" A wealth of information..."

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 19, 2016



British 'Chief Secretary for Ireland', Lieutenant-Colonel 'Sir' Hamar Greenwood (pictured, left, and short video here showing 'the Hamar' rewarding his troops in this country for the destruction they wrought while maintaining 'law and order') promised to put an end to republican "outrages" but that was just another outrageous false promise by the British!

In May 1920 the British Foreign Secretary, 'Lord' Curzon, proposed vigorous 'Indian measures' to suppress the rebellion in Ireland and he and other British imperialist 'gentlemen' formulated a policy with that objective in mind. On the 9th August 1920, the British 'Lords Commissioners' announced that 'Royal Assent' had been granted for the following 14 items -

1. Overseas Trade (Credit and Insurance) Act, 1920.

2. Unemployment Insurance Act, 1920.

3. Restoration of Order in Ireland Act, 1920.*

4. Aberdeen Corporation Order Confirmation Act, 1920.

5. Pilotage Orders Confirmation (No. 3) Act, 1920.

6. Local Government Board (Ireland) Provisional Orders Confirmation (No. 3) Act, 1920.

7. Ministry of Health Provisional Order Confirmation (Chesterfield Extension) Act, 1920.

8. Mid-Glamorgan Water Act, 1920.

9. Wallasey Corporation Act, 1920.

10. Life Association of Scotland Act, 1920.

11. Uxbridge and Wycombe District Gas Act, 1920.

12. Exmouth Urban District Council Act, 1920.

13. North British and Mercantile Insurance Company's Act, 1920.

14. Lever Brothers, Limited (Wharves and Railway) Act, 1920.

On the 19th October 1920 - 96 years ago on this date - the British 'Chief Secretary for Ireland', Lieutenant-Colonel 'Sir' Hamar Greenwood (who later threatened to resign his position if Westminster agreed to a ceasefire with Irish republicans before they had surrendered their weapons!) stated, re the British 'law and order' campaign in Ireland - "The outrages against the police and military forces since the 1st January last, which I regret to say include the loss of no less than 118 lives, are as follows: police killed -100, military killed -18, police wounded -160, military wounded -66. There have been 667 attacks on police barracks, resulting in most cases in their complete destruction. There has been an organised attempt to boycott and intimidate the police, their wives and relations. The hon. Member will realise that I cannot publish the steps that are being taken to cope with the campaign of murder, outrage and intimidation, but I can assure him that the means available to the Government for protecting all servants of the Crown in the discharge of their duties, and for bringing to justice those who commit or connive at outrages, are steadily improving. The Royal Irish Constabulary is rapidly increasing in numbers owing mainly to the flow of recruits from ex-officers and ex-service men who served in the Army or Navy during the War. The effective strength of the Force is now higher than it has been for the last 15 years. In the last three weeks alone there have been 194 trials by Court Martial under the 'Restoration of Order in Ireland Act 1920', and 159 convictions. The Forces of the Crown are now effectively grappling with the organised, paid and brutal campaign of murder in Ireland.." (*The 'Restoration of Order in Ireland Act' was a 'legal' item through which the British could authorise, in Ireland, 'the issue of Regulations under the Defence of the Realm Consolidation Act, 1914, for effecting the restoration and maintenance of order in Ireland where it appears to His Majesty in Council that, owing to the existence of a state of disorder, the ordinary law is inadequate for the prevention and punishment of crime, or the maintenance of order..')

The British claimed that the 'legal' changes had been rendered necessary by the abnormal conditions which at that time prevailed in certain parts of Ireland, where 'an organised campaign of violence and intimidation has resulted in the partial breakdown of the machinery of the ordinary law and in the non-performance by public bodies and officials of their statuary obligations...in particular it has been found that criminals (sic) are protected from arrest, that trial by jury cannot be obtained because of the intimidation of witnesses and jurors, and the local authorities and their officers stand in fear of injury to their persons or property if they carry out their statuary duties...'

The 'Order in Council' provided, among other things, for the putting into operation of many of the existing 'Defence of the Realm Regulations' for the purpose of 'the restoration or maintenance of order, for the trial of crimes by Courts Martial or by specially constituted Civil Courts, and for the investment of those Courts with the necessary powers'. Also, it was now to be allowed for 'financial punishments' to be implemented - the withholding from local authorities who refuse to discharge the obligations imposed upon them by Statute, financial grants which otherwise would be payable to them from public funds and for the application of the grants so withheld to the discharge of the obligations which the local authority has failed to fulfill, for the holding of sittings of courts elsewhere than in ordinary courthouses, where these courthouses have been destroyed or otherwise made unavailable and 'although the Regulations are not, in terms, restricted to any particular part or parts of Ireland, it is the Government's intention that they shall not be applied in substitution for the provisions of the ordinary law in places where the judicial and administrative machinery of the ordinary law are available, and are not obstructed in their operations by the methods of violence and intimidation above mentioned...for instance, under the Regulations an ordinary crime can only be tried by a Courts Martial or by a specially constituted Civil Court, if the case is referred to the Competent Naval or Military Authority. Instructions will be issued by the Irish Executive to ensure that such cases will not be referred to the Competent Naval or Military Authority except where the prevalence of actual threatened violence or intimidation has produced conditions rendering it impracticable for them to be dealt with by due process of ordinary law...'

Greenwood stated the above, as mentioned, on Tuesday, 19th October 1920 - 96 years ago on this date - and, the following day, a young (19 years old) IRA Volunteer, from Fleet Street in Dublin, Kevin Barry, became the first person to be tried by court martial under the new 'Restoration of Order in Ireland Act 1920' which,among its other trappings, allowed for the suspension of the courts system in Ireland (bad and all as that system was) and the establishment of military courts with powers to enforce the death penalty and internment without trial. On the 10th December 1920 martial law was proclaimed in counties Cork, Kerry, Limerick, and Tipperary and, in January 1921, this order was extended to include Clare and Waterford. The 'ROIA' was widely used by the British against Irish republicans and, indeed, was used as a 'tool' to impose censorship on the media of the day, an imposition which was challenged, sometimes succesfully so - in 1921, a ROIA court-martial convicted the proprietors and editor of a Dublin newspaper for violating ROIA press regulations. At the end of the trial, a military detachment acting without a written order from the military court arrested the defendants and conveyed them to a civil prison. The prisoners petitioned for a writ of habeas corpus on the ground that a transfer from military to civil custody based merely on oral statements of anonymous soldiers was unlawful.

The Crown argued that since the defendants were subject to military law, they could be moved from military to civil confinement without a written order. Finding this contention to be "quite untenable," the King’s Bench put on record its desire "in the clearest way possible to repudiate" the doctrine that a civil prison could detain a king's subject without proper written authority: "To sanction such a course would be to strike a deadly blow at the doctrine of personal liberty, which is part of the first rudiments of the constitution." Moreover, the court-martial's failure to issue an order left the civil jailer "without the protection of any written mandate" and therefore exposed to the risk of a lawsuit.

Declaring that there was "no vinculum or bond of union between the military and the civil custody," the King's Bench issued the writ of habeas corpus. Ostensibly protecting the liberty of civilians against overreaching by the British Army, the court equally protected a civil institution from subordination to military command.

Today, the British and their political colleagues in Stormont and Leinster House are still attempting to use 'laws' of that nature, and media censorship, to destroy Irish republicanism. But it didn't work then and won't work for them today, either - we are in this for the long haul!


By prisoners from E1 Landing, Portlaoise Prison, 1999.


Grateful thanks to the following for their help, support, assistance and encouragement, and all those who helped with the typing and word processing over the past few months. Many thanks to Cian Sharkhin, the editor of the book, Mr Bill Donoghue, Governor, Portlaoise, Mr Seán Wynne, supervising teacher, the education unit in Portlaoise Prison and the education staff, especially Zack, Helena and Jane. Education officers Bill Carroll and Dave McDonald, Rita Kelly, writer, print unit, Arbour Hill.

First Print : November 1999, reprinted March 2000, illustrations by D O'Hare, Zack and Natasha. Photograph selection : Eamonn Kelly and Harry Melia.

NATURE OF THE CAT. (By David Lynch.)

Sitting on the soft cushion

purring in peaceful silence,

content in the nature of its being

nothing existing but the moment.

Urban domestic and wild

poised in noble posture by the fireside.

Moving with gracious flair,

manoeuvring as if on air

never before seeing a mouse,

instinctively preparing to kill it.

The goldfish swimming in the bowl upon the shelf,

the tropical fish in the aquarium of dreams,

soothing perverse pleasures of domination.

Poised for deadly attack.

The goldfinch singing in the cage above the door,

imprisoned in man's tiny world

whistling nature, echoing life.

Nails ripping through flesh first strike.

The dying squeal fills the room...

Streams of pain flowing down a mother's face

half carried behind small white coffins

carrying little children to eternal grace.

Sitting content, urban domestic and wild

poised in noble posture by the fireside.

(Next - 'Ocean of Dreams ' , by David Lynch.)


The Far Right has been resurgent across continental Europe for several years. But only in the last 12 months has Ireland seen an emergence of openly neo-Nazi cells.

By Alan Walsh.

From 'Magill' magazine, May 2002.

Naturally enough, more than one Blueshirt journal proposed communism as a Semitic invention - Marx, Engels and Ricardo all being Jewish. And the Blueshirts were to the apparently communist IRA what Mussolini's Blackshirts were to communist anarchy in Italy. Indeed, O'Duffy saw his Blueshirts as a viable extension of European fascism and, aside altogether from raising a force for the defence of Franco in Spain, offered assistance to Hitler on the Russian front.

His short-lived tenure at the initial helm of Fine Gael might not reflect at all on the present position of the party, but his place in Irish history has not been overlooked by those who would today seek to emulate him - and it would appear that there are more than a few.

O'Duffy is today quoted on a website (http://www.nsrus.com ie 'National Socialists R Us') ('Stormfront', apparently?) which has, of late, gained notoriety. He is quoted as follows - "Party politics has served its period of usefulness and the sooner change is effected the better." The website, avowedly national socialist in content, came to the attention of Limerick residents recently when overt fascist slogans surrounded by swastikas appeared daubed on the local Guinness Bridge, alongside its address. (MORE LATER).



By Jim McCann (Jean's son). For Alex Crowe, RIP - "No Probablum". Glandore Publishing, 1999.

Biographical Note : Jim McCann is a community worker from the Upper Springfield area in West Belfast. Although born in the Short Strand, he was reared in the Loney area of the Falls Road. He comes from a large family (average weight about 22 stone!). He works with Tús Nua (a support group for republican ex-prisoners in the Upper Springfield), part of the Upper Springfield Development Trust. He is also a committee member of the 'Frank Cahill Resource Centre', one of the founders of 'Bunscoil an tSléibhe Dhuibh', the local Irish language primary school and Naiscoil Bharr A'Chluanaí, one of the local Irish language nursery schools.

His first publication last year by Glandore was 'And the Gates Flew Open : the Burning of Long Kesh'. He hopes to retire on the profits of his books. Fat chance!

Eddie Brophy was a character. Universally loved. No task in Long Kesh was so great that Eddie couldn't avoid it. It wasn't that he was lazy (although in the absence of action it would be hard to say whether he was or not) - he was just 'Broph' , and had a story to tell about any given situation, always plausible, never believable. Eddie died recently (in 1997 - Sharon) and is sadly missed by all who knew him.

The 'Study Hut' of Cage 22 was used as the canteen and the canteen proper itself was used as a five-a-side indoor football pitch. The canteen staff at the time, unlike all the other ancillary workers in the cage who were rotated weekly, were permanent, mainly because they got the ice cream first on the rare occasions it appeared on what was laughingly called 'the prison menu'. It was also the easiest detail and the canteen staff were basically six lazy bastards! I know this to be true as I was on the canteen staff at the time.

The dinner arrived at the gate of Cage 22 at 12.30pm ; seventy-one dinners and one 'special diet', which was for Eddie Brophy. Eddie was a very warm-hearted person but, unfortunately, he had a bad heart, which exempted him from doing work in the cage and entailed him eating 'special diet' food which was all steamed and absolutely atrocious to eat. Every day, when everyone got their dinner, the canteen staff would take theirs into the hut and eat it, before cleaning all the utensils, dinner containers and serving tables etc. What remained of the dinner would sit unattended for about half an hour in the Hut until the canteen staff put the containers on the trolley and wheeled it over to the gate for collection. It was during that half hour that Eddie would always make his move... (MORE LATER).


"Burn everything English but their coal" - the 'Hibernian Patriot' [from the 'Drapier's Letters' collection], Jonathan Swift (pictured, left), an Irish author and satirist (perhaps best known for 'Gulliver's Travels' and for his position as dean of St. Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin) was born in Dublin on the 30th November 1667 ; his father (from whom the 'Patriot' got his first name) was an attorney, but he died before the birth of his son. As if that wasn't misfortune enough, young Jonathan suffered from Meniere's Disease and, between the bill's mounting up and her sickly son, his mother, Abigail, found that she was unable to cope and the young boy was put in the charge of her late husband's brother, Godwin, a wealthy member of the 'Gray's Inn' legal society.

His position in St. Patrick's Cathedral ensured that he had a 'pulpit' and a ready-made audience to listen to him, an opportunity he readily availed of to question English misrule in Ireland - he spoke against 'Wood's Halfpence' and in favour of 'burning everything English except their coal' and, satirically, wrote a 'modest proposal' in which he suggested that poor children should be fed to the rich ('a young healthy child well nursed is at a year old a most delicious, nourishing, and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled..')!

In 1742, at 75 years of age, Jonathan Swift suffered a stroke, severely affecting his ability to speak, and he died three years later, on the 19th October, 1745 - 271 years ago on this date. He was buried next to the love of his life, Esther Johnson, in St. Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin. "It is impossible that anything so natural, so necessary, and so universal as death, should ever have been designed by providence as an evil to mankind" - Jonathan Swift.


Emily Lawless, pictured, left (aka 'Emily Lytton'), the writer and poet, was born on the 17th of June, 1845, in Ardclough, County Kildare and was educated privately.

War battered dogs are we

Fighters in every clime;

Fillers of trench and of grave,

Mockers bemocked by time.

War dogs hungry and grey,

Gnawing a naked bone,

Fighters in every clime -

Every cause but our own.
(Emily Lawless, 1902 ; "With the Wild Geese".)

She was born into a politically mixed background, the eldest daughter and one of eight children ('Sir' Horace Plunkett was her cousin). Her father was 'Titled' by Westminster (he was a 'Baron') even though his father (Emily's grandfather) was a member of the 'United Irishmen'. Her brother, Edward, seems to have taken his direction from his father rather than his grandfather - he held and voiced strong unionist opinions, wouldn't have a catholic about the place and was in a leadership position within the anti-Irish so-called 'Property Defence Association'. Perhaps this 'in-house' political confusion, mixed between staunch unionism and unionism with sympathies for Irish nationalism/republicanism, coupled with the 'whisperings of shame' that Emily was a lesbian and was having an affair with one of the 'titled' Spencer women, was the reason why her father and two of his daughters committed suicide.

She wrote a full range of books, from fiction to history to poetry, and is best remembered for her 'Wild Geese' works, although some of her writings were criticised by journalists for its 'grossly exaggerated violence, its embarrassing dialect and staid characters..' - 'The Nation' newspaper stated that 'she looked down on peasantry from the pinnacle of her three-generation nobility..' and none other than William Butler Yeats declared that she had "an imperfect sympathy with the Celtic nature.." and that she favoured "theory invented by political journalists and forensic historians." But she had a great talent :

After Aughrim :

She said, "They gave me of their best,

They lived, they gave their lives for me ;

I tossed them to the howling waste

And flung them to the foaming sea."

She said, "I never gave them aught,

Not mine the power, if mine the will ;

I let them starve, I let them bleed,

they bled and starved, and loved me still."

She said, "Ten times they fought for me,

Ten times they strove with might and main,

Ten times I saw them beaten down,

Ten times they rose, and fought again."

She said, "I stayed alone at home,

A dreary woman, grey and cold ;

I never asked them how they fared,

Yet still they loved me as of old."

She said, "I never called them sons,

I almost ceased to breathe their name,

then caught it echoing down the wind

blown backwards, from the lips of fame."

She said, "Not mine, not mine that fame ;

Far over sea, far over land,

cast forth like rubbish from my shores

they won it yonder, sword in hand."

She said, "God knows they owe me nought,

I tossed them to the foaming sea,

I tossed them to the howling waste,

Yet still their love comes home to me."

She considered herself to be a Unionist although, unlike her brother, she appreciated and acknowledged Irish culture (or, in her own words - "I am not anti-Gaelic at all, as long as it is only Gaelic enthuse and does not include politics..") and, despite being 'entitled' to call herself 'The Honourable Emily Lawless', it was a 'title' she only used occasionally. She spent a lot of her younger days in Galway, with her mother's family, but it is thought that family tragedies drove her to live in England, where she died, on the 19th of October 1913 - 103 years ago on this date - at the age of 68, having become addicted to heroin. She was buried in Surrey. Emily Lawless, 1845-1913.


On the 19th October 1989 - 27 years ago on this date (after serving 15 years in prison)- the 'Guildford Four' - Gerard Conlon, Patrick Armstrong, Carole Richardson and Paul Hill - are released from prison in what is considered to be one of the biggest-ever miscarriages of justice in Britain. Their convictions in 1974 for the Guildford pub bombings of that year were quashed at the Old Bailey in London on the 19th October 1989. All four had been falsey accused of the attacks on two pubs in which five people died and more than sixty people were injured. 'Confessions' were obtained by the use of torture and attempts to appeal the convictions were unsuccessful - the British establishment and its police force wanted 'those responsible' (and/or those whom it could somewhat plausibly present as being responsible) caught and for 'justice' to be done.

'After the incredulity and then the euphoria of release from jail, the four people who had served 15 years for the Guildford pub bombings in 1974 had to find a life. Three are now married with families but the years of adjustment have been painful...the only thing that mattered was when Lord Lane, the lord chief justice, pronounced those magic words: the convictions of Gerry Conlon, Carole Richardson, Paul Hill and Paddy Armstrong were unsafe and unsatisfactory..."Gerry Conlon punched the air in defiance and ran the wrong way down the street. Just like a confused animal, his lawyer thought. Conlon was then 35...Richardson, 17 at the time of her arrest, was shocked and weak at the knees. She and her former boyfriend, Armstrong, disappeared separately out the back. She just wanted to hide. Hill was taken to Crumlin Road prison in Belfast and bailed two days later...theirs was the first of the momentous Irish miscarriage of justice cases which convulsed the criminal justice system and led to a rare royal commission. The crisis of confidence was encapsulated in one of Lord Lane's concluding remarks: "The officers must have lied..." (From here.)

"Officers" of that same calibre (albeit in a different uniform), answerable to a similar political establishment as mentioned above, are still in a powerful position in the north-east of this country (and, indeed, are not confined to that area) and are still willing and able to frame innocent people for their objective of securing the British military and political presence in Ireland. The only long term solution is to end that presence and flush out the contaminants left behind.


"Fight on, struggle on, for the honour, glory and freedom of dear old Ireland. Our hearts go out to all our dear old friends. Our souls go to God at 7 o'clock in the morning and our bodies, when Ireland is free, shall go to Galbally. Our blood shall not be shed in vain for Ireland, and we have a strong presentiment, going to our God, that Ireland will soon be free and we gladly give our lives that a smile may brighten the face of 'Dear Dark Rosaleen'. Farewell! Farewell! Farewell!" - the last words of Limerick (Ballylanders) IRA man Patrick Maher, 32 years of age (pictured, left), to his comrades.

He was hanged by the Free State administration on the 7th June 1921 for his alleged involvement in the rescue of Tipperary IRA man Seán Hogan, even though he was not involved in that operation. Thousands of people (including his mother and sister) had gathered outside Mountjoy Jail in Dublin in protest against his execution, but to no avail (it should be noted that at the time, Munster and a small part of Leinster were under British 'martial law' and those executed there were shot as soldiers, but Dublin was under civilian law and that is why those executed in Mountjoy were hanged).

Patrick Maher and his comrade Edmond Foley were executed in Mountjoy jail, Dublin, on the 7th of June 1921, after being charged with 'the murder' of two RIC men (Peter Wallace and Michael Enright) - he strongly protested his innocence but, even though two juries failed to reach a verdict, he was convicted (by a military court martial) and sentenced to death. He was one of 'The Forgotten Ten' IRA Volunteers (Kevin Barry, Patrick Moran, Frank Flood, Thomas Whelan, Thomas Traynor, Patrick Doyle, Thomas Bryan, Bernard Ryan, Edmond Foley, and Patrick Maher) - Kevin Barry was executed in 1920 by the British and the other nine men were put to death in 1921. All ten were buried in the grounds of Mountjoy Jail in Dublin, where six of them were placed in the same grave.

On Sunday, 14th October 2001, nine of those men were reinterred in Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin by representatives of a 26-county state in an 'official' ceremony and, on Friday, 19th October 2001 - 15 years ago on this date - this state made the final arrangements to do the same for the tenth man, Patrick Maher, who was reburied in his home parish of Glenbrohane in Limerick (at the request of his family) on Saturday, 20th October 2001. Both reinterments were carried out by a state which none of the ten men were fighting for - a 26-county free state - as the objective of the republican campaign - then (1920/1921) and now (2016)- was and is for a free Ireland, not a partially-free Ireland. And, to add insult to injury, the then Free State 'minister for justice', John O'Donoghue, was the 'official figurehead' present, on both occasions, during which he delivered the graveside orations. Irish republicans are looking forward to the day when those moral and political misappropriations can be corrected.

Thanks for reading, Sharon.

Wednesday, October 05, 2016



Free State 'Minister for Foreign Affairs', Charlie Flanagan (pictured, left) recently stated the following re the English 'Brexit' decision in a speech in which he called for 'no hard border' - "...the border isn't something that's going to be decided by the UK government..it's going to ultimately be decided by the 27 remaining EU states..."

The enforced and unwanted border in this country is an Irish matter and should not be placed under a 'foreign affairs' remit - by all means open the issue up to include suggestions from those outside Ireland but the border in question is first and foremost an issue which affects all Irish people, whether they live here or abroad and should, in the first instance, be dealt with by the Irish. If that border is visible (ie not 'out of sight, out of mind') then there will be more of an urgency to remove it, rather than to 'hide' it (ie a so-called 'soft' border).

As we stated before re this issue -"..for what it's worth, this blog is firmly in the 'Brits Out' (ie vote 'Leave!') camp, for our own selfish (!) reason : we want the return of British Army checkpoints on their imposed 'border' in Ireland. We want to see a visible presence by the British military and customs and revenue 'suits' as they operate vehicle checks, passport checks and stoppages, and queries from armed British personnel directed at those travelling from one part of our nine-county Ulster into another part of same and at those travelling from the 26-county state into any of the six occupied counties, frustrated queues forming at every access/exit point etc - in short, we want visible reminders (for those that need same) that our country is still militarily and politically occupied and divided by Westminster..."

Frans Timmermans, vice president of the 'European Commission', recently stated re 'Brexit' - "The argument that won the Brexit campaign is the one that said take back control...which is another way of saying we want to control our destinies again. This is an existential issue for the whole of Europe not just for the UK because this sentiment is not limited to the United Kingdom..." We, too, want to 'control our own destiny' again but cannot do so as long as Westminster maintains a political and military presence in this country. In the context of 'Brexit' (or, actually, in any context of occupation) a 'hard border' is necessary to remind all concerned that the issue is not yet fixed, and we believe that that should be the position of any Irish republican or, indeed, of any concerned citizen who's country is militarily and/or politically occupied - a 'soft' border, under those circumstances, is a cop-out. Such a political obstruction needs to be on view and 'in-your-face' until it is removed, and should not be hidden (ie 'soft') because some deem it 'politically correct' to do so. (*...as some would call it.)


By prisoners from E1 Landing, Portlaoise Prison, 1999.


Grateful thanks to the following for their help, support, assistance and encouragement, and all those who helped with the typing and word processing over the past few months. Many thanks to Cian Sharkhin, the editor of the book, Mr Bill Donoghue, Governor, Portlaoise, Mr Seán Wynne, supervising teacher, the education unit in Portlaoise Prison and the education staff, especially Zack, Helena and Jane. Education officers Bill Carroll and Dave McDonald, Rita Kelly, writer, print unit, Arbour Hill.

First Print : November 1999, reprinted March 2000, illustrations by D O'Hare, Zack and Natasha. Photograph selection : Eamonn Kelly and Harry Melia.

LONG JOURNEY HOME. (By David Lynch.)

Reaching out to touch the clouds

like a high rise building clawing toward the sky,

the bliss of ignorance

never knowing, or wondering why.

The beam of light piercing its barriers

releasing the beauty entombed by darkness.

Pleasure, pain, loss and gain

cast into oblivion,

the colourful vapour of its trail

like a boomerang in the rain.

Soaring now with perverse delight

not wondering of wrong or right,

filled with mystery and paradox

the freedom it feels.

Floating like driftwood upon the ocean

a migrating bird lands to rest upon it,

absorbing, yet remaining empty...

on its long journey home.

(Next - 'Nature Of The Cat', by David Lynch.)


The Far Right has been resurgent across continental Europe for several years. But only in the last 12 months has Ireland seen an emergence of openly neo-Nazi cells.

By Alan Walsh.

From 'Magill' magazine, May 2002.

At first glance, Ireland would seem to be at the very other end of the political spectrum ; historically obsessed with its own national struggle against imperialism to the point where it did not develop a distinct left/right divide, even in the 1960's when the world bifurcated into the two political options.

Yet it is in this very political and economic isolationism that Ireland exhibited its most obvious tendencies towards doctrines of racial purity and national socialism. Analyses of Ireland's political standpoint in 'world war two' often assume that our reluctance to renounce neutrality was based on an aversion to siding with former (sic) colonial oppressors.

In fact, it could be argued that Hitler's vision of a racially pure, culturally cohesive agrarian nation may have been more attractive in theory to many within the Irish government (sic) than Britain's aristocratic imperialism. In such a nebulous ideological haze, it is perhaps unsurprising that we had already managed to foster our own strain of national socialism. Far from being immune in this country to extremist politics, the Blueshirt movement, arising from the 10,000-strong 'Army Comrades Association', was steered along regular fascist lines under Eoin O'Duffy. Back then, the main popular momentum was gained in response to fears of communism. (MORE LATER).



By Jim McCann (Jean's son). For Alex Crowe, RIP - "No Probablum". Glandore Publishing, 1999.

Biographical Note : Jim McCann is a community worker from the Upper Springfield area in West Belfast. Although born in the Short Strand, he was reared in the Loney area of the Falls Road. He comes from a large family (average weight about 22 stone!). He works with Tús Nua (a support group for republican ex-prisoners in the Upper Springfield), part of the Upper Springfield Development Trust. He is also a committee member of the 'Frank Cahill Resource Centre', one of the founders of 'Bunscoil an tSléibhe Dhuibh', the local Irish language primary school and Naiscoil Bharr A'Chluanaí, one of the local Irish language nursery schools.

His first publication last year by Glandore was 'And the Gates Flew Open : the Burning of Long Kesh'. He hopes to retire on the profits of his books. Fat chance!

CATCHING SEAGULLS. (In memory of Eddie Brophy, RIP.)

Cage 22 had an advantage over most of the other cages I was in during my stay Faoi Ghlas Ag Gall. The front right-hand corner of the cage was an easy place to catch seagulls (the aquatic variety) - not to be confused with the human variety ie a seagull is by nature a scavenger so anyone who ate more than their fair share in Long Kesh was called 'seagull'.

Bits of bread would be thrown into this corner and when the seagulls came we would run down and capture them. This was made easy by the way the German razor barbed-wire hung over the corner making it impossible for the seagulls to rise up in the air without a good run, by which time we would have caught two or three of them.

There were a number of ways to use seagulls to lighten the day : you could wait until you had about ten of them then when someone went into the toilet, throw the seagulls over the top of the toilet cubicle, or put them into someone's locker - this was considered cruel and so was only done about twice a day... (MORE LATER).


On this date - 5th October - in 1983, British 'Lord Chief Justice' Robert Lynd Erskine Lowry, during a 'trial' based on the 'word' of an IRA informer, had no choice but to dismiss part of the tout's so-called 'evidence', stating that he found same "..so unsatisfactory and inconsistent that I could not contemplate allowing myself, as a tribunal of fact, to say that guilt has been proved beyond a reasonable doubt..."

The background to the above is as follows : even by North of Ireland standards, where dramatic political developments have a tendency to follow one another with unnerving rapidity, October 1983 and the weeks that followed was an unusually active period in the psychological warfare between the British government and the republican struggle that continues to focus around the use of paid perjurers. It was a month which, at least in terms of propaganda, republicans won on points - but it also heavily underlined the British government's commitment to the perjurer strategy in the face of mounting opposition. The retractions by Robert Lean (Belfast) and Patrick McGurk [mentioned here] (Dungannon) of their incriminating statements against a total of 37 people accused of republican activities, by Lean on October 19th and by McGurk on October 24th, was a crushing embarrassment to the RUC. Robert Lean, in particular, had been portrayed in 'leaks' to a sensationalist media to be the IRA's No.2 in Belfast, and in a classic exercise in 'trial by media' the RUC claimed that his evidence had secured the imprisonment of the IRA's Chief of Staff and its Belfast Brigade Officer Commanding ; both of the individuals against whom these claims had been made were among those released two days after Lean's retraction.

Patrick McGurk's retraction a few days later was equally damaging to the image cultivated by the RUC around its use of perjurers. He had implicated nine Dungannon men as far back as February 1982, five of whom had been held on remand for twenty months - the longest remand period involved in any of the perjurer cases. On September 20th 1982 , the RUC, apparently doubtful that Patrick McGurk would go through with his 'evidence' if produced in court, instead invoked the obsolete 'Bill of Indictment' to by-pass the preliminary enquiry stage of the case against the nine accused. This meant that, until his return to Dungannon on Wednesday 26th October, Patrick McGurk had been held incommunicado, without access to family or friends, throughout the 20-month period. If, as seems to be the case, Patrick McGurk was unwilling to testify but was prevented by the RUC from retracting and prevented from contacting his family, it makes a nonsense of RUC assertions that - once having been given immunity from prosecution - their perjurers (or 'converted terrorists' in RUC jargon!) are 'free agents' voluntarily in protective custody. Not surprisingly, some of the defendants in the McGurk case are said to be considering suing the RUC for wrongful imprisonment.

The Robert Lean episode, too, has gone a long way to publicly undermining propaganda about 'converted terrorists' and 'free agents' : not only did Robert Lean feel so unfree that he felt it necessary to escape from 'protective custody' in Palace Barracks, Hollywood, County Down, by climbing out of a window and stealing the car of his RUC 'minder' but, on leaving a press conference in West Belfast the following afternoon, he was immediately arrested under Section 12 and held in Castlereagh for a further seven days! Apparently, the RUC seriously intended to charge him with a killing on 'new evidence' obtained from the perjurer, William Skelly (named here), who had originally implicated Robert Lean, in a revenge act for his retraction, but the RUC finally changed their minds. It is highly improbable that the (British) Crown Prosecutor could have persuaded even a Diplock Court that the informer William Skelly had forgotten this 'evidence' until after Robert Lean retracted, and then miraculously remembered it!

The inference that the RUC had been aware of 'evidence' linking Lean to a killing at the outset, but had suppressed it in order to do a 'deal' with him, and so imprison prominent republicans, would have been unavoidable . Most damaging of all from the RUC's viewpoint was Robert Lean's assertion that his 'deal' for immunity was to sign statements already prepared by the RUC incriminating specific individuals wanted 'out of the way' by them. Top of the list was Gerry Adams, but it seems the RUC were unable to charge him because Robert Lean refused to co-operate with a face-to-face confrontation.

On their release, two of those actually imprisoned on Lean's statements - Edward Carmichael and Ivor Bell (both men referenced here) - confirmed that they had also been offered immunity if they would incriminate Sinn Féin elected representatives, Adams, Danny Morrison and Martin Mcguinness. Additionally, Edward Carmichael had been offered £300,000 and Ivor Bell was told to "..name my own figure.." The RUC were not having a one-hundred per cent success rate with their informer/perjurer strategy, but they were not prepared to give up on it.

But if the RUC's optimism for the potential of their perjurer strategy has been tempered by a series of retractions in recent months - Walter McCrory (Derry), Charles Dillon (County Derry), Robert Lean and Patrick McGurk - and if they have been forced to the realisation that it will continue to be an imperfect strategy, with perjurers as much subject to the persuasion of the nationalist community's abhorrence of their actions as they are to RUC threats and inducements, nevertheless the third major event in this momentous month ensured the continued successful use of paid perjurers as a means of securing convictions. It was an event that marked a further and fundamental diminishing in the standard of evidence required in Diplock Courts for conviction : (British) Lord Chief Justice Lowry's sentencing of seven men on IRA charges, in Belfast Crown Court, on Wednesday 26th October, on the uncorroborated evidence of Kevin McGrady, was incredible even by Diplock 'standards'. Three weeks earlier, on October 5th 1983 - 33 years ago on this date - he had released two of the ten defendants and thrown out 13 of the original 45 charges (including charges of murder), saying that in respect of those he found Kevin McGrady's evidence "...so unsatisfactory and inconsistent that I could not contemplate allowing myself, as a tribunal of fact, to say that guilt has been proved beyond a reasonable doubt.."yet, in his final summation on the 25th of that month - despite acknowledging that McGrady's evidence had contained "..some glaring absurdities.." and was "..contradictory, bizarre and in some respects incredible.." - and, despite finding the remaining eight defendants innocent of a further 19 charges, Lowry nonetheless returned verdicts of guilty against seven of them on the remaining 13 charges!

In one case, the former Sinn Féin National Organiser, Jim Gibney (then 28 years of age), was sentenced to terms of 12 years and 5 years on two charges, even though he was cleared of no less than 20 other charges on Kevin MGrady's "bizarre" 'evidence'!

British 'Lord Chief Justice' Lowry rubbed salt into the wounds of incredulity by using his summation for the purposes of a policy statement on the use of perjurers, in which he formally signalled the willingness of the northern judiciary to accept uncorroborated evidence of an 'accomplice witness' as the sole basis for a conviction : arguing that the judiciary was, and remained, independent of the (Westminster) 'Northern Ireland' Office and was not in any form of collusion, Lowry stated - "The resort to supergrasses has been described by some people as a method of convicting suspected terrorists. But the expression 'method of conviction' is a complete misnomer, since it is likely to give the impression that the Executive and Judges are together implementing a trial process with the joint object of convicting and imprisoning suspects. It is for the Executive to prosecute a case if, on the available evidence, that seems to be the right course. But the function of the Judges, acting quite independently, has not altered ; it is simply to decide whether or not in any individual case the allegations of the prosecutor have been proved." Two days before Lowry made that statement, the British Attorney-General, Sir Michael Havers (forever tainted, and rightly so, by his involvement in the 'Guildford Four' case), had spoken about the "financial arrangements.." made with those informers. Havers, in a statement obviously timed to coincide with British Chief Justice Lowry's comments in the wake of the Robert Lean/Patrick McGurk affair, also defended the 'independence' of the judiciary - but added, in response to loyalist criticisms of the system, that in future all "financial arrangements (made with) accomplice witnesses" would be disclosed to defence counsels.

The utter worthlessness of this 'concession' lies of course in the fact that the RUC deny, and will continue to deny, that cash bribes - such as Edward Carmichael's offer from the British of £300,000 - are made to perjurers in the first place. Havers' 'sincerity' should be judged in the light of his flagrant dishonesty in saying that the practice surrounding the use of "accomplice witnesses" was identical in England, Scotland and Wales with its use in the North of Ireland!

The Lowry verdict in the McGrady trial was a crucial one for the future of the perjurer strategy ; although the principle of accepting uncorroborated perjurer evidence had earlier been accepted by the judiciary in the UVF Joe Bennett (referenced here) trial which ended on April 11th 1983 with convictions for 14 of the 16 accused, and in the Christopher Black trial in which Judge Basil Kelly convicted 35 of the 38 defendants on August 5th, both judges in these cases had gone to considerable lengths to emphasise the 'credibility' of informers Bennett and Black and the general consistency "in all important respects" of their testimony. While this was incredible enough, the fact that Lowry convicted on McGrady's 'evidence', which was substantially bizarre, contradictory and unsatisfactory, is an indication that the judiciary in the North of Ireland has fallen completely into line, contrary to Lowry's denial, with the political objective of securing convictions, and has cynically redefined even the previously low standards regarding acceptable evidence.

British judges in the North of Ireland were defending the use of informers to obtain convictions at the same time as that perjurer system had started to come under attack from a variety of directions, while among the nationalist community itself - buoyed by the retractions and less open than it initially was to demoralisation over the issue (since it has seen the IRA's continued ability to inflict losses on the British) - there have been the unmistakable signs of a 'fight back'.

The first clear example of this was the mass rally at Beechmount Avenue in West Belfast on September 11th, 1983, which announced the holding of an open conference in Dungannon on October 2nd 1983 to establish a broad-based committee on the non-exclusive lines of the National H-Block/Armagh Committee established during the hunger-strikes of 1981. Up until that point public protest action on the perjurer issue had mainly been confined to small and isolated groups, such as 'Relatives For Justice' and 'Campaign Against The Show Trials' (CAST), which although active had drawn support primarily from relatives of the victims - in much the same way as the 'Relatives Action Committee' had campaigned between 1976-79 on the H-Blocks. The Dungannon conference announced the setting up of a new 'umbrella' organisation, the 'Stop the Show Trials Campaign', calling for an end to the use of perjurers, an end to show trials and the release of all the sentenced and remanded victims of perjurers. It voted to mount a campaign of political opposition to the perjurer system, at the same time embracing those sections of the community whose opposition to the use of perjurers is based on humanitarian or civil liberties motives and who endorse the campaign's central demands.

It is inevitable that the campaign structure, and mobilisations, will focus heavily on the North, though it is envisaged that support groups will be established in the 26 Counties and abroad. However, not all Irish nationalists were opposed to the perjurer system - to date, the response on the perjurer issue from sections of the catholic establishment has been a muted one, explicable by their obvious ambivalence to a strategy which although seriously eroding the already blackened 'judicial process' is clearly seen to be aimed at undermining the political advance of republicanism - a shared objective, after all, with the catholic hierarchy and the SDLP. In response to such a taunt by West Belfast MP Gerry Adams on September 11th 1983, SDLP spokesperson Seamus Mallon retorted that the use of perjurers was 'law bending' but the thrust of his attack was aimed not at the British but at Sinn Féin and republican resistance.

On September 28th 1983, however, the SDLP met the 'Relatives for Justice' group and condemned the use of perjurers - though they have maintained a low profile on the issue since then. And what of the Catholic church on the issue? They have maintained a low profile on that subject, with the exception of Dr. Edward Daly, Bishop of Derry, and a handful of priests, who have condemned the use of perjurers. Bishop Cahal Daly, previously so vocal on political issues, has adopted a studious silence. For his part, Dungannon priest Fr. Denis Faul, having failed to limit the opposition to perjurers to relatives (whose emotions, his experience during the hunger-strikes leads him to believe, can, at critical points, be exploited against republicans) has concentrated much of his efforts on vitriolic attacks on Sinn Féin - on one occasion going as far as to allege that Sinn Féin were 'using' the perjurer campaign to finance their involvement in the EEC elections!

Also ranged against the use of perjurers have been the SDLP-controlled Derry Council, the Belfast and District Trades Council and a number of British MP's and British and American legal figures. British Labour MP, Martin Flannery, has said that the use of perjurers is bringing "the whole of the British system of justice into disrepute. It is the kind of thing that Hitler and company engaged in.." The use of paid perjurers by Westminster was welcomed by some Unionists but condemned by others - sometimes both 'pro' and 'anti' camps were in the same political party.

While so far the real pressure exerted within the nationalist community on the perjurer system has been largely 'internal' (perjurers retracting in response to their families' efforts), since the Stormont administration will only feel pressurised by 'external' political pressure from nationalists when the campaign achieves its full impetus, there is undoubtedly strong concern among sections of the loyalist community too, which may eventually cause headaches for the British government. That concern stems, obviously enough, not from any opposition to the clinging of the northern judiciary to the coat-tails of Stormont, which after all is unionist policy, but from the increasingly heavy losses which perjurers are inflicting on loyalist paramilitary groups, and the spin-off effect which this undoubtedly has on loyalist political parties, particularly the DUP. Although the 'Official Unionist Party' has taken a strong line in support of paid perjurers under their 'law and order' spokesperson, Edgar Graham, individual members of the 'OUP' including John Carson, have identified themselves with a campaign of opposition. In April of this year (1983), DUP leader Ian Paisley condemned the use of perjurers as 'undermining the rule of law' and he specifically opposed the granting of immunity to perjurers. Immediately after the informer Robert Lean's 'evidence' began to lead to the arrest of several prominent republicans, the DUP appeared to modify its stance considerably when leading spokespersons Peter Robinson and Jim Allister - at a press conference on September 13th, from which, strangely, Ian Paisley was absent - supported the use of uncorroborated evidence and only opposed the granting of total immunity, implying that perjurers should instead be given heavily reduced sentences for their own admitted involvement.

Significantly, in a 'Panorama' programme screened on BBC 1 television on October 24th - after Robert Lean's retraction - Ian Paisley again appeared to resolutely oppose the use of perjurers : more than most politicians, he, arguably, has a great deal to lose from future loyalist perjurers bringing up parts of his past life! For loyalists, under greater pressure from the judiciary than for a long time, the use of paid perjurers must be causing a further crisis of identity and resulting in a heavy demoralisation. But for nationalists, existing under a constant regime of repression, the situation is clearer-cut and the option a simple one - resistance. With scores of nationalists and republicans still imprisoned on the 'word' of paid perjurers, there is certainly no room for complacency despite recent retractions and the ever-present hope of more, but there is now a will and an ability to mobilise on the issue in the nationalist community that was not fully there before. (This is an edited version of a piece we first posted here in 2005.)


Dan Keating (pictured, left), from Ballygamboon, Castlemaine, County Kerry, celebrating his 105th birthday with members of Republican Sinn Féin at Gally's Bar and Restaurant, Tralee, County Kerry, on the 2nd January 2007.

DAN Keating was born in 1902 in the townland of Ballygamboon, Castlemaine, Co Kerry. In 1917, he went to work in Tralee at Jerry McSweeney's Grocery, Bar and Bakery. Jerry McSweeney's uncle, Richard Laide, was shot in the attack on Gortalea barracks which was the first barracks to be attacked in Ireland.

Dan joined the Fianna in Tralee in 1918 and about two years later he joined the Irish Republican Army. Others to join at that time were Gerry Moyles, Donnchadh Donoghue, Tommy Vale, John Riordan (Kerry All-Ireland footballer), Jerry O'Connor (better known as 'Uncy'), Matt Moroney and Paddy and Billy Griffin. Dan met a soldier who used to frequent the bar where he worked and during conversations procured a rifle from him, which was then handed over to Johnny O'Connor of the Farmers' Bridge unit. Dan was later to join this unit which included men of the calibre of Johnny Duggan, Johnny O'Connor, Timmy Galvin, Moss Galvin, Jack Corkery, Jim Ryle, Mick Hogan and Jamesy Whiston. This unit was very active from 1920 to 1924 and many of its members took part in the Headford ambush which claimed the lives of approximately 20 British soldiers. Volunteers Danny Allman and Jimmy Baily also lost their lives at Headford.

Dan took part in the ambush at Castlemaine in which eight RIC and Black-and-Tans were killed. Gerry Moyles was severely injured in this encounter. The last ambush in Kerry took place in Castleisland on the night before the Truce and Dan also participated in this. Four RIC members were killed in this action and Volunteers Jack Shanahan, Jack Prenderville, John McMahon and John Flynn also lost their lives. In 1922 Dan was transferred to a unit in Tralee which was commanded by Tommy Barton of Ballyroe when they occupied Ballymullen barracks for a period of three months, and also took part in the attack on Listowel barracks, now occupied by the Free Staters, in which one Free Stater was shot dead.

In Limerick, Dan, along with comrades from Kerry, fought the Free State troops over a period of ten days - republican Volunteers Patrick Foran, Charlie O'Hanlon and Tom McLoughlin lost their lives there, then Dan was sent to Tipperary to instruct Gerry Moyles to return to Kilmallock but on the way they were surrounded by Free Staters. After a battle at Two Mile Bridge, Dan and his comrades were taken prisoner and held in Thurles barracks for two days before being conveyed to Portlaoise jail where he was held for six months. This was to be the first of many times Dan was interned by the Free State. During this period in Portlaoise the jail was burned and Volunteer Paddy Hickey from Dublin was shot dead. Dan was then transferred to the Curragh Internment Camp and was held there until March 1923. A Free State soldier named Bergin from Nenagh, who became friendly with the republican prisoners and acted as a courier to republicans on the outside, was executed by the Staters.

Dan was charged with possession of a shotgun in 1930 and was issued a summons but did not attend court and was fined £1. In the true republican tradition he refused to pay and was sent to Limerick and held for one week. During a court case in Tralee involving Johnny O'Connor and Mick Kennedy, in which they refused to recognise the court, their supporters in the courthouse cheered loudly and when things died down the judge ordered Dan Keating to be brought up before him and gave him three months for contempt. Dan was jailed in Cork with Johnny O'Connor but after a hunger strike by Johnny both were released after three weeks. The next time Dan was interned was after O'Duffy's visit to Tralee; he was sentenced to six months in Arbour Hill. Dan was later captured in Carrigans in Clonmel by a policeman who had previously arrested him in Tralee and was taken first to Thurles and from there to the Curragh where he was held for three years and six months. In this period the camp was burned and Barney Casey from Longford was shot dead. Dan was also on active service in England during the early 1940s.

Dan returned to work in Dublin and operated as a barman in the Eagle House, James Street, the Cornet and the Kilmardenny public houses. His other great interest was Gaelic games, and indeed between football and hurling he has attended more than 140 All-Ireland senior finals including replays, which must be a record in itself. When Dan retired he returned to Kerry in 1978 and resided at Ballygamboon, Castlemaine. In 2004, Dan Keating replaced George Harrison of Mayo and New York as the fourth Patron of Sinn Féin Poblachtach since 1986, following in the footsteps of such illustrious republicans as Comdt-General Tom Maguire and Michael Flannery of Tipperary and New York. During his long, healthy and adventurous lifetime Dan has seen many splits and deviations from republican principles, but he remained loyal and true to the end.

Dan Keating, born on January 2nd 1902, died in Tralee on October 2nd, 2007 - 105 years of age - after a short illness. His funeral mass was held on this date - 5th October - 9 years ago, in Kiltallagh Church, Castlemaine, in Kerry. I measc Laochra na nGael go raibh sé.


This a piece we found in our archives from 2008 - and it's still as relevant today as it was then :


(Click here for better image of the so-called 'Past and Future' poster.)

One of our regular readers found himself with a few hours to spare on (Sunday) 5th October 2008 - eight years ago on this date - so himself and his Missus headed-out to the County of Meath to have a browse around Fairyhouse Market. Whilst browsing the hundreds of stalls and units etc he came across a stall operated by Provisional Sinn Féin at which he noticed, incredulously, that not only were they selling framed prints of Michael Collins but they had one such framed print located right beside a framed poster which declared that partition in Ireland and the political conflict it feeds are things of the past!

Our reader asked one of the PSF stall holders if they would agree that they were being a wee bit premature in saying that partition and conflict on this isle are in the past and proceeded to give a brief history lesson to the hapless rep and asked how they could possibly support the notion that partition and the conflict which arises from it can be said 'to be over' as this country is still partitioned by Westminster, which maintains an armed, and political, presence here? The garbled reply was as dense as the framed poster - "But things are a lot better...we're almost there....the leadership know what they're doing....things are looking up...." Our man walked away, shaking his head in despair, and wondering how such people can be left in charge of a market stall, never mind how they can 'claim ownership' to the best way to resolve the not yet resolved issue of partition and the conflict that arises from it. Needless to say, our man wasn't buying it..!


...we won't be posting our usual contribution, and probably won't be in a position to post anything at all until the following Wednesday, the 19th October ; this coming weekend (Saturday/Sunday 8th/9th October 2016) is spoke for already with a 650-ticket raffle to be run for the Cabhair group in a venue on the Dublin/Kildare border, work on which begins on the Tuesday before the actual raffle, and the 'autopsy' into same which will take place on Monday evening, 10th, in Dublin, meaning that we will not have the time to post here. But we'll be back, as stated above, on Wednesday 19th October 2016, when our offering will include, I'm told, a piece about when the British military in Ireland used a 'hamar' in an attempt to crack the IRA...

Thanks for reading, Sharon.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016



By prisoners from E1 Landing, Portlaoise Prison, 1999.


Grateful thanks to the following for their help, support, assistance and encouragement, and all those who helped with the typing and word processing over the past few months. Many thanks to Cian Sharkhin, the editor of the book, Mr Bill Donoghue, Governor, Portlaoise, Mr Seán Wynne, supervising teacher, the education unit in Portlaoise Prison and the education staff, especially Zack, Helena and Jane. Education officers Bill Carroll and Dave McDonald, Rita Kelly, writer, print unit, Arbour Hill.

First Print : November 1999, reprinted March 2000, illustrations by D O'Hare, Zack and Natasha. Photograph selection : Eamonn Kelly and Harry Melia.

ETHAN. (By David Lynch.)

I see you in my dreams

the flower of my seed,

I reach to touch your face

to embrace your every need.

Possessing treasures of the universe

your soul the riches of life,

oblivious to cruel bindings

eyes shine bright as stars at night.

Reciting your poem to me

I feel oh so proud,

the story of the goblin

floating on a cloud.

I hear your laughter

I taste your tears,

surrounding your bed at night

I protect you from your fears.

Whispering I love you

I wonder do you hear?

you smile into my eyes

telling me - loud and clear.

(Next - 'Long Journey Home' , by David Lynch.)


The Far Right has been resurgent across continental Europe for several years. But only in the last 12 months has Ireland seen an emergence of openly neo-Nazi cells.

By Alan Walsh.

From 'Magill' magazine, May 2002.

Immigration, crime and an abandonment of traditional values - the extreme right campaign on just those issues and, in economic circumstances such as those recently experienced in Ireland (ie an economic boom and then an economic slowdown) they garner success, like that that the 'British National Party' and France's 'Front National' group have enjoyed.

The roots of this re-emergence of the far right lie in the stark economic conditions of the 1970's and 80's. France, during the 1980's, witnessed mass unemployment, public service cutbacks and a crisis in the electorate which had become heavily disillusioned with the socialist Mitterand government. The 'Front National', formed in 1972, is now the strongest fascist movement in Europe, and got its breakthrough in a council election in a small town near Paris in 1983. Campaigning largely on an anti-immigrant platform, Jean Marie Le Pen, leader and founder of the FN, used this initial triumph as a base on which to build a series of electoral gains at local level, fielding 25,000 candidates in 1995. These in turn made a platform for an assault at national level, culminating in his most recent spectacular success in the presidential preliminaries.

In England, in a late 1970's climate of massive cutbacks in health, education and welfare spending, and with unemployment running at almost two million, the NF, a combination of many far-right parties including the 'British National Party', took a stance blaming the same immigrants who had been invited to the country to fill the labour shortage after the war. Statistics on racial attacks rocketed and 'NF' politics flourished at local election level to such a degree that it was necessary for the ruling Conservatives under Margaret Thatcher to speak of countries being "swamped by foreigners" back from the far right and cash in on their sentiment. The above, however, are all cultures with grand imperial histories. (MORE LATER).



By Jim McCann (Jean's son). For Alex Crowe, RIP - "No Probablum". Glandore Publishing, 1999.

Biographical Note : Jim McCann is a community worker from the Upper Springfield area in West Belfast. Although born in the Short Strand, he was reared in the Loney area of the Falls Road. He comes from a large family (average weight about 22 stone!). He works with Tús Nua (a support group for republican ex-prisoners in the Upper Springfield), part of the Upper Springfield Development Trust. He is also a committee member of the 'Frank Cahill Resource Centre', one of the founders of 'Bunscoil an tSléibhe Dhuibh', the local Irish language primary school and Naiscoil Bharr A'Chluanaí, one of the local Irish language nursery schools.

His first publication last year by Glandore was 'And the Gates Flew Open : the Burning of Long Kesh'. He hopes to retire on the profits of his books. Fat chance!

CATCH 22 - IN CAGE 22. (In memory of Ned Maguire RIP)

Big Ned's face broke into a grin - "You're one crazy bastard, McCann," he said, laughing. I started to relax, nerve by nerve, but it took me three days to get my nerves back to where they were before Ned asked me for the leather. "Fair play to you, Ned, you can take a joke," I reminded him, just in case he forgot. "I'll get you back for that," he joked. I hope.

He stuck the two boots down his waistband, toes first, and pretended to draw against me and then he walked away, laughing. Fra came over to the wire to me and said "You've balls for burning." "Yeah", I said, remembering in that five seconds before Ned started to grin that I could feel all the major organs in my body make their way up my body, "they're up around my throat somewhere."

Some months later Ned was caught escaping and was moved to the 'Sentenced' end of the Camp into the same Cage as me. Strangely enough, the day he came into the Cage all the Dr. Marten boots mysteriously disappeared. Out of sight, out of Big Ned's mind!

(End of 'Catch 22 - in Cage 22'. Next : 'Catching Seagulls'.)


Richard Willis, a carpenter, and his friend Jack Bolster, a painter, sometimes worked together on jobs ; it was on one such occasion that the two men got talking to a British soldier from the military barracks in Mallow, where Willis and Bolster were working ; the conversation ended with the soldier complaining that those in charge of the forty-five strong Mallow garrison were taking a chance by sending out a detachment of thirty Lancers each morning, to exercise their horses for a few hours. The soldier voiced his fear that the remaining fifteen or so soldiers in the barracks would be unable to prevent the IRA from taking munitions from the barracks should they attack, not realising that the two tradesmen he was talking to were themselves members of the IRA.

The seven IRA battalions in the Mallow and surrounding areas had recently formed, from within their ranks, a 'Flying Column', with Paddy Clancy in charge. Richard Willis and Jack Bolster contacted Clancy and told him of the conversation they had with the British soldier - they also had plans and sketches of the barracks, and mentioned that other men in their unit knew the lay-out of the surrounding district, having lived in the area since they were born. Clancy got in touch with Liam Lynch and Ernie O'Malley and a start was made on putting a plan together to raid the barracks for munitions. On Saturday morning, 28th September 1920 - 96 years ago on this date - Richard Willis and Jack Bolster went to the barracks to continue with the job they were doing there, this time accompanied by Paddy McCarthy, whom they introduced to the guards as a Board of Works foreman ; all three were admitted, and all three were armed.

At the same time, Liam Lynch and eighteen members of the 'Flying Column' were assembled in small groups in Barrack Street (where the military barracks was located) and six other armed Volunteers were already in control of Mallow Town Hall, a building which the RIC would have to pass should the alarm be raised and the RIC attempt to get to Barrack Street. The barrack gates opened as usual to allow the thirty or so Lancers out and, once they were out of sight, Liam Lynch walked up to the gate, with an envelope in his hand, and knocked until the guard opened up ; when the gate was opened enough to allow the guard to take the envelope, he was rushed by about twenty IRA Volunteers and held captive. The other twelve or so British soldiers were quickly rounded-up : a Sergeant Gibbs attempted to lock the door of the guardroom where the munitions were stored and was shot dead.

About thirty rifles, a couple of light machine-guns and dozens of boxes of ammunition were removed from the barracks and placed in waiting motor cars which drove off immediately ; the RIC knew nothing of the raid and were not seen that morning. As they were leaving the barracks, the IRA set fire to a load of straw, hoping to burn the place down, but the fire didn't catch - the stairs, floors and walls were all made from stone flaggings. The next night, British troops from surrounding areas wrecked and burned Mallow Town Hall and the local creamery, and looted any shop they could get in to. They were to pay dearly for their presence over the following months, as their own weapons were turned on them by the IRA.


On the afternoon of 28th September 1976 - 40 years ago on this date - Irish left-winger Máirín de Burca (pictured, left) addressed a meeting of about 60 people in Room 1002, Sonoma State College, California : the meeting was advertised under the title 'Irish Women's Rights' and was one of a series of meetings being organised by feminists at the college. Máirín de Burca was addressing a number of meetings organised across the state of California, by 'Republican Clubs' and other like-minded groups.

At each stop on the itinerary, from New York to Los Angeles, the FBI had their agents pumping vast amounts of paper, most of it routine and irrelevant, into the de Burca file. This consisted for the most part in reports of meetings and speeches but, at Sonoma, the US Justice Department decided to go further - they wanted to 'put a spoke into the de Burca wheel'. Two FBI agents were sent to Room 1002 to serve forms demanding that de Burca register as "an agent of a foreign power". This is where the whole farce began.

As the Sonoma meeting was about to start, one of the students, Kathy Parker, rose and addressed the gathering - "If there are any law enforcement officers present will you please make yourselves known and tell us your business here." The students were suspicious that their meeting was under surveillance ; one man spoke up - he was Tom Blavett, campus security officer. And why was he here, he was aked? Well, Blavett explained, it was raining outside, you see, and he had come in out of the rain. No other reason, he said. That was all. Honest, he said. But the two FBI agents in the room said nothing. They simply noted Blavett's admission and carefully noted his name for their files - but they spelled it 'Thomas Bovet'. But there was a twist - at the end of the meeting, Tom Blavett approached student Kathy Parker and admitted that he had lied about coming in out of the rain for shelter. Actually, he said, he had been sent to the meeting to keep an eye on the two FBI agents!

The meeting proceeded and the students and de Burca discussed Irish women's liberation, or lack of it. The FBI agents listened carefully to de Burca and noted what they considered to be the relevant points ; 'Observation of those in attendance,' they wrote, 'disclosed the audience to range in age from elderly grandmother/grandfather types to very young college age types...' They then entered a note marked 'Confidential' into their files, with the heading 'Women's groups in Ireland ; National Women Committee, Irish Women United, Irish Country Women's Association, Trade Union Women's Forum and the Women Peace Movement' . The information in that file was subsequently transferred to other FBI files and even today is on tap from the FBI computers for use by any FBI agent sent over to Ireland to infiltrate the Irish womens movement. So, if you meet someone on their way in from the airport, speaking with an American accent and asking for the "National Women Committee" or the "Irish Country Women Association" you can be reasonably sure that they've been briefed by the FBI and, should you actually find yourself in the company of a member of, say, the 'Irish Country Women Association' group or, God forbid, the 'Women's Peace Movement', then watch out - you could be red-flagging yourself to the FBI! (This piece is an edited version of an article we posted here in 2009.)

40TH ON THE 25th OF THE 12TH FOR THE 32!

The pic on the left is from the 34th successive Cabhair Swim, which took place at the 3rd Lock of the Grand Canal in Inchicore, Dublin, on the 25th December 2010. And, no, it's not been photoshopped...

...and yes, I know it's only September and it's not right or proper to mention the big day that falls on the 25th December every year which is why I won't yet actually be using that particular word (!) and will 'box clever' by just mentioning that, for the 40th successive year, a Christm... (ooops!) swim will be held at the above-mentioned outdoor venue at 12 noon. On the 25th December, that is. At the 3rd Lock in Inchicore, Dublin. We'll give it another plug between now and then, for all you slow learners... ;-)!

Thanks for reading, Sharon.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016



By prisoners from E1 Landing, Portlaoise Prison, 1999.


Grateful thanks to the following for their help, support, assistance and encouragement, and all those who helped with the typing and word processing over the past few months. Many thanks to Cian Sharkhin, the editor of the book, Mr Bill Donoghue, Governor, Portlaoise, Mr Seán Wynne, supervising teacher, the education unit in Portlaoise Prison and the education staff, especially Zack, Helena and Jane. Education officers Bill Carroll and Dave McDonald, Rita Kelly, writer, print unit, Arbour Hill.

First Print : November 1999, reprinted March 2000, illustrations by D O'Hare, Zack and Natasha. Photograph selection : Eamonn Kelly and Harry Melia.


Diving into the bottomless lake

beginning to wonder will it awake.

Breath diminished, life at stake

desperately seeking that golden gate.

Lungs are empty, heart is still

never before such a thrill

body and mind two separate parts

one the beginning, the other the start.

Feeling like it's floating in space

confident now that it'll win the race,

floating along at a steady pace

high on the plateau of cosmic grace.

Returning to base it feels each follicle,

absorbing air, omitting molecule.

(Next - 'Ethan' , by David Lynch.)


The Far Right has been resurgent across continental Europe for several years. But only in the last 12 months has Ireland seen an emergence of openly neo-Nazi cells.

By Alan Walsh.

From 'Magill' magazine, May 2002.

Far-right politics seem somehow an alien concept in Irish culture, despite being widespread throughout the rest of the continent. The last outright movement of this type here was the 'National Socialist Irish Workers Party' back in 1986 and, up until very recently, the Garda hadn't even been keeping statistics on racially motivated crime.

With many of our EU partners, however, the new far right is very familiar and, in some quarters already, even a tradition, often converging directly with the mainstream. The failure of social democrat and labour parties in Britain and across the continent to successfully present Europe as a culturally cosmopolitan utopia has seen a steep decline in membership and, in some cases - such as the 'Social Democrat Party' in Austria - removal from office.

Low turnouts in many elections, especially that in Austria, are indicative of an electorate, particularly the middle and lower middle class, entirely alienated from traditional politics. These are the precise circumstances used by certain groups to propose themselves as fighting against both corporate dominated globalisation and the handcuffed piecemeal measures of the parliamentary left. These groups, in order to avoid confronting the factual necessities of the market, select the easiest and most deceptively obvious factors on the ground, such as immigration, crime and an abandonment of traditional values as their scapegoats... (MORE LATER).



By Jim McCann (Jean's son). For Alex Crowe, RIP - "No Probablum". Glandore Publishing, 1999.

Biographical Note : Jim McCann is a community worker from the Upper Springfield area in West Belfast. Although born in the Short Strand, he was reared in the Loney area of the Falls Road. He comes from a large family (average weight about 22 stone!). He works with Tús Nua (a support group for republican ex-prisoners in the Upper Springfield), part of the Upper Springfield Development Trust. He is also a committee member of the 'Frank Cahill Resource Centre', one of the founders of 'Bunscoil an tSléibhe Dhuibh', the local Irish language primary school and Naiscoil Bharr A'Chluanaí, one of the local Irish language nursery schools.

His first publication last year by Glandore was 'And the Gates Flew Open : the Burning of Long Kesh'. He hopes to retire on the profits of his books. Fat chance!

CATCH 22 - IN CAGE 22. (In memory of Ned Maguire RIP)

I was alone and in a Catch 22 situation ; was Big Ned having me on or not? This was the question. I had to take a chance : I shouted "What exactly is it that you are looking for?" and, as Ned told me again what he needed, I detected that look on his face that told me that he thought that he had got one over on me. "Where are you going to get the leather for two holsters?" , asked Tommy Barnes. "I have a plan", I answered with a wink, and I put that plan in motion after I had a cup of tea. Of course. I gathered the stuff about me to implement my plan, walked over to the wire and shouted over to Fra McCann in Cage 6 : "Fra, give Big Ned a shout for me but make sure you let everyone know that there's something afoot..."

I couldn't have spoken a truer word : Ned came out to the wire, and I could see dozens of Cage 6'ers behind his back, taking vantage points to find out what was happening. "Any joy, mate?", asked Big Ned. "It was touch and go, comrade, but I've came up trumps for you," I answered. "I managed to get two bits of old leather that should prove perfect for your needs. Stand back from the wire and catch this bag." As Ned made his way to the centre of the cage I launched the bag containing two busted Dr. Marten boots into Cage 6. As the boots were in mid-air I told Ned that it was the best of leather. At one time...

"What the fuck's this?", Ned screamed. "Two bits of leather", I replied. "Are you trying to make an eejit out of me?", asked Ned. "No way, comrade.What's the problem? You asked me for two old bits of leather for holsters and I thought that they would be perfect. I even got them for a left-handed or right-handed draw..." Big Ned looked at me as if I was simple and asked - "Are you simple?" "If they're no good I might be able to get my hands on a pair of Beatle Boots for you", I said. In for a penny, in for a pound. The entire Cage 6'ers and most of the Cage 22'ers held their breath awaiting Big Ned's response. My stomach was churning... (MORE LATER.)


And I am. Shouldn't be, I know, but I feel like a fish out of water - uneasy, disorganised. But I'm getting there : for our post next week (Wednesday 28th September 2016) I'm told we'll have a piece about two FBI agents who were spying on an Irish republican in California but who were themselves being spied on by a college security officer...but, for now, here's two 'On This Date' pieces that we borrowed from elsewhere :


On the 21st September 1827 - 189 years ago on this date - Michael Corcoran (left), a brigadier general in the Federal Army during America's Civil War, was born in Carrowkeel, County Sligo. Corcoran served as a policeman in the Royal Irish Constabulary but resigned during the Great Hunger, no longer able to condone the repressive actions of that police force against the starving Irish. He emigrated to New York and found work in the city's employ while also joining the 69th New York State Militia as a private. He rose through the ranks to colonel commanding the regiment and won the hearts of the city's Irish population when he refused to parade the 69th for the visit of the Prince of Wales in 1860. The state intended to court-martial him for this but the start of the Civil War led officials to dismiss the charges, and Corcoran led the regiment to Washington. At the Battle of 1st Bull Run, Corcoran was wounded and captured and spent the next 13 months in various Confederate prisons before he was finally exchanged.

His health would never recover from that time in Southern prison camps. Promoted to brigadier general on his return, he recruited a brigade of volunteers from Irish enclaves in New York state that became known as Corcoran's Legion. He led the legion and then a division during the Suffolk (Virginia) campaign in April 1863. While there he was involved with a regrettable incident. While riding with fellow Fenian leader John O'Mahoney, Corcoran shot and killed Lt. Col. Edgar Kimball of the 9th New York Infantry. Corcoran was ordered to face a court-martial in the case, but it was never convened. On December 22nd, 1863, Corcoran was riding with Brig. Gen. Thomas F. Meagher and others when he suddenly fell from his horse and died shortly afterwards. Many articles on Corcoran say he was killed when his horse fell on him, but recent research points toward a stroke as the most likely cause of death. On December 27th, he was interred at Calvary Cemetery in the borough of Queens, today within New York City. (From here, as is the 'Eamonn Ceannt' piece - also, more on Michael Corcoran here.)


On this date - 21st September - in 1881, revolutionary Éamonn Ceannt (left) was born in Glenamaddy, County Galway. He was educated at University College, Dublin, and worked on the clerical staff of Dublin city council. Éamonn joined the Gaelic League in 1900 and later taught classes in Irish. He was a pipe player, once playing the uileann pipes for the Pope in Rome. He was said to love the language, music and dance of his native country and to have an unshakeable commitment to Irish freedom. Ceannt joined Sinn Féin and the Irish Republican Brotherhood in 1908 and was also one of the founders of the Irish Volunteers in 1913, and was elected to its Provisional Committee. The day before the Easter Rising in 1916, Ceannt was one of the seven signatories to the Proclamation, in effect, signing their death warrants. During the Rising, he commanded the area of the South Dublin Union. The plan called for him to hold the area with 1,000 men; he had only 130, but his small command, especially Cathal Brugha, resisted the British until Patrick Pearse surrendered the entire rebel force. Like the other leaders of the Rising, Éamonn Ceannt faced the kangaroo court that condemned him with his head held high. On May 7th 1916, he wrote his wife a note, telling her "I shall die, like a man for Ireland's sake" and, On May 8th, he was put up against a wall in Kilmainham Jail and shot by the British.


On this date 15 years ago (2001) the then State 'Taoiseach', Bertie Ahern (pictured, left) announced 'that Ireland (by which he meant the 26-County State) will put its airports, airspace, refuelling facilities and garda intelligence at the disposal of the US in the battle against terrorism' (and is on record for also claiming that "we" [the Leinster House administration and/or those that voted for them?] are "happy to facilitate" such American actions - see page 8, here) and, on the 21st September nine years ago (2007) he was exposed for his 'inconsistencies' (!) in relation to his testimony (under oath, not that that means anything to him and his ilk) at the Mahon Tribunal.

Or am I just another kebab plotting against him, in the hope of upsetting the apple tart...?

Thanks for reading, Sharon.