ON THIS DATE (28TH NOVEMBER) 98 YEARS AGO : BLACK AND TANS REMOVE THEIR MURDER VICTIMS' BODIES TO BURN THEM.
Pat and Harry Loughnane were well-known and equally well-liked and respected in their neighbourhood of South Galway. Pat (the eldest), was an IRA man and Secretary of Sinn Féin in the area ; he was also active in GAA circles. His younger brother, Harry, played in goal for the local Beagh Hurling Club, was an IRA Volunteer and was also a member of the local cumann of Sinn Féin ; both brothers worked on the family farm in Shanaglish, County Galway, and were working in the corn fields on Friday, 26th November 1920, when the Black and Tans surrounded them. The two brothers were thumped around a bit in the corn fields by the Black and Tans and then thrown into the back of the lorry belonging to the Tans - they were pushed off the lorry outside the Bridewell Barracks in Gort and put in a cell. People in near-by cells later reported hearing the brothers being battered by the Tans, who were well aware that the Loughnane brothers were active in the struggle for Irish Freedom.
After three or four hours of beating, the brothers were dragged out to the courtyard of Gort Bridewell and tied to each other ; the other end of the rope was then tied to the back of the lorry, which drove off, heading for Drumharsna Castle, which was then the headquarters of the Black and Tans in that area of Galway. Both Pat and Harry Loughnane were at that stage too weak to run behind the lorry, and ended up being dragged on the ground behind it and, on arrival at Drumharsna Castle, the rope was untied from the lorry and the two men were dragged into another cell and beaten again. At around 10.30 or 11pm that same night (Friday 26th November 1920) the Loughnane brothers were removed from the cell and put in the back of the lorry ; they were pushed out of the back of same after travelling a few miles - the brothers would have been too dazed to realise it, but they were now in Moy O'Hynes Wood, and were being taken deep into the thicket of it by the Black and Tans.
That happened on Sunday, 28th November ; the following day - Monday 29th November - they called to the Loughnane home and told the boys' mother that they were looking for her two sons - that they had escaped from custody and were "on the run". The Tans knew well enough where the two brothers were but, as well as deliberately giving false hope to the family, they were in the process of concocting an alibi for themselves. However, at this stage, the family and friends did not know any better and search-parties were organised to look for Pat and Harry, two 'fugitives on the run from British injustice', as the 'establishment' then would have it.
In the middle of December that year, the remains were found. Before the brothers were given a proper funeral, a local doctor (Dr Connolly) was asked to examine the remains and his report showed that both men had, at first, been sadistically battered ; the eldest of the brothers, Pat, had both wrists and legs broken, while Harry had had two fingers removed by a saw, while he was still alive, and his right arm was only attached to the remains of the charred body by sinews. The doctor stated that the damage to the head, neck and upper-chest area of both men was caused, in his opinion, by "hand grenades (which) were put in their mouths and that these then exploded". The remains of both men showed that the Black and Tans had attempted to 'write' on them, using knives or bayonets - sets of initials were carved into both bodies.
There was a heavy presence of Black and Tans at the funerals of Pat and Harry Loughnane, but the IRA called their bluff just as the burial ceremony was coming to an end - six armed IRA Volunteers stood over the grave and a three-volley shot was given. The kidnap, torture, abuse and manner of death suffered by Pat and Harry Loughnane is the most horrific incident that this author has come across in researching articles for this blog. Even in times of war, the fate deliberately inflicted on the brothers was inhuman. At the risk of sounding like we are trying to score a cheap political point, we remind our readers that the military kin of the Black and Tans are still in this country and monuments have been erected to them and their ilk. And they receive their instructions from the same political institution which gave the Tans their orders. Think of that, next time you hear talk of "dissident republicans" in Ireland, and ask yourself how could you be but "dissident" to British rule in any part of this country? And ask yourself when have true Irish republicans ever been but "dissident"? ('1169' Comment - witness statements re the above acts of butchery can be read here.)
Mr Terence O'Conlon, Secretary, Philadelphia IRA Association, in a letter, says that the raid on Armagh Barracks caused a sensation in America, especially among the native population. The story broke on a Sunday when most Americans do a large percentage of their newspaper reading.
Mr O'Conlon wrote - "No more dramatic method of conveying to the world that England has an unwelcome army of occupation in part of Ireland could possibly be employed. Thousands of Americans naively accept the idea that 'Northern Ireland' is probably a little island or piece of ground attached to the English mainland. This is one English propaganda bubble that has been blasted for all time* by the Armagh raid."
(*'1169' Comment : Unfortunately not ; if anything it's got worse since that letter was published in 1954 - there are thousands of people in Ireland, never mind America, that consider that to be the case in relation to what the propagandists and the politically ignorant call 'Northern Ireland'. But Irish republicans are well used to being a censored minority in this country and we'll continue in our endeavours, regardless...)
(END of 'Armagh Raid Good Propaganda In USA' : next - 'Belfast Jail Sentence' and 'South Kerry's Heroic Dead', from the same source.)
ON THIS DATE (28TH NOVEMBER) 113 YEARS AGO : 'OURSELVES ALONE' DECLARE THEMSELVES.
Sinn Féin was an amalgamation of groups founded by Arthur Griffith and Bulmer Hobson. In 1899 Griffith, a Dublin-born journalist, had founded the weekly 'United Irishman' newspaper, which lambasted the Irish MPs at Westminster. The following year he established an organization called Cumann na nGaedhael ('Tribe of the Gaels') , which was to be the principal ancestor of Sinn Féin, and merged it with the republican Dungannon Clubs, flourishing mainly in Ulster and organized by Hobson, a Belfast-born Quaker, who described them as 'semi-literary, semi-political and patriotic'.
Griffith believed Fenian-style reliance on armed rebellion had failed and the effective tactic was passive resistance. This would involve a withdrawal from Westminster and the establishment of a national assembly in Ireland, refusing to pay British taxes, creating independent Irish courts and an Irish civil service, taking control of local authorities and boycotting British products. He wanted Ireland as part of a dual monarchy under the British crown and developing into an industrialized country. His aim was 'to make England take one hand from Ireland's throat and the other out of Ireland's pocket'. Griffith saw a precedent in the tactics of Hungarian nationalists in the 1860's, though this parallel was derided in Ireland...' (from here.)
As stated above, the Sinn Féin organisation was founded on November 28th, 1905 - 113 years ago today - and consisted of an amalgamation of Cumann na nGaedheal, the National Council (which was founded in the main to organise protests at the visit of the British King, Edward VII, and included in its ranks Edward Martyn, Séamus McManus and Maud Gonne) and the Dungannon Clubs, a largely IRB-dominated republican campaign group. Contrary to the perception which has been advanced by some that Sinn Féin in its first years was not republican in character but rather sought a limited form of Home Rule on the dual monarchist model, Brian O'Higgins, a founding member of Sinn Féin, who took part in the 1916 Rising, and was a member of the First and Second Dáil, remaining a steadfast republican up to his death in 1962, had this to say in his Wolfe Tone Annual of 1949 :
"It is often sought to be shown that the organisation set up in 1905 was not republican in form or spirit, that it only became so in 1917, but this is an erroneous idea, and is not borne out by the truths of history. Anyone who goes to the trouble of reading its brief constitution will see that its object was 'the re-establishment of the independence of Ireland'. The Constitution of Sinn Féin in 1905, and certainly the spirit of it, was at least as clearly separatist as was the constitution of Sinn Féin in and after 1917, no matter what private opinion regarding the British Crown may have been held by Arthur Griffith..."
And, unfortunately, over the years since it was founded, 'private opinion regarding the British Crown (and the Free State equivalent)' led to splits - 'The story of how Gerry Adams tried to turn an eighty year old revolutionary movement into a British Constitutional party. How he broke the Sinn Féin constitution, created fake cumainn to give him fake votes and barred life long republicans from voting. How he managed to expel himself and his supporters from Sinn Féin membership. And, how a small band of republicans managed to keep the Sinn Féin constitution and traditional policy intact..' (from here.) However - despite the best (and on-going) efforts of those who are verbally in favour of Irish republican principles but are actually, behind closed doors, opposed to those principles, the Sinn Féin organisation remains active today, and long may it do so!
From 'The United Irishman' newspaper, February 1955.
Mr Patrick O'Donovan, writing in the English 'Sunday Observer' newspaper on January 30th, treated his readers to a potted history of the IRA since 1916. The 'history' is a nicely woven pattern of facts and Mr O'Donovan's fancy. He states - "In 1939 the IRA issued a proclamation demanding the evacuation of all British forces from Irish soil...in 1948 the Costello Government severed the last exiguous link with the Commonwealth...since the Government of Éire was now in line with the aims of the IRA, the IRA changed its tactics - its efforts would be devoted to driving 'the English Army of occupation' out of the North...its attacks are at present confined to the small military force in the North of Ireland - there are two battalions there that have not been recruited in Ireland, the rest are depots and units of Irish regiments.."
Mr O'Donovan would have his readers, who are the intellectuals and leaders of England, believe that driving the English Army of occupation out of the North is entirely different tactics to forcing the evacuation of English forces from Irish soil : that the North of Ireland is not held by the British Army but by "Irish regiments"!
Having informed his readers of the numerical strength of the IRA, its standards of training, its system of organisation etc he departs from his facts/fancy story and enters the realms of sheer fantasy... (MORE LATER).
ON THIS DATE (28TH NOVEMBER) 98 YEARS AGO : BRITISH FORCES AMBUSHED!
The first lorry came round the bend into the ambush position. Tom Barry, dressed in military style uniform stepped onto the road with his hand up. The driver gradually slowed down. When it was 35 yards from the Volunteers command post a Mills’ bomb was thrown by Barry and simultaneously a whistle blew signalling the beginning of the ambush. The bomb landed in the driver’s seat of the uncovered lorry. As it exploded, rifle shots rang out. The lorry, its driver dead, moved forward until it stopped a few yards from the small stone wall in front of the command post. While some of the Auxiliaries were firing from the lorry, others were on the road and the fighting was hand-to-hand. Revolvers were used at point blank range, and at times, rifle butts replaced rifle shots. The Auxiliaries were cursing and yelling as they fought, but the IRA coldly outfought them. In less than five minutes nine Auxiliaries were dead or dying. Barry and the three men beside him at the Command Post, moved towards the second lorry..." (from here.)
"Many statements have been made by Ministers and Generals in various countries on the necessity for long periods of training before even an infantry soldier is ready for action. This is utter nonsense when applied to volunteers for guerilla warfare. After only one week of collective training, his Flying Column of intelligent and courageous fighters was fit to meet an equal number of soldiers from any regular army in the world, and hold its own in battle, if not in barrack-yard ceremonials". - Tom Barry, 'Guerilla Days in Ireland'.
"They said I was ruthless, daring, savage, blood thirsty, even heartless. The clergy called me and my comrades murderers ; but the British were met with their own weapons. They had gone in the mire to destroy us and our nation and down after them we had to go" - Tom Barry.
During the hour-long firefight, in which 104 IRA Volunteers (each carrying approximately 40 rounds of ammunition) successfully fought their way out of a 'pincer'-type movement by about 1,200 enemy troops, consisting of British soldiers from the Hampshire and Essex Regiments, Black and Tans and RIC men, three IRA men were killed in action (Peter Monahan, Jeremiah O'Leary and Con Daly) and three others were wounded. Reports varied in relation to British casualties but it seems certain that at least ten of their soldiers were killed and three wounded (more here).
In an interview he gave a number of years later, Tom Barry recalled how "..about two hours had elapsed since the opening of the fight. We were in possession of the countryside, no British were visible and our task was completed. The whole Column was drawn up in line of sections and told they had done well.." - and they had indeed 'done well', only to witness, within months, their efforts (ab)used by those who yearned for a political career, which they were given by Westminster in return for their surrender. But, thankfully, although still outnumbered, a republican force still exists to this day.
The question is no longer whether there is corruption within our political establishment but whether the political establishment is itself corrupt.
By Vincent Browne.
From 'Magill' magazine, February 1998.
We now know what we purported not to know before : that senior political figures were 'on the take' and that at least one of them was 'on the take' for decades. We now know that the manner in which this senior political figure, Charles Haughey, was 'on the take', involved the complicity of bankers, accountants and benefactors, that it involved a complicated financial ruse (the Ansbacher Accounts) that were availed of by many others as well. Many of those others were associates of Mr Haughey.
But whatever the further revelations of the Moriarty Tribunal into these matters and whatever more emerges about the existence of similar financial ruses in other banks, these represent only the symptom of what seems to be a much deeper malaise. That malaise is represented perhaps best by three extraordinary decisions taken by Fianna Fáil-led governments in recent years ; the first of these decisions was the tax amnesty of 1993, whereby tax defrauders were given a total amnesty on payment of just fifteen per-cent of the tax they owed to the State and a guarantee of absolute confidentiality hereafter.
The scale of this benefit to the richest in society cannot now be quantified but it may be assumed with confidence that it was massive. But of more concern is what motivated the introduction of the tax amnesty in the first place... (MORE LATER).
Thanks for reading, Sharon.