case came before Mr Justice Gannon in the High Court in May 1987, Defence Counsel Patrick Gageby had further 'ammunition' - as well as the ruling in the McShane, McPhilips, Eccles (Drumree) case which included this phrase in relation to the person issuing extension orders -"is bona fide suspected by him of being involved in the offence for which he was arrested." Gageby had the additional support of a Supreme Court ruling of April 3rd (1987) which confirmed that a Chief Superintendent must give evidence of his suspicions when he is issuing an extension order ; it is not sufficient to confirm that he issues the order, he must say why. Patrick McEntee SC had been added to the defence team - McIntyre's supporters were confident of victory. On the afternoon of 7th May 1987, Patrick McIntyre was freed, courtesy of a legal loophole which has since been closed ; the Provisionals had a motorbike waiting outside the courtroom and he was driven off at high speed and was within seconds in city centre traffic. Garda had eighteen further warrants in relation to Patrick McIntyre ; his extradition was still being sought by the British, but he was then on the run.
OTR Patrick McIntyre net with a journalist in a nondescript suburban room. His physical appearance has not altered since the Donegal court hearings - maybe he is a little less fidgety, but he speaks in a soft voice which frequently quivers. The sentiments are resolute. He was sleeping when the gardai came to the house in south Donegal, he says : "I gave the surname of the people who own the house but they didn't believe me. They said I was Patrick McIntyre." Yet the evidence given by gardai in court suggested that the prisoner was not positively identified until solicitor John Murray named him in Ballyshannon garda station. It was also stated that the detectives went to Kilcar after a 'tip-off' that an armed man or men had been seen in the area. It appears the gardai were not aware they would find Patrick McIntyre in the house. It has not been possible to establish whether they knew him by sight ; they seem to have 'struck lucky' - and then got the procedure wrong. As Patrick McIntyre says - "The situation I'm in now prevents me from walking around in this country. I am not wanted for anything in this jurisdiction ; I am being sought for things related to the British administration. If the Birmingham Six were in the 26 Counties now, they could and would be extradited. If the British issue warrants for any person's extradition, the request will come before the Irish courts and the person opposing it must pay his own costs."
The free legal aid scheme does not apply to extradition cases ; costs in the Patrick McIntyre case, expected to run into several thousand pounds, will be paid by Sinn Féin. Asked about his family and his future, Patrick McIntyre stares at the floor - "They let me out for three days to attend my mother's funeral in March. I was told the best I could expect was to go there escorted, in handcuffs, but I fought the case for compassionate bail in the High Court and won. Then there was a rumour that the decision might be appealed by the state and I was thinking about that all the way during the journey from Dublin to Donegal. That was a shattering experience.
I tried to spend the three days with my family. There were thousands of people at the funeral and at the house. It was the first time that we had the family together for a long time, and we had photographs taken. I met a lot of people that I grew up with. Just before I left, my sister gave me a Saint Patrick's Day card that my mother had written, to me, in Saint Luke's Hospital..."
A knock comes to the door - it is time for him to go. What does he intend to do now?, I ask - "Make it third time lucky. Or at least stay out longer than the past two times...", he replies. (NOTE : this is an edited version of a piece we posted here in November 2004.)
LADIES DAY - PAY ATTENTION, LADS....!
January 6th is marked by Nollaig na mBan or 'Women's Little Christmas' ; in celebration of the feast of the Epiphany in Ireland, January 6th is marked by Nollaig na mBan or 'Women's Little Christmas'. On this day it is the tradition in Ireland for the women to get together and enjoy their own Christmas, while the men folk stay at home and handle all the chores. It is also common for children to buy their mothers and grandmothers presents on this day, though this custom is gradually being overtaken by Mothers Day....
I sometimes think that God in creating man somewhat overestimated his ability.(Oscar Wilde)
Happy Nollaig na mBan to all our readers, especially the Ladies!
ON THIS DAY NEXT WEEK (WEDNESDAY 13TH JANUARY 2016).....
...we won't be posting our usual contribution, and probably won't be in a position to post anything at all ; this coming weekend (Saturday/Sunday 9th/10th January 2016) is spoke for already with a 650-ticket raffle to be run for the Dublin Executive of Sinn Féin Poblachtach 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, 11th, in RSF Head Office on Parnell Street in Dublin, meaning that we will not have the time to post here. But we'll be back, as stated above, on Wednesday 20th January 2016. See ye then!
Thanks for reading, Sharon.