Wednesday, March 20, 2019

IRISH REPUBLICAN 'INVENTOR OF THE FLYING COLUMN TACTIC' ASSASSINATED BY THE BRITISH.

ON THIS DATE (20TH MARCH) 76 YEARS AGO : 21 IRA PRISONERS ESCAPE FROM DERRY JAIL.

Early on Saturday morning, 20th March 1943 - 76 years ago on this date - as the Logue family of Harding Street, Derry, were about to sit down for their breakfast, they noticed a part of their small garden rising up and being pushed back - their garden wall formed part of the perimeter of a neighbouring premises, Derry Jail : a figure pulled himself up from the hole in the ground and began assisting others that were trying to scramble to their feet. Within minutes there were 21 men assembled in the small garden, all of whom rushed into the Logue house and let themselves out through the front door. They ran to near-by Abercorn Place and jumped into a waiting lorry, a furniture removal van, which was driven by an on-the-run IRA man, Jimmy Steele, who had recently liberated himself from Crumlin Road Prison!

Among the escapees were well-known IRA activists Patrick Donnelly, Ned Maguire, Hugh McAteer, Liam Graham and Brendan O'Boyle who, incidentally, was the last man to be helped from the tunnel. Jimmy Drumm was earmarked as the last man and was in the tunnel, yards behind Brendan O'Boyle, when he heard a warning being shouted that the British Army had discovered the exit and were picking-up the men as they emerged - so he turned back, only to discover later that it was a false alarm.

The tunnel had been started in November 1942, in Liam Graham's cell and, out of the 200 or so IRA prisoners in the jail, 22 had been picked by the prisoners themselves as it was felt that that group could more readily 'rally the troops' on the outside as each of them had a high profile in the Movement and were respected by all concerned (except, obviously, by the Brits and the Staters!). An estimated five tons of clay was removed over a five month period and most of it was scattered in the prison grounds, although repeated attempts were made to dispose of some of it via the toilets, which blocked the pipes. A plumbing company was called in on a regular basis over that five month period but, whether they knew what was happening or not, they said nothing and the warders and their bosses knew nothing of the excavation that was then on-going. Indeed, during the last few weeks of the dig, the IRA prisoners had held a 'mini-fleadh cheoil' to cover the noise and the constant comings-and-goings from cell to cell and from cell to prison yard.

Jimmy Steele (pictured) and Harry White had each organised to have about 12 men on stand-by on each side of Britain's border in Ireland to assist with the dispersal of the escapees, the majority of whom were taken to Donegal but, within a day, some of their number had been captured by Free State forces and interned in the Curragh. Others were also captured in that county, in a place called Glentown, and they were then held in a FS barracks in Letterkenny.

That successful escape effort not only helped to refocus world attention on to the then and on-going struggle for national liberation in Ireland, but proved to be a massive morale boost for the Republican Movement - it helped to insure that the flame stayed lit, and brought in new recruits who, in turn, passed the mantle to those who hold the same values today.





'BRITISH FORCES MUST GO, DEMANDS SINN FÉIN PRESIDENT...'

From 'The United Irishman' newspaper, December 1954.

Tomas O' Dubghaill's speech to the Sinn Féin Ard Fheis, 7th November 1954 (...continued).

BRITISH GARRISONS ATTACKED -

"But of course the most significant events during the past year took place in another sphere. I refer to the attacks made by members of the Irish Republican Army on British military garrisons in Ireland.

The daring daylight attack on Armagh Barracks in June last and the capturing of the entire stocks in the armoury under the eyes of the British troops was an exhilarating tonic to our people and made the invaders a laughing stock before the world. But the very perfection of its success tended to distract attention from the real lesson of the Armagh raid. Last month, in the early hours of a Sunday morning, the British garrison in Omagh was attacked and a short fierce gun battle ensued in which five British soldiers and two Volunteers were wounded. The laughter was gone - we were now confronted with stark reality.

And what is that reality ? Is it not that there is still an army of invaders in our country, that England holds six of our counties by force of arms and that the primary task facing our people is to get those invaders out. The continued presence of the British occupation forces is an act of war against the Irish nation - their presence is an insult and a constant challenge to the Irish people. Thank God we still have young men* ('1169' comment* - men and women, young and old) willing and able to take up that challenge and to answer it in the only way England has ever understood.

POLITICIANS TRUE TO FORM.

Of course the politicians North and South have united in condemnation - in that, they are running true to form. But it is very interesting to see how close, almost identical, are the efforts of both Stormont and Leinster House spokesmen (see above comment*) to misrepresent the purpose of the Volunteers. The two attacks were made on the British garrisons, the first time England's troops in Ireland had been attacked since 1921. They were not attacks on fellow Irishmen whether Orange or Green - they were attacks on occupation forces which have absolutely no right to be in Ireland..." (MORE LATER).






ON THIS DATE (20TH MARCH) 258 YEARS AGO : BIRTH OF TONE'S COMRADE, ROBERT 'TANNER' SIMMS.

On the 20th March, 1761 - 258 years ago on this date - a child called Robert was born into a middle-class, socially-conscious Presbyterian family in Belfast, and grew into adulthood to become the co-owner of a paper mill in Ballyclare, in County Antrim, and he and his brother, William, were also newspaper publishers - they owned 'The Northern Star' newspaper.

When he was 31 years of ago, Robert and a group of like-minded individuals - Protestants, Anglicans and Presbyterians - held a public meeting in Belfast, out of which was formed 'The Belfast Society of United Irishmen' (the organisation became a secret society three years later), and one of his colleagues, Sam McTier, was elected as 'President of the Society'. Also present were Theobald Wolfe Tone (who gave Robert Simms his nickname, 'Tanner'), Thomas Russell, William Sinclair, Henry Joy McCracken, Samuel Neilson, Henry Haslett, Gilbert McIlveen, William Simms (Robert's brother), Thomas McCabe, Thomas Pearce and Samuel McTier, among others.

The aims and objectives of the Society were revolutionary for the times that were in it, and brought the organisation to the attention of the less 'socially-minded' political (and military) members of the British ruling-class in Dublin, which was then (and, indeed, now!) England's political power-base in Ireland - "That the weight of English influence in the government of this country is so great, as to require a cordial union among all the people of Ireland, to maintain that balance which is essential to the preservation of our liberties and the extension of our commerce...the sole constitutional mode by which this influence can be opposed, is by a complete and radical reform of the representation of the people in Parliament..."

The Belfast Society also adopted the 'Charter' of 'The United Irishmen' as a whole, and in so doing they drew further attention on themselves from their political enemies, at home and abroad - "In the present era of reform, when unjust governments are falling in every quarter of Europe, when religious persecution is compelled to abjure her tyranny over conscience, when the rights of men are ascertained in theory, and theory substantiated by practice, when antiquity can no longer defend absurd and oppressive forms, against the common sense and common interests of mankind, when all governments are acknowledged to originate from the people, and to be so far only obligatory, as they protect their rights and promote their welfare, we think it our duty, as Irishmen, to come forward, and state what we feel to be our heavy grievance, and what we know to be its effectual remedy.

We have no national government, we are ruled by Englishmen, and the servants of Englishmen, whose object is the interest of another country, whose instrument is corruption, and whose strength is the weakness of Ireland; and these men have the whole of the power and patronage of the country, as means to seduce and subdue the honesty of her representatives in the legislature. Such an extrinsic power, acting with uniform force, in a direction too frequently opposite to the true line of our obvious interest, can be resisted with effect solely by unanimity, decision, and spirit in the people, qualities which may be exerted most legally, constitutionally, efficaciously, by the great measure, essential to the prosperity and freedom of Ireland, an equal representation of all the people in parliament. Impressed with these sentiments...we do pledge ourselves to our country, and mutually to each other..."

Both Robert and his brother, William, served time in Newgate Prison and were transported from there to Fort George Prison in Scotland, and it was between their imprisonment and their deportation that the 'Northern Star' office was burned down. When they were released, Robert was appointed to the position of 'Commander' of the 'United Irishmen' in County Antrim, but never settled-in to the position, as he didn't believe that he was capable of successfully fulfilling the role and he also felt uneasy about directly challenging the British presence in Ireland unless military assistance was available from the French, but to wait for same was not the preferred option of the organisation overall.

He resigned his position and rumours soon circulated that he had no stomach for battle but, regardless of whether those rumours were true or false, the British still seen him as a threat and arrested him again and, once again, imprisoned him in Fort George. He was released, aged 41, a few months before Emmet's Rising in 1803, but took no part in same. He maintained his interest in political and social issues until he died, at the age of 82, in 1843, and his death was recorded in the Unionist/pro-British newspaper 'The Northern Whig', on the 27th June in 1843, in the following manner -

'At his house, in Franklin-place, on the 23d instant, Mr. Robert Simms, in the 83rd year of his age. For upwards of thirty years, he discharged, with zealous attention to its interests, the duties of Assistant-Secretary to the Royal Belfast Academical Institution.'

No mention, of course, of his duties in attempting to remove the British military and political presence from Ireland. Or, as a comrade of Robert Simms put it - "To subvert the tyranny of our execrable government, to break the connection with England, the never failing source of all our political evils, and to assert the independence of my country–these were my objects. To unite the whole people of Ireland, to abolish the memory of all past dissentions, and to substitute the common name of Irishman, in the place of the denominations of Protestant, Catholic, and Dissenter – these were my means.”

Robert Simms, born on the 20th March 1761 - 258 years ago on this date - died on the 23rd June, 1843.





LETTER TO 'THE EDITOR, UI', FROM EAMON BOYCE, POW.

From 'The United Irishman' newspaper, January 1955.

'A Chara,

Before starting, I want to apologise for the writing etc in this, as it is written out of necessity, in rather a hurry. By now, this 'trial' is probably finished ; actually, the whole affair is a bit of a joke. However, I feel proud of being compared, even in this manner, with that great Irish patriot John Mitchel. I regret my present position for one reason - a man in jail is useless to his country*. However, it was God's Will that events should take this course, and I trust that by our example during this trial, we may have set an example to other young men, and women, too, in Ireland. I am, thank God, an Irishman, and never before has it been brought home to me as forcibly as now. As I looked around me today I thought of these people with a certain amount of pity, of course the mere sight and sound of the English soldiers filled me with revulsion.

However, I hope and pray that our sacrifice will not be in vain - deep down, the Irish people will not fail when they are called. This must sound like a page from 'The United Irishman' newspaper but I am merely transferring my feelings to paper. Please convey my warmest wishes to all my comrades and friends and, regarding yourself and your friend, I can honestly say that I feel very honoured and privileged to have known you both so well. I am sorry that events did not work out well, but in one respect we Irish never really fail in our fight.

God is with us, and with His help the time is close at hand when our country will be freed. In this letter I have cast aside all caution, let them produce it in court if they wish, but I would like to know if you receive it intact. Please convey my very warmest wishes to your mother and all the family, also to 'G'.

Le Gach Beannacht,

EAMON BOYCE.

(*'1169' comment - not so : to date, we have had twenty-two men in prison who proved the opposite of being 'useless to their country' and there are other POW's, too, who, while not yet having gone down that road, are the 'cement' around which republicanism increases its strength.)

(END of 'LETTER TO 'THE EDITOR, UI', FROM EAMON BOYCE, POW'. NEXT - 'TIMES HAVE NOT CHANGED', from the same source).





ON THIS DATE (20TH MARCH) - IRISH REVOLUTIONARY BORN 135 YEARS AGO AND ASSASSINATED ON THE SAME DATE 99 YEARS AGO.

Tomás MacCurtain (pictured) was born on this date (20th March) in 1884, at Ballyknockane, Mourne Abbey (Mainstir na Móna), County Cork ; he was the 12th and last child of Patrick Curtin, a farmer, and Julia Sheehan. His interest in Irish culture and history led him to join Conradh na Gaeilge, Na Fianna Éireann and the 'Irish Volunteer' organisation, which he assisted in establishing in Cork city. He was the first Irish republican to hold the 'Lord Mayor' office and was elected to that position on the 31st January 1920, at 36 years of age. He was assassinated by the British at his home in Thomas Davis Street in Blackpool, Cork, between 12.10am and 1.15am on the 20th March 1920, which was his 36th birthday - his killers, dressed in 'civvies' and spoke with pronounced English accents. They were RIC members tasked with the 'job' by their political bosses in Westminster. He was buried in the Republican Plot in St. Finbarr's Cemetery in Cork on Monday 22nd March 1920.

"We find that the late Alderman MacCurtain, Lord Mayor of Cork, died from shock and hemorrhage caused by bullet wounds, and that he was wilfully murdered under circumstances of the most callous brutality, and that the murder was organised and carried out by the Royal Irish Constabulary, officially directed by the British Government, and we return a verdict of wilful murder against David Lloyd George, Prime Minister of England ; Lord French, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland ; Ian McPherson, late Chief Secretary of Ireland ; Acting Inspector General Smith, of the Royal Irish Constabulary ; Divisional Inspector Clayton of the Royal Irish Constabulary ; District Inspector Swanzy and some unknown members of the Royal Irish Constabulary.

We strongly condemn the system at present in vogue of carrying out raids at unreasonable hours. We tender to Mrs MacCurtain and family our sincerest sympathy. We extend to the citizens of Cork our sympathy in the loss they have sustained by the death of one so eminently capable of directing their civic administration" - the unanimous verdict of the inquest into the murder of Alderman Tomás MacCurtain, Lord Mayor of Cork and considered by many to be the 'inventor' of the 'Flying Column' tactic, as read out on 17th April 1920 by Coroner James J. McCabe. Such was the level of international condemnation of the assassination, especially after Lloyd George attempted to blame Irish republicans themselves on having carried it out to generate publicity for their campaign, that Westminster let it be known that they had 'questioned' sixty-four of their 'policemen' in Ireland along with two British military operatives and thirty-one civilians in connection with the killing.

'Just God You gave his pure soul to our lady’s safe keeping, now write you his name, ‘mongst our warrior dead..'





WHEN AN IRISH CITIZEN IS NOT A CITIZEN... By Adrian Langan. From 'Magill' Magazine, May 2002.

The official position in Irish law is that 'anyone born in Ireland is automatically an Irish citizen and anyone whose father or mother was Irish at the time of the person's birth is also automatically Irish'. What other options are there for determining the right to citizenship? You could use jus sanguinis (the 'law of blood') which would be highly problematic as it would imply that there is an Irish 'gene' or 'race' to be identified. The mechanism at the moment has a wonderful simplicity to it - if you are born here you can stay here and have a full legal entitlement to remain here.

The increasingly globalised economy now means that people are moving across State boundaries and will continue to move. In trade agreements, labour is the one factor of production whose movement is not being liberalised. Despite this, the reality is that more and more people who are not of Irish birth will be living and working in Ireland and they will be having children who will be Irish citizens. What do we do with the relatives of the Irish-citizen baby? Since it is highly unlikely in the current climate that any Irish government (sic) would seek to have a referendum to change any provisions of the 'Good Friday Agreement' ('1169' comment - "Not one of England’s Treaties with Ireland or any Agreement or any Declaration was ever about her leaving us in peace but rather they have been about perpetuating her power in the Six Counties and always at the expense of Irish democracy..." - from here), this question comes into sharp focus.

The position up to this point has been that they are entitled to stay with their children until the child is 18 years of age and, by then, the parents have become naturalised and given full citizenship... (MORE LATER).

Thanks for reading, Sharon.






Wednesday, March 06, 2019

LEINSTER HOUSE - "CO-PARTNER WITH STORMONT IN TAKING ORDERS FROM ENGLAND."

ON THIS DATE (6TH MARCH) 101 YEARS AGO : DEATH OF WESTMINSTER'S PET POLITICIAN IN IRELAND.

"I have publicly promised, not only for myself, but in the name of my country, that when the rights of Ireland were admitted by the democracy of England, that Ireland would become the strongest arm in the defence of the Empire. The test has come sooner than I, or anyone, expected. I tell the Prime Minister that that test will be honourably met. I say for myself, that I would feel myself personally dishonoured if I did not say to my fellow countrymen, as I say today to them here, and as I will say from the public platform when I go back to Ireland, that it is their duty, and should be their honour, to take their place in the firing line in this contest..." - John Redmond, from here.

John Redmond, the leader of the 'Irish Parliamentary Party', was born into a 'Big House'-type Catholic family on the 1st September in 1856 and, after a 'proper' education (in Clongowes College in Kildare and Trinity College in Dublin) he became a political 'player' in the British so-called 'House of Commons', where he supplemented his income as a clerk. He was only 25 years-of-age when he was first elected as an MP, having worked his way up the establishment ladder, and was elected as the leader of the 'Irish Party' on the 6th February, 1900.

John Redmond pictured - 'Irishmen, honour your history, fight for England..'

He was an Irish nationalist (small 'n') politician who, occasionally, campaigned for his followers (and anyone else that would listen to him) to join the British Army in its fight against Germany, and did so infamously, and unashamedly, in a public speech he delivered in Woodenbridge in County Wicklow on the 20th September in 1914, where he stated - "The interests of Ireland - of the whole of Ireland - are at stake in this war. This war is undertaken in the defence of the highest principles of religion and morality and right, and it would be a disgrace for ever to our country and a reproach to her manhood and a denial of the lessons of her history if young Ireland confined their efforts to remaining at home to defend the shores of Ireland from an unlikely invasion, and to shrinking from the duty of proving on the field of battle that gallantry and courage which has distinguished our race all through its history. I say to you, therefore, your duty is twofold. I am glad to see such magnificent material for soldiers around me, and I say to you : 'Go on drilling and make yourself efficient for the work, and then account yourselves as men, not only for Ireland itself, but wherever the fighting line extends, in defence of right, of freedom, and religion in this war..".

And, unfortunately, in the months that followed his 'call to arms', tens of thousands of Irishmen joined his 'Cause' and fought alongside imperialism to the extent that one of his modern-day political mirror-images (..who called for Irish people to join and support the British 'police force' in Ireland!) all but called Redmond a traitor for encouraging such folly. Other political leaders did not agree with John Redmond and, among them, was James Connolly, the Irish Trade Union leader, who was also in command of the Irish Citizen Army - he answered Redmond's call thus :

'Full steam ahead, John Redmond said,

that everything was well, chum ;

Home Rule will come when we are dead,

and buried out in Belgium'.


Also, some of John Redmond's own men disagreed with his pro-British 'call-to-arms' ; Eoin MacNeill, who was then in a leadership position within the 'Irish Volunteers', was of the opinion that the 'Irish Volunteers' should only use force against the British if* Westminster first moved against them ; a bit 'watery', definitely, but he was, however, against fighting with the British (*if having your country occupied by a foreign power cannot be considered a 'first move against us' then Mr MacNeill had a different understanding of the English language than we have!).

Just over a year after Mr Redmond had delivered his 'join imperialism'-speech in Woodenbridge, a British Army Major-General, 'Sir' Lovick Bransby Friend (..perhaps his parents never bonded with him?) the Commander-in-Chief of the British Army in Ireland, said that 1,100 recruits were needed from Ireland every week "to replace wastage" (!) of existing Irish soldiers. The comments were made at a private conference on recruiting in Ireland that was held under the presidency of the 'Lord' Lieutenant of Ireland, Lord Wimborne, at the Viceregal Lodge in Dublin's Phoenix Park, where it was also stated that approximately 81,000 Irishmen had 'heeded Redmond's call-to-arms'. The political mirror-image, mentioned above, had a point : if a call to assist the foe comes from 'the right quarters', it will - unfortunately - be heeded by those who should know better.

Anyway : the 'fight-for-England-for-Ireland' man died on the 6th March 1918 - 101 years ago on this date - after a medical operation that month to remove an intestinal obstruction ; the operation appeared to progress well at first, but then he suffered heart failure and died a few hours later at a London nursing home. But his party lived on, albeit with a name change..!







'BRITISH FORCES MUST GO, DEMANDS SINN FÉIN PRESIDENT...'

From 'The United Irishman' newspaper, December 1954.

Tomas O' Dubghaill's speech to the Sinn Féin Ard Fheis, 7th November 1954 (...continued).

ELECTION CONTESTS -

"Early this year, an opportunity presented itself for Sinn Féin to make its position clear to the public. We decided to contest a bye-election in County Louth and put forward as candidate Joe Campbell, a Newry republican, who is imprisoned in Crumlin Road Jail in Belfast. He personified for us the unity of the Republican Movement, North and South, and the demand for the unity and freedom of the Nation. He also showed clearly our attitude to Leinster House as co-partner with the Stormont regime in dividing our country at England's orders.

The result of the bye-election was really gratifying - we had no notions of winning the seat, we were putting forward ideas which were startling to many voters. To have expected them to swing over en masse to Sinn Féin would have been hoping for far too much. But we caused them to think, to examine critically a position they had come to accept as natural. That so many of them did support us was very heartening, and a good omen for the future.

When the general election came we again fought the Louth constituency and also County Clare. Sinn Féin policy - the republican demand for the unity and freedom of all Ireland - which had been pushed into the background for so long, again became a live issue for the people. Electioneering work is hard, progress is slow. It is difficult to wean people away from the habits of political jobbery, pension-hunting and all the other lures which have been used for vote catching by the politicians, but deep down our people are sound. They will recognise truth and right and will respond to it. We can face the future with confidence. These election contests did their own small part in bringing about the awareness to which I referred..." (MORE LATER).






ON THIS DATE (6TH MARCH) 96 YEARS AGO : FIVE FREE STATE SOLDIERS KILLED BY IRA.

Paddy O' Daly, pictured ; IRA man-turned Free Stater.

On March 6th, 1923 (96 years ago on this date), five Free State soldiers - Captain Michael Dunne, Dublin, Captain Edward ('Joseph') Stapleton from Dublin, Lieutenant Patrick O’Connor from Castleisland, Private Laurence O’Connor from Causeway and Private Michael Galvin from Killarney - were killed in Knocknagoshel in County Kerry, by a booby trap mine placed by the IRA. The target of the trap was a local Free Stater by the name of Paddy 'Pats' O'Connor who, according to the IRA, was a notorious torturer of republican prisoners. O'Connor had joined the Free State army because of the treatment of his father by the local IRA.

The Dublin Guards, who had been in Kerry since the previous August, were commanded by Paddy O'Daly. He was furious over the booby trap and it subsequently became clear that he was responsible for what took place following the Knocknagoshel incident ; at around 2am on March 7th, 1923, nine IRA prisoners, many of whom had been tortured, were brought to Ballyseedy Wood where they were told that they were to remove an 'irregular' (ie IRA) road block. However, it was clear to the men what was in store for them when they had been shown 9 coffins in the barracks. Each were offered a cigarette and told it would be the last one any of them will have. They were then tied together to the mined road-block and blown up. Some of the men were still alive and were finished off by grenade and machine gun.

A memorial on Countess Bridge, Killarney, County Kerry, in memory of the IRA Volunteers butchered there by Free State forces in 1923.

Unbeknownst to the Free State troops one man was blown clear and managed to escape. His name was Stephen Fuller (who was later to turn his back on Irish republicanism to become a FF 'TD' in 1937). Because the bodies were so badly mangled all nine coffins were filled with the remains of the eight who perished. This was to lead to a near riot in Tralee when the coffins were handed over to the families at the gates of Ballymullen barracks. The families broke open the coffins to try and identify the remains. Later on the same day a very similar incident took place at Countess Bridge in Killarney where five IRA prisoners where asked to remove a mined road block which was also blown up. Three of the men who lay wounded were finished off by grenade. Again, amazingly, a fifth man, Tadhg Coffey, survived and escaped.

Five days later 5 more men were killed near Bahaghs Workhouse in Cahersiveen. In order to prevent any more escapes the men were first shot in the legs, then put over a mine and blown up. When the details slowly emerged about what really happened the Free State government was forced to call an inquiry into the executions and appointed none other than Major General Paddy O'Daly to oversee the court of inquiry in April. It was never going to be anything other than a whitewash. One Free State soldier, Lieutenant McCarthy, resigned his commission after the incident and called his colleagues "a murder gang". Captain Niall Harrington (author of the 'Kerry Landings' book) of the Dublin Brigade reported that "..the mines used in the slaughter of the prisoners were constructed in Tralee under the supervision of two senior Dublin Guards officers..". But neither he nor Free State Lieutenant McCarthy was ever called to testify, but the truth became known later.







'TRAITORS TO THE CROWN...'

From 'The United Irishman' newspaper, January 1955.

After the eight republicans were sentenced, perhaps no better commendation could be given of them than that of a Belfast loyalist who was present in court during their 'trial' - "Whilst I do not agree with their political beliefs or sentiments, I could not but feel impressed by their noble and manly bearing, dignity, sincerity and intelligence. It seemed to me at times that it was not they but the Judge and the prosecution witnesses who were on trial." How near the truth that good loyalist of Belfast spoke. It certainly was not they, but England, and all she represents with her hypocritical professions of justice and freedom, who was on trial.

They have gone to join former comrades in the penal wing of Belfast ; Joe Campbell, Newry, Leo McCormick, Dublin and young Kevin O'Rourke, Banbridge, who was sentenced to five years at the same 'court' a few days previously and, in spirit, they join their comrades in the English prisons - Cathal Goulding, Seán Stephenson, Manus Canning and JR MacCallum. And we find ourselves dwelling on the last verse of Easter Week, written by a Nun ; it is so appropriate today and as necessary as it was in 1916 :

'The Brave have gone to linger on, beneath the tyrant's heel,

We know they pray, another day

For clash of clanging steel.

And from their cells their voices swell,

To loudly call on you,

Then ask men, the task, men,

That yet remains to do.'

(NEXT - letter from Eamon Boyce, POW, to 'The Editor, UI', from the same source.)








WHEN AN IRISH CITIZEN IS NOT A CITIZEN. By Adrian Langan. From 'Magill' Magazine, May 2002.

The question of children born in Ireland to non-nationals becoming Irish citizens has been a burning issue in recent weeks. This right of those who are born in Ireland to be Irish citizens is enshrined in the 'Good Friday Agreement' (the Stormont Treaty) and is based on the principle of jus soli ('the law of the soil'), a rule of common law under which the place of a person's birth determines citizenship.

The issue has been raised for a number of reasons - firstly, based on reports from Dublin maternity hospitals, there would appear to be evidence that asylum-seekers are arriving in Ireland in order to have their child in Ireland and secure Irish, and thus effectively EU, citizenship for their children. This has been placing these hospitals under increasing strain.

Secondly, Irish governmental policy in relation to asylum-seekers has been to mirror our neighbours' policies. The idea has been to ensure that if there is an element of our laws being more beneficial to asylum-seekers than other European states, then we must change it. Finally, racist and anti-immigrant groups such as the 'Immigration Control Platform'* have seized upon the issue to advance their cause to prevent any further immigration into Ireland...

(*'1169' comment - why is it apparently automatically 'racist' or 'anti-immigrant' to want to investigate those who cross your borders?)

(MORE LATER.)






ON THIS DAY NEXT WEEK - THE 13TH MARCH 2019 - WE WON'T BE POSTING OUR USUAL OFFERING..

..as we'll be just about finished tidying-up whatever loose ends need to be tided-up after the monthly madness : we're booked-in, as always, to help organise and run the 650-ticket raffle for the Cabhair organisation, which will be held on Sunday, 10th February 2019 in a hotel on the Dublin-Kildare border.

We had intended to post the following piece, among others, on the 13th but, as we're now in the process of gathering up 650 ticket stubs and accompanying cash and will be ensconced in a posh hotel over most of the coming weekend, we won't have time then, so we'll post it now :

ON THE 13TH MARCH 1923 - 'THEIR MEMORIES SHALL NOT FADE'

AND NOW YOU THREE - WE'LL HONOUR THEE

AND YOUR MEMORIES SHALL NOT FADE,


SINCE T'WAS YOUR LOT - IN THE REBEL PLOT,

YOUR BODIES TO BE LAID.


On March 13th, 1923, three Wexford IRA men that were being held captive by Free State forces - James Parle (of Clovervalley, Taghmon), John Creane (of Clonerane, Taghmon) and Patrick Hogan (of William Street, Wexford (having been 'arrested' on the 15th February 1923 for possession of firearms and imprisoned in Wexford Jail) - were blindfolded by their captors and taken out to the courtyard of the jail. The three men were accompanied to the sandbags by Fr. Patrick Walsh, who wrote about the experience here -

"It was 10.30 pm when some day in March '23 when, about to retire for the night, fortified' by some drug or another, and feeling anything but well, soldiers brought me the message. I first had to go to Caro to ask the C.C. to take my place next day as celebrant of a Requiem Mass for somebody in Taghmon. After trouble with lights of my motor I started thither & thence to Wexford. A cheery welcome awaited me from the three - it was about 12 midnight. They had written their last letters and their demeanour was boyish and gladsome, with something of the exaltation of those who have received some great spiritual uplifting.

We had a fairly long walk. Eventually we came to the side of a huge grave beside which were the 3 coffins ; the wall behind was well sandbagged (and) 12, (or 15?) young soldiers with rifles were on one knee opposite the sandbags : we turned when near the wall and beside the grave, we turned the three blindfolded around to face the soldiers, the Wexford boy in the middle. No sound could be heard for eternity of a couple of minutes while the officer made some arrangement. I stood out at an angle to the left of the boys and in line with the soldiers : Fr. William and Doctor O'Connor Westgate stood similarly on their right : the boys faces wore an expression of listening to some sound in the distance.

The officer made two motions with a handkerchief to the soldiers, these made two corresponding movements, and as he quickly, by a third movement, lowered the handkerchief, I was utterly stunned by the report of the rifles, and although I saw Fr. William actually anointing the Wexford boy, who had dropped like a stone, having apparently got most of the bullets, being in the centre, I stood rooted to the spot where I stood for several seconds. I then realised the situation - the other two poor fellows were dying slowly : I went forward and anointed Parle while F. William anointed Creane. A diminutive young officer then came forward and slowly drawing a revolver from his pocket or somewhere, calmly fired twice into the ear of Parle, then turned and looked at Creane, stepped slowly across, did exactly the same for him, and all was over.."

But all was not 'over' then, nor is it now : the Irish Republic that those men, and others, gave their lives for has yet to be re-won, having been subverted by Westminster and their paid supporters in this country. Thankfully, there are people today of the same high moral calibre as James Parle, John Creane and Patrick Hogan and they will see this age-old campaign to a just conclusion.

Thanks for reading. See y'all back here on the 20th February (..and maybe between this and then, depending on what catches our attention!) Sharon.







Wednesday, February 27, 2019

CYNICISM DERIVING FROM BETRAYAL.

TRADE UNIONS AND THE OCCUPIED SIX COUNTIES.

As active Irish republicans and trade union members, we often wonder why we maintain our membership of the latter ; the trade union leadership in this country, North and South, have repeatedly, over the decades, shown an eagerness to agree (and, indeed, make) compromises with all three parliaments (Leinster House, Stormont and their parent, Westminster) in relation to the continuing, unwanted, British military and political presence in this country. Those compromises conflict with our republican position regarding the Occupied Six Counties and have left us, and many others, extremely wary of any pronouncements on that subject by the trade union leadership.

Which is why we'll later more than likely regret helping to publicise an initiative by the 'Communication Workers Union' in relation to the Six Counties : 'We, the undersigned, are calling on trade unionists across Ireland to begin engaging in the debate for Irish unity. Profound social and constitutional changes have taken place across this island in recent years and the debate about future arrangements has already begun.

As trade unionists working on both sides of the border, we believe it is critically important that the interests of workers and working families are put at the heart of this debate. If there is to be a United Ireland, it must be a New Ireland that puts workers rights, economic rights, gender rights, as well as universal human rights front and centre in a new all Ireland constitution...' (from here.)

And this - 'This initiative has secured the support of a broad range of trade unionists with many differing political views. We are all united in recognizing that the partition of Ireland has been disastrous for workers’ rights and progressive politics in this country...in the north, average wages are lower than anywhere else in Ireland or the UK. Furthermore, trade unions are still hamstrung by the Tories’ draconian anti-union laws, while in the south, more than a century after the 1913 Lockout, workers are still denied the basic right to collective bargaining. Our aim is to put forward a vision of what a fairer and more socially just Ireland would look like in the event of reunification. We want to see a new Ireland with a new constitution that promotes workers’ rights, economic equality and social justice...' (from here.)

The CWU's 'main man' behind the above campaign is a Provisional Sinn Féin activist and will more than likely point the 'tu4ui' efforts towards the same political cul-de-sac that PSF and other constitutional Leinster House political parties have willingly entered in order to allow themselves to claim that they are trying to address the issue when, in reality, their objective is to provide a fig leaf to Leinster House, Stormont and Westminster, behind which those institutions can attempt to conceal the on-going political claim of jurisdiction from Westminster over six Irish counties - much easier to pretend that the continuing British military and political presence never happened in the first place and/or was never as bad as republicans made it out to be and/or has now been 'solved'.

Time will tell where the above campaign goes but, for our part, we still support the position as outlined in the Irish republican magazine, 'Iris', in 1982 - 'The role of the trade union movement in Ireland in relation to the continued imperialist occupation of the North and to the foreign multi-national domination of the Irish economy - both north and south - remains an area of confusion for many people...we examine the economic policy of the 'Irish Congress of Trade Unions' (ICTU) and the general failure of the official Labour movement to advance the cause of the Irish working class, except in terms of extremely limited gains...the balance between militancy and cynicism is one that pervades all layers of the trade union rank-and-file in Ireland. The militancy is just what could be expected from members of a national trade union organisation (ICTU) which represents 65% of insured workers in both parts of the country, and which has a history dating to 1894 (whereas) the cynicism of course derives from bitter experience of betrayal from the Congress leadership...acting to prevent disruption of its spineless conservatism...'

At best, this campaign will bring the Six County issue to the attention of those who might not have given it a second thought in the past and hopefully encourage them to want to know more. At worst, it will distract people from working towards a proper solution.





'BRITISH FORCES MUST GO, DEMANDS SINN FÉIN PRESIDENT...'

From 'The United Irishman' newspaper, December 1954.

Tomas O' Dubghaill's speech to the Sinn Féin Ard Fheis, 7th November 1954 (...continued).

QUICKENING OF THE NATIONAL SPIRIT -
"But probably the most significant factor which has developed during the past year has been the quickening of the national spirit, the renewed interest taken by the general public in the national movement, the realisation that there is a problem confronting our nation, a problem which requires a solution now, and not in the dim future - a problem which needs the active help of every man and woman, old and young, to solve it in the only way which will probably serve the national interest.

If there is one thing more than any other which distinguishes today from the time of the last Ard Fheis, it is the sense of awareness which is now abroad in the land, awareness that we have a country, that that country is not free and that we must do something about it NOW!

Let us examine the steps by which that welcome change has been brought about - and I may say in the beginning that we of Sinn Féin have played our part in bringing it about. Addressing you last year, I said that the political objective of Sinn Féin is the restoration of the All-Ireland Republic with full and unfettered control over all 32 counties, and I pointed out that there were two main obstacles to be overcome : first, the claim of the British Government to hold portion of our country and to enforce that claim by occupation forces, aided by a government of anti-Irish elements in the country and, secondly, the attitude of the political groups in the South, many of whose members gave service in the republican cause in the old days but who now have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo..." (MORE LATER).






'TRAITORS TO THE CROWN...'

From 'The United Irishman' newspaper, January 1955.



The anti-republican 'judge' speaks before passing sentences on the eight young republican men who stood in the dock - "It would be easy to say that you are of the criminal class or that your expressions of devoutness are hypocrisy but I don't find it easy to say that, and therein lies the real tragedy exemplified by your appearance in the dock." And then he began to impose the sentences -

Eamon Boyce, Dublin, 12 years,

Seán O' Callaghan, Cork, 10 years,

Liam Mulcahy, Cork, 10 years,

Seán O' Hegarty, Cork, 10 years,

Philip Clarke, Dublin, 10 years,

Thomas Mitchell, Dublin, 10 years,

John McCabe, Dublin, 10 years,

Patrick J Kearney, Dublin, 10 years.

Befitting the soldier, each man, on hearing his sentence, came smartly to attention. John McCabe, giving final testimony to his republican faith, shouted on leaving the dock - "Long live the Republic!" There was no fear shown, no regret. They had done their duty to Ireland and her people and now they expected the Irish people to do their duty, not to them, but to the Cause for which they have gone to live in the felon's cell... (MORE LATER).






'A NEW THEORY OF RELATIVITY', by Pat Rabbitte.

From 'Magill' magazine, February 1998.

It must also be said that the report reverses the usual pattern of such reports, being stronger on recommendations for change than they are on analysis. However, in this case the analysis is important - fair enough if successive governments are entirely to blame for deficiencies identified and that no blame attaches to the garda culture. The question is glanced over as if it would somehow undermine the security of the State to discuss it.

However, if the apportioning of responsibility is not in fact entirely one-sided, is it healthy that an otherwise highly credible landmark report evades frank discussion of the issue? The 'safe pair of hands' approach sanctioned by the previous government also characterises the approach of the present government. The group charged with overseeing implementation of the report comprises the usual heavyweights, except that on this occasion Mr Tim Dalton and Mr Pat Byrne will be accompanied by two distinguished former departmental secretaries, Mr Kevin Bonnar and Mr Declan Brennan and senior counsel, Mr Eamon Leahy, as well as ICTU nominee Joan Carmichael.

Not even the formidable Ms Carmichael could cause a row in that company. Indeed, not even Shakespeare could complete with the drafting skills of a committee comprising three Irish departmental secretaries! (END of 'A NEW THEORY OF RELATIVITY'. NEXT - 'When An Irish Citizen is Not a Citizen', from 2002.)

Thanks for reading, Sharon.






Wednesday, February 20, 2019

ONE PRO-BRITISH KILLER GANG IN IRELAND "HAD MORE VICTIMS THAN THE YORKSHIRE RIPPER, MORE THAN THE MOOR MURDERERS.."

ON THIS DATE (20TH FEBRUARY) 40 YEARS AGO : PRO-BRITISH 'BUTCHER' LOYALIST GANG SENTENCED TO LIFE IMPRISONMENT IN IRELAND.



'A group of 11 Loyalists known as the 'Shankill butchers' were sentenced (Tuesday 20 February 1979) to life imprisonment for 112 offences including 19 murders. The 11 men were given 42 life sentences and received 2,000 years imprisonment, in total, in the form of concurrent sentences..the Shankill Butchers had begun killing Catholics in July 1972 and were not arrested until May 1977. The Loyalist gang operated out of a number of Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) drinking dens in the Shankill Road area of Belfast. The gang was initially led by Lenny Murphy but it continued to operate following his imprisonment in 1976. The Shankill Butchers got their name because not only did they kill Catholics but they first abducted many of their victims, tortured them, mutilated them with butcher knives and axes, and then finally killed them...' (from here).

The following is an edited version of a piece we published here 15 years ago in relation to the above-mentioned gang of loyalist murderers ; it's from a book by Martin Dillon, which was reviewed by Niall O'Flynn in 'The Evening Press' newspaper in August, 1989 -

In each country they occupied, the British have had their supporters - some of the natives wanted 'in' with the new establishment, in the hope that their new masters would leave them, if not in charge, then at least in a 'managerial' position ; others recognised an opportunity to 'settle old scores', or what they perceived to be 'old scores'. Between 1972 and 1977, the 'Shankill Butchers' killed more people than any other mass murderers in Irish or British criminal history. That is the stark fact - more victims than the Yorkshire Ripper, more than the Moors Murderers. Selecting the targets at random from Belfast's Catholic ghettos, the Butchers dragged dozens of innocent victims to their homes, to their drinking holes and 'romper rooms', sometimes just to darkened alleys, there to torture, humiliate, and finally, to kill them, slaughtering them with butchers' knives. But now (ie 1989), ten years after the jailing of the Butchers' inner circle, a new investigation has unearthed more than a dozen other murders committed by the gang and never before linked to them.

A CATALOGUE OF HORROR -

*Thomas Madden : suspended by a rope from a wooden beam, a nine-inch double-bladed knife was used on his body as a sculptor would chip away at a piece of stone. In all, there were 147 stab wounds on his body, and a pathologist's report indicates that it was the work of one man, working clinically. A woman heard him screaming "Kill me, kill me..."

*Francis Crossan : beaten with fists, feet and a wheel brace, Lennie Murphy (pictured,one of the 'Butchers') killed him by hacking at his throat with a knife, almost severing his head from his body.

*Sisters Frances Donnelly and Marie McGrattan and teenagers Gerard Grogan and Thomas Osborne : all shot in cold blood in a robbery on a drink wholesalers. Murphy himself killed three of them, the two boys after hearing they were Catholics, and Marie McGrattan as she knelt on the floor.

*Student and songwriter Stephen McCann : dragged from his girlfriend, tortured at knifepoint, shot, and finally all but decapitated.

*Protestant Alexander Maxwell : killed for gatecrashing a party celebrating Lennie Murphy's release from prison. He was beaten and kicked. To kill him, Murphy drove a car over, and back over, the hapless victim.

A murderer at the age of 20, the use of a knife was to become the trademark of Hugh Leonard Thompson Murphy, the leader of The Shankill Butchers. A flamboyant womaniser, only five-foot-six tall, Lennie Murphy began his bullyboy 'career' early. Ironically nicknamed 'Murphy the Mick' by his primary-school classmates on account of his Catholic-sounding surname, he was a belligerent child who, by the age of ten, was threatening other children and relieving them of their pocket-money at knifepoint. He ran rackets even at school - threatening other pupils, stealing their meal tickets and selling them to other boys at a reduced rate. He first came to the notice of the RUC at 12 years of age, when he was convicted of shopbreaking and larceny.

As a teenager, Lennie Murphy began to keep company with men in the Shankill district while, at local discos, it was he who decided who got in and who was turned away. In one early incident, a man who bumped against him at a bar, spilling his drink, was later badly beaten by his gang. Murphy joined the junior wing of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) in 1969 and was in the midst of the violence when Protestant mobs invaded Catholic streets that summer, when hundreds of homes were burned. Says Martin Dillon, author of a new investigation of the gang's activities - "He often talked overtly while drinking in the 'Bayardo Bar' of his hatred for all Catholics because they were 'scum and animals. He was beginning to develop into what one UVF man later called a 'Super Prod', which was shorthand for saying that Murphy was more anti-Catholic, anti-Nationalist and anti-Republican than even the most bitter man on the Shankill Road. Lennie Murphy was prepared to shoot anyone ; man, woman or child. Or a blind man. As long as he could reasonably establish the religion of the victim."

Victim after victim was killed in the same brutal way - hacked through the throat with a butcher's knife. So callous were Murphy's men, so brutalised, that, while their victims waited, it was not unknown for gang members to stop for a cup of tea or to watch football on TV. Belfast is so much a city divided that, tragically, sectarian gangs are able to identify the religion of intended victims simply by the streets on which they are walking or working. Even on public routes, people travel towards either Protestant or Catholic housing estates. "Hundreds of people" , estimates Martin Dillon, had their fate sealed by this ghettoisation - and this was the basis on which The Shankill Butchers operated and selected their victims.

The 'Murphy Gang', in its heyday, included Robert 'Basher' Bates (pictured) and 'Big Sam' McAllister, who joined 'Ulster Volunteer Force' (a pro-British murdergang) at Murphy's bidding. Later, they were joined by William Moore, a taxi driver, who had learned to use a butcher's knife in a previous job. Meeting in The Brown Bear pub, the 'Brown Bear Gang' soon numbered close to two dozen men, mostly in their 20's - but one as young as 14 - and some who were not known to the RUC (a pro-British 'Police force') until such time as the Butcher gang were caught. Officially, 'Brown Bear Gang' members were used by the UVF to carry out executions, bombings, assassinations and punishment beatings, to deal with troublemakers within the pro-British paramilitary ranks. 'Punishments' then might mean kneecappings, beatings with baseball bats, the use of a power drill on the kneecaps or 'breeze-blocking', where concrete blocks were dropped on to the hands, or heads, of 'offenders'. "It is an incredible fact that, within the subculture of the paramilitary world, punishments of varying degrees were applicable according to the gravity of the offence. When it came to their respective terror campaigns, no such gradations applied to the atrocities committed" , writes Martin Dillon.

Despite warnings from their 'Ulster Volunteer Force' superiors that only armed republicans were to be considered as the enemy, the bulk of the Butchers' victims, in fact, were innocent civilians, picked up at random, easy pickings - 'If you can't get an IRA man, get a Taig'. Lennie Murphy was 'blooded' first on July 21, 1972, when, with other members of Loyalist paramilitary organisations, he was involved in the torture and killing of a 34-year-old Catholic, Francis Arthurs, who was picked-up by a Loyalist gang after leaving a Catholic area and taken to the Lawnbrook Social Club, a Loyalist club off the Shankill Road. Francis Arthurs was beaten severely by a large group of drinkers, stabbed repeatedly by Murphy, interrogated, tortured and shot. That night, those present have said, Murphy was seen to demonstrate that he could cause the victim the most pain by hitting him harder than anyone else. Joe Bennett, who later became one of the major UVF 'supergrasses', said that Lennie Murphy stood out as the most barbarous gang member present.

Martin Dillon, the Author of this book, confirms Lennie Murphy's pleasure in these sadistic practices : "There is plenty of evidence to suggest that Lennie Murphy committed the crimes firstly for pleasure and secondly for information. Many studies have indicated that sadists need aggression and I believe that in Northern Ireland (sic) the conflict provides the trigger for this aggression. It also allows misfits to find social acceptance by expressing the prejudice which is not endemic but socially acceptable. It has enabled many people who cannot escape prejudice to find a security within it and to accept its manifestations as a badge of patriotism."

The RUC, though they knew not the perpetrators of the Shankill killings ('1169' Comment - those slaughtered by the gang were Catholics ; all members of that religion were suspected by the RUC to be either active IRA members or supporters of same - the 'Butcher Gang' was, 'unofficially', doing the work of the Six-County State. The RUC were therefore not too concerned) recognised from a very early stage that they were dealing, not with 'ordinary terrorists', but with psychopaths. "We're looking for somebody more brutal than the average terrorist and we'd better get to him," RUC Detective Inspector Jimmy Nesbitt told his men as the first victims of the serial killers were found, "It represents for me a new degree of cruelty. We have seen victims who have been killed with concrete blocks, stabbed, shot or beaten to death, but the sight of this stirs something inside me which makes me feel cold," Nesbitt said. Speaking later, another RUC man recalled : "I knew I was witnessing something different, a more personal type of killing."

Such prolific activity brought Lennie Murphy high on the RUC's 'most wanted' list, and he was imprisoned briefly in the early 1970's, for minor offences, and again in 1976, though he continued to direct 'Brown Bear' operations from his Maze Prison jail cell. William Moore (pictured), the taxi-driving member of 'The Butchers', took up where Lennie Murphy had left off. Murphy had prepared well for his terrorist 'career', attending many of the murder trials of the early 1970's, at Belfast's Crumlin Road Courthouse. He learned about the law, the nature of witness and forensic evidence, and when such evidence was ruled admissible or inadmissible, and why. Attending IRA trials, he was able to identify IRA supporters in the public gallery who could later be targeted for assassination - by watching forensic evidence being produced in different court cases, Lennie Murphy learned how to remove lead residue from his hands and clothing, where it accumulates when a gun is fired in close proximity to a person. He discovered how to ruin an identification parade, and he learned never to give an alibi in case the RUC could break it - answering RUC questions by stating simply that they would have to prove any allegations they wished to make.

Murphy, McAllister, Moore and Bates, in fact, were so well versed in the law that they repeatedly refused, even while confessing, to avoid making admissions of premeditated killing - suggesting that only the beating, not the death, of the victim, was intended, and that alcohol had played a large part in their actions. An excerpt from a confession by one of the Shankill Butchers, 'Big Sam' McAllister (pictured), illustrates how the gang had used their knowledge of the law - "I was out in a car with another fellow who I don't wish to say...we were looking for a Taig (a Catholic) for a kicking. There was a hatchet in the car and I took it with me and got out of the car. As this man walked by me on his own, I hit him over the head with the wooden part of the hatchet. I hit him about twice. It was only meant to give him a digging. He was not meant to be killed. I think drink was the biggest cause of this.." In fact, neither of the gang members were drunk on this occasion, and the ill-fated 'taig', 49-year-old Cornelius Neeson, died from a fractured skull, a broken leg and multiple lacerations to the head, face, shoulder and hand. The pathologist concluded that all the blows were delivered with considerable severity from the hatchet, and from fists and feet.

It was only, finally, in 1977, that 'the Butchers' made a fatal 'mistake' - they left a victim alive. 20-year-old Gerard McLaverty, dumped in an alleyway after being beaten and tortured with a knife, identified key gang members, including 'Big Sam' McAllister. The RUC searched McAllister's home and found a butcher's knife sticking out of the floorboards beside the bed, another knife under the bed, plus two butchers knives and a sharpening steel in the kitchen. The knives ranged in size from six to ten inches, and the sharpener showed signs of heavy use. The breakthrough had been made - most of the gang broke down under RUC questioning, some "crying like babies". Sentencing eleven gang members, including William Moore, 'Big Sam' McAllister and Robert 'Basher' Bates, for their parts in nineteen murders, Mr. Justice Turlough O'Donnell talked of this "catalogue of horror", and told William Moore - "You pleaded guilty to eleven murders carried out in a manner so cruel and revolting as to be beyond the comprehension of any normal human being. I see no reason whatever why you should ever be released. The facts speak for themselves and will remain forever a lasting monument to blind sectarian bigotry".

In all, 'the Shankill Butchers' were given 2,000 years imprisonment, to run in concurrent sentences. British legal history was made with the 42 life sentences handed down, the largest number ever given out in one sitting. Some gang members, however, will be due for release in the coming decade (ie -the 1990's). One is already out and, of course, many of those involved in the murders were never brought to justice and are still walking the streets of Northern Ireland (sic). At least 17 people who were implicated in some of the killings were never brought before the courts, mostly due to insufficient evidence against them. Lenny Murphy, who walked out of prison in July 1982, three years after the jailing of his gang, had killed again within 24 hours. He met his own death at the hands of a republican assassination squad, as he parked behind his girlfriends house one evening that Autumn (1982). Enemies within the Loyalist camp, it is thought, may have helped to set him up.

After Lennie Murphy's execution by the then IRA, 'The Belfast Telegraph' newspaper carried 87 death notices, including ones from William Moore, Robert 'Basher' Bates and other gang members in the Maze Prison. His Aunt Agnes penned the following tribute to Murphy : 'Nothing could be more beautiful than the memories we have of you. To us, you were very special and God must have thought so too'. His mother told reporters : "My Lennie would not have hurt a fly.."



The UVF afforded Murphy a paramilitary funeral, with a guard of honour wearing UVF uniforms and balaclavas, and a volley of three shots was fired over his coffin as it was brought out of his house, as a piper played 'Abide With Me'. He was buried in Carnmoney Cemetery and on his tombstone the following words were inscribed : 'Here Lies a Soldier'. The tombstone was smashed in 1989.









'BRITISH FORCES MUST GO, DEMANDS SINN FÉIN PRESIDENT'.

From 'The United Irishman' newspaper, December 1954.

The continued presence of the British occupation forces is an act of war against the Irish nation. Their presence is an insult and a constant challenge to the Irish people. Thank God we still have young men willing and able to take up that challenge and to answer it in the only way England has ever understood, said President Tomas O Dubghaill, when he addressed the Ard Fheis of Sinn Féin in Dublin on the 7th November.

Delegates from all over the nation pledged their support to the policy and programme of Sinn Féin and reported magnificent progress from every area and there was an atmosphere of confidence and hope in the future. Republican actions on the military front have been supported by more widespread Sinn Féin activity and the decision to contest all twelve seats in the forthcoming Westminster elections in the Six Counties has given all members an immediate task which demands considerable work. The Presidential address was enthusiastically received and references to recent IRA actions were greeted with prolonged applause -

"A Chairde ; you will have learned from the reports of the General Secretaries and the General Treasurers that the organisation has made very substantial progress during the past twelve months and the number of Cumainn has increased, the funds at our disposal have increased and the work done by the organisation generally has greatly increased. Indeed, I may say that today Sinn Féin is an organisation which has a very definite place in the political life of our country. Much as they may dislike it, we can no longer be ignored or treated lightly by the professional politicians, North or South..." (MORE LATER.)






ON THIS DATE (20TH FEBRUARY) 98 YEARS AGO : 12 IRA VOLUNTEERS SHOT DEAD, TWO MORE EXECUTED LATER.

12 IRA Volunteers died at the Clonmult massacre site, Cork, on the 20th February 1921 - 98 years ago on this date - and two more were executed later. Six of the Volunteers in this picture were shot dead on that day.

'On the 20th of February 1921, our noble Midleton heroes were murdered in Clonmult,

for the fighting of there countries cause, to free her they did go,

but by the informers of our land, in there graves they are lying low.



It was on a Sunday morning this district the enemy did invade, to search for Irish rebels through many a hill and vale,

surrounded were those boys at last when rifle fire began, and Desmond said ‘Your courage lads we have them nearly done”.

From top of roof and window those lads went on to fight, 'till the burning of the cottage and no escape in sight,

but still they kept on fighting and the sad news reached old Midleton - "the column was done".



The bravest boys in Ireland this house they did command, brave Desmond brothers stood there true rebels to the last,

and many another mothers son whose hearts with grief were sore, to think that they should be betrayed and their hearts blood they let flow,

Hegarty you were a brave man and so was Higgins too, like the rest of the east Cork Martyrs ye were straight firm and true,

not forgetting Paddy O’ Sullivan and more as we all know, who were executed in Cork prison and their bodies then let low.'
(from here.)

On the 20th February 1921, IRA Captain James P. Aherne and Volunteer James Glavin, two members of an IRA 'Flying Squad' that was based in Cork, watched as one of their number headed off on a short stroll from the cottage they were in to a near-by stream to collect water for the IRA Squad : a poacher, an ex-British Army man, was on the far side of the stream laying traps for rabbits when he spotted the man, whom he knew to be an IRA member, and watched as the IRA man filled as many buckets as he could carry and observed as the Volunteer headed to the near-by cottage. The poacher reported the sighting to the local RIC (pictured) and they, in turn, called in a Black and Tan murder gang. The cottage was soon surrounded by these armed pro-British thugs. Twelve IRA Volunteers were killed and another two were executed later :

Captain James Aherne from Cobh County Cork was killed while jumping a fence 200 yards from the house.

Volunteer Jeremiah Aherne, from Midleton, County Cork ,was killed in action.

Volunteer Liam Aherne, from Midleton, County Cork, killed in action.

Volunteer Donal Dennehy, from Midleton, County Cork, killed in action.

Volunteer David Desmond, from Midleton, County Cork, killed in action.

Volunteer Michael Desmond, from Midleton, County Cork, was killed while attempting to fight his way back into the house.

Volunteer James Glavin, from Cobh, County Cork, was killed during the fighting.

Volunteer Michael Hallahan, from Midleton, County Cork, killed in action.

Volunteer Richard Hegarty, from Garryvoe, County Cork, killed in front of the house when attempting to go for aid.

Volunteer John Joe Joyce, from Midleton, County Cork, killed while attempting to re-gain entry to the farm house.

Volunteer Maurice Moore, from Cobh, County Cork, was captured during the Ambush,and was later executed at Cork Military Barracks on April 28th 1921.

Volunteer Joseph Morrissey, from Athlone, County Westmeath, killed during the fighting.

Volunteer Christopher O'Sullivan, from Midleton, County Cork, killed during the fighting.

Volunteer Paddy O'Sullivan, from Cobh, County Cork, was captured and was later executed at Cork Military Barracks, on April 28th 1921.


The Clonmult Memorial, at the site of the ambush.

The graves of the Clonmult dead, Midleton Cemetery, Cork.













'TRAITORS TO THE CROWN...'

From 'The United Irishman' newspaper, January 1955.



And the voice of another John Mitchel is heard with the same defiant spirit that rang through the Dublin courthouse over 100 years ago : "I pray that our comrades in the Irish Republican Army will have the strength and courage to carry on until such times as the last British soldier is driven from the shores of Ireland. Long live the Republic!"

One by one they express such sentiments or approval of what a comrade has said. Twenty-one year-old Corkman, Seán O Callaghan (1169 comment - not the tout), claims it is a great privilege and honour to have been chosen for such work : "It is a great load off my shoulders", he says, "to know that my place in the ranks of the Irish Republican Army, in which a vacancy will be caused by my imprisonment - it is a great pleasure to know that that vacancy will be filled ten-fold by more Irishmen in the very near future."

The scarlet-dressed, white-wigged figure speaks before passing sentences on the men - and one feels a note of reluctance threading his words on the task before him, not because of his love of those courageous patriots or sympathy for the cause which they represent - but mainly because he realises the far-reaching implications and propaganda effects it will have on England's continued occupation by force of arms on part of our nation - showing up the hypocrisy and hollowness of her freedom pronouncements and the rights of nations to their independence... (MORE LATER).






WHAT IS IT WITH THE SIMON'S?

Simon Harris (pictured), the 'frightened little boy', is so obviously out of his depth that when an overspend (of taxpayers money) of this magnitude lands on top of him, it doesn't actually hit him because he's standing in such a large hole/crater of his own making. The people pointing out to him that he is in a precarious position are ignored as he washes his hands of responsibility, claiming that such gross incompetence is not a scandal at all, and attempts to distract public attention by complaining that those that he and his fellow administrators in Leinster House have inflicted serious financial and health-care pain on should have the cheek to express that pain in front of his house. Suck it up, Simon - sure you'll still get your pension and a well-paid position in a political side office somewhere, so what do you care...

Then there's this Simon. Coveney, that is. He was on the RTE radio programme 'Morning Ireland' yesterday (Tuesday 19th February 2019) to discuss the 'Brexit' shambles when, in an answer to a question about 'our relationship with Britain', he replied - "We share an island together". Seriously! That's how he and his type view the continuing political and military occupation by Westminster of the six north-eastern counties of this country. A 'shared experience'. Understandable, I suppose, when your party's 'hero' is Michael Collins, who accepted weapons and manpower from Westminster to obtain and then secure the partition of Ireland. So as we could all "share the island", much as you would with an intruder in your house. And that flag, Simon - looks like it's growing out of your head, where it was planted at the beginning of your political 'career'.





'A NEW THEORY OF RELATIVITY', by Pat Rabbitte.

From 'Magill' magazine, February 1998.

A man from Mars reading the 'Report Of The Steering Group On The Efficiency And Effectiveness Of The Garda Síochana' would never divine the background that gave rise to the study. Could this be due to the fact that the steering group was peopled entirely by eminent persons under the watchful eyes of the secretary of the (State) Department of Justice and the garda commissioner? An interesting dimension of experience might have been contributed by a typical 'ordinary' citizen.

As it is, the report's analysis is entirely in the context of the 'increasingly demanding environment' in which gardaí must function and on the need "to take an integrated appraisal across the entire criminal-justice system, given the interrelated nature of the service being provided".

Which no doubt is all very well, but there is little evidence of the influence of the typical consumer of "policing practice". There are the inevitable tables comparing Ireland (favourably) with a number of countries "in terms of percentage of crime detected" per 1,000 of the population. And there is the key concession that "the reality that a fair and efficient service is being delivered is lost if the public, as customers, do not perceive the service as efficient and helpful." The report goes on to recommend a 'Quality Service Initiative' whereby "the community know specifically what they can expect from the Garda Síochana" and that "this needs to be articulated in the public arena by setting and agreeing service standards which should then be published..." (MORE LATER).


Thanks for reading, Sharon.