ON THIS DATE (6TH MARCH) 101 YEARS AGO : DEATH OF WESTMINSTER'S PET POLITICIAN IN IRELAND.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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...'
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.)
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?)
ON THIS DAY NEXT WEEK - THE 13TH MARCH 2019 - WE WON'T BE POSTING OUR USUAL OFFERING..
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.."
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.