" A wealth of information..."

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

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

This blog was listed as one of the 'Finalists' in the '2016 current affairs/politics' category of the Littlewoods Ireland blog awards - but we didn't win the award. But not to worry -thanks to everyone involved for getting us to the final stage of the competition and sure we'll try again the next time!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017



'Positive and overbearing,

Changeful still and still adhering,

Spiteful, peevish, rude, untoward,

Fierce in tongue, in heart a coward.

Judgement weak and passion strong,

Always various, always wrong.'

"On this date (26th April 1745 - 272 years ago today), John Allen (3rd Viscount Allen), former MP for Carysfort, kills a dragoon in a street brawl : 'His Lordship was at a house in Eustace Street. At twelve in the night, three dragoons making a noise in the street, he threw up the window and threatening them, adding as is not unusual with him a great deal of bad language. The dragoons returned it. He went out to them loaded with a pistol. At the first snapping of it, it did not fire. This irritated the dragoon who cut his (ie Allen's) fingers with his sword, upon which Lord Allen shot him.' The wound occasions a fever which causes Lord Allen’s death on 25 May..."

Or maybe, perhaps, the '3rd Viscount' did not invite such misfortune onto himself - '..he seems to have been mugged in the centre of Dublin one night in 1745, and although he fought off his attackers - and killed one of them - he received a wound in his hand which became infected and caused his death a month later...he died on 25 May 1745 from an infected wound in the hand received when he was 'insulted in the public streets by some disorderly dragoons' - one of whom he killed - on 26 April 1745..' (from here.)

And this, sourced from 'Google Books' - 'This nobleman being insulted in the public streets by some disorderly dragoons 26 April 1745, received a wound in the hand which occasioned a fever, and caused his death 25 May...'

But, really, whatever about John Allen (the'nobleman') inviting trouble by being verbally aggressive to three 'loud' soldiers (karma that all four participants were birds of a feather!) or whether the three soldiers momentarily forgot they were on home ground and simply behaved as if they were 'on duty' elsewhere in their 'empire', the parties involved caused trouble only too and for themselves, unlike another 'John Allen', featured here, who would attempt to convince you (having himself obviously being convinced by his 'betters') that the 'empire' he served is some sort of benevolent and charitable organisation, rather than the thieving and toxic entity it is.

That last link will permit you to 'View More Comments', and you should - "And I'm sure that many members of the Red Army were "fully dedicated to the well-being and advancement of the people they served" and had a "sense of mission" too..the problem is that ruling over people without their consent (which is what colonialism is a subset of) is wrong. It doesn't matter if you do it for purely "greater good" or paternalistic reasons, it's still wrong...it would be much better for us as a society to really stop lying to ourselves and face the reality of the British Empire. It committed genocide across the world, stole the natural resources from the countries we claimed as ours, destroyed and laid waste to the cultures of millions of people, raped, pillaged and then in the dog days of empire we pretend we were their (sic) to protect the people from terrorists.."

At least this 'John Allen' admits to being a comedian, unlike the other two, and acknowledges that 'his house is a mess' - the other two John Allen's, by virture of their professions, preferred to 'mess up' everybody else's 'house'...


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.

DUMBO THE ELEPHANT... (By Cian Sharkhin.)

"Christopher!" My mum called, beckoning me to join them, so I could cross the road with them. The baby elephant lurched sideways and raised its trunk ; everyone on my side of the elephant stepped back and gasped in unison. I couldn't move, I was hemmed in, only inches away from the elephant and I could feel its breath warm against my hand. It made me shiver.

"Christopher!"My mother called out again. "Come here!" But I couldn't move. I didn't even look at her. "Christopher! CHRISTOPHER!!" Her voice, ten decibels higher, penetrated me. The crowd looked around at each other, all looking to see who Christopher was, I guessed. I joined in, ignoring my mother, not a good idea at the best of times, but I couldn't have moved anyway.

"Christopher! Come here!" Her 'telephone voice' had degenerated. All semblance of control was fast slipping away. The angry voice from the darkest recesses was emerging. Trouble! I glanced furtively over at her. She caught me, glared at me with the eyes of a crazed woman. "Come here right NOW!" I lowered my eyes and they unwittingly came to rest on the zoo keeper's long bamboo cane. I felt my ears getting hot and I could still feel my mother's gaze burning into the back of my head. I saw a luminous after vision of her eyes searing into the soft tissue of my brain... (MORE LATER.)


Regular readers will know that we rarely do a 'sports'-related item on this blog, as it's not a subject we're really interested in and we don't follow it enough to know the 'in's-and-out's' about it, and certainly not to the extent where we would post our opinion on the subject.

But the pic on the left is from 'The Irish Times' newspaper of Tuesday, 25th April 2017, and was sent to us by one of our readers who, rightly, pondered what the reaction would be if a sport-related headline was published in a newspaper declaring that 'England will meet Northern England in World Cup qualifying' or 'Portugal will meet Northern Portugal in World Cup qualifying' or 'Wales will meet Northern Wales in World Cup qualifying' or... - you get our drift!

A ludicrous 'State' of affairs, obviously, but here in Ireland it's all part of the 'normalisation' process whereby repeated use of language and terms like that serve a purpose - to make it seem acceptable and second-nature to present this country as consisting of two separate entities and, by default, to present those who challenge instances of that nature as 'old-fashioned and outdated odd-ball nitpickers' or some such. And so be it - welcome to our wee old-fashioned and outdated corner of the web (which, of course, is divided into a five-cornered unit. And we're gonna keep saying that until you believe it...!)


At the end of a year in which *IRA decommissioning has been met with widespread euphoria, Phil Mac Giolla Bháin takes a stubborn look at the facts and concludes that the celebration party may be a little premature. From the 'Magill Annual 2002' (*PIRA).

For Cathal Goulding, 'IRA' did mean 'I Ran Away'. Goulding and his class-conscious comrades did indeed run away from the sectarian realities of the Belfast proletariat. The battle of the Short Strand saw the Provos buy the franchise of armed republicanism in the North and, subsequently, the whole island. The deal between armed republicanism and the nationalist population was rewritten for a new generation. The glacial pace of the Adams agenda to constitutionalise the Provos has been a keen understanding of that contractual arrangement. Holding the franchise is a temporary arrangement. The title deeds* are not for sale. Currently there is no viable bidder and that may hold for some time - just as there was no credible bid in the marketplace in 1962. (*'1169' comment - the "title deeds", so to speak, are not 'for sale', true enough - but they never were, and were certainly never even on offer to those who would take that 'paperwork' into the toilet that is Leinster House).

If the Republican Movement was a company, then at no time in its history has it had a CEO of the quality of Gerry Adams ('1169' comment - lol! If the author of that statement was a lawyer, he could play this part for real!). Moreover, the quality he can call in from his vice president, Martin McGuinness, and the rest of the boardroom is peerless on either of what we term 'these islands'. They are easily a more formidable negotiating team than the plenipotentiaries sent by de Valera to barter with Lloyd George ('1169' comment - Wow! Lionel has really lost the plot : if I didn't know better, I'd be inclined to believe he was after a PSF 'inhouse' job. Or, perhaps, promotion to a management position...!). They have negotiated from a far weaker position, against greater odds than the Collins team had to contend with. They have done so with great skill and endurance (...come, now, Lionel, they can't take all the credit...).

They have been forced to capitulate on the weapons issue in a way that is the obverse of what Nelson Mandela told de Klerk when asked about the ANC's 'illegal' weapons - Mandela simply told him they would be handed in "when we are the government collecting them". At that point, of course, the need for ANC weapons would be over as the cause of that conflict - apartheid - would also be removed... (MORE LATER).


Francis Sheehy-Skeffington was born on the 23rd December 1878 in Bailieborough, Co Cavan, and was 37 years of age in 1916 when some of those who shared mostly the same social interests as he did and frequented the same venues (Thomas MacDonagh, James Connolly, Countess Markievicz and Joseph Plunkett, for example) organised and took part in an armed uprising against the British. Sheehy-Skeffington would have been sympathetic to their objective but not to their method.

On Easter Monday, 24th April 1916, the Irish republican Proclamation was circulated in Dublin and, in reply, on Tuesday 25th, the British circulated their own 'Proclamation' in Dublin -


WHEREAS, in the City of Dublin and County of Dublin, certain evil disposed persons and Associations, with the intention of subverting the supremacy of the Crown in Ireland, have committed diverse acts of violence, and have with deadly weapons attacked the forces of the Crown, and have resisted by armed force the lawful authority of His Majesty's Police and Military forces ; and WHEREAS by reason thereof several of His Majesty's liege subjects have been killed and many others severely injured, and much damage to property has been caused ; and WHEREAS such armed resistance to His Majesty's Authority still continues :

NOW WE, Ivor Churchill Baron Wimborne, Lord Lieutenant-General and General Governor of Ireland, by virture of all the powers thereunto enabling us, do hereby proclaim that from and after the date of this Proclamation, and for the period of one month thereafter, unless otherwise ordered, the City of Dublin and County of Dublin are under and subject to Martial Law ; and WE do hereby call on all loyal and well-affected subjects of the Crown to aid in upholding and maintaining the peace of the Realm and the supremacy, and authority of the Crown ; and WE warn all peaceable and law-abiding subjects within such area of the danger of frequenting or being in any place in or in the vicinity of which His Majesty's forces are engaged in the suppression of disorder :

AND WE do hereby enjoin upon such subjects the duty and necessity, so far as practicable, of remaining within their own homes so long as these dangerous conditions prevail ; and WE do hereby proclaim that all persons found carrying arms without lawful authority are liable to be dealt with by virture of this Proclamation.

Given at Dublin,

This 25th day of April, 1916.



That British 'Proclamation' was only in circulation for a day when three men were 'arrested' by British forces : Francis Sheehy-Skeffington, Patrick McIntyre and Thomas Dickson. It was earlier on that same day, Wednesday 26th April 1916, that 1,600 British soldiers from the 'Third Cavalry Brigade', artillery from Athlone and the 176th and 178th Infantry Brigades of the 59th North Midland Division of the British Army were preparing themselves for the march from 'Kingstown' Harbour (Dun Laoighaire) to Dublin city centre. Tension was high in the city ; Francis Sheehy-Skeffington, a leading writer and well-known pacifist, was in Dublin city centre, on his way home to Rathmines when he tried to help stop looters who were out in force, taking advantage of the disorganised situation in the capital, but he was 'arrested' by British troops from Portobello Barracks, as were two other civilians - Dublin journalists Patrick McIntyre, then editor of the 'Labour' newspaper, 'Searchlight', and Thomas Dickson, then editor of a pro-republican weekly newspaper, 'The Eye-Opener'.

Word circulated on Thursday morning, April 27th, 1916, that the three men had been shot dead in the barrack square by a British Army firing squad, without any 'formal' charges having been brought against any of them. Later , the British Army Captain in charge of the firing squad, a Bowen Colthurst, a member of the 'Royal Irish Rifles', from Dripsey in County Cork, who was a decorated officer who had fought in the Boer War and afterwards served in India, including the 1904 British military incursion into Tibet. He had been injured while leading a disastrous attack against a German position on the western front in September 1914 and was sent back to Ireland. He was attached to the 3rd Battalion stationed at Portobello Barracks when the 1916 Easter Rising took place. Colthurst was later 'tried' by court-martial regarding the order he issued to the firing squad and was found 'guilty but insane', but a different account re the shooting of the three men was beginning to emerge : it was during the court-martial of Bowen Colthurst that a different version of the events surrounding the executions of Francis Sheehy Skeffington, Patrick mcIntyre and Thomas Dickson was spoke of - a British Army Officer in Portobello Barracks stated that he heard a number of shots on the Wednesday (April 26th, 1916) and went to investigate ; he claimed to have seen three stretchers being carried out of the porch of the guardroom on which were three dead bodies - one of those bodies had a blanket thrown over it and a bowler hat placed across the face and, from either side of the stretcher, an arm hung down, dripping blood.

This (unnamed) British Army Officer claimed that the body with the bowler hat on the face was that of Francis Sheehy Skeffington - the 'witness' stated, apparently in a jovial manner, that the firing party had done its work so badly that a second one had had to be summoned to finish Skeffington off. Were the three men shot dead in the guardroom on the Wednesday night (26th April 2017) by a vengeful British enemy and then, in order to cover-up the deed, were their corpses 'wheeled out' the following day for an 'official' British Army 'execution'..?

The following letter makes for interesting reading in relation to the circumstances surrounding this particular event -

From Henry Lemass

To : Herbert Henry Asquith

13 June 1916



As solicitor for Mrs. Sheehy Skeffington - for whose husband's murder, on 26th April, Captain Bowen Colthurst has been adjudged guilty - I have the honour to inquire when the promised Public Inquiry will be held? My client is profoundly dissatisfied with the limited information afforded at the Courtmartial, when the insanity of the accused was suggested. While she abhors the idea that fresh blood should be spilt, my client is equally resolute that the truth should be known, so that the people of the three Kingdoms may determine whether the same measure of justice has been meted out to all parties affected by the rebellion.

That there were circumstances giving rise to anxiety connected with the recent trial will be evident from the following facts : Lieutenant Wylie, K.C. who had prosecuted to conviction other men recently executed, was released from this Courtmartial and an English Counsel, not fully acquainted with the facts or imperfectly instructed, was appointed. Although no plea of inability to plead was entered for the accused, the question of his sanity was raised from the outset.

Yet the manner in which he effected the arrest of the other murdered men (Messrs Dickson and McIntyre) was not proved, nor the process by which he selected them for execution from amongst eight prisoners. Nevertheless, it was within the knowledge of the Military Authorities that Messrs Dickson and McIntyre were taken into custody on the premises of Alderman James Kelly, ex-High Sheriff, by the accused, under the idea that the shop belonged to Alderman Thomas Kelly, a person of wholly different politics.

They also knew that Colthurst threw a bomb into the premises and subsequently "planted" Mr. Dickson's trunk therein to give rise to the suspicion that Mr. Dickson had been harboured by Alderman James Kelly who was also lodged in Portobello Barracks.

Nor was the Court informed that two sisters of Mrs. Skeffington, viz: Mrs Kettle (wife of Lieutenant Kettle), and Mrs, Culhane (widow of a public official lately deceased) called at Portobello Barracks on Friday, 28th April, after the murders, and, on inquiring for their brother, Lieutenant Sheehy, were put under arrest and brought before Captain Colthurst, and that he denied all knowledge of Mr. Skeffington and was perfectly calm and collected in his demeanour and falsehoods. Similarly, the tribunal was not made aware that on the evening after his examination of these ladies, Captain Colthurst ordered a search of Mrs.Skeffington's house; that his soldiers first fired into her dwelling, and then, producing a key taken from the body of the murdered man, opened his locked room and removed documents to try to furnish the accused with ex post facto justification for his crime.

The second raid on the widow's house by Colthurst's orders on the following Monday, as well as the fact that one of the soldiers who took part in it was the Sergeant left in charge of Dickson's trunk at Alderman James Kelly's, was also left unmentioned. There was an equally significant silence as to the protests of the murdered men on the morning of their execution, and as to the accused's refusal of spiritual solace to them in their last moments. The Courtmartial were likewise unaware that Captain Colthurst was allowed to remain at large by his superiors until the 6th May - nearly a fortnight after the murders - while the non-production of Major Sir Francis Vane, his Senior Officer, disabled it from learning that on the 1st may (a week after the murders) the accused was promoted to the charge of the Defence of Portobello Barracks.

His conduct on shooting the lad, Coade, on Rathmines Road previous to the three murders, was not introduced, although Coade's father immediately lodged information at the Barracks. None of the soldiers who formed the firing party was called to speak as to the nature of the accuseds commands and demeanour, or explain how Mr. Skeffington came to be taken from a locked cell without authority. The added tragedy which led to a second squad of soldiers being called out to fire at the prostrate body of Mr. Skeffington would not have become known (although proved at the private preliminary inquiry) but for the candour of the noble President of the tribunal, Lord Cheylesmore.

As for the attempt to fasten complicity with the rebellion on Mr. Skeffington by the production of a document published previously by Alderman Thomas Kelly (which deceased, as a journalist, kept in his house) - it stands in strange contrast with the silence preserved concerning the innocence of the other slaughtered men and the Court was not even told who or what they were. The admission of this document after Adjutant Morgan, who produced it, had sworn that it was not found on Mr. Skeffington, may have been due to inadvertenance, but the cunning of the untruthful endorsement on it by the accused to the effect that it was found on the body, seemed to call for observation on the issue of sanity, as corroboration of the fact that Captain Colthurst from the date when he knew the murders were discovered, was engaged in the manufacture of evidence to palliate his guilt.

I therefore have to ask that in view of the promised Inquiry you will make arrangements with the Military Authorities to have in attendance thereat, in addition to the witnesses called on behalf of the prosecution at the late Courtmartial, the following persons : 1 — The soldiers under command of Lieutenant Wilson when Mr. Skeffington was marched out of his cell into the street to serve as a hostage. 2 — The soldiers who composed the first and second firing parties. 3 — Lieutenant Colonel McCammond who was in command of the Royal Irish Rifles. 4 — Major Sir Francis Vane, 2nd in Command. 5 — Lieutenant Tooley and Lieutenant Gibbon. 6 — The officers and soldiers who were sent after the murder to search Mrs. Skeffington's residence on two occasions - especially Sergeant Claxton. Of course, the names, regiment and regimental number of all the proposed witnesses should be supplied to me some days before the Inquiry, unless the Government undertake to call them for examination. I should also be furnished the Notes of the preliminary Inquiry which the Courtmartial were supplied with. In addition I request that all documents, etc., taken from the person of Mr. Skeffington, or seized at his residence, should be returned, and if this is refused that copies should be supplied to me.

I should likewise be afforded an opportunity of examining and taking copies of any reports or entries dealing with the circumstances attending the arrest or execution of Mr. Skeffington, or the searches at his residence. I shall feel obliged by an intimation of an early decision.

I have the honour to be, Sir,

Your obedient Servant



Prime Minister,

10 Downing Street, London, S.W.'

Francis Sheehy Skeffington : Born 23rd December 1878, Bailieborough, County Cavan ; Died 26th April 1916 (aged 37) Portobello Barracks, Dublin.



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!


We wondered how long it would take for this slogan to take off and how long it would be before it was out-selling Che Guevara T-Shirts in all the major capital cities of the world. "What exactly does it say, Cyril?" The question was asked at long last. Cyril gave a look that would have melted you, so we decided it was a stupid question, never to be asked again.

From our lofty vantage point on top of the huts we could just about make out some other banners that our comrades in other cages had erected on top of their huts. They were so predictable (see 'Smuggle Us In Some Fags, Ma' and other such suggestions!). Unfortunately, we couldn't anchor our banner securely to the huts, so all of us had to take turns standing there, holding them up. It was absolutely freezing, although it was still warmer than being inside the huts.

At around four o'clock a helicopter appeared over the top of the huts and we could clearly see the cameraman filming us. The electricity came on about six o'clock and we ran down to get a cup of tea and watch the news on television before the electricity went off again. A huge cheer went up from all assembled at the TV - there we were, in glorious black and white , the men of Cage 10 on top of the huts holding their banner. The news item then showed some of the other cages with what we considered to be their crap banners. We gloated at our innovative banner and compared the banal efforts of our comrades at the Sentenced end of the Camp. "Did ye see that one they had up in Cage 13? Jesus, we rejected that one immediately!", boasted a guy from Toomebridge. The criticism of the other banners went on into the early hours of the morning in Cage 10... (MORE LATER).


Dear Mum

Dear Mum, I know you’re always there

To help and guide me with all your care,

You nursed and fed me and made me strong

To face the world and all its wrong.

What can I write to you this day

For a line or two would never pay

For care and time you gave to me

Through long hard years unceasingly.

How you found strength I do not know

How you managed I’ll never know,

Struggling and striving without a break

Always there and never late.

You prayed for me and loved me more

How could I ask for anymore

And reared me up to be like you

But I haven’t a heart as kind as you.

A guide to me in times of plight

A princess like a star so bright

For life would never have been the same

If I hadn’t of learned what small things came. So forgive me Mum just a little more

For not loving you so much before,

For life and love you gave to me

I give my thanks for eternity.

Bobby Sands.

Thanks for reading, Sharon.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017


Four drunken members of the British 'establishment' in Ireland turn on each other - karma?....a loud shrill voice and a baby beast...a peerless ceo and boardroom, as perceived by one who hopes to join the 'board'...an 'eye-opener' of a 'searchlight' and an Irish pacifist who was executed twice by the British...(MORE ON WEDNESDAY 26TH APRIL 2017 - see you then!)

Thanks for the visit, Sharon.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017



RSF President Des Dalton, speaking at the RSF Easter Monday Commemoration (17th April 2017) in O'Connell Street, Dublin.

The main RSF Easter Commemoration in Dublin this year was held on Easter Monday (17th April) at the GPO in O'Connell Street - the organisers had to set-up their equipment and hold the event on the traffic isle facing the post office due to the amount of barricades and Luas-related building work that was taking place in the area that weekend but the event, despite the terrain(!), was a noted success. All-in-all, about 300 people stayed with us for the hour-and-a-half that we were in O'Connell street, albeit in three different places : a good crowd stood their ground around the six columns at the GPO, some joined us on the traffic isle and more lined the footpath on the other side of O'Connell Street.

The commemoration was chaired by one of the RSF Treasurers, Anthony Donohue, the main speaker was Líta Ní Chathmhaoil and, between them, Róisín Hayden and Pádraig Ennis read the Easter Statement and the 1916 Proclamation. RSF President Des Dalton gave a rousing speech from the stage in which he referenced the hypocrisy of State representatives seeking to 'honour' the men and women of 1916, as those same Free Staters can trace their political lineage back to those that fought against the 1916 fighters, and he was loudly applauded by the crowds present for making that comparison, and rightly so.

All of the 300 leaflet packs were distributed and, indeed, had we got half-as-much again we would have handed those out as well, such was the demand. We publish a few pics with this post, and a more detailed report will be published in the May 2017 issue of 'Saoirse' , which goes to print on Wednesday, 10th May next :

Anthony Donohue officiating at the Easter Monday Commemoration in Dublin.

The RSF Colour Party, Cumann na mBan and Na Fianna Éireann representatives at the Dublin Commemoration.

Líta Ní Chathmhaoil delivering the main oration on Easter Monday at the Commemoration.

RSF are to be congratulated for presenting themselves in such a fine manner at this event, and should continue to feel proud of themselves for upholding the political objectives and principles of those they commemorated on the day. Maith thú, a chairde!


IRA man Jack 'Seán' McNeela (pictured) was born in Ballycroy, Co. Mayo, in 1912 and, although only 27 years of age at the time, was an experienced IRA Volunteer when, in 1939, the Leinster House (Free State) political administration introduced an 'Offences Against the State Act', incorporating a 'Special Criminal Court', which effectively re-classified republican prisoners as 'special criminals' rather than that which they were (and are), political prisoners.

IRA prisoners in Mountjoy Jail vehemently objected to that policy change and the following story of that particular period in our history, as recorded by Michael Traynor, was given to Republican Sinn Féin by Carmel McNeela, widow of Paddy McNeela and sister-in-law of Jack 'Seán' Mc Neela - but a bit of background, first : Tony Darcy (a Galway IRA man and Officer Commanding of the IRA Western Command at the time, who began his hunger strike on 25th February 1940 and died on 16th April, in St Bricins [Free State] military hospital in Dublin, after 52 days on hunger strike) was sentenced to three months imprisonment for refusing to account for his movements or give his name and address when arrested by Free Staters at an IRA meeting in Dublin. The POW's went on hunger strike after Meath IRA man, Nick Doherty, was imprisoned on the criminal wing in Mountjoy Jail and a request to transfer him to join his political comrades in Arbour Hill Jail was refused by the Staters. One week into the protest, the prison authorities made a move to take the IRA OC of the prisoners, Jack 'Seán' McNeela, for 'trial' before the 'Special Criminal Court' but he refused to go with them. Barricades were built and D-Wing was secured as best as possible by the IRA prisoners and they were soon attacked by armed Special Branch men, backed-up by the Dublin Metropolitan Police. Among the casualties were McNeela and Darcy, both of whom were beaten unconscious and suffered wounds that were never allowed to heal.

This is the account of that period, by Michael Traynor : "When Seán Russell became CS (Chief of Staff) of the IRA in 1938 he immediately appointed Jack McNeela OC (Officer Commanding) Great Britain with the particular task of putting the organisation there on a war footing and amassing explosives and preparing for the forthcoming bombing campaign. After a few months of tense activity Jack was arrested and sentenced to nine months imprisonment. He returned to Ireland in 1939 and was appointed Director of Publicity. Jack was very disappointed with this appointment. He said he knew nothing about publicity and would have preferred some task, no matter how humble, which would have kept him in contact with the rank and file Volunteers. However Publicity had to be organised and Jack threw himself to the job with zeal and energy.

After two months, out of nothing, Jack had his Publicity Department functioning perfectly. Writers were instructed and put to work, office staff organised, radio technicians got into harness. Another big disappointment at this time for Jack was the instructions he received about the raid on the Magazine Fort. He nearly blew up when he was told that he could not take part in the operation, that HQ staff could not afford to lose more (Volunteers) if the operation failed. He was a man of action and wanted to be with his comrades in time of danger. He repeatedly requested permission to take part in the operation but without success. But Jack was there, orders or no orders, and he did about ten men's work in the taking of the fort and the loading of the ammunition. He was a very pleased man that night, for he, like all the rest of the members of GHQ, knew that this ammunition was necessary to the success of the Army's attack on the Border, which was planned to take place in the following spring.

He was arrested about three weeks later with members of the Radio Broadcast Staff and lodged in Mountjoy jail. He was OC of the prisoners when I arrived in the middle of February 1940. Tomás Mac Curtáin was there, and Tony Darcy, who was a very great personal friend of Jack's, so was Jack Plunkett and Tommy Grogan. I was about a week in jail, life was comparatively quiet, great speculation was going on as to what would happen to the men arrested in connection with the raid on the Magazine Fort. The crisis developed when Nicky Doherty, of Julianstown, Co Meath, was sentenced to five years penal servitude. Instead of being transferred to Arbour Hill (where other republican prisoners had political status), Nicky was lodged in the criminal section of Mountjoy Jail. Jack, being OC of the republican prisoners, interviewed the governor of the jail and requested that Nicky be transferred to Arbour Hill on the grounds that he was a political prisoner and that it was unjust and unchristian to attempt to degrade and classify as criminal a republican soldier. The request was ignored. Jack and his prison council met to consider the situation : it was decided that a demand was necessary and with the demand for justice went the ultimatum that if he refused a number of prisoners (who were still untried) would go on hunger strike until the demand was accepted. A short time limit was set, but the demand was also ignored.

Jack, I remember well, was very insistent that the issue should be kept clear and simple. The hunger strike was a protest against the attempted degradation of republican soldiers. There was no other question or issue involved. A simple demand for justice and decency. Seven men volunteered to go on hunger strike and when the time limit [February 25, 1940] of the ultimatum expired they refused to eat any food, although tempting parcels of food kept arriving every day from their relatives and friends. It was felt by the men on hunger strike that the struggle would be either a speedy victory or a long, long battle, with victory or death at the end. It was victory and death for Jack McNeela and Tony Darcy."

"Seven days after the commencement of the hunger strike, Special Branch policemen came to take Jack to Collins Barracks for trial before the 'Special Criminal (or was it the Military) Court'. Jack refused to go with them. They told him they'd take him by force. They went away for reinforcements. A hasty meeting of the Prisoners' Council was held. They felt it was unjust to take Jack for trial while he was on hunger strike, and that everything possible should be done to prevent the hunger strikers from being separated. Barricades were hastily erected in the D-Wing of the jail. Beds, tables and mattresses were piled on top of each other ; all the food was collected and put into a common store and general preparations made to resist removal of Jack, their OC. A large contingent of the DMP arrived together with the Special Branch at full strength. The DMP men charged the barricades with batons ; the Special Branch men kept to the rear and looked on while the DMP men were forced to retire by prisoners with legs of chairs. Several charges were made but without success. Some warders and a few policemen suffered minor injuries. The governor of the jail came down to the barricade and asked the prisoners to surrender. They greeted him with jeers and booing.

After some time the DMP men returned, armed with shovel shafts about six feet long, hoping with their superior weapons to subdue the prisoners. After several charges and some tough hand-to-hand fighting the policemen again retired. The most effective weapon possessed by the prisoners was a quantity of lime, liquefied by some Mayo men, and flung in the faces of the charging DMP men. It was reminiscent off the Land League days and the evictions. Finally the fire hydrants were brought into use and the force of the water from these hoses broke down everything before them. The barricade was toppled over and the prisoners, drenched to the skin, could not resist the powers of water at pressure ; they were forced to take cover in the cells. I got into a cell with Tony Darcy and Jack McNeela. We closed the door. After a few minutes the door was burst open and in rushed about five huge DMP men swinging their batons in all directions. Tony, standing under the window facing the door, put up his hand but he was silenced by a blow of a baton across the face that felled him senseless. Jack was pummelled across the cell by blow after blow. Blood teemed from his face and head.

These wounds on Jack and Tony never healed until they died."

"It lasted only a few brief minutes, this orgy of sadistic vengeance, and then we were carried and flung into solitary confinement. Jack was taken away that evening and tried and sentenced by the Special Court. The next time I saw Tony and Jack was in the sick bay in Arbour Hill. Jack Plunkett was also there with them. We exchanged experiences after the row in the 'Joy'. Day followed day, I cannot remember any particular incident, except that regularly three times a day an orderly arrived with our food, which we of course refused to take. We were by now nursing our strength, realising that this was a grim struggle, a struggle to the death. We jokingly made forecasts of who would be the first to die. Jack was almost fanatic about speaking Gaelic. Most of our conversation while in the Hill was in Gaelic. Tony used to laugh at my funny accent. While he couldn't speak Gaelic he understood perfectly well all that was said and sometimes threw in a remark to the conversation. When conversation was general, English was the medium. Jack Plunkett didn't know any Gaelic at all. We were in the best of spirits. Rumours filtered through to us, I don't know how, because we were very strictly isolated from the rest of the republican prisoners in the Hill. We heard that one of our comrades had broken the hunger strike at the Joy ; we didn't hear the name for a few days. The report was confirmed. We were inclined to be annoyed, but we agreed that it was better for the break to come early than late. It had no demoralising effect.

After Jack was arrested all the books he had bought (mostly Gaelic) were sent into the Joy. He intended to make good use of his spell of imprisonment. He kept requesting the Governor of the Hill to have them sent to him. After about three weeks a few tattered and water-sodden books were brought to him, all that remained of his little library, the others had been trampled and destroyed by the police in Mountjoy. Jack was vexed. He hadn't smoked, nor taken drink, and every penny he had went to the purchase of these books that he loved. We were, during all this time, as happy as men could be. In spite of imprisonment and all that it means we were not all despondent nor feeling like martyrs. Everyday, we reviewed our position; what we had done, our present state of health, the prospect of success. The conclusion we came to was that de Valera, Boland and Co had decided to gamble with us – to wear us out in the hope that we would break and therefore demoralise all our comrades and if we didn't break, to give political treatment to all IRA prisoners when we were in the jaws of death. The issue, as we saw it, was of vital importance to us, but of practically no consequence to the Fianna Fáil regime. We knew of course that de Valera and the Fianna Fáil party hated the IRA, because we were a reminder of their broken pledged to the people.

On the eve of St Patrick's Day we were removed to St Bricin's military hospital. A few days later Tomás Mac Curtáin and Tommy Grogan joined us. We were terribly disappointed with their report from the 'Joy'. The men who had been sentenced were accepting criminal status instead of refusing to work as they had been instructed to do ; that is another story, although it led directly to the death of Seán McCaughey six years later in Portlaoise jail.

We were in a small hospital ward. Three beds on each side, occupied by six hungry men and every day was a hungry day. Every evening each of us would give the description of the meal he would like most, or the meal he had enjoyed most. Salmon and boxty loomed large in Jack's menu. About this time we began to count the days that we could possibly live. The doctors who examined us, sometimes three times a day, told us that we had used up all our reserves and were living on our nerves ; they tried to frighten us, assuring us that if we didn't come off the hunger strike our health would be ruined. We all agreed among ourselves that the doctors were actuated by purely humane motives, although their advice if acted on by us would have been very satisfactory to their employers. After 50 days on hunger strike we were unable to get out of bed, or rather the strain of getting up was too great an expenditure of energy, which we were determined to husband carefully.

We did not see any change on each other. The change came so imperceptibly day after day. Jack, lying in the next bed to me, seemed to be the same big robust man that I had known before we were arrested, yet, we each were failing away. The doctors and nurses were very kind. We were rubbed with spirit and olive oil to prevent bedsores ; all our joints and bony places were padded with cotton wool, for by now the rubbing of one finger against another was painful. None of us could read anymore, our sight had lost focus and concentration on material objects had become difficult. We were face to face with death, but no one flinched or if he did he prayed to God for strength and courage. On the 54th night of the strike, about midnight, Tony cried out (we were all awake): 'Jack, I'm dying.' We all knew that it was so. Jack replied, 'I’m coming, Tony’. I felt, and I'm sure Jack and the others felt also that getting out of bed and walking across the room to Tony would mean death to Jack also. As well as I remember Mac Curtáin, Plunkett, Grogan and myself appealed to Jack not to get out of bed. But Tony's cry pierced Jack's heart deeper than ours so he got up and staggered across the room to his friend and comrade. Later that night Tony was taken out to a private ward. We never saw him again. He died the following night. A great and staunch and unflinching soldier and comrade ; oh that Ireland had twenty thousand as honourable and fearless as he.

The day following Tony's removal from the ward, Jack's uncle, Mick Kilroy, late Fianna Fáil TD, came to see Jack. Alas, he didn't come to give a kinsman's help, but attacked Jack for "daring to embarrass de Valera" the "heaven-sent leader" by such action and demanded that Jack give up his hunger strike at once. Jack's temper rose and had he been capable of rising would have thrown him out. He ordered him out of the room, so did we all. It was the first time in 56 days that we felt enraged at anything. The brutal treatment of the police after seven days’ hunger strike was trivial in comparison to this outrage. The next day Jack was taken out of the ward. We never saw him again. A few hours after his removal we received a communication from the Chief of Staff IRA. The following is an extract :

'April 19, 1940. To the men on hunger strike in St Bricin's Hospital : The Army Council and the Nation impressed with the magnitude of your self-sacrifice wish to convey to you the desire that if at all consistent with your honour as soldiers of the Republic you would be spared to resume your great work in another form. We are given to understand that the cause you went on strike has been won and that your jailers are now willing to concede treatment becoming soldiers of the Republic. In these circumstances if you are satisfied with the assurances given you – you will earn still more fully the gratitude of the people – relinquishing the weapon which has already caused so much suffering and has resulted in the death of a gallant comrade.'

Jack had requested confirmation from HQ of the assurances given to us by Fr O'Hare, a Carmelite Father from Whitefriars Street, Dublin. Fr O'Hare had interviewed Mr Boland, the Minister for Justice in the Free State government, and received his assurances that all republican prisoners would get political treatment. Naturally we did not want to die, but we could not accept any verbal assurance so we felt that written confirmation by our Chief of Staff was necessary. When the confirmation arrived Jack was out in the private ward. I was acting OC. We were reluctant, the four of us who remained, to come off the hunger strike, with Tony dead and Jack at death's door. Yet we had the instruction from HQ that our demands were satisfied. The doctors assured us that if the strike ended Jack had a 50-50 chance of living so I gave the order that ended the strike. I believe the doctors worked feverishly to save Jack's life, but in vain. Jack McNeela, our OC and comrade, died that night and joined the host of the elected who died that Ireland and all her sons and daughters would be free from the chains of British Imperialism and happy in the working out of their own destiny."

On the 19th April 1940 - 77 years ago on this date - Jack 'Seán' McNeela, a 28 year old IRA Volunteer from Ballycroy in County Mayo, died in Arbour Hill Military Detention Barracks in Dublin, after 55 days on hunger strike, fighting against the Free Staters for political status. Incidentally, a radio programme produced by 'Midwest Radio' highlighting the abuse meted out by those same Staters at McNeela's funeral was the subject of a complaint to the 'Broadcasting Complaints Commission' in that, according to the complainant, the programme lacked '...balance (and) impartiality (and) distorted the facts and (the) historical perspective..'. The complaint was rejected. The complainant was a retired garda. More here...


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.

DUMBO THE ELEPHANT. (By Cian Sharkhin.)

Standing beside the baby elephant was amazing. I'd never been that close to an elephant before. I could've reached out and touched him, and I did - his skin was like bark, it made him seem older, he wasn't like Dumbo was in the film. Dumbo was happy, but not when the naughty boys were pulling his ears. Dumbo's face was cheeky, shiny and he bounced around, but the real elephant had thick leathery skin, sad piggy little eyes and he shambled around.

I wasn't the only kid who was petting the baby elephant - there were other kids and parents surrounding him, too. The zoo keeper held the end of a rope which went around the elephant's neck, and in his other hand he carried a long bamboo cane. He indulged us, waiting patiently whilst the crowd petted the elephant and took photos. I was hemmed in on the elephant's left flank by some other kids behind me, who tried to squeeze closer to the elephant, forcing me closer to the bark-skinned beast.

The kids behind me had wriggled into the space that had been vacated by my parents and two little sisters, Sally and Denise, who were all holding hands preparing to cross the road, which was about twenty yards from where I was standing. I could just see them through the wriggling, writhing mass that jostled me from behind. I was trapped... (MORE LATER.)


At the end of a year in which *IRA decommissioning has been met with widespread euphoria, Phil Mac Giolla Bháin takes a stubborn look at the facts and concludes that the celebration party may be a little premature. From the 'Magill Annual 2002' (*PIRA).

The Arms Trial should have been about the inability of Free State arms to protect Irish citizens on the island of Ireland but, instead, it focused on a tangible symptom of a cause no one wanted to address. The conspiracy by elements within the Dublin government to equip northern nationalists with the means with which to defend themselves was not the problem, the fact that a movement that emerged from the burning ghettos of 1969 now has the means to arm an infantry battalion is not the problem - the problem is the situation that led shopkeepers to become quartermasters and grammar school girls to become active service unit commanders. It was this issue that brought me to meet with all of the main players in 'The Split', as research for part of a politics degree back in 1982.

I interviewed Seán MacStíofáin, Dáithí Ó Conaill, Seán Garland and Cathal Goulding, and concluded at the end of my thesis that the realities of a loyalist pogrom on Catholics meant that Official Sinn Féin's vision of an Ireland polarised along socio-economic lines - through a Marxist rather than a tribal viewfinder- was dangerous nonsense for the people of, for instance, the Short Strand.

With the exception of Gerry Adams, all the current republican leadership are children of 1969 - the 'B-Specials' made the Provos as surely as the Cold War and the Gulf War made bin Laden. The split in 1969 was essentially about guns - Cathal Goulding moved them out of Belfast to stop a shooting war, the Provos split to get guns into Belfast so that they could take part in exactly that... (MORE LATER).


A lesson here for our home-grown 'cooperators' :

'19th April 1942 - France Vichy Government : the New Vichy Government, headed by Pierre Laval at the bidding of his German masters, in an attempt to bring the insurgent French people back into line with Nazi ruling...promised to protect the people from the Nazi Regime by gaining concessions...'

'The Vichy Government was born of defeat at the hands of the Germans in June of 1940. Military weakness and political divisiveness had combined to ensure a French defeat in only six weeks of fighting...France turned to the aged hero of Verdun, Henri Petain, to save France in this dark hour. Petain took over and negotiated with the Germans to leave part of France unoccupied. The unoccupied part of France was ruled from the city of Vichy (famous for its 'Vichy water'). The new government had a much stronger president and brought more stability to the French political system. Petain was viewed as a veritable national savior. He promised to get peace with honor - or as much honor as could be gained in such circumstances...the Vichy Government was much more authoritarian than the Third Republic. A secret police force, more restricted civil rights and less power for the legislative branch were characteristic. Vichy also cooperated ('collaborated') with the Nazis partly out of sympathy, but mostly out of intimidation (as) Vichy ruled, after all, purely at the pleasure of the masters in Berlin (and) as Nazi pressure increased, Vichy began to cooperate even more...'

'Pétain's Vichy Government was not a fascist regime and Pétain was not a puppet of the Nazis, at least he liked to think so – but the anti-Semitic laws were his own. Right from the start the Vichy Government set out its stall, actively doing the Nazi's dirty work with little interference: conducting a vicious civil war against the French resistance, implementing numerous anti-Jewish laws, and sending tens of thousands of Jews to the death camps. Within six months, 60,000 non-French citizens had been interned in thirty concentration camps that had sprung up in France with alarming speed and efficiency...'

On the 2nd June 1944, General de Gaulle proclaimed a provisional French government - it was on that date that the Vichy regime came to an end. In August 1944, Pétain, Laval (later to be convicted of 'treason') and several others were taken away by the Germans in their general retreat from France back to Germany. In France, during the summer of 1945, collaborators were hunted down and some were executed without trial. Pétain, who had returned to France, was condemned to death but this sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. Laval, along with other collaborators, was executed : 'Pierre Laval was shot today at 12.32pm after a vain attempt to poison himself had delayed his execution...when his advocates told him last night that General de Gaulle would not commute the sentence or the Minister of Justice order a retrial, Laval had been composed and cheerful. When this morning at 8.45am, Mornet, the Procurator General, came to him to inform him that he was to be executed at 9.30am, Laval was lying in bed. Without replying, he put his head under the blankets. His advocates thought that he had had a moment of weakness and one of them raised the blanket to ask him to master himself, but saw at once from Laval's appearance that he must have taken poison. He was already losing consciousness. He had in fact drunk from a bottle of cyanide of potassium which he still held, but in his hurry he had not drained the bottle and had not shaken it before drinking. Immediate medical attention prevented his attempted suicide, and half an hour later Laval was again conscious...'

On October 15th 1945, Laval was shot in the courtyard of Fresnes Prison and Henri Philippe Benoni Omer Joseph Pétain, generally known as 'Philippe Pétain' or 'Marshal Pétain', died on the 23rd July 1951, aged 95, in Île d'Yeu, in France - he had been exhibiting signs of mental illness and would occasionally lose control over his bodily functions, and suffered from hallucinations. He succumbed to senility two years before he died, and had heart problems and was unable to move without assistance - indeed, the second 'broken entity' he was to be associated with. Had he practised his 'political art' in this State, he would have been labelled as 'a hero' and the 23rd July would by now be an 'official holiday', such is the level of 'vichism' we suffer from here.



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!


Word reached us from the Sentenced end of the Camp to manufacture a large banner of protest ; the instructions came with some 'Blue Peter'-type diagrams - we were somehow to sew three prison-issue white bed sheets together and paint revolutionary-like slogans on them and, when this done, we were to stretch the banner between three huts. We pondered the wording for our banner in Cage 10. Some of the ideas were along the lines of 'DEATH TO THE BRITISH IMPERIALISTS', 'PATRIA EL MUERTA' (I think), 'GO BACK TO ENGLAND, YE BASTARDS', 'ALL BRITS ARE BASTARDS, ESPECIALLY HER SOLDIERS AND POLITICIANS', 'SMUGGLE US IN SOME FAGS, MA' and 'DOWN WITH THE IMPERIALIST WAR DOGS'.

It was all starting to get a bit predictable. We needed something innovative : "I have it!" said Caoimhin, a comrade from the Markets area in Belfast - "Cyril from Limerick knows Irish - he can do one in the Irish language for us." "Perfect", said Boco from the Short Strand, so we approached Cyril en masse. He looked a bit uncomfortable - "Caide atá uaibh?", he asked. "Never mind that crap, we need a banner," said Boco. Cyril thought long and hard for about four seconds. "I've got it, the very thing. We could put..." Hinge-Jaw Boco cut in - "Cyril, never mind the Irish class, just write the friggin' thing down on this piece of paper."

The three sheets were stitched together, then we got all the paint and magic markers we could find and waited for Cyril and his slogan. He produced his slogan and we started painting it on the sheets. We had to finish it off with shoe polish. It was nailed onto two brush-poles and we made our way to the roofs of the middle hut and the canteen of Cage 10. The legend on our banner read - 'BÁS DON BÉARLA' - we looked up open-mouthed and with an ignorant pride, and some of the younger comrades were 'welling up' with emotion, and I must admit that I bit my own lip to stop myself from crying... (MORE LATER).

Thanks for reading, Sharon.



The main RSF Easter Commemoration in Dublin will be held on Easter Monday, 17th April 2017 - details here - but, if you can't get to that one, then click to enlarge the pic (left) to get the details of other RSF-organised Easter commemorations, from Donegal to Cork to New York.

On Easter Sunday in Dublin, a wreath will be laid and the 1916 Proclamation will be read at the Éamonn Ceannt monument in the public park named in his honour in Crumlin (Dublin) at 12 noon and a commemoration will be held in Deansgrange Cemetery (which was established in 1861 and had its first burial in 1865) that same day at the republican plot, at 1pm.

300 'leaflet packs' (pictured, left) comprised of, in total, 1,200 printed items of an Irish republican nature, will be distributed free of charge in Dublin city centre on Easter Monday at the above-mentioned commemoration at, and in, the vicinity of the GPO in O'Connell Street, on a 'first up best dressed' basis.

This blog will have a rep at each of the three events but, unfortunately, the '1169' Finance Director (!) refused my request for time off (and funds!) to cover the New York commemoration, so excuse me if you come across a rather cranky female 'leaflet-pack'-distributor in Dublin on Easter Monday...!

Thanks for reading, Sharon.

Wednesday, April 05, 2017



This statement was issued almost one year ago by the POW Department of Republican Sinn Féin - 'POW assaulted in Maghaberry : on Tuesday, April 12, 2016, Republican Sinn Féin learned that republican prisoner Gabriel Mackle was assaulted and dragged off Roe House, Maghaberry jail, Co Antrim, by the riot team, because he refused to turn off his music. The screw hit the alarm and the riot squad arrived and subsequently Gabriel was handcuffed, taken off the landing and the landing was locked down. We have no further details on Gabriel's whereabouts. This is yet another incident in a long line of attacks against republican prisoners and specifically Gabriel Mackle who is singled out time and time again because he refuses to be criminalised.

Recently the jail administration refused Gabriel the right to engage with his religious beliefs and celebrate his son's Confirmation. Later that same week he was mysteriously turned down for legal aid to pursue the case on a judicial review, which is beyond bizarre as it rarely occurs. Clearly the petty vindictive attitude remains a part of the screw psyche, where the denial of political status and the general freedom to conduct their own affairs continues. Aggression will be met with resistance and thus the conflict continues, and the wishes of the POWs for a conflict free environment denied...'
(from here).

This same man is being victimised again, but by a different prison source : 'Disturbing news came out to Sinn Féin Poblachtach today of dissent and conflict within Maghaberry prison. An attempt was made to remove a Cabhair POW from Roe house. Gabriel Mackle had only returned from a few days release to celebrate a family occasion when he was approached by some representatives of the IRPWA POWs...' (more here) and this - 'Statement by the President of Republican Sinn Féin Des Dalton - Republican Sinn Féin salutes Gabriel Mackle on his courageous defence of his distinct identity and autonomy as an Irish republican POW within the Maghaberry prison. Irish republican POWs have historically had to run the gauntlet of British and 26-County state attempts to criminalise them and deny them their identity, shamefully on this occasion this latest injustice comes at the hands of those purporting to be fellow Irish republicans...' (from here).

ON SATURDAY, 8TH APRIL 2017, at 11.30am, a picket will be held at the GPO in Dublin in support of Irish republican POW Gabriel Mackle. Please show your support.


..This City is song enough for me

To sit in old Eyre Square, holding hands with you, love, there -

There's nowhere else on earth I'd rather be*...

Serene. A place where you can take stock of yourself, catch your breath, and enjoy having nothing to do and all day to do it. Peaceful, restful and calm. The five of us spent a week-and-a-bit in Ballyconneely, in Galway, and feel the better for it. The scenery was of a picture-postcard quality, a walk through the woods, crossing little boreens and strolling through fields to get to the shops, and meandering back to base by the footpath-less small road, until it slowly veered off course, making us jump a wee stream and carry-on across a field or two in order to reach our bungalow. Bliss!

The locals are lovely people and we had the craic with them, and we were treated as long lost cousins by the shopkeepers and innkeepers etc that we had the pleasure to mix with, the weather held up for us, we had no kids or grandkids with us to 'entertain' (!) and we weren't expected to meet anyone at any location at any particular time. Time was our own, in other words, and was worth twice as much for being so! But the goo was on all five of us for a bit of sweaty grit, and noise, and hot air carrying some quare smells to your nostrils and having to dodge (sometimes) grumpy people and drivers as you're out and about and the sheer choice of what to see and where to see it and...never mind. Only annoying myself here.

If you need a relaxing break, then Ballyconneely is made for it. But if you want an experience of a different type...!


On Easter Monday this year (17th April 2017), RSF in Dublin will hold its annual Easter Commemoration : those attending are asked to assemble at the Garden of Remembrance in Parnell Square, from where, at 1.45pm, the parade will leave for the GPO, arriving at that venue at 2pm.Our pic shows the RSF Easter Commemoration from last year (2016).


Before being defaced...

..and after the act.

'In Memory Of All Those Who Fought For Irish Freedom' - the words etched into a marble plaque which is affixed to a memorial plinth on Meagher Quay, in Waterford, opposite the Granville Hotel ; that hotel, and the Quay it's located on, are connected to Thomas Francis Meagher, who fought against the British presence in Ireland. A political dimwit considered it appropriate, for a reason best known to him/herself, to tape a poster of Martin McGuinness to the plinth, apparently in the mistaken belief that the latter, too, had 'fought for Irish freedom'.

But that's not the case, as any Irish republican will tell you - Martin McGuinness was active, militarily, to obtain that which he later achieved, politically - 'civil rights' for nationalists, from Westminster, as opposed to that which Meagher and other republicans were, and are, fighting for - a complete British military and political withdrawal from Ireland, not simply 'to be treated better by the British'. It would be equally as politically absurd, insulting, inappropriate and wrong to tape a 'tribute' poster of, for example, Daniel O'Connell, to a memorial for Bobby Sands, and I hope a reader can bring this post to the attention of the perpetrator before s/he ruins any more republican memorials.


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.

YOUNG LADY FROM WOOSTER. (By D O'H, from an Indian Guru.)

There was a young lady from Wooster,

who dreamt a rooster seduced her,

she woke with a scream

but 'twas only a dream -

A bump in the mattress had goosed her.

(Next - 'Dumbo the Elephant', by Cian Sharkhin.)


Trade unionism and politics have a lot in common, including the fact that, if operated for the greater good, both can be beneficial to society and to the individual. Take, for instance, sports-mad Bill Attley (pictured, left), who was born in Dublin on this date - 5th April - in 1938 : he studied at the National College of Industrial Relations (formerly known as the 'Catholic Workers College' and the 'College of Industrial Relations', now known as the 'National College of Ireland') and was an active member of the 'Workers' Union of Ireland', where he was elected as branch secretary at just 30 years of age.

Nine years later he became the deputy general secretary of that union and five years after that he was elected as the general secretary. In that same year (1982) he was appointed as a 'UEFA Referee Observer', a post he held for 28 years - indeed, in his second year in that position, he was elected as the 'Chief Referee Assessor' of the FAI. Not bad going, considering he got his first major 'outing' as an assistant ref in 1975, in a semi final, and then in a European cup final progressing, within a year, to the position of ref in an FAI cup final.

At 52 years of age, Bill assisted in merging the WUI with the ITGWU and a new trade union organisation, SIPTU, was formed and, on a personal note, I'll say again that it was a bad move for the members of both of the pre-merged unions - the new entity lost its 'bottle' and became more 'middle class' than 'working class', and I know of many SIPTU members who, like me, are disappointed that, unlike the 'old' ITGWU, the SIPTU model constantly gives a very good impression of a union which is only really in your corner if you're an air traffic controller or some such. Anyway : the then new trade union needed, among other such suits, a 'joint general president' and our Bill filled that position for the first four years of its existence (1990-1994) following which he officered as general secretary until he retired in 1998, at 60 years of age. Also, throughout his trade union 'career' he also affiliated himself with the State Labour Party, and it was to the chagrin of both of those groups that his name became associated with the 'SIPTU Slush Fund Scandal' (which wasn't his first foray of that type...) -

'The fund, which spent more than €3 million over a decade of operation, has been heavily criticised following an audit that uncovered a catalogue of waste of taxpayers’ money and serious breaches of corporate governance...it has emerged that over €3m of state funds were paid into a bank account known as the SIPTU national health and local authority levy fund...the account was not one officially sanctioned by the union but under the control of two SIPTU officials...among those due to attend the hearing is CEO of the HSE, Cathal Magee, the secretary general of the Department of Health, Michael Scanlan and former general secretary of SIPTU, Bill Attley, who was head of the SKILL steering group...' (from here) and this : '..also on the tab were laptops for union members (€30,000), a DVD (€30,526!), personal mobile phone costs and numerous taxi rides, including an amazing round-trip from Dublin to Tullamore via Louth (€544)! On the larger side there were "consultancy services" which were not put out to tender to the value of €526,444. This seems to have been for "Partnership training for SIPTU shop stewards and general operatives", whatever that might mean. To the lucky member of the Skills steering group who was hired to provide the service it meant a tidy €73,000...(and some of the money) was used to top up someone's pension. Neither the amount nor the individual involved have been disclosed...' (from here).

The name 'Attley' apparently '..portrays partnership, the coming together of like minds and ideals (and) although it is flexible and patient, it is unnoticed and operates from the shadows...' ; indeed - actions such as those outlined above cast a big dark spot and leave those not prepared 'to operate from the shadows' in the shade.


At the end of a year in which *IRA decommissioning has been met with widespread euphoria, Phil Mac Giolla Bháin takes a stubborn look at the facts and concludes that the celebration party may be a little premature. From the 'Magill Annual 2002' (*PIRA).

The transformation process that the Adams/McGuinness leadership has embarked upon since the hunger strikes of 1981, up until the recent supervised destruction of (P)IRA weaponry, has been the latest episode in the unresolved party/army debate - it is unresolved for republicans because it has been set by outside events ('1169' comment - actually, it was then, and remains, "unresolved for republicans" because it was an agenda promoted, internally, by nationalists [as opposed to republicans] who had unfortunately obtained leadership positions in the Movement).

The tidy ideological arguments of the Dublin-based leadership of the IRA under Cathal Goulding were not adhered to by Gusty Spence and the B-Specials ; the pogrom of northern nationalists made the unfashionable militarists come out of retirement. At the time, even the government of the Republic (sic - the author was referring to the 26-county Free State administration) - or at least a section of it - saw the need for guns. Specifically, guns in the hands of a threatened Irish citizenry. The objective of getting 500 Hungarian 9mm pistols and the appropriate amount of ammo into the North arose for the same reason that the British government parachuted 'shorts' (handguns) into occupied France in 'World War II'.

The British even made a simple one-shot .45mm 'saturday-night-special' handgun for the purpose, complete with simple instructions in French, and it was hoped that patriotic French 'terrorists' would find it and use it to eliminate a German soldier or, perhaps, even better, a member of the Vichy administration. Vichy France was not a normal or stable society ('1169' comment - but what society under military and political occupation could expect to be "normal or stable", despite even when certain members of that society decide to cooperate with the occupiers...?) - hence the guns in the hands of the citizenry. It would be bizarre to parachute handy 'murder kits' to civilians today. Context, historical context, is everything...(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!


'Thonging' is the strips of plastic that hold Long Kesh purses and bags together - holes are punched through the leather around the edges and the thonging is interlaced through them. In early 1974 the thonging was used to connect the cages of Long Kesh so as to provide supply lines from cage to cage. Loaves of bread were transported around Long Kesh by this method - it was a fantastic piece of resourcefulness, as demonstrated by republican POW's.

The signing of 'The Sunningdale Agreement' of 1973 and the subsequent UWC Strike had far-reaching effects on the people of the North of Ireland and on the prisoners of Long Kesh. At that time I was on remand in Cage 10, and we were denied everything - no sports of any description ; we had a table-tennis table but couldn't get bats or ping-pong balls. The Kesh was in a constant state of flux. We had no parcels, heating or visits and the food the screws sent up was nothing more than slops, so we threw it over the wire of the cage, usually at the Principal Officer's bunk (a wooden hut that sat outside the cage). The idea was to try and hit the screws with the 'food' as they darted from place to place.

The only proper food we had was bread and margarine - we had no cigarettes, letters, electricity or heating, so we burned anything non-essential to heat water to make tea and when the tea-leaves were brewed to death we dried them and then smoked them. Not advisable, especially if the tea is Nambarrie's... (MORE LATER).


..but this time it's 'work', not pleasure! We're not going to be able to post our usual contribution here next Wednesday, 12th April 2017, even though we will be here, in Dublin (and not in Galway [or further afield]!). We'll be assisting the Cabhair organisation to run a 650-ticket raffle on Sunday 9th April (work on which began on Tuesday 4th) and, as usual, we'll be attending the 'autopsy' on Monday evening (10th) into how it went. The gig itself is held in a hotel on the Dublin/Kildare border and the Monday evening end of it takes place in Dublin city centre, but the effort behind the scenes is what makes or breaks it, and it's almost a full-time job from the Tuesday before the gig until, usually, the Tuesday after it, to ensure that all goes well. But it's well worth it, as it brings in a decent few quid, brings us into contact with new people and helps us to keep in touch with existing colleagues. We'll be back here on Wednesday, 19th April 2017 with, among other bits and pieces, a few paragraphs about an Irish republican radio operator who was battered and imprisoned by the Free State administration, acting under instruction from a former Irish republican gunman...

Thanks for reading, Sharon.