Wednesday, April 27, 2016



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 small plot of ground

on which you were born

cannot be expected to remain the same

earth changes

and home becomes different


You turned the sod

and took flesh

from the clay

but the day

did not come

from just one place

To feel alive

important and safe

know your own waters

and the roots of your soil

but know


You have stars in your bones

and oceans

in blood

you have opposing

terrain in each eye

you belong to the land

the sky of your first cry

you belong to infinity.

Dermot Griffin.


'Magill' magazine has unearthed new information which raises a grim but important question : were explosives from within this Republic used in the Dublin and Monaghan bombings? It is a question which, bizarrely, also encompasses the controversial Dónal de Róiste case. By Don Mullan, author of the book 'The Dublin and Monaghan Bombings'.

From 'Magill' magazine, February 2003.


Garrett Fitzgerald, in an interview with 'Magill' magazine on 25th January 2003, confirmed that the factory he was referring to was the 'Irish Industrial Explosives' factory, Clonagh. Patrick Walshe was appalled when he read those comments and told 'Magill' - "I am by no means defending the British Army, whose intelligence services were, I believe, responsible for orchestrating the Dublin and Monaghan bombings, but it is not accurate to say that the entire cabinet did not know. I am shocked that Garrett Fitzgerald did not know information about which other ministers had been told."

Patrick Walshe has made available to 'Magill' his reports, contemporaneous notes and photographs which he passed to Army superiors, beginning on 5th April 1974. They detail what one former senior Army officer, Colonel James K Cogan, described in a 1984 affidavit as "...a scandalous and criminal lack of security.." at the factory and it was also Cogan, whom Walshe was related to by marriage, who described the Clonagh affair as "...the greatest scandal in the history of the Irish state.." He shared Walshe's concerns and says he personally spoke to a cabinet minister in mid-April 1974 at Leinster House. His affidavit details the content of a memorandum he claims he handed to that minister -

'Quantity (probably one bag, 50kg) of substance resembling ammonium nitrate deposited on roadway about 500 yards from main entrance to plant...cellophane sack marked 'ammonium nitrate' and containing a quantity of substance found secluded in weeds...quantity of substance on roadway and roadside about 100 yards from main entrance to plant...ammonium nitrate prills (four sacks, 40 kg) outside F5...the perimeter fence of the compound was only 25 yards from this (large and secluded) quantity of ammonium nitrate which was visible over an extensive area beyond the compound fence.." It should be noted that this situation pertained some 10 weeks after Colonel Cogan says he personally apprised a cabinet minister of the situation at the Clonagh factory and six weeks after the Dublin and Monaghan bombings. (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!


The story actually starts months before the event : it began as a mix (joke) - it was nearly Christmas 1974 and Damien was getting released. The 'Fire of Long Kesh' had occurred some two months before and we had been relocated in temporary huts on the site of some of the burned out cages of Long Kesh.

Cage 10 at that time comprised the men of Cage 13, Cage 16 and Cage 17 - about 200 men altogether. It was cramped, basic and cold. This cage, designed to hold about 70 men, was over-subscribed, big time. Irish classes, political debate and 'Fat' (a card game) schools were happening everywhere.

Arder was just into the second year of a twelve-year stretch, and thought about the near-seven-years of a sentence he still had to do and cried himself to sleep. On waking up he resolved to put it behind him and get on with it. "Just think, Arder," said Damien, "this time two days from now I'll be sitting in our local having a pint." "No problem, comrade," answered Arder. "Bet you're raging", smirked Damien. Arder knew Damien was joking, but wanted to kill him anyway. "That's where you're wrong, comrade, lied Arder, "I couldn't be more happy for you." Damien kept it up : "Spare a thought for me waking up on Saturday morning with a bad hangover," Damien whinged. "Do you see if you don't give my head peace, I'm going to put your fucking head in your hands. Now fuck off from about me," said Arder, who had cracked under the strain.

But Damien increased the pressure... (MORE LATER.)


Austin Stack (pictured, left)was born on the 7th December, 1879, in Ballymullen, Tralee, County Kerry, and died in the Mater Hospital in Dublin, from complications after a stomach operation, on the 27th April 1929 - 87 years ago on this date - at only 49 years of age.

He was arrested with Con Collins on the 21st April 1916 while planning an attack on Tralee RIC Barracks in an attempt to rescue Roger Casement. He was court-martialed 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 was elected Secretary of Sinn Féin, 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, and the British sent him off to Strangeways Prison in Manchester, from where he escaped in October 1919. During the 'Black and Tan War', as Minister for Home Affairs, Austin Stack 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.

'Austin Stack was born in Ballymullen, Tralee and was educated at the local Christian Brothers School. At the age of fourteen he left school and became a clerk in a solicitor's office. A gifted Gaelic footballer, he captained the Kerry team to All-Ireland glory in 1904 and also served as President of the Kerry Gaelic Athletic Association County Board. He became politically active in 1908 when he joined the Irish Republican Brotherhood and, in 1916, as commandant of the Kerry Brigade of the Irish Volunteers, he made preparations for the landing of arms by Roger Casement, on Banna Strand.

Although Austin Stack was made aware that Casement was arrested and was being held in Ballymullen Barracks in Tralee, he made no attempt to rescue him : RIC District Inspector Kearney treated Casement very well and made sure Stack was aware that Casement could so easily have been rescued, yet Stack refused to move (possibly sensing that a trap had been laid for him?) but he was arrested anyway and sentenced to death for his involvement, but this was later commuted to penal servitude for life. He was released under general amnesty in June 1917 after the death of fellow prisoner and Tralee man Thomas Patrick Ashe and was elected as an abstentionist Sinn Féin Member of Parliament for Kerry West in the 1918 Westminster election, becoming a member of the 1st Dail and was automatically elected as an abstentionist member of the 'House of Commons of Southern Ireland' and a member of the 2nd Dail as a Sinn Féin Teachta Dála for Kerry-Limerick West in the Irish elections of 1921.

He opposed the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921 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...his health never recovered after his hunger strike and he died in a Dublin hospital on April 27th 1929, aged 49.' (from here, slightly edited.)

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.'

On this date - 27th April - 87 years ago, Ireland lost one of its best soldiers.


These days - because of the times that are in it - even a 'posh' newspaper like 'The Irish Times' wants to associate itself with the 1916 Rising. But, at the time, the 'Grand old Lady of D'Olier Street' couldn't distance itself quick enough from the actions of the men and women it now wants to 'remember'.

On April 27th, 1916 - 100 years ago on this date - three days after the Rising started, the so-called 'newspaper of record', the establishment newspaper,'The Irish Times', asked in an editorial - "How many citizens of Dublin have any real knowledge of the works of Shakespeare?" ! The newspaper suggested that its readers use the "enforced domesticity" caused by the Rising to renew themselves with the work of the bard! God forbid that those readers should be kept informed re how the Rising was progressing or, indeed, the reason why a respected minority considered it necessary to directly challenge the 'British Empire' regarding its military and political presence in Ireland. But at least one man, Seosamh de Brún, took the advice offered by that newspaper and recorded same in his diary : "Easy day. read portion of 'Julius Caesar' Shakespeare following the advice of Irish Times." The 'grand old Dame' would have shed ink and lost a cog had she realised that de Brún was an Irish republican Volunteer on active service in Jacobs Factory at the time!


"I declare that, if elected, I will not by word or deed express support for or approval of -

(A) Any organisation that is for the time being a proscribed organisation specified in Schedule 2 to the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Act 1978 : or

(B) Acts of terrorism (that is to say , violence for political ends) connected with the affairs of Northern Ireland."

The above 'Declaration', a British-imposed political test oath, was 'introduced' in the north-eastern six counties of Ireland in 1989 by Margaret Thatcher and her administration in London, in relation to elections being held in those occupied six counties. That British 'oath' called for the public disowning of the Irish Republican Army, Cumann na mBan, Fianna Éireann and a repudiation of the right of the Irish people to use force of arms to end British occupation in Ireland. That right has been asserted in every generation and at tremendous cost in terms of life, liberty and human suffering.

Such 'political test oaths' have been used before by the British in attempts to ensure that only 'loyal' citizens could contest an election and, indeed, there use can be traced back to 1696 - " Oath of allegiance, used to secure loyalty to the sovereign and to help identify potential opponents..for the better security of his Majesty's royal person and government.." (from here and here) and now we have a Leinster House politician proposing much the same in relation to election campaigns in the Six Counties - 'Gerry Adams has said all candidates in next week's assembly elections need to "make clear" their attitudes towards armed paramilitary groupings...' - "I want to call - given that we're in an assembly election - on every candidate, not just here in west Belfast but every candidate, to state where they stand..." (from here.)

Republicans have never allowed Ireland's on-going fight for freedom to be branded as over '800 years of crime' and we have never accepted British 'oaths' of allegiance : for fifty years republican candidates were debarred from public office because of their refusal to take such 'oaths' and many public bodies were abolished for refusing to take an 'oath' of allegiance to the British Crown - it required the great upheaval of the civil rights movement and the armed resistance of the people to smash the oath at local government level. Meekly accepting the taking of such an 'oath' demeans the whole cause of Irish republicanism and dishonour's all those who gave their lives for Irish freedom - particularly the twenty-two men that have died on hunger-strike between 1917 and 1981. Politicians in Leinster House should look to their own record (such as it is) in challenging or even highlighting the British military and political presence in the Six Counties rather than attempt to restrict others from doing so.


'Water' is making the headlines here now, as at least two grubby political parties vie with each other over taxing same again - now, or later - as their price for sharing the financial spoils of power in Leinster House. But this is not the first occasion that this 'fluid' issue was used by state politicians in an attempt to 'put manners' on state citizens and further enrich their own coffers at the same time. We pulled the following article from our archive (the original source first published it on this date - 27th April - 27 years ago), as it makes for interesting (re-)reading in that it gives an insight into the mentality of the political 'Lords' that consider the 'Big House' in Kildare Street to be theirs by right :


By Richard Douthwaite.

(This article was first published in 'ALPHA' Magazine, 27th April 1989, page 7.)

The duck-fly is up on Lough Corrib and every 'Guest House' and 'Bed and Breakfast' in Oughterard, County Galway , ought to be filled with anglers. Instead, although there is an odd boat on the lake, the place has a depressed, deserted air, enlivened only by posters on every telephone pole, protesting against the rod licence. Pat Higgins, of Sweeney's Hotel, saw his takings drop nine per-cent last year because of the row. His profits were cut even more drastically, forcing him to borrow from the bank for annual repairs. Even so, he believes the anti-licence campaigners are right - "I explain the situation to foreign visitors this way," he says, "In Ireland, there are three types of fishing rights - private, State-owned and public-domain. This dispute arose because the State is trying to take over the public-domain fisheries surreptitiously."

The first skirmish in the Rod War was fought in the (State) High Court in November 1986. 'P.J. Carroll and Co. Ltd,' the tobacco manufacturers, were in the early stages of their diversification into fish farming and wanted to buy (!) Lough Inagh and Lough Derryclare as sites for a salmon hatchery. Jim Clancy, who owns fifty acres on the banks of Lough Inagh and has an outdoor pursuits centre there, had been using the lake to teach canoeing. If Carrolls and Company did not stop him using it before they 'bought' the lakes, he would have acquired the right to continue. Carrolls therefore got the vendors of the property to seek a court injunction requiring him to stop before they completed the purchase. The case went to court and was heard over five days. The upshot was that Mr.Clancy (the owner of fifty acres of land on the banks of Lough Inagh) was told that neither he, nor any other owner, had the right to take water from a river or lake whether for himself or for his farm animals. If he put a boat on the lake, swam in the lake, or even crossed over one of the streams that run down the mountainside to the lake, he would be breaking the law! Walking by the lake was forbidden, since he might disturb the fish!

Not only did Mr.Clancy lose the action, he had its £80,000 punt costs awarded against him (Euro 101,579) and will pay the last £10,000 punt installment (Euro 12,697) in June 1989. The court refrained from ruining him entirely, however - a £200,000 punt (Euro 253,947) claim for damage he was alleged to have done to the fishery was struck out. The decision of the court case against Mr. Jim Clancy had damaging implications for others as well. Whereas in the past the water and bed of a lake or river had been considered to be common property, the State High Court had now handed them over to whoever 'owned' the fishing 'rights'. No one else could do anything on, near, with or in the water, at all!

What the anti-rod licence campaigners think the State is trying to do through the licensing mechanism is to take over the fishing 'rights' on the major lakes in the West - including Corrib, Mask, Carra, Conn and Arrow - which are in the public domain. As a result of that decision, the people of the area, who have fished on the rivers and lakes, swum in them and drawn water from them for generations, will lose their rights to continue unless they have the consent of the State Minister. They are determined not to give those rights up.

And why do the people think that the politicians want the lakes? So that they can allow the fish farming companies to moor cages on them in which the salmon parr will grow until they turn into smolts. The statement by Liam Keilthy of the State-owned salmon hatchery 'Aquahatch', as reported in the last issue of 'ALPHA' magazine, that it will not be possible to avoid using some of the larger lakes for this if the industry is to expand as projected, has added fuel to the fire. So the Anti-Rod campaigners have taken it upon themselves to attack fish-farming in every way possible. They have taken RTE (State television and radio broadcaster) to film dead salmon on public tips. They asked the most pointed questions at last fortnight's 'An Taisce' conference on aquaculture and the environment and have greatly increased public awareness of the dangers of the fish-farming industry as a result of its use of chemicals and antibiotics and the threat to the survival of wild fish from farmed fish escapes.

In a broader sense, the campaign against the licence and the fish farms is a reaction against the exploitation of the West of Ireland by outsiders - the purchase of huge acres of bog by those that control pension funds, intent on planting trees, the conversion of family homes into weekend cottages, and even the prospecting for gold. And so great is the gulf between the politicians and their Connacht grass-roots that no-one in Dublin seems to understand this at all. For Tommy Thornton, the 'Rod Licence' dispute has little to do with paying money in order to fish - "We have twice the 'licence' fee paid into the (angling) club at the moment." Rather, he discerns a more fundamental issue : "The point is, if you pay the 'licence' they (the politicians) will have control of the lake ; taking control of the water - that's the main thing." Tommy, a retired Fisheries Board game-keeper, is a native of Maam Cross in Galway, a small community stretched along the banks of Lough Corrib and his views about the proposed 'Rod Licence' scheme are fairly representative of the area. At the heart of local fears is the belief that the existence of a 'licence' will spell the end of the lakes and rivers as public amenities. One resident, who lives on the shores of Lough Corrib, expressed the fear that "..once they hand them (the lakes) over, they might have a 'licence' of £5 or £10 this year ; what will it be in ten years time? It could be £1000."

One resident who lives along the shores of Lough Corrib asked - "What's going to happen in a few years time (is) our children, or anyone who comes down here, will not be able to go down to that lake because you'll have 'Private' signs all along the shore." One local man who is normally involved in the hiring of boats to visiting anglers, says - "It is the only thing we have to sell that is free. Where would you get unpolluted waters, in all of Europe, like you'd get along the Corrib. The lakes should be left the way they are." Along with the anger at the (Free State) Government's apparent unwillingness to solve the problem there is a determination in the area not to back down. This is not pride, rather a belief that (FS) government plans for the lakes spell disaster.

End of article.

The political intention , fuelled by greed, to make extra profit from water - whether same lies in a natural 'pool' or flows from a household tap - is the same now as it was 27 years ago. It should be kept in mind that, in 1976, rates were abolished as "unconstitutional" in this State and, as a result, VAT was increased by two-and-a-half per cent, to compensate local Authorities [ie Councils, Corporations etc]. Everyone in the State has been paying the extra increase since 1976 and, for the last few years, have been told by Leinster House politicians that they must pay again - a second time - for the same service. If the local authorities have not being receiving that extra money then its the politicians in Leinster House that owe it, not the taxpayer.

Thanks for reading, Sharon.